Applying to YC Early Decision - Wren (YC S19)

by Kat Mañalac9/17/2019

Last week, we interviewed Rent the Backyard about their Early Decision experience. This week, we talked to Wren.

For those of you who don’t know, if you’re a student, applying Early Decision to YC allows you to apply now for the summer batch.

Wren makes it simple to offset your personal — or your company’s — carbon emissions. Landon, Ben and Mimi were starting their senior year at USC when they applied and were accepted to YC, Early Decision:

How did you find out about Early Decision?
Landon saw it on Hacker News.

What convinced you to apply?
We always knew we wanted to apply to YC. We’d been reading Paul Graham’s essays for a few years and had heard glowing reviews from a few USC friends who went through YC (Deepika with Athelas S16 and Jackson with Demeanor in W19). The three of us had been working together for a while and looking for a program to really help us as we worked full time on our idea over the summer — and YC is the best of its kind.

Did Early Decision play a role in your decision to apply?
Early Decision played a huge role in keeping us focused on Skipper/Wren. Ben and Landon were going to graduate and started to feel the pressure of finding a real full time job. I don’t know if we’d be working on Wren if we hadn’t gotten in early.

It didn’t really play a role in us deciding to apply, since we knew we would apply during the normal application cycle if we didn’t get in the first time. We didn’t even think we were going to get in through Early Decision, so it was a nice surprise to come out of our “practice application run” as part of the S19 batch. 🙂

What was the most valuable aspect of YC?
There were so many! The partners were so helpful and incredibly supportive, especially Gustaf. It was so cool walking into OH and having a partner say “I’ve been thinking about Wren and I think you should do X to fix Y.”

The dinners were a great way to meet other teams and hear inspiring founders stories. Whenever Thursdays arrived I always got a boost of energy knowing that it was our YC day.

It’s been amazing being with other founders going through the same challenges — pivots, hustling to get customers, etc. We’ve helped each other through launches and always cheer each other on.

With Early Decision teams specifically, we weren’t really close at the start of the summer, but at some point we invited everyone over to our house for a BBQ (I think this was when we realized that all the teams were pivoting or had pivoted). We were all college-aged founders living in the South Bay and we really hit it off.

Would you encourage other recent grads to start a startup? To do Early Decision? Why or why not?
100%. For someone who prefers doing high impact work on small teams, startups are a great way to learn a ton really fast. For me, building a startup is 1000 times more fun and fulfilling than a desk job could ever be. Applying early was just the cherry on top — as soon as we got in, all the stress from my parents and social pressure from friends to get a good internship vanished. The YC brand is great when you’re raising money, but it’s also great to convince your parents your startup is legit!




  • 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.