Startup Office - Photo: Generation Y StartupWant $11,000 to help kickstart your brilliant startup idea? Here you go. While it may not be quite that easy, Y Combinator, a scrappy and successful venture capital group that some call “open-source,” invites anyone to fill out an application to get angel funding. The exchange is they have part ownership of any successful idea, which is the typical VC standard operating procedure. The group is especially interested in Web and mobile applications. Y Combinator has just seven main partners and they have an excellent track record. Since 2005 they’ve funded more 380 startups, including Loopt, Reddit, Clustrix, Wufoo, Scribd, Xobni, Weebly, Songkick, Disqus, Dropbox, ZumoDrive,, Heroku, A Thinking Ape, Posterous, Airbnb, Heyzap, Cloudkick, DailyBooth, WePay, Bump, Stripe, AeroFS, and Hipmunk. Among those, Dropbox is a real star, and you can even see what its 2007 application for funding looked like. Some philosophy:
All venture investors supply some combination of money and help. In our case the money is by far the smaller component. In fact, many of the startups we fund don't need the money. We think of the money we invest as more like financial aid in college: it's so people who do need the money can pay their living expenses while Y Combinator is happening. What happens at Y Combinator? The most important thing we do is work with startups on their ideas. We're hackers ourselves, and we've spent a lot of time figuring out how to make things people want. So we can usually see fairly quickly the direction in which a small idea should be expanded, or the point at which to begin attacking a large but vague one.
Y Combinator has two rounds of funding each year and prototypes for ideas are usually built in about ten weeks, after which final presentations are made. The next deadline is March 28, so don’t waste any time if you’re interested. And even if you’re just in the daydreaming phase, read through the application questions. They will help you get your ideas into much sharper focus.