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The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,329 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Number of teams that applied to Y Combinator’s summer 2011 batch: 2,089Teams interviewed: 170

Minutes per interview: 10

Teams accepted and funded: 64

Months to build a viable startup: 3

Possibilities: BOUNDLESS





Investment firm Y Combinator is the most sought-after home for startups in Silicon Valley. Twice a year, it funds dozens of just-founded startups and provides three mon
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 27th 2012 by Portfolio
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Leo Polovets
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the Launch Pad, which looks at a class of startups going through a famous startup incubator program. One thing that I liked was that the author wrote at length about many of the individual teams and made the startup class feel very human. The author also talked about the how the incubator works and the kind of feedback and advice it gives to its companies. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I found these bits of advice and insight to be very useful.
Lee
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(FROM WSJ)

Silicon Valley is in the grip of a mania where the desire to "change the world" with innovative software mingles closely with a hunger to hit a Instagrammatical jackpot. The best place to see this phenomenon is in an unassuming building in Mountain View, Calif., on a street called Pioneer Way. This is the headquarters of Y Combinator (the name, inspired by a mathematical function, was intended as a welcoming signal to math nerds). Led by a charismatic hacker champion named Paul Graham,
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Natalie Feng Lin
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Good introductory book to startups and founders. While most of the examples are specific to Y Combinator, there are many lessons and takeaways you can get about the startup environment. There is a decent amount of information on how to implement a strong accelerator program through proper vetting of candidates as well as how to prepare the participants for Demo Day. There is also a lot of advice in terms of startups for how to generate ideas, how to start one, and how to grow one, although it’s ...more
David
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
4.5 stars
Michael Huang
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought
This is a niche book. YCombinator is an elite startup launch pad — the funding partners even before angles. Their most famous alumni so far is Dropbox.
The author was embedded in the 2011 batch of YCombinator and documented what they went through. From the book you can glimpse the processes of forming a startup from the founders vantage as well as from that of investors.
Jon
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like reading about startups and technology, you'll enjoy this. It's well written and researched and nicely structured.

I'd not say I came away with it with deep and nuanced insights, but I wasn't necessarily looking for that. As a much deeper primer on YC's mentality and how they operate, it was definitely worth reading.

Plus, who doesn't like those stories of the early days of startups where a small and passionate team of committed founders are battling to succeed against overwhelming odds
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Ikhsan Rahardian
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eloquently written. Provides an enjoyable plot (Who would have thought, a startup book can provide such storytelling?). Perfect for those looking for the real taste of startup journey and the inside story of YC (duh).

I was expecting a boring yet detailed writing, but rather I found gold.
Andrus
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, so could easily deserve 4 or 5 stars. But offers very little new to someone that has been involved with startups actively, read PG's essays, etc.
Serge Boucher
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In-depth look at the internal workings of the world's most prestigious accelerator. Definitely worth reading if you like that sort of thing.
Eric Meyers
Jul 02, 2012 added it
Shelves: portfolio
I worked on this book a bit near the beginning--when we acquired it--but wasn't on the project when the final manuscript came in.
Waqas Abid
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A superb book thats really helped me understand the startup life and reality better.
Alex
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
VC Interview questions:
-Please tell us about a time you most successfully hacked some non-computer system to your advantage.
-Please tell us something about each founder that shows they are an animal.
-What are your future users hacking together now to fix the issue you’re addressing?
-Want to know revenue projections — know they won’t be right, want to see how you think. I.e.: show how you can get to a $B 5 years from now — very exciting to a VC
-If you seem fearsome like you are going to take over
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Johnny Leon
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A first-hand account from inside the world's premier startup incubator, The Launch Pad is a short but poignant look at Y-Combinator. The book follows the Winter 2011 batch of 63 potential startups (which includes future heavyweight companies like RapGenius and CodeAcademy) through their 3-month journey of going from an idea to a company that can compete in the tech space with notable alumni Dropbox, Twitch, & AirBnB. The book goes very in depth and details all of the conversations that take ...more
Bruce Harpham
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Picked up this book to better understand the software industry and the art of startup investing. The drama of building a startup over the course of a 3 month period and pitching investors gave the book a great sense of drama. I also liked that Stross explored the question of why Y Combinator has funded very few female founders. For aspiring startup founders, the sections on preparing a 2 minute pitch about your company will be particularly helpful. The book was well narrated by René Ruiz.

