Justin Kan

Justin Kan

Partner, Y Combinator

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 04, 2016

Discussion

Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
Hi I'm Justin Kan, an internet entrepreneur and partner at seed fund Y Combinator. I have founded many companies including: Justin.tv, Twitch, and Exec. At Y Combinator I invest and advise startups, and in my my personal time I am working on some fun projects. Most recently I built an art car for Burningman called Titanic’s End and am working on a project related to my love for electronic music. I'm excited to talk to you guys, so feel free to ask me anything!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
What's the biggest misconception people have about YC?
Danny Lowney
Danny Lowney@dannylowney · Growth ⛏@ Sup
@eriktorenberg intrigued 👀 nice Q man
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@eriktorenberg People always think they are either too early or too late for YC. Some of the best companies, like Dropbox and Zenefits, were very early stage when they joined YC (basically just starting to build product). Other companies, like Gigster, had millions in revenue already when they joined, but were able to grow that significantly during the course of YC. This misconception has existed a long time: in 2008 my JTV cofounders and I had to convince Airbnb they could still apply to YC -- they thought they were too late because they had already launched.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
What's up Product Hunt! Happy to be here answering your questions! EDIT: Also, reading off some answers on my Snapchat: justinkan
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Justin! You've been working on The Drop, a community sharing and listening to the best new EDM. What sites/apps do you use to discover new music? (I'm a big fan of Spotify, Hype Machine, and SoundCloud).
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@rrhoover Soundcloud, Sirius XM
Ryan Hoover
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@justinkan I listen to Sirius XM's Chill station when I drive my mom's car when I'm visiting home. It's really good.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Welcome Justin! Knowing what you know now, If you were 22 in 2015, what would you do/pursue/work on?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@eriktorenberg same thing I'd probably work on or invest in today at 32 ;). I think the big white spaces in tech are all over: synthetic biology, drone delivery, VR games and entertainment experiences, SAAS software for industries outside of tech, cannabis, mobile apps and services for the developing world. But, you should probably work on things that solve your own problems or that you actually care about, instead of just picking something that seems lucrative.
Sydney Liu
Sydney Liu@sydney_liu_sl · Co-Founder of Commaful.com
@justinkan Hi Justin! Thanks for doing this. You started Justin.tv and Twitch way before live streaming became the cool thing to do. 1) How did you convince the early streamers to come? Why did they do it, especially if you didn't have a huge audience on the site yet? 2) How did you solve the chicken and egg problems? Both require streamers and watchers. Thanks! Sydney
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@sydney_liu_sl Hi Sydney! 1) With Justin.tv, we got a lot of attention for what we were doing from the media attention around our own show. Because the idea of livestreaming my life was so outrageous, lots of people came to the site, and a few of them asked us how to launch their own broadcast. Twitch was probably more instructive: we had a few users who streamed gaming content on Justin.tv, but Emmett really had the idea of reaching out to other gaming video creators on Youtube and competing live streaming sites, and asked them what it would take to get them on Justin.tv Gaming (later renamed Twitch). After enough interviews, he came back with a list of features, which the team built, and then eventually more and more broadcasters came over. We also offered early gaming casters promotion on our directory and front pages as an incentive to come over. This kind of answers #2, because we focused on broadcasters who already had an audience, which they brought with them by marketing their stream on their social channels (facebook, gaming forums, twitter, youtube, etc). This is how we built viewership for the site.
Dudon Wai
Dudon Wai@dudonwai
@justinkan Hey Justin, I have a few questions: 1 - As a young first-time entrepreneur, what is your advice on working on multiple startups at once? 2 - Do you use virtual assistants, and how should I use them as a first-time entrepreneur? 3 - As an investor in Trygigster, what do you think about creating a webdev marketplace for the middle market (new grad coders looking for experience + SMBs with smaller budget)? Thanks! Dudon
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dudonwai 1) Don't work on multiple startups at once. Focus is 🔑 2) I used Zirtual, and now have hired that assistant directly. I also use Magic a lot. Zirtual has helped me a lot for basic research, flight booking and calendaring, but honestly when I was a first-time entrepreneur I just did all that myself and it wasn't a big deal. 3) The quality might suffer here, which would hurt the brand reputation, which I think is one of the big reasons people will come to a service like Gigster (strong brand reputation based on doing a lot of quality work). Also, I think Gigster will eventually drive the cost down for coding work and compete with you. But, you could try it!
Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee@dleesta · Product Manager
@justinkan @dudonwai Great emoji usage. Khaled would be proud!
Danny Lowney
Danny Lowney@dannylowney · Growth ⛏@ Sup
How has your passion for music influenced what you do in startup land?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dannylowney I always wanted to do something in music, specifically in electronic music. Last year I cofounded a company with my friends @ranidu and @jamesfzhang to work on building interesting stuff in music. We started off by building The Drop (a community for discovering electronic music), and recently released a tool called The Artist Union (http://theartistunion.com), which helps artists promote their music on social media. We're working on a new iOS app right now. Ultimately, my goal here is just to build something cool that artists and listeners like to use. I also think many of the techniques we used at Twitch to make money for gamers should work for artists. I think music is historically a pretty difficult industry for tech entrepreneurs -- but I like hacking on it because I'm a super fan.
Jordan Gonen
Jordan Gonen@jrdngonen · trying my best.
@justinkan Could you tell me about your biggest failure ?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jordan_gonen the failures are legion. Started my first startup, Kiko, with Emmett. It was an online calendar. We were college students and didn't use calendars. Consequently, ours wasn't very successful (we didn't really know what features to build and never asked any potential users). Started a clothing company. Knew nothing about clothing. Didn't market it very well (turns out distribution channels are very important!). Exec started off as Taskrabbit meets Uber. Most people didn't convert to regular users, because it was too difficult to think of things to use it for. (Simple, repetitive and scalable jobs are best -- i.e. Uber and Instacart).
Frank Denbow
Frank Denbow@frank_denbow · Founder of INK'A
@justinkan @jordan_gonen More on this clothing company :-)
Charles Kunene
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
@justinkan With both Justin.tv and Twitch, what social/cultural trends did you observe that gave you faith that these would be a success?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@charles_kunene Justin.tv: honestly, there wasn't much social evidence that this was going to work. I think we were encouraged by the fact that a lot of people started streaming. Twitch: it seemed like there was a wave of more and more esports content being produced (and gaming video content in general, on Youtube). Of course, Twitch Plays Pokemon was a cultural moment and was the first time the site really went mainstream.
Sajad Ghanizada
Sajad Ghanizada@therealsajad · Growth, Hurdlr
Hey Justin, what were some of your most used growth channels for the companies you've worked on in the past? Did you notice that some of your channels were relevant no matter the product?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@therealsajad Depends on who you are targeting. Twitch: direct outreach to video game content creators, sending our network development team to various events pro-gamers were at Exec (home services on demand company): yelp, local press, contacting companies and having them email discounts to their team members, SEO The channels really depend on what your customer base is.
Junius
Junius@juniusfree
Hi @justinkan My question is related to product development. How will you spend your time if you've got one hour to solve a user problem/need? Thanks!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@juniusfree I'd say it starts with interviewing that user and figuring out what they actually want. From there, it becomes much easier to brainstorm possible solutions.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
OK last q's ;) How has The Drop evolved? What have you learned about that world since building it? Are you guys going to release an album anytime...?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@eriktorenberg we started out trying to build a community for discovering music. Turns out most people don't really care that much about discovering new music. We've moved on to building The Artist Union, a set of tools for helping artists promote themselves on social channels. Ultimately, I'd like to apply some of the things we learned at Twitch on helping gaming video creators monetize to helping musicians make money -- I think there are a ton of parallels. No plans to release an album but we have discussed creating an artist management company.
