Investor’s corner: highlighting Y Combinator

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January 25, 2021
By Hallie French, Innovate Carolina

This month, KickStart Venture Services is pleased to showcase Y Combinator (YC), the accelerator that has invested in and supported over 2,500 companies including Airbnb, Stripe, Dropbox, Reddit, and Ginkgo Bioworks. Since 2014, YC has funded over 300 bio, healthcare, and life sciences companies, making YC one of the largest seed stage bio/healthcare funders in the world. Last February, KickStart sat down with representatives of YC for a fireside chat – they shared what they’ve learned from funding and working alongside hundreds of bio founders. In the article below, you’ll learn more from the team about the value they add, how their program works, and more information on upcoming deadlines. 

From The Y Combinator team

Twice a year, we invest $125,000 in startups, and we work intensively with the founders for three months as part of our batch program. The Y Combinator (YC) batch program helps founders as they build their product, talk to their customers, and raise funding. Each batch culminates in Demo Day, when the founders present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience of investors.

Today, the batch experience looks similar to years passed, except online due to the pandemic. Every week, we spend hours with each company, whether in one-on-one office hours or small group office hours; YC alumni, like the founders of Airbnb, speak to the batch about their experience and provide advice; and founders come together online in organized groups around geography, industry, and interests.

We consider startups in any field. We’ve funded companies that make everything from fusion reactors to delivery services to supersonic airliners — and of course hundreds of biotech companies.

In early 2020, we visited universities and institutions for the first time to meet founders who are focused on building biotech and healthcare companies. One of those stops was at UNC Chapel Hill, where Dr. Uri Lopatin, YC Visiting Group Partner and co-founder and the Chief Medical Officer of Assembly Pharmaceuticals, and Kat Mañalac, Managing Outreach Officer at YC, spoke about what they’ve learned from working with hundreds of bio founders and how the biotech landscape has changed (and will continue to change) in the next decade.

At YC, we’re seeing that scientists can now start a biotech company and maintain ownership of their work because tools and mentorship are now readily available. Additionally, seed capital and institutional seed capital is now accessible to biotech companies, as Silicon Valley shifts to viewing biotech as a growing asset class. And finally, the process of spinning research out into a startup is becoming demystified. (Read more about how to spin scientific research out of a university and into a startup on the YC Library).

YC funds more seed stage biotech companies than any other investor. To date, we have funded more than 300 life science companies — companies that cover the whole life sciences spectrum, including synthetic biology, therapeutics, digital health, diagnostics, medical devices, food technology like clean meat, platforms, and tools. While we fund companies that are further along, we’re most comfortable funding life science projects at their earliest stage, right when they’re ready to spin out of university research.

YC doesn’t end on Demo Day, as we have programs and resources that support founders throughout the life of their company. Work at a Startup makes it easy for founders to find their first engineers. YC Series A helps founders launch their A round. YC Growth Program provides founders with resources to scale their companies and hire an executive team, and YC Continuity invests in their later stage rounds.

If you’re interested in applying to YC, we are always accepting applications. For our next batch (Summer 2021), the early interview deadline is January 27 at 8:00pm PT. The deadline for regular interviews is March 15 at 8:00pm PT. More at