- 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?
What is your company going to make? Please describe your product and what it does or will do.
How 30 YC companies answered the "What is your company going to make? Please describe your product and what it does or will do." question from the YCombinator Application.
— 30 answers
We are making a note taking tool that lets users find notes in seconds, no matter how many notes they have. If you are familiar with tools like Roam and Obsidian, then you're familiar with Dendron. We provide the same functionality as the aforementioned apps but tuned for our custom hierarchical note taking engine. This engine lets users create notes using flexible hierarchies. These notes can be found again by searching their path in the hierarchy, a process we call "lookup". Through lookup, users can find any specific note in seconds no matter how many notes they have. These notes are stored locally on the user's file system and can be synced via tools like Git and Dropbox or Dendron's (upcoming) native cloud sync. Users are also able to publish all or a subset of their notes as a website where they can find their notes using the same hierarchical engine that they use locally. The current implementation of Dendron is an open-source, markdown- based, note-taking tool that runs as an extension inside VSCode.
We’re building tools to power online trade schools. With our software, anyone can build a “Lambda School for X” business. Primarily, we bring together the most important components of any modern online school: admissions, live conferencing, payment processing, student/community management, and income share agreement tracking.
InEvent is the Salesforce for events. Our end-to-end marketing solution simplifies trainings, events and travel logistics with cloud technology. InEvent is an all in one platform that allows you to use multiple solutions (website, registration, mobile app, hospitality, check-in, badge printing, budgeting, etc) altogether, without having to upload data 3-4x times on different pages. Everything is available on the cloud, 24x7, for you and your attendees. Most of our competitors have modules that don't talk with each other, we solved this by creating a solid foundation that all of our solutions are built upon. We have already successfully improved more than 12,400 events, boosting more than 2,390,000 registrations so far. We have integrations with Salesforce, Marketo, Oracle, Microsoft, and other vendors to create a simple, easy-to-use marketing ecosystem for all our customers.
We've built a marketplace that connects researchers (from both academia and industry) with instant, high quality, global research participants. On top of that, we've built infrastructure for research: Prescreening tools (from niche segments to nationally representative samples), user validation software (to ensure high data quality), and research tools (e.g., longitudinal functionality allowing researchers to follow up with participants over weeks or months). We're going to build (1) tools for data reuse (to reduce research redundancy and waste), (2) the infrastructure to experiment with different incentive structures (e.g., micro payments, bonus payments), (3) a mobile app so participants can earn money taking part in research from their phone, when convenient, and researchers can ask the right questions at the right time (e.g., contextual surveys based on location, time of day etc.), and (4) an API platform (so anyone can tap our trusted and diverse participants). We have several customers interested in plugging their experimental/survey software into Prolific to allow their customers to easily access participants without needing to manage their own audience product. The next scale.ai/usertesting.com could be built on top of the reliable participants we already have, allowing for an ecosystem of people-powered tools that wouldn't be built otherwise. Just like Stripe is the go-to financial infrastructure layer for most YC startups, we hope to be the go-to infrastructure layer for "human responses".
Slite brings transparency and accessibility to your team’s knowledge through notes, much like Slack brought transparency to your communication with chat.
