Kevin Hale was the cofounder of Wufoo, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2006 and acquired by SurveyMonkey in 2011. He was responsible for Wufoo’s much-admired design and speaks widely about UX. Before Wufoo he wrote about design for Particletree and was editor in chief of the web development magazine Treehouse. He has a BA from Stetson University in Digital Arts and English.View the profile
About the talk
YC Partner Kevin Hale introduces Startup School 2019 and walks through the program for this year.
Good morning Founders. Welcome to start of school 2019 coming over for things in this orientation introduce you to disturb school team. I'm going to introduce you to your fellow classmates / Founders. I'm explain how startup School works and then give you a tour of the software the events and the content that were making for you for the next 10 weeks. There are five people that make up the start of school team me and adorar YC Partners. We will act as the host and will also instruct some of the lectures. Steven Van is the best
director. He's in charge of hoping you guys with all the logistics and answering your questions and help you understand what's next then just being super helpful and responsive to whatever it is that you might need in regards to what do I have to do for start school? With Kyle, he's got all the software and written all the code that you guys are going to be using for the course and he'll probably be adding new features as we go on based on your feedback. And then we have Ash man who's going to be act as the person who's going to represent your
voice. He's going to be analyzing the data looking at the stuff that you submit to us and then looking at all your feedback and even be reaching out to many of many of you to get an understanding of like how it started school going are we sort of meeting your needs and helping me an Adora adjust? What is necessary to make the course be so much better for you guys. I don't have an army of YC alumni and then of course all the partners who are giving lectures who's going to be participating in helping us out. They'll be inside of the forms.
They'll be at our live event and it's going to be super awesome. If you need help, this is the email start of school at y combinator, That person is probably going to be Steven that's Manning bad, but he'll triage it appropriately. Where I hope you will ask for lots of help is from your fellow classmates from the forums. It is actually a lot of household of y c Works people don't consciously come to the YC Partners to get healthy actually rely on one another and it's through the forms where this is going to happen where the community is built
and it'll feel really magical. We've got a couple of goals for the start of school team. I'm hoping that you can use us as an excuse to work on your startup. We have built this 10-week sort of structure. We built these a set of lectures based on a cricket that we think works for all different kinds of companies and we hope that you will use us as a vehicle for working on that passion project or idea. We want to improve how you think and talk about your shirt off. We want to help you understand how investors think about
ideas and we want you to get a lot of practice in on talking about your idea in a concise and clear way. And then for companies that are already launched and have users are Revenue start schools going to be awesome place for you to revisit first principles to look at how you thought about the idea and try to find oh where there holes in your thinking or where there are opportunities. In thought that can help you sort of unlock growth or opportunities or even completely rethink how your business might work?
And then lastly we want to build a global community of founders. Something that we think has it been done before at this scale. Now for most people who start y-combinator and are entered into the batch. Most of them have this thought that they are in the wrong place that they're too early that they're too late or they have been Pasha syndrome and I want you to know that you are not alone that you are in the right place and that you're in good company. Derrick 28,000 Founders were participating
in startup school and another 25,000 people who are auditing the class just to get updates and keep up the day on Saturday lectures and ideas that were presented. One thing I want to say that more people are going to be joining the class. We've actually move the deadline because we realize that hey since we know require a tide of 10 group sessions are weekly updates to consider that as graduating from the course. There's no reason why we should cut off sign-ups until after the second week. So the deadline now is August 4th and
Spectators expect me to try to get you to join us Founders over here and working on your startup sooner than you might think you're ready. Now there are twenty one thousand startups that are registered for start of school. And I want you to know that there are so many different kind of startups taking this class and that we have actually designed a program that's not work. Hopefully for all of you 11,000 of you or full-time 8000 of you are part-time and that means that we're going to work on helping you think about your ID and a way to make you feel confident
about quitting that job or figuring out what you can do when you have only limited amount of time to work on your shirt up so that your most productive on your startup. We have 4000 launch companies, but we also have 5000 companies that are only have prototypes 4,000 or just at the idea stage and that means that we've got content all of you. 5000 of the companies are actually teams and 16000 companies are single founder companies is the record for start of school bar that has to do with
the new single founder matching programs that we've built into this year's software, but I want you to know that we've got really great resources for you. There's 12,000 companies that have at least one technical founder, which means there's 9000 companies that have no technical Founders. I don't want you to know that that doesn't mean that you're hopeless you have opportunities and we have constant an inspiration that will work for you. And then we have 4,000 companies that have at least one female founder. And so you all will hopefully
be able to find and support one another and I want you to know that you might be skeptical why. How can an online class be able to address all these different types of companies needs and I want to know that this is basically what regular y combinator looks like in a natural back. We have grouping we have people who are non-technical. We have people who are teens or just single fanners. We have people who are just at the IDM prototype stage and we mix them all together every single batch. And the reason we're able to do that. It's because
