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Why I haven’t applied for YC

It all started some time after jan 28 2011, I was following techcrunch on twitter then. After seeing a tweet about svangel and yuri milner’s investment in ycombinator companies, I thought ycombinator was some startup working on some hot trendy technology. But, the title doesn’t make a lot of sense, so I read the article and looked at ycombinator website. It was an aha moment. It was not a startup (in some way it is), but a hub for startups.

It changed lot of my misconceptions. I knew about the valley and its the heart of technology. But, I thought its hard for foreign nationals to start companies in the valley. I was proven wrong in ycombinator FAQ. So, I decided to apply.

Excitement

I came to know about ycombinator by end of January 2011, application deadline was so close, and YC clearly states, early applications has significant advantage. So, I had to choose between one of my plans.

I chose the biggest (most toughest to execute), because, YC encouraged to act on bigger plans.

Just as what we look for in founders is not the type of achievement but the magnitude, what we look for in ideas is not the type of idea but the level of insight you have about it.

I applied, then I started worrying about other things, like visa, what if I get accepted? will I get visa? What visa should I apply for? I knew nobody near valley at that time. I was freaking out.

Rejection

Then the day came, I was rejected. Since, It all happened so fast, I got some time to think, after rejection. I’ll list what I did, what I have done wrong, and how am I correcting myself.

Product Problem

What was my plan? An Operating system based on Ubuntu, kinda Hybrid between Mobile, Tablets and PC. Why did I choose such a gynormous plan? Because, investors like to be part of bigger disruptive products. Since, big plans may attract funding, I thought I’d be okey. It was a mistake.

Not that the idea was stupid. In fact, I want that product everyday. If I have enough money to start, I’ll make it happen. But, it was a mistake from another perspective. I had very little to contribute to building it.

I haven’t done anything useful with compiled languages or hardware. So, I would have relied on others to build what I want, not so great for a startup.

Choose Right

So, I came up with three filters:

  1. What products I can build myself
  2. What products I will work on, regardless of funding
  3. What I want the most

It was magic, when I applied these filters to all my ideas. It narrowed literally tens of ideas to two, I decided to work on both.

Unknown

Since, I came to know about hacker news just before a month of application, I really didn’t interacted much with the community. I literally had 1 point in hacker news. Even though, points didn’t matter. My interactions, comments, submitted links were close to zero. I had a twitter account, that was all, it was the only public face I had. I realized that was a problem, So, I gradually started speaking up in Hacker News and started using Ask HN feature in Hacker News. It was awesome. People at HN are very helpful, wanting to hear from you, give valuable advice. I think it is great way to, get to know people.

Real Product

When I applied Last time, I had an idea, only the idea. While ideas change the world. I realized everybody has ideas. So, I decided not pitch ideas anymore. I’ve built simple prototypes and gathered feedback. So, far everything looks good. I will build a minimum viable product, attract users, market the product, before seeking for funding or applying for accelerator programs. I think, I’ve done the right thing, Judging from recent 1 application per minute application submission rate for YC. Having MVP will clearly be an advantage.

Will Apply

So, This is my reason for not applying for current batch of YC. Now, I have a friend, who is working with me as well. We’ll apply once we have the product ready. The best thing that came out this decision, is that we are committed to a deadline now. So, Even if YC rejects our application next batch, We’ll have two promising products at our hands.

What do you think of this decision? Is it good? or is it a mistake? I’ll be glad to hear from you all.

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Written by
Co-Founder Invoice Jet and Work Life