Michael Ossarehof Heysan! advises two new startups.

A few weeks ago, we kicked off Y Combinator’s sixth funding cycle with 21 new startups.  They’re all living in the Bay Area now and are totally immersed in building their products. Some have already launched.

One of the things that surprised us recently is how big the YC alumni network has grown. Now that we’ve invested in 80 startups, there are almost 200 alumni.  It didn’t really hit us till we started organizing a reunion and realized they’d barely fit even in our huge west coast building.

A cheery reunion with founders from last summer's funding cycle.

It’s great how much the founders help one another. As usual, several alumni came to our first dinner to talk about what they wish they’d known when they were just starting. The most consistent pieces of advice: launch quickly, be really careful about hiring, and that raising money can take longer than you’d expect.

Joe Kraus (seated far right, in "Cookie Monster" t-shirt) talks to the founders.

Joe Kraus, a perennial favorite with the founders, came to the second dinner to talk about his experiences founding Excite and JotSpot. Joe is such a smart and articulate person—I always enjoy hearing him talk. My favorite takeaways:

-    #1 Persistence. The “$4 billion dollar story” of how Excite landed the Netscape button deal is a must-read for every entrepreneur.
-    Hiring is key. The cost of hiring someone bad is so much greater than missing out on someone good. I think this was a rule they took very seriously the second-time around. They wanted “no false positives.”
-    You make what you measure. Merely measuring something regularly will help you to improve it. And not measuring it will almost guarantee failure.

Carolynn Levy of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati joined us at the third dinner to talk about corporate law. WSGR is probably the most prominent startup law firm in the valley. Most founders don’t get too excited about legal stuff  (which is as it should be) but everyone liked Carolynn because she knows startup law so well and is what Paul calls “hacker compatible.”

1/25/2008 06:25:57 am

I launched my startup in closed beta in Sept and have accomplished some cool things (landed on Engadget, G4TV, French press noted my startup for creating a new industry, and some other stuff too )!

Yet I am a yr or two over 30, living on the east coast and a sole founder!

Even amongst my successes I received the no from Y. I feel my age and being a sole founder really hurts my chances, which is a bummer!!!

I would love to be apart of the Y community! The knowledge gained from the community and the things we'd create would be awesome!

Oh well I digress...
30 yr old guy who likes to create new things

1/25/2008 11:01:25 am

@Jessica: Great blog. Between your blog and Paul's essays, most of my bases are covered :o). I recently bought the book, and I really think it should be part of entrepreneurship courses in academia.

@IWantToBePartofY: Ha, you think living on the east coast is rough, I live in Indiana. So what is this company that's been featured in these places?

1/25/2008 11:58:38 pm

@IWantToBePartofY: This seems like a Y Combinator clone -> http://www.launchboxdigital.com/index.html --and they'll be on the east coast

1/26/2008 03:54:38 am


There are plenty of 30 YC founders (I am one and my co-founders are 2 more). I don't think it hurts you at all.

On the sole founder front... Yaw, that'll hurt. A co-founder is strongly correlative with success. Assuming you can admit that there are skillsets out there that would dramatically improve your startup's chances, why are you handicapping your company?

OTOH, if you AREN'T willing to admit that there are skillsets out there that would dramatically improve your startup's chances... Well, why would YC fund a megalomaniac? :-)

2/20/2008 09:15:37 am

Hi, just want to say I got loads out of Founders at work. Well done drawing out all those experiences from all those legends!
Y combinator seems to be doing a great service to start-ups. It's obviously working (reddit is really helpful everyday!)
We've certainly learnt alot and look forward to more on the blog.
...Good call 'new world order' that the book "should be part of entrepreneurship courses in academia". I agree.

3/23/2008 01:00:31 am

Not all startups are from the valley though. (http://www.widgetplus.com)

4/1/2008 06:49:05 pm

@IWantToBePartofY: hehe living on the east coast isn't so bad... try living here in the Philippines. :/ no funding or whatsoever (that i know of). though i am not letting that get thru me. i am still working on the "idea" for a weeks now. hopefully it will be cool and people will use it ;)

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