Frequently Asked Questions

April 2020


What happens at Y Combinator?


How do we choose which startups to fund?

We'll fund companies from anywhere in the world. We fund companies doing everything from building mobile apps to diagnosing cancer.

We'll happily fund companies that just started and have nothing more than an idea. And we've funded companies that had over $20M in annual revenue and over 50 employees.

How can we get funding for our startup?

Apply online for our next funding cycle. We fund startups twice a year.

How much do you invest?

We have a standard deal for all our investments. We invest $500,000 in every company on standard terms.

Our $500K investment is made on 2 separate safes:

  • We invest $125,000 on a post-money safe in return for 7% of your company (the “$125k safe”)
  • We invest $375,000 on an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (“MFN”) provision (the “MFN safe”)

The MFN safe will take on the terms of the lowest cap safe (or other most favorable terms) issued between the start of the batch and the company’s next equity round. Simply put, we’re giving the company money now but at the terms you will negotiate with other investors later.

Both investments happen at the same time; they are not contingent on any milestones.

How will YC work during the COVID-19 situation?

We are running all batches remotely for the time being, because amid the COVID-19 crises, the safety of founders and YC staff is our top priority. Interviews, office hours, evening talks, demo day, and meetups throughout the batch are all taking place over video conferencing, as well as on our online platform and forum for YC founders.

Recent batches have been fully remote and they have been excellent experiences for our founders and their companies.

Will you sign an NDA? How do I know you won't steal my idea?

No, we won't sign an NDA. No venture firm would at this stage. The informal commitment to secrecy on our application form is more than any VC would make.

In this connection you may want to read the first section of How to Start a Startup on the value of mere ideas.

Our group has two ideas. Can we submit two applications?

We don't recommend it. You should pick your favorite idea and apply with that one.

Will you fund multiple startups working on the same idea?

Yes. If you fund as many companies as we do it's unavoidable you'll end up with some overlap. Even if you tried not to accept competing companies, you'd still get overlap because startups' ideas morph so much. The way we deal with it is that when two startups are working on related stuff, we don't talk to one about what the other's doing.

In practice it has not turned out to be a problem, because most big markets have room for several slightly different solutions, and it's unlikely that two startups would do precisely the same thing.

Why didn't you accept our application?

Strange as it may sound, the better your application was, the less likely there is to be an answer to this question. So don't take it personally. The fact is, even the best investors are quite bad at picking winners. VC firms consider themselves to be doing well if 4 out of 10 companies they fund succeed.

Should I Apply?

What are the exact dates for the next batch?

We can't know because they're still in flux. The dates we do know we put here.

We've already been working on our startup for a while. Is Y Combinator appropriate for us?

We've funded a lot of startups like that. In fact, we especially like them. We can probably help any startup that hasn't already raised a series A round from VCs.

We've already raised funding. Can we still apply?

Sure. Each YC batch has many companies who have already raised over $1M.

We don't really need the money. Does it still make sense to apply?

Half (maybe more) of the startups we fund don't need the money. And in fact the money is only a small part of what YC does. The money we invest works more like financial aid in college: it ensures that the people who do need money can cover their living expenses while YC is happening.

What if we're doing something expensive?

We'll still fund you, but instead of trying to build something launchable in three months, the goal becomes to build an impressive proof of concept to take to later stage investors to raise more money.

Do you only fund startups that write software?

No, we'll consider startups in any field. We've funded companies that make everything from microbes to fusion reactors to coffee carts. See our requests for startups to see some of the fields we're particularly interested in, and pages specifically for ai, hardware, biotech, and edtech companies.

Can a single person apply for funding?

Yes. We regularly accept solo founders. That said, our advice remains that one-person startups are tough and you're more likely to succeed with a cofounder. If you're looking for a co-founder, check out our co-founder matching platform.

I have a great idea for a startup, but I'm not technical. Will you still fund me?

It's important for the founding team to have the skills to build their product themselves, rather than outsourcing it to someone else. For most businesses, that usually means you need a technical co-founder.