OpenPhone is a phone system equipped with CRM capabilities, built from the ground up to fit the needs of small businesses. Through our mobile application, small business owners get a simple yet powerful business phone system with a dedicated phone number on top of their existing mobile devices. We are not just another phone system though. We start by owning the communication channel and then use that data to help small businesses communicate better and earn more money. Some of the values our product will offer are: * Giving businesses full control over their phone system right from their mobile devices (personalized voicemail, greeting, business hours, etc) * Enriching their texting experience with other interactions such as appointment scheduling, sending/requesting docs/signatures/payments and more * Allowing them to share the responsibility of their business phone with their colleagues or partners * Integrating with their existing systems to bring all communications and customer data to one place * Helping them manage their relationships and close more deals
Goodly makes it easy for employers to offer student loan repayment benefits. Our platform allows employers to make monthly payments directly to employees' student debt. Similar to a 401k to pay down student loans. Offering student loan benefits as an incentive for recruiting and retaining top employees and to foster diversity and inclusion has become increasingly essential for employers. Student loan benefits rank as one of the most desirable employee benefits for millennial and gen z employees. When we looked at existing options, it was clear that the market does not have a great solution for employers that want to offer student loan benefits. Current options are difficult to implement, expensive, and have limited resources for employees. Goodly will: Benefits administrator: implement plans, enroll employees, verify student loans, and facilitate payments. Improve workplace diversity: - Women hold two-thirds (66%) of all student loan debt - Black and Latinx Americans have 31% higher student loan debt - LGBTQ community holds significantly higher debt on average
We are making a platform where users in Brazil can compare, choose, and get an online payroll-deductible loans in under 20 minutes, rather than the typical 3–4 business days offline. Today, it’s a USD 80+ billion dollar market only in Brazil, representing 60% of all personal loans — and no online platforms are approaching it. Payroll-deductible loans works like that: the employee presents a salary deduction form from a bank authorizing the employer to deduct a monthly sum from the employee’s salary and pay it over to the lender. So, the employer starts making the authorized deduction, the loan is repaid and everyone goes their merry way. It is very popular because it is the cheapest personal loan available in the country, up to 10 times cheaper than credit card and other personal loans. Other characteristics of this loan are: - 92% of the market is focused on people who have stable incomes, such as retired people and public servants, who acquire job stability after 3 years of employment; - Users can get multiple loans, which can sum up to 35% of their monthly salary and pay it back in 96 months; - There is no need for credit scoring. If the sum of one’s monthly instalments is less than 35% of his monthly salary, he is good to go. It represents a HUGE market that grew 20% last year, while Brazil’s economy shrunk 1%. We are bringing speed, convenience and transparency to this market. It is impossible to overstress the importance of payroll-deductible loans in sustaining the level of consumption in Brazil. It need to be fixed. We are doing it.
Simple Habit(W17)Full application
We built an iOS app that offers 5-minute meditations for life situations throughout the day. For example, meditations to reduce anxiety before a meeting, improve focus at work, and sleep better. Meditations are recorded by top meditation teachers from all over the world — we currently have over 100 teachers on our platform and are listened to by [redacted]. Our goal is to build the world's leading platform for mindfulness and meditation content. We want to help millions of people learn to live more mindfully and be more resilient.
The Flex Company(S16)Full application
FLEX™ is a disposable feminine hygiene product. It’s shaped like a diaphragm, used for mess-free period sex, and can be worn in place of traditional menstrual products. The menstrual products we use today were created in the 1930’s. They’re uncomfortable, disruptive, and inconvenient. 91% of women say they want alternatives, yet the $15B market for feminine hygiene continues to grow. FLEX is worn internally, was designed for 12 hours of wear, and has the added benefit of mess-free period sex. It is disposable, is not linked to toxic shock syndrome, and is so comfortable, women tell us that they forget that they’re on their period when wearing it.
Software and services needed for merchants in Africa to accept online payments from local and international customers. We provide a full stack APIs and we’ll securely collect, encrypt, transmit and store customer card information in a highly protected vault and offer continuous anti-fraud and charge back protection services. To make these happen we’ve partnered with Access Bank (the third Largest Bank in Nigeria) and we’ve built a PCI Compliant payments infrastructure and APIs.
Stripe for managing Supply Chains. We handle the post-manufacturing supply chain to the customer for small to mid-size product companies by connecting directly to manufacturers. We have developed a standard process to manage the supply chain for many product companies and allow for some flexibility during key points of the supply chain.
We are building a set of standalone Computer Science courses that can be deployed with a couple clicks into any of the 80% of high schools in America that don’t offer any Computer Science courses. Schools won’t need to hire any additional staff to run our courses, just provide their students access to computers. We take care of automated project/assignment grading, plagiarism checking, content presentation and analytics and grade generation for administration. Student will be taking our courses as if they were a class on their daily schedule. If a student does need personal attention or has any questions, we have instructors on our staff that they can live chat with. We call our product Mimir Classroom.
We’re making open source software to collaborate on code. It started as ‘run your own GitHub’ that most users deploy on their own server(s). GitLab allows you to version control code including pull/merge requests, forking and public projects. It also includes project wiki’s and an issue tracker. Over 100k organizations use it including thousands of programmers at . We also offer GitLab CI that allows you to test your code with a distributed set of workers.
80,000 Hours(S15)Full application
We help graduates choose careers that make a difference. Currently we provide an online career guide and one-on-one coaching. In order to serve more users, we’re building a web app to automate parts of our coaching process. It will show users how to compare their options in terms of impact, and recommend high-impact paths they may not have though of. Afterwards, they'll receive personalized advice from our career coaches. Our users get the meaningful career they want, and society benefits because more talent goes to the most pressing social problems.
