Inside Y Combinator’s 2016 Startup School
The other weekend, I spent my Saturday getting a startup crash course from successful founders including Ooshma Garg founder of Gobble, Ben Silbermann founder of Pinterest, Chad Rigetti Founder of Rigetti Computing.
Followed by getting as close to YC as you can get with out going through YC. We watched actual office hours with Qasar Younis and Kevin Hale and ran through pitch practice with Sam Altman and Paul Buchheit.
Here’s What I Learned:
Ooshma Garg · Founder, Gobble
· Listen to your instincts you’re the only person thinking about this 24/7
· The hard part is after launching
· Persistence is key, she sent 6 weeks of pings and networked into her first angel check
· If you recruit with a mission people will stay with the company
· Success: Grit/Experiment/Mission
· Product market fit is a culmination of micro-learnings
Ben Silbermann · Founder, Pinterest
· If you’re thinking you don’t want to go to med school you already know that
· It can be easier to learn when there is something you want to build
· Persistance: he’d sit in coffee shops and ask people to try his app as well as setting the computers at Apple to Pinterest
· Early adopters aren’t always tech people, think about the Midwest
Founder · Founder, Rigetti Computing
· I tried to think about quantum computing with Chad Rigetti
· Take 10 minutes today and think about the company you want to join or found. You might find you need to do the thing that calls to you. Something worth spending our life on.
Kalam Dennis & Reham Fagiri · AptDeco
· Don’t get stuck on your idea of what the product should be listen to your users
· The van is on fire and that’s still the best choice we made
YC Office Hours with Qasar Younis & Kevin Hale
· There are three types of office hours: individual, group, external
· 90 percent of Startup School attendees volunteered for office hours
· Questions often ceneterd around growth and what is your biggest problem
· UX is important make your call to action easy to see and only have one
· Users are confused by new designs
· Beta makes me not want to sign up
Pitch Practice with Sam Altman & Paul Buchheit
· VCs are at a default no as 95 percent of startups are bad investments
· Why is this going to be a billion dollar company?
· Clearly cover: customer, product, what they pay for
Marc Andreessen · Founder, A16Z
How to get a $10 million A Round:
· Do you have a good pitch deck? Use LinkedIn Series B as an example
· Warm referrals are needed. Get an intro by someone you’ve worked with before that the VC knows and trusts.
· Networking to a VC is the first test
· A16z sees 2000 startups per year and funds 20 per year
· Make sure you reference check your VC
Reid Hoffman · LinkedIn, Greylock
· Build the best possible network around you
Office Hours for Marketplace Companies
· We went over three companies that were attendees at YC Startup school Traveling Spoon, Humansurge, Powr of You
· User experience is so important, test it out
· YC will ask questions to get you to think about your business differently
Y Combinator Partner Q&A
· It’s never too early to apply
· If you don’t get in you can keep applying
At the end of the day the Y Combinator partners came on stage to answer questions from the audience that we had emailed in earlier. I had asked what effect it had if you applied to multiple YC sessions. It validated me and my desire to apply again and again until I get in. I hope, with each application I can get my startup better and better.
What I am Thinking About After:
How I Got Here:
I found the application online and filled it out with my idea du jour, software to eliminate employees filling out timesheets.
The acceptance email was the first positive news I have heard from Y Combinator. I remember getting the email, immediately a wave of possibility washed over me followed by the slight terror that my startup was just an idea, not yet a company. Would I be able to hold my own among the other founders?
I convince my boyfriend to create a demo for my idea Bye Time Sheets and pulled the trigger on making business cards for myself. I designed them myself using InDesign and printed them at FedEx for $33. After making the demo I woke up on Sunday thinking about Bye Time Sheets, it was fun and exciting.
I normally do really well in social situations exuding confidence and making everyone feel included. For some reason, leading up to Startup School I felt some imposter syndrome coming on and was worried about snakes.
I fought off the snakes and I arrived, it went wonderful. I got there early and immediately got in line to get registered I was the 6th person to walk into the auditorium and secured a seat in in the center of the second row. I watched the auditorium fill up with founders. You could feel the energy building in the room. It dawned on me that the next Steve Jobs was likely in the audience.
Where I Am Going:
I plan to try to meet up with as many people as I can from Startup School so we can continue to learn together.
Jenny Kay’s General Conference Tips:
· Reach out to presenters and attendees of interest in advance
· Bring a bag or sweater to secure your seat for times when you have to leave
· Bring a portable phone charger and if you’re a real heave phone user, a back up wall charger
· Bring a water bottle, you have to hydrate to be great
· Get there early so you can secure a good seat
· Tie a knot in on string name tags so it sits up higher is easier to see
YC is transitioning to a MOOC (massive open online course) system for startup school you can register for updates here: http://www.startupschool.org/
In the Mean Time Check Out:
iTunes U Class: Stanford How to Start a Startup
Reid Hoffman’s LinkedIn Series B Pitch Deck
If you went to startup school or watched the live stream, share your favorites YC Startup School moment in the comments.
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