Undoubtedly it is one of the most charming experience of my entrepreneurial career. Getting to YC is one of the hardest thing because of their multiple billion dollar exits- AirbnB, DoorDash, Stripe, Cruise, Instacart, Dropbox, Coinbase, Zapier, Ginko Bioworks, Bewx, Reddit, Faire, Relativity Space and many more.
YC invests $125k seed money SAFE at 7% equity exchange. CM materials raised $400k( $370 from angels) at $3M valuation, so the YC round would have been a “down-round”. However, the opportunity to get introduced to over 300 investors in the demo day and the brand of YC alum in the bag is very attractive for any startup to have down round and increase valuation in the demo day by 2–3x because of brand value.
Our interview call was on May 19th, 2.30 pm EST. There were five people in the interview board, however I could catch three person name because of the heat of the moment (10 min high impact interview).
Here are few main questions I got-
- Tell me about your business (Tim Brady)
- How you are going to make money- license or manufacturing? (Diana Hu)
- What is takes to make a magnetic core? (Tim Brady)
- What are the main risks and challenges (Forgot the interviewee name)
The panel was not convinced with my answer that we want to manufacture the magnetic cores. Diana Hu pushed hard on licensing and they couldn’t trust us that we can move fast with manufacturing route.
I was thrilled to get Michael on the board. I am a big fan of his clarity on advising startups and his passion to help entrepreneurs. He didn’t ask any question though.
Almost 10 hours later I got the rejection letter.
It was great to meet you today. Thanks for taking the time to interview with us.
Unfortunately, we’ve decided not to fund CM Materials. This was a tough one for us. It is clear that you have tons of domain expertise having worked in this space for the past 5 years and also doing a PhD in this topic. We were also impressed with your dedication given that this is your third company building better magnetic materials.
What made us unsure about funding CM Materials were a few things. We are concerned that the improvements of this new material are incremental rather than exponential. The customers who would appreciate the improvements like Tesla are quite far away in the supply chain from where you need to insert yourself since you need to work directly or become the magnetic material manufacturer, so the contract/sales process will be tricky. Also the path to full commercialization seemed quite far away and it wasn’t clear to us how you could get there faster.
That said, we are far from perfect in our decision-making and are often wrong. We encourage you to keep pushing forward and consider applying again to the next YC batch.
We wish you the very best and hope you’ll stay in touch.
I believe it was a good first run and a good dress rehearsal for the next try!