How to write a successful Y Combinator application

When he joined Y Combinator as a enterprise associate in 2010, Harj Taggar was the primary full-time worker on the startup accelerator. He and his companions had been continuously refining their choice course of.

As they watched accepted entrepreneurs construct their companies, the companions got here to one evident realization: The most successful founders did not all the time look so good on paper.

Taggar, who’s presently the cofounder and CEO of Triplebyte, advised Business Insider: “Often, we’d fund people that had been promoted and risen up the ranks at really top quality companies like Google. But they’d work at a startup and they couldn’t handle the ambiguity. It wasn’t a good fit for them.”

On the opposite hand, Taggar mentioned, they’d see individuals “who had an unusual background, an eclectic mix of things that they’d done, and actually turn out to be really great at [entrepreneurship].”

He and his companions turned obsessive about determining one of the best methods to determine high expertise, with out counting on résumés.

At some level, they realized that among the best predictors of a founder’s success was what the founders did of their spare time.

“What projects did they work on, and in particular when did they work on projects out of personal interest, because they thought that they would learn something or they were just curious about something?” Taggar mentioned. In different phrases, he was much less excited by initiatives they did as a result of it was required for varsity or for work.

The Y Combinator companions began wanting extra intently at founders’ responses to a immediate that is nonetheless on the application right this moment: “Please tell us about an interesting project, preferably outside of class or work, that two or more of you created together.”

Read extra: Read the application type that received the ‘Spotify for meditation’ into the selective startup accelerator that launched Airbnb and Dropbox

Y Combinator appears for curiosity and the willingness to take a look at new concepts

In the final decade, Y Combinator has launched a variety of successful startups, together with Airbnb, Dropbox, and Instacart.

Some startups which have utilized to Y Combinator have publicly posted their preliminary functions, so you may see how they responded to that specific immediate.

When The Muse cofounders utilized in 2011, they talked about a “10-year strategic review for Sesame Workshop (aka Sesame Street)’s South African production, Takalani Sesame.” Drew Houston, the founding father of Dropbox, utilized in 2007 and talked about a web-based SAT prep firm he’d beforehand launched.

And when the cofounders of Buffer utilized in 2011, they wrote merely, “There are no shared projects before Buffer.” Interestingly, they had been rejected — though they’ve now raised $three.9 million.

Taggar recalled the application submitted by Brian Armstrong, cofounder of Coinbase. At the time, Taggar mentioned, “it wasn’t clear that [Bitcoin] was going to be anything particularly popular. But [Armstrong] had already spent a bunch of time building tools for it and making it easier to buy Bitcoin.” Taggar mentioned it was evident that Armstrong was merely on this “cool new thing.”

Armstrong’s curiosity in constructing cryptocurrency instruments on the aspect is a prime instance of what Y Combinator is on the lookout for, Taggar mentioned. “We found that a predictor of ‘would we want to fund someone’ is: Is this someone that’s got a curiosity about the world and likes getting ideas off the ground to see what happens?”

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