Why not go to the Harvard of startups, pitch your idea and hope for the best? When you start a tech company different accelerator programs are there to help you.
One of the most famous among them is Y Combinator, having many big tech companies in their portfolio. Earbits did exactly this and had so much power in their presentation, that Y-Combinator was impressed and Earbits was invited to join their accelerator programme. HumanIPO sat down with the Earbits co-founder Joye Flores and talked about the Y-Combinator experience, the company´s hopes & dreams and their traction.
Would You describe Earbits briefly? What`s the pitch?
Earbits is an online radio platform designed specifically to market music and music related products. Artists, labels and concert promoters can buy airtime and use the exposure to sell their products, acquire new fans, and promote upcoming live shows. Everyone has to be approved for airtime and our goal is to help those high quality artists turn radio exposure into real results.
When you are a tech startup and start to research about startup advice and learning about creating a technology company, it is pretty hard not to hear about Y-Combinator (YC). It is a dream for almost every startup to get into YC and that is what happened with Earbits.
In your own words how has the experience with YC been like?
Our experience with YC has been both life- and company-changing. The people you meet, the advice you get, the credibility it adds to your company, and the pressure it puts on you to create so much value in such a short period is tremendously important to an early stage company. We now have a way better product than we did when we started, and we can reach out to almost anybody in the technology world with just one or two emails and an introduction from someone we met through YC.
Have you used the other YC teams` competencies in the process?
Absolutely. The teams would often email each other asking for advice about a particular subject or thing they were working on. For example, we asked people who had done interesting Facebook integrations before how to do certain things. We would also try each other’s products and give a lot of feedback to each team about what we thought. My competency is in marketing and sales, so I would also help companies write their marketing copy, or help refine their pitch to investors.
Earbits have used the mentors during the programme to get advice about their product, about how to approach the press and investors, and how to prepare for Demo Day. After the programme, they asked YC for several key introductions, help getting more press, and also showed them the ongoing progress to make sure the mentors knew where Earbits where at that moment.
What was the most valued information / knowledge you got from Y-Combinator?
I think the most important thing we learned was how to stay focused. In YC, it’s all about focusing on your product, getting feedback from as many people as you can about what you’re building, and continuing to make the exact right adjustments until you have something people enjoy using. You don’t focus on investors (yet), or trying to spend money on marketing, or anything else. You focus on the product and YC constantly reminds you not to get distracted or to try to do too many things at once.
How is your traction?
We’re doing great. We have many thousands of people coming to our website right now and we haven’t spent any money on marketing. So, I am very pleased with our growth. We need to keep focusing on getting more people to use the product, but we have both clients and users on our service and it’s very exciting.
Best advise for people who want to be chosen for YC or other Accelerator program?
I don’t know about other accelerator programs, but for YC you need to show that you are smart, ambitious, flexible, and easy to work with. You need to show that you understand how to solve problems, and preferably, are solving a problem that you have personally had. You should demonstrate the ways that you have done new, innovative things to solve hard problems in the past, and you should show that you are making progress on your own. If you get turned down (97% of people will be turned down), then you need to show next time that you have accomplished a lot since the previous application. Proving that you are not the type to quit is one of YC’s biggest criteria. And, it never hurts to start making friends with people who got into the program. You might even consider offering some help to a previous YC company in exchange for an endorsement on your next application.
Accelerator programs can upgrade your startup from a slow car to a rocketship. A ship that breaks the speed of sound and accelerates away from all competitors to find themselves among the stars in the startup sky. If you have a startup take a look at all the accelerator programmes it could be your chance of a lifetime if you are lucky, persistent and have the right pitch and get signed up in one of the programs.