About Y Combinator | Y Combinator (2024)

INTRODUCTION

People often ask us what happens at Y Combinator. Here is an overview of what happens during the YC program and the benefits you get as a YC founder. You can read more about why you should apply to YC here.

THE YC PROGRAM

YC hosts two 3-month programs — one from January through March, and one from July through September. Here’s what happens during the 3 months of YC:

The Goal

The overall goal of YC is to help startups really take off. They arrive at YC at all different stages. Some haven’t even started working yet, and others have been launched for a year or more. But whatever stage a startup is at when they arrive, our goal is to help them to be in dramatically better shape 3 months later.

For most startups, better shape translates into two things: to have a better product with more users, and to have more options for raising money.

Startups at all stages benefit from the intensity of YC. That’s probably the best word to describe the atmosphere. For 3 months, it’s all startup, all the time. Everyone around you—us, the other founders in your batch, the alumni, the speakers, the investors—wants to help your startup succeed. In that atmosphere it’s hard not to be highly motivated. And that kind of extraordinary motivation is what one needs to do something as difficult as starting a startup.

Many founders describe the 11 weeks leading up to Demo Day as the most productive period in their lives. Though YC continues after the 3 month cycle, and the alumni community is an increasingly valuable resource, those 11 weeks are still the most important thing. You can’t make people something they’re not, but the right conditions can bring out the best in them. And since most people have way more potential than they realize, they’re often surprised by what they’re capable of.

Funding

YC invests $500,000 in every company on standard terms. Our $500K investment is made on 2 separate safes:

  • We invest $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% of your company (the “$125k safe”)
  • We invest $375,000 on an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) provision (the “MFN safe”)

Groups

During the batch, startups are sorted into 4 groups. Each group is led by group partners who advise the founders in one-on-one and group office hours. Each group is split into 12-14 sections (6-10 companies), so that founders get the benefit of an intimate setting within the larger batch.

Office Hours

Much of what takes place at YC happens during office hours. Group partners host group office hours every two weeks and one-on-one office hours as often as founders want. What startups talk about at office hours depends on the stage of the company and where they are in the YC cycle.

About Y Combinator | Y Combinator (1)

Bookface

Bookface is the platform founders use to connect to one another—imagine a combination of Facebook, Quora, and LinkedIn. Each founder has a profile and can tag themselves as an expert in any topic. If you have a question, need an introduction, or want to poll for knowledge, you can post the request to the forum on Bookface. The knowledge base of the YC community is both broad and deep—the community includes founders who are the world’s foremost experts in everything from security to community building to nuclear energy.

Batch Retreat

In the first few weeks of the batch we host a 3-day, in-person retreat. The retreat gives founders the opportunity to get to know each other, their group partners, and the YC team.

Alumni Talks

Every week, we invite an eminent person from the startup world to speak. Most speakers are successful startup founders — the founders of Airbnb, Stripe, Doordash and Ginkgo Bioworks often come back to tell the inside story of what happened in the early days of their startups. Talks are strictly off the record to encourage candor, because the inside story of most startups is more colorful than the one presented later to the public.

Public Launches

Once a startup has something built that’s ready to launch, we help founders figure out how to present it to users and the press. We prepare founders for launches on community sites like Product Hunt and Hacker News, and for their first press pitches and interviews.

First Customers

B2B and consumer companies often get their first 40-50 paying customers from the YC community. With that, you not only get first customers, you get the smartest early product feedback possible.

Weekly Meetups

Throughout the batch, we host weekly meetups in San Francisco. These events often feature special guests like the founders of YC and successful YC founders.

Demo Day

On Demo Day, the latest batch of Y Combinator-funded founders present their companies to an audience of specially selected investors and press. We doubt there’s another occasion when such a large percentage of the top startup investors have their attention focused on the same thing.

In the weeks following Demo Day we keep in close touch with the startups as they negotiate the fundraising maze, and help them decipher the real messages in investors’ sometimes deliberately ambiguous responses. Often we talk to the investors ourselves, to find out what they’re really thinking about a particular startup. Because YC-funded startups are a known quantity to investors and get introduced to enough of them to create serious price competition, companies tend to get higher valuations than they might otherwise.

BEYOND THE BATCH

YC doesn’t stop after the 3 month program ends. Here are some of the resources available to YC alumni as their companies grow.

ADVICE

Ongoing office hours

Office hours don’t stop after the YC program. We have office hours year round, and startups from all previous cycles can book time whenever they want.

COMMUNITY

Alumni community

Today the YC alumni community is probably the most powerful community in the startup world. It’s powerful not just because of its size, but also because its members have such a strong commitment to helping one another. A culture of helpfulness has been an important part of YC since the beginning, and founders know that if they ever come across a challenge they need help with, they not only have the partners at their disposal, they have 6,000+ domain experts they can call on.

Alumni Reunion

Each year, YC hosts a formal gathering of alumni. Exciting things happen when you bring founders together — ideas are exchanged, deals get made, problem solving happens amongst peers.

Founder Communities

Founders have access to WhatsApp groups and Bookface channels that reach specific communities. There are lists for hardware, biotech, edtech, non-profits, international, women founders, Black founders, Hispanic and Latino founders, and more.