Ildi Xhaholli
Ildi Xhaholli@madebyildi · Creative Artist
@justinkan @eriktorenberg hey Justin. I know this Live session has ended but I thought i'd try and still ask a follow up question. When you say that it "turns out most ppl don't really care that much about discovering new music" what evidence did you see to come to this conclusion? Would you say that today people want new music to come to them instead of going out to look for new tunes (go on Twitter vs visiting your fav Blogs)?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
@justinkan thanks so much for being here! What's the best piece of career and life advice you've ever received? Flip side, what's the worst?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@ems_hodge Stand next to people smarter than you are. (basically, this describes all the cofounders I've worked with :)). Don't think I remember the worst advice I've received ... I've been pretty lucky.
Laksman
Laksman@laksman · Entrepreneur
@justinkan Hi Justin, thanks for doing this AMA. Besides the size of the classes, what would you say are some of the differences in going through YCombinator in its early days as opposed to now? Thanks again!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@laksman it is much, much easier to build a product (because of the proliferation of PaaS) and raise money (more capital interested in startups) today.
John S. Kim
John S. Kim@doshkim · CEO, SendBird
@justinkan 1) Is there something you disagree strongly with smart people (or the general population) that you wouldn't acknowledge in the public? (I know this is public) 2) What's your favorite car?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@doshkim 1) Yes. 2) Tesla Model S -- they just build a better UX
Stefan Bielau
Stefan Bielau@stefanbielau · Managing Partner, Dynamo Partners
How much of your time at Y Combinator you spend w/ European startups? Selection process and post-investment. What are the strenghts you recognize in European startups?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@stefanbielau basically equal time to the ratio that they apply compared with other companies. We like funding startups from Europe -- there is a broad talent pool there. I think there are especially strong programmers coming to Silicon Valley from France and the Eastern European countries.
Stefan Bielau
Stefan Bielau@stefanbielau · Managing Partner, Dynamo Partners
@justinkan thanks, appreciate the feedback.
Ranidu Lankage
Ranidu Lankage@ranidu · CEO at Audius
@justinkan what are the top 3 things you look for when investing in a seed stage startup?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@ranidu 1) team 2) growth 3) if I learn something
Emmad Mazhari
Emmad Mazhari@momazhari
Hey Justin! 1. Love your snapchat. It's major 🔑. 2. What are your thoughts on the tradeoff between going to college or working on a startup? What do you think about college kids applying to YC?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@momazhari college is pretty fun. I wasn't mature enough to work on a startup when I was in college. Here are some thoughts I've had on college vs working http://areallybadidea.com/drop-o...
Kingsong Chen
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Dev
@justinkan Hi Justin. What are some unique and/or entrenched industries that you're interested in exploring?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@kingsongchen I think my list from above in answer to another question applies here: synthetic biology, drone delivery, VR games and entertainment experiences, SAAS software for industries outside of tech, cannabis, mobile apps and services for the developing world
Pu Che
Pu Che@pu_che
@justinkan What were some of the things you thought did not go quite well in 2015, in terms of YCombinator strategic decisions?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@pu_che that's a pretty good question. I think a lot of stuff that we've done last year has actually gone quite well. The two big new initiatives have been to raise our Continuity Fund for later stage follow on investing, and to start the YC Fellowship (focusing on extremely early stage founders). Both are promising but it remains to be seen what happens ultimately. Honestly I'm having trouble thinking of major strategic missteps from last year. I think our biggest might be that we haven't hired as much on the engineering side as we should have. If you are a great engineer and want to work at YC, please apply :)
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@justinkan having heard your amazing journey with Twitch from the legend @mwseibel on @twentyminutevc what would you say were the biggest takeaways from the experience for you? P.S. Would love to have you on @twentyminutevc big fan here!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@harrystebbings Biggest takeaway from Twitch: Never sell when you have momentum :) Aside from that: talk to your users religiously.
