I'm currently going through an accelerator program called XX in San Francisco. In this post, I want to tell you about my experience so you can decide if you want to apply for their new cohort by September 5th.
About 3 months ago, I came across XX on Twitter. They were investing US$70,000 on a SAFE with valuation capped at US$3,500,000 (essentially getting 2% of your company) and giving you mentorship, workshops, and a ton of networking in SF. The investment deal was the best one I've ever seen (that was before Hyper!). For comparison, Y-Combinator invests $125,000 for 7% of your company, essentially valuing it at about $1,780,000 (they justify it by saying your valuation will skyrocket by the end of the program and the investments you get after make up for the equity you're handing over).
Side note: If you've been following me, you know I got to the interview stage with YC and got rejected last year. That was before I had any paying customers though.
I applied for XX because I had a great experience with a pre-accelerator before (I wrote about it here). I got invited for a 20-min interview. 6 people interviewed me including a few of their alumni. They asked a lot of great technical and business questions. The format was very similar to the YC interview, except they usually let me finish my answers and asked deeper follow up questions (probably because they had more time).
A week later I got the call: We would like to invite you to be part of our cohort 5 in San Francisco! I said YES! Because first of all the funding could help and 2% was pretty reasonable, and second of all, I couldn't find anything negative about them. A lot of their previous startups have been quite successful, a bunch of them got into YC right after XX, the mentors are all previous or current startup founders and have a ton of experience, ... it all sounds great. I was still A BIT skeptical though because I felt like it was too good to be true.
I found a private room with private bathroom in SF for $1,450/m in a good neighborhoud on Craigslist (apparently that's a great deal here!) and moved here in July for 3 months. The program started on July 4th and I got the investment in about 10 days.
After a week or two I wasn't skeptical anymore! It went away when I met their team in person and got the funding! It was exactly what it seemed to be. They do an amazing job of creating a small and intimate community of startup founders and then supporting them by connecting them with mentors and advisors that they need.
And the program doesn't take too much time either:
I'm now in the 3rd month of the program. I've met tens of people I'm sure I'm going to keep in touch with (peers, mentors, potential investors, potential hires/cofounders). I'm preparing for a ProductHunt launch later this month and an XX Demo Day on September 23rd. I'm going to miss them a lot when I fly back to Canada after.
Hopefully this post gives you an idea of what XX is like. The only downsides I have noticed are:
If you decide to apply and are invited for an interview, I'd be happy to do a mock interview. Just email me or send me a message on Twitter.
They just published this video too which they recorded during our cohort. It captures the vibe quite well: