The least exciting but not the least valuable thing we do is ensure that companies are set up properly, with all the right paperwork. That means not just incorporation but all the other agreements startups need, e.g. for vesting and IP. This process has already begun when founders fill out the application form, because some of the questions are there to discover problems that might harm the company later if uncorrected.

Getting a startup set up correctly is a nontrivial problem. It's not something you can safely entrust to your uncle who's a lawyer (unless of course he works for one of the firms that specializes in startups). Our own startup, Viaweb, ran into near-fatal legal problems because of things we overlooked when setting up the company. We wouldn't have if we'd been funded by YC.

It's easier for YC-funded companies to raise money than it is for random startups, because investors know they're set up correctly. Investors only have to worry about the risk that the company will do badly, and not that there's some horror lurking in their paperwork. This is a big deal for angel investors, because they don't want to do the sort of exhaustive due diligence a VC might do for a series A round. For angels, investing in YC-funded startups is safe in the same way buying name-brand products is. That means more demand, which means higher valuations.

That's not the main reason we organize people's paperwork, though. The main reason we do it is to enable the founders to focus on other things. For most founders, all the stuff one has to do to set up a startup is completely unfamiliar, and thus distracting. It's better if they can spend their time working on the company. Every aspect of YC is designed with that goal in mind.

A related type of work we do is mediating disputes between founders. These are more common than anyone realizes, because the parties involved generally try to keep them quiet, but they occur in even the most successful startups. We're now very good at dealing with them because we're not only neutral, but have enough experience to tell which disputes are serious, and for those not serious enough to warrant a divorce, to figure out how to fix the underlying problem.


As YC continues to fund startups, the value of the alumni network becomes an increasingly large component of what we offer. It was zero at first because there were no alumni yet. I don't think we even realized that as a byproduct of funding startups every 6 months, we'd be creating an alumni network. But within a year that became very clear, and it's one of the reasons we decided to grow instead of staying a constant size. The more startups we fund, the faster the alumni network grows.

Now, 5 years later, the YC alumni network is probably the most powerful network in the startup world. It's powerful not just because of its size, but also because its members have such a strong commitment to helping one another.

That commitment was initially a byproduct of the cooperative spirit we tried to encourage within each batch. Starting a startup was a very lonely undertaking when we did it ourselves in Boston in 1995. One of the goals of YC's batch model was to fix that, by giving founders the colleagues one would otherwise lack as companies with just 2 or 3 people.

When people get funded by YC, they discover the alumni network has structure. The innermost ring is the founders in the same batch. They do a lot to help one another, from being one another's beta users and helping them with specialized technical expertise to letting one another stay at their places and helping them move. They also tend to become good friends. A lot of founders' closest friends are people who were in the same YC batch with them, just as happens in school.

It was natural for the cooperative spirit we encourage within batches to spread between batches once there started to be more of them. And once we realized that was happening, we started to encourage it by creating connections between new startups and more established alumni who could help them.

One of the more successful alumni wrote:
ベンチャーが僕に連絡をしてきたとき、すごくうれしかったです。というのも、(a) 今の僕には、彼らと分かち合える知識がありますし、(b) 「お返しをしたい」って気持ちも強かったからです。僕は「家族」に恩があると思ってましたので、あるYC出身者に大金持ちを紹介してあげました。家族(自分と過去のYC出身者)は僕たちの生命線でした。人は家族の絆を忘れないものです。

I am excited when a start up reaches out to me because (a) I now have a lot of knowledge to share with them, and (b) I have a burning desire to give back. One recent alum got a wealth of introductions from me because I feel indebted to the 'family.' The family (you and the previous alums) were our lifelines early on. One doesn't forget that.

The alumni aren't blindly loyal though. Ultimately what holds this network together is the quality of the people in it. As another wrote:

I am willing to intro a YC founder to pretty much anyone based on the fact that they passed your selection filter.

Now that we've been doing YC for 5 years, some of the more established alumni are getting pretty established. Initially startups used the alumni network to find people who knew the people they wanted to reach. But increasingly the people they want to reach are the alumni themselves.

I'll give a couple examples of alumni who've been particularly helpful to other startups. The founders of Cloudkick are sysadmin gods who within the alumni network play the same role for servers that The Wolf in Pulp Fiction played for the back seats of cars. When a startup experiences sudden growth and their servers are melting, we call in the Cloudkicks and they fix the problem.

Two other alumni who've been particularly helpful are Sam Altman of Loopt and James Lindenbaum of Heroku. They are both extraordinarily knowledgeable about fundraising―more knowledgeable than me about many aspects of it―and they have helped lots of startups with tactical advice. Last cycle James came to YC and held office hours for startups who wanted advice about fundraising.

But now I'm thinking of all the other alumni who've helped lots of other startups, and feeling bad I can't list them all. There are so many, and most of what they do for one another I don't even hear about. At this point the chain reaction has become self-sustaining.

私たちの側も、YC出身者の支援に、ますます力を入れている。私たちが主催している会議もその一環だ。だがYC出身者がかかえる最大の問題は求人なので、私たちは主にその面でYC出身者を支援している。個別相談もするし、Work at a Startupハッカー・ニュースの求人ページYCommonAppといったYC全体を通じたプロジェクトでも支援する。
We in turn have focused increasingly on things we can do to help the alumni. The conferences we organize are one example. But since the biggest problem the alumni have is hiring, helping them with that has been our main focus, both in individual cases and through YC-wide projects like Work at a Startup, the Hacker News jobs page, and the YCommonApp.

また私たちは最近、Reddit社(YC S05)の起業家、アレクシス・オハニアンを東海岸の親善大使として任命した。YCがシリコンバレーにいる人を支援するのと同様、YCのサイクルが終わった後で東海岸に戻る企業には、オハニアンが支援するだろう。
We've also recently appointed Reddit (YC S05) founder Alexis Ohanian as Ambassador to the East. Among other things he'll help give companies that move back to the East Coast after YC the kind of support YC gives those who stay in the Valley.