Advice on the YC Application

(This is the second of three posts I'm doing this week about applying to YC. Tuesday I wrote about our crazy story of getting in to YC and tomorrow I'll post our application. Early next week — after the application deadline — I'll tell the story of our YC experience from bringing on our amazing third co- founder up to demo day).

I have had a few friends of mine ask me whether they should apply to YC and what advice I can give on the application itself. This is in addition to the 5 people Dan has met with this week about applying to YC.

Let me caveat my thoughts. Getting in to YC is similar to getting in to college. You're never quite sure how (or why) it happened. They don't send you a memo telling you their criteria and most of what you learn about the process is already public.[1]

Should you apply to YC?

I get questions about whether it's worth the equity. Short answer—yes.

YC gives you incredible focus and discipline. You have 100 days until demo day so get moving.

YC is a community. Your class is supportive, helpful, and in the trenches with you. They will always lend an ear or a hand.

YC is a guild. The alumni are incredibly generous with their time. We've gotten specific product feedback, investment, advice, and introductions from the extended YC family.

YC is a guide. The YC partners are successful and helpful. They will kick your ass in every conversation you have with them, improving your business and your thinking.

YC is a mafia (cough) I mean, a union. If someone treats you poorly then PG will treat them poorly.

Do you have advice on my application?

Be yourself.

Be concise.

Be demonstrably committed.

Don't lie. Don't bullshit. Don't exaggerate. Avoid adjectives and pronouncements.

Prove that you and your co-founder likely won't get divorced. This is how most companies die early.


Having worked in the social and civic sectors, a ton of my non-profit friends have asked me about applying to YC. I have no special advice to them except that they have to have some plausible story of how the NFP will grow. Startups are growth. YC funds startups.

I'd also suggest reading Glen's thoughts.

[1] This is basically true of all the advice from and operations of YC on some level. Almost all of the knowledge — although very little of the pressure and urgency — are in PG's many essays.