Frequently Asked Questions

Logistics

What happens at Y Combinator?

This.

Where does the YC program happen? Do I need to move to Silicon Valley?

The batch kicks off with a 3-day, in-person retreat and ends with an in-person celebration, both in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the weeks in between, you can participate remotely and do not have to be in the Bay Area. There are weekly meetups in San Francisco, and we encourage teams who can move to the Bay Area to do so. Office hours and batch talks will be online.

How do we choose which startups to fund?

We have an admissions process that’s open to any startup, anywhere in the world. You can apply here.

How can we get funding for our startup?

Apply online for our next funding cycle.

How much do you invest?

We have a standard deal for all our investments. We invest $500,000 in every company on standard terms.

Our $500K investment is made on 2 separate safes:

  • We invest $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% of your company (the “$125k safe”)
  • We invest $375,000 on an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) provision (the “MFN safe”)

The MFN safe will take on the terms of the lowest cap safe (or other most favorable terms) issued between the start of the batch and the company’s next equity round. Simply put, we’re giving the company money now but at the terms you will negotiate with other investors later.

Both investments happen at the same time; they are not contingent on any milestones.

What can I use the YC investment for?

You can use the YC investment for anything that you believe helps your business. In most cases, the first use of the funding should be for the founders to support themselves so they can work full-time on their company, typically by paying themselves a salary.

If you have student loans, a mortgage, etc. you can use what you pay yourself from the YC investment to cover those.

What is the time commitment of Y Combinator?

It is less than most founders expect; a few hours per week if you participate in all the recommended activities. All parts of the YC program are optional; as a founder we expect you to choose how to spend your time to maximize the odds of your company succeeding.

Some founders worry that Y Combinator will be a distraction from working on their startup. But actually it’s the opposite; we created Y Combinator to make it possible for founders to spend several months completely focused on their startup with no distractions. Many founders tell us that their three months in Y Combinator was the most productive time of their lives.

What are the dates for the next batch?

All the relevant dates are here.

This batch isn't a good time for me. Can I apply to the one after?

Yes. Early decision allows you to apply to the batch after this one. For example, you can apply for the summer batch alongside those applying for the winter batch. This is primarily designed for students who would like to apply but need to finish school before doing the program.

We offer early decision for both the winter and summer batches, and you just need to mention it somewhere on the application.

I’m actively fundraising now but the next batch doesn’t start for a long time. What should I do?

Apply now and tell us on the application that you’re actively fundraising. If you are accepted, we start the investment process immediately; we don’t wait until the next batch starts.

Should I apply?

Am I too early to apply to YC? Should I wait until I have more traction?

No, it would be a mistake to wait to apply. On average, 40% of the companies we fund in each batch are just an idea. Most don’t have any revenue.

While YC does also fund companies that are far along, the majority of the companies we fund will always be companies at the very earliest stage. We recommend applying for YC as soon as you have a founding team and an idea you are excited about.

We‘ve already been working on our startup for a while. Is Y Combinator appropriate for us?

Yes. While the majority of the YC batch is pre-revenue companies, a significant percentage these days is also companies that are much further along.

7% of recent batches had more than $50K in monthly revenue when accepted. Epic companies like Rappi and MessageBird did YC when they were making well over $1M / year.

When we fund companies that are further along, we work with them differently and help them with different things compared to early-stage startups. We can probably help any startup that hasn‘t already raised a series A round from VCs.

We‘ve already raised funding. Can we still apply?

Sure. Each YC batch has many companies who have already raised over $1M.

I’ve raised money at a higher valuation than is implied by the YC investment? Am I too far along to do YC? Is doing YC a “down-round”?

No. A large percentage of each batch has already raised money at a higher valuation than is implied by the YC investment. Since most founders don’t do YC primarily for the money, thinking about the YC investment as having a “valuation” isn’t how we’d suggest you think about it.

Instead, as explained in this essay, just ask yourself if you believe joining YC can improve your startup's outcome by at least 7%.

We don‘t really need the money. Does it still make sense to apply?

At least half of the startups we fund don't need the money. And in fact the money is only a small part of what YC does.

Do you only fund startups that write software?

