Jessica Livingston

Jessica Livingston

Co-founder of Y Combinator and Author of Founders at Work

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON October 27, 2015

Discussion

Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
Hi - I'm Jessica Livingston, cofounder of Y Combinator and author of Founders at Work. I've invested in almost a thousand early stage tech startups, so I have a pretty wide variety of information on this topic. I'm delighted to be here-- ask me anything!
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Jessica, thank you for joining us today. One of your stories that resonates personally with me is the fact that you work quietly and adeptly behind the scenes. Recently the WSJ published a story about YC where your role in building the company was not acknowledged, yet Paul has called you YCs secret weapon. You've stated that this dynamic is starting to change the way you think about talking about your role, can you share more?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@corleyh Hi Corley, I do plan to share more about this in a blog post but the short version is that being a "behind the scenes" cofounder who just focused on getting things done was a mistake. I naturally don't like attention, but I wish I hadn't given in to this so much. The biggest thing women need to start startups is more role models and had I been more publicly visible, I perhaps could have been more of one.
Corley
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
@foundersatwork @corleyh Thanks for your candid answer. FWIW, you are an incredible role model and mentor for many, many women. I look forward to reading your blog post.
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hi, Jessica! You and @pg started Y Combinator over a decade ago (!!!). As successful as its been, inevitably there are missteps. What's the biggest mistake you or YC has made?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@rrhoover Hey Ryan!! As boring as this sounds, YC grew so organically that we didn't really have any major mistakes.
FundHer
FundHer@fundher · CEO, FundHer
@foundersatwork @rrhoover Jessica, do you think it would be useful - particularly for women - if we knew more about the personal backstory of those hailed as pioneers and role models? For example, your relationship to @pg - not to judge but simply to understand and relate to one another. My hunch is many minorities might push harder, create new ways to work, succeed and even new ecosystems that support new definitions of SUCCESS if we realized the personal circumstances of those held up by the media as "role models" who made it within today's "system" - which implies and insinuates it's clearly possible/doable so if we haven't done it yet, it's "our" fault (i.e., we're failures when in fact we might be the next great innovator if we'd only known....). Often, the biggest battles many of us fight (particularly women) is in our heads. I can honestly say for years I was the biggest thing holding my back and I suspect more of us would get the hell out of our own way if we realized the standard we're comparing ourselves to isn't reality. Again, not to judge others for their personal history - simply to understand the reality of their daily lives relative to our own so those of us aspiring to be and do more don't end up feeling somehow "less than" or even giving up because we compared our reality based on giving "our all" to a false notion of what "reality" is for the role models held up as proof that success is possible (i.e., if you don't get to that level, it's on you and ultimately your fault because Sheryl, Marissa, Ariana, etc. managed to "make it.").
Edwin Espinosa
Edwin Espinosa@edwinespinosa09 · Angularjobs
@foundersatwork Your yoda-like "social radar" for identifying intangibles in founders has been written about many times. Have you seen recurring key characteristics in successful founders and the teams they build or perhaps in unsuccessful founders and teams? P.S. Thanks for posting on posthaven especially the Sales>Marketing
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@edwinespinosa09 Hi! Successful founders are almost invariably earnest and have a sense of mission. They are not opportunistic and in it just for the money.
Edwin Espinosa
Edwin Espinosa@edwinespinosa09 · Angularjobs
Thanks @foundersatwork! I've consistently heard strive for a mission that makes you hop out of bed in the AM. If anyone is interested in the Focus on Sales not Marketing article from Jessica's Posthaven check it out http://foundersatwork.posthaven....
Justin Kwong
Justin Kwong@justinckwong · Founder @ ISM (ism-sf.com)
Thanks Jessica for all that you've done to contribute to the startup community :) What are 3 things that have most surprised you about great founders who build great companies? Know you've talked about being relentlessly resourceful (determined) and getting rejected a ton as common attributes, but was wondering if there were any other surprises that you've found given all of the data points that you have. Cheers!
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@justinckwong 1) How little it matters where founders went to college 2) How critical it is to solve your own problem 3) What good people the most successful founders tend to be
Nikhil Jois
Nikhil Jois@nikhiljoisr · Co-founder, Eventosaur
Hi, Jessica, Thank you for the AMA. My question is with respect to the YC invites and applications. Personally, what is that you look for first while looking at our applications? What is your take on Indian companies designed to solve Indian problems and what can they (we) gain from YC? Thanks in advance!
