Many people ask me, “YC is over, now what?” I guess I’ll make that a blog post.
Y Combinator is never really over. Why would you want it to be? I want to build a serious business, and that was very clear in the beginning especially when we traded company stock for a small amount of money in order to get going. Y Combinator was an enabler for first-time entrepreneurs like me to get started and focus on building out my dream. Without YC, I still would have tried to raise money with a half-baked idea and some prototypes. If that didn’t go well, I would have worked somewhere and moonlighted it. But the summer at YC was all about focus. That was part of the reason why we didn’t have a co-working environment. It was also why the formal programming like the Tuesday dinners were spread out enough to not slow us down or disrupt our rhythm. Every company eventually finds its own rhythm – it was essential to find ours so we can keep up a consistent pace. My favorite part about coming to the Tuesday dinners was being in the company of my peers and the chance to chat and socialize (it’s lonely doing a startup). I also needed to seek validation / feedback from others so that I don’t fall in the most dangerous trap of building something that people DON’T want. YC dinners were perfect for that, especially over beer.
I can look back and see how far we have come. We weren’t the only team that experienced a major mid-summer pivot – knowing that actually helps tremendously. It’s also inspiring to look at my peers to see them experience small wins here and there (press, funding, users, PROFIT, etc.). I love celebrating with them and, at the same time, reminding myself that I need to get there. I am sure it’s the same with those guys. Celebrate the small wins, but move on quickly to focus on running and building the business. YC is never really over, since we stay in touch with each other and we will continue to do this exercise of looking at each other, celebrating the hardworking people who have earned it, and then putting the focus back on our own businesses. It’s good to know that we are in this together.
Being a YC alum is also kind of cool. You are like Sam Altman, or Steve Huffman, or Drew Houston, or Brian Chesky, or Garry Tan, or Adam Smith, or any of these Silicon Valley household names (there are way too many names, don’t get mad if I didn’t include yours). But you have to get there and really earn it. The alumni network is supportive in every single way, and we do cut special deals for each other. Harj also works on some really cool deals on behalf of YC as a whole. Think YC Zipcar, or YC Ubercab. That’s just uber-cool. I know I can always count on Paul and Jessica to be there to give advice and support us (plus, I know where they live =P). Not to mention Kirsty (who answers my accounting questions, among other things), Kate (who, in order to accommodate more companies, pushed the wall back in the YC office without you ever noticing) and all the friends of YC. John Levy, the YC in-house lawyer also doesn’t charge me a bajillion dollars for a quick call about closing some angel investors or a contract with a customer. He even shoots me emails to check in and make sure that everything is okay.
YC is never really over. It’s a marathon. So stick it out, and make something people want. Build a world-class company. Apply.
PS: My company is not launched yet, but you can be sure to hear from us soon. Stay tuned.