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At YC, we have a healthy problem. It’s cool to start a startup lately, and YC is an increasingly  popular place to do so. But this kind of popularity can be a double-edged sword: In the last month, I’ve spoken to more than 50 high-quality founders who would make strong candidates for our upcoming class but feel intimidated out of applying to YC. 

There are a lot of reasons.

Some think they’re too early. They don’t have a fully-functional prototype, user growth is lower than they’d hoped, their crowdfunding campaign fell short.

Some think they’re too late. They know exactly how they’ll manufacture their device, they already ran a 6-figure crowdfunding campaign, their site traffic is growing. They (nearsightedly) see a series A as the ultimate goal, and it’s just barely out of reach.

Some have been rejected previously. For their current startup or a past one, they tried and failed to gain a spot in one of our previous classes. They decide that it’s not worth trying again.

The reality is that there is no ‘just right:’ Each company is different, and there is no perfect time to apply.

If you think you’re too early, you probably aren’t. The questions in our application are all things you should be thinking about at the earliest stages of launching a startup. They will help you structure ideas around your fledgling company. These are questions you should have answers to regardless of whether you plan to apply for YC. Instead of wasting time pondering whether your company is mature enough to apply, answer the questions, add a video, and submit your application.

If you’re afraid you’re too late, think again -- particularly if you don’t fit into a traditional venture-capital-friendly category. Last year, hundreds of companies that raised over $200k applied. YC is great for entrepreneurs with ambitious visions in categories unusual to venture capital, and you’ll see us introduce additional tools to help here in the coming months.

Over 10% of our alumni were rejected the first time they applied (including Luna Sleep, a strong hardware company in our last class.) We love seeing companies apply again. Show us that you’ve progressed substantially towards product-market fit, and it will be a no-brainer to offer you an interview.

As of this posting, applications are open for another 8 days. Many of our best companies applied on a lark. Many of our best companies thought they were too late/early to apply. Apply!

[Thanks to Colleen Taylor, Denis Mars, Jared Friedman, Sam Altman, Aaron Harris and Kat Manalac for reading drafts / contributing]


Joining A Different YC

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m joining Y Combinator full-time. My job is to help our companies make hardware people want faster and better than ever before. Fortunately, our alumni are the best resource in the world for this: they’ve built some of the most innovative startups of the last decade. Coupled with our growing ecosystem of partners, our hardware startups are able to get more done during YC than most companies ever achieve. We have a record 22 companies making physical products in this batch, and you'll use many of these in your home or neighborhood within the next 12 months. 

In biotech, the opportunity may be even greater. Why give half of the money you raise to your university when you can rent lab space for hundreds of dollars a month? We expect to help many more scientists choose entrepreneurial paths. With Elizabeth Iorns and our other scientist-alumni, I'm going to help our biotech startups find the partners and tools they need to make wetware at software-like speeds.

This is a good fit for us because both biotech and hardware are becoming increasingly like software at the earliest stages: you can make things good enough to show potential users faster and more cheaply than ever before. There are real regulatory and logistical differences, but many of these matter only after achieving product-market fit. 

We’re just getting started. The YC you know created a new model for funding early stage startups. The YC I joined is creating a new model for innovation. Over the next year, you’ll see us introduce several features that make YC the best place in the world for people who want to make something new. Over the next decade, you’ll see some of these entrepreneurs create companies at YC that rival Airbnb’s social (and financial) impact.

There’s never been a better time to start a startup, and it’s getting even better. Get started, and tell us about it. If it’s a physical thing, show it to me. We’re at the start of a wave of real-world innovations that will approach that of the IT revolution, and we hope you’ll join us.