Our Experience Going Through YCombinator

Jean Yves
6 min readJun 3, 2020

We’re the founders of Data Mechanics, a very easy to use big data platform, letting data scientists and engineers run Apache Spark workloads in the cloud in a serverless way. We were part of the Summer 2019 YCombinator batch.

Here’s a short article reflecting on our experience going through YC. We hope it’ll be useful if you want to know what YC is like or are thinking of applying.

To introduce each topic, we’ve used one of the typical question that YCombinator partners like to ask during admissions interviews. Except we’re NOT answering the question as Data Mechanics, but as YCombinator itself!

What are you making?

(Got lazy, this is from Wikipedia)

Y Combinator (YC) is an American seed money startup accelerator launched in March 2005. It has been used to launch over 2,000 companies, including Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox and Twitch.

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How does your product work in more detail?

YCombinator has 2 batches of startups per year (winter: Jan-Mar, Summer: Jun-Aug). As of 2019, each batch had 200 startups, divided in 4 groups, each of them mentored by 3–4 Partners. The startups relocate in San Francisco Bay Area during the batch (note: the current batch which is remote because of COVID). Startups do not get office or living space.

A typical batch week consists of:

  • An evening with a batch-wide (or half-batch wide) dinner, followed by an inspirational talk by an alumni (eg Airbnb founders) and more strategic talks by YC partner (e.g. Press Relationships during the batch).
  • An office hour (actually half-hour) with one of your group partner, to discuss your must urgent need. You can do more than one, and we’d encourage it.
  • (Every two weeks) A 1-hour session with around 8 startups from your group. Each startup tells about their progress in the last two weeks, while the others listen, Alcoholic Anonymous style. A great time to feel like you’re not the only one full of doubts (except if you have only rockstars like the Tandem founders in your group).
Jean Yves

Co-Founder @Data Mechanics, The Cloud-Native Spark Platform Senior Product Manager @ Spot.io — Building Ocean for Spark Former software eng @Databricks.