October 17, 2019

Rejected from YC W20

Nicholas Schiavi @Confidist

Negative milestones are still important and lessons to share and learn from. This round I was rejected without an interview from YC W20 and when you receive this email you are not given a direct reason. I think this is entirely fair, realistic, and honest. In case anyone is interested they do point people to this resource: https://www.ycombinator.com/whynot/ to help reconcile our pesky problem-solving minds.

So what does this mean for Confidist and the thousands of other rejected companies who applied? Well, not much. I'll keep bootstrapping, iterating, and growing the best I can. I definitely don't regret applying as the application process really helps founders evaluate their progress in the eyes of potential investors and craft a more concise vision. I have to admit that creating a compelling 1-minute video about my project was much more difficult than expected.

A famous quote from President Woodrow Wilson sums up the nature of the problem nicely:

A member of the Cabinet congratulated Wilson on introducing the vogue of short speeches and asked him about the time it took him to prepare his speeches. He said:

“It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

So congratulations to everyone who was accepted for an interview, and good luck! Everyone else, well, give yourself the benefit of the doubt and keep on, keeping on.

https://www.confidist.com is a place for meaningful conversations on the web.

  1. 3

    Maybe you don't need YC! It could just be a distraction!

    1. 3

      Agreed! I appreciate your positivity. My significant other is I am sure very pleased I won't be moving to SF while we are planning our wedding :)

  2. 2

    Also rejected. Not worried about it. Glad you are pressing on too!

    1. 1

      🍻Very interesting project Dante! Cheers.

  3. 2

    Hi, here is some hopefully actionable feedback:


    The color scheme is incredibly distracting.

    It's hard to focus with the two columns of very small text.

    There's too much text on the top right hand side bubble.


    What % of users is watching the video that pops up? Is that video really tailored to the people who are visiting the website?


    Having a login to view conversations is a turn off.

    Having to enter my interests before having a conversation is a turn off.

    Having "join" and "create" buttons are confusing.


    Instead, I would let users see the product in action before they decide what to do.

    Here is how I would re-imagine your front page: https://imgur.com/a/n1cA7Ye

    This makes it easy for new users to see what is being talked about on confidist and if it's a fit for them. You show them the purpose instead of telling them.

    I would have a filter to filter by different topics or interests, or to see which topics are trending now.


    To be honest, I don't know what your actual conversations look like right now because when I click "join" it just shows an empty screen, so I can't give feedback there.


    Cheers and good luck, I like the idea.

    1. 1

      Hi Sobbuh! Thanks for registering and giving thorough feedback. I very much appreciate that! Since conversations are 1:1 only, the content of those conversations are private. I think this gives a unique value to this format. So the visible component is the topic itself. Create under that topic allows you to create a related or subtopic, and join will show you available conversations to join.

      Overall the theme of your feedback is to reduce friction as much as possible, make it as clean as possible, and to show as much information to everyone as possible. While I agree that all of these initiatives will certainly help increase conversion and participation, I also recognize them as a point of balance or a trade-off.

      We trade friction for a greater understanding of the intent and spirit of the platform. We trade cleanliness of design for functionality, and we trade public information for user privacy and quality.

      Reducing friction completely will make abuse of the system more appealing. Not participating in the common attribute selections reduces the human aspect of our conversation system. Not prioritizing the rules lessens the value of the community.

      The last thing I want to create is another Chat Roulette or Omegle who didn't respect these trade-offs. The aspect that I agree with you most on is clarity. It can almost always be more clear with how the system is used and reduce unimportant information. This aspect is in constant flux as I experiment with features and layouts. Thank you so much and I hope this brings some understanding to my choices.

  4. 2

    Also rejected, welcome to the club. Bootstrapping will be more fun anyway.

    1. 1

      Hey, we are pretty close to one another! I am in Irvine, CA. Agreed, bootstrapping can be entirely too much fun.

  5. 2

    Keep at it! There are many other great accelerator programs and, more importantly, many ways to grow a business without an accelerator or outside funding if you'd prefer that path.

    We were rejected from YC twice without interviews either time. 🙃

    1. 2

      Yes! I actually prefer bootstrapping.. but I am realistic about keeping my options open. YC is just fantastic for exposure and networking. I am looking at my options here in Southern California. :) Thanks Ryan!

  6. 1


    I didn't take the risk to apply.

  7. 1

    Great post, and I'm right with ya... actually on my 5th rejection, across 3 different projects (one of which included an on-site interview).

    For me, I always take the day or two after the rejection to put some brain cycles into what the reasoning could have been, and use the list of short comings / issues / whatever you want to call them, as a way to refocus my efforts for the next few months before the next batch.

    I know right out of the gate, as a solo founder, /that/ is probably a lot of my issue, but also the fact that even though I'm showing steady month over month growth, either the bigger market potential simply isn't there or the product as it exists today is a good start, but has to evolve a ton to get to the point that it's a major force.

    Or perhaps I haven't fully realized things enough to be able to communicate them well though, so working on my story telling / pitch is always something that makes it to my list.

    I'm an extremely huge fan of the process, even with the rejections because every batch I walk away having taken the time to think critically about what I'm doing, where I'm going and figuring out what I need to do to get there.

    Here's to YC S20!

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