By Chris Morton on October 13, 2015
I have been through YC twice, including with BlockScore, an identity verification and KYC compliance company from the Summer 2014 batch, and have informally helped many with their applications. A common thread among the applications is the use of words which detract from the meaning that people are trying to convey.
Remember, the best YC application is one where an unrelated party can understand what you do and how well you have done it in the fewest words possible. The following words can detract from your message:
|Buzzwords||If the Silicon Valley show didn’t put you off of these words, nothing will.||revolutionize, disrupt, synergy, innovate, groundbreaking, world-class, unique, advanced, cutting edge, exclusive, unique, advanced, superior, platform, leverage|
|Snake oil||Even though YC now accepts companies where these words could be true, it’s best to try not to describe potential with trite terms.||once in a lifetime, game changer, magic, best of breed, pioneering|
|Diluters||In most cases there are better, more succinct words that could be used that are more specific to your situation.||super, very, awesome, really, literally, basically, definitely, golden, amazing, honestly, obviously, great|
|Informal||You can keep a light tone without resorting to informal language.||lol, haha, btw, 😀|
|Offensive||It can be easy to accidentally offend – do your best to remember your audience. Swearing probably isn’t justifiable.||You can use your imagination!|
|Tropes||Everyone has rockstar developers. Explain why your team is great in other words – these are meaningless!||ninja, rockstar, guru|
|Distractors||State your accomplishments and plans with confidence. These words only distract from your point.||kind of, sort of, much, just|
Make sure to do one final pass to remove any extraneous language. If it isn’t essential, remove it. Brevity and conciseness are more pleasing than wordiness. A good example was someone saying that they “started working towards launching a pilot beta.” The extra words made them sound tentative. I suggested they say “pilot planned for November.”
The same advice applies to your video too. Keep it simple and don’t go overboard; just be normal and follow the advice.
YC will accelerate your journey but don’t let it be the arbiter of your future. Regardless of whether you get into YC, focus on metrics: user growth, revenue growth, and generating profit. I see many founders pause and then stumble after applying to YC. Don’t let that happen to you.
As Sam and PG have mentioned, it isn’t too late to apply. Some of the best YC companies are last minute applicants.
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