Missing the Y Combinator train. Back to bootstrap

TL;DR We missed the video call with them 🤦‍♂️

Saturday 11th April. We received a mail from YC. Great news!
They wanted to do a video call. Not the final interview but at least a sign of interest from them.

They sent a list of available time slots and we picked one for next Tuesday at 18:15 (our time). Now it's time to start a frenetic 3 day sprint to have everything prepared for the call.

It's only a 5 minute call, but we want to show all the work we've done so far and convince them we are a solid bet for their next batch. I think we prepared enough material to fill a 2 hour video call:

  • Released our Alpha to use it during the call.
  • Cleaned up our Airtable task management system, making sure completed and upcoming milestones are very clear.
  • Product roadmap and marketing/growth strategy at detail on Notion.

We even thought on some possible questions and how to distribute the answers between the team members (yes, for a 5 minute video call 😮).

Tuesday! The big day. Last minute conversations:
"Even if we get rejected it'll be a great experience. We are going to talk to YC team member".

"Let's double check the video call URL".


Silence. Serious face. Double check URL. Panic face: "The video call is over" "WHAT!?, IS IT OVER ??!". "THE CALL WAS YESTERDAY, HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE"

A thought arrives like a lightning bolt to our head. "OMG THE CALENDAR". It took me a second to realize what happened:

  • I got the YC email while I was debugging some stuff in a Windows VM. The locale of this VM was en-us (The American calendarwhich starts the week on Sundays). The call was April 13th, 2nd day of week, OK.
  • We created the event on our gCalendar, 2nd day of the week, Tuesday.
  • Too bad the real interview was on Monday 13th and not Tuesday 14th 😥

We sent an email back to YC with the 5 whys explaining why we didn't show up, a desperate move to try and get a 2nd chance for an interview, but obviously it didn't work 😁.

Our Y Combinator adventure ended there. We'll stick to bootstrapping, focusing on product and users.

PS: If you book a demo for conmute.io in the future, we promise double-checking the date 😉

  1. 5

    Crazy story! But it might actually be a blessing in disguise...

    I actually interviewed for Y Combinator for their YC W20 batch, but ultimately didn't get in. But because of the rejection, I ultimately found out about Indie Hackers and the whole indie hacking community a few months ago. I haven't looked back since. I'm pretty confident that I'm happier now than I would've been with a bunch of advisors and VCs hounding me all the time :)

    You don't need fast growth and VCs. Just take it slow, focus on the product and your users, and you'll build a way more sustainable company than you could've otherwise.

    1. 2

      I think you are completely right. Just felt a bit down for missing the opportunity, but like you said it might be a blessing in disguise! Thank you man.

    2. 1

      Sadly, you forgot to mention that it would be different size company and growth.

      1. 1

        Pretty sure I mentioned that he wouldn't have fast growth without VCs. If that's something that's important to you, you can always apply to YC again, or apply for funding from VCs directly. However, I reckon that most people care more about building a great product and having happy users than being able to brag about being the CEO of a 1000+ person company.

    3. 1

      You don't need fast growth and VCs. Just take it slow, focus on the product and your users, and you'll build a way more sustainable company than you could've otherwise.

      Definitely felt good to read that! Hope it's true. :)

  2. 3

    I applied didn't get in or an interview and it felt weird to me. They make a huge deal about looking at all the applications but they didn't even watch the videos I made, they got no views. I don't really think they actually look at them all. Oh well I'll try again next batch since I took the time to write the application and make the vids.

    1. 1

      YC say they have special software so that the view count doesn't change when they do look at them, as previous cohorts were freaking out whether they had 1/2/3 views etc.
      Although that would be a good hacky fix if it turns out they don't look at half of the applications!

      1. 1

        That definitely sounds like a hack lol. Remember these guys want as many applications as possible. They are a business after all. I wonder if applying late makes a difference. I didn't technically apply late I submitted on March 16 which was the due date. I know they say just apply when ever even if late. But the amount of competition obviously makes that point mute in my opinion. That's why im doubting if they really look at them all. A high school friend of mine got in for 2012 or 2014 and I asked for a recommendation from him and his co-founder they both agreed but im Not sure how that whole thing works lol. I'll apply again later I dont have any traction yet anyways and I'm still building. Thanks everyone for the replies.

      2. 1

        Yes! I remember reading in the YC site about this software they use for the videos. I tried to search for it to paste it to @hackerlatino but couldn't find it.

        Anyway I have to say that our presentation video has 12 visits (most of them are probably us and some close friends) and the demo video has 25 visits.

        Although that would be a good hacky fix if it turns out they don't look at half of the applications!


    2. 2

      This comment was deleted 2 months ago.

  3. 2

    Man! The only thing I can convince myself to get through this easily is by telling myself that this can be a blessing in disguise. What would need to happen for you to be happier than getting selected in YC? I didn't get selected too. I didn't know how to react when I woke up to find the email but I guess we have to keep going despite the rejection and "bad luck".

    Your app looks pretty lit. I signed up for beta users even though I may not be an ideal customer.

    All the best! Good things are nearer.

    1. 2

      Thank you Neu!

      The only thing I can convince myself to get through this easily is by telling myself that this can be a blessing in disguise

      That's exactly what we are doing haha

      1. 1

        Just heard the news that they're doing it online this time. Maybe you're destined for something better. ;)

  4. 2

    Maybe it was meant to be this way... Buena suerte Carlos.

    1. 1

      Yes, that's what we take from this. Gracias amigo!

  5. 2

    Man, what a wild ride. Thanks for sharing your story. But mostly I came here to say:

    I'm absolute drooling over your product. I created this recently to try to solve a similar problem... but I just couldn't get the implementation right. What you're doing is pure gold! Good luck, and I'd be happy to help out if you ever need anything.

    1. 1

      Patrick, thank you very much for your kind words. Your idea looks very original! Is it something you've already dropped?

      1. 1

        I guess it's not FULLY dropped. But tabled at the very least.

        What I want to do more than anything else is foster human connection. I'm just still looking for the best way to do that.

  6. 2

    Misleading title. Good luck man!

    1. 1

      Not anymore ;) Thanks!

  7. 2

    Tough luck man. Also, the title is misleading. We don't do that a lot here.

    1. 1

      We are taking it as an opportunity. Edited the title. Thanks!

  8. 1

    Everything happens for a reason :)

    1. 1

      That's what we believe too :)

  9. 1

    "The locale of this VM..."

    This is a great reminder to always keep development separate from production. Don't go screwing with clocks, calendars, etc. on the computer you use to operate your business.

    "We sent an email back..."

    The other tough lesson is operating a business has a lot more to do with time management and things like "knowing what day of the week it is" than it does your product ;)

    Sounds like you've got a great attitude about the experience though, which is just as important as the above!

    1. 1

      That's a lot of lessons! ;)

  10. 1

    My personal opinion is these things are a distraction at best...a goal at worst.
    Still fun to dream!

    1. 1

      You might be right, but we are still motivated to keep going and see what happens.

  11. 1

    That's a tough go, but there's always next time!

    It's cool that you're using whereby.com , but you should update the logo from the old appear.in one 😉

    1. 1

      haha you are right! I'll change it tomorrow.

      BTW, we still say appear instead of whereby.

      1. 1

        When I hovered over the Appear logo, the text says Whereby.

        I used Appear for a few years and really liked the product. Now I'm using Whereby and they're making it even better.

  12. 1

    No worries. What's the big hype around Y Combinator anyways?

    1. 3

      Umm, the network... single greatest asset you can have as a startup?

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