- Please enter the url of a 1 minute unlisted (not private) YouTube video introducing the founder(s).
- Who writes code, or does other technical work on your product? Was any of it done by a non-founder?
- How long have the founders known one another and how did you meet? Have any of the founders not met in person?
- Please tell us about an interesting project, preferably outside of class or work, that two or more of you created together.
- Please tell us in one or two sentences about something impressive that each founder has built or achieved.
- Please tell us about the time you most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage.
- How far along are you?
- How long have each of you been working on this? How much of that has been full-time?
- When will you have a prototype or beta?
- How many active users or customers do you have? How many are paying? Who is paying you the most, and how much do they pay you?
- We're interested in your revenue over the last several months. (Not cumulative and not GMV).
- Anything else you would like us to know regarding your revenue or growth rate?
- If you are applying with the same idea as a previous batch, did anything change? If you applied with a different idea, why did you pivot and what did you learn from the last idea?
- If you have already participated or committed to participate in an incubator, "accelerator" or "pre-accelerator" program, please tell us about it.
- Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you're making?
- What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet (or they don't know about it)?
- Who are your competitors? What do you understand about your business that they don't?
- How do or will you make money? How much could you make?
- How do users find your product? How did you get the users you have now? If you run paid ads, what is your cost of acquisition?
- Have you formed ANY legal entity yet?
- Please list all legal entities you have and in what state or country each was formed (e.g. Delaware C Corp, Mexican SAPI, Singapore Pvt Ltd, etc.).
- Please describe the breakdown of the equity ownership in percentages among the founders, employees and any other stockholders. If there are multiple founders, be sure to give the equity ownership of each founder and founder title (e.g. CEO).
- Have you taken any investment yet?
- How much money do you spend per month?
- How much money does your company have in the bank now?
- How long is your runway?
- Is there anything else we should know about your company?
Please tell us in one or two sentences about something impressive that each founder has built or achieved.
How 15 YC companies answered the "Please tell us in one or two sentences about something impressive that each founder has built or achieved." question from the YCombinator Application.
— 15 answers
Build a one man AWS consulting company with fortune 50 clients and a standard rate of $320/hour. Shut down said company while I was fully booked and profitable to work full time on Dendron.
kvogt: Built various devices that were the first ever to crack certain kinds of high‑security safes. One can even open the "unbeatable" X‑09 lock currently in use on DoD safes. This is one of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69g_ieT3Wes jebagu: I helped to build a self‑driving car. My team finished alongside Stanford and Carnegie Mellon to finish the 2007 Grand Challenge: http://www.graymatterinc.com/. Networked my way into Founder's Fund F50, reportedly the most exclusive tech conference ever.
CanadaKaz designed Canada’s Startup Visa. Paul Graham once blogged that this policy was “the single biggest thing the government could do to increase the number of startups in the country.” Many people agreed and for nearly a decade people had tried to make it happen. CanadaKaz became interested in the file in early 2012. Less than a year later, it was the law of the land. (https://twitter.com/kenneyjason/status/336716401819652096 <- proof) (https://twitter.com/paulg/status/335632601618452484 <- Paul Graham liking CanadaKaz’s marketing campaign) DannySu wrote an app during spare time that got over 150,000 downloads and later bundled with all Huawei C8300 phones http://dannysu.com/2011/03/27/home-screen-customizer-found-on-microsoft-china/ GFlarity led the development of a system capable of simulating 20,000+ active electronic traders trading simultaneously on an electronic trading platform.
Chris Finneral - Led the design team for a 1,500 person Cambridge Ball. Themed Wizard of Oz, it contained a 500m long yellow brick road and a dilapidated Dorothee's house that people entered through and a giant 6 meter fireplace, amidst fairground rides, music stages, bars and food. David Mack - Parallel to work I am a theatre designer ‐ I've been Technical Director of England's oldest University playhouse, designed and worked internationally (America, Europe and Japan) and in some of England's most prestigious venues (Divinity Schools Oxford, V&A museum, Christie's Auction house, Windsor Castle, Great St Mary's Cambridge)
Nancy: trader who ran the Fixed Income Quantitative Strategies team at GETCO (GETCO grew from 100 to 500 people to become the premiere algorithmic trading company); world class expert in Fixed Income trading and exchanges. Jeremy: owned IndexedDB (the emerging w3c standard for storing data in a browser) within Chrome; edited the spec, worked closely with Mozilla and Microsoft on the design, and wrote most of the initial implementation in Chrome/WebKit; simultaneously started the London Chrome team.
Standard Treasury(S13)Full application
ZT reorganized child welfare investigations in New York City. He got tons and tons of data, wrote R code to analyze it, set up ethnographic research conducted by his team, etc. He sniffed out details, wrote a report, and then helped implement the changes to a staff of 2000, and a budget in the tens of millions. Dan built Giftly, particular the proprietary stored value product, from a regulatory, legal, risk, etc, perspective.
Travis (beambot): During my PhD I designed, constructed, and/or programmed three human-scale mobile robots (EL-E, Cody, and the PR-2) and was an early contributor to the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS). I pulled off an autonomous, sensor-driven robot demo on live TV (CNN) -- a rare (and gutsy!) move in the robotics world. Fei (bebefuzz): According to power industry veterans, I was the youngest ever regional sales director in the power automation industry -- doubly impressive as a woman (rare!) in a male-dominated industry. David (dmohs): I am passionate about writing software that makes its users' lives better. At Sandia National Laboratories, I took over an ailing project to help counterintelligence personnel protect classified information. Working closely with these users, I built a new version of the existing application from scratch which was much more responsive and easier to use than anything they had seen previously. At the end of the project, the users were happier, more productive, and had become advocates for good software design.
