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.
Altman announces the launch of YC Fellowship, a program aimed at prep-seed ventures that have not received any prior funding. The eight-week program will give out advice to participating startups and $12,000 in grants — although regular venture investments could become the standard in the future. Companies will not have to move to the Bay Area. Applications open July 27. Altman writes in a blog post:
Ten years ago, Paul Graham said there could be ten times as many startups if more people realized they could try. Thanks to the work he, Jessica, Trevor and Robert helped do, that’s become true. We think there is still room for another ten-fold increase in the number of (good) startups. But even now, a lot of good founders never get started because they can’t scrape together a relatively small sum of money at the idea stage. So we’re going to try a new experiment, which we’re calling the YC Fellowship. This is targeted at teams that are very, very early…Although this is an experiment, if it seems promising we’ll iterate quickly just like any good startup. Our goal at YC is to enable as much innovation as we can. Someday if it works, we’d love to fund 1,000 companies per year like this.