26 Oct 2023
5 Min Read
How You Can Join Y Combinator (YC) As A SaaS Company
Hello! I am the founder of Mantys (YC w23), an ARR tracking & forecasting tool for SaaS and consumption-based companies. As a B2B SaaS company selling to mid-market companies, we knew from Day 1 that going global is the only option. However, our network was limited to India and there was no platform better than Y Combinator (YC) to give us that exposure.
A Dive into YC’s Legacy
YC isn’t just another accelerator. It’s a global launchpad that has catapulted startups to amass over $600 billion in combined value. This includes marquee names like Stripe, Rippling, Segment, and Observe.ai.
Interestingly, YC’s stringent acceptance criteria have only become tighter, making it an even more coveted badge of honor. This ‘badge’ isn’t just decorative—it opens doors. Once you’re YC-tagged, you gain unprecedented access to a massive network of 4000+ YC companies, most of whom are more receptive to fellow alumni.
An intriguing aspect of YC is its founder-centric approach. They are less about the idea you walk in with and more about the people behind it. This is evident from the fact that half of their cohort ends up pivoting to a different business idea during the program. A stellar example is Deel, which not only pivoted but sprinted to a $100 million revenue within a mere 20 months of its inception.
The Road to YC: Our Experience
- Application: YC’s application process is straightforward but has a unique twist. Apart from the usual documentation, they request a video—a visual representation of what your venture is about.
2. Interview Stage: Typically, YC conducts a concise 10-minute interview. However, the trend is shifting, with an increasing number of startups being called for a second interview. Our journey involved an initial chat with multiple group partners, followed by a more detailed conversation with a dedicated partner. The questions were around customer base, market positioning, product specifics, team dynamics, to progress milestones.
For those looking to prepare, the internet is filled with potential YC questions. We also found immense value in mock interviews with other YC companies, facilitated by platforms like Pioneer Fund Interview Prep. It is also good to put down all the potential questions and their answers. This way you don’t waste time thinking during the interview.
Sometimes they also come back with a list of questions after the interview for you to answer. So, stay active.
Tactics For The Application Journey
- The Rule of Three: Throughout our interactions, we emphasized three core facets: the vast potential of our market, our initial traction, and the robust backgrounds of our founders. You need to think about the three things you want the partners to remember about your company after the interview.
- Founder’s Narrative: YC focusses a lot more on you than the idea. Airbnb founders got into YC because they created a brand of cereal to keep the cash flow coming vs their Airbnb idea. Thus, focus a lot more on what you have done and why you are a good fit.
- Be concise: YC appreciates concise, clear communication. That’s why after you get in, you spend a considerable amount of time being able to express your idea in 2 lines.
- Demonstrate to Captivate: Always have a product demo prepped.
Furthermore, YC has introduced a unique initiative allowing teams to apply without a concrete idea, but only with a recommendation from YC alumni. If you can secure such a referral, it can be powerful.
4 Improvements We Noticed After Joining Y Combinator
YC has been instrumental in paving new opportunities for us, and thus, the rewards are worth the effort. Some of which are but not limited to:
1. Giving us an inside track into entering the US market through an interconnected web of companies that are part of the YC ecosystem. In fact, our first few US customers are YC companies!
2. Our response rates on our LinkedIn/Email reach outs to other YC companies also showed improvement, hence showcasing how being a part of the community definitely helps.
3. If the goal is to expand globally then YC is the place to join, as connecting with founders across the globe really helped us expand our horizons and build our network across countries.
4. We were also able to find our niche in one office hour with the group partners which again helped us build and communicate our story in a much better way.
As you embark on this journey, remember, it’s not just about the product or service, but the story and the storytellers. Best of luck!
To learn more about what Neon does, check out our fund page!
YC has the most practical set of investors, and the advice goes a long way. Of course, make sure you contextualize it. The initial set of funding gives you enough room to experiment, find PMF and not die.
YC also has the most transparent set of investors. They don’t want to listen to what is going right but what is on fire so they can genuinely help. So, work hard to get there and once you get in, be honest about what’s going wrong to make the most out of it.
And if you need any more advice on the topic, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kriti is the co-founder of Mantys.io, a BP&A SaaS company which is one of Neon's proud investments! A Commerce graduate from Lady Shri Ram College , Kriti has previously been a Business Analyst at McKinsey as well!