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Seven useful tips for new-age startups to ace the Y Combinator application

Being valued by top tech investors, Y Combinator is considered one of the most successful accelerator programs in Silicon Valley. Here are a few bonus tips to help new-age startups ace the Y Combinator application.

Getting into Y Combinator is a big deal for startups. The America-based seed money startup has launched unicorn companies like Airbnb, Cruise Automation, Doordash, Instacart, Dropbox, etc. Twice a year, the funding accelerator invests in a large number of early-stage startups. It conducts a three-month intensive program in each summer and winter batch, receives more than 10,000 applications globally, and shortlists 120-150 startups in each cycle. Being valued by top tech investors, Y Combinator is considered one of the most successful accelerator programs in Silicon Valley. Here are a few bonus tips to help new-age startups ace the Y Combinator application.

Committed & Resilient Founders

Commitment is the key to tap the untapped opportunities and resilience is to bounce back from challenges while achieving business goals. Y Combinator values founders who keep working on the same problem or idea for say a year or two rather than just having an idea. It deeply studies the business idea and looks for unusual trends. For instance, founders having built and sold the business at the age of 16, when generally people do it in the late ’20s or the idea is based on their personal experience. Startup founders who seem committed to their goals also breed stability which in turn, can increase the chances of getting selected for the Y Combinator program.

Sharp customer insights

Y Combinator acknowledges startups that understand their customers’ needs and ensure they can build a future-proof company. One of the most important things to accomplish in the Y Combinator application is to have in-depth customer insights. Sharp Customer insights give founders a competitive advantage. Additionally, having unique insights which the market lacks and where the core principles of the company are built can help the founders get a spot.

Complementary skill set

Business experience and having domain expertise certainly make a difference. Traditionally, Y Combinator has liked founders with a technical skill set as their speed of execution has been quite high as compared to ones with a traditional background, which is the primary decider for the company’s success in the early days. Lately, Y Combinator has been taking founders with business backgrounds if they have robust project management skills and core expertise in their field. Thus, having a complementary skillset is a bonus for founders in paving their road to Y Combinator.

Possibility of building a large-scale business

No one likes to start small and stay where they are. The majority of startup founders focus on solving problems that may not have a huge impact. However, Y Combinator recognizes startups that solve problems to impact the society or community and have higher chances to succeed than startups going after a problem that may have fewer chances of success. It invests in founders who can turn an idea into a valuable solution or product that sustains, repeats and scales.

Ability to communicate succinctly

Y Combinator asks simple questions like ‘Describe what your company does in 50 characters or less’, ‘How will you get users?’, and ‘What do you understand about your business that other companies just don’t get?’. This is the first impression a startup makes in front of Y Combinator partners. The recommended way to answer this question or others is to focus on the facts and not the emotions. For instance, Shopify for doctors in India vs Empowering doctors in an online world. Thus, to create a winning Y Combinator application, give useful information related to the business and expected growth.

Ability to present milestones and success

Y Combinator rates the startup founders higher who show tremendous success and milestones achieved in a small period compared to what most people don’t achieve in the same timeline. Especially for companies in India, Africa and Latin America, Y Combinator likes companies that make money and have shown tremendous traction over a 6-month period. A 10-20% MoM growth is a promising sign of a startup on how they can grow in the future. Additionally, around 50-60% of Y Combinator companies raise Series A round in two years post their Demo Day. Keeping this in view, the accelerator shortlists startups that have a certain chance of doing Series A. Furthermore, if a startup lacks such revenue growth, then one can demonstrate growth through their Monthly Active Users, Product Engagement and Retention and the core functioning of the product.

Recommenders

Recommendations have the power to influence. Founders shouldn’t forget this part once their application is submitted. One should get as many recommendations from Y Combinator and Non-Y Combinator connections including their investors and advisors with credible professional track records to strengthen their applications.

Bottomline

Applying for Y Combinator is nerve-wracking. However, getting to the point and impressing Y Combinator partners with quality makes a huge difference to the application. Thus, share information in the form of metrics and in the cleanest way possible to be on the list of Y Combinator companies.

Source: Business World

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