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Y Combinator

Author: Y Combinator

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We talk with people who are shaping the future. A show about technology in business, research, and art.
148 Episodes
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We've cut down the seventh week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.Kevin Hale gave both lectures this week. Kevin’s a partner at YC and cofounded Wufoo. His first lecture is on how to improve conversion rates and his second lecture is on pricing for startups.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro 00:27 - Kevin Hale - How to Improve Conversion Rates1:02 - Why we care about conversion rates2:02 - Shareware conversion rate is .5%2:22 - Casual download games is 2%2:32 - Freemium SaaS range from 1.5 to 5%3:57 - Knowledge spectrum5:52 - The one button interface6:37 - What is the call to action? And the magic moment.8:02 - What is it?8:38 - Is it right for me?9:02 - Is it legit?9:22 - Who else is using it?9:52 - How much? What's the catch?10:39 - Where can I get help?11:30 - Kevin Hale - Startup Pricing 10113:15 - Monetization gives you the biggest bang for your buck14:35 - Price thermometer16:35 - Mistake 1 - Prices are too low16:55 - Mistake 2 - Underestimate costs 17:08 - Mistake 3 - Don't understand your value17:27 - Mistake 4 - Focus on wrong customers18:05 - Sales and profit over a product's life19:20 - Why is pricing innovation hard?21:27 - How to optimize prices 22:32 - $1B formula24:05 - Price and complexity26:55 - 10 - 5 - 20 rule28:20 - Summary
We've cut down the sixth week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.First a lecture from Tim Brady. Tim’s a partner at YC. His lecture covers the importance of building a good culture early and shares six things that you can do now to help create a solid foundation for your startup.Then a lecture from Dalton Caldwell. Dalton is a partner at YC and he’s also the head of admissions. His lecture covers pivoting and his advice on how founders should think about it.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:38 - Tim Brady on Building Culture1:13 - Culture is behavior and the right behaviors support a good business 4:38 - Six things new startups can do now5:00 - 1. Be proud of the problem you are solving7:31 - 2. Create a long term vision that others will follow9:36 - 3. List your values then model the behavior12:34 - 4. Align your culture with your customer14:49 - 5. Discuss the importance of diversity to your company16:43 - 6. Put a hiring process into practice. Plan to evolve it.18:24 - Dalton Caldwell on Pivoting18:53 - The term "pivot"20:20 - Why pivot?21:33 - Good reasons to pivot22:35 - Good reasons not to pivot23:13 - Why people take too long to pivot26:01 - Anecdotes27:22 - Product market fit28:34 - How to find a better idea30:40 - It's ok to not work on an idea that requires venture capital31:34 - Venture vs. non-venture scale ideas 32:52 - When is the best time to pivot33:48 - More pivoting thoughts 35:07 - Idea quality scores37:11 - Brex39:51 - Retool 41:37 - Magic43:22 - Segment45:16 - Dalton's summary
We've cut down the fifth week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.First a lecture from Kirsty Nathoo. Kirsty is a partner and CFO of YC. Her lecture focuses on the most common mistakes startups make with their finances and how they can avoid making them.Then a lecture from Kevin Hale. Kevin is also a partner at YC and he’ll talk about the importance of building a successful working relationship with your cofounders and processes you can use to do so.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:38 - Kirsty Nathoo - Startup Finance Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them2:08 - #1 - Not knowing what to look at: bank balance, money coming in, and money going out2:56 - Burn3:41 - Runway4:59 - Growth rate 5:48 - Default alive - http://growth.tlb.org and http://paulgraham.com/aord.html8:09 - #2 - Not looking often enough: every week9:04 - #3 - Under-Representing Expenses 12:27 - #4 - Out-sourcing responsibility15:11 - #5 - Scaling too quickly20:08 - #6 - Letting runway get too low before fundraising - https://blog.ycombinator.com/advice-startups-running-out-of-money/ 23:21 - Kevin Hale - How to Work Together24:49 - Everyone fights25:43 - Four things to avoid: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling27:40 - Make a plan before you fight: divide and conquer31:11 - Know thyself - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s9ACDMcpjA34:12 - Document a process36:20 - Use nonviolent communication37:19 - Observation vs evaluation39:16 - Emotions vs thoughts - https://www.slideshare.net/nonviolent/evaluative-words-list-nonviolent-communication41:50 - Universal needs43:38 - Requests vs demands45:46 - How to Deliver Constructive Feedback in Difficult Situations - https://medium.com/s/please-advise/the-essential-guide-to-difficult-conversations-41f736e63ccf46:01 - Pay down your emotional debt47:18 - Practice having level 3 conversations
