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Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered.

How 27 YC companies answered the "Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered." question from the YCombinator Application.

27 answers / 48 words on average / Obsolete question

"Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered." — 27 answers


Full application

1/ The vast majority of subscription revenue comes from people who forgot they were paying for a service and consumers’ willingness to pay for stuff is way higher than people give them credit for. 2/ Paid marketing is a *much* better channel than people give it credit for. It often costs a heck of a lot more to get word of mouth growth and “organic” growth than it does to just use FB or Google Ads for customer acquisition. Few companies like Netflix, Wish and Spotify understand this deeply; most others just complain about CAC and give up quickly.


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Restaurants and hotels spend an insane amount of money on electricity but obsess over keeping lights turned off in toilets. Who hasn’t found themselves in a dark toilet because the motion sensor flicked the lights off while you were doing your business? :)


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I had an issue when ordering sushi rolls from Japanese bars. I wanted them without cream cheese. It was hard. I got in trouble sometimes. People said they could not "customize food" for me. So I discovered a trick. I started saying I was allergic to cream cheese. It solved the problem. How you sell is very important. Keep trying until you make it.


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Did you know that most claims about human psychology and behavior in the world's top journals are based on WEIRD samples (i.e., from Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic societies)? This is a big problem as you can't generalize most findings to the broader population or to other countries!


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As I was working on a previous side project & getting into deep learning methods, I discovered the Word2Vec Libraries. Those are the equivalent of image recognition algorithms for text, and go way further: they let you modelize words in such a way that sentences and their meaning can be mathematically explained. For instance, it will give you in output : Obama = Poutine + US - Russia That's not by chance I chose this example, at some point this algorithm could create a lot of intelligence within your Slite usage.


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Last year, we discovered that when we get a video interview with YC and the web page says “Wait until Adora connects” for longer than 3 hours, it probably means our connection dropped and the video interview is not happening. ?


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Recent college grads in the Bay Area without student loan debt will spend 12 years saving for a home. Recent college grads with debt will spend 27 years to do the same.

The Flex Company(S16)

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I’ve always gotten yeast infections for a full week after my period when using tampons, and I learned through speaking with hundreds of women that many have the same issue; a dirty secret tampon companies and women themselves don’t talk about. After using FLEX many women — including Erika and I — no longer get post-period yeast infections. This isn’t so much amusing as it is amazing. Many of the women I speak with about their periods tell me that their mom started them on pads… because if they used a tampon, they “wouldn’t be a virgin anymore.” Women are always surprised at themselves for saying that. I think we don’t realize that period stigma is so deeply ingrained in us.

80,000 Hours(S15)

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The eradication of smallpox in 1973 has saved five times more lives than world peace since that time would have done. Even if we assume that all foreign aid was completely wasted except insofar as it caused the eradication of smallpox, it would still have saved a life for every $40,000 spent.


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Before GitLab Sytse has build recreational manned submarines from scratch, the company he started is currently the largest producer of them in the world and is called U-Boat Worx


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The word sonder from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. It is the realization that everyone you see on a daily basis has a life just as complex as your own. Not something you really think about.


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Have you seen how many bathrooms some warehouses have?? They have some of the highest densities of bathrooms in a workplace. One union negotiated a clause that every employee must be less than 90 feet from a toilet at all times.


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It turns out that if you vaporize alcohol into fog, it becomes a lot more fun. From inhaling just milliliters of the fog, one becomes light headed and tipsy. Furthermore, you can create flavored aromatic cocktails by crushing herbs into a glass, then passing the vapor over them and inhaling. I plan to incorporate this into a piece of immersive theatre.


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Americans, each year, write roughly 25 billion checks. They use their credit cards roughly 22 billion times. While the number of consumer-to-business checks is going down, the number of consumer to consumer checks is going up. American consumers write on average 2.5 billion checks to each other each year.


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I spent a week as a tourist in Iceland and never had to touch a piece of physical currency. It was amazing. Everyone took debit cards. Yet I still have to fumble through my pocket for some wadded up dollar bills to get across the Bay Bridge.


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People think it’s red, but no one knows the best button color.

Standard Treasury(S13)

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The failure, if it was one, lay in the fact that, having too much to hold on to, they slowly lost what they had. On the whole, it was those who had least who were able to move most freely to the new world which was coming into existence. --That reading The Making of the Middle Ages can make you think of everything from startups to the state of America in the world (this happened in December)


Full application

-- Scammers and fakers hate us. We helped uncover a scam ring (selling counterfeit designer clothes) that was honeypotting Google servers [1]. If we’re pissing off the scammers and fakers, we must be doing something right! [1] -- Historically, Chanel bags have a stable rate of appreciation: 20% annually. This outperforms many stocks! -- Approximately 70% of Herve Leger dresses sold on Ebay are fake. -- Women think about fashion more than men think about sex [2]. (Travis & Dave: Seriously?!? Fei: Yep. Travis: Bummer.) [2]

One Month(S13)

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The Nike logo was designed in 1971 by a graphic design student for $35 (

The Muse(W12)

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91% of women feel advertisers don't understand them. Also, honey badger don't care.

Make School(W12)

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We recently found out that Trader Joe's sells the cheapest beer money can buy: Name Tag Lager. It turns out to be far more palatable than all the typical cheap college bears.


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Red Robin is one of many companies who don't realize gmail users can add a period (".") anywhere in their email address and it lands in the same inbox. And because Red Robin now offers new loyalty club members one free appetizer and a free burger every year on the month of their 'birthday,' gmail users can get several free appetizers and a free burger every month of the year (I am 6 down, and 6 to-go).


Full application

You can start small word-memes among family and friends. Choose a word that is fairly obscure (but not obviously so), something like pedantic, sycophant or obsequious. Over a few days, casually inject it into conversation. Listen throughout the next week. The word will come up with surprising frequency. You can also do this with unique inflections, and distinct rhythms of speech.


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Children are useless until around the age of three. I never thought it would take them that long to become real people.


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Users have the tendency to defy your expectations all the time. If you don’t listen, you won’t survive.


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The ridiculous things people name their documents to do versioning, like "proposal v2 good revised NEW 11-15-06.doc", continue to crack me up.

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