Varun Deshpande
Varun Deshpande@varund7 · N/A
@nikhiljoisr Before Jessica answers, here's some breaking news on an Indian company that went through YC and just announced Series A ;) Good luck! http://yourstory.com/2015/10/raz...
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@nikhiljoisr I look for energetic founders working on a problem that grows organically out of their lives. Indian companies working on Indian problems are great! http://yourstory.com/2015/10/raz... What they can get out of YC is what any company can get out of it. Nearly all startup problems are similar regardless of what domain you are in or what country you are working from.
Bernardo Pádua
Bernardo Pádua@bernardops · CEO at Quero Education
Hi, Jessica, greetings from Brazil! What do you think is currently the #1 reason YC doesn’t fund more companies from other countries? How do you see YC’s portfolio regionality evolving in the mid-to-long term?
Voxiter
Voxiter@teamvoxiter · CEO & Cofounder, Voxiter
Hi Jessica - Kim with Voxiter here. Great to see see you doing an AMA. You folks weathered the crash in 2008 - what was that experience like for your company and your startup class? If we see another tech crash, how do you see it affecting YCombinator's model? And, selfishly; if you do another AMA, are you interested doing it on a live podcast? http://www.voxiter.com/ - we're hoping to be in your next class!
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
HI Jessica! Thanks for doing this AMA! Really awesome that you've helped democratize startup knowledge around the world. Startup School was awesome (still in touch with many people that I met there and use many of the lessons I've learned). You've told many amazing stories about founders through Founders at Work and more. The most common stories people always share is the AirBnb early days for examples of "doing things that don't scale" and focus on "early growth" and Stripe (doing "sales, not marketing"). Having met so many amazing founders, what is a founder story that you think really shows the qualities of an amazing founder that aren't talked about all the time? Thanks! Sydney
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@sydney_liu_sl I could talk about stories like this all day! Twitch is a great example of evolution and survival. The founders changed their idea dramatically several times in the course of the company. Many times they were in a situation where a pessimistic person would have thought the company was dead. They kept going and it paid off. Zenefits is an example of how powerful it can be to work on an idea that seems very unsexy. Insurance? Most people overlook unsexy ideas but Parker realized that this idea was a way in to something a lot bigger and more exciting.
Brent Summers
Brent Summers@brentsum · Founder, Code-Free Startup
Hi Jessica, thanks for stopping by. If you were moving to SF tomorrow, what one or two steps would you take to replicate building your impressive network?
Soufian Malih
Soufian Malih@malihsoufian · Founder & product @ https://haash.io
Hi Jessica, If you have a chance to restart the YC adventure again and can do one thing differently, what will it be? Thank you!
Hi Jessica, Any recommended reading for first time founders to get a hang of business and finance? Thanks!
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@dmurthy You don't have to know about business and finance early on. You need to know about how to build products. If you don't build a product people want, you won't have any finances anyway! If you are new to the startup world, I'd recommend watching these: http://startupclass.samaltman.com/
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork What important truth do very few people agree with you on?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@eddieschod There are a few, but these things tend to be things I'd get in trouble for if I said publicly :)
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork @eddieschod Haha, then maybe as a follow-up: how do those types of unpopular but right insights come about? Personal experience I'm assuming?
marque jaqueson
marque jaqueson@markjackson02
@eddieschod was this question inspired by Peter Thiel? I remember this question coming up in Zero To One :D
James Kim
James Kim@keembojam · Founder, Brij
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica! What is your view on part-time co-founders and how they could potentially affect a founding team? Thank you!
Pénélope Romand-Monnier
Pénélope Romand-Monnier@penelope_rm · Associate @Hardware Club
Hi @foundersatwork! Your book is the next on my reading list :) My question: what piece of advice you wish you had been given when you were 25yo?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@penelope_rm Thanks Pene. I actually wrote about advice I'd give my 25-year old self a few years ago. My advice really hasn't changed: http://www.foundersatwork.com/1/...
