From application to graduation, episodes from CEO Andy Choi
QuotaBook recently graduated from Y Combinator’s Winter 2021 cohort with the Demo Day in April, along with new fund raising from VCs and angel investors. For this specific cohort, about 16,000 startups have applied to the program and 300 startups from 41 countries have been finalized.
This post is based on a dialogue between Mars, our brand designer, and Andy, our CEO/Co-founder, on the story behind how we prepared and got into YC.
Andy: YC was kind of a dream. Everyone in the startup field knows YC. I even dropped by YC’s office hour back in 2015 when I was working in Silicon Valley. I remember asking questions and directly expressing my interest towards YC.
Then with QuotaBook, AWS kindly offered to back us up for the application. I heard before that with such recommendation it’s more likely to get in, and thankfully, we got accepted.
Andy: There are two major rounds for YC application. First is document screening and second is interview. AWS was very helpful in providing feedback with the documents, so this was relatively an easy pass. Just to share, one question I still remember for this round was “please tell us about a time you most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage”.
Andy: 👉 Click to see how Andy responded!
Andy: The interview itself lasted for ten minutes. You get a lot of questions within this short time. I remember it being real quick that I didn’t have enough time to introduce our service properly. I received questions over questions and had to respond right away. In fact, I don’t even remember the questions now, but I got a feeling that such questions were intended to dive into the core, like ‘how well we know about our own business’ and so on.
Andy: To be honest, not really. I knew I didn’t mess up, but I also wasn’t sure if I pitched our service successfully. I did explain the pain point QuotaBook was trying to resolve and emphasized that it’s a service built based on our founders’ own experience as ex-VCs. Still, we weren’t expecting much since there were so many outstanding candidates. For example, there were applicants who got into YC multiple times or those who created services that were already globally well-known, so we thought we might not make it after all.
Andy: There is a famous way of YC telling you whether you’re in or out. If you get a phone call after the interview, you’re in. If you get an email, unfortunately you didn’t make it. I kept checking my phone so that I don’t miss any calls and double and triple-checked my number in the application form to make sure I wrote it correctly (laughter). Then when I finally got the phone call, I was so excited about becoming part of YC. I was super overwhelmed that I even took this screenshot.
Andy: To be precise, you don’t actually get a “training”. Instead, YC plays a role as a library where you can find every resource or network you need as a startup, and it is up to the startups to utilize them. For example, it’s like telling the startups, ‘You want a phone call with the president of country ABC? Sure, we can arrange that for you’. We could always reach out to the CEO of Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and other startups that are linked to YC via email for their past experiences or any advice. It really was up to how we utilize them.
Andy: That I met people with amazing capabilities. I didn’t even think I could meet all those people in such a short period of time. Even more surprising was that they were all experts in making things happen. These people just made the seemingly impossible possible.
Andy: Demo Day’s pitch itself is actually over in a minute. You get to use a single page slide so the point is how you can appeal your company within a short time. I received constant feedback to limit texts in the slide to less than five sentences, period. Out of the 320 participating startups, we were the 14th to present. Startups will come and go every minute, while the audience express their interest virtually.
Andy: It’s said that startups get about 20 to 80 responses from the audience on average, and we got about 180 or so, so I guess we got a fair amount of interest. Though not every interest ended up in a meeting, I was able to talk to a lot of people that led me to many unexpected opportunities.
Andy: Two things. First and the biggest advantage would be that it becomes easier to penetrate the markets that the VCs are based in. We can depend on their business networks. Especially for our service, network is a key factor for sales, so we receive a lot of help from our VCs and their local network.
Second, we can receive feedback from a global perspective. For instance, global VCs that fund startups worldwide have a good understanding of the markets that we are interested in and are always open to feedback and tips. Such information would be difficult to obtain if the business never expanded beyond borders.
Andy: To penetrate quickly into the global market, including Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and so on, all of which we are already actively targeting.
Andy: 👉 Click to see Andy’s tips!
- QuotaBook's Answer to the interview question: “Tell us about a time you most successfully hacked some (non-computer) system to your advantage”
- What do you think the interview questions were trying to find out?
- What do you think was the most important to get into YC?
- What kind of feedbacks did you get from YC?
- What’s YC network like?
- Tell us more about the VCs you met after the Demo Day and the meetings.
- Any tips for applying and getting into YC?
Interested? 👉 Click to see all the answers!
Make equity simple with QuotaBook - QuotaBook is a SaaS-based equity management solution for both Startups and Venture Capital funds. Startups and VCs can sync crucial equity-related data such as cap tables, employee stock options as well as investor updates on our platform so that every stakeholder can communicate through a single source of truth. QuotaBook is the No. 1 equity management software for startups in Korea, trusted by 2000+ startups & VCs and backed by more than 20 VC funds.