companies are more alike than they are different and that for all of them. We always have to read the first principles and that most of what we have to help them with his storytelling of their company, which everyone can always use help with for thinking about things from first principles to figure out like what are better ways of unlocking growth and most importantly is we figure out how to match them in and group them up with other people that are just like them or have them be influenced by other people. Letterhead of them and our group sessions are going to be designed to help you get just
act in an online way which were really excited about. How many days are in over a hundred and forty countries? These are some of the cities that have the most number of startups that are participating in startup school for many of these we are organizing our own Live Events, but we also know lots of other companies or people are self organizing luxury watching events or their own sort of meat and we totally support you to do that because one of the nice things about doing a company in a community is that you're not alone
you get a chance to sort event and that sort of help sustain you when things are difficult and hard and so as we said you are in good company and you're in the right place. This is just a couple of the verticals that we have doing YC 2400 companies working on bdb Solutions 1400 doing artificial intelligence startups 400 companies working on blockchain ideas. And one that I really really love is that we have 97 companies working on moonshots really really hard text solutions for some super excited to be a part of
Here's how to graduate you only have to do two things and we made it really really simple. It's the reason why we have such a high pass rate for start-up School. Get the cement 8 out of 10 weekly updates. These are really quick quick briefs about your progress. We have no content restrictions basic. You just have to submit something ate out of the 10 weeks shows that you're doing something on your company and doing some kind of self-reflection and then you have to participate in eight out of the 10 group video
sessions unless it is a super easy and maintainable to do and we don't ask that much extra time of you. We want you to spend as much time working on your own start up as possible. So this is not going to be onerous. One thing to keep in mind is that you must submit a weekly update to be able to participate in a group session if I was going to choose one two. Skip I would definitely Not skip the weekly update cuz that woke me and you will automatically probably not be able to do a group session and so you don't want to be in that
bucket cuz that's what make it much more difficult for you to graduate. How do you get the $15,000 Grant how do you become eligible for that? Well, if you have to graduate which means 8 out of 10 on the weekly updates in the group sessions and then at the end of the course you apply do I see super simple application is due September 25th. That's a Wednesday on the last week of the course while to spend some time talking you through and giving some advice about how to fill out that application and this works out really nicely both for us and for you it works out well
for us cuz we're reusing the same system that we used to read through thousands of application and how tall is it to 414 you guys so not only you applying for the $15,000 Equity free grant. You also applying for a chance at the hundred fifty thousand dollars that we give to the Y Secor, I want you to make it very very clear that nothing that you do and start of school and nothing that you have submitted in the past and pass applications effects. Your future possibility of getting into the next batch. And the reason that you should believe us is that
it would be ridiculous for us to have Permanently rejected for example the founders of Dropbox based on their homework homework helper application and thinking that they would never be able to come up with some other idea. So again, nothing about the stuff that you do or participate or submit during startup School means that it's going to affect your future capabilities of getting into YC. I want you to know that we do not think of it like that and I hope you do not think so either. So let's just remove that. Best now
after 2 meeting on September 25th, we will do interviews in October and I want you to know that if you get lucky enough to be also accepted into the YC batch for the next time but all you cared about was getting the equity free grant. You do not have to take accepted into NYC right up. The other thing to keep in mind is applying for the grand is totally optional and a pint NYC also optional but in order to get at the grant you have to fight that just sort of makes things official for us and I think it just doubles your
opportunity for something wonderful to happen to you. Time commitment So based on our basic requirements those two things that we want you to do. It should take about two to three hours a week and that means taking about 15 minutes to write your weekly update. It should not take longer than that. You should not be writing a long essay about your company. We want you to practice being concise as much as possible that's going to help you through all the different parts of you talking about your startup either with others or to your
board or you treat employees cetera. We're going to generate about an hour of video content every week. And then there's going to be 30 minutes to 1 hours in a group session and then probably another 15 to 30 minutes to prep for that on spending on how much dedication you want to have for that. In regards to what you should block off. We recommend Thursdays at 8 p.m. Your local time for the group sessions of this is the time that we found last year. Most people were able to do group sessions or
were available. So we picked this time for everyone as a default. If you can't make Thursdays at 8 p.m. You can switch it up and I'll talk about that later on the week of the major things that comes up that you should expect on Mondays. We open up the weekly updates for you to start submitting them. And then we also do a day am a inside of the forms. We record the live lecture on office on Wednesday mornings, and then your weekly update is due by 4 p.m. On Wednesday Pacific time. You don't mean it by then
you won't be able to be matchup for a group session. We need to have that deadline that give us enough time for that are algorithms to run and then the video lectures release for those people that didn't attend the live recording session that's will be released on YouTube. There's days at noon and then we have the group sessions that are scheduled Thursday at 8 p.m. And then on Fridays we do in ama also in the forums. Here are the important deadlines. Just to re-emphasize them.
