Startup School is a 10-week online course which aims to help your startup be (more) successful by sharing what YC has learned through the years.
You’re in my group! Here’s what you should know:
The official requirements to complete Startup School (and get a certificate and a chance at $10k in equity-free funding) are:
- Watch the lectures each week.
- Attend most weekly office hours.
- Submit most weekly progress updates.
- Fill out YC’s application.
That said, I hope no one is participating just to get a certificate. Your real responsibilities are to do what it takes to make a successful, enduring startup. If you feel like Startup School isn’t helping you achieve that, please let me know.
YC asked me to commit to:
- Host three hours of group office hours each week.
- Provide two hours of support through email and/or chat.
- Not be a jerk.
That’s a very minimal commitment, so I’d like to give you my word that I’ll do whatever I can to help you (keeping in mind that I have my own business to run).
I can’t think for you.
When I was in YC, lots of smart people gave us advice, and initially we followed it because “How could [Paul Graham/Alexis Ohanian/Justin Kan/etc] be wrong?” It took us two weeks to notice we were following a circle of directly conflicting advice.
Startup School will give you advice that’s on average right based on a few hundred successful companies, but you need to think for yourself. You understand and care about what you’re building more than YC or me.
How Things Will Work
Startup School is organized into weeks. A week for Startup School starts Monday morning and ends Sunday night, Pacific Time.
In weeks 1-2 and 8-10 I will host group office hours at two regularly scheduled times.
In weeks 3-7, I’ll host drop-in office hours at a regular time each day. This makes it a little easier to get feedback in real-time in what I’ve found to be the busiest time for SUS companies.
The times for office hours will be selected based on a survey, such that most companies will be able to attend. As long as at least one founder attends at least one meeting each week you will meet YC’s requirements, but you can attend as many as is helpful. Please do not invite non-founders.
We’ll set up a Discord for hosting office hours; we will not use YC’s chat solution.
YC asks that you to submit an update each week, and I’ll also take notes on our interactions throughout the program. I’ll use these notes to write recommendations for the $10k grants.
Personally, I don’t care whether you’re killing it. Good founders are honest about their progress so they can figure out ways to overcome roadblocks and improve. That’s what I’m looking for.
YC posts lectures between Tuesday-Wednesday, Pacific Time. I don’t usually watch the lectures, but they’re similar to the ones I had in YC, so I’m happy to discuss them in general terms in office hours.
In case you’re curious:
I founded the company TapIn.tv, which went through YC Summer 2012, and raised a little under $1M at an $6M pre-money valuation (at the time that was a good raise) from Initialized, Streamlined Ventures, Pejman Nozad, and some other smaller investors.
TapIn.tv was basically Twitter Periscope before it existed and, in fact, Twitter talked to us about acquiring us, didn’t make an offer, and then launched Periscope two years later. Due to lack of traction, we pivoted to offer cheap PaaS streaming infrastructure back when it was super hard and there was no hardware acceleration. We shut down due to co-founder disputes.
When I went through YC, it was small, so I can’t tell you much about what it’s like now. (As an example, Sam Altman ran the slide deck at Demo Day.) I’m probably a little more jaded about startup culture than recent YC graduates. In the distant past I did some machine learning stuff at Microsoft Research and worked for some small startups.
I currently run a non-profit which gets low-income and underrepresented kids interested in coding in almost 50 cities across North America. We operate like a startup, and are directly profitable. About 10,000 kids went to our events last year, and we’re hoping to get to 20,000 this year. We’re not YC backed.