Pénélope Romand-Monnier
Pénélope Romand-Monnier@penelope_rm · Associate @Hardware Club
@foundersatwork waaaah indeed it stays so accurate! totally in line with what you say in your article, I fully trust in what you wrote and I'm ready to follow your advice from now on! we'll see how it goes in a couple of years :)
Howard Haines
Howard Haines@howardhaines
@foundersatwork What is the hardest part about what you do? Can you describe a time when you were able to help a team manage a pivot moments/decisions?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@howardhaines The hardest part of my job is trying to figure out which companies will succeed at such an early stage. You are trying to guess not just what the founders are, but what they could grow into. Thanks so much everyone for your thoughtful and interesting questions! I have to get back to reading applications for YC's winter '16 batch. You've been a welcome distraction :)
Soliman
Soliman@solimanedu · Copywriter. I really do love words.
Hello Jessica! It can be hard for some entrepreneurs to gain the necessary traction for their startups before applying to an incubator/asking for investment because most of the time, they're still beginners in the startup scene. For someone lacking the necessary tools (i.e. marketing/sales resources and expertise) to grab his/her target audiences's attention, how should he/she approach this problem? Thanks for doing the AMA!
FundHer
FundHer@fundher · CEO, FundHer
Jessica, I'm curious what you'd do as a startup founder given everything you've seen, heard, said and done as a YC co-founder BUT WITHOUT the access, connections, money, advisers, etc. So you're a regular person (who happens to be a woman) with amazing wisdom enjoyed by very few people on the planet. You're a business person not a programmer but you live & breathe tech. Post-college, you spent 2 years in Finance at a Fortune 500 company. From there you spent a year in marketing at a self-funded startup which you left 2 months ago to become employee #55 a hot venture-backed startup - which was just acquired for $100 Million. None of your options vested but you got $2500 severance because you're unemployed - effective immediately. Two months later but no offers. You go back to that SaaS startup plan you drafted last year. Thanks to cloud computing, etc. you update the financials & cash flow projections now indicate you could self-fund your way to success. What would you do & why?
Danny Espinoza
Danny Espinoza@abcdannye · Founder @looksyvideo
Hi @foundersatwork! What's the biggest bet YC has taken based on application/interview alone i.e. the largest delta between what the founders pitched on day 0 and what they pitched on demo day?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@dannyjespinoza There have been a lot of startups that have changed their idea 100% between the YC interview and Demo Day. The record for idea changing is probably held by Anyperk, who changed their idea like 6 times.
Irina Jordan
Irina Jordan@irinajordan · Director of Inbound Marketing
@foundersatwork Do you follow your intuition, rely on hard data or both when making important decisions? Thanks!
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@irinajordan Mostly intuition, though data can change my mind!
Kevin
Kevin@kevinayuque
HI Jessica, what technology excites you the most right now?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@kevinayuque To be totally honest here, what excites me most is technology that makes my life as a working mom easier and more efficient. Instacart, Doordash and Hellosign (among others) have all improved my life a lot.
Voxiter
Voxiter@teamvoxiter · CEO & Cofounder, Voxiter
@foundersatwork @kevinayuque Oh wow, have been looking for a reasonably priced electronic signature solution for awhile. Thanks a lot, @foundersatwork!
Karlos
Karlos@karlosferra2
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, Thanks again for all the help and advice you have given to young founders like me. This is immensely appreciated! :) In the foreword of your book "Founders at Work", PG makes reference to how a cars magazine modified the sports model of some production car to get the fastest possible standing mile: They achieved this by removing all the crap that only made it "look" fast. According to your experience in the startup world and having worked with countless founders, can you elaborate on what are the "must haves" for successful founders and what non-essential things we should let go of?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@karlosferra2 You need to really understand the problem you want to solve. What you don't need is a grandiose sounding pitch. We understand that big things start small!
David Smooke
David Smooke@davidsmooke · founder/ceo @hackernoon
@foundersatwork if you could have anyone - living or dead - push you in an adult stroller, telling you their secrets of the world in a three hour promenade through golden gate park, who would you pick and why?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@davidsmooke My grandmother who raised me.
Petiole
Petiole@petioleapp · Smart Decisions for Precision Ag
@foundersatwork hi Jessica, warm wishes from Ukrainian urban farmers. Do you grow any plant? If so - what type? Thanks!
