8 Common Misconceptions Africans Have about YC

1. “I don’t think YC will get my African market.”

Perhaps YC Partners won’t know the nuances of your market, but business is business everywhere. YC has funded over 2,100 companies and seen over 10,000 applications. Chances are they can understand the tenants of your business. It’s your job to explain your core problem, technology, market, traction, team, and unique insights. This is fundamental regardless of region. By doing so, you increase your chances of making YC Partners wanting more. Simplify the complexity of your market and technology. Make it easy for a reviewer to repeat to someone else. Get to the point and storytell with numbers and traction.

2. “I don’t think my business it what they’re looking for.”

YC invests in ideas, 20M revenue businesses, cleanmeat technologies, fintech solutions and much more. Shoot your shot and apply! Here’s a list of ideas YC specifically requests. Don’t worry if your company doesn’t fit this list. Many companies get accepted outside of this list.

3. “They’re not looking for someone like me. I always thought YC was for young white male engineers building complicated tech.”

Not true. YC is committed to investing in outliers (ideas most people would think are crazy) and diverse companies. Now is a good time to apply as an African, especially as an African woman, because you can present a unique market and evolve the global image of billion dollar business leaders. You got this!

4. “I’d have to relocate to Silicon Valley for 3 months? What about my family? I have children.”

While we won’t tell you how to raise your family, we do encourage you to explore the 3 months away. Look at it as a rare opportunity to gain lifetime access to world class founders, investors, networks, and global technologies. If you get in, the long term gains are win-win. 3 months will be a negligible trade off to building Africa’s future. We imagine your family and your continent will be proud of that. 

5. “I don’t feel like my ______ is good enough.”

As women/Africans, we often doubt whether we’re good enough or worthy of what we want/where we want to be. It’s especially hard if we don’t know or see anyone who’s done it before. In general, we don’t have many role models who’ve come before us to pave the way. As such, we feel crazy, guilty, or like frauds. It’s called imposter syndrome. Don’t let it sabotage your potential. If not you, then who?

Candidly, there’s no time for modesty. Africa’s future needs you. You deserve to apply just like anyone else. You’ve worked hard to get here. Show it.

Look at any measure of insights or progress in your company and include it in your application (i.e. X new users/ Y new contracts/ V feature tests in Z months). This adds up to traction, expertise, and a competitive advantage that YC partners want to see.

If you’re still having trouble, ask your team to list all of the traction they’ve made in the last 6 months. Review and pick the most impressive marks for your application. Frame these marks to show what you’ve accomplished and how continued progress can lead to a billion dollar opportunity. Also, tie in how this traction and your knowledge reflect why/how you’re the best team to build this business.

6. “We’re not ready yet. We haven’t ______ yet.”

You don’t have to be perfect. Apply anyway. Shola Akinlade of Paystack applied as a solo founder with only $200 in revenue. Visa and Stripe are now investors in Paystack’s “Stripe for Africa.” Kudi applied without a live product. No progress is too small. Anything is better than nothing. 

7. “I don’t know if I have a billion dollar revenue business”

No one does early on. For starters, let’s do simple math. Think for a moment about your revenue per user/customer per month. Let’s say it’s $100/mo ($1200/yr). How many users/customers can your technology and team scale to in the next 10 years. Let’s say 500,000. That means $100/mo X 12 mos X 500,000 customers X 10 years = $6B! You’ve got a unicorn on your hands. Share these numbers early in your application (definitely in the video!) so YC Partners see the opportunity quickly.

8. “I worry about getting an unfavorable valuation.” 

Your valuation is largely in your control. But, one step at a time. Fill the application, get accepted, and then we’re happy to prep you for valuation conversations.