No, we'll consider startups in any field. We've funded companies that make everything from microbes to fusion reactors to coffee carts. You can see all the companies we’ve funded in the YC Startup Directory.

Can a single person apply for funding?

Yes. We regularly accept solo founders. That said, our advice remains that one-person startups are tough and you're more likely to succeed with a co-founder.

I have a great idea for a startup, but I‘m not technical. Will you still fund me?

It's important for the founding team to have the skills to build their product themselves, rather than outsourcing it to someone else. For most businesses, that usually means you need a technical co-founder.

Can I participate in YC while I’m a full-time student or working full-time at a job?

You can certainly apply when you are a full-time student or employee, but we expect the founders to commit to working full-time on their company during the batch and afterwards if accepted.

I’m working and living in the US on a visa (i.e., an H-1B). Can I do YC and stay in the US?

In most cases, yes. YC works with excellent immigration attorneys that have helped hundreds of our founders get visas to move to or stay in the US. There are a number of possible visa options depending on the details of your situation.

If you apply and are invited to join Y Combinator, we will connect you with an immigration attorney who will work with you to develop an individualized immigration plan for you.

YC has already funded a company that does something similar to my idea. Will that affect my chances of being accepted?

It won't. Unlike many investors, we don’t consider it a factor whether we’ve already funded a company working on something similar.

Even if we tried not to accept competing companies, we’d end up with them anyway because startup ideas morph so much. So from early on, we made sure that if two YC startups are working on related stuff, we don't talk to one about what the other's doing.

Can we apply more than once?

Yes. In a typical YC batch, about half the companies applied multiple times before being accepted. If you've applied before and not gotten in, we strongly encourage you to apply again. Having made progress since your last application is a strong signal to us.

Do we need to know someone at YC to get in?

No. One of YC's core principles is considering all applications equally. We don't rely on introductions the way many investors do.

If we participated in another accelerator, can we do YC?

Yes. We've had many companies join YC after doing another accelerator. However, if you've done another accelerator already, we may expect that you've reached a higher level of progress.

Incorporating

Do we need to incorporate before applying?

Nope.

What if we incorporated as a non-US corporation?

If your company is already incorporated somewhere other than the United States, Canada, Singapore or the Cayman Islands, in order to participate in YC you will need to create a parent company that is in one of those jurisdictions. The existing company will then become a subsidiary of the new United States, Canada, Singapore or Cayman parent company.

Many companies in each YC batch do this process in order to join YC. While we will connect you with lawyers who will drive this process, it will require a significant effort on your part.

Other

Why did you choose the name “Y Combinator?

The Y combinator is one of the coolest ideas in computer science. It's also a metaphor for what we do. It's a program that runs programs; we're a company that helps start companies.

I'd like YC to publicize my product / service among the portfolio companies.

The best way to publicize your product within the YC community is to get a few YC startups as happy users and ask them to recommend you to their peers.

That being said, we do keep a list of offers that we share with our active YC portfolio companies. If you would like to offer a special deal on your service or product to our companies, you can do so here. We manually review these deals and will let you know if your offer has been approved or rejected.

Are you hiring?

Yes, we are. So are over 500 companies we've funded.

Where can I find answers to questions about Hacker News?

The Hacker News FAQ

Late Applications

What are Late Applications?

Late applications are those submitted after the application deadlines (typically late March and mid-October). If you submit an application after the deadline, your application is automatically tagged as “late”.

Do you get penalized for submitting late applications?

No. Your application will be reviewed on the merits of its content and not on its timing. You lose out on i) responsiveness – it will take us longer to get back to you since we received your app outside of the dedicated time set aside for application processing, ii) coverage – fewer partners review late applications which means there's a greater chance they'll miss your value prop, and iii) acceptance rate – late applications are generally competing for fewer slots, so it's harder to be accepted the later you apply.

What happens when I submit a late application?

Late applications will be processed ad-hoc, based simply on the availability of the partners to read and review it. We review all late applications with the same criteria as on-time applications, the only difference is that it will take a little patience to get your results.

When will I get a reply if I submit a late application?

While we do our best to process late applications as soon as we can, it depends on the availability of partners and the time they need to read and review the late applications. Partners are busy helping the startups we've funded so it may take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks before you'll get a reply.