Alejo Rivera
Alejo Rivera@alejoriveralara
Hi Jessica, thanks for your book and the work you do with YC, it's all very inspiring. You've had a lot of success with YC – I wonder, after that, what becomes most important in your life? Is it continuing to contribute something meaningful to the world through YC? Is it maintaining great relationships with the people around you? Is it being a good person? Or something else?
Aurora
Aurora@aurorakb · Co-Founder megacool.co
@foundersatwork Thanks for doing this Jessica! To reduce the chance of founder breakup and conflicts, what are the processes that solid teams do that other teams should adopt/learn from?
Baker Humadi
Baker Humadi@baker_humadi · excitem
Hi Jessica, I am a big fan of you and PG. I have few questions: 1. Some of your startups from Canada have stayed and operated in the US (such as InstaCart). What visa do the founders apply for and do you recommend any lawyer/law firm to help with that? 2. For many people, who have families and so on, it's very hard to work on your startup full time unless you raise funding. On the other hand, investors won't invest in you unless you're a full time (not sure if this is 100% true). This seems like catch 22? What do you suggest for founders to do in this case! Thanks much for your time and I hope to hear from you. It was nice to meet you in person at YC too :)
Alejo Rivera
Alejo Rivera@alejoriveralara
In an answer to a question on this AMA, you answered that it surprises you how the most successful founders often turn out to be really good people. What does "good people" mean to you? Is it that they're kind towards other people, or that they can make good decisions in high pressure situations?
gaurav mahajan
gaurav mahajan@gauravm69807471
Hello Jessica, Have you considered writing essays like Paul? Who are your role models and what life lessons you wish you had 15 years back? Thanks.
Larry
Larry@larry_lawal
Hi @foundersatwork! Apart from building as fast and talking to initial users, what is the best way to get a serious consideration from YC if we are developing a biotech/health product that requires a careful approach due to regulations?
Joe Beninato
Joe Beninato@beninato · CEO, FounderLine
This isn't a question since the chat is over, but thought some of you might be interested in this 1 hour interview I did with Jessica taking founder questions on FounderLine
Jesse Holmes
Jesse Holmes @jessetheranter · Founder, OMG Digital (Pub of OMGVoice)
Hello Jessica, thanks for doing this. What do you think about the potential of the African market?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@jessetheranter It seems very promising. All over the continent, there's a growing middle class.
Kingsong Chen
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Dev
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, what are your thoughts on young non-industry experts tackling difficult industry problems? (For example, accounting in my case & Stripe)
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@kingsongchen You have to be an expert in at least the consumer side. The Stripe founders had encountered lots of problems in processing payments and knew what they themselves needed/wanted.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@foundersatwork How do you tackle time-constraints... understandably each team are passionate (hopefully) so want lots of advice but you have to spread your time across so many people in the same situation...how do you aim to keep your time commitments relatively equal so no one is favoured/ignored?
neeharika sinha
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Helllo @foundersatwork So great meeting you here. If an entrepreneur stars a company in an industry that they have not much experience in but is very passionate about. Having seen a lot of sucessfull founders do you think this matters for investors? Any more details on female founders YC office hours yet?
sirius1821
sirius1821@sirius1821
@foundersatwork Hey Jessica. Thanks for doing this AMA. Can you briefly highlight some common features you have observed among the "successful" startups you have invested in?
Bhavik Chinai
Bhavik Chinai@bhavikchinai · Founder-Vamaship | Director-BVCVentures
@foundersatwork When would YC come to India? Why not tie-up with a strong local partner and take YC across developing nations?
Kapil Kanugo
Kapil Kanugo@kapilkanugo · Founder
@foundersatwork How do you manage your time with being a Mom and running YC? is there a learning or process that you would recommend to manage time between startups and kids?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@kapilkanugo I'm still struggling to figure this out! Like many working moms, I often feel like I am failing at both. I once asked Diane Greene of VMWare how she did it (she was pregnant with her first child when they founded the company) and she said she would outsource everything you didn't directly relate to spending time with her kids (e.g. cooking, cleaning, gardening.)
Adam Marx
Adam Marx@adammarx13 · Freelance writer/editor and music addict
@foundersatwork Hey Jessica, thanks for taking some time to do this today! YC has come a long way, and from the most recent batches we're starting to see companies coming out in a variety of new industries, no necessarily just straight tech. As YC grows, what are some new industries you hope to see applications coming from? Are there any industries which just personally interest you that you haven't had the chance to work in yet? Thanks!
