The Rise of Y
Today YCombinator is a household name for entrepreneurs all over the globe. The majority of new startups in the pre-seed stage would do a lot (short of killing) in order to get into the seed accelerator that has been the mentor for such notable startups like DropBox, Air BnB, Stripe, and Reddit. Those 4 and approximately 500 other startups that they’ve backed give YCombinator a startup portfolio with a worth of close to $30 billion dollars. How did Y get this far and become the hands-down top dog? Y Combinator invests in people – and that is the truth.
Investors invest in People
It’s the truth and it is the reason that YCombinator succeeds – it invested in itself with the right people. First of all take a look at the group’s founders: Trevor Blackwell, Paul Graham, Jessica Levingston, and Robbert Tappan Morris that between them all have knowledge and experience that spreads from robotics, English, programming, philosophy, marketing, creating internet worms, computer science, and time spent at MIT and Harvard, among other places.
Instead founding something with friends or close colleagues with maybe less experience, the 4 chose to collaborate together. Their strategy of having people with knowledge in a wide variety of realms paid off, and helped them find the right people – not startups.
Are these guys winners? It’s all about the guys. – Paul Graham (Co-Founder)
The First Batch
Startups had 10 days to prepare their pitches and paperwork – so you’d figure that the turnout for such a new program would be small, and compared to today’s standards the turnout was minuscule. Over 200 startups applied and 8 lucky ducklings were chosen. With $200K the drive that set things in motion for the 4 sent them into a new place in history.
The first eight: 1. Reddit 2. ClickFacts 3. Memamap 4. Infogami 5. TextPayMe 6. Loopt 7. Kiko 8. Simmery Axe
Chris Slowe of Memamap ended up joining Reddit. The late Aaron Swartz also joined Reddit after closing down Infogami. Y’s founders were able to invest in the right people that instead of packing up when the road ahead was blocked, decided to partner up and build the front page of the internet – Reddit (with more than 5 million page view/month). No startup is for sure – only a person can be for sure, and that attitude is what was present in their first interview process and is just as prevalent today.
Although ClickFacts is the only other startup (other than Reddit) that is still going strong, all of the 15 original founders have found success. Loopt co-founder Sam Altman even became President of the accelerator this past summer. If you think Altman is the only returnee, your a bit off. Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian and one time Y participant and startup founder Garry Tan came back to.
It’s remarkable that the team is still together today, and that with every batch they get more applicants. The number of exits grow, and the number of IPOs will only increase for startups coming out of Y, because Y’s founders and strong team invest in people – because that is what differentiates between a startup led by people or a startup lead by entrepreneurs.