Wednesday is 4 p.m. Was it 6:30 p.m. This is when two hours. I'm sort of locks the group's down. So you can't change your time or we have to be put to a different Group after this time. Thursday at 12 p.m. Release the video lectures on YouTube 8 p.m. Local times when group session start. What's in our software? So again, we have the weekly updates in the group sessions, but we also have lectures the meetups the directory the forums the library and Deals as you can see, there's only two things that are required for you to use
in our software all the rest of the stuff is optional stuff. But these are the things I'm going to go over for the rest of this presentation weekly updates. We start asking you Mondays at 12 a.m. The update is about the progress that you made in the previous week. We do ask you to tell us about your goals for the upcoming week. But for the most harassing to analyze the last week's work to take about 15 minutes. It should not take longer than this. If you're getting stressed out about this you're doing it wrong. They're do Wednesdays by
4 p.m. And you can find them under the my updates tap hear some tips to help you with your weekly update. You got to be honest. If the number is 0 in terms of progress made on your key metric with its revenue or engagement. You need to write down zero don't change your metric to something that is not as important. Okay, if you do that, you will not help yourself and you're not tricking us you want to be concise again. If you take that much time you want to be really good at synthesizing and summarizing your experience. So that way you can learn from it
quickly later on. If you are before launch, we're going to ask you how many weeks until you are able to watch and some people think that's a ridiculous thing. Cuz some people believe that it's going to take them months and months to get to lunch. And what we want you to internalize starting right now is that launch does not mean to Polish thing that you feel comfortable sharing with the press and investors. It is a thing that you can finally put in front of users and have him start using it. So if you're at that stage, then go ahead and launch and if you're before that stage,
we actually think it should not take more than one week or two for you to get that ready and we'll talk about that and we choose lecture. 99% of you should be tracking Revenue. So if you are launched, there's two different types of metrics. There's Revenue metrics or engagement metrics and almost all of you are in the category of being like I'm eventually making money sooner rather than later. So you should be using those Revenue metrics. The only companies that are tracking engagement metrics. I want to pass to build a large audience before they can start collecting money.
So Facebook is a good example. They had to build a lot of Engagement and users before they able to turn on an advertising platform. So if you are not in that category, then you will not be tracking or you should not be tracking engagement metrics. And then you should always be talking to users. So we actually asked you. How many users did you talk to you? And what did you learn from them or what inside did you learn from them? Whether you're launched or before you are launched and that is because that is the best way to make sure that you are building and making something people want is
our motto at y combinator. This is what the update for looks like. There's an additional stuff that is shown to you if you take off that you are launched. Profile. Please complete your profile keep the company updated and add your co-founders. If you haven't already to your company the reasons you want to do this is because it affects the matching algorithm when your sign for groups. We sign you based on your location assign you based on your vertical we sign you based on whether you are company team or single founder. And so you want to make sure all that is
accurately filled out right now. I know a lot of you when you register to just filled up, you know, dummy data are filler information, but you don't want to have that before this first group matching begin and then different features available to you when you're searching the directory. So again, you want to make sure that these are filled that accurately this is what it looks like you click on your face in the sidebar to access to these three tabs. group sessions So they start at Thursday at 8 p.m. Local time.
Don't worry. We will send you emails with all the information as we go through every single week. So it's not like you have to do all the heavy lifting here. Just make sure that you're accepting emails from start school at why, renew.com? Youth group sessions are done over video using our software. So some tips if you have multiple co-founders and you are located in the same city. Try to share one Video Connection. That'll sort of make it a lot smoother try to do them from a desktop computer and then from broadband Wi-Fi connection. I know not everyone is able to do this.
