Y Combinator Turns Fail into Scale

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Normally the Accelerator accepts 3,000 applicants. This year they will accept over 15,000. Y Combinator, widely considered one of the most successful incubators in the world, recently announced that owing to a mistaken email sent to every applicant they will now be accepting every startup that applied to their 2018 Startup School class.

“As most of you already know,” the YC blog announced on August 20th, “we screwed up and sent acceptances to companies that were not actually accepted to Startup School. We’ve decided to use this error as an opportunity to try something new: we’re going to let in every company that applied to Startup School.”

Y Combinator’s Startup School is a 10-week online program. Topics include Getting Started, Creating An MVP, Finding Co-founders, Fundraising, How To Scale, among many others. Class materials are created by Y Combinator’s staff and successful startup founders and include articles and slide presentations. 100 companies that participate are also eligible to win an equity-free $10,000 grant.

The decision to turn the mistake into an opportunity fits well into Y Combinator’s overall approach, which stresses that scaling is critical to a startup’s success.

In an interview conducted May of last year, YC Founder Sam Altman said the accelerator’s success will be depend on its ability to find and invest in a high-volume of companies.

“The more we can scale, the more founders we can help, the bigger we can make our network, that’s really powerful,” Altman says.

Scaling to even more companies has always been part of the plan. In that same interview, Altman said at the time that in 2017, “[while] we are advising 3,000 startups at once…next year we think we can scale that to 10,000.”

In other news, earlier in the year, Y Combinator launched YC Bio, a fund dedicated to life sciences startups. St. Louis company CoFactor Genomics is a Y Combinator company and a pioneer in RNA testing and personalized medicine.

Given St. Louis’ cluster of BioTech startups, more St. Louis companies might soon look forward to the investment and guidance provided by the Y Combinator network.