Questions every startup should ask itself

Recently, Y Combinator (YC) opened up the applications for its Winter 2014 batch. YC is a startup accelerator that helps companies get off the ground.  They select about 50 startups from the 4000+ applications they receive.

The questions contained in the application are deep, they force you to introspect about the idea you’re pursuing.  Whether you’re considering applying to YC or not, I think, it is worth mulling over the questions.  Just going through the exercise of answering them will help you get clarity on the idea you’re pursing and you’ll know whether you’re on the right track.

Below are the relevant questions from the YC application that every startup should ask itself. While answering them make sure  (a) you don’t use any hyperbole, (b) be as clear and concise of possible and (c) each sentence should take the user forward towards the understanding your idea.

  • What is your company going to make?
  • Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you’re making?
  • What’s new about what you’re making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)?
  • Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?
  • What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?
  • How do or will you make money? How much could you make? (We realize you can’t know precisely, but give your best estimate.)
  • If you’re launched, what is your monthly growth rate (in users or revenue or both)?
  • How will you get users? If your idea is the type that faces a chicken-and-egg problem in the sense that it won’t be attractive to users till it has a lot of users (e.g. a marketplace, a dating site, an ad network), how will you overcome that?

Good luck.


Questions worth asking yourself

A few years ago, 2004 to be precise, I came across some questions that forced me to introspect and come up with the answers. Recently, I re-discovered the document in which I had written the answers and was pleasantly surprised.

I’m listing down the questions here, do think about your answers –

* What were the significant events of the year?

* What were my accomplishments?

* What trips did I take?

* Who was I closest to?

* What significant reading did I do?

* What gave me joy?

* In what ways did I grow?

* What personal gifts did I use to serve this year?

* What did I learn this year?

* What in my life is dying (literally or figuratively)?

* What in my life is rising (literally or figuratively)?

*What are my goals for the next year?