Alumni Demo Day

Active YC founders get an early look at the YC companies in each batch at Alumni Demo Day.

Deals

Each YC company receives access to discounts and free accounts for over 100 products. Some of these are highly significant, including hundreds of thousands of dollars of free hosting for each company provided by major cloud hosting companies.

BRAND

Credibility

When one company in YC does well, the whole community benefits. Because YC has such a strong track record, early adopters, investors and press are often more willing to take a look at YC founders, even if they’re first time founders.

Company Directory

YC companies are showcased in the YC Startup Directory. Our startups can be filtered and discovered by potential customers, investors, or hires.

HIRING

Work at a Startup

Work at a Startup helps YC founders build their team — from first employees to VPs of product and operations. Thousands of jobseekers across hundreds of YC companies have landed roles through the platform and extended YC community.

Hacker News

HN is a news aggregator where users can find and discuss the latest news and submit content on anything that gratifies one’s intellectual curiosity. YC alumni also post engineering, product, and design jobs on HN.

About Y Combinator | Y Combinator (2024)

FAQs

How difficult is it to get into the Y Combinator? ›

It's one of the most sought-after Silicon Valley accelerators that's harder to get into than Harvard and a complete game-changer for startups. Depending on your source, the Y Combinator acceptance rate is between 1.5% to 3%.

Is the Y Combinator a waste of time? ›

I do agree that Y Combinator is waste of time for most start-up founders. Instead of begging for money from old start-up lottery winners, focus on sales and own your company completely. Y combinator and other VCs should be your last option, not your first.

How long should Y Combinator answers be? ›

Don't worry if it's not perfect. This is one of the things Y Combinator actually helps with. Just make sure your response is 50 characters or less.

Is getting into the Y Combinator a big deal? ›

Entry to Y Combinator is highly sought after, with startups around the world looking not just for the $500,000 investment but also one of the most prestigious networks in tech. Other companies seeded by Y Combinator include Airbnb, Coinbase, Dropbox, Instacart and Reddit.

Who is the youngest person to get into Y Combinator? ›

When 14-year-old app developer Saroush Ghodsi cold-called famed Silicon Valley entrepreneur Sam Altman on a Friday night in January, he had no idea that he and his friend Stefan Stokic, then 16, would go on to become the youngest founders in Y Combinator history.

What is the average age of YC? ›

Basically, the age distribution of YC companies is pretty close to the age distribution of applicants. More YC founders are 25 than 35, but more 25-year-olds apply than 35-year-olds. (Paul has an essay where he says the ideal range to start a startup is 22-38. As far as I know, that isn't a rule, just a suggestion.

What is the failure rate of YC? ›

A 20% failure rate sounds amazing for the industry, however: The majority of YC investments have happened in the last few years (over 1500 in the last 5). This means most companies in their portfolio are too young to have shut down already.

What is the Y Combinator 500K deal? ›

Details of the investment

Our $500K investment is made on 2 separate safes at the same time, with an accompanying YC Agreement: We invest $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% of your company (the “$125k safe”) We invest $375,000 on an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) provision (the “MFN safe”)

What are the odds of getting into Y Combinator? ›

Since 2005, Y Combinator has funded over 3,000 companies and worked with over 6,000 founders. Every 6 months over 10,000 companies apply to participate in our accelerator and we typically have a 1.5% - 2% acceptance rate.

What percent of YC interviews get accepted? ›

Only 3% of Y Combinator applicants get accepted. Read these helpful tips from YC alumni to help you write a successful YC application. As Y Combinator applications flood in for every new batch, founders with great ideas are looking for ways to make their applications stand out.

How quickly does YC get back to you? ›

With on-time applications, we provide a specific date we'll get back to founders by, but with late applications we don't because we have to review them whenever we have spare time. Most late applications will get a decision within a month, but we can't guarantee that - sometimes it may take longer.

Is the Y Combinator still prestigious? ›

Y Combinator (often abbreviated as "YC") is a highly prestigious startup accelerator based in Mountain View, California. Founded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, and Trevor Blackwell, the accelerator has since become one of the most influential in the tech startup world.

Does YC accept solo founders? ›

Yes. We YCregularly accept solo founders. That said, our advice remains that one-person startups are tough and you're more likely to succeed with a co-founder.

How much equity does Y Combinator take? ›

We have a new standard deal at Y Combinator. When a company is accepted into the YC batch program, we now invest a total of $500,000. We still invest $125,000 for 7% and now also invest an additional $375,000 on an uncapped safe with an MFN.

Is the Y Combinator prestigious? ›

Brand Prestige and Reputation

The Y Combinator brand has immense prestige.

What percentage of Y Combinator startups fail? ›

The hours are long, the route to success is often unconventional, and it's not a “get rich quick” scheme. Roughly 90% of startups end in failure. (YC is an exception; more than 50% of YC companies are still alive 5 years later.)

How many people get accepted to YC? ›

Over 10,000 startups apply every cycle, with only around 150 of them being accepted. In fact, in an average batch, around half of the companies have previously applied before being accepted, and so it can take multiple applications if you want to make the cut.

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