Michael Seibel

Partner at Y Combinator

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 08, 2016

Discussion

Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
Hello - I'm Michael Seibel - cofounder of Justin/Twitch and Socialcam. I've been at YC Combinator since 2013 and have advised hundreds of startups over the past 3 years. I'm super happy to be here and ready to answer your questions - particularily if you are interested in applying to YC (fyi the deadline is March 24th).
Matthew S LaCrosse@matthew_s_lacrosse · #LEAN CMO Elite-App CEO Elite.Community
Name 3 industries or verticals that are prime for disruption!
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@matthew_s_lacrosse I'll name one vertical prime I'm super excited about - apps and services for parents with kids 12 and younger - right now they are completely underserved
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@mwseibel @matthew_s_lacrosse Completely agree. My 2-year-old daughter is constantly on YouTube and Netflix, but I would love to see her instead play around with educational iOS games. That said, my 5-year old son learned how to read early by playing MineCraft, Clash of Clans and countless other games and really wanting to read the menus and game instructions.
Shingayi Elle Manske@shingayi_manske · Designer
@tomstocklein @mwseibel @matthew_s_lacrosse I can relate. My 6-year old son also learned to read playing MineCraft and then wanting to read everything MineCraft related.
Colton Robtoy@coltonrobtoy
Hey! What made you want to hop on board with bchesky and be an advisor to the airbnb team?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@coltonrobtoy Working with @bchesky was fund because he Joe and Nate improved their product every time I saw them - its always fun to work with motivated and excited founders
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What are some of your favourite questions to ask founders?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@bentossell I always ask founders "what are you working on" - if they can explain this in a clear and concise manner I get interested in learning more
neeharika sinha@neeeharika · Google, Threadchannel
Hello Michael! So great to meet you here. I have 3 questions. 1) What is one feature about a team applying for YC that jumps out to you. Are there any deal breakers? 2) Having worked with so many startups what is one growth strategy which you believe works well for an App company? 3)Will there be a office hours in YC female conference as well?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@neeeharika When reading a great YC application I'm always impressed with how much a team has accomplished in a short period of time.
Porsche Tysk@porsche_tysk
Hi Michael, in Europe a trend has started where the focus is on founders who can execute the business rather than team of developers. Development is being outsourced to expert partner agencies with proven track record. What's your view on this personally and as fitting for YC?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@porsche_tysk I always prefer teams who can build in house over teams who have to lean on outside development - I believe tech should a be a core skill of a tech company
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@mwseibel @porsche_tysk Completely agree with @mwseibel on this one. Unless you're a large publicly traded company with established products, development is far more important than business execution. It also seems to me that "expert partner agencies" may only deliver one-size fits-all assembly-line type products and have no real skin in the game. @porsche_tysk, I'm just curious, what are some specific examples of this trend?
Porsche Tysk@porsche_tysk
@tomstocklein how can development possibly be more important than execution? Even the worst MVP can be executed well and even the best product can fail if not executed well. The whole point of an agency is exactly to avoid the failure of lacking knowledge so it's definitely not a one size fits all. All developers are restricted and limited in skill sets and development often canned to be build from scratch. You can hire and invest smartly using an agency to provide quality and then later hire qualified staff internally. A proven expert partner agency has more skin in the game than a single programmer with limited skill sets. Investors in EU are now no longer blindly trusting founding developers as they often lack the complete expertise. They now prefer outsourcing to partner agency or at least use the agency to evaluate the startups work and keep them on track.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
@porsche_tysk The point I was trying to make is that at the early stages, it is more important to have great coders and designers on your team who can build an awesome product, rather than (1) spending money hiring contract developers or (2) focusing too early on hiring for business execution roles (marketing, finance, legal, operations) before you have any traction in terms of either # of users or revenue. But maybe I'm misunderstanding what you mean by "execution" and "agencies", as both of these are very broad terms.
Alex Rodriguez@headhanchoarod · Founder/CEO at WorkMand & Code2040 EIR
Hey Michael! Thanks for doing this live chat. Would love to hear you answer these questions: 1. Best advice for those applying to the YC Fellowship program vs. YC core? (Can you apply to the fellowship if you've taken a grant but haven't raised cash)? 2. Best advice to first time entrepreneurs/ceo? What advice would you give to yourself at 21 today? 3. What can be done to improve diversity and inclusion in one's startup community? Particularly to make it a strong startup community for entrepreneurs of color? Cheers! @mwseibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@headhanchoarod If you don't know whether to apply to yc fellowship or yc core - just apply to both and let us figure it out :)
