Announcing YC Build Sprint and 20 Equity-Free Grants

by Eric Migicovsky8/13/2020

We’re excited to announce our first-ever YC Build Sprint. This is a 4-week period to work intensively towards a defined goal alongside a community of thousands of other founders. The sprint will kick off on August 24 and be administered through our free Startup School platform. Also, we’ll be awarding 20 grants of $10,000 to winners selected from among the sprint participants! Sign up for Startup School and register for the sprint now.

How does the sprint work?

YC founders often discover that they’re especially productive in the weeks leading up to YC’s Demo Day. The external time pressure brings focus and increases motivation. With our Build Sprint, we hope to bring some of that focus and productivity to tens of thousands of founders in the wider community.

When you sign up for the Build Sprint, you’ll be asked to write down a goal you’d like your startup to hit by September 20th. This goal should be specific, measurable, and hard but not impossible. Good goals would be “launch product and get first 3 customers” or “grow MRR to $1,000.” Bad goals would be “get to know my users better” (not measurable) or “send 20 emails to prospective customers” (too easy).

Each week, when you submit your company update, we’ll ask you to report whether you’re on track to hit your goal. Your answer will appear prominently on your Startup School dashboard as extra motivation!

Part of the magic of YC’s core batch program also comes from a set of peers who are supportive, but also competitive, which has the effect of motivating you to work even harder. To replicate this in the YC Build Sprint, we’ll require participants to attend video group sessions for 3 out of the 4 weeks, and prioritize matching founders with the same peers each week so that you can report progress on your specific goals to each other.

The sprint ends September 20th, at which time you’ll be asked to report on whether your startup achieved the goal. We hope that by the end of the 4 weeks, you’ll have achieved more than you expected!

Bringing back Startup School Grants

Additionally, we’ve decided to continue our popular Startup School equity-free grant program in connection with this YC Build Sprint and provide 20 $10,000 grants to startups selected as winners from the Sprint participants. To be eligible for the grant, you need to complete all sprint requirements and submit an application for YC’s W2021 batch by September 231. You do not need to have achieved your sprint goal. (Please find the full official rules and selection criteria for the grant here2.)

We’re excited to be bringing the Startup School grant back after a one year hiatus. Startup School grants are completely equity free. It’s one of the ways we choose to give back to the founder community. We hope the exceptional founders that win the Build Sprint grants will use this money to continue growing their companies and serving their users.

1. We ask grant applicants to submit a YC application to be eligible for two reasons. First, we believe that YC’s core program is a good fit for many of the promising startups that we’ll identify in the grant program, and we hope they take advantage of it. Secondly, the questions we ask on the YC application are the best criteria we know of for identifying great founders at scale, so plugging into that existing process will make it easier to identify and select grant winners. A founding team that is accepted to YC’s core program cannot additionally qualify for the grant.

2. Obligatory legal disclaimer: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to early stage startup companies from all jurisdictions other than those sanctioned by OFAC. Begins 12:00 a.m. PT 08/24/2020, registration ends at 11:59 p.m. PT 08/30/2020 and the promotion ends 8:00 p.m. PT 09/23/2020. To enter, register, set your Sprint Goal, provide weekly updates, attend 3 virtual group sessions, report final progress and apply to the YC Core Program. 20 winners will each receive a $10,000 cash prize (total ARV of $200,000). For full Official Rules, visit VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor: Y Combinator Management, LLC.


  • Eric Migicovsky

    Eric is a Group Partner at YC. He founded Pebble Technology (YC W11), which was acquired by Fitbit in 2016. While studying engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2008, Eric began building smart