Y Combinator Universe

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Applying to YC & Interview Process

Last updated Monday, October 29, 2012.

Applying To Y Combinator

About 3% of YC applicants will get an interview. You'll need a winning YC application before you get to the interview round. A good application will get you an invitation email ("We want to see you in Mountain View") and a 10 minute interview. Remember: an invitation email gets you an interview. You're NOT in Y Combinator just yet.

At least seven people decide Y Combinator applications, not just one. http://ycuniverse.com/who-is-ycombinator.php
"How to Apply", by Paul Graham http://ycombinator.com/howtoapply.html
"What We Look For In Founders", by Paul Graham http://www.paulgraham.com/founders.html
"How To Prepare For The Y Combinator Interview", by Paul Graham http://ycombinator.com/howtoprepare.html

Rejection Email

About 97% of applicants, however, will get a rejection email. So it doesn't come as a surprise when you get it, this is what it will say:

We're sorry to say we couldn't accept your proposal for funding. Please don't take it personally. The applications we receive get better every funding cycle, and since there's a limit on the number of startups we can interview in person, we had to turn away a lot of genuinely promising groups.

Another reason you shouldn't take this personally is that we know we make lots of mistakes. It's alarming how often the last group to make it over the threshold for interviews ends up being one that we fund. That means there are surely other good groups that fall just below the threshold and that we miss even interviewing.


We're trying to get better at this, but the hard limit on the number of interviews means it's practically certain that groups we rejected will go on to create successful startups. If you do, we'd appreciate it if you'd send us an email telling us about it; we want to learn from our mistakes.

Y Combinator Team

Regardless of investor, a few things you should always be prepared for:

Questions Likely From Y Combinator

Paul Graham's essay How To Prepare lists the following questions likely at a Y Combinator interview.

Additional Likely Questions From YC If Your Start-Up Has Already Launched

Bonus Links - "How are you going to make money?"

The question of "How are you going to make money" seems to always be a part of the interview. Y Combinator also doesn't seem to like the answer "We're going to sell ads". So here's a couple bonus links to help you prepare a better answer.

13 Ways To Get To $10 Million In Revenues (Part 1 of 2), 13 Ways To Get To $10 Million In Revenues (Part 2 of 2).

The Y Combinator interview is only about 10 minutes.

That's just long enough to make a fool out of yourself. Show up prepared by studying these experiences from others.

Round Author (Hacker News Username) Proposed Start-up Description Site / URL Related Hacker News Thread
2012-06 (YC S12)N/APlumbrBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://plumbr.eu/blog/how-to-plan-for-y-combinator-interview
2011-06 (YC S11)TrevorBurnhamTheoryvilleBlog entry by people that got a YC interviewhttp://trevorburnham.posterous.com/my-yc-interview-experience2483268
2011-06 (YC S11)vantranMunchery.comBlog entry by people that got a YC interview that didn't go wellhttp://www.naivehack.com/2011/04/24/tanking-the-yc-interview-lessons-learned/2480201
2011-06 (YC S11)mystrousCalveticaBlog entry by people that got a YC interview and turned it downhttp://inseam.mysterioustrousers.com/post/4755893912/saying-no-to-y-combinator2464228
2011-06 (YC S11)tbull007Trunk.lyBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://timbull.com/reflections-on-startup-life-week-76-y-combina2488287
2011-06 (YC S11)waxmanQommentsGood Q & A about team YC interviewhttp://qomments.com2503193
2011-06 (YC S11)abelcuskellypogoseatBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25076622507662
2011-06 (YC S11)n/aPipedriveBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://blog.pipedrive.com/post/5769439141/lessons-learned-from-y-combinator-and-seedcamp-22579008
2011-01 (YC W11)eddyluGrubWith.UsBlog entry by people that got a YC interview and perhaps took things too farhttp://blog.grubwith.us/interviewing-with-yc-dont-overstep-the-limits2479757
2011-01 (YC W11)kapilkalevariousblog entry about 7 different YC intervieweeshttp://www.giftrocket.com/yc-interview-advice3212608
2011-01 (YC W11)nhashemUnknownBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24750252475025
2011-01 (YC W11)StavrosKHistorio.usBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://www.korokithakis.net/node/1251928763
2011-01 (YC W11)yesimahumanGoBuzzBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://blog.maxlynch.com/my-y-combinator-interview-experience-and-a-go1985889
2010-06 (YC S10)NewMonarchStorenvyBlog entry by people that got a YC interview and co-founders wouldn't gohttp://joncrawford.com/how-i-got-kicked-out-of-y-combinator-and-rais2208155
2010-01 (YC W10)nhashemadeptley.comblog entry about YC interviewhttps://plus.google.com/u/0/117964673266913360417/posts/FyFtW4FqpaB3225642
2010-01 (YC W10)screeleyembed.lyBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://blog.embed.ly/fred-wilson-invented-embedly-how-we-got-a-y-c2341907
2010-01 (YC W10)Alex3917SwagapaloozaBlog entry by person that got into YC as an individual non-technical founderhttp://alexkrupp.typepad.com/sensemaking/2011/04/how-i-got-into-yc-as-a-non-technical-single-founder.html2482360
2010-01 (YC W10)JudsonInventory.ioBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://judstephenson.com/blog/archives/2010/11/My-Y-Combinator-Interview.html1989895
2009-06 (YC S09)N/AListiaBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://blog.listia.com/my-yc-interview-experience-s09-by-jamesN/A
2009-06 (YC S09)myoung8CarWooBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://myoung8.posterous.com/advice-for-your-yc-interview927478
2009-06 (YC S09)j0nccDailyBoothLook inside the YC interview roomhttp://dailybooth.com/jon/220842568863
2009-06 (YC S09)randomwalkerwatchuwant.tvBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://arvindn.livejournal.com/105675.html569610
2009-06 (YC S09)coffeemugReThinkDBBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://www.defmacro.org/ramblings/yc-interview.html933582
2009-01 (YC W09)Sam_OdioDivvyShotBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://sam.odio.com/blog/2009/04/advice-for-yc-interviewees_12.phpN/A
2008-06 (YC S08)jvydunaPoll EverywhereBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://blog.jeffvyduna.com/additional-yc-interview-tactics2438504
2008-06 (YC S08)konslBackTypeBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://christophergolda.com/y-combinator-interview938474
2008-06 (YC S08)tdavisTicketStumblerBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=351877351877
2008-01 (YC W08)bhbDevverBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7719777197
2007-01 (YC W07)drusenkoWeeblyBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://david.weebly.com/1/post/2008/11/y-combinator-interview-advice.html355331
2007-01 (YC W07)rwalkerZenterBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://drraw.blogspot.com/2007/04/ycombinator-advice-interview-tips.html9935
2005-06 (YC S05)justinKikoBlog entry about YC interviewhttp://areallybadidea.com/343208441938252
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