We've cut down the fourth week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.First a lecture from Kat Manalac. Kat is a partner at YC. Her lecture focuses on how startups should think about launching and why you should do it repeatedly.Then a lecture from Gustaf Alströmer. Gustaf is also a partner at YC and in his lecture he covers how to measure product market fit and growth channels.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:35 - Kat Mañalac - How to Launch (Again and Again)1:51 - Ways to launch2:14 - Why launch continuously?3:15 - Silent launch4:25 - Friends & Family5:40 - Strangers7:03 - Online communities12:08 - Request access13:29 - Social media15:13 - Pre-order16:13 - New Product or Feature17:42 - Build your own community19:20 - Launching isn't one moment in time19:48 - Gustaf Alströmer - Growth for Startups21:06 - Most startups have nothing22:13 - Do things that don't scale27:13 - Startups take off because founders make them take off28:23 - Measuring product market fit31:20 - Retention34:33 - Worse ways to measure product market fit35:23 - Bad metrics to measure as product market fit36:18 - Growth channels and tactics38:17 - Conversion rate optimization41:26 - Growth channels to explore45:33 - Referrals and vitality48:05 - Paid growth50:09 - Search Engine Optimization53:00 - Making decisions using A/B testing55:02 - Summary
We've cut down the third week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.First, a lecture from Anu Hariharan. Anu is a partner at YC. Her lecture covers nine common startup business models and the metrics investors want to see for each.Then, a Q&A with Anu and Adora Cheung. Adora is also at partner at YC. During their Q&A they’ll answer questions from Startup School Founders on how investors evaluate startups.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:39 - Anu Hariharan on Nine Business Models and the Metrics Investors Want1:44 - Enterprise4:09 - SAAS8:55 - Subscription11:33 - Transactional14:44 - Marketplace19:04 - E-commerce21:14 - Advertising23:12 - Hardware23:44 - Common mistakes25:35 - Anu Hariharan and Adora Cheung on How Investors Measure Startups Q&A26:07 - Team, product market fit, and market opportunity27:10 - What if the founder doesn't have experience in the are in which they're building a product?28:19 - How do investors know you're moving fast?29:40 - Local vs remote30:40 - Evaluating solo founders31:45 - Clarity of thought33:35 - International founders35:17 - Solo founders36:21 - Should I fundraise?38:33 - How does an investor evaluate a company with a heavy MVP?39:36 - How do you avoid investors who say "it's too early for us"?40:06 - Is it sensible to engage with investors before product market fit?40:26 - How do you find the perfect investor?41:21 - What are the best approaches for minority female founders to gain visibility within VC?42:36 - How do investors come up with valuations?
We've cut down the second week of lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast.First, a lecture from Michael Seibel. Michael is CEO and a partner at YC. His lecture is about How to Plan an MVP.Then, a lecture from Adora Cheung. Adora is a YC partner and a cofounder of Homejoy. Her lecture is about How to Set KPIs and Goals.Last, a lecture from Ilya Volodarsky. Ilya is a cofounder of Segment. His lecture is about Analytics for Startups.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:43 - Michael Seibel - How to Plan an MVP1:25 - The goal of a pre-launch startup3:10 - Iterating vs pivoting3:59 - Lean MVP5:06 - Heavy MVP6:19 - Launching7:35 - Learning is easier with an MVP8:07 - How to build an MVP quickly10:17 - Adora Cheung - How to Set KPIs and Goals11:51 - What are the right KPIs to set?15:50 - Revenue or active users16:28 - Why choose active users?18:55 - Biotech or hardtech KPIs20:25 - Secondary metric21:25 - What if you haven't launched?22:20 - Setting goals23:47 - How fast should you grow?25:13 - Defining your own goals28:40 - Tracking progress30:27 - Ilya Volodarsky - Analytics for Startups30:46 - Why analytics?31:36 - Funnel32:51 - Collecting data, analytics, and data flow34:16 - Metric - Signups per week35:28 - Metric - Retention cohorts36:30 - Which metric to pick?36:57 - Have I reached product market fit?37:27 - Metric - Revenue37:51 - Dashboards38:35 - Advisor updates39:01 - The startup stack42:13 - Recommendations for the MVP process
We've cut down the first week of Startup School lectures to be even shorter and combined them into one podcast. First, a lecture from Kevin Hale. Kevin is a YC partner and a cofounder of Wufoo. His lecture is about How to Evaluate Startup Ideas.Then, a lecture from Eric Migicovsky. Eric is a YC partner and the founder of Pebble. His lecture is about How to Talk to Users.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:43 - Kevin Hale on How to Evaluate Startup Ideas2:04 - How can I predict if an investor will like my idea?2:50 - A startup idea is a hypothesis5:44 - Problem6:59 - Solution8:16 - Insight8:57 - Unfair advantages13:45 - Two beliefs about startups15:19 - Eric Migicovsky on How to Talk to Users17:36 - Three common errors people make when talking to users20:20 - Five questions to ask in a user interview20:28 - What's the hardest part about doing the thing you're trying to solve?21:02 - Tell me about the last time that you encountered this problem21:22 - Why was this hard?23:08 - What, if anything, have you done to try to solve this problem?24:10 - What don't you love about the solutions you've already tried?25:21 - Three stages in which talking to users is extremely beneficial26:07 - Idea stage30:40 - Prototype stage33:41 - Iterating towards product market fit
#141 - Diana Hu

