Course  Startup School 2019
July 22, 2019, Mountain View, CA., USA
Course Startup School 2019
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Kevin Hale and Adora Cheung - Startup School 2019 by the Numbers
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About speakers

Kevin Hale
Partner at Y Combinator
Adora Cheung
Partner at Y Combinator

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.

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Adora Cheung was co-founder and CEO of Homejoy, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2010. Before that, she ran product at Slide. She has a bachelor's in computer science from Clemson University and is an economics PhD dropout at the University of Rochester.

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About the talk

Topic: Business

YC Partners Kevin Hale and Adora Cheung reflect on Startup School 2019 and share some of our learnings from this year's program.


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Hallo, Berlin. Call we made it to week 10. This is the last stop on the start of school tour. We have something kind of special today. So adorned I are doing a presentation together and it's all based on numbers from the last 9 weeks of startup school. She's going to kick it off. And then what we're going to do is probably talk like hopefully 20 minutes and then we'll open up to Q&A to answer all of your questions or anything else you want to talk about and then we'll have like more Blaine and heating and search until we

have to kick you out and go have you work on your company or apply do I see that's what you said. I'd love to do at 8 p.m. Adora five 5 a.m. Berlin Time 5 a.m. Berlin time so plenty of time Alright, thank you Kevin. Thanks for being here. So Kevin said my name is the door of one of the partners at YC, and we're going to go over what we learned during startup school this weekend. We made it. Congratulations. The start of school team has been in the past few weeks traveling around the world visiting cities where there's lots of sharp School Founders. We've been at this point

over 15 cities and we've interacted with over 2000 Founders in person. So if you wanted to end start school by looking at the numbers, most of you don't know this but I start school actually grew a lot during the course itself. I will meet Health orientation back in July end of July. We were around 20,000 Founders and 21000 startups with over 20,000 people adding the course I just for the content and as we let more people in during the course as of today the numbers swell by over 40% So you'll see we have now over

40,000 founders of startup school and over 30,000 startups. There are over 77 thousand people actually subscribe to the concept anniversary. What's the number of people increasing between 3 and 50% really cool that female Founders increase the most here? So one of the things that we want to look at was whether start school and made a difference sweet looked at the last two batches to see how last year's participants compared to the rest of the population in regards to their ability to get funding from YC. Show me a route

from the past two batches 9.7% of applicants that applied got an interview versus 9.1% of non start school applicants got interview. That means 6.6% chance of getting interviewed and we think this year it will be much higher because we focus the course a lot on helping you build that application and just focus your startup on the right things to get those questions. I'm done. Well, alright, so if you look deeper into the numbers as of today 106 Drive School companies have been accepted into YC for a group of people who are more likely to get interviewed. You think they

look amazing on paper. They got into icy, but you would be wrong start a Google Founders accepted into ycr surprisingly different in every week and every city. We visited founders archon. Play asking us to see if he still wants except companies. They're not perfect that are like them but not perfect in the big takeaway is is that why she is not afraid of warts and we can assure you no start-up wave ever accepted has been perfect. So six companies already knew traction when I got into that

means no Revenue users yet. 57 also had no Revenue. 50 hat new funding whatsoever. Meaning $0 cash in the bank. Some of them didn't even incorporate yet. Quite a few of them were still working at jobs or might have in college and still working part-time for a previously. So this is one of the things as we encourage you even if you don't get in is to keep trying again. A lot of people apply three to four times. I've been on that for the fish fry they get in. Some of the companies we didn't really like the idea

that that's white with and they actually put it during the batch. So that counts for a dozen of them and a lot of them applied late. So by time you watch this video that you're applying late and we still encourage you to apply and which is if I'm a solo founder. Should I still can I still do y c and the question is absolute fencing Founders got in from Circle. We averaged around 10% of the patches around solo Founders now, it's not a little bit more than that. encourage every team to have a second

coat on her, but if you don't it does not disqualify you and I'm in fact three of the start of school companies that have gone into I seen were not All right. So how can you replicate their success? It's very simple and we're about to I'm about to repeat a lot of things. We've already said during start of school. But the best thing you can do is when you talk about your startup, there's a question on the applications. What are you making and that is to be very clear artist and if you watched Kevin's lecture from a couple weeks ago all the next few slides will seem very familiar. So 1 is be

clear on what you're working on. No. Jargon. I know we be clear but don't use all the words in dictionary very concise and how you get your point across. Stop treating more specific on that question on the application of what are you working on startups that I got that have gone to acceptance of icu's on average 78 words to describe what they did to somebody at words might seem a little or a lot to you. But in fact it what it does is it looks like this two paragraphs and gets your point across. So if you have something that looks longer than

this and you should really go through your description and start putting words in finding sentences that you really don't need to have. Alright, so if this is what a description she look like what should a description look like? Well, here's an example of this is literally isn't exactly one of my favorite ones because of a description that did not get accept her again interview so we couldn't fit the whole thing in here. But if you read like a Skype or I forgot to tell her it is but he basically knows he needs to write something short, but decides to

write a text. In fact, that won't text was the longest description. We got of all applications in the past two batches. It was over two thousand words. Obviously, please don't do this. It doesn't help us understand it basically tells us that you don't know how to be efficient when it comes to getting people to understand what your start-up does. So if you think about it, this is how long it takes you to describe what you do if you can imagine when you come in for a

