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Open-Sourcing My Y Combinator Winter 2021 Software

Open-Sourcing My Y Combinator Winter 2021 Software

2023-03-30 16:16:01

TL;DR: Apply to YC if you’re doing a startup. You’ll not remorse it.

Thanks to Juri for being my first annual paid subscriber and third paid subscriber! I nonetheless shouldn’t have gated content material ????. Juri is becoming a member of Antonia and Yazin.

Desk of Contents

  1. My Application

    1. Firm

    2. Founders

    3. Class

    4. Progress

    5. Concept

    6. Fairness

    7. Authorized

    8. Others

  2. Why You Should Join

  3. Why You Should Not Join

  4. Conclusion

  5. Resources

  6. Links I Read This Week

Firm identify:

Athens Analysis

Firm url, if any:

In case you have a demo, what is the url? Demo could be something that reveals us how the product works. Normally that is a video or display recording. (Please do not password shield it; simply use an obscure url.)

Describe what your organization does in 50 characters or much less.

Open-Supply Networked Thought

What’s your organization going to make? Please describe your product and what it does or will do.

  • Notetaking app with bi-directional hyperlinks and block references, which improves customers’ potential to create and retrieve associations.

  • Specific give attention to people and enterprises that want safety, privateness, and better energy over their information.

The place do you reside now, and the place would the corporate be primarily based after YC? (Record as Metropolis A, Nation A / Metropolis B, Nation B.)

SF / SF or distant

Jeff Tang

Faculties, Levels (together with area of research), and Years of Commencement (Use a separate line for every faculty) Do you have to be chosen for interview, we could ask for educational transcripts

Rice College, 2015-17 Laptop Science (incomplete)

Employers, Place / Titles and Dates (Use a separate line for every job, most up-to-date first.) Do you have to be chosen for interview, we could ask for references

  • Microsft, SWE Intern, Could-Aug 2019

  • Strata Labs, Cloud Engineer, Jan-Could 2019

  • LiftIgniter, SWE Intern, Mar-Jun 2019

  • GroupRaise, Progress Intern, Jan-Aug 2019

  • Tesla, Half-Time Product Specialist, Oct 2019-Could 2020

Please inform us in a single or two sentences about probably the most spectacular factor aside from this startup that you’ve constructed or achieved.

Not spectacular however enjoyable, the primary Lightning Community App:

If no, why not? What degree of dedication are you prepared to make? Do you may have some other commitments between January by means of March 2021 inclusive? If you happen to’re making use of to Early Choice, do you may have some other commitments between June by means of August 2021 inclusive?


Do you may have any commitments sooner or later and if that’s the case what? (e.g. ending faculty, going to grad faculty)


Please enter the url of a 1 minute unlisted (not personal) YouTube or Youku video introducing the founder(s). This video is a vital a part of the appliance. (Observe the Video Tips.)

What number of founders are on the staff? (Fill out this variety of founder profiles)


Which class finest applies to your organization?


How far alongside are you?

  • 1800 stars on GitHub

  • 40 contributors

  • 1800 followers on Twitter

  • $10k/12 months in OpenCollective sponsorships

  • Inception: March thirty first, 2020.

How lengthy have every of you been engaged on this? How a lot of that has been full-time? Please clarify.

7 months, fully full-time

Are folks utilizing your product?


What number of lively customers or prospects do you may have? In case you have some significantly useful prospects, who’re they? If you happen to’re constructing {hardware}, what number of items have you ever shipped?


Do you may have income?


We’re excited by your income during the last six months. (Not cumulative and never GMV). What was your income final month (September)? (Please use USD. If none, enter ‘0’)


The month earlier than (August)?










Anything you want to us to know relating to your income or progress charge?

Elevated once I wrote a submit saying how Sponsors could be the primary beta testers and get the most recent updates first.

In case you are making use of with the identical concept as final batch, did something change? If you happen to utilized with a distinct concept, why did you pivot and what did you study from the final concept?

In case you have already participated or dedicated to take part in an incubator, “accelerator” or “pre-accelerator” program, please inform us about it.

Why did you decide this concept to work on? Do you may have area experience on this space? How are you aware folks want what you make?

1. Interviewed at Roam, constructed Athens POC in every week. Open-source makes extra sense for this product, and see large alternative for people and enterprises.

2. Product expertise: developer and advocate

3. COSS expertise: Commercial OSS developer and speaker

What’s new about what you’re making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)?

Athens delivers the same primitives as Roam, but gives users more security, privacy, and power over their application and data.

Long-term will out innovate Roam as well via open-source.

Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?

Roam and Notion.

Fear an open-source competitor more.

What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?

Just how critical open-source will be for innovation and value creation.

How do or will you make money? How much could you make? (We realize you can’t know precisely, but give your best estimate.)

We currently support the project based on sponsorships of $10k/year.

See Also

We will provide a cloud-hosted SaaS.

The office software space is $80B market, and grows at a rate of ~$1B per year.

Notetaking is the first killer app. After dominating this niche, will create a suite of products that replace CRM, CMS, internal wiki, etc. to capture a large percentage of this market.

How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won’t be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?

Serve C-Suite, consultants, investors insanely well. Rest of the organization will follow.

Have you incorporated, or formed any legal entity (like an LLC) yet?


