Our YC Journey
A lot has been said about life-changing experiences of companies. But there is probably something else to add to those stories.
For us at Liveflow, that was a very defining and shaping time at the Winter 21 batch of Y Combinator.
While still navigating the hardships of the total, lonely quarantining in the UK, we started our program in early January 2021. It's worth saying that those 3 months went blazingly fast. However, they were dense enough to make your learning curve immensely steep.
The batch kicked off with an energizing meeting with Airbnb founders - Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia - people who seemingly have gone through it all. The chat was followed by equally exciting talks with founders of other stratospherically successful startups throughout the whole batch.
What is remarkable, YC has a massive dataset on how to build companies from scratch to unicorns through seeing tons of failures and wins firsthand, and they shared it with newcomers like us.
But ultimately, YC is not about just meeting someone you dreamt of for all your life. It's about becoming better founders through talks with incredibly smart, experienced and wise partners who change some of your conventional mental models.
What we've learned, you ask?
1. Target TOP-1 %
To achieve substantial results, we need to think and operate as the best sports teams and companies do. Go the extra mile, think a step ahead and act accordingly. We apply this mental model to our decision-making process when facing a challenging situation inspired by Dalton Caldwell's framework.
When facing a tough situation, we ask two questions.
- How would the 50th percentile solve this problem? This gives us the average benchmark.
- How would the top 1% percentile solve this problem/think about this task? This gives us a thinking framework of how the best people in a specific field would solve the given situation.
The goal is always to act based on what the TOP 1% of companies would do.
2. Talk to customers
We want to be 10x better than our competitors at talking, engaging and listening to our customers. We are firm believers that the main reason products fail is because product managers, CEOs, and leaders didn't take the proper time to deeply analyze and, more importantly, emphasize Customer Experience and understand their deep underlying pains.
Imagine we face a decision around a feature we need to implement first. While we have our own opinion, the way to answer that question can be quickly done by asking: "What do our customers say?"
3. Act Today, not Tomorrow
The first person who brought it very explicitly to the table was Nicolas Dessaigne. We needed to release the MVP but were pretty unsure about the timeline. So we lingered and decided to ask Nicolas. The answer was now. We shipped that early MVP fast which led to outsized quick learnings and necessary product iterations.
Apparently, one of the key advantages of being a small startup is that we can move faster than larger organizations, and we should treat this speed as an advantage.
When we face a task that needs to be solved, we ask ourselves the following:
- What prevents us from doing this today?
- What prevents us from doing this now?
This helps us get into the thinking framework of doing things quickly and executing with urgency in mind. The significant benefit of this is that it decreases procrastination significantly.
4. Hold yourself accountable
As we started, we were unsure about a myriad of various things as the fast and furious world changed around us. However, one thing stayed certain - our Monthly Recurring Revenue.
We learned to have only this North Star as it is the only metric that matters for a startup at the end of the day. This accountability and dedication to achieving just one specific number help us define and prioritize goals for every quarter, month and day.
5. Be formidable
YC gave us superpowers to be the best versions of ourselves and simply empowered us to stay strong. It might sound loud, but believe it or not, we saw how we overgrew our clothes within months, if not weeks. YC, like Redbull, gives you wings to fly high and achieve new heights.
Have tough conversations
It would be great if all of the conversations would be a piece of cake. But they are not. Sometimes, they are draining and challenging to stand, but this moves us forward to a better future. We aim to build LiveFlow for the long term and start from a theoretical point in the future to make better decisions even if they are very tough.
Y Combinator is a multiplier of many tracks of life - both of a company and personal growth. I can't praise it more and if you can make it to the batch yourself - just do it.