How YC changed my mindset

Max Casal
The Startup
Published in
4 min readNov 21, 2019


Almost one year ago (2019), I experienced a life-changing event: being accepted into the most important accelerator in the world: Y Combinator. The reason why it was a life-changing event is not only for the network, experiences, and support. The most important thing that I learned was to change the mindset I used to have. By Change of mindset I mean stop thinking about startups and start thinking about creating companies that are successful businesses.

At the beginning of the journey of YC, partners tell you one tough but true quote: there is no key for success, no magic recipes, or things to execute to ensure success with your company.

Anyway, after working with more than 2.000 companies, YC partners found out that there are some patterns between startups no matter they are B2B, B2C, B2B2C, etc.

That’s why I would like to share some techniques learned from YC and also from my experience at Nowports in the last 11 months (expanding from a startup of 2 employees to a company with more than 120 employees, going from 1 small room in Mexico to more than 6 offices around LATAM).

Let me share five simple but useful tips so you can apply them either at your company, your employee, or life!

#A- Routine will kill strategic thinking

During YC, every week we had office hours and in one session I remember that instead of talking about progress, hacks, etc, we discussed how were we going to convert our startup into a $100 billion-dollar company. This was an important moment during the process because I realized that no matter how busy you are in your routine, hiring, growing, expanding, you should always spend time thinking about the mid-long term plan. It is essential to spend time on this because is the way to know your path to success.

#B- Start small thinking big

When you begin with a startup you want to do everything, offer the more complete service ever. It’s impossible to build the best service product at the beginning and you must understand is a constant evolution and continuous improvement. That said, even though you have to start small, you have to think big. If you build something to be the best in your city or country, that’s ok, but you will not create disruption or a change of an era (like Airbnb’s has done).

#C- 1, 10, 20, 50, 100, 1.000 & 10.000

This sequence is not random numbers, these are the path you should be thinking of to acquire your first 10.000 customers. You can’t acquire 10.000 if you are struggling to acquire 10. The process of getting the first 10 can be different from the first 50. Each number means you will face a new challenge. Don’t try to get 1000 before having 10 that you deeply know and are completely in love with your service, product, etc.

#D- Performance + culture = Dream team

A few days ago, I was watching a video from Simon Sinek talking about How do you measure success? and the truth is that I can’t agree more with him. In your team, you have to hire people that are high performance but also are people you trust, share values, and enjoy working together. The best teams are the ones that can achieve constant growth and progress while enjoying the road together.

#E- Marathons are not a sum of sprints

If you are a runner you will probably know that running a marathon is completely different from running multiple times 100mts. You need to know how to balance your energy, understand when you need a “hard reset” and achieve small but motivational milestones to keep you motivated always. In your startup life there is always something to do, improve, adjust, create, etc but be aware that “You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do”.