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What it was like going through YC W24 - Blacksmith

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the experience of going through the Y Combinator (YC) W24 batch, covering the pre-YC phase, moving to San Francisco, and the various benefits of the YC program, such as funding, the cohort, office hours, Bookface, peer pressure, and fundraising.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Pre-YC

1. What was the process like before getting into YC?

  • The founders went through a number of ideas for about 9 months before getting into YC
  • They would do a lot of research and legwork on an idea, but then lose conviction, realize it wasn't a good fit for their skillsets, or admit it was a bad idea
  • One day, while discussing the pain points they faced with CI at their respective jobs, they realized the CI compute space was underserved by traditional clouds
  • Over the next few weeks, their conviction in this space grew, and they started working on the ideas that would become Blacksmith

2. How did the founders decide to apply to YC?

  • While doom-scrolling Twitter, they came across a tweet from Dalton that made them realize they wanted to work on Blacksmith full-time
  • They felt they were too early, but decided to apply to YC anyway, as it would accelerate their timeline

[02] Moving to SF for YC

1. What were the two main logistical challenges the founders faced when moving to SF for YC?

  • Finding a place to live in SF, as the YC-recommended furnished apartments were already taken
  • Figuring out arrangements for their four pets (three cats and a dog) since moving them to SF was not an option

[03] What YC has to offer

1. What are the key benefits of the YC program?

  • Funding: YC invests $500k into each startup, with $125k for 7% equity and $375k on an "uncapped MFN SAFE"
  • Cohort: Startups are split into groups of 50-60 companies, with further division into sections based on product area
  • Office hours: Bi-weekly group office hours and 1:1 office hours with YC partners, providing feedback and guidance
  • Bookface: Access to YC's internal social network, which serves as a knowledge base for startup-related topics
  • Peer pressure: The intense 3-month timeline creates a sense of urgency to make quick progress
  • Customers: Easy access to other YC startups, which can serve as early customers

2. How did the YC launch benefit the founders?

  • The "Launch YC" event, where YC promotes the startup on their social media, helped the founders get early users and customers
  • A random developer with a large Twitter following discovered Blacksmith through the launch and tweeted about them, leading to more customers

[04] Fundraising

1. How did the YC program help with fundraising?

  • Provided tailored advice for fundraising
  • Generated a lot of inbound interest from VCs and angels
  • Gave access to a large angel network of ex-YC founders
  • Expedited the fundraising process to 2-4 weeks
  • Allowed the founders to raise at a higher valuation cap

2. What challenges did the founders face during the fundraising process?

  • Initially, the founders had success with angel investors, who invested based on "vibes"
  • However, they struggled to calibrate their pitch to institutional investors, who often had specific "investment theses" and "market maps"
  • Over time, they learned to better align their pitch to the investors' frameworks, which led to more success

3. What advice do the founders have for others considering applying to YC?

  • For first-time founders, applying to YC is a "no-brainer" as it provides an "unfair advantage" when building a company
  • YC helps founders avoid common pitfalls like hiring and scaling too early before product-market fit
  • Overall, YC stays true to its mission of pushing founders to "make something people want"
Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
ยฉ 2024 NewMotor Inc.