Michael Seibel

Michael Seibel

Partner at Y Combinator

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 08, 2016

Discussion

Michael Seibel
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@matthew_s_lacrosse · #LEAN CMO Elite-App CEO Elite.Community
Name 3 industries or verticals that are prime for disruption!
Michael Seibel
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
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 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
Colton Robtoy@coltonrobtoy
Hey! What made you want to hop on board with bchesky and be an advisor to the airbnb team?
Michael Seibel
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
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
What are some of your favourite questions to ask founders?
Michael Seibel
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
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
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@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
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
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@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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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@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
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@abhi_bhatia we want Australian startups to come to the valley to do Y Combo :)
Harry Stebbings
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
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
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
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@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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@rometty_ YC partners are knowledgeable, available, and supportive - this should never change
Colton Robtoy
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
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
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
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@jordan_gonen The biggest mountain I have to climb this year is preparing to have kids :)
Philip Kuklis
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
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
Khaled Aly@khaledealy
Do you think founders should bootstrap for as long as possible or look for funding early on?
Manish
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
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.
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
1) What are your favorite books (fiction and non-fiction)? 2) What are some books every aspiring tech entrepreneur should read?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tomstocklein If you are interested in some great books check out this list: http://www.themacro.com/articles...
WealRo
WealRo@wealroinvest
Hi Michael, we have heard on the grapevine that to be even considered for Ycombinator you have to have gone from MVP to product and had at least 10% week on week growth. Is this true for all startups that apply to the program? Also what percentage of UK/European Fintech/Tech companies do you accept into your program?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@wealroinvest First there are no strict tractions rules for getting into YC - we accept companies with all different levels of traction. Second - we happily accept companies from all around the world - the current batch has 20 countries represented.
Danielle Newnham
Danielle Newnham@daniellenewnham · Founder, The Junto Network. Author
Hi Michael, how did you get into tech?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@daniellenewnham I got into tech because my dad was a programmer and my good friend in college happened to be Justin Kan
Lejla Bajgoric
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
You've got some awesome cooking-related collections: A books about cooking one as well as some cookbook recommendations. What's your all-time favorite thing to cook? And when you do cook, what's your perspective on the relationship between people and food -- just a source of sustenance, or something more?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@lejlahunts I have many many favorite things to cook - you can check them all out here: http://www.cookslarder.com/
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Michael thanks for being here! What 3 qualities do you see in successful founders time and time again?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@ems_hodge Great founders are unwilling to accept defeat - even when they are glaring into the eyes of death
Marj Sun
Marj Sun@tkms12345 · CEO & Co-Founder of Colony FM
Hi Michael. Thanks for doing this. I really enjoy using Justin.TV + Twitch, and I want to thank you for creating both of those amazing companies! What are some moments that you don't like to reflect upon, but that you think are important for all founders to go through?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tkms12345 The parts of JTV I don't like to reflect on is when there was conflict among the founding team - but that was an important part of growing up for us and all of the relationship survived and are even stronger now.
Mikkel D. Bertelsen
Mikkel D. Bertelsen@mikkel_db · CEO of Corro.io
Hey Michael, what's your favorite de-stress activity in SF?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@mikkel_db When I want to destress I love going down to Big Sur @PostRanchInn
Evan
Evan@followevan · IT Manager - Agile Scrum Master
Hi Michael, really appreciate you taking time to share your knowledge. What is the best and fastest way to raise a decent amount of money, like around 50k to fully develop an App startup on iOS and Android?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@followevan The fastest way to dev the mvp of an app is to build it yourself or recruit a co-founder to help you built it
Julian Miller
Julian Miller@julianmiller · Founder @Learnmetrics
What's the most interesting thing thus far to come out of the Diversity/Inclusion work you are doing at YC?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@julianmiller The most interesting thing to come out of the diversity work we are doing at YC are the number of underrepresented founders we've funded who have gone on to raise angel / vc money. I think the only thing that is interesting when it comes to inclusion is results.
Marcio Gusha
Marcio Gusha@marcio_gusha · Project Analyst @+Innovators
Hello Michael, could you list, from the founder perspective, what were the 3 pros and cons about the Twitch exit to Amazon?
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Hi Michael, Given your entrepreneurial success and your experience advising hundreds of startups, have you considered writing a book? Your blog posts "Letter to college students", "How to split equity among founders" and "How to ask for advice" are on point and really well written. I really enjoyed reading Alexis Ohanian's book "Without Their Permission" and would (like many others) immediately buy yours.
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tomstocklein Thanks for asking me to write a book on startup advice - the real book I want write is the book on Justin.tv... but alas that might never happen :)