What are some common misconceptions about applying to YC

We wrote about some here.

Do we need to incorporate before applying?


Can we apply more than once?

Yes. In a typical YC batch, about the half companies applied multiple times before being accepted. If you've applied before and not gotten in, we strongly encourage you to apply again. Having made progress since your last application is a strong signal to us.

Do we need to know someone at YC to get in?

No. One of YC's core principles is considering all applications equally. We don't rely on introductions the way many investors do.

If we participated in another accelerator, can we do YC?

Yes. We've had many companies join YC after doing another accelerator. However, if you've done another accelerator already, we may expect that you've reached a higher level of progress.

What is early decision?

Early decision allows you to apply to the batch after this one. For example, you can apply for the summer batch alongside those applying for the winter batch. This was designed for students who would like to apply but need to finish school before doing the program.

We offer early decision for both the winter and summer batches, and you just need to specify it somewhere on the application.


What if we have incorporated as a non-US corporation?

If your company is already incorporated somewhere other than the United States, Canada, Singapore or the Cayman Islands, in order to participate in YC you will need to create a parent company that is in one of those jurisdictions. The existing company will then become a subsidiary of the new United States, Canada, Singapore or Cayman parent company. While lawyers will drive this process, it will require a significant effort on your part.


We don't want funding, but will you give us advice?

Check out Startup School, our free, online program and global community for founders! Visit the YC Library for additional videos, podcasts and essay resources.

I'm visiting Silicon Valley. Can I come see Y Combinator?

Sorry, but we have no provision for tours. There's not much to see anyway. We don't have founders work out of our space, so all you'd see most times would be a handful of people having conversations.

I'm starting a startup. Can I meet with you?

Unfortunately we can't meet in person with every startup that wants us to invest. There are just too many. Essentially the YC application process is the way we decide which of them to meet.

I want to start something like Y Combinator. Can we meet to learn how YC works?

Sorry, we are just too busy working with all the startups we've funded. But we've described in some detail in what we do.

Will someone from YC review my startup idea?

Unfortunately we can't have conversations with everyone about their ideas. If you apply and we invite you to interviews we'll certainly talk about your idea with you though.

I'd like YC to publicize my product / service among the portfolio companies.

The best way to publicize your product within the YC community is to get a few YC startups as happy users and ask them to recommend you to their peers.

That being said, we do keep a list of offers that we share with our active YC portfolio companies. If you would like to offer a special deal on your service or product to our companies, you can fill out this information form. We manually review these deals and will let you know if your offer has been approved or rejected.


Why did you choose the name “Y Combinator?”

The Y combinator is one of the coolest ideas in computer science. It's also a metaphor for what we do. It's a program that runs programs; we're a company that helps start companies.

What's the average age of people you fund?

About 29. A lot of people think it's younger because the press especially like to write about young founders.

Are you hiring?

From time to time, we post open jobs at YC on this page. But more importantly, over 500 companies we've funded are currently hiring for thousands of roles.

Where can I find answers to questions about Hacker News?

The Hacker News FAQ

Late Applications

What are Late Applications?

Late applications are those submitted after the application deadlines (typically late March and mid-October). If you submit an application after the deadline, your application is automatically tagged as “late”.

Do you get penalized for submitting late applications?

No. Your application will be reviewed on the merits of its content and not on its timing. You lose out on i) responsiveness – it will take us longer to get back to you since we received your app outside of the dedicated time set aside for application processing, ii) coverage – fewer partners review late applications which means there's a greater chance they'll miss your value prop, and iii) acceptance rate – late applications are generally competing for fewer slots, so it's harder to be accepted the later you apply.

What happens when I submit a late application?

Late applications will be processed ad-hoc, based simply on the availability of the partners to read and review it. We review all late applications with the same criteria as on-time applications, the only difference is that it will take a little patience to get your results.

When will I get a reply if I submit a late application?

While we do our best to process late applications as soon as we can, it depends on the availability of partners and the time they need to read and review the late applications. Partners are busy helping the startups we've funded so it may take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks before you'll get a reply.

