In an interview with TechCrunch, Atman talks about YC’s Fellowship program:
I think we all get a little screwed up in the way we think about money in Silicon Valley sometimes; $12k is actually a lot of money to most people. It should be enough to live on, build a product, and get initial users. I think it’s fair to say that YCF is targeting people with low personal burn rates. These are often younger, but certainly not always. And I’ve met some 24 year old Google engineers that get their personal burn rates up pretty high…
On giving advice to startups:
We usually (but certainly not always!) give good advice. This is surprisingly hard to get for startup founders… The general principle is to identify the startup’s single biggest current problem, and help them figure out how to solve that. This is hard because a) most startups have a lot of problems and b) most founders are bad at knowing what actual problems vs fake problems are. For example, most founders worry a lot about competitors, but not much about users not staying engaged.