10-minute interview, you'll be done before you even you know, finish your description furthermore at the end of white gets off is a 2 minute demo detach. So again that's even less time to get your point across and so you really need to start practicing now on how you deliver your how you live on how you explain your company? The good news is in start of school when you apply or when you register. Do you have to fill out your company description and we actually forced you to write it in less than 200 characters or less. Now. This is a histogram of the

number of characters of words that start school companies use when you can see that a lot of You. Tube the 200th character in probably wanted to write more but had to stop because we forced you stop it. This is 40 words or less. So by force we've made you do it lessen the average of 78 words. So that's good news. So when you transfer your descriptions to your I see application we suggest you to not expand much further than what you've the number for Jim Brady used. Alright,

so one thing we noticed more worried about was the lack of editing on your hand. When you entered in that syrup School description to over the course over the 10-week course, we've been trying to help you make that description a little bit better. In fact, a lot of the group sessions were designed to help you with that. But as you've been practicing pitching every week money and you didn't actually go back into your profile and edit your company profiles with a better description. It's actually the one thing we do at YC to help starts more than anything else is really get down there one or two

minor and their descriptions on to the next one. We're going to probably focus more on helping you do that and I'm forcing you to document to your changes over time the meaning of the only one I always think that most likely the description you have right now can be improved on Jurassic Lee. So if you need more tips on how to do this, well Kevin's last lecture how to evaluate ideas part 2. That's the name on the YouTube channel, please please go watch. I do see a lot of the slicer left it from there. So I'm going to let them take over the next. You guys made it a lot of

data to us every week. We ask companies to let us know about their progress. If you got an email from the Kevin inspirational by then, you know that basically we're trying to get you to just spend 10 to 15 minutes at the most. There's just tell us like what's been going on with your company and in the last nine weeks that's been over a hundred and twenty-four thousand pieces of data and so are a lot of interesting insights from that. The first thing is concerning what start school companies consider their biggest obstacle. So not surprising to us, but

it is kind of worrisome. Number one was funding we were worried about lack of resources and you click the move forward as a result of not having money and everything on here is like meeting a co-founder at number six point these out is that if you look at what people said actually improve their kpi the metric that they consider The most only did the text now it says it looks very different. So you think your biggest problem is one thing but the thing that would actually help you the most are very different. So number one corset lingerie

getting out the door when she want you can move that kpi, which is wonderful all this stuff on here a lot of it concerning product two things dealing with the users. If you're having problems where the difference between what you think your biggest obstacle is and the thing that makes the biggest difference through kpi are two different lists like this watch doors lecture. She talks about how to prioritize our time. It's actually doing really really well on YouTube. It's the fastest spreading one a lot of people found her tits in there on how to think about

your to-do list in my truck Shake Ya Groove in way very very helpful. We asked you to talk to users and tell us what did you want to come down? And these are the top things that people got not surprisingly they're focused on product. And basically the best thing to do is make something people want and the talk to since I stood there for Gaston conversion and monetization. I've got to lectures that we did back-to-back on improving landing page conversion and pricing. Good places to start do you want to improve things for your users

and start school did not launch. And so when you are considered not launched that kpi that you track was weeks to launch and so these are the numbers and how they came out people on average when from wtl weeks the launch of seven weeks down to five weeks at the end for some reason that should have been busy at the median we Solange is about 4, so that indicates that in the average there is being actually very much impacted by people having very large weeks to watch that's really bad.

And so if you haven't already you to find a theme here for this presentation watch Michael's lecture on how to plan an MVP. He talks about how you should only be making the first version that takes just a few weeks a launch meeting and double the number that we recommend for our company's see the heavy MPP analysis. If you're a heart attack or biotech company, you do need to double the number of weeks alongside you estimate and unfortunately, I feel like at the grass by comparisons of this is the average startup school week Solange's it's going slightly down

over time. This is the biotech heart attack people actually go up over time. So now add features over the course of the week and that's not good because Experience funding over 200 biotech are tech companies is that they should be following different advice or rules than other companies. That's why we recommend you haven't watched it watching Jared Fletcher on advisor biotech are tech companies CBC talks about 7, wonderful examples of YC companies that build a much lighter weight heavy MVP and creative ways of

getting a company off the ground, even though they don't have millions of dollars and lots of time to build the first version for the company said so this number represents the percentage of the weekly August were submitted that came from a companies that launched so at the beginning of the course of third of the weekly updates came from launch companies and by the end of the work on large companies, that's super awesome. In fact 2253 Stardust. We got to attract switch from weeks to launch to a different kpi. Startup school