Danielle Newnham
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
Jessica, I read your Founders at Work book when it first came out, and the great stories had a profoundly positive effect on me, and my relationship with the tech industry which lasts to this day. If you were to write the book now, in 2015, who else would you most like to include?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@daniellenewnham Where do I start Danielle!? Too many to list. When I wrote FaW, I had to get intros to everyone. Now I know these people personally-- many are YC founders. There are more female founders to interview now than back in '05, too. In fact, we already made something that was similar to Founders at Work: http://www.femalefounderstories....
Divyansh Saini
Divyansh Saini@navydish · Products @SocialCops.
Hey Jessica, What advice would you give to the 20yo version of you?
Marco Tundo
Marco Tundo@marcotundo · Co-Founder
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica! Pleasure to connect with you through Product Hunt! I'm just wondering, what's more important, the team or the product?
Laksman
Laksman@laksman · Entrepreneur
Hi Jessica! I am a huge fan of YCombinator and Founders At Work. I was wondering if YC has a volunteer program or is open to having volunteers?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Hey Jessica! What's something you used to fervently believe that you now see as misguided?
Allan Jiang
Allan Jiang@allan_jiang · I make stuff.
Hi Jessica. Do you think it's always true that a startup team requires a CTO or a tech co-founder in order to build anything?
Ian Dixon 👾
Ian Dixon 👾@iandixonio · Cryptocurrency
Jessica, happy to see your input here today! My question is what is the biggest thing you consider to be a red flag and what is the biggest thing you consider to be a good sign when evaluating a startup?
Tanausú Cerdeña
Tanausú Cerdeña@chozero · CTO, Crowdants
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica and thanks for sharing as much as you do! You started YC with your life partner. I also started a company with my couple (luckily now wife) and although the startup didn´t go well in the end, we personally made it through. Do you have any advice for couples sharing professional and personal life? Thanks
Sebastian Bensusan
Sebastian Bensusan@sebasbensu · Komunike
Hi! Have you tried to pass along your perfect-pitch for character to other YC partners as it grows? Is it possible?
Gary Glass
Gary Glass@garyunfiltered · The Real Macho Man Randy Savage
@foundersatwork Hey Jessica - a couple of questions: 1) Is it a black eye for a startup to work with a VC scout - ie A person within your trusted network that connects you to capital-worthy startups, who has no equity or operational stake, for a profit? 2) What advice would you give founders who are constantly given accolades and verbal encouragement for their efforts by potential investors, but are not able to convert them into active investors?
Mary Kuzmenko
Mary Kuzmenko@mary_kuzmenko · Woman in Tech
@foundersatwork thank you, Jessica, for inspiration for many women, who are interested in technology and live outside the US. Do you read Hacker News on a daily basis or how do you keep your tech expertise up-to-date?
Varun Deshpande
Varun Deshpande@varund7 · N/A
Hi @foundersatwork, thanks for doing this. There's been a lot made of lack of diversity in tech (among founders, VCs et al) and there is rightfully a consensus that this is a pipeline/upstream problem - less girl-child interest in early STEM education, less women in the candidate pool at college/job recruiting level, for instance. Do you believe organizations like YC have an obligation to shake up the pipeline? What are the strategies you are pursuing/would pursue to this end, other than funding folks who want to make a dent in diversity in education, etc? Have a nice day!
Gina Q.
Gina Q.@ginaqvu · Founder of a Travel Startup
Hi Jessica, what are some vital advices you have for early-stage startups seeking initial seed rounds? As an investor, what are the key things that you look for when deciding to invest in relevant iOT, software and/or technology related products? Thank you for sharing your insights with us!
Cynthia B
Cynthia B@aftersiliconv · Chief Adventure Officer, Seamless Planet
Have you seen a difference in the way women founders pitch vs founders who are men? If so, in what way? What advice would you give women founders when they are pitching to a mostly male dominated VC world?
Gary Glass
Gary Glass@garyunfiltered · The Real Macho Man Randy Savage
@foundersatwork Thank you for being cool enough to spend some time here with us. There is certainly no shortage of startup "advisors/mentors" through the saturated market of incubators these days. For those founders wise enough to seek advice from various advisors and mentors, what is the best way to quickly identify the weak/ulterior-motive-driven advisors from the great ones?