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@headhanchoarod The best advice for a first time ceo is make sure you have built a strong technical founding team and then launch!
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@headhanchoarod The best way we can improve inclusion in the startup community is to get great underrepresented founders funded!
Hi Michael, YC seems to have the same product focused formula until today. Do you feel that YC has suffered behind other accelerators from a lack of putting emphasis into startups' marketing and branding?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@wootcamp I think YC has actually gotten better over time, more amazing founders to work with in batch and great alumni to provide advice
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
Alright - that was a ton of fun - thank you to the folks at Product Hunt for setting this up (special shoutout to Erik and Emily) - thank you PH users for for all the great questions!
Abhi Bhatia@abhi_bhatia · Co-Founder and CEO
Hey Michael, Y Combinator (here in Australia we call it Y Combo) is profoundly supporting startups. Will you ever move down under to Australia. Cheers Abhi Bhatia www.inductd.com
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@abhi_bhatia we want Australian startups to come to the valley to do Y Combo :)
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
Hey @mwseibel how is all with you? So great to have had you on @twentyminutevc almost a year ago now. I would love to hear how you feel the fight for racial equality and diversity is going in the tech industry? We always here about removing the gender gap but very little on the racial inequality, why do you think this is and what can be done to change this?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@harrystebbings @twentyminutevc We are trying hard to move the needle on racial and gender equality at YC - 10% of the founders in this batch at Black or Latio and 10% are women. These numbers need to improve. We are hoping that our outreach programs like YC Open Office Hours and YC College Tour encourage more underrepresented founders to apply. We also believe that our underrepresented alumni are great role models and examples of how YC can help all founders succeed.
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
If you were just starting out as an entrepreneur in March of 2016, what type of company would you be building and why?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tomstocklein If I were just starting out in tech today I'd be working on this: http://www.zenysis.com/
Porsche Tysk@porsche_tysk
Hi Michael, 1. how many founders do you believe a startup should have as a minimum to be successful at YC? 2. Should the shares be equally split or could one person be majority owner?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@porsche_tysk We usually look for team for teams of 2-4 people with equity split equally or close to equally but there are always edge cases
Alex Rodriguez@headhanchoarod · Founder/CEO at WorkMand & Code2040 EIR
From the companies that have gone through YC with the 'chicken-egg' problem. What have you noticed from the companies that have been able to solve it best. What are the best strategies to solve the problem?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@headhanchoarod When you have a chicken-egg problem you always have to cheat one side of the problem - ie: manually and unscalably solve one side of the equation - this is often the main problem/solution for marketplace startups
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Michael. Thank you for joining. What's something you used to fervently believe that you fundamentally see as misguided?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@eriktorenberg Believe it or not I didn't use to think talking to my customers was very important - I was very young and stupid in the early days of Justin.tv
jack rometty@rometty_ · student
Hey Michael! I frequently hear about YC's amazing group of partners. The dynamic is described as balanced, individual, and powerful. Which 3 adjectives best describe YC's partners? Do you think your answer will change in 5-10(15?) years?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@rometty_ YC partners are knowledgeable, available, and supportive - this should never change
Colton Robtoy@coltonrobtoy
Also, how'd you get in with all the tech allstars (San Fran, YC, etc.) coming from a Poly Sci background in college?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@coltonrobtoy - The JTV team got together because Justin and I were friends in college, Justin and Emmett were friends since 2nd grade, and Justin recruited Kyle from MIT
Jordan Gonen@jrdngonen · trying my best.
First of all - you are the man for coming on here! Really appreciate it! What is the biggest mountain you have to climb this year?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@jordan_gonen The biggest mountain I have to climb this year is preparing to have kids :)
Philip Kuklis@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hey Michael, thanks for doing this AMA! How does your typical day look like as a partner at YC?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@philipkuklis My typical day involves lots of office hours with current YC companies and calls and meetings with companies who are interested in applying to YC
Khaled Aly@khaledealy
Do you think founders should bootstrap for as long as possible or look for funding early on?
Manish@mkagenius · Co-founder
@khaledealy treat money as a means to an end, the question you need to ask yourself is how does that money help you achieve that faster?
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@khaledealy I think its perfectly okay to bootstrap until you have something that you think can raise money. Then you have options.