1“Yes” and 1000 “No”

Last week my friend Eduardo and I attended YCombinator’s fall hackathon and to our genuine surprise we ended up being finalists out of the 80+ teams that participated. We’re still astounded that we made it to the finals because, in all honesty, we have not been working on our idea for very long (~1 week).

Nevertheless, things have not been all rosy for me personally. I’ve been working really hard for the past year to figure out what to do next in life. In the last year, I’ve applied to at least 200 job positions, and I’ve been rejected from pretty much every one of them. I’ve got no one else to blame but myself. It’s true that being an international student sometimes gets in the way but by and large, it has been my fault. Having said so, something changed last weekend after interviewing with Michael Seibel from YCombinator. To get to the final, we had to talk with him and a YC alumni. We had one shot to impress them. We had two minutes to present our project and make our case for why we should move forward.

Needless to say, those were the two most intense minutes I’ve experienced in a while. Although we came in with no expectations of winning, we still did not want to look like complete losers in front of someone that we admire so much. The first 30 seconds of the interview were terrible. Michael told us to skip half of the deck we had put together so that we could get to the product. In hindsight he was right, but we were not expecting that, and we were scared to shit. However, once we showed him our demo, he stopped and told us that YC has been thinking about building something just like this. Boom! Our eyes lit like a pair of full moons. The CEO of the single best startup incubator in the world had just told that we were working on something cool. To us that was insane. We still can’t fully articulate what we are building (working hard on that), but we know that something is interesting here and we feel he saw it as well. Although we didn’t win the hackathon (we did not deserve to win in my opinion), we walked out of the YC building ecstatic about our future.

This one “yes” will fuel us for the weeks and months to come. We were going to work on this idea regardless of the outcome of the hackathon but getting this unexpected validation will definitely help us push forward when things get tough. To me, this is the moral of the story. You only need one “yes” to keep going.