Joe
Joe@joevezz
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica - I'm multitasking on the Periscope, will you be live on there as well? MY QUESTION: Accelerators and incubators are highly focused on solid teams with HIGH VELOCITY ideas...with how heavy of a service economy the US has become, do you feel the need for VC/incubators to start programs that focus on industries with larger social complication/impacts even if they have lower margins? IE: Clean water/energy?
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HUGE Thanks to Jessica for taking the time to chat with us today and for all she does for the entrepreneurial community.
Ana Isabel
Ana Isabel@isagadala
Hi Jessica! Thank-you for being so supportive of young founders. From what you've seen across the years, what do you think is the main difference between smart and hardworking founders who 'get-by' and those who create very successful companies?
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
What was the most surprising presentation you've witnessed?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@russfrushtick Possibly Chase Adam's Startup School talk about Watsi:
He got a standing ovation. I think I was crying as I hugged him afterward.
Roberto Pérez
Roberto Pérez@robertoprez1 · Codapro
Hi Jessica, how are you? I'm sorry that I cannot assist to the live AMA due to an appointment, but I hope you will give us an advice here: You're not from the US and you don't live there either (really short on money so you cannot travel) but your target market is there. So, what you consider would be the best channels to talk to your first and key users (B2B and B2C as you're a marketplace) and not losing credibility? And, how would you offer the best customer service to those users? I mean, which tools or apps would you use (apart from mail and social networks)? Would you use Skype or maybe Whatsapp (not sure if using this one is illegal)? Remember, you're really short on money. Thank you very much in advance!
Christian Giordano
Christian Giordano@nuthinking · Product Designer
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, thanks for sharing your knowledge! Quick question... understandably many accelerator programs are looking for ambitious startups (potentially unicorns). I believe this might limit the access to mentorship for people who want to launch simpler products. What would be, in your opinion, the best way for down-to-earth startups to access mentorship and eventually small funding? Thanks a lot!
Michael Doran
Michael Doran@sempervigilius
@nuthinking I actually applied to Y Combinator this term with a solution to solve that very question (in terms of knowledge)! My group and I are also producing some content to help you answer those questions. For funding Angel.co should be one of your first stops, but there are alternative strategies that won't dilute you! Give me a follow on Twitter and I would be happy to share any info I have with you..
小嶋大貴/Daiki Kojima
小嶋大貴/Daiki Kojima@dktky18 · Be My Style(TechMedia) founder
@foundersatwork Hi, Jessica, From Japan, I'd like to know about founder member. How many of founder members is the best, which role must be existed in Startups. Also, if you have a image, please tell the image of Japan.
Bhooshan Pandya
Bhooshan Pandya@bhooshan · All Things Design!
Hi Jessica, Thanks for the AMA, and giving us the opportunity to speak with you. My question was related to product design. Given the growth of AI in mobile apps how do you perceive the role of a UX designer to change overtime? How should UX designers keep themselves nimble in such a dynamic environment? Thanks, Bhooshan
rachel
rachel@serial_milk · co-founder, Kip
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, thanks for doing this AMA! What are you looking forward to most in emerging technology fields like A.I, robotics, IoT and such? What future do you want to see happen?
adebayo dada
adebayo dada@prince_a_dada · Co-Founder Okiki APP
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, My name is Adebayo Dada co-founder of a movie streaming app with social integration that makes you chat with invited guest while watching a movie together. My question is around fund raising and how a UK based startup can get investment similar to silicon valley structure has it tough to get on in the UK
Dim25
Dim25@dim25 · Founder
@foundersatwork thanks for AMA! Any plans on YC office hours for foreign startups/founders?
Kirill Zubovsky
Kirill Zubovsky@kirillzubovsky · Troublemaker. Founder. Dad
@dim25 check out YC Open Office Hours. http://www.ycopenofficehours.com
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork Are passions serendipitously discovered or painstakingly constructed?
Jessica Livingston
Jessica Livingston@foundersatwork · Cofounder, Y Combinator
@eddieschod More the former!
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork @eddieschod Interesting! I wonder how startups tie into Cal Newport's philosophies: http://calnewport.com/blog/2009/...
