Michael Seibel, Partner at Y Combinator and CEO of YC’s Startup Accelerator explains what signals and patterns they look for in applications from startups:
The number one thing that I look for, above all else, is that the team who’s applying has the ability to build and launch the first version of the product. And the second, and very closely tied item, is, I want evidence of forward motion.
Given the amount of time the founders have been working on the company, I want to be impressed with what they’ve done. And I don’t care if that amount of time is two weeks. I don’t care if it’s two years. I just want the sum of what they’ve accomplished during that time to be impressive.
And I think this is a hard concept for people to understand. I think everyone is trained on school where there are these absolutes (what was your SAT score? what was your GPA?). School doesn’t really measure trajectory, at all. Whereas with us [at Y Combinator], it’s really the only thing we care about. It’s trajectory. It’s, how much forward motion and momentum are you creating, as opposed to starting position?