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
Hey @justinkan! At what point did you decide to pivot from live streaming your life to giving other people a platform to do so? What would you have done differently if you'd thought of something like Periscope a decade ago? Thanks
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jeffumbro At a certain point early on, it became obvious that people thought I was boring -- after that, it was an easy decision to open up JTV to let anyone broadcast :P I don't think Periscope would have worked a decade ago (no iPhone / good data connections from phones yet). I still don't actually think apps like Periscope and Meerkat would work independently of being integrated into a large social platform -- the recurrence rate for broadcasters isn't high enough. I actually think that Snapchat is the spiritual successor to live streaming web apps like Justin.tv, and it is the app I wish I had built. Snapchat Stories is a lot like what we wanted to do with JTV and later Socialcam: it makes it easy to share video that gives people a window into your life in a lightweight, social way. Snapchat Stories is to FB/Twitter/Instagram what Twitch is to Youtube: much lower cost of content, lower expected quality of content, but for users it is frictionally easy to produce a lot of content. I'm probably late to the game, but as a recent Snapchat adopter I am impressed (follow me: justinkan!).
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@justinkan I just snapped you a thank you ;)
gnafster
gnafster@gnafster · -
Hi Justin, what are the indications that a start up attains product-market fit (eg a clothing company)? how should a start up work towards it if these indications don't appear?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@gnafster Growth. If you don't yet have product market fit, I think the best way to achieve it is to figure out user needs (by interviews or observation), build features that solve those needs, and check your hypothesis. If you do that enough times you are basically guaranteed to figure out something people want.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@justinkan Hey Justin! If you were to recommend things do to/habits/etc in order for someone to be equipped enough to advise startups, what would you recommend?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@bentossell start a successful startup
Vaibhav Pahwa
Vaibhav Pahwa@vai_pahwa · CS Student at UIUC
@justinkan hey Justin, thanks for chatting! Feel free to answer any of these (or all) of these questions 1) At what point did you realize that Justin.tv wasn't just a side project and how did you make that pivot? 2) What are some of the startups you're most excited about right now? 3) Can you talk a bit about your project with electronic music? :)
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@vai_pahwa 1) Justin.tv was the main company! Twitch was the side project. We pivoted when Twitch reached around 8mm MAU. 2) There are too many to list all of them, especially through YC. But, one of the companies I am most excited about that doesn't get a lot of attention from SV is SendWave https://www.sendwave.com/, which is helping people remit money from the US to Africa. Super strong founders building something they really care about. 3) I've answered this a bunch, but I want to help artists make money ultimately. Mostly cause I like electronic music and I want to build something that helps the producers.
Jonathan Kau
Jonathan Kau@jonathankau · Prev @Penny @Facebook @Shyp @Yelp
@justinkan What are your thoughts on the recent diversity complaints aimed at Apple/Twitter? What suggestions do you have for early startups that want to invest in proper diversity?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jonathankau I'm probably not the best person to ask, having never worked at a company that size. That being said, the best effort I've heard of was Etsy investing in training women engineers to solve their pipeline issue (http://www.fastcompany.com/30056...).
Bahadir Cambel
Bahadir Cambel@bahadircambel · pythonhackers
@justinkan How does having more resources(money,network,etc..) changed your life ? What are your goals ?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@bahadircambel Great question. It has changed my life in one important way, which is that I feel more ability to create the environment I want to live in now. For example, I bought a home that has an extra apartment underneath that I use as a home office that I've invited friends to work out of on their own startups for free, effectively creating a creative workspace for myself. Other than that I try to stay relatively grounded. Still fly coach and my own apartment is 1200 sq ft. Still figuring out new goals for 2016 and beyond, but basically I want to learn new things, built cool stuff, and work with dope people.
Jeremy Pepper
Jeremy Pepper@jspepper · Consultant
How do you like to work? Meaning, what are your tricks, tips and such for remote working, life/work balance, and the sort. And hi.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jspepper I like to have an office to go into to work -- mentally that helps me separate work and home a lot. Also, exercise! But, I don't think I'm an expert on setting up a great work environment to be honest :)
Jeremy Pepper
Jeremy Pepper@jspepper · Consultant
@justinkan Thanks for the response and the insight into how you work. And you're being too modest. :)
Diogo Ferreira
Diogo Ferreira@diogomartf
Hi Justin, what are your favourite books?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@diogomartf Shogun by James Clavell. Lessons learned from this book drive most of my business / startup decision making.
