Common Misconceptions About Applying To YC

I hosted office hours in NYC last week and noticed several commonly held beliefs about applying to YC that aren’t backed up by the data. Here’s the actual data for companies that were accepted to YC’s S16 batch. I’d also recommend reading Sam’s post on applying to YC.

Misconception: YC is just for consumer apps.
S16: 18.9% of the batch was hard tech–e.g. biotech, hardware, self-driving vehicles, robotics, and AI.

Misconception: Only US companies get into YC.
S16: 29% were from outside the US.

Misconception: I need to raise a seed round before I apply to YC.
S16: False. 14.2% of accepted companies weren’t even incorporated when they applied.

Misconception: I’ve raised too much money for YC.
W14: Gobble (W14) raised 1.2M before participating in YC.

Misconception: I’m too far along for YC.
S16: MessageBird was making $20M a year and profitable prior to YC.

Misconception: YC only accepts companies responding to a RFS.
S16: 57.5% weren’t addressing a RFS.

Misconception: YC doesn’t accept companies without revenue.
S16: 50% were not making money when they applied.

Misconception: YC doesn’t accept companies with revenue.
S16: 50% were making money when they applied.

Misconception: Solo founders aren’t accepted.
S16: 8.5% had a solo founder. Here’s how the rest breaks down: 2 Founders (61.3%), 3 Founders (20.8%), 4 Founders (7.5%), 5+ Founders (1.9%). That said, we do suggest having a cofounder because startups are hard and cofounders definitely help.

Misconception: If I applied YC and got rejected, there’s no point in applying again.
S16: 45% were rejected at least once before. Of those previously rejected, the average number of rejections before being accepted was 2.

Misconception: I need to know someone at YC or have an alumni recommendation.
S16: 54.7% did not have a recommendation.

Misconception: I did another accelerator so I can’t do YC.
S16: 7 companies had participated in an incubator or accelerator. For the W16 batch the number was even higher at 17.

Misconception: YC is just for recent grads.
S16: The average age was 28.8 and that’s actually younger than our average for the past few batches.

Misconception: I’ll never get in.
S16: 100% of the accepted companies got in :). But seriously, you have nothing to lose by applying and many startups find completing the application a valuable exercise in itself–so go for it.

Apply to YC

Thanks to Adora Cheung, Jared Friedman, Paul Bucheit, Yuri Sagalov, Aaron Harris, and Kat Manalac for help with this post.