Let’s say it now, it has been a very nice experience, very interesting and challenging and very mind opening.
You may not know it, but YC is one of the largest startup accelerators in the world. It was founded in 2005, and now-famous companies like Stripe, Airbnb, Weebly, Optimizely, Dropbox, Reddit, MixPanel, and Twitch have gone through the program.
All began in March 2017, when YC announced that for the first time it will run a an online startup school – a 10 weeks course for new startups. Obviously we were curious! Therefore we submitted Nurideas application form before the deadline. And on March 31st, 2017 we received the e-mail that we were accepted!!!
A total of 13,321 start-ups from all over the world were accepted. Among these 2,820 were further selected to follow the Founder Track path. And…needless to say, among these was Nurideas! Below is a map showing mostly the European companies in the Startup School – the red point in Sardinia is Nurideas!
The online School
The startups were split in 94 groups of about 20 – grouped by similar time zones to facilitate online meetings. We became part of “Group 59”. Each group had its own mentor, usually a founder of a well-known company or YC alumni. Chats channels were available using Mattermost to exchange information.
Zoom was used to run the Group meetings (called “Office hours”). It was nice to be able to see each other. And it was quite something to be discussing with 20 people at the same time, from different places. All speaking in English with very few native speakers. Fun!
In the first Office hours, we all introduced ourselves, our companies and our projects. Our mentor explained the format of the school and the expectations.
In the following weeks, we did exercises on how to present our projects and companies. Also on how to pitch to investors – the 3 minutes elevator pitch for example: imagine yourself in an elevator and you have only 3 minutes to convince someone to put money on your idea! The startups in our group worked on very different kind of projects. It was very interesting to exchange opinions and have different point of views, from start uppers in different countries. In Group 59, we were mainly from Europe, with one company in Asia and another in Africa. Our mentor was from the USA (California).
Every week we talked about successes/failures/problems and helped each other. These were very interesting discussions that helped us understand much better what is that we wanted, our goals and why we have created a startup!
The Startup School is a school, so like in any school, we had lectures (all the videos are available on YouTube). In fact, each week, we had access to two 50-minute lectures on various topics that are useful for startups.
This is a full list of all the lectures:
- How and Why to Start A Startup (Sam Altman, Dustin Moskovitz)
- Startup Mechanics (Kirsty Nathoo)
- How to Get Ideas and How to Measure (Stewart Butterfield, Adam D’Angelo)
- How to Build a Product I (Michael Seibel, Emmett Shear, Steve Huffman)
- How to Build a Product II (Aaron Levie)
- How to Build a Product III (Jason Lemkin, Solomon Hykes, Tracy Young, Harry Zhang)
- How to Build a Product IV (Jan Koum)
- How to Get Users and Grow (Alex Schultz)
- How to Invent the Future I (Alan Kay)
- How to Invent the Future II (Alan Kay)
- How to Find Product Market Fit (Peter Reinhardt)
- How to Think About PR (Sharon Pope)
- Diversity & Inclusion at Early Stage Startups
- How to Build and Manage Teams (Vinod Khosla, Anu Hariharan)
- How to Raise Money, and How to Succeed Long-Term (Jess Lee, Aaron Harris, Ali Rowghani)
And of course, like in any school, we had homework to do: we had to set goals for each week and describe how we intended to achieve them.
We also had to fill weekly reports on what was accomplished the previous week.
What did YCombinator online Startup School 2017 bring us? Insights! Those you only get from being an active part of a world, of an environment where you can exchange knowledge and experiences. And even if only in virtual mode since we never met anyone physically, the intuitions were extremely useful for Nurideas’ entrepreneurial future.
First of all, we have learned (and more or less understood) about metrics: what means “total users”, “revenue” and “retention”. About their importance but also not to focus on them. Secondly, we learned about thinking about our core values, what we believe in, what we want Nurideas to be. And finally, we learned to build a first version of our software and put it out to be tested: it will not be perfect, have plenty of bugs, missing functionalities, but users will tell you what they think, what sucks (hope not much) and what to add to fulfill their needs.
At the end of the Startup School, 1.584 startups had completed the complete Founder Track program of the Startup School online of YCombinator. Because we could not of course all be in San Francisco, we had a “virtual demo day”: the online “Presentation day”. Nurideas was one of the 797 companies that posted a video on line!
At that moment we were waiting for the results of the call to which we had submitted the SANUM Project. In the video we presented the ideas that led us to develop Insaludi, Nurscan and NurInfood. The presentation we made is available on the Nurideas YouTube channel.
In conclusion we enjoyed very much the YC Startup School. It was a great learning experience!
If you have a startup or are planning to start one, we do recommend to check the Startup School website (https://www.startupschool.org) to see when will be the next school and to submit an application!
Because we are two good students, we got our diplomas ! We received our online Startup School 2017 completion certificates by e-mail, attesting that we had completed the whole course.