Danny Lowney
Danny Lowney@dannylowney · Growth ⛏@ Sup
@justinkan thanks for giving such insightful answers here Justin! You do loads of stuff. But you also say to focus. I struggle with this and am keen to know how you go about staying focused when there is noise. Thanks 👊
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dannylowney I work with strong, talented partners who do most of the hard work. Also, I didn't do that much stuff when I was just starting out.
Joseph
Joseph@may_or_maynot · Student, USC
What do you think is the next big "enabling" technology (such as AWS, or the App Store)
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@may_or_maynot self driving cars
Laksman
Laksman@laksman · Entrepreneur
What is your favorite startup of the moment?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@laksman this changes often, but at this exact moment: Peloton.
Laksman
Laksman@laksman · Entrepreneur
Is YC currently hiring for any roles other than Engineering?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@laksman not really.
Jourdan Bul-lalayao
Jourdan Bul-lalayao@jourdanb21 · Co-Founder & CTO, Jobox
@justinkan Hey Justin! Thanks for chatting with us here on Product Hunt! What are all the common themes/qualities that are shared among the startups that have been accepted into YC? Basically, I'm wondering what YC looks for in startups/founders/teams/etc. that apply?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jourdanb21 relentless drive and resourcefulness. You can teach yourself everything else.
Jourdan Bul-lalayao
Jourdan Bul-lalayao@jourdanb21 · Co-Founder & CTO, Jobox
Also, if you had only one tip to share with entrepreneurs on how to build a successful startup, what is your absolute #1 tip? The question is vague as I'd love for you to answer based on your interpretation of the question!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jourdanb21 You can't be successful if you don't get started.
Derric Haynie
Derric Haynie@sixpeppers · Head of Growth, Rebrandly
@justinkan what's wrong with the current accelerator model? Meaning how could accelerators help more startups, or help startups more.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@sixpeppers I think many more companies could be started than are every year. At YC, we would like to figure out how to help more startups get started.
Derric Haynie
Derric Haynie@sixpeppers · Head of Growth, Rebrandly
@justinkan @sixpeppers I'm actually working on solving that problem myself. I've got a few ideas on how to do it.
Derric Haynie
Derric Haynie@sixpeppers · Head of Growth, Rebrandly
@justinkan What's your definition of growth hacking / growth marketing?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@sixpeppers quantitative observation of tests against a hypothesis, iterated.
Yoshi
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Freerance Engineer
@justinkan Hi Justin ! I'm Japanese Yoshi. I feel like American often use Japanese letter to make product. For example , sumo , shogun , sushi and so on.... So please tell me your favorite English or Japanese letter to make my product >
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dnxx28 Basashi ;)
Charles Kunene
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
Broadly speaking, has your degree in Philosophy informed how you observe startups and technology trends?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@charles_kunene studying Philosophy taught me how to write well, which is the cornerstone of effective communication, which is necessary for business!
Charles Kunene
Charles Kunene@charles_kunene · Co-founder & Product Designer @Obaa
@justinkan Did Twitch become what you thought it would be? And what does the future of live-streaming platforms, like Twitch, look like?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@charles_kunene Twitch far exceeds all expectations. When we started it as a side project inside JTV, we thought if it could be 10mm MAU that would be a raging success, and as large as we could possibly expect. By last reported numbers, it exceeds 100mm MAU now. I think Twitch will continue to grow, and probably add more categories. I think more verticalized live streaming apps can and will exist.
Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee@dleesta · Product Manager
Merging 2 things you're passionate about: electronic music and startups, what companies, entrepreneurs, or djs are doing the most interesting work in this space? Could be visuals, audio engineering, curation platforms, etc.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dleesta outside of The Artist Union :) -- I think Splice.
