We didn’t make it, but we came pretty damn close. We did everything we could and held our own, and I’m happy with that. Y Combinator had some legitimate concerns with our business plan, and we’ll be back in six months better than ever. When you consider that we’ve been working on Slightly Robot for less than half that long, I think we did pretty well.
Moreover, the experience itself was illuminating from both a business and a personal standpoint. We met some really cool people: some dudes from Renton who hacked a VR onto a phone, some Nigerians trying to fix the fubar monstrosity that is online payments in Africa (or maybe the most boss Nigerian scam ever?) But just preparing for the interview was invaluable. I can pitch this thing backwards and forwards and upside down. I know stats on trichotillomania prevalence and Parkinson’s treatments like the back of my hand. They sat us down across from Sam Altman and four YC partners and after ten seconds of hand shaking ensued a ten minute metaphorical lightsaber duel with the Sith master of the startup universe. Sam hit us from every angle, business plan, user understanding, corporate philosophy, and we parried exactly like we had drilled. We didn’t win, but we put up a hell of a fight.
Maybe it was really just the prep, but the interview felt like a baptism by fire for Slightly Robot. Until now this thing we are doing felt more like a project than a company, a thing we were doing for fun not for profit. But people will fly us to San Francisco just to spend ten minutes trying to decide if we’re gonna be the next Google. If that doesn’t make us a real startup I don’t know what does.