How to evaluate startup ideas by Kevin Hales, Partner at Y Combinator

Asim Zaidi
9 min readAug 20, 2021

Opening statements


YC only funds companies with tons of traction that nowadays the only way to get into YC you must have tons of traffic or revenue. Part of that has to do with the press and the companies that make it to demo day, those are the stories you tend to hear. But there’s lots of great stories of companies who got started with just an idea, like Zenefits who was a single non technical founder who pitched an idea to YC and got in. Reddit is another, they hadn’t written a single line of code.

How can i predict if an investor will like my idea

At YC, the definition of a startup is a company designed or created to grow very quickly. If you’re not trying to build a company that grows very very fast, then you’re just building a normal company, a small business. So you just need evidence that your company can grow quickly.

Kevin will never tell you he doesn’t like your idea because the avg. investor you speak with, it feels like they’re trying to poke holes in your idea and show how smart they are. Paul explained to him that it’s not about figuring out what’s wrong with a company it’s about figuring out how it could possibly win cuz YC’s winning bets are usually the non obvious stuff. So you have to work on your imagination and optimism to think about what is the way this story can become a billion dollar company. And a great investor pitches that back to the founder.

This is how you need to construct in order to know if this can succeed. 3 parts to it … Problem, Solution, Insight.


Explain what is the setting for this company that allows it to grow quick.


What is the experiment you’re running within those conditions for it to grow really quickly?


Asim Zaidi

Building AI Hub @Apple | Prev: SSWE @Atlassian | Co-Founder | Shipping products users love | Helping people break into tech @