Y Combinator is sort of a Proprietary Investor-only Launch Conference
Y Combinator has started funding so many companies per round (60+) and getting so much investor attention that they’ve had to move their “Demo Day” event (where companies present to investors) into a larger building and make it an all-day event.
It got me thinking. I’ve never thought of Y Combinator as a species of conference, yet the parallels are fairly striking.
They accept applications from startups, coach them, and help them pitch investors on stage. The biggest difference between them and conferences is that they also invest and take equity. In addition they spend 3 months coaching the startups instead of the 3 days or 3 hours that a conference would.
They’re sort of like a very expansive and very intensive conference. They’re on the startup’s side during the entire process: they handle incorporation, introductions, product advice — pretty much any kind of help they can.
The goal of all of that work though is ultimately to turn those startups into something VCs will find worthy of investment when they present it to them on Demo Day.
Even the name, Demo Day, is necessarily similar to “DEMO Conference” which was the first major startup launch conference.
Just imagine if they charged every investor $3000-$5000 to attend (they wouldn’t mind). It might reduce YC’s costs to almost nothing.
I don’t think I’m belitting YC or its value by drawing this analogy. It’s far from perfect, and at some point analogies like this always break down — I was just surprised at how far this one goes.
People have always struggled to label YC. They’ve been called an incubator, VC firm, angel investor, and accelerator. They’re really a cross between all of those. I think you could add “conference” to the mix and would make for an even more accurate description.