Guide to YC (Y Combinator)

Jason Shen


This guide began as a series of personal notes to help friends and acquaintances interested in applying to Y Combinator. Its main purpose is to illuminate the YC process and to equip you with ideas and approaches to bring out the best in your application. Read it as you would peruse extended notes from a long coffee meeting - and then go use it to make your application stronger.

My name is Jason Shen and I applied with two cofounders to YC`s Summer 2011 batch - we were fortunate to get in. This was my first time applying to YC, and Ridejoy is my first tech startup. I`m nontechnical, but happened to have two technical friends (and roommates) who both worked at startups. I`m aware of how lucky I am to be in this position.

We got a lot of help from friends and YC alumni when preparing our application, so I wanted to make this guide to give back. Working with YC has definitely been a game-changer for me and my startup would not exist with out it. I sincerely hope that this guide leads you to a similar place, and provides you the benefits I`ve received.

Disclaimer: This guide is based on solely my personal experience and judgement, conversations with YC alumni, and things that Paul Graham and other people have written and/or stated about getting into YC. Act on this advice at your own discretion - if things go well, congratulations! If things go poorly, you agree to hold me harmless (though if you`re really distraught, I might buy you a beer).


Jason Shen is the co-founder of Ridejoy - a Y Combinator-funded community marketplace for ridesharing. His blog, The Art of Ass-Kicking, has been featured by Lifehacker and ReadWriteWeb. Jason studied biology and philosophy at Stanford where he led the men`s gymnastics team to an NCAA national championship.