Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups

The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups

By Randall Stross

In the heart of Silicon Valley, a small investment firm selects an elite group of entrepreneurs for three months of intense work and instruction. Any one of them might turn out to be the next Dropbox or Airbnb. Stross is the first journalist to have fly-on-the-wall access to Y Combinator.


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Book Information

Publisher: Portfolio
Publish Date: 09/27/2012
Pages: 280
ISBN-13: 9781591845294
ISBN-10: 1591845297
Language: English

What We're Saying

December 12, 2012

Over the course of this week, we will be posting the shortlist selections for our 8 business book categories: General Business, Leadership, Management, Innovation/Creativity, Small Business/Entrepreneurship, Marketing/Sales, Personal Development, Finance. Then on Monday, December 17th, we'll announce the category winners, and, on Wednesday, December 19th, we'll celebrate the overall winner of the 2012 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards! Stay tuned. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

November 28, 2012

Amazon's editors have come up with another fine list of books this year. Their choices in the Business and Investing category are: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, Random House Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Random House The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni, Jossey-Bass Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power by Steve Coll, The Penguin Press Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld, John Wiley & Sons How Much is Enough? : Money and the Good Life by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere by Vijay Govindarajan, Chris Trimble and Indra K. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

Number of teams that applied to Y Combinator s summer 2011 batch: 2,089

Teams interviewed: 170

Minutes per interview: 10

Teams accepted and funded: 64

Months to build a viable startup: 3

Possibilities: BOUNDLESS

Investment firm Y Combinator is the most sought-after home for startups in Silicon Valley. Twice a year, it funds dozens of just-founded startups and provides three months of guidance from Paul Graham, YC s impresario, and his partners, also entrepreneurs and mostly YC alumni. The list of YC-funded success stories includes Dropbox (now valued at $5 billion) and Airbnb ($1.3 billion).

Receiving an offer from YC creates the opportunity of a lifetime it s like "American Idol" for budding entrepreneurs.

Acclaimed journalist Randall Stross was granted unprecedented access to Y Combinator s summer 2011 batch of young companies, offering a unique inside tour of the world of software startups. Most of the founders were male programmers in their mid-twenties or younger. Over the course of the summer, they scrambled to heed Graham s seemingly simple advice: make something people want.

We watch the founders work round-the-clock, developing and retooling products as diverse as a Web site that can teach anyone programming, to a Wikipedia-like site for rap lyrics, to software written by a pair of attorneys who seek to make attorneys obsolete.

Founders are guided by Graham s notoriously direct form of tough-love feedback. Here, we don t fire you, he says. The market fires you. If you re sucking, I m not going to run along behind you, saying, You re sucking, you re sucking, c mon, stop sucking. Some teams would even abandon their initial idea midsummer and scramble to begin anew.

The program culminated in Demo Day, when founders pitched their startup to several hundred top angel investors and venture capitalists. A lucky few attracted capital that gave their startup a valuation of multiple millions of dollars. Others went back to the drawing board.

This is the definitive story of a seismic shift that s occurred in the business world, in which coding skill trumps employment experience, pairs of undergraduates confidently take on Goliaths, tiny startups working out of an apartment scale fast, and investors fall in love."

About the Author

Randall Stross is the author of numerous books about Silicon Valley's tech companies and start-up culture, including The Launch Pad (2012), Planet Google (2008), The Wizard of Menlo Park (2007), and eBoys (2000).

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