Oscar Yasser (Akira)
Oscar Yasser (Akira)@akirareiko · CEO & Cofounder PocketVideo
@justinkan hey Justin! your previous companies were focused on Video Streaming, but I wanted to ask you about other forms and formats of video distribution and video creation such as Youtube Vlogs, Vine and so on. From your perspective, what's the biggest challenge or problem of mobile video creation?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@akirareiko Most people don't want to produce video, because it is hard to make a good video (much, much harder than to make a good photo). Most people can't do it. Which is why Instagram >> Socialcam / Viddy. I think Snapchat Stories is the best product that has solved this problem for the mainstream person.
Daniel Berezovsky
Daniel Berezovsky@danberezovsky
@justinkan Hi Justin! Sometimes pivots turn out to be great. How did you make the decision to pivot Justin.tv into Twitch? Thanks!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@danberezovsky I've answered above, but basically we set a milestone a priori and then pivoted fully when we achieved it.
Jordan Gonen
Jordan Gonen@jrdngonen · trying my best.
@justinkan Hey Justin! I am a college student looking for opportunities to work in Silicon Valley. Do you have any recommendations for cold-calling/emailing...What works what does not ?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jordan_gonen personalize your email to call out specific things / reasons why the recipient should be interested in talking to you. Make it concise. Don't put too much information in it. Try to offer some value to the recipient or at least teach them something.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@justinkan How sustainable do you think a Startup studio model is compared with accelerator programmes?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@bentossell I think the startup studio model can work -- the hardest part is that they are almost always started by successful founders who aren't as hungry any more and so aren't in do or die mode :). But, lots of them like Expa or HVF seem to be producing good companies. Time will tell!
Juan Juan
Juan Juan@jjuan01
@justinkan Hey Justin, I remember when you first started Justin.tv and you were at Hawaii for Gabe's wedding with the head cam. Can't believe you rented a car that was manual and managed to drive it around Hawaii being your first time driving stickshift!! Crazy!! I'm ready to take my startup to another level but having a tough time balancing a full time job and growing my startup. What do you recommend?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jjuan01 hard to say without knowing more about your specific situation, but I would probably set a milestone or threshold a priori for what you think gives you the confidence to quit your job and go full time on your startup, and then work towards that. That advice was given to me on how we should decide whether to pivot JTV fully into Twitch, and because we had set milestones in advance it gave us the confidence to go full Twitch when we hit them. I learned how to drive stick on that rental car!
Raymahl Sutton
Raymahl Sutton@ray_alexander_ · Founder & CEO of Applyable.io
@justinkan Hey Justin, thank you so much for giving us your time! As a young web dev/building a tech startup (BlindedHR www.blindedhr.com) what's the best way to launch it without being able to afford to quit my day job yet? Approach VC's now? Accelerator? Get the prototype built first? I'm worried that I'll miss my window if it I work on it the next 6 months part time by myself. Thank you so much for your time!
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@ray_alexander_ I would start building the prototype yourselves in your spare time. Once you have a prototype, I'd both apply to accelerators and try to launch it. Don't let lack of funds stop you from starting -- the cost of launching something is so low today that the barrier is really just your own time. Also, I wouldn't worry too much about missing a certain time window. I used to think I only had a few years to really get my company started, but a career in tech spans decades!
Raymahl Sutton
Raymahl Sutton@ray_alexander_ · Founder & CEO of Applyable.io
@justinkan Thank you so much, I really appreciate you!
Dillon Chen
Dillon Chen@dillchen · Source - https://sourcewifi.com
Any big plans for another art car?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@dillchen I think I'm going to take a year off this year to recharge my artistic energy, and try to come back with an even bigger art car in 2017.
Patience
Patience@totallaugh
@justinkan Hey Justin! Have you ever worked with iJustine on any projects? I've heard that Justin.tv is how she got started.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@totallaugh I haven't since she broadcasted on Justin.tv (which was 8 years ago!). She sent me a signed copy of her book though, which had a nice shoutout to JTV.