But if that is something that you are able to do that will give you the best possible experience since its video. Chad remember that you have to submit a weekly update to participate in a group session to make sure you do that on Monday. Ideally home, we send that out but definitely by Wednesday at 4 p.m. You can request a different time to 8 p.m. On Thursday to not request a different day. It's only on Thursday. If you pick a different time, you will match up with other companies in a different time zone and probably not close to you by
proximity. That's just something to keep in mind. The grouping algorithm is run at 4:30 p.m. So 30 minutes after the updates are due for the week and then it will send you an email to say like, how does this look good you are you going to be available for a group session? What do you talk about in a group session every week you're going to do the same thing. You can enjoy yourself. You can intro with a company. We call this a one-liner. I see going to share last week's progress very quickly. That should take no more than thirty
seconds to a minute. What were your biggest obstacles and what are your goals for next week the big goals? then it just basically opened up the discussion and then at the end you're able to provide Anonymous feedback through the software of The other companies one-liners in pitches and so there's three questions that we ask you to rape people on is do you understand what the company's building based on the one liner? Are you excited about the album that they're working on and it does this seem like the kind of team that you would want to work with and
that way you're able to get feedback from lots of different people about how clear you are about your solution about weather where you're working on excite to or Isis other people and whether you're giving off the kind of energy or you're the kind of team that other people can see as being exciting or compatible. And so one thing to keep in mind is you don't get access to your feedback unless you provide feedback to others. So it's super valuable when we ran these test group sessions people really loved it. And so please keep it keep that in mind.
About the groups in matching group sizes are between five and eight companies. If you did start school last year, this is very very different last year. We did have like 20 companies that you got a match up with you work with them every single week the problem with that format was that people sort of trailed off over time and then the later group sessions actually got worse over time, which we did not want to replicate. So we did smaller group sizes. We match you based on all these different characteristics automatically and then if you were single founder who stated in
their profile that you're looking for a co-founder all these other people in those groups actions are other single Founders looking for co-founders and then every week you're matched up with different companies and so over the course of the program, you will get to meet with between 5280 startups have lots of different practice gets low. The different feedback from them build up a connection with people that are close to you that are working in your same vertical or making the same amount of progress and we
can be sort of awesome about that says we think this will result in like as you do the group session is going to get better and better over time to the last group session will be one of your best one versus it being worse and worse over time. lectures Okay, we got 20 lectures plan by the illustrious YC Partners. We record those on Wednesdays at 9 a.m. We do open it up to start school participants to attend in person. When we record those most of those are in San Francisco. There's a little bit of a
first-come-first-serve for that. You can look out for those emails a week before we found those we released the video live to everyone else in the public Thursdays at 12 p.m. We will also do some bonus lectures and workshops all lectures. We followed by Q&A and then one thing that we change this made sure all archers are 20 minutes or less in a sort of more appropriate for the YouTube generation and we'll make sure that we are focused on getting you in a concise way and efficient way. Information that is tactical that
is practical and something that kid that you're going to be able to use. by the way, hopefully these are the locations of the lecturers. So July and August. We're doing them at this ycsf office. And then in September we're taking start school on the road. And so that's why they're located in other cities. Meetups, so one thing we did that new this year is that we're organizing. Events for start school participant and cities in all around the world to meet one another and we're going to have YC Partners there or have YC Alum there and then we're going to do just like giant Q&A and maybe have some
discussions about the the lectures and just give you an opportunity to like feel like you're not alone and meet other people other going to happen on evenings between 5 p.m. And 8 p.m. The usual be on Saturdays and you should check the schedule. You'll find that under the event section on the sidebar. Here are the list of cities super excited about these will probably add some more start school meet up after start school is over. And so that's going to be like the wonderful thing will have about this is that we'll continue doing these live me of
events. If they end up being really popular and then anyone who's done serve school will have access to being able to participate in them. When possible one thing I want to keep in mind as I do not think that you should spend a ton of money or time trying to make it to one of these meetup events. If you're accepted we're going to try to make sure that like, it's meant for locals and really I want you to spend as much time working on your startup rather than commuting to heads up on that. Directory, all right. So this is a new thing that we've built with software thinks the Kyle
that helps you find other companies. You can filter by name description of the vertical and the proximity to your city all companies from your group session. So whenever you do a group session those five to eight companies, what we will do is make those available inside of the directory so you can easily find those and you'll have to exchange contact information after a group session. And you're looking for a co-founder. This is where you'll be able to filter by other co-founders were also looking so this will be super valuable to you, especially since they're 16000 single Founders
8000 view our self-proclaimed technical Founders, but there's also a thousand that are not technical so it's almost like there's one for each one of you and hopefully you will find one another does also 2800 female single Founders a new director. You can't search by just females we decided that might result in some other adverse effects that might be unwanted but That is going to be a lot of people in there looking to find some kind of magic one thing. I want you to keep in mind as not to spam the
directory, you will be banned from all whites the event if you're caught doing this, unfortunately already had some people abusing the system. This is what the the directory feature looks like. Here's some tips. I want to give to you about what you should expect from the co-founder matching and searching system. Do not expect that. You're going to have a co-founder by the end of the program. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I actually think that is not your expectation what you should hopefully be able to do is talk to a ton of other people.