One Month(S13)Full application
I created the most popular online Skillshare class ever (with over 5,000 students), manufactured and sold my own brain supplement (currently generating $6,000 in revenue per month), and managed to do both while living in NYC on less than $30,000 per year.
The Muse(W12)Full application
In 2010 KMinshew worked on the national strategic plan for the introduction of the HPV Vaccine for the Government of Rwanda, including the development of a comprehensive plan for cervical cancer screening and treatment. As part of her role, she supported negotiations between the Rwandan Ministry of Health and Merck that led to a quadrupling in the amount of vaccine donated by Merck, from 500,000 doses to 2 million, and the introduction of the vaccine to Rwanda in April 2011 as the first sub-Saharan African country to offer it via the public health system. After millions of Americans lost their retirement savings in the 2008 economic downturn, ACavoulacos created the first holistic model that computed by age and income group how far from retirement security each demographic segment would be on the day they retired. With that complete picture into our (dire) future, she was able to model the effects of 10 potential laws being considered by a lobby in DC, to ensure that bills presented to lawmakers would in fact have the positive impact on our country that they hoped. The best of those are currently making it through Congress. Under MMcCreery's leadership, our previous startup PYP Media was named a Forbes' Top Website for Women and lauded for the sharp content and avid following it had earned. She was also the former Executive Editorial Editor of the Harvard Crimson.
After 7 months I went from knowing nothing about web development (started using php on GoDaddy) to building sites on a Python/Nginx/Linux stack and learning enough sysadmin skills to manage our own ec2 instances, and being offered year-long salaried positions as a developer. Over those 7 months I've helped build and manage sites that have totaled over 200K users and utilized several API's (Facebook, Twitter, Twilio, LinkedIn, Mailgun, Amazon, iTunes, and Yipit - which I built my own wrapper for and open sourced). Bonus: I also got into Wharton after a suspension for selling weed sophomore year. \n\n At 17, worked my way into a full-time paid position at Zillow where I was in charge of developing their successful marketing and social strategy through blogs/FB/Twitter/etc as well as assembling a team to start a 500+ person technology education conference for real estate agents in Seattle, garnering 20+ sponsorship deals and kickstarting similar events in the region.
Make School(W12)Full application
Ashu: - At 16, developed an iPhone game, Helicopter (downloaded 50k times at 99c). - At 18, founded first company, DesaiData, and developed a fully functional prototype bluetooth gamepad for iOS devices. Jeremy: - At 18 founded Manifold Studios, recruited a team, raised money, and directed team towards launch of WarSquared which has been featured on the App Store. - At 19, dropped out of school (along with Ashu) to work on new game Realms at War and hired 3 full time team members.
Ethan was admitted to CS PhD programs at Stanford, Berkeley, and MIT for research on automatic software development (e.g. automatically finding bugs, fixing bugs, generating test suites). Muzzammil is a member of the core development team for GuardRails, a secure web application framework, which will be published at USENIX 2011 and presented at RubyNation. He is also the founder of Wahoobooks, a site where U.Va. students can list used textbooks.
While running the web department for a small daily newspaper, lloydarmbrust grew page-view traffic by 850% and revenue by 400%--during that process he built a web presence that won several national awards and accomplished goals that he was told would never work at a small-town newspaper. Nine months after starting his first job, jnovek had to ask his boss for a new set of responsibilities because he had replaced his entire daily routine with a collection of cron jobs and shell scripts.
Drew - Programming since age 5; startups since age 14; 1600 on SAT; started profitable online SAT prep company in college (accoladeprep.com). For fun last summer reverse engineered the software on a number of poker sites and wrote a real-money playing poker bot (it was about break-even; see screenshot url later in the app.)
— advice from YC partners
Harjeet Taggar (Partner at Y Combinator)Source
Pay particular attention to the question asking which impressive things you’ve built/achieved. it’s the first question on the application i look at.
Ethan Fast (CS Ph.D. student at Stanford, YC alum)Source
We mentioned specific and verifiable achievements, the substance of which implied that we are determined people. You should try to avoid generalities.
Zain Shah (Data Scientist at Opendoor, YC alum)Source
Come off as intelligent, capable, impressive in some manner. Bonus points if your impressive thing isn’t the startup but shows off your uniquely advantageous characteristics. E.g. Eastern region manager of the largest personal appliance repair shop chain in the world, Ralph’s, at only 25 years old.
Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)Source
To me this is the most important question on the application. It’s deliberately open-ended; there’s no one type of answer we’re looking for. It could be that you did really well in school, or that you wrote a highly-regarded piece of software, or that you paid your own way through college after leaving home at 16. It’s not the type of achievement that matters so much as the magnitude. Succeeding in a startup is, in the most literal sense, extraordinary, so we’re looking for people able to do extraordinary things.
Harjeet Taggar (Partner at Y Combinator)Source
Realize the question asking about the most impressive things you’ve built or achieved is one of (possibly the) most important question on the form. Don’t answer with “This startup”, “I haven’t achieved anything impressive yet” or use it as an opportunity to show your sense of humour. We’re not looking for resume credentials here, examples of where you were determined to do something and stuck with it — regardless of the outcome — are impressive to us (since so much of what we’re looking for in founders is determination).
Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)Source
When answering the question about the most impressive thing you’ve achieved, it’s not necessary to “focus on things that can be useful in a startup.” In fact that’s a common mistake. If you won an Olympic gold medal and can also write hello world in Ruby, we want to hear about the former, not the latter.