No, I’m not a YC alumni nor have I been accepted (yet?); however, the application process alone has certainly been a valuable experience. About a month ago me and my two other cofounders formed and began working on our prototype while preparing the YC application. At 7:55pm last night, after a full weekend crunch, we triumphantly hit the submit button. Regardless of whether we get called in for an interview, I already feel successful. Here’s why…
The YC application is your business plan. It forces you to think about what you’re building, who you’re building it for, the competitive environment, and how you could possibly acquire users. Yes, prototyping and launching is important for any startup but doing so without answering these questions can lead to a lot of wasted time.
We started working on the application soon after we formalized the team. A week later we began revising our
perfect hideous first draft. After reading numerous helpful articles from YC alumni (see below) we decided to contact some of them directly for guidance and feedback.
WOW! The support was overwhelming.
Almost every alumni that we contacted replied with a thorough review and valuable criticism (yeah, some of it was hard to read but sometimes the harshest feedback is the best). One brave soul was even willing to meet with me for drinks. In case you didn’t know, the YC mentorship culture is outstanding.
If you’re applying for the next season, be sure to get outside your code or text editor. There are a gazillion blog posts, post mortem’s, and other resources available as well as a wealth of alumni willing to help.
Thanks again, YC and its alumni.
 Useful resources for YC applicants:
- Dropbox’s successful application
- Joseph Perla’s ‘YC Application Guide’
- Harjeet Taggar’s response on Quora to How should I fill out the Y Combinator Form?
- Garry Tan’s ‘Super last minute advice for startups applying for Y Combinator’
- Paul Graham’s Essays (of course)
- Aaron Epstein’s ‘How to make your YC application stand out’
- Patrick Keys’ List of YC Videos
- Fridge’s ‘A “Fresh” Y Combinator Point of View and Helpful Resources’
- Sean Creeley’s ‘Fred Wilson Invented Embedly: How We Got a Y Combinator Interview’
- Google search for YC Videos on posterous.com
(please feel free to add other useful resources in the comments below)