Summary: You should do YC if you want : instant relationships to amazing people, strategic / “insider” advice and perspective on entrepreneurship, a solid infusion of seed capital, and an ever increasingly recognized “startup stamp of approval”.
There are a lot of great reasons why you should apply / do Y Combinator. If you’re reading this guide, you probably have your reasons. As Y Combinator itself has put it:
The overall goal of YC is to help startups really take off. They arrive at YC at all different stages. Some haven’t even started working yet, and others have been launched for a year or more. But whatever stage a startup is at when they arrive, our goal is to help them to be in dramatically better shape 3 months later.
Having gone through the program, I’ll offer my take on the value you get from doing it. It basically boils down to four things (no particular order) knowledge, network, resources and brand.
The YC partners have an immense amount of startup expertise. Every single problem you face as a founder, there have been numerous YC companies who have dealt with the same issues – and guess who helped them get through it? The partners. Office hours is not reallylike what you see on Techcrunch Disrupt – it’s much better. This is invaluable for your startup.
YC has amazing speakers – on the caliber of Startup School, except they are more candid and you get to do Q&A with them afterward. (A full list of speakers).
There are also special panels devoted to fundraising, and a lot of great prep before demo day. You are going to learn a ton of useful knowledge about startups and specifically how your startup can be successful by doing YC
When you get into YC, you instantly have 150+ (depending on how big the batch is) smart, successful, well-connected people who will *for sure* take and respond to your emails. This is in addition to the 800+ founders in the broader YC alumni network who are super helpful and generous.
This is so invaluable when doing a startup. Doesn’t matter if you are trying to hit an industry contact, figure out a nasty technical issue, decide between different service/software providers, backchannel to an investor or just need someone who reads German, someone in your batch or in the full network can help.
YC alumni help each other to a greater extent than most any other organization alumni I have seen. It’s a special thing and an absurd, almost unfair advantage for founders.
Y Combinator invests 5k + 5k per founder in exchange for 6-10% equity and while it’s expensive as money goes, it’s a bargain considering what else you get in return. In addition to the YC seed funding, since Winter 2010, every team has an offer to accept convertible debt from Start Fund ($50k, led by Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire), SV Angel ($50k, led by Ron Conway, a well known “super angel”) and now Andreessen Horowitz ($50k, led by super ex-entrepreneurs Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz).
This note is on very entrepreneur-friendly terms and almost everyone takes it. Getting into YC means now that your / your startup has at least a year of burn for your founding team, which is an amazing opportunity.
Additionally, there are a number of additional perks / deals offered to Y Combinator companies. I’m not going to list them here, but suffice to say they are pretty awesome and in some ways even better than money.
Everyone in the startup world knows what YC is now, and it’s almost universally regarded positively. The only semi-negative is that some investors think YC companies are “overpriced” but this is only bad in the sense that you’ll be unable to get funding from this investor because your company’s valuation is too high for them.
Investors are much more willing to talk to you when they know you are a YC company. They may not invest, but they almost certainly will meet you (especially after Demo Day).
More and more people outside of startups in general are hearing about YC, which is only a good thing for YC.