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork YC talks a lot about the product/market side of projects turned startups. What ways have the best founders acquired their technical skills beforehand, or are those skills typically acquired along the way of their project? Interested to know about both types of startups: software, and holy-shit-this-is-very-technical-because-we-are-building-a-nuclear-reactor type startup. (Perhaps @sama could put together a CS183D for starting startups in these crazy different domains?) Oh, the pesky counter-intuitive parts to projects that take over the world.
Michael Doran
Michael Doran@sempervigilius
@foundersatwork good luck in choosing your next round! Are you finding a lot of startups who are trying to meet the needs that you have asked for in the Requests for Startups?
Tatiana Jimenez
Tatiana Jimenez@thenestinmyhead · Founder
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica! What would be your advice for international founders on getting into YC? Sometimes I feel in disadvantage for being outside of the SV environment.
Jared Green
Jared Green@jared_green
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, is there ever an instance you deliver an incomplete product rather than finish rounding the edges, where and why?
j
j@omni_bio
@foundersatwork Hi, will you proceed and expand your Fellowship Program? Was this experiment successful? Thanks for all your work and inspiration!
Abdou Baldet
Abdou Baldet@abdoubaldet · Air Spectral
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, nice to meet you, I'm Abdou Baldet, a french founder which aim to start in the Valley. My 1st question concerning the recent post on YC Research. This new resarch lab will be open for YC groups which need to do research or it will be open for new application startups which develop new technology?
Parth Mehta
Parth Mehta@parthtoo · Undergrad Student, Princeton University
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, here's what I want to know: How often have you said after meeting a founder/potential-employee/investor "I don't like them they seem mean/unethical/what-have-you" and been wrong? Never? Once or twice? 5 times out of 100? I know it's hard to give a definite answer to this, but I guess what I want to know is that with time, have you started rejecting more founders due to this reason or started giving the benefit of the doubt to more of them.
Rio Bodiba
Rio Bodiba@deleted-337529
Hi Jessica, I live what you do. What does the education of a founder look like? (From age 16 to 20)
Neil
Neil@nlalonzo · Vocal Visual
Thank you for being so accessible Jessica. What do you find are the top five commonalities that start-ups fail?
Swaminathan Jayaraman
Swaminathan Jayaraman@iamswam · Product @PepoHQ
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, What are most important traits that you look for in a Founder before deciding to fund?
Gustavo De Mari
Gustavo De Mari@guhdemari
Jessica, what do you think about emerging countries, like Brazil?
Sio
Sio@sio_rahimi · Chief Evangelist @Leadstern
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, I "visited" ycombinator this august and I was very impressed and humbled by Bob's generosity. How many "behind the scene" (non-partners) people work at yc and are all of them as cool as Bob?
@foundersatwork People often write off the non-profit space as broken due to lack of financial leverage, ability to attract talent, public misperceptions etc. What are your opinions on NPO's as entities and the role of the space in general going forward, given YC's recent involvement? (just applied to YC as a NPO) Thanks!
Anwaar Ansari
Anwaar Ansari@anwaaramjad · Student
@foundersatwork Thanks for doing this AMA. What are the main things you look ina startup while investing? Also , any tips for young entrepreneur?
Sorab Pithawala
Sorab Pithawala@sorab_pithawala
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, What are the things you would look for in a gaming studio startup that is looking to break into the industry with a 2 year long project that is a part of a already crowded genre? Also curious as to why YC has not seen any gaming studios through its program.
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork YC has started to invest in much more complex technologies (biotech, nuclear, etc). What's the most counter-intuitive insight you've acquired working with those? Does formal education still not matter as much in these areas?
Ludovic Bostral
Ludovic Bostral@ludobos · CTO at Majelan
Hi Jessica, Ludovic from Afrostream there (YCS15) :) do you see major difference of behaviors between american founders and international founders ? Does they manage some things differently ?
Felipe Chávez
Felipe Chávez@afchavezt
@foundersatwork Hello Jessica, how is YC contributing to the startup community in Emerging Markets?
gaurav mahajan
gaurav mahajan@gauravm69807471
Jessica, why do some people fail in-spite of giving it their all?