Two are
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Anshu
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a big fan of PG and Altman. I've attended many of their events and demo day. If you are looking to do startup sometimes then this book is a must-read. YC is the mecca of startup words and was started by PG after he sold his first company to Yahoo. After selling his company, he didn't do another startup since he mentioned that he became work free and the zeal for a startup wouldn't be possible for him at that stage. On top of that, he had so many ideas and it wouldn't be possible to work on ...more
Will Jo
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short chapters, easy read and a good glimpse into the people who do startups. It also seems that using OPM (other people’s money) to do your own pet projects are so easy. Perhaps this is a startup bubble, or perhaps as Paul Graham emphasizes that he is diversifying his portfolio and he just needs one Dropbox or Airbnb to achieve his ROI. So he is more focused in teaching, make friends and live out his dream & lifestyle. If only everyone can have that luxury...

But definitely a very enjoyable
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Scott Wozniak
It's a decent description of what happens in a summer of Y Combinator. But there are very few insights added. So it ends up being a play by play of key moments in the summer--and that's all.

I'm a big fan of the incubator (I have worked with a few already) so I recommend the concept, but probably not this book unless you're an insider looking to do your own study of Y Combinator (and willing to create all your insights from the raw data yourself).
Saurabh
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is apparently one of the best books you'd get on YCombinator. The author literally spent ample amount of time hanging around YC talking to PG, Sam Altman and other notable luminaries along with the YC startups hence the learnings are amazing especially if you are a startup. A must read for entrepreneurs.
Andres Leon
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. From someone who started an incubator for startups its an amazing look at the intangible things. Its also gap-filling for its practical perspective on creating environment, mindset, methodologies and so on.

If you really want to learn what happens beyond walls and table, highly recommend you to read this book.
Ivan Atanasov
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason that I'm giving 4 stars is that the book suggest that you can start a great company only in the Silicon Valley, but last five ears the game was changed and we saw this wit wit.ai API.ai, Luis and etc. Fantastic book and everyone that is going to start a new product/company can learn a lot from it.
Jonathan Barcus
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. It's a bit dated (I hope).

It was definitely insightful...admittedly experienced by the author seemingly ages ago (2011), I would hope that the YC founders would change their attitude, given the successful "startup hubs" that have developed in Boston, Chicago, New York, Austin, Denver, and Seattle...
M O
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book If you want to learn about YC and the insides of it, and the environment, and how it works. Also serves as a good template for what an incubator/accelerator space should be like (especially if you're outside of Silicon Valley like myself)
Tony Poerio
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining, journalistic look at happens in a Y Combinator batch. Also worthwhile for some of the insights regarding presentations, fundraising, etc. Nothing particularly mind-blowing. But it was an enjoyable read. Recommended for fans of the genre.
Adán Galván gonzález
Good stories about parse and mongolabs, I loved the quote: "the only thing I do on Fridays is work, I'm not a 20 something anymore"
Jonathan Mckay
Makes me want to start a startup.
Jubin Chheda
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent insights, keeps excitement, easy read.
Vinayak Malik
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Software is eating the world!...and boy I am old
Suddenven
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A primer for anyone wishing to start a startup.
Ben
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great insight into Y-Combinator. With its stories and examples it brilliantly transports the entrepreneur's mindset.
Nick
May 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not much meat here. Ok, if you want to see you how incubators aim to commoditize innovation.
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“advice: “In general, don’t hide your disasters. We’re not going to take the money back.” He says this lightly, as if delivering a joke, but it is reassuring for the founders to hear. They laugh, perhaps with a touch of relief.” 0 likes
“Launch Fast” is Paul Graham’s mantra. Move from the idea to a minimally functional product as quickly as possible. Only by getting a product into the hands of customers, even if the product is only a prototype, is it possible to know what customers want.1 Launching fast is how to make something people want. Judging by the advice that they” 0 likes
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