Spotlight On: Y Combinator

Y Combinator’s demo day took place yesterday, the company’s 24th in a row – and yet the format remains as successful as ever.

52 companies pitched on demo day 1 to a room packed with investors at Mountain View’s Computer History Museum.

YC’s president Sam Altman, who helped run events all over the world as part of a recruitment drive in advance of picking the latest cohort, commented, “these are fantastic companies from around the world. If we make it so these companies don’t want to come to the US and create jobs because of the visa situation, what a loss for the country.”

It would indeed be a sad loss, Sam. Altman also placed emphasis on Y Combinator’s diversity when addressing the mostly white male dominated venture capital firms at Mountain View, advising them “you always need to start at the top of the funnel with the partners who pick the startups.”

YCombinator operates twice each year – the company invests $120k into a group of early stage startups, occasionally as many as 105, who are invited to move to Silicon Valley for 3 months to work intensively with Y Combinator’s network of expert mentors and trainers.

The startups present to a selected audience of VCs and investors on demo day, but of course it doesn’t end there. The alumni network and the chance to say your startup was on the Y Combinator programme is probably as valuable as having a million paying users – well, it’s all relative, but being a Y Combinator alumni is…kind of a big deal.

There are now 3,000 founders in the YCombinator community and the total value of all Y Combinator companies is north of $80 billion, the company says.

Marc Andressen says (in a testimonial on the company site) that it “is the best program for creating top-end entrepreneurs that has ever existed”, Stripe founder Patrick Collison; “I doubt that Stripe would have worked without YC, it’s that simple.”

Its Y Combinator’s job to make sure founders have everything they need – they have the knowhow and the tools – what they need are fresh, disruptive ideas – entrepreneurs are the final piece in the jigsaw.

When it comes to startup accelerators, Y Combinator is the original, and quite possibly still the best.

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