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Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel announced Thursday the prestigious incubator program would again go fully remote for its Winter 2021 batch of fledgling startups, calling this decision a matter of safety amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Y Combinator’s previous batch of international startups was fully remote as well, working from their homes in 15 different time zones instead of the usual hub in San Francisco, Y Combinator said.
That necessitated a fair amount of juggling, although Seibel told Business Insider that Y Combinator was up to the challenge. The problem that the program couldn’t solve was the added level of stress most founders were going through due to COVID-19, Seibel told Business Insider.
“There’s all these things that COVID is doing to affect people’s lives,” Seibel told Business Insider. “To be honest, in the areas where our founders needed support, it was typically around that. Unfortunately, we can’t change the trajectory of COVID.”
Despite the lack of in-person contact that the program is famous for, Seibel said the main difference between this year’s program and pre-pandemic editions was the amount of guidance necessary to make the event happen.
Going fully remote meant bulking up the company’s internal wiki and catalogue of startup advice to answer questions that would normally be handled in person. Seibel even went so far as to describe YC as “a software company” at “its heart,” he described in a blog post.
He was referring to YC’s organizational software, he told us.
“It wasn’t like we recreated a whole new experience. I think that the really big change was in our software,” he said. Such improvements for doing the program remotely “just made YC a better product,” he added.
Participants in this year’s program spoke to Business Insider positively about their experiences, but regretted not getting to make in-person connections with other founders.
“That [Y-Combinator] was really, really incredible for us as individuals,” software automation startup DigitalBrain co-founder Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran told Business Insider. “At the same time, taking the other end of it, because it was over Zoom, we weren’t able to completely connect with all of our ‘batchmates.'”
Seibel pushed back on the idea that the program is meant to be social.
“It’s not like every day in YC the founders get together,” Seibel said. “It’s nothing like school or business school or anything. The typical experience of being in YC is sitting in front of your computer and your phone and doing the work in your apartment or house.”
The deadline to apply for Y Combinator’s winter batch is September 23.
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Source:: Business Insider