Y Combinator Is Back In Person | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Y Combinator Is Back In Person".


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Intro (00:00)

We have a grand nefarious strategy of giving founders what we wish we had when we were founders. Yeah, it's like, what would I have wanted? Yeah, like that's certainly how I think about this. This is Michael Sible with Dalton Caldwell. Today, we actually have some news soon else. For the first time since winter 2020, this new batch, the summer 22 batch will be in person.

In-Person events (00:29)

And we are all excited. Dalton, we're going to get to see founders in person again. What do you think? It's a breath of fresh air. I've spent a lot of time in this little room, much as probably you have to. So yeah, this is, it's, it's really fun. I'm excited. Me too. Me too. So let's talk about what this means. So the founders of this batch are going to have an in-person retreat in Sonoma to kick the batch off. They're going to be able to go to weekly meetups in San Francisco. We're actually going to help organize weekly meetups in other cities around the world. We built some software that are going to help founders meet each other and have one-on-one coffees, founders in the same city. And then we're going to have a huge end-to-batch celebration after demo day in San Francisco with all the batch and the alumni. Needless to say, the program is still going to be friendly to founders participating remotely. So the batch talks, office hours, things like that will still be online. And we still have founders from all over the world participating. But I have to say, you know, founders I've talked to in every country have been excited to come here to meet us, to meet their batch mates, to get out in front of Zoom and get off these cameras for a little while. So I'm really, really excited. Yeah, we kind of had a dry run a little bit last batch where there were a lot of these in-person meetups. And I went to a few I know you did too. And the energy was great. And so yeah, now is the time to make this move. The idea that we get to renounce something that was so quarter YC is actually quite fun. What other trends are you seeing for the summer 22 batch?

Yeah, I mean, let's see, to go through some of the stuff I've noticed. So for one, more applications. I think that's I think that's always a trend, but there's definitely more applications. And you know, I think the new YCDL doesn't hurt on that one. And so yeah, more applications, more applications to read. And the energy is feeling good, man. How about you? What do you see in your group? Same thing. I'm seeing teams be slightly more technical, which is exciting. I mean, when you work with strong technical teams, we talk about taking punches strong technical teams punch back. And so to me, like that's always fun. It's always much more enjoyable work with strong technical teams. But you know, over the last, you know, let's say three, four months, what do you see in overall in our world?

Hype cycle (03:04)

I think that people that wanted to do a startup, because they're excited about building something and solving stuff for users, those people are still applying. If anything, those folks that aren't making fear best decisions are more excited to apply to YCD and do this almost because it's more rebellious or anti anti something. Yes. Like to do a startup when it's like less cool to do it. And this makes sense again. If you if you actually look at the YCDL, some of the best companies have ever funded happened when either there was a full downturn or at least a blip. I think we can call it a blip. Like some of what happened in 2018. But look at when Stripe was founded, look at when Airbnb was founded, look at when Dropbox was founded, right? Yeah, it's a weird trend because I agree with you. It's both a little bit like, I want to go against the flow. There's that set of founders, but there's also a set of founders who are just strategic who are just like, Hey, look, in the middle of the hype cycle, hiring is harder. Getting access to customers is harder. Like 17 of your competitors are going to all get funded. Like, you know, it's, it's weird because on the surface, the hype cycle looks good. But when you actually get into the dirt, the hype cycle like Kurt's just as much as it helps. And so, you know, I'm starting talking to founders in this batch who are like, yeah, no, this is actually like, I don't know, they're not wishing for a downturn for the like, this is the time when it's strategic to get in the game. Yeah, make a wide the sun shines, right? This is where, Oh, cool. Cat, you know, face the price of Facebook ads is dropping. Oh, cool. Like all these factors are changing. And so if you're like, well positioned, this is when you go on offense. Yes, you're not like, you're not like defensively. Oh, I'm going to hide. There's a lot of folks that we talked to that are like extremely ready to go on offense. Yes. Yes. They've been waiting for this moment. Now, we're also seeing a lot more interest in San Francisco.

Tech relocation (05:03)

