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Startup Lessons From Y Combinator’s Harjeet Taggar

Silicon Valley’s accelerator, Y Combinator has been helping to launch some pretty awesome tech startups, 460 to be exact, for the past 7 years.



Shining alum include:



Harjeet Taggar, an alum himself and now a partner at YC, has a few pointers for those of us begging to get involved in an accelerator program like YC that may change the way we pitch, code and watch our (hacker) news.




Who is this kid?

He’s young, he’s Oxford-educated and he  joined the Y Combinator’s team after graduating the startup accelerator himself back in 2007. His company, Auctomatic went on to be acquired by Live Current Media in 2008. And, in 2010 he joined the YC team as partner.


Now, the young entrepreneur knows exactly what the accelerator is looking for in a new startup applicant and wants us to know as well.



Your Idea is Secondary

The rebels over at Y Combinator recently started allowing people to apply for the program without actually having a specific idea. Sounds like a crazy idea, right?


Harjeet explains that often times people will come with their idea, YC will explicitly say they’re not interested and that it’s up to them to continue to work on it or not. More often than not, the startups will go back to the drawing board and completely re-work their idea.


He also finds that sometime ideas will sounds great, but aren’t. If the concept is fuzzy or vague, it simply won’t work. He says YC looks for a problem that is trying to be solved, and tends to invest in those ideas.


So far, only 10 percent of applicants from YC’s last class were entered without an idea, and a fraction were chosen. But, flexibility for idea change (or not having one at all) is definitely an option.



Coding is Key

Harjeet and his co-founder were not tech guys when they were accepted to YC’s program in 2007. In fact, they were the first startup to have two non-technical co-founders. So Harjeet had to learn the ways of coding, and he said it was completely worth the time and effort.


He still spends a big part of his time programming and finds it to be extremely useful. His suggestion to other non-tech entrepreneurs– learn to code, and you’ll save tech grief in the future.


Hack your News

Startups are finding a new place to get their news at Hacker News, in fact, it’s a place where startups are even going to launch. According to Harjeet, Hacker News, YC’s news site, is blowin up. The community is growing, so the feedback and constructive vibe is as well. A great place, says Harjeet, to digest startup news (and possibly even find early investors).


So, all you startups trying to find an accelerator home, don’t take your idea too seriously, learn to code, and keep an eye out on Hacker News to stay up on the latest launches, investments or to just catch some of the good tech startup vibes.


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