Parth Mehta
Parth Mehta@parthtoo · Undergrad Student, Princeton University
Hi Jessica, my second and last question: if you now interview only a fourth of the startups, who does the 'social radar' job for the others? Aka which other YC partners do you think also have the same eye for character as you?
Thiago Catao
Thiago Catao@thiagocatao · Product Manager @ Concrete Solutions
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica! Thanks in advance for the great tips you're sharing with us today. While in the early days of startups, do you usualy indicate any methodology to improve to measure the growth of the product / company?
Matt Ma
Matt Ma@bigmabig
Hi Jessica, IoT and biotech become really hot topics, on the other side of the spetrum, what does YC think of modern cloud computing or cloud infrastructure? Ex: docker containers, microservices, scalable application and architecture, etc. Thank @foundersatwork for the AMA. - matt
Seema Jethani
Seema Jethani@seemaj · Director Product Management, Basho
@foundersatwork Thank you for joining us today. What learning resources would you recommend to women interested in starting their own company? Particularly around obtaining funding. Thank you!
JJ
JJ@outdreamer · Web Developer/Writer/Idea-generator
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica - I come up with app ideas all the time, but I will never have time to implement all or even most of them. So since creativity is my strong suit, what's the best way to position myself so that I'm able to pitch ideas & see them come to life?
Jae Shin
Jae Shin@enockjae · Founder at MOMO BOARD
Hi Jessica, what kind of "mobile" tools YC Alumni network is using to communicate with their community members? @foundersatwork
the doer
the doer@thedoerdoes · frontend developer, UX designer
Hi, what kinds of app are still missing for startups when you consider startup community as the end users? What kind of needs your society still have that could be tackled with software? When you look at your work, which part of your job can be more pleasant and efficient for each member of the community?
Alexandru Stanciu
Alexandru Stanciu@ducu · Building @svvendotcom
Hi Hessica, what is the takeaway from your book Founders at Work? I have it in my library, but haven't read it yet cause I am, ahem, a busy founder at work. Promise it's next on my reading list, thank you!
Juan Pedro Córica
Juan Pedro Córica@jpcorica · Co-Founder of www.qmax.com.ar
@ducu hi Alexandru i'm sorry to get into your question but I'm finishing it and it's full of knowledge. Several situations you already faced or can face and how some got through them. It will make you think about a lot of important issues. You can get patterns and sense of timing. It worth reading it absolutely. Best.
PK Fields
PK Fields@eldersense · Founder, ElderSense
@foundersatwork Hi Jessica, I have built something that won't scale, it is currently labor intensive. I am in the field four days a week with customers, now hospital discharge planners/social workers are starting to use us. When should I consider automation? And how much of my time should be dedicated to SEO?
Mackenzie Burnett
Mackenzie Burnett@ciaomack · Cofounder, Redspread
@foundersatwork hey Jessica! In your experience, is it actually realistic for early stage founders to keep a relatively healthy balance between work and personal time (exercise, reading, etc)? It's hard to know what the right balance is, especially since there's always more work that could be done. Thanks!
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
@foundersatwork A lot more things like resources to learn about code are out there on the internet these days. However, there are some fields that are so much more capital intensive with scarce learning resources. These fields are waiting to have projects be built that provide value to the very small set of users. What can we do to shorten the learning gap between these fields rather than just code? For example, Peter Thiel talks about how code makes the /operations/ of existing things better, but we still have to work on making /things/ better.
Juan Pedro Córica
Juan Pedro Córica@jpcorica · Co-Founder of www.qmax.com.ar
Hi Jessica I'm finishing your book "Founders at work" and the first thing that came to my mind was how important it is to have this kind of knowledge and reflections about these stories into the education process. Not everybody will chose to create a business but for sure a lot more and the impact will be huge. I'm thinking about early university stages. Have you been approached by schools to incorporate this on their programs? What do you think about it? Thank you
Daniel Sosa
Daniel Sosa@dsos1 · Wiind.com
Hey Jessica - We are launching what we call the next generation email client, where video is a native part of the experience. Struggling to define how to MVP in an industry where the killer feature would require users to switch email clients. Our current prototype is simply the easiest way to send someone a video which is amazing, but recipients cannot natively receive video natively on traditional email clients. www.Wiind.com prototype @ app.wiind.com - We are in FL where seed funding doesn't really exist unless we have more traction -- Any suggestions?