rocamboleh: Is anyone aware of the number of submissions to YC per year and the chance of getting an interview?
pg: I realize this will sound like a flippant answer, but I mean it seriously: the chance is either very high or very low, depending on how good your application is. It took me a long time to realize that when the odds of getting into something were described as e.g. 1 in 10, that didn’t mean the odds for any given applicant were 10%, but rather (to the extent the people deciding were good judges) that for 10% of applicants the chance was nearly 100%, and for the other 90% nearly zero.
Y Combinator is an incredible program and an insane asset for any entrepreneur. My startup would not have half (perhaps more!) of the success we’ve had if it were not for YC. Having said that, it’s important not to get hung up on getting into YC. Remember:
You don’t need anyone’s permission to be an entrepreneur.
You do not NEED to get into YC to start a great/successful company. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Mason, Dennis Crowley, Aaron Patzer, Jaakko Iisalo (creator of Angry Birds) or scores of others. Look, I am with you – when we applied, I really really wanted to get in. And there is a magical quality to the Tuesday dinners and the entire experience. But it’s not a pre-requisite for being an entrepreneur.
The good news is that doing the Y Combinator application is a great way to think through your business. It forces you to give real answers to important questions that will impact your business which is useful even if you don’t get in YC. Force yourselves to give real (vs BS) answers to these questions.
Read Paul Grahams article’s on What Startups Are Really Like and Startups in 13 Sentences and see if what you’re doing and how you’re approaching your startup and the app are in line with these thoughts.
Make sure you are really ready to commit to the startup life. Being a founder is a tough road. You will likely fail, and even if you do succeed, it will take far more time and effort than you anticipate. Yet it can also be one of the most fulfilling things in the world.
You must believe to the core of your being that you have the right team and you will make this happen no matter what anyone, including YC, says.
PG has imaged YC as an institution for some time and now has begun talking about it. Like a Harvard or Stanford. Something with legacy that is not just about startups, but about bringing together smart, ambitious, hardworking people who add value to the world. This is a natural extension of his thought that startups should Be Good.
Show Y Combinator why they can’t afford to pass you up.