Y Combinator has been responsible for getting some of the world's most successful startups off the ground. If you use Reddit, Dropbox, airbnb, you're benefitting from Y Combinator's influence. Each year the company invests a small amount of money in roughly 85 startups, but the money isn't the most important part. In fact, the seed money is really one of the least impressive aspects of Y Com's modus operandi. What are the best parts? Read on.
1. Startup College
Makers are great at coming up with ideas, but they're not necessarily businessmen. It's difficult to transform business theory into business reality for even the most weathered of founders, but for the young and ambitious, the intricacies of launching and successfully maintaining a startup are often overwhelming. Y Combinator is the safe harbor in the tumultous seas of startups. For three months, your company will undergo a sort of startup bootcamp that will address everything from the first-year plan to going public. Every Tuesday during the three months your company is at Y Combinator, an influential speaker will address the new Y combinator seed recipients: that kind of exposure to influencers is invaluable. Plus, if your company is impressive enough, speakers have been known to invest in the startups they meet. Y Combinator is also an investor in your company, so they want you to succeed: the difference is that they give you the guidance and freedom needed to do just that.
Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit, at the company's offices.
Ever seen an episode of Shark Tank? If you haven't, it's a show on which contestants with inventions compete for money from a panel of investors. And it's downright terrifying. For the average startup, finding investors is a daunting task, and even more daunting is approaching those investors and convincing them to hand over their cash. Y Combinator, though it offers about $120k to each startup it funds, knows that finding and keeping investors is an ongoing task. Yes, it will help you master the pitch, but more importantly, Y Com will likely save you a ton of money by teaching you how to avoid getting screwed. From paperwork traps to legal landmines, Y Combinator teaches startups how to navigate all of the potential disasters of starting and keeping a business. This part of the process is vital and is also the most confusing: attempting to go it alone would be problematic at best and suicide at worst. Airbnb was rejected 7 times before it finally got the money it needed--and that was with Y Com's help.
AirBnb's founders, recipients of Y Combinator's seed money.
3. The Y Combinator Alumni Network
It's not what you know, it's whom you know. Nowhere is this adage more applicable than in the frenetic world of startups. Though you may seem confident in your company's ability to exist as an independent entity, the truth is that at some point you'll need help. The Y Combinator network is invaluable because it's made of startups who have experienced what your company is likely experiencing. It works like a fraternity of tech startups that maintains a "pay it forward" attitude to fellow Y Com founders. You never know what you'll need or when you'll need it, but with over 1,600 founders at your disposal, the help isn't far away.
The Y Combinator alumni network is an invaluable tool.
So there you have it: three compelling reasons to apply for the next funding cycle of Y Combinator. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.