Jerry Sarpong
Jerry Sarpong@jerryluti · Tech Enthusiasts
Please how do you manage all these business ideas. And what encouraged you to do what you do now.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@jerryluti Finding great partners to work with is the most important thing to me. I've been fortunate to work with people who could take the companies we've worked on to the next level.
Rene Pot
Rene Pot@wraldpyk · Developer Evangelist @ Appcelerator
@justinkan Hi Justin! What would you advice to anyone currently solo setting up a startup. Me for example, I'm building an app that could be a startup that would need to hire people. It could also fail. Currently I'm solo in building it, should I attract people to work with me on this, or should I go and deliver an MVP to the world first? (I'm a developer)
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@wraldpyk Depends on you, but I've always preferred to work with other people. I think teams with multiple founders have the most chance of success, because it is easier to maintain momentum when multiple people are working on something.
Derric Haynie
Derric Haynie@sixpeppers · Head of Growth, Rebrandly
@wraldpyk Why not go out there and see if anyone is interested in the solution first? Get people interested in the problem you're solving and they will help you build the MVP via feedback, pre-sales, etc.
Benjamin Pappas
Benjamin Pappas@pappas310 · theLab.io
@justinkan Hey Justin! Any advice of overcome Adoption with OnDemand​ Model? Thx
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@pappas310 this is a little too generic to answer well I think. Ultimately build something that solves a need, then figure out where people with that need are, and go talk to them and tell them about your thing.
E Wu
E Wu@ewusef · Founder
@justinkan hey Justin, any advice for a financial analyst to break into the tech world in SF? What are some key roles a financial analyst would be needed for?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@ewusef Here's something I wrote about how to get a job at a startup if you have no skills :) http://techcrunch.com/2011/11/28... But, there are lots of startups that have finance related jobs in risk, financial operations, etc. You just have to look for companies that have those positions: Stripe, Square, other fintech.
Stella Yu
Stella Yu@stellayu · Founder | Reputation Management
@justinkan How would you advise someone on finding someone to refine and improve their pitch deck? Succinct messaging and visuals can provoke emotion. We talk about the killer deck but really who are experts who advise founders on this?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@stellayu I think this is the best advice on pitching by the guys at Angelist http://venturehacks.com/pitching Otherwise, ask any founder who has successfully raised money at the stage you are trying to for feedback.
What do you think about startups working in a small market?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@__musaab small market: just as much work but smaller payout than a large market. But, you should build stuff you care about.
Col. Bez
Col. Bez@knightbenax · Creator, Magician, Secret Agent
Hey Justin. I was the guy who helped work on the Drop's android app the first time, don't know if you still remember me. :) Anyways, want to ask, what do I do if I see a problem in a particular industry I am not familiar with or know much about but I do want to get on to building something that solves the problem as soon as possible
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@knightbenax Hey! Go meet some people in the industry and get feedback on your idea. Then maybe prototype it for them.
serhat emre cebeci
serhat emre cebeci@serhatemrecbc · speech recognition entrepreneur
Hi , Justin. It is great to see your advice here. It is good chance for us to listen successful people's experience. I really wonder that although your major in college was not about programming how did you achieve to establish your first startup? Thanks.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@serhatemrecbc My cofounder Emmett was a CS major and he taught me how to program.
