8 – Video / Demo

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Summary: The video and the demo are both similar in that they are concrete non-text ways for you to convey who you are and what you’ve done. Same rules apply – try to impress as quickly as possible without falling into marketing-speak / overblown statements.


I’m afraid I don’t have amazing advice for the video so I’ll just list some thoughts:

  • They probably only watch the video if they like the rest of the app since it sort of breaks the flow of reading the app
  • Basically you want to introduce yourselves, give a one-sentence description of what you’re making and then either:
    • Why you’re doing this startup
    • What you’ve learned since starting
    • How you know each other
    • Expertise you’ve developed in this domain
    • anything else that might make them want to fund you
  • PG said he added to get a better sense of how the founders communicate and relate to each other.
  • We did a lot of takes of our video but made sure not to memorize it so that it would still seem natural. You should have an idea of what you want to say. Ours had a lot of one person talking over the other person, some jokes / laughing, and we talk pretty fast so we could squeeze in more stuff.
  • Ideally you’re all in the frame, but it’s ok if you record a Skype video – we used Call Recorder because Kalvin was traveling when we shot the video. I would avoid just having one founder in the video if at all possible.
  • Don’t worry about making the production value that high – as long as you can be heard and seen, I think that’s fine
  • Having said that, human beings naturally tend to like attractive/happy individuals more, so if you can find good lighting, wash your face and not wear your rattiest t-shirt during the video, it could only help you.
  • HN Thread on Directed Edge Video


My thoughts on the demo are actually that it doesn’t play a major role in YC’s decision. In general, they want to know you are a technical team that can build stuff – so it is good if you do have a working, live version of your product, and that you are getting it in front of users. This is good for you as a startup founder.

But again, time is the big issue. It takes a while to click around a site and really use it enough to get a good perspective on it. So unless your idea is super technical, it’s unlikely that YC will spend too much time on the demo. If you are building a general web or mobile app, I think YC assumes if you are technical, the issue won’t be “can you make this?”. Your mileage may vary.

PG’s comments on this section:

The demo can matter a lot. It depends on the type of startup. If you’re in a situation where you ought to have something to show for your work so far, it’s bad not to. And no matter what your situation, it helps greatly if you have a great demo.

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