And like, I don't know, like that's a dirty word. I'm not sure if I'm a lot to say the term San Francisco, because we all know the tech world doesn't exist here anymore, right? Yeah, well, it's funny. There was so much content marketing trying to fomo everyone that everyone knows moving into whatever insert city name, you know, whatever the city was. This is the next capital. Yes. And then there was a lot less content marketing of all the people that move back. And so, you're talking to, but a lot of the folks I've talked to quiet, you know, that we're loudly talking about moving away to whatever city name. Yes. You know, they're much more quiet on the move back. Yeah, I'm not seen as many. I'm not seen as much of that. But yeah, I think a lot of folks are moving back right now. New York to it just seems like people are going back to the big centers because they're getting bored and lonely and feel kind of over it. Again, this is what I'm learning in office hours, man, is that people are they want to be where the action is. You know, I think you're saying it the right way. I think the founders I talked to, they don't want to build a startup ecosystem. They want to be a part of a startup ecosystem. And it's been interesting because we saw it, you know, first in the end of batch survey, when we asked people about, oh, as we add more in person components, and it was like, almost unanimous, the founders in the previous batch were like, if you had told us something was happening in the Bay Area, we would have moved, you know, and like that was a response. We didn't necessarily expect. It's almost like you and I were convinced that that wouldn't be the case. Like, I don't know how to explain it. Like the content marketing worked on me too, a little bit. Yeah, yeah. But it's like, it's not being born out in the data that we have about, you get what I'm saying, like, like we kind of bought into the content marketing too, but we'll see, I don't know, like, I think the other thing that I'm seeing and it's interesting because I've got a brother who's this age, a recent college grad, I think what's so hard for a lot of people to see is that if you're a recent college grad, you don't want to stay in the city you went to school in. You might be living with your parents. And like, in comparison, moving to the Bay Area is way better of an option than kind of your current setup over the last couple of years.

Where the action is (06:57)

And so, I think that a lot of that content marketing is unfortunately written by like, people are age, people with kids, people living in San Francisco for like the last two years who were generally pissy about COVID. And it was like less responding to someone who might have spent a year and a half remote doing college or living in some small college town locked down and is like, I want to get out of this, you know, like that kind of person is San Francisco looks like a beacon. I think you want to be where the action is, is I think how my summary is versus feeling like you're in a not where the action is. So another thing that happened recently is we sent a letter to YC founders about the economic downturn, which was happened to maybe get a little bit of exposure to the general public.

Economic downturn (08:04)

I'm not sure how that happened. But it was interesting because I've been really impressed with how the YC founders have responded. You know, what have you seen? I think that if you're smart, you know how to look at things like that, as well as just general press or advice and apply it to your specific situation correctly. Like if you're a two person startup with no burn, what's happening in the late stage fundraising environment and IPOs, like if that's what you're worried about, man, you've got bigger problems. Okay. And so I think if you were able to say, well, what is my actual situation? Am I default alive? How much cash do I have? What's my runway? And then make the right moves. Because again, for some folks, the actual move is to go on offense, right? Just like we said a moment ago, where they're like, okay, I see. So this is the score got it. Time to go hard against my competitors who have higher burn. Yeah. You know, like this is a great time if you're the underdog and your large competitor is in trouble, right? And so I think that smart founders know what applies to them and what doesn't versus overly freaking out about things that have nothing to do with them. You know, what do you think like, you often talk about this and it's something that I think is becoming part of the culture of YC where we want to talk up to our founders versus down to our founders, like we want to talk to the smartest kid in the class, not the dumbest kid in the class.

Sober analysis (09:35)

And I think sometimes in the general public, that's not well understood. But I think within the YC community, it really is. The feedback that we got from alums was universally, this caused me to take a sober look in my situation. And if my situation was good, I'm staying on plan. If my situation wasn't, I'm making changes. And you know, just to your point, it wasn't, I'm freaking out. It was like, okay, I'm gonna take a second and do a sober analysis of my company. And I think what's unfortunate is that they had just gone through this two year cycle where investors were basically screaming at them to burn and raise, because investors were getting markups and they were raising new funds. And right. And so I think that in many ways, this letter gave them a lot of people the opportunity to say, okay, wait a second, like, is that strategy actually good for my business? And it's obviously good for my investors business. You know, getting markups is obviously part of their business model, but it's not starting to get from my business. So that's been really fun to see. It's been fun to see the founders taking it in the right way. Probably one of the last big trends is this new standard deal, right? You know, that was big news over the past four months.

New standard deal (11:03)

And it's interesting, because I think that in some ways, it was conceived of competitively. People were looking at the YC standard deal being like, Oh, like YCS to compete. There's so many new seed funds out there. And I think what's interesting is if you were kind of take it inside baseball for a second, that's really not the reason we did it at all. Like, take us inside baseball a little bit, Dalton, like what was the strategy behind it? Yeah, I mean, the strategy was it's good for companies to get fully funded the moment we accept them. And, you know, frankly, we saw some stuff that looked a little toppy to use the Wall Street best terminology. You're speaking in code. Be literal here. What do we see? It looks. Yeah, it looks like we're not sure that things were sustainable, that everything would keep going up forever. How about that? Yeah, stocks may not only go up. And so it seemed prudent to you know, be it seemed prudent to give the companies more money so that any event of a market change, we were confident that everyone be fully funded. Again, for context, I think people forget this because of all the crazy seed round warped perceptions. How much money did like Airbnb and Dropbox and all those folks raise back and how much money an Airbnb was under a million under a million? These seed rounds are under a million and diluting over 20%, over 25%. Like, so we actually know that half a million dollars is slash was enough money to build like one of the most successful companies ever. And it made a ton of sense to have this budget, to raise this money. We could fund a lot of companies. It's all raised. We have it dry powder. So that no matter what happens, if you get into YC, you're good. There's this saying that I love the best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining. And you know, I look at our opportunity to create this new standard deal for YC founders and the fact that we have budget to fund over 1400 companies with this standard deal. And I think to myself, like, you know, I'm so happy we did that when we could, because now we're going to be able to help so many teams that otherwise might not be able to do startups might not be able to raise money. So and not be sure. Oh, I don't know if I want to apply to YC. I don't know if I want to start a company because I'm afraid. I've read TechCrunch articles. The funding environment is rough. You know, there's all these like fears out there. Well, it's like, well, yeah, if you get into YC, you get half a million dollars. And like the day we fund you, it's funny. Like people, they almost sometimes people don't believe us. They're like, wait, this is contingent on something, right? It's like, no, we can do that. No, we can do that. Yeah, no, but like, don't other accelerators. They have something where they take it back. If you don't do, it's like, no, like, if you don't kill anyone, you don't violate our ethics thing. This is, this is the deal. I think what was also interesting was to see how YC founders used the new standard deal in the last batch when they were fundraising. You know, historically, seed funding could dilute companies 25, 30, even 35%.

