daniel kivatinos

Y Combinator: Applying and Pitching In Person

Apr
13

All I can say is just do it; if you are thinking about it, it is worth trying to get in. Apply ASAP, don’t delay it. There are no guarantees when applying but it is worth it. Y Combinator is more open then you think if they see a great idea and team. The Y Combinator team is willing to invest early. They invest in startup ideas and people. They take risks in new markets and invest a lot of the time when other investors don’t understand the market. To apply to Y Combinator go here.

Application

Most important things to show on your application:

  • You can build stuff fast.
  • Do you have some users using something you built? If not start building!
  • Have you done something amazing in the past? (E.g. Create Django?)
  • Make sure there are two of you at least (founders). Founder dynamics is important, if you have been friends or been working together for several years, then there is a great dynamic. Friends general won’t just walk away from something that will take the time to build. Startups can be stressful, show that your team can handle the stress of it.
  • Make sure you put a video attachment in your application, it will help.
  • Y Combinator looks for good team dynamics.
  • Conviction in what you are doing.
  • Talk about something you have done amazing in the company or in your life that really stands out.
  • Talk about the passion and idea to the partners.
  • Know your market size.
  • Know your competition.
  • Talk about the vision of your product.
  • Is there something driving you do build this company, startups are the cool thing to do but generally persistence pushes companies forward and having the right motivation will keep you going. Have the right motivation if you are starting a startup.

Pitching in Person

  • The first 30 seconds are super important.
  • Have one person be the presenter during your very fast pitch in person.
  • Practice, practice, practice before meeting with the Y Combinator partners. Ask yourself’s questions the night before being interviewed, think about questions you think you won’t answer well, it helped us, my cofounder and I more than we thought it would. It is fast interview questions, rapid fire that will prep you so you are sharp for this kind of fast interviewing.
  • Find one or more founders that went through YC to talk too. We found two, one of them was the founder of Reddit, Alexis. We also found another founder who really helps us understand the process the day before our in-person interview. Insight into the fast questions you will get will help you think fast on your feet.
  • Record yourself via video and audio, and listen to it over and over. (Use Evernote to record the audio or something else.)

Alexis came to drchrono’s office talking to the early drchrono team before we pitched Y Combinator.

  • One way to think about your pitch to the Y Combinator is this way, all of these can be shuffled around, depending. If you have fast growth shuffle things around  and assume you only have 10 minutes to pitch:

  • If you have the chance to pitch in person, be sure to practice your pitch over and over.
  • Record your pitch and listen to it several times to see where you are strong and you’re not strong.
  • You need to be able to communicate, you need to convey information very fast, practice.
  • Have you done a lot with very little? No investors, bootstrapped?
  • Show the product if you have one!
  • Have a demo? Load demo data and be ready to present it!
  • The partners see a ton of pitches, so have a tee shirt on with your logo. Well worth the branding and you can wear it anytime.
  • Sometimes context – “we are the X of X” helps people understand what you are doing.
  • Highlight something impressive, featured in the App Store? Win an award? Have some funding?
  • Have you burned your boats?
  • The pitch:
    • Team: Talk about your backgrounds, the co-founders.
      • Have a good intro.
      • Why you?
      • The team is super important so introduce yourselves in 30 seconds.
      • They want to make sure the founders get along and there isn’t an internal power struggle.
      • What is something you were super proud of?
      • What is your story? (each co-founder) Did you work for Apple? Do you have a Ph.D.?
        • If it is a company that is big you worked at but people don’t know the name, just say the company is the second largest X in the world. The company I worked at made X billion per year.
      • Who is the technical co-founder? Who is the CEO?
      • Michael my co-founder of drchrono talks about the “Humble Brag
      • How long have the founders known each other? If you are friends you will tough it out when things get tough.
    • Problem: What is the problem?
    • Market: How big is the market? Is there competition? Is there a large amount of capital needed to start?
    • Product: Can you describe the company in 1 minute.
      • Is there tech risk?
    • Traction: Is this just an idea? Prototype? Have real users?
      • Do you have revenue? Do you have growth month over month?
      • Early fast growth helps.
  • We have X number of users, if you have traction, be sure to put that up!

The partners will ask questions and throw curve balls.

One tip: Be confident and walk up to others at Y Combinator and say hi! There are some really amazing founders around at YC.

Be sure to listen to this great lecture from Sam Altman from Startup School

More on pitching and demoing can be found here.

The Executive Summary

May
31

A great way to layout your Executive Summary, this is the format that the people over at AngelSoft use. It is a CLEAN format that gets all good points across:

Example Executive Summary

Term Sheet

Mar
11

If you build a company, when negotiations happen an angel investor or a VC might want to write you a check for a percentage of your company.

Generally an investor will pass you a term sheet, this is something that is non binding but is a layout of how the company will change, what the investor expects and if it is a good term sheet will motivate the startup team to progress the company.

Some more intesting info on term sheets:

Some terms you should know about term sheets:

Types of investments an investor will make:

Employment, Jobs Info & where to post your CV/resume

Jan
21

Below are great tips and on finding information on employment, feel free to contact me on LinkedIn if you want to add anything to this list.

Posting jobs at Schools

Must Follow on Twitter

Jobs Search Tools

Consulting Gigs

Job Market Information

Salary Information

Startup Jobs

Corporate Jobs, I listed a few. You can always look up more info on companies on LinkedIn.

Temp Jobs

Web Jobs, to name just a few…

Government Jobs

Job Fairs

Work Tips

Head Hunders … I highly recommend you work with a few head hunters when looking for you next job.

Interview Questions, do your research and read up on some interview questions.

Have job related questions? Check out careeroverflow.com

And of course there are jobs as well at drchrono.com.

Some hard programming tests from some of the best companies:
Greplin.com
Quora.com
Dropbox
Facebook Puzzles

If you are looking to find people, check this out as well talentbin

Gary Vaynerchuk Talks About How to do What You Love

Oct
15

Mint.com CEO Aaron Patzer

Oct
13

A very in dept look into mint.com

Startups Having Advisory Boards

Oct
12

BootUpNYC 2009

Oct
01
Michael and I went to BootUpNYC 2009, it was a great experience, we met a number of great
people doing startups and looking to do startups. There were investors, workspace providers and people providing advice. The BootUpNYC is a must for anyone starting and running a business.
Photos of the night:
bootupnyc_2009_collage
Michael and I at the BootUp, me on the left and Michael on the right:
Danie and Michael
David Rose, an investor whom we had the honor to chat with:
Tokumbo Shobowale, Chief Operating Officer of the New York City Economic Development Corporation:
Darren Herman, entrepreneur and digital media evangelist:
Sanford Dickert, a social-media consultant:
Bruce Niswander, an entrepreneur and consultant with over 20 years of experience:
Rachel Sterne, CEO of GroundReport.com:

DrChrono.com featured in an Inc.com article

Oct
01

DrChrono.com was featured in an online article for Inc. magazine. Read the full article on their website:
http://inc.com/news/articles/2009/03/layoff.html

Recommended Entrepreneur Podcast Listening

Sep
22

There are tons of great resources out there for startups, podcasts being one, I highly recommend listening to the following:

The Startup Success Podcast, Sramana Mitra and Bootstrapping

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