That are similar. Situations are the same shared-risk profile and hopefully just start conversations start sharing favors and seeing who are people that you might want to like do a side project with or work on a future with or just help out and then during that Blossom of that small exchange of favors. You might start having the conversation to see like hey, I like to spend a lot of time with this person. I like making stuff with them. Maybe we can start
entertaining the idea of being so again during the course. I imagine that's probably not going to happen. So you should set your expectations on just meeting talking with people. Seeming helpful getting inspiration getting support from one another and then after the program. The aurum. So again, it's usually the most underutilized resource isteen and start of school, but it is one of the most valuable things that we have in the actual y c program. So I just want to spend some time on
them. When you post to the forums the Only Rule I would have his make sure that it supposed that going to help the community don't have post at a purely selfish for yourself. Don't just promote don't just Have a discussion. It should be something that like the community would benefit from even if it's other people answering a question or problem that you might have if those answers you can see at something that will help other people great. That should be your guideline. If you're an expert try to go to the forums and help other people want to
think that's going to be nice about Are forms that we actually do customized emails and digest based on your level of expertise and so explain a little bit about that in a second if you want to search before you post therefore, you're not posting to book a content and all that stuff gets aggregated in a nice way. I don't spam or scrape anything in the start of school in Ruins are resources that also it's a waste of your time to do things like that. And we organize a Macy's are very very popular
post the start School Forums on Mondays and Fridays rather ask the experts from the wifey alumni or have panels of people to answer questions and If you want to launch your company to the surf School Community, then you stuck show start of school discussion for him or if you need technical. support help by programming or engineering questions use the engineering Channel overall tried as a form for help because a 28000 founders you guys are experts in all the different types of categories. So we have like nine thousand Engineers 6,000 people are good at product
4,000 people who have experienced during operations. Mm salespeople 1300 designers and 1100 scientists. And so as a result, there's the odds are there someone with some kind of an experience some kind of hawk or tool that can help in answer your question until in the forms is where you should utilize that expertise. Is what those forms look like? reciprocate the library so this is pretty straightforward. It's all are written content written by YC Partners alumni
and experts We Trust we have no required reading insert at school. But I really recommend you taking the time to go through the Articles, especially when you're stuck on one of those who have topic areas. I always find it enlightening every time I go back and read old pgsa. I always clean something new out of it. I forgot about 4 before and so hopefully you will be able to use this newly organized wisdom to your benefit. We're constantly updating with content from ycso. Make sure you use it deals Steven. The best director has
killed it for you guys. He's crushed it with getting over $30,000 worth of deals end credits from before you start school companies and they are from good companies AWS Google Microsoft Brax striped etcetera, and some of the deals actually get even better and sweeter. If you graduate from the program that again we make it really easy for you. And so if you graduate more free stuff for you, Do not show the deals with others or they could be revoked. So basically be there for the start of school Community.
Do not share them with others. This is what that looks like. You can find it in the Side Bar. All right, that's all software. Here. Are your next steps submit your weekly update, probably already send you an e-mail you got to do it by Wednesday so that you can be part of the group session start this week on on the right note. If the numbers are zero, if you are not launched giving users that is okay just write that down and then we commit yourself to make sure that that's not what's going to be put out for the next week. Update your profile your
company and I couponers if you need to do that, then browse through the forms the library and the deals looks at the directory see who else is also closer around you and see if there might be stuff that you might want to participate with a normally are not on Thursday. We're launching our first lecture and groups are really really excited about start school 2019. So thankful and humbled about so many people. Participating in this program and I can't wait to show you what we've been working on.
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