Started in 2005, Y Combinator is the world’s most popular and sought after seed accelerator for startups today. Fast Company has called Y Combinator “the world’s most powerful start-up incubator”.

Y Combinator is the brand behind many disruptive startups like Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit and Mixpanel among others and has till date invested in 1300 companies, out of which more than 10 are unicorns. Given this pedigree, getting into the Y Combinator startup program is akin to striking gold for entrepreneurs – an opportunity to learn from the brightest minds and connect with the most promising investors in Silicon Valley.

While getting into the startup program is every entrepreneur’s dream, only the best of the crop get selected each year. Y Combinator looks out for specific ideas and values in the people they select. At Razorpay, we had the opportunity to connect with Tikhon Bernstam, a two time Y Combinator alumnus and the mind behind Parse and Scrib to host an insightful webinar about what it takes to make it to the coveted Y Combinator startup program.

Close to 50 startup founders had the opportunity to gain first hand insights through a webinar we hosted in collaboration with Tikhon Bernstam. Being a serial entrepreneur, Tikhon shared his thoughts on the details of the 3 month startup program, the ideal team mix, optimum product requirements and qualities that Y Combinator seeks in its entrepreneurs.

Here is a quick recap of the webinar:

Y Combinator startup program – Basic details

Y Combinator is a 3 month startup accelerator program where selected startups move to the Silicon Valley to be incubated by Y Combinator. During the incubation period, startup founders closely work with Y Combinator partners and alumni to launch a successful MVP or Minimum Viable Product. The entire program comes to a close on Demo Day, where startups present their final product to the top investors and venture firm.

Ideal fit for the Y Combinator program

Y Combinator looks for a set of virtues both in the business as well as in the founding team. Some of the guidelines to ensure being selected for the program are:

  • Ideal Founder Mix 2-4 founders with 50% of the founding team contributing to the tech side of the product.
  • Founder Market Fit Founders should not only be aware of the market, but should also know unique or exclusive information that might transform the market. This will enable the founders to stand out and disrupt the market.
  • Ability to demonstrate huge market demand Founders should have the ability to convince the partners that there is a huge market demand for the product offering.
  • Ability to show traction Ability to prove that the product is already gaining significant traction and is growing over a sustained period of time is important.
  • Grit and Resilience Having grit and resilience shows commitment towards solving a problem and these qualities are highly regarded by Y Combinator.

The interesting webinar presented by Tikhon Bernstam also covered crucial aspects like the right timing to apply for Y Combinator and how startups should effectively solve problems.

You can watch Tikhon’s entire webinar on cracking Y Combinator in the video below:


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