If you haven't heard from us, be patient. All that silence means is that we haven't reviewed your application yet. As soon as we do, we'll email you. You will hear back on a late application to the next batch (Winter 2023) no later than January 19.

How do we get our late application results?

We'll email you the results of our app review just like we do for on-time applications. You'll either receive an invitation to interview that contains details of our in-person meeting, or you'll get an email to say that we won't be interviewing you right now. If you aren't invited to interview, we hope that you don't get discouraged and that you continue with your pursuit to build something great.

Do you give feedback on application results?

We don't provide feedback on application results. If we did this, we'd spend all our time providing feedback and doing nothing else due to the volume of applications we have to process. Read this for more info about feedback.

When do you hold late applicant interviews?

It's impossible to provide a specific date. Sometimes the timing of late applications lines up with the standard apps we get so you'll interview with the on-time applicants. We'll also hold a late application interview day before the batch starts, so maybe you'll interview then.

If your application is compelling enough, we'll even interview you after the batch starts. We won't know the specific date of late interviews until we've reviewed your application (and everyone else's).

What is the deadline for submitting a late application?

There is no hard deadline. We'll keep allowing teams to submit late applications even whilst a batch has commenced. Again, the later you submit your application, the harder it is to get into YC.

Can I submit a late application after an on-time one?

No, please don't do this. If you submit a late application after already having submitted one on-time for the same startup, your application will be flagged as suspicious and won't get reviewed by partners. Please refrain from doing this and wait for the next application cycle to submit a new application.

I have a great reason for why my application is late - can you mark it as on time?

No, sorry. But don't worry! Just get it in as soon as possible.

Application Technical Support

Our group has two ideas. Can we submit two applications?

We don‘t recommend it. You should pick your favorite idea and apply with that one.

Someone recommended me for a previous application and I've decided to apply again. What should I do?

Nothing! Recommendations carry over - no need to ask them to resubmit.

My co-founder started an application for us, but when I log in to my account, I don't see it.

Only the founder who created the application has access to it. If you need to edit it, you'll need to go through them.

My co-founder hasn't received an email to fill out their profile.

First thing to do is to make sure the co-founder email address you are entering into the main application form is the correct email address. Secondly, if they already have an account with YC, make sure you're entering that email address.

When my co-founder clicks on the link to fill out their profile, they're directed to my account page.

This can happen when you're both using the same computer and you're still logged into your account. Have them open the link in an incognito browser window and sign in/up using their own credentials.

We submitted our application but need to edit it

Your application enters our review process once you submit it, so we don't allow continuous editing. If something material has changed - like a co-founder addition/removal - please go here to submit an update.

Was our application submitted? I can't tell.

We send you a confirmation email with a copy of your application when you submit. If you don't see that email, check your spam folder. If you don't see it there, make sure you entered your email address correctly on the application.

If you still don't see the confirmation email, you likely did not submit the application. To do so, click the Edit Application button from your account page. The submit button is at the bottom of the application.

When is the application deadline? When will I know my results? When are interviews?

All of these questions are answered here.

We previously applied and would like to use that application for this batch.

You can reference past applications from your account page, but you'll need to fill out a new one every time you apply.

We are not based in the US. Do we need to do anything to apply to YC? (eg. incorporate in the US, get visas or business licenses)

No need to do any of that. If invited for interviews, we will assist you with navigating visas. If accepted into the program, we can help you with incorporation.

Non-profit Companies

Does YC give money to non-profits?

Yes. If accepted into the YC program, we will donate $100,000 to your non-profit organization once it has 501c3 tax exempt status.

Do non-profits participate in the same batch as for-profits?

Yes, non-profits and for-profits are mixed together in each cohort. Non-profit startups that charge fees for their products and services are similar to for-profit startups. Consequently, the growth-related advice we give at YC and much of the curriculum during the batch is directly applicable to both.

Do I need to charge for fees for my product or service in order for YC to consider me?

We favor non-profits that strive to cover their operating costs by charging fees for the products & services they create rather than relying on donations. Charging users for your product ensures that you provide the value you claim to deliver. Users of free products & services rarely complain. Paying users complain loudly; they will let you know when you’ve gone off course. If you feel you are an exception to this rule, please apply but explain why you are an exception.