If you haven't heard from us, be patient. All that silence means is that we haven't reviewed your application yet. As soon as we do, we'll email you.

How do we get our late application results?

We'll email you the results of our app review just like we do for on-time applications. You'll either receive an invitation to interview that contains details of our in-person meeting, or you'll get an email to say that we won't be interviewing you right now. If you aren't invited to interview, we hope that you don't get discouraged and that you continue with your pursuit to build something great.

Do you give feedback on application results?

We don't provide feedback on application results. If we did this, we'd spend all our time providing feedback and doing nothing else due to the volume of applications we have to process. Read this for more info about feedback.

When do you hold late applicant interviews?

It's impossible to provide a specific date. Sometimes the timing of late applications lines up with the standard apps we get so you'll interview with the on-time applicants. We'll also hold a late application interview day before the batch starts, so maybe you'll interview then.

If your application is compelling enough, we'll even interview you after the batch starts. We won't know the specific date of late interviews until we've reviewed your application (and everyone else's).

What is the deadline for submitting a late application?

There is no hard deadline. We'll keep allowing teams to submit late applications even whilst a batch has commenced. Again, the later you submit your application, the harder it is to get into YC.

Can I submit a late application after an on-time one?

No, please don't do this. If you submit a late application after already having submitted one on-time for the same startup, your application will be flagged as suspicious and won't get reviewed by partners. Please refrain from doing this and wait for the next application cycle to submit a new application.

I have a great reason for why my application is late - can you mark it as on time?

No, sorry. But don't worry! Just get it in as soon as possible.

Application Technical Support

Someone recommended me for a previous application and I've decided to apply again. What should I do?

Nothing! Recommendations carry over - no need to ask them to resubmit.

My cofounder started an application for us, but when I log in to my account, I don't see it.

Only the founder who created the application has access to it. If you need to edit it, you'll need to go through them.

My cofounder hasn't received an email to fill out their profile

First thing to do is to make sure the cofounder email address you are entering into the main application form is the correct email address.

Secondly, if they already have an account with YC, make sure you're entering that email address.

When my cofounder clicks on the link to fill out their profile, they're directed to my account page.

This can happen when you're both using the same computer and you're still logged into your account. Have them open the link in an incognito browser window and sign in/up using their own credentials.

We submitted our application but need to edit it

Your application enters our review process once you submit it, so we don't allow continuous editing. If something material has changed - like a cofounder addition/removal - please go here to submit an update.

Was our application submitted? I can't tell.

We send you a confirmation email with a copy of your application when you submit. If you don't see that email, check your spam folder. If you don't see it there, make sure you entered your email address correctly on the application.

If you still don't see the confirmation email, you likely did not submit the application. To do so, click the Edit Application button from your account page. The submit button is at the bottom of the application.

When is the application deadline? When will I know my results? When are interviews?

All of these questions are answered here.

We previously applied and would like to use that application for this batch.

You can reference past applications from your account page, but you'll need to fill out a new one every time you apply.

We are not based in the US. Do we need to do anything to apply to YC? (eg. incorporate in the US, get visas or business licenses)

No need to do any of that. If invited for interviews, we will assist you with navigating visas. If accepted into the program, we can help you with incorporation.

Non-profit companies

Does YC give money to non-profits?'

Yes. If accepted into the YC program, we will donate $100,000 to your non-profit organization once it has 501c3 tax exempt status.

Do non-profits participate in the same batch as for-profits?

Yes, non-profits and for-profits are mixed together in each cohort. Non-profit startups that charge fees for their products and services are similar to for-profit startups. Consequently, the growth-related advice we give at YC and much of the curriculum during the batch is directly applicable to both.

Do I need to charge for fees for my product or service in order for YC to consider me?

We favor non-profits that strive to cover their operating costs by charging fees for the products & services they create rather than relying on donations. Charging users for your product ensures that you provide the value you claim to deliver. Users of free products & services rarely complain. Paying users complain loudly; they will let you know when you’ve gone off course. If you feel you are an exception to this rule, please apply but explain why you are an exception.