I (Geoff) started looking more into Y Combinator shortly after Jon and I started working on Fangible. In case you’re not aware, YC is considered by many to be the top startup “incubator” or “accelerator” in the world. The three month program takes place twice a year in the heart of Silicon Valley and has given birth to companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Reddit, just to name a few.
At that time, YC was accepting applications for their summer 2012 session so Jon and I figured we would take a stab at applying to the exclusive program. Getting accepted into Y Combinator happens in two stages: the online application and the in-person interview. Approximately 97% of online applications get rejected, but the remaining 3% are invited to Mountain View, CA for a 10 minute interview with a couple of YC partners who will make their final decision based on that quick interview.
I submitted the form in early March and it wouldn’t be until April 16th that YC would send out invitation and rejection letters. So on April 16th, I was excited to see an email on my phone that began, “Your application looks promising and we’d like to meet you in person…” Beyond the excitement of getting invited to a great opportunity like this was also a bit of vindication for our good idea and hard work to date.
We had less than two weeks to prepare for the interview, but Jon and I felt confident going in as we’d already been working on Fangible for a couple of months and we knew their weren’t any questions they could throw our way that would catch us off guard. While continuing to work on our Private Alpha, we also studied all of the Y Combinator advice online (there’s a lot), and polished our iPad demo.
We arrived in Mountain View the day before our interview to get settled in and go over our demo and notes. I also decided to stop by Y Combinator to check out the place and talk with other founders that were there interviewing (shout out to Dan and Keith from 2canFit). Jon and I also had the opportunity to talk to some YC alumni including Chris Morton from Cube and Nick Sedlet and Elli Sharef from HireArt who gave us some great advice and promising feedback.
Our interview took place with YC partners Paul Buchheit (creator of GMail and co-founder of FriendFeed) and Garry Tan (co-founder of Posterous). The interview was definitely intense, rushed, and followed most of the rumors and accounts you’ll find online. We spent the majority of the interview back on our heels defending Fangible and replying to the barrage of questions being thrown our way. While Jon and I had a few key items we wanted to discuss during the interview, we quickly found out that what was to be talked about would not be our decision, so unfortunately we only covered half of the things we had hoped to. And just as everyone says, the 10 minute interview ended quickly and abruptly in what felt like only a few minutes time!
While Jon and I felt confident going into the interview, we left feeling like Paul and Garry never had a clear grasp on what we were doing, and it turns out that we were right because we got notified later that evening that we didn’t get in.
While we didn’t get in, we did prove that we were better than 97% of the applicants from around the world, but more importantly, we learned more about our business and ideas through the application process, met some new friends, and received some new motivation. The only thing better than getting into Y Combinator is not getting into Y Combinator, and then rubbing it in their faces later…