to put this into perspective for us. I took over 10 years for y combinator to want that many companies through our program and inserts go. We didn't 10 weeks until about a group session as you know, every week during school. We matched you with other startups help you practice talking about your own startups and we rated everybody at the end rate each other on Fremont tricks. Did you understand this idea? Were you excited about the idea and would you want to work with the founders? For the first question over time you guys got better at explaining idea. As you can see the

differential from each week to week was over 0.1% perspective is Europe 1% increase represents on 100 startups cuz of the number of startups school and by the end there was a 7.1% increase at the overall in terms of improving on selling your soul as you guys also got better over time. There was a 9.5% improvement from the beginning. The biggest Improvement was actually getting other people excited about your idea. So there was a 17% Improvement since the beginning we know that there is a lot more want to in

the future creative lecture to help you get better and it getting other people emotionally excited about your ideas to do that helps you with things like recruiting and getting for the future if you want more help and stretching her investor pitch Kevin Kevin's lecture if I would go watch that. All right. So while the quantitative ratings made it easier to get Founders involved start school Founders loved it. When you actually gave each other comments after the

group session. We were amazed to see how supportive everyone was with each other in terms of getting this feedback. In fact over 93,000 pieces of qualitative feedback were created during intercourse. So many of you have offered to help with introductions to customers often whispered words of encouragement that we know made a huge difference to someone struggling to make the magic happens. I'm one of the main reasons for doing these group sessions together is sort of like emotional support & group therapy cuz we're all going through the same things. And so I think that

achieved the results we were looking for in that sense. The generosity we saw in the comments is what makes doing doing a start when it backed incredibly powerful. So thank you for everyone for taking the time to do this. It really means a lot to everyone. On the flip side not all of you are great a bunch of you know showed so ninety percent of startups who requested participate in group session did not show up shows updates request for group sessions and attendance and no shows

over the last nine weeks early enough 23% starts to submit a weekly update didn't request a group session looking for the next time the next course of how to make this easier and more convenient for Starbucks. Cuz we think that this has been actually helpful in improving your pitch but also for moral reasons shows where we messed up in the first week, so that big got there between number of update submitted a request requested shows that you guys were very confused about how to request group sessions at the very start of school. And that's why

we give everyone a free me first one stabilizer Just like how you guys are probably using metrics to help improve your startup we are too as well. Okay, so we also asked you guys to submit. How you feeling. What's your morale? I'm working on your startup and overall. 1124 thousand pieces weekly feedback and you can see the trend is overtime games from around the company's and so I went to some of the most interesting and unique insights from the program for us at y combinator. First one at the prize are happier

just able to get more done. One thing to notice is you'll think of a different scared and changes are small but because of the amount of data across each one of them and he's a pretty statistically significant. And so if you're looking to be quantitatively happier voice to do it If you want your little bit happier than the unlaunch people a lot of companies to rethink how they thought about launching was watching cats lecture on how to launch again and I just wouldn't change that bar from being a launch that requires press to be one that is just about shipping in two points on

a regular basis. If you're full time on your startup obviously probably cuz you can also make more progress. Making money you're happier a prism when it can't buy you happiness. Not true. Adores got a good lecture on this on focusing on Revenue how to set kti's is her first lecture from the start of school. And I actually it's one of the underappreciated ones. It's the 99% of you should be focused on revenue and be honest with yourself about whether you actually doing that or not.

Here's one that's really surprising people who did not flake on group sessions were way happier than people who did basically feeling like you're doing a startup and having other people to talk to me Arabic community and Bash mad that you're happier. If working in your startup than those who did not participate at all the happiest people who are in the team is actually one of the main reasons. We always say that we want companies try to have co-founders. It is so hard to do a startup on your own and this is usually morale is a thing that kills a lot of companies and

Founders. And so again, when we talk about we want you to try to have a co-founder it is to help with the longevity of your startup not because we just don't want us like those that don't have to And this was the most surprising thing that we learn from start at school. That Founders and teens that talk to users. Play happier over time than those who didn't. And what's interesting about these two cohorts, is that the people who did not talk to any users at all? Maybe the only cohort that actually had morale get worse over the course of start of

school in the 9 weeks than those who didn't so the lesson the moral of this. Morale. Are you feeling Talk to users. It doesn't take very much to do it. The median number of users that start school teams talk to with just three users a week. It actually provides a ton of inside for you, but apparently better than Prozac Do you want more information about how to talk to users in a better way of handling that in a sort of structured way that helps you improve your product selection from the first week of start of school. Bring it home with

door. In summary from this presentation start school helps you get interviewed. It's okay not to be perfect. Like you can get accepted. Even if you have a warped try to write your description and 78 words or less. prioritize launching You're probably taking too long to watch. Practice makes you better at pitching talking about getting people to understand you get excited and want to work with you. And lastly talking to you just make you happy which is why we're going

to switch over to talking to you guys. Thank you so much.

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