Rejected from YC

Two weeks my startup got rejected from YC. My co-founder and I gave everything to this application. I also quit my job in August to devote myself to this venture, it was a little disappointing to not be invited to interview this round.

However, after the holiday break and much thought, I am not giving up. I will keep working on my startup because I am passionate about the idea behind Typogram and helping our users. We are not letting this stop us and are putting our heads down again and making progress, which I shared in my newsletter in a longer post. We are keeping our heads on the goal of building a profitable business and we are not giving up.

I just want to know share here in case anyone else is suffering from the same rejection.

  1. 10

    We got rejected from an incubator program in 2014 or so, and are doing fine now. A lot of YC alumni fail, and a lot of rejects make it after all.

    Hang in there and keep going.

  2. 6

    Your rejection may have been a blessing in disguise. Y steers many startups towards VC land and that puts an undue burden and unnecessary pressure on founders. Consequently most Y startups fail to make it out of the second year. You just don't hear a lot about the failures because of the rare unicorns that are promoted and talked about everywhere. The failure rate is north of 75%. So don't be so hard on yourself. Good luck!


  3. 5

    This is nothing, Wentin. You don't need validation from YC. I applied many times and got rejected via emails. The last time I applied, I luckily got an interview, but still got rejected. Nothing stops what I'm doing. But it's a good experience though.

  4. 4

    And is the best that could happens to you...

    Take your time and read all VC books out there, learn about what implies to let a VC on board. Is like hire a boss that cares more about his fast return than your future.

    On the early days of YC was other history... but now I really don't think it worths it.

    You can learn the fundamental things they will teach you by reading their book, watching their videos and posts.

    Focus on your product, launch fast, fail faster, hear your users... then once you get traction and revenue VCs will be the ones rejected by you ;)

  5. 3

    Can you share your deck/pitch?

    What did they say were the reason(s) for rejection? What do you think were the real reasons?

  6. 2

    I have been rejected several times, every time I was extremely frustrated, that I almost left the product behind.

    This time I also got rejected, with a new product that I am working on, but this time I am not frustrated at all, yes, I feel that it is a missed opportunity, but had no effect on my performance on the business.

    BUT WHY!
    when I reflected on both cases. For the times I was frustrated, I considered success of the product is to be selected in YC or receive funding. I was considering the hype of getting accepted by YC as the sign of building a successful business.

    Time passed, I learnt a lot, I actually failed more than once, I now know the difference between building a nice product, and building a successful business. I learnt that a good business will attract investors like a magnet, Hence, I am just focused on my business, regardless of anything else.

    Here is my advice if you feel frustrated, I have come to know that YC would reject most of the application if they are applying for the first time, BUT, when you apply again, they will look at your progress, this way, they can assess both, your determination, and skills.

    Finally, don't get dragged by the media, you don't have to raise lots of money to have a successful business. Your product doesn't have to have hundreds of thousands of $$$ in MRR to be successful. First, if you are generating enough money to pay your bills, and scaling slowly, then YOU ARE SUCESSFULL.

    I saw that you have around 2600 subscribers, that is excellent, I am struggling to get even 10 subscribers, you have over 2600 human being who care about what you write.

    I hope that I have encouraged you even little bit, lets connect and share experience, here is my LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/belal-m-amin/

  7. 2

    @kylekrzeski and I at times get discouraged regarding our startup (Removaly) when we see that more than half our competitors are funded, some even by YC. However, we have already experienced more success in our first five or so months since launch than these funded companies doing the exact same thing.

    Bootstrapped feels so much better. We are on our own time scheduled, we own everything. It feels good, and there is nothing like not having to report to anyone, explain any financial decision-making, or worry about paying back investor funding.

  8. 2

    YC of 2019+ is not the same YC that AirBnB and others participated in - small community with access to the top dogs there etc. Today its a factory - or rather an index - that aims to sample far and wide such as to achieve target returns. If you sample 300 companies a year (150 per batch) you are bound to hit 2-4 unicorns that will make up for the losses + achieve target return. Not particularly attractive places to create a company anymore imo.

    1. 2

      If that were the case, that "if you sample 300... you are bound to hit 2-4" then every random sample of 300 companies would net you excessive returns. And that's just not happening.
      YC continues to innovate and create incredible value for the world as well as for its investors, it's partners and above all else, the companies and founders it accelerates.

      I'm convinced they haven't merely found a recipe that works. They continue to innovate and I'm bullish the organization will get better and better.

      1. 2

        LOL rightttttt.

        Obviously its conditional sampling not random. Use the brand to attract prospective companies and select 300 prospects. To create an index like S&P300 of startups. Only innovation they do is engineering their returns.

  9. 1

    You've already received alot fo great advice, but I would add: You don't need the YC stamp of approval to be successful. Yes, many successful companies come from the program, but more also come from outside the program without their help. Many times as founders we get caught up in external validation metrics, rather than the ones that should matter to us. Do you love what you do, is your business growing, do your customers love you product and need it in their lives? there are more and more stories of entrepreneurs that bootstrap their way to the same level of success or even beyond those of the YC dream factory. AHREFs is one notable example. To sign off - Stick to your vision, grow, and win in spite of YC.

  10. 1

    Hey, keep it up. There is so much alternatives to VC nowadays, so you should definitely look around and see whether things like Calm Company Fund or TinySeed Capital might be right for you. Not just money but tons of support from like-minded non-VC driven founders.

  11. 1

    Keep your head up! FWIW many startups accepted to YC are only accepted after multiple rejected applications. So while YC certainly shouldn't be your end all be all (and it sounds like it isn't 💪), this reject doesn't mean you won't be accepted somewhere down the line.

  12. 1

    You didn’t need ’em anyway. Just validate and make your product! But you already know that

  13. 1

    As you said, keep working and don't give up.

    What is the product about? Do you have any customers?

  14. 1

    Numerous examples of companies that were rejected. I think AirBNB is one of the most famous examples :)

    Good luck in moving forward.

    1. 1

      Airbnb are YC alumni - did they get rejected then reapply a different year?

  15. 1

    We got rejected as well and got our first investment the same year. It's not any benchmark, there are other ways to become successful.

  16. 1

    You should listen to the latest episode of the IH Podcast :)

  17. 1

    We have gotten rejected twice already and still on it :) Would have applied third time this round if it wasn't for I just had a baby. We will apply next cycle though. Regardless of the outcome I feel that the application is always a good exercise in organizing ideas/information. I also always like to do the startup school build sprint just before it to practice pitching and get to know other great founders.

    Anyways you did good! Keep going! like you said build a profitable business, that is an amazing goal.

  18. 1

    I applaud your perseverance! And I think @RoyTomeij has it right... Your fate is not determined by your participation in YC. It's your effort and ingenuity that will make the difference, and you're still in control of both of those quantities! 🦾🦾 Good luck!

  19. 1

    Keep your heads up for sure.

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