#141 - Diana Hu

2019-08-2800:36:031

Diana Hu cofounded Escher Reality, which went through the Summer 2017 batch of YC. They were acquired by Niantic and she is now the head of their AR platform.She's on Twitter @sdianahu.The YC podcast is hosted by Craig Cannon.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:40 - Getting into AR2:55 - Her first exposure to AR4:40 - AR's future role in media7:45 - Deciding where to go with the product 9:55 - Innovations that enabled AR14:25 - Building a product in a new market17:25 - Raising money for a new market21:40 - Advice for founders after an acquisition 26:40 - Immigrating to the US31:10 - Advice for Immigrant founders33:49 - Advice for founders in/after YC
Aaron Harris is a Partner at YC and before that he cofounded Tutorspree.He’s on Twitter @harris.The YC podcast is hosted by Craig Cannon.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:42 - Seed fundraising process3:32 - Emailing investors9:32 - Parallelized fundraising process12:17 - Meeting with investors14:17 - Overcapitalization17:07 - Communicating your plan to investors19:02 - Evaluating investors 22:57 - Fundraising process for a Series A company27:02 - Meeting Series A investors28:57 - Post-Demo Day psychology
#139 - Jay Reno

#139 - Jay Reno

2019-08-1400:38:401

Jay Reno is the CEO and founder of Feather. Feather is a furniture subscription service. They were in the Summer 2017 batch of YC.You can check out their furniture at LiveFeather.com and if you live in LA, SF, or New York you can try out the service.Jay is on Twitter @jayjreno.The YC podcast is hosted by Craig Cannon.Y Combinator invests a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200), twice a year.Learn more about YC and apply for funding here: https://www.ycombinator.com/apply/***Topics00:00 - Intro00:49 - Opting out of owning furniture6:29 - Feather's prototype9:19 - How much did he make from his MVP?9:59 - How many products did they have?12:14 - Legacy competitors 14:04 - Changing branding from RentFeather.com to LiveFeather.com15:59 - Customer interviews and learnings18:29 - Scaling a company with physical products21:29 - Why expand to other markets vs focus on one?23:59 - Who to hire and when in a logistics-heavy business26:09 - Unexpected learnings from scaling Feather27:54 - Feeling his role change over time29:44 - Counterintuitive advice35:19 - Advice for YC founders after Demo Day
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Comments (5)

Paul

Could you please edit the episodes’ headlines? On top of the interviewee‘s name, could you please give a hint regarding the topic? Will be much appreciated! Thx

Jun 15th
Reply

Richard Ottley

awesome interview, I'm getting ready to start a startup, and I need to know exactly why I should hire data scientists and what problem or problems should they be solving, thanks again 👏👏

Feb 12th
Reply

Richard Ottley

great interview

Nov 29th
Reply

Opekktar Yggdrasil

I'm using "money is the API for humans" going forward; Thank you.

Nov 20th
Reply

Abdullah Ghanem

wonderful talk and questions are in the right place. you awesome guys hope to interview liz again.

Jun 10th
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