Breaking a bit from the biweekly progress update cadence to share that after applying (an hour before the deadline) for the YC Winter 2020 batch, Hyperlink was extended an in-person interview! My 10 minute interview will be on October 31st at 10:30 am 🎃
This is my third time applying to YC (I previously applied in 2013 and 2015 with different ideas), but the first time I’ve been invited into the YC offices for an interview. My hopes weren’t high this time around because YC notoriously dislikes single founders — so you can imagine my surprise to see this email in my inbox last night.
I thought I’d share the application (copied & pasted below) that got us the invite. I submitted this application back on September 25th, so a some of these numbers are out of date, but thought it would be useful for friends who are considering applying in the future:
Company url, if any:
If you have a demo, what’s the url? For non-software, demo can be a video.
Describe your company in 50 characters or less.
Get push notifications when your links get clicked
What is your company going to make?
We’re building an analytics platform for the next generation of entrepreneurs that are living their lives and building their companies entirely on their mobile devices — starting with links that send you push notifications when clicked.
Where do you live now, and where would the company be based after YC?
Palo Alto, USA
Please enter the url of a 1 minute unlisted (not private) YouTube or Youku video introducing the founder(s). This video is an important part of the application.
How many founders are on the team?
Which category best applies to your company?
How far along are you?
We launched to the iOS app store 10 days ago. In that time we’ve released 4 iterations of the app (https://hypr.ink/ss91d). We’ve got a fully functional iOS app that’s used in production by customers. We also have an API that is in use (https://hypr.ink/wj4epg)
How long have each of you been working on this? How much of that has been full-time? Please explain.
I quit Google exactly 7 days ago to work on this full time. Prior to that I was working on an iOS app called Read My Lips (https://hypr.ink/mejc282) full time while on a 3 month sabbatical, which led me to this idea. I wrote a blog post about this journey (https://hypr.ink/j8qx5r)
Are people using your product?
How many active users or customers do you have? If you have some particularly valuable customers, who are they? If you’re building hardware, how many units have you shipped?
We’ve grown to 84 MAUs over the last 10 days with no press or paid advertising.
Do you have revenue?
Anything else you would like us to know regarding your revenue or growth rate?
79% of our installs are from iOS App Store search, and very few of them are friends and family. We have users in Kuala Lampur marketing their Whatsapp groups and a user in Krasnodar, Russia marketing their wedding photography business (https://hypr.ink/6esthm).
If you’ve applied previously with the same idea, how much progress have you made since the last time you applied? Anything change?
If you have already participated or committed to participate in an incubator, “accelerator” or “pre-accelerator” program, please tell us about it.
Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you’re making?
I was building a social iOS game (https://hypr.ink/mejc282) and unintentionally sent myself a push notification any time someone completed a challenge.
At first I was going to fix this “bug”, but soon I started to glean information that I wasn’t getting when looking at Google Analytics, or even examining logs data. I noticed there was a particularly difficult challenge early in the single-player flow. I saw that if users completed this challenge, they would continue on and complete dozens more challenges. For other users, I’d get a few push notifications, and once they hit that challenge — silence. I removed this challenge and challenges completed per user spiked.
This insight would have been possible to get through a traditional analytics tool like Google Analytics, but it would have required a lot of digging and initiative. Instead, the problem was right there staring me in the face — impossible to ignore.
I worked on AdWords for nearly 3 years at Google, and worked closely with members of the Google Analytics team.
What’s new about what you’re making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)?
Traditional analytics tools were build on the web, for the web. We’re building an analytics tool for mobile natives. People resort to tools like Google Analytics or url shorteners like Bitly, but they have to use gnarly web interfaces on their phone and they don’t get real time notifications. Their mobile apps suck and mostly read-only.
Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?
Analytics services like Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Segment. Link shorteners like Bitly, goo.gl (now defunct). I most fear a company like Segment because they have the resources of a large company but seem nimble enough to be able to make full pivot fully to mobile-only (it wouldn’t be mobile-only for them, but the users are mobile-only).
What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?
They don’t get that most entrepreneurs in the world will not use a desktop computer and will be running their businesses completely from their smartphones (if this is not the case already).
How do or will you make money? How much could you make?
We currently have a $10 a month subscription plan which enables you to use Hyperlink with a custom domain. We could also charge for more in-depth reporting. We also plan to charge for API usage above some usage threshold.
How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won’t be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?
Offer free service that allows people to create Hyperlinks that are inherently branded (i.e. hypr.ink) that they then share with others.
We’ll also publish “how-to” articles for common use cases. For example “How to get a push notification when someone taps on your Instagram profile link”.
Finally we already dominate the app store search for phrases like “push notification links”, where we believe people will be go searching for mobile-only solutions.
Have you incorporated, or formed any legal entity (like an LLC) yet?
What kind of entity and in what state or country was the entity formed?
Delaware C Corp
Please describe the breakdown of the equity ownership in percentages among the founders, employees and any other stockholders. If there are multiple founders, be sure to give the equity ownership of each founder.
100% owned by me
List any investments your company has received. Include the name of the investor, the amount invested, the premoney valuation / valuation cap, and the type of security sold (convertible notes, safes or stock).
Please provide any other relevant information about the structure or formation of the company.
Used Stripe Atlas
Are any of the founders covered by noncompetes or intellectual property agreements that overlap with your project? If so, please explain.
Who writes code, or does other technical work on your product? Was any of it done by a non-founder? Please explain.
I do all of the technical work.
Is there anything else we should know about your company? (Pending lawsuits, cofounders who have left, etc.)
If you had any other ideas you considered applying with, please list them. One may be something we’ve been waiting for. Often when we fund people it’s to do something they list here and not in the main application.
Bazel Package Manager — make Google’s Open Source package manager as easy to use as popular tools like NPM, charge for dependency management as a service (I have a demo of this)
Modern version of PHPMyAdmin — web based SQL management and querying with saved queries, query sharing between teams, url that live exports data to Google Sheets (I have a demo of this)
Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered.
While testing Hyperlink, I plugged a Hyperlink into my Instagram profile link. I got two push notifications immediately. The first was from Facebook’s crawler, which was to be expected — but the second, which came half a second later was from Bing’s crawler, running on a Windows NT server. Thought it was pretty interesting that Facebook has some sort of relationship with Microsoft on the crawling side.
That’s it! Thanks again for following along on my journey with Hyperlink. Please feel free to send me an email! Try out Hyperlink or RML. I’d love your thoughts, feedback, ideas and comments on anything I mentioned. I promise I’ll respond to every last one! Also, if you’d prefer to get these updates via email, you can subscribe to them here.
Until next time,