Week 1 in Y-Combinator: Hello, World and & YC Bootcamp

Posted by Alan Zhao


June 19, 2020

Co-founder crew hiking in Boulder during Techstars. Left to right: Carina, me, Val, and Alan

Hi World,

I’m Max, CEO of Warmly, a startup going through Y-Combinator’s Summer 2020 batch. For those unfamiliar, Y-Combinator (or YC for short) is a startup accelerator. Thanks to YC, our startup alongside over 200 others will learn, grow and accelerate over the course of the next 12 weeks. Curious about what goes on at YC and what a startup can learn from the process? My co-founders and I plan to blog about our experience to give you the inside look at the program and help us reflect on what will be a whirlwind experience!

So who the heck are we? Well, the Warmly cofounding team is made up of Val, Carina, Alan and me (Max). We’re a motley crew and sometimes in quarantine we make rap songs.

Co-founder crew hiking in Boulder during Techstars. Left to right: Carina, me, Val, and Alan
Co-founder crew hiking in Boulder during Techstars. Left to right: Carina, me, Val, and Alan

You might notice that above I hyper-linked something strange called a PushPull card instead of traditional LinkedIn profiles. That’s because in our first attempt at a startup we built authentic actionable business cards. But after going through another incredible accelerator this winter called Techstars (in Boulder, Colorado), we pivoted to Warmly.

What the heck does Warmly do? Warmly builds software that helps B2B companies get more customers easily. Our first product, TrackAdvocates, tracks the job changes of a business’ customer contacts and provides the tools to reconnect and generate new sales. This allows them to resell their software to users who already love them.

But back to the humans behind the business. Over the coming weeks, each of the cofounders will be writing up their honest thoughts and reflections on going through YC and what we’re learning. While it is mostly for us to process all the goodness we hope to come from the summer, we hope you’ll find it interesting too. So anyways, let’s start with Week 1:

YC Bootcamp. YC started off with a bang with a bunch of back to back Zoom sessions all week in what they call “Bootcamp”. Because of COVID, everything is remote. The sessions in Bootcamp are designed to give us a variety of topics to think about — from the best growth metrics to track, to product development cycles, to enterprise sales advice to how to write good emails, it was certainly a whirlwind.

One highlight was certainly hearing the Airbnb founders tell their origin story — I really respect them. They started exactly where I am now, in Y-Combinator. And their determination through the program led them to be “ramen-profitable” or making enough money to cover rent and basic food for the cofounders. As I watched them so at ease with one another telling their story by passing the speaking baton between each of the three, it was so clear how close they were to one another and how much they trusted one another. I felt grateful to share that amongst my cofounders.

Armed with 20+ pages of notes, my cofounders and I had a lot to digest and dozens of action items to implement with our startup. Personally I felt stressed and anxious. Starting a company is hard. Really hard. And we have a long way to go to be successful. I posted about my stress in the YC Slack group and was comforted to have a lot of support from other founders feeling similarly!

Image for post
Want to get in touch or send thoughts about our posts? No problem — would love to hear them at maxgreenwald@warmly.ai
Jun 19, 2020