chaz littlejohn
chaz littlejohn@chazdazzle · Founder, Pokeit.co
@justinkan describe how it felt when you realized you had product market fit
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@chazdazzle Felt like we still had a long way to go
ClaimMate
ClaimMate@my_claimmate · Grunt
@justinkan Do you plan to evolve Y-Combinator, or just continue it? I think it is one of the greatest things, But I also think it has more potential than past. Have you considered leaving the application process open all the time, and also providing feedback on applications? This would allow more people to apply, and allow more people to improve their application, their product, their pitch, or better clarify what they are doing... For a number of reasons it should lead to better classes. I also believe that there is a way to have a small amount of communication between current batch members and new applicants... This can help exponentially for many reasons... It would build confidence in the current batch that is helping the applicants, and improve the applicants therefore improve the next batch... plus New teams could form, ideas could merge, new pivots and twists would be inspired. If those couple things happen, plus you select mentors and groups to run "mini" incubators/accelerators around the country and eventually the world, for smaller amounts of time with much lower investments, I am positive you will find a lot of Startups that would not have made it to Y-Combinator otherwise, a lot that would have never made it business otherwise, and a lot that will be much more prepared when they arrive. These types of things would continuously improve the types of companies you bring in, and also improve the companies you bring in.
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@my_claimmate We are trying to evolve it. Latest attempt at that has been YC Fellowship, which is run by YC partner Kevin Hale. Leaving the application process open all the time is actually something I've suggested before, however logistical constraints have prevented us from doing that to date. Re: your other ideas: interesting.. thanks for sharing.
ClaimMate
ClaimMate@my_claimmate · Grunt
@justinkan @my_claimmate I would love to see that type of evolution. You get a lot of great companies from the people that do know of YC, imagine how much more brilliance and undiscovered unicorns are out there in the other 99% of the population that never find a life line to follow their dream. YC makes profits find young companies and helping them achieve wild success, or helping them get on the path to it. Thats great for everyone. BUT, YC truly makes "MAGIC" by providing a platform that allows creative minds to start envisioning solutions to our current world, and enabling them to believe that they actually have the ability to act on those visions. You have to find ways to extend the Magic to a larger audience. That's your responsibility now! Just part of the price of greatness. Lol You won't be the first ones finding the next Uber or AirBnb, you will be the only reason many of the next Uber and AirBnbs ever do wind up existing.
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
How can you develop domain expertise while still in college?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@eddieschod internships, build stuff and release it, make friends with people in industry.
Eddie Schodowski
Eddie Schodowski@eddieschod
A little confused about one startup aspect in particular. Best ideas seem to be very original - Airbnb, Twitch, Soylent - and things no one else is really doing. How does domain expertise play into all of this? You mentioned you started a clothing company and knew nothing about clothing and it didn't work very well. I've heard YC say things like build things for yourself and also say think about where the future is going. I feel like something isn't clicking - the latter seems a bit inorganic relative to the former. Build things for yourself or not?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@eddieschod Airbnb, Twitch, Soylent all building for themselves. Airbnb: Joe and Brian needed to make some money, so they rented out floorspace for an air mattress to attendees of a local conference. Twitch: The only videos that Emmett liked watching on Youtube were the gaming ones on Starcraft 2, so he wanted to get those on our site. Soylent: Rob wanted to simplify his eating. Turns out their desires all applied to a much larger population, which was the not obvious part.
Evan Zhou
Evan Zhou@evanczhou · Co-Founder, STEEZY
@justinkan A little late to the party, but any advice or lessons you learned from working with musicians and artists? Any differences between signed and independent?
Justin Kan
Justin Kan@justinkan · Partner, Y Combinator
@evanczhou artists want 2 things: more followers on social media, and money. In fact, they aren't that different from Twitch broadcasters.
Evan Zhou
Evan Zhou@evanczhou · Co-Founder, STEEZY
@justinkan makes sense. Thanks!
John De Guzman
John De Guzman@madfresco
Hey Justin, First of, Twitch and The Drop are awesome. Just listened to your episode with startup school. A couple questions for me: What do you say is your biggest challenge when you decided to get into the music industry? I had some experience working with musicians in Toronto and the number one problem they had was - how can I quickly make money without having to sacrifice gaining more audience. What do you think would be the best solution to achieve both? Any thoughts on getting music faster to mobile devices without going through spotify/itunes?
Ben Bowden
Ben Bowden@benbowdene · Product
It's getting much easier to create a startup quickly (especially web development projects). So, 1 founder teams? Yay or nay?