If you have not formed the company yet, describe the planned equity ownership breakdown among the founders, employees and any other proposed stockholders. If there are multiple founders, be sure to give the proposed equity ownership of each founder.

(This question is as much for you as us.)

  • 60% founders

  • 20% employees

  • 20% investors

Please provide any other relevant information about the structure or formation of the company.

Are any of the founders covered by noncompetes or intellectual property agreements that overlap with your project? If so, please explain.

Who writes code, or does other technical work on your product? Was any of it done by a non-founder? Please explain.

I do technical work on the product. We’ve had ~30 code contributors and ~5 design design contributors.

Is there anything else we should know about your company? (Pending lawsuits, cofounders who have left, etc.)

If you had any other ideas you considered applying with, please list them. One may be something we’ve been waiting for. Often when we fund people it’s to do something they list here and not in the main application.

Please tell us something surprising or amusing that one of you has discovered. (The answer need not be related to your project.)

I learn 100x more from founders than anyone else.

That was the end of my original application. My thoughts below.

By far, the strongest value prop of YC is the network and brand (which stems from the network). Won’t pontificate too long on this because it’s pretty well-established.

I have made many close friends in YC, mainly through self-organized events around sports.

While pivoting Athens and learning about different industries (vertical SaaS, healthcare, hard-tech), I would cold email YC founders questions or ask for a call, and very often get a response. I even talked to a few founders just about how they pivoted.

Unless you have a better network than YC, this will almost certainly be worth it. You might have a better network if you are a serial founder, a Harvard/Stanford grad, or you’ve already raised from a tier 1 VC, in which case why are you reading my newsletter?!

Network access is especially important for first-time founders and Silicon Valley outsiders like immigrants, non-Americans, or Ohioans like me!

  • Bookface, the private forum where most information flows, is unparalleled.

  • Handbooks for recruiting, fundraising, go-to-market, legal, tax, etc.

  • Databases on founders, companies, and investors.

  • Early access and discounts to shiny, new products and services.

  • Ability to continue booking office hours with group partners, for as long as you are still running your YC company.

Demo Day itself didn’t actually generate that many investor leads for us. But the looming pressure of Demo Day very likely helped me in the conversations leading up to Demo Day. There is no better forcing function in the world than Demo Day.

YC will also give you advice on how to manage investors in your fundraising pitches, conversations, and negotiations. This is a place where YC advice shines and can help with the nerve-wracking process that is fundraising.

There are many things you can criticize YC for. These are the critiques that I had.

Do not expect great advice, especially for companies that are not B2B SaaS startups. Athens was headed down the B2B SaaS route, but I did not think YC understood open-source or tools for thought particularly well, which would’ve been more relevant for us. That said, the OSS community within YC is quite strong now, and tools for thought is arguably not a real market category yet or ever will be. Also, all advice for startups is kinda bad or wrong, and it’s the founders’ job to discern it. YC has the least bad generic advice.

At 350 startups, my batch was one of the biggest. The two batches after mine went up to about 400, but the two most recent batches are closer to 250. I felt like I had to work very hard to get time with my partners, which ended up being 15 or 30-minute calls. It’s just impossible to get enough context on a business in the amount of time. That is purely a pattern recognition game. Sort of an extension of the previous point. They’ve downsized now, which is good, but I’m still not sure the “student-to-faculty” ratio is great. To be honest, I think the partners are quite overworked. But, hey, their jobs are a lot easier than when they were startup founders.

The remote nature of my batch also made it kinda awful, given that the primary value prop is the network. There were no weekly meals, “Camp YC”, or in-person lectures with Silicon Valley legends, which is a deep part of the lore and myth of YC. That said, they are in-person again.

Our batch had the old $125k for 7% equity deal. A few batches after, YC raised their investment to $500k, which is really awesome for founders, in my opinion. That said, I know startups in the earliest batches like reddit, Airbnb, etc. had something crazy like $50k for 5% equity, which makes our deal look great by comparison. Can’t complain.

I’ve heard many other critiques about YC from YC founders. I didn’t put them down because I did not personally experience them. But there are many. At the end of the day, though, complaining about YC as a YC founder is a good problem to have. There are far worse problems you can have.

If you are thinking about applying, 100% apply. I almost didn’t. It took multiple founders urging me multiple times to apply to eventually do it.

Ultimately, there is no downside. The YC application and interview are so terse that you should be able to do it all in like 5 hours, including prep. You read my short application above. After getting invited to interview, I did one 10-minute mock interview with a YC founder. That’s it.

It is far more time efficient and less distracting than doing a standard fundraising process, where you have to invest tens or hundreds of hours refining your pitch, making a deck, scheduling calls, sourcing leads, etc.

Besides, you can always turn down YC if you get in.

The upside, however, is pretty enormous. It is essentially a week of work for access to one of the strongest networks, in my humble opinion.

I’m begging you, just apply! You have nothing to lose, and a good amount to gain — a network and brand that will probably be useful for the rest of your career, particularly if you are in tech or startups.

Remember, though, the point is not to get into YC. The point is to build an amazing product and company that does something outstanding for your customers. You do not want to peak by getting into YC.

And if you get an interview, do let me know. I’ll run a mock interview with you 🙂

Below are the resources I found in my notes for my original application. There are probably more up-to-date ones since then.

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