Applying to YC Early Decision - Rent the Backyard (YC S19)

by Kat Mañalac9/10/2019

We began offering the option to apply to Y Combinator Early Decision last September. If you’re a student, applying Early Decision to YC allows you to apply one batch ahead of the current one. For example, you can apply to YC in September, get your acceptance in October, and start the program in June after you graduate.

We tried it as an experiment and it worked so well that we’re offering it permanently now, for both Winter and Summer batches.

The eight companies we accepted last Fall just finished the Summer 2019 batch.

Many of these companies applied with a very basic prototype and few users, and were still tinkering on their idea.

They spent their senior year making progress alongside their classes, talking with their group partners and their users. Many pivoted from what they were originally working on.

The companies collectively raised over 7M dollars at Demo Day, and now have the funding and support to build their startup right out of school vs. working desk jobs at big companies.

Rent the Backyard is one of those teams. Rent the Backyard allows any homeowner to earn money by renting out an apartment in their backyard, with no upfront costs.

Spencer and Brian applied Early Decision when they were finishing up at Carnegie Mellon.

How did you find out about Early Decision?

We spent a lot of time last summer watching Startup School lectures and reading Hacker News. We saw the Early Decision blog post a couple days before the deadline.

What convinced you to apply?

We had friends who participated in the Summer 2018 batch and their experience really made us think that YC was a possibility for us as well. It turns out that YC is a great time to test reasonable hypotheses and iterate quickly. It took our friends time to figure out their exact product, which gave us the confidence to apply.

We were planning to apply to the Summer 2019 batch during the normal application cycle but then saw Early Decision and thought it was a perfect fit.

Applying early really helped us commit to our company full-time. I was going through the internship search when we applied for Early Decision and my co-founder was doing recruiting for full-time roles. If we’d waited until April to apply and be accepted, it would have been harder to change the trajectory we would have otherwise chosen and might have possibly kept us from applying.

What was the most valuable aspect of YC?

YC helped give us the confidence (both personally and financially) to go all in and focus most of our time on our company during school, and all our time on our company during the summer.

YC’s partners have been really instrumental in the way we’ve grown and scaled the business. We have a group chat with our partners where we can get quick advice, and YC’s office hours framework makes it easy to find time to dive deep when we need it.

Also, seeing other founders going through similar processes on their way to building a company makes you more confident when the day/week hasn’t gone as well as you’d like. And, when things are going well, you have a great network of people to accelerate that forward momentum.

Would you encourage other recent grads to start a startup? To apply Early Decision? Why or why not?

Yes! Starting a company has been the best learning experience either of us has ever had and we’re just getting started. Early Decision was great because it helped us fully commit to our company early on and make more progress than we would have otherwise been able to make as we finished school. YC is a great opportunity to focus on the execution of a business and to never give up on an idea until you’ve ruled out every possible solution.

To apply to YC, either Early Decision or not, just fill out an application. The deadline to apply to YC Winter 2020 is September 25.


  • Kat Mañalac

    Kat is the Managing Outreach Officer at YC. She was Chief of Staff to Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of reddit, before joining YC as its Director of Outreach. Prior to that, Kat was at WIRED Magazine.