Startup Investor School: The Basics of Seed Investing

by Geoff Ralston2/1/2018

Last year, for the first time, we taught a MOOC (massively open online course) for startup founders called Startup School. This year, we’re adding a new course called Startup Investor School which will teach the basics of seed (early) stage startup investing to anyone interested.

It will be a free, 4-day course held live in Y Combinator’s office in Mountain View, CA and live-streamed around the world. The class will run Monday, March 5th to Thursday, March 8th from 10am – 12pm each day.

We believe that the more great seed investors there are the more chance startups have to succeed. Startup Investor School will be open and accessible to anyone, and therefore we hope to be relevant to as diverse a group of investors as possible. By adding more and more diverse investors to the mix, the entire startup ecosystem will improve. This will give us more, better startups, more innovation, and, we firmly believe, make the world a better place.

It turns out there are lots of hard and sometimes non-intuitive things to do to be a great seed investor. We’ll cover those things as part of these course topics:

  • How to get started?
  • How much should you invest?
  • How do you choose the right company in which to invest?
  • How should you make your decisions?
  • How do you get dealflow?
  • How do you construct a portfolio?
  • How much should you hope to own of a company?
  • How does dilution work?
  • What’s the difference between a safe, a convertible note, and equity?
  • Are those the same thing as options?
  • How is a cap table structured?
  • How should investors work with companies?

The class leads up to Y Combinator’s famous Demo Days on March 19 and 20, where YC’s latest batch of startups present their companies to a room full of investors. We’ll extend a Demo Day livestream invitation to all participants in Startup Investor School who verify they qualify as accredited investors (meaning they meet the SEC requirements for accreditation). Ten course participants will be chosen at random to get invitations to join Demo Day in person in Mountain View.

Apply here starting today: The application will be open until 11:59PM Pacific Time on Sunday, February 18th.

Email us at with any questions. Also, check out this Forbes article by Alex Konrad about the new program.


  • Geoff Ralston

    Geoff Ralston is the former President of Y Combinator and has been with YC since 2011. Prior to YC, he built one of the first web mail services, RocketMail which became Yahoo Mail in 1997.