Venmo for Brick & Mortar Retail, not just P2P. Credit card fees are the single biggest pain point for retailers and can eat up to 50% of their profits. With our initial product, we’ve reduced the number of credit card transactions for our retailers by nearly 25%. Regular ACH is slow to clear, so it doesn’t work in retail. To solve this we link bank account and a credit card to user’s phone. Retailers get paid right away after a purchase. If the money is not in user’s account, we put a hold on user’s credit card. Then we collect funds via ACH. If that fails, then we charge the credit card. We make money from retailers. We get users because retailers push our app to avoid credit card fees and because we offer users free P2P transfers and cash back on some purchases.
Cruise builds a system that inexpensively turns your car into a self‑driving vehicle. We constrain the problem by using commodity hardware, proven algorithms and only solving 90% of driving scenarios‑‑we still leave the trickiest 10% up to you. The product is an aftermarket add‑on for certain vehicles that bolts on like a roof rack. It contains cameras, radar, GPS, and other sensors, and we plan to build these at a cost of under $3,000 per unit.
Some of the highest paid people in the world spend more than 20 hours a week making PowerPoint slides. Chris used to be one of them. There are many inefficiencies in this process. We tackle the two most important: 1. Creating slides in powerpoint takes a lot of time and people loathe doing it 2. Creating good looking powerpoint slides is important, but hard to do SketchDeck is an iPad app that turns sketches into slides: this saves time and delivers better slides. Our long term vision is to become the de-facto platform for presentation creation on touch devices.
One Month(S13)Full application
A 30-day online crash course in web development.
Standard Treasury(S13)Full application
We are building APIs for commercial banking services by building on top of multiple large banks. If someone needs advice they can call Goldman. If they just need to transact then they can use one of our APIs. We will build commercial banking middleware that will sit on top of banks just like Twilio sits on top of multiple phone carriers. It is much easier because we'll have (mostly) RESTful APIs with good documentation, etc, and (if we choose) cheaper because of bulks rates. 1) Delivered programmatically, using good APIs - Anything transactional shouldn't involved a human being. Most banks suck at technology and admit that. They're excited to have us resell their services. 2) Narrow to start, but ultimately broad services - We want to abstract away the pain of dealing with banks for transactional services like ACH, F/X, wires, factoring, short-term loans, etc, just as Stripe, Braintree, and others have done for getting a Merchant ID. We are starting with ACH and F/X as foundational products. 3) Multiple banking partners - We're willing to endure the pain of setting up commercial contracts with many banks and then offering the transactional services (via API) in an intelligently routed way. We've gotten verbal agreement from Wells Fargo, and are pretty far along with JPMorgan and Capital One. Will start with other banks shortly.
Lollipuff is an online auction site dedicated exclusively to *authentic* designer clothing and accessories. Our site uses unique safety precautions and processes that result in buyer and seller confidence. For instance, we developed a unique technique (patent in the works) to verify item’s authenticity and the seller’s physical possession of it. This technique is used in conjunction with humans.
Apptimize lets you AB test mobile applications. You keep the native experience without needing to push changes blindly or rely on users to update. There’s a web interface to manage experiments, and a WYSIWYG interface for non-programmers. Apptimize removes the pain of designing a controlled experiment, serving variations, collecting results, and calculating statistical significance. Right now you have to be a developer and statistician to AB test a mobile app, but we make it so that non-programmers can AB test too. Apptimize makes optimization as easy for mobile as it is for web. Apptimize technology could transform the process of testing and pushing changes and be integrated into 100% of apps.
A website builder for sports teams/leagues. The first feature we will build is an about.me for athletes. We will focus on on the experience of creating and viewing individual athlete profiles and use the data collected from profiles to help coaches better manage teams.
The Muse(W12)Full application
The Daily Muse is building a massive community of job-seeking women to rival The Ladders. We curate high cache job opportunities across fields that reflect the varied interests of today's professionals: finance, startup, tech, media, fashion, and global public health, just to name a few. In addition to pay-to-post career opportunities, we offer smart content and soon to be launched professional development courses. We want to corner "career" for professional women.
