New Profit, a venture philanthropy fund, posted a two-part interview with YC’s Director of Nonprofits Kate Courteau.
Excerpt from Part 1:
(SH): Why did YC decide to start supporting social entrepreneurs?
(KC): We came to this somewhat by accident, which is exactly how YC itself started in 2005. We found WATSI on Hacker News (YC’s listserv) because it was generating a lot of buzz as a nonprofit startup doing impactful work and utilizing the power of technology to reach a lot of people. YC’s Paul Graham reached out to WATSI directly and asked if they’d like to be part of the current YC batch which included a baseline grant of $24,000 and 3 months of focusing on their work and utilizing our team for mentoring. We’d always talked about doing work in this space but this was the unofficial humble beginning of our work in the nonprofit sector.
WATSI told us how much the YC program impacted their progress so we realized that a lot of the benefit of YC could be universally applied to all startups; for-profit and nonprofit. We also recognized that the WATSI team operated in the way that most great for-profit startups do. They were very determined and focused and moved quickly; launching early and iterating based on watching how their users interacted with their site. They had a vision for the future of WATSI. It’s evolved a bit but they continue to be a strong, mission-based company that works in the nonprofit world in a very transparent way. This experiment seemed to work so well that in January 2014, we decided to officially launch our nonprofit program.