Old standard deal (14:24)

I would say in more recent years, that number was around 15 to 20%. But we really saw a lot of founders able to get the money they need, raise their seed round with 10%, some even a little less dilution, which was like huge. I mean, we all know those earlier rounds are where most of the dilution the company happens. So, that was awesome to see. The other thing, and I know you saw us in your group too, it's just founders going into fundraising with confidence. You know, we talk about this all the time. We tell the founders be confident, but it's hard to be confident when you only have six months or three months of runway when you go into fundraising. It's a lot easier to be confident when you come in with half a million bucks. What did you see in your group? Yeah, I think the best founders were just very logical and non-emotional in the way they handle this. It's business, right? Like the best way, imagine any financial transaction, you want to buy a house, you want to buy a car, you name it, the more that you can be just non- manipulated and to be emotional or to be fomo. Like there's all these things. If you could just be like, hey, I want to buy a car, this is my budget, this is what I want to buy. Okay, let's work it out. All right, I bought the car. That's how you want to approach any kind of financial business relationship, right? It's just to be non-emotional. And so that's having this extra money helped people not be quite as susceptible to being told to be afraid, basically, right? Yes, being told to be afraid. And it's such a weird thing to watch your founder simultaneously be almost nagged by an investor and be told to raise more money from that investor, right? Where the investor is like, your plan's not going to work. You're not raising enough money. You're going to die or do it it up. If you take my money, then it'll all work out. And it's like, I've been so happy to see why see founders able to kind of push back against all of that and really be sober, right? Like just be sober in your planning and things work out better. It's just, it's funny because like we always are optimizing for, you know, we're former founders.

Guiding principle (16:36)

I think it's like, what would have helped me when I was a founder? And it's just funny how like doing that really seems to annoy investors that we're like, again, we're like giving away, we're like on the wrong team a lot. They seem really mad at us. I've seen Delta. Like I thought, like, isn't that weird, man? Like, why? We have a grand nefarious strategy of giving founders what we wish we had when we were a founder. I mean, isn't that like so funny because it's kind of one of the core guiding principles of why see when we think of what we're going to do? Yeah, it's like, what would I have wanted? Yeah, like that's certainly how I think about this. Yes. And the opposite too, like, what would I have thought of as bullshit? Like, like, how do we not do the stuff that I would have just like, and like that's bullshit who cares? I mean, it's hard to do in practice. It's just at the end of the day, more leverage for YC founders, good, more options for YC founders, good. That's the game. Obviously so. Anything more on the standard deal? So far so good. Again, like the folks that are in my group this batch, man, they're feeling, they're feeling good. Yeah, they're feeling very good. And probably the last trend, and maybe one of the most heartwarming trends is how many alumni reach out to us and say they're watching these videos.

Alumni Interaction

Alumni audience (17:53)

Like, how much has that come up for you in the last six months since we got this thing rolling? A lot. I think when we first started recording these, my perception, I wasn't really sure who the audience was, and maybe I'm still not sure, but it certainly would appear that a lot of YC alums are watching these, which is awesome that we have this direct line for people to hear from you and I personally about what's going on on YC. I mean, seems better than other forms of communication, right? You know, it was interesting because, you know, we put out a video, it was interesting as we put out a public video about making sure that you were prepared for down economic times before we even sent a letter. And one of the reasons we were inspired to kind of send a letter was the number of alums who had watched that video and reached out and said, thank you for doing this. Like, we're rethinking our plan. And so I just think it's exciting to see that the YC alumni are watching these videos alongside prospective founders. It's awesome to see. All right, well, I think that's it. So in closing, we are really looking forward to meeting the next batch, which is going to happen very soon, mid-August, I'm sorry, mid-June. And then we're also ridiculously excited to meet all the founders that we've funded over the past years. We're going to do a massive alumni event in San Francisco in the fall. And so for all the people we haven't seen in person yet, we'll see you soon with Alton. Great to see you. Sounds good. Bye.

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