Y Combinator, the most prestigious startup accelerator in the world, has some hard, fast rules.One is that you must apply by the deadline. Another highly suggested tip is to have a cofounder.
But one determined guy decided to submit his startup 2 months late to the current YC batch. And he got in.
Apoorva Mehta is the founder of a one-hour grocery delivery service, Instacart. It’s like Fresh Direct with the real-time completion of TaskRabbit.
When Mehta decided to apply late to Y Combinator, he didn’t know any of the accelerator’s partners. He asked people to make intros.
Initially he was told “no way” by multiple YC executives. He’d have to apply to the next batch. But a glimmer of hope came from one of the partners, Garry Tan. Tan responded: “You could submit a late application, but it will be nearly impossible to get you in now.”
Most people would find that discouraging, but to Mehta it meant there was hope.
Mehta decided to demonstrate his product for Tan and sent him a 6-pack of beer through Instacart. Shortly after it arrived, Tan called him and asked him to present his startup the next day.
Mehta met with four YC partners for nearly an hour and explained his company. 10 minutes later, Mehta received a call.
“Hello, this is Harj from Y-Combinator. I can’t believe we’re doing this. We haven’t let anyone in this late. Ever. But if you’re interested, we would love to have you. Call me back.”
Mehta learned his first lesson from Y Combinator: be persistent.
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