How to get into Y Combinator

Just do it!

Written by Lotte Seifert on November 4, 2023.

3 min read

In the last months, many people have reached out to us asking about feedback on how to get into YC. So we took the time to write down all the things that helped us get into YC.

The good news: They’re the same things you need to build a great, successful company.

🏀 Take every shot you have – aka apply!

You’re neither too late nor too early. Some people get accepted with just an idea (or less), while others have thousands in ARR. If you haven’t applied yet – do so ASAP. An application is never “wasted” – it’s always better to apply to both this batch and then to all future ones if you don’t get in the first time around. The great thing about the YC application: The questions they ask help you reflect on and strengthen your idea.

🏎️ Write progress updates!

Pretend it’s a race that starts the second you apply. Months may pass before YC reads your application. Push yourself to make as much progress as possible and update your YC application. The best part: The focus and efficiency will let you make progress you thought was impossible. And remember: The race never stops.

❤️‍🩹 Be resilient.

If you’re committed to working on this, accept the fact that you’ll get rejected constantly. You’ll hear no’s from everyone: customers, investors, incumbents... Keep trying, again and again and again. Early startups are a matter of how many shots on goal you can take and how much you learn from the misses.

🩲 Be brief.

Don’t waste words explaining to YC how large you think GenAI or why computers are great. Trust me, they know! Neither should your application be a buzzword bingo. Being brief helps with customers and investors, too. Customers won’t buy something they don’t understand.

🚀 Launch your product today, not tomorrow. If you’re live: keep shipping!

We always tried to launch early – yet every time I look back, I think we could have gotten our product out the door even quicker. If you’re adding a dark mode, you’ve gone too far! Launch ASAP and get some users on it (and update the application).

✉️ Push sales, early and hard!

If you’re working on a problem worth solving – you’d be surprised by how willing people are to give you money. The reverse is also true: Why build something that people won’t pay for? As Justin Kan famously said: “First-time founders are obsessed with the product. Second-time founders are obsessed with distribution.”

🤝 When you ask (YC alumni) for recommendations – make sure that the person knows you well. Recommendations from strangers won’t help your case. The same holds for other recs, intros, reference checks – e.g. never take an intro from an investor who has not invested in you!

We're keeping our fingers crossed for you all! 🤞

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