Run a startup Accelerator has a number of occupational hazards, but “Skepticism is easiest when you’ve seen too many companies,” said Geoff Ralston, president of Y Combinator, “and it’s what you need to avoid the most.”
Ralston came to me last week for an hour-long Extra Crunch Live interview where we talked about a variety of topics including how YC adapted its programming during the pandemic, why he “never stopped programming” and what’s going on in tech changes.
“We try not to be too smart because great founders often see things beyond what you see,”
Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual series of events where we sit down with some of the top founders, investors, and builders in the tech space to gain any insight they want to share. We were recently joined by people like Hunter Walk, Kirsten Green and Mark Cuban.
To see the entire interview with Geoff Ralston, Sign up for ExtraCrunch – but once you’ve covered this you’ll find it (and a number of important excerpts from the chat!) Below.
Tips for getting started with YC
I prefer when an Extra Crunch live conversation starts with actionable advice. So we started with all of the suggestions Ralston had for people who want to apply to YC. And he had a lot! Such as:
- Be aware of the deadline, but all hope is not lost if you miss it: “If you miss the deadline, it’s not the end of the world,” says Ralston. “Don’t tell anyone on the admissions team I said that, but it’s a little a bit of a soft deadline. We’d never turn down the next epic company for missing the deadline … though if you don’t make it, your chances of getting involved will decrease [the deadline]. Why shouldn’t your chances be as high as possible? “
- Don’t change things for YC’s sake: “Do whatever you can to make your company as successful and real as possible. But don’t try to beautify your company for YC,” he says. “That’s never wise [to do] for an investor. Don’t make bad short-term decisions thinking that there is a deadline by which you should be doing wrong things. Instead, build your business for the long term and do the best you can to find a suitable product market, develop the right product, develop the right technology, develop the right software, or whatever you’re building. ”
Later in the video (around the 40:55 mark), a question from the audience brings Ralston back to the topic, and he has a few more pieces of advice:
- Follow the instructions: “The instructions are pretty clear. They say: make a one-minute video, have all the founders there and talk to us. That’s a good idea! Don’t give us a marketing video, we don’t care. That’s not how we make our decision. “
- Improve your pitch: “Remember to express yourself precisely with great clarity. It doesn’t help to write a book in the application. Be nice to us! We read you know Hundreds of applications. Express your idea as clearly as possible. This is actually a really good signal for us if you can describe what you are doing in a minimum of words. That helps us a lot. “
- Tell your story: “Do not save to talk about yourself!” Ralston notices. “We are super interested in who you are and why you do what you do.”