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
The SF Bay Area, NYC and Boston are among the most vibrant entrepreneurial communities in the country whose companies received the lion share of VC funding in the US last year. These cities are very unique and cannot be copied, but what can be done to foster more growth and development of startup ecosystems in other cities and regions of the US?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tomstocklein I think co-working spaces, incubators, and accelerators outside of the bay area do a lot to foster a local startup scene - which is really important for early founders, but I also think that exposure to the bay area is extremely valuable for startups. I wish that instead of trying to copy the valley more local efforts were focused on created feeders to the valley (either for their companies to live or raise money and get top quality advice).
Pénélope Romand-Monnier
Pénélope Romand-Monnier@penelope_rm · Associate @Hardware Club
Hello Michael! Thanks for being here! I've noticed that incubators, VCs etc. tend to develop kind of a "brand" by creating content like blog articles, videos, interviews, podcasts etc. to share their POV on diverse tech & entrepreneurship topics. How would you describe Y Combinator's brand / identity? Do you have a specific "branding" strategy (marketing strategy?) to create awareness?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@penelope_rm YC's Brand = pro-founders, pro-tech, strong alumni, fast and accurate advice, and emotional support
WealRo
WealRo@wealroinvest
What are your thoughts on AI & machine learning start-ups? They are beginning to garner more investment according to @CBInsights and London has a great AI scene with Deepmind having been bought by Google and Swiftkey recently acquired by Microsoft?
Cyril Moukarzel
Cyril Moukarzel@cyril_moukarzel · CEO, LifeDNA
Hi Michael, thanks for doing this! We will be applying to YC next week and we are very excited. How much traction does a hardware company need to have to get considered by YC? What are some good ways to make our application stand out?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@cyril_moukarzel Good traction means people are impressed with how much work you've done over the period time you've been working full time on your startup - the ratio is what's important - not the specific step that you are on (pre vs post launch - etc...)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
If you weren't doing YC right now what would you be doing?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@eriktorenberg If I wasn't at YC right now I hope I've be on another trip around the world or starting a company
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@mwseibel in what spaces would you be interested in if you saw a company?
GuruRajaSubbaiah
GuruRajaSubbaiah@gururajasubbiah · Product Manager - Zoho
Hi Michael, What are your views on the future of social media management tools? This domain is already crowded. Looking forward to your perspective on this.
Baisan Marius
Baisan Marius@grvmariobyn · CTO @ yuburn.com / grobyk.com
Hey Michael, Thank you for doing this. I have a question: How can non US startups compete with the US ones. It is a disadvantage to be a non US startup who applies to YC?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@grvmariobyn There is no disadvantage to applying to YC as a non-US startup - you would be shocked how many international founders YC has
Aaron Schuenemann
Aaron Schuenemann@aschuen · Founder @ TeachTag
Are there any K-12 education startups you're excited about?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@aschuen I'm super excited about Clever and Panorama Education
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Who are some people who inspire you?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@ems_hodge After reading the Elon Musk book and getting a Tesla - he is at the top of my list of inspiring founders. The dude has the balls to take on super big problems.
ax
ax@ax_tweet
@mwseibel @ems_hodge Isn't that what most VCs & Founders should focus on? Instead of funding the next eye-ball ad-tech funded App
Tarkan Anlar
Tarkan Anlar@tarkanlar · Vidpanel
Hi Michael, what do you think about the future of online video streaming?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@tarkanlar I think true UGC video streaming is hard to support outside of a large existing community like Facebook or Twitter. I think premium content streaming (like Twitch for example) has tons and tons of growth potential.
ax
ax@ax_tweet
Shouldn't VCs & YCombi support more startups of Utility that can create legit change, than the next stupid 'eyegrabber' App? i.e. More Ubers than Snapchats?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@ax_tweet Its a common misconception that YC only funds social media companies and B2C services - the number of b2b services, enterprise, healthcare, and hardware companies we fund is staggering
ax
ax@ax_tweet
@mwseibel Yes, but I still see tons of attention of "hype masters" rather than substance. The more I get insight into the innards of the VC industry, the more I wonder what they are up to
Fairuz
Fairuz@__fairuz · Founder looking at next steps
Hi Michael, just a question on whether there have been any startups that made it into YC which are from outside the US whose users/customers are also from outside of the US. Did going through YC make sense in this case?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@__fairuz We fund non-US based companies who focus on non-US based users - here is a perfect example - Stripe for Africa: https://paystack.com/
drugo brato
drugo brato@drugobrato · Designer and director of SkyBox
hey Michael, i want to know.... what i have to do to apply to YC??
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@drugobrato Want a great guide on how to apply to YC - here it is: http://www.ycombinator.com/howto...
drugo brato
drugo brato@drugobrato · Designer and director of SkyBox
hey @mwseibel one more thing... which is the best advice for those who wants to apply to YC ?, but is there any limitation for people outside the States?
Josh
Josh@joshuaogundu · Founder,LykeMe
What type of social media companies do you feel can still be made and scale?
Michael Seibel
Michael Seibel@mwseibel · Y Combinator
@joshuaogundu Social media companies are a funny thing - you always know that another one is coming but you can never tell from where.
Nilay Arora
Nilay Arora@nilayarora · Country Head, WeChat India, Tencent
What stage is the best to apply to YC - idea or after product launch or even later?
Mark Amaro
Mark Amaro@mark_amaro · Founder/CEO UpMesg
What do you think I should do. I launched a Social Network but have 1 user so far after 6 days. How long should I wait before seeking funding?
Adriano Wiermann Barroso
Adriano Wiermann Barroso@adriano_wiermann_barroso · Oceanographer Broou
Michael, do know how to code?
ax
ax@ax_tweet
M - We helped several Enterprise/ B2B startups and helped them evolve their product, succeed with clients become top in their niches, which led to acquisitions by Big Tech cos + lots of cross industry & domain experiences. I'm wondering if there's a place at Y or VCs for someone like that? Thoughts on how to go about approaching?