Make School(W12)Full application
1. We will build a matchmaking website that allows engineers and artists to make mobile games together. We will automate contracts and revenue share eliminating the need for business and legal knowledge. We will provide teams formed on our site with a workspace similar to Elance's or Odesk's. 2. We publish the games created through our site. Unlike traditional game publishers (Zynga, EA, Chillingo), we can grow our catalog quickly and inexpensively. Every additional game we publish costs us less and less to promote as the strength of our cross promotional network grows. Our value proposition to engineers: we help you find an artist, promote your game better than you ever could, and you worry about nothing but code. Our value proposition to artists: we help you find projects to work on, give you finished projects to put on your portfolio, and help you share revenue with engineers you work with.
A local business directory sold through small-town newspapers. The goal is to integrate hyper-local community and business information into a format that users can trust in their small towns. The directory will be branded as the newspaper's own, allowing businesses to update their information, add photos, news, and daily specials. Consumers will be able to comment and review. Eventually businesses will be able to pick a domain name and template to have a full-fledged website with the ability to sell their products on the internet. Think the Yellowpages plus Yahoo! Merchant Solutions divided by Angie's List. By leveraging trust that small newspapers have with their local advertisers we will create a nation wide network of businesses that feels local. Meanwhile, we automate and streamline every news-delivery task that we possibly can. The eventual goal is to create an all-encompassing online suite of tools for small newspapers: we won't be happy until small, ailing newspapers are able to cut their workforce by 30%. Eventually we will provide the tools necessary to abandon print media altogether
Mixpanel is a business intelligence service that helps improve online companies by tracking user interactions, engagement, and optimization avenues instead of just tracking page views.
Dropbox synchronizes files across your/your team's computers. It's much better than uploading or email, because it's automatic, integrated into Windows, and fits into the way you already work. There's also a web interface, and the files are securely backed up to Amazon S3. Dropbox is kind of like taking the best elements of subversion, trac and rsync and making them "just work" for the average individual or team. Hackers have access to these tools, but normal people don't. It's currently in private beta and I add batches of people every few days. There are lots of interesting possible features. One is syncing Google Docs/Spreadsheets (or other office web apps) to local .doc and .xls files for offline access, which would be strategically important as few web apps deal with the offline problem.
— advice from YC partners
Ethan Fast (CS Ph.D. student at Stanford, YC alum)Source
Don’t be vague. Going into detail may seem to leave out the “bigger picture,” but I suspect this matters little to the readers at YC. You have the rest of your application to impart a broader vision; for this question talk specifically about what you are going to build.
Aditya Agarwalla (Founder at Kisan Network, YC alum)Source
Here’s an example of what does not work: Public transportation in country X sucks. In addition, the cab service is erratic and over priced. People are coming online these days using their smartphone and want to get information and services at their fingertips. So, we are making a mobile app where we connect people with cars in the city to those who want a ride… And here’s what should be written instead: We are making a mobile app where you can press a button and get a car at your doorstep within 10 minutes.
Harjeet Taggar (Partner at Y Combinator)Source
Don’t just list features. Focus on unique insights you have about this product or area that other people don’t have. Did you get this idea from a pain in your own life e.g. Heroku was built as a solution to the pain felt by the founders when trying to deploy software. Maybe you’ve been thinking about this space for a long time? Those will sound more impressive than some cookie cutter text about how revolutionary the product is.
Michael Seibel (CEO, YC Core at Y Combinator)Source
By far one of the biggest three turn-offs is the poor communication. After I read your answer to the question “what does your company do?” I still don’t know what your company does. Using jargon and buzzwords usually cause this. “Explain it like you would to your grandmother” is the best advice I’ve heard on this point.
Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)Source
The biggest mistake founders make when applying is to confuse us. Half the time when I’m reading an application I’m thinking “I have no idea what this person is even talking about.” I suspect this often the writer’s own confusion showing through. It’s surprisingly hard to explain oneself. Even startups that we’ve accepted and have spent months working with say things in draft Demo Day presentations that make me ask “what does that even mean?”
Jason Shen (Co-founder & CEO of Headlight, YC alum)Source
High impact After optimizing for success, YC wants to fund companies that really make an impact on the world — that capitalize on big opportunities that have emerged in society. They want Y Combinator to a engine of progress for the world. You can see this in their Requests for Startups List — the way they have identified problems that they want to “fix” — like dating, news and “the problem” of Hollywood.