Being accepted into Y Combinator is considered the holy grail for startup founders around the world. The accelerator has helped launch some of the major companies in the world, such as Airbnb, Stripe, Instacart, Coinbase, Doordash, Reddit, Dropbox, Flutterwave, and more.

What does it take to get accepted into Y Combinator? This is the question that most African startups have at the back of their minds when they set out to build a startup. In this article on Y Combinator Acceptance Rate, I will discuss all there is to know about becoming a Y Combinator startup from Africa.

Y Combinator accepts startups from all locations, including Africa. The Y Combinator acceptance rate is 2%, which indicates that it is very difficult to become a Y Combinator startup. About 20,000 companies and startups join YCombinator, and only about 300 to 400 companies are accepted.

Why do companies and startups clamor to join Y Combinator? The average valuation for a Y Combinator company is over $20 million. The reality is that, regardless of the Y Combinator acceptance rate, most African startups do not know how to apply. Some founders have not even heard of Y Combinator, and others do not know how beneficial the accelerator is.

This article on the Y Combinator acceptance rate will discuss important details such as the Y Combinator requirement, how to join the accelerator, success rates of companies that join the accelerator, funding amount for startups, and more. I will also show you the Y Combinator application deadline and whether Y Combinator is better than Techstars. There is a comprehensive compilation of knowledge to help African founders.

What is the Y Combinator Acceptance Rate?

The Y Combinator acceptance rate is between 1.5% and 2%. Y Combinator has funded over 3,000 companies since its establishment in 2005, working with 6,000+ founders. Every year, over 20,000 companies apply to participate in the Y Combinator accelerator program, and the company has announced it only accepts about 400 startups from across the world.

When Y Combinator started in 2005, there were only 15 people in attendance, and eight companies received a total investment of $160,000. Among the companies on the first day was Reddit. No African startup was in the picture not until recently when the accelerator was voiced within the African shores.

Today, the accelerator receives requests from thousands of startups worldwide, including in Africa, but now has stringent acceptance requirements. One of the best features of Y Combinator as a startup accelerator is that it has been found to offer 2x more valuation for startups than other accelerators. They also offer lifetime support and have a reputation for identifying and supporting startups.

Let’s discuss some requirements for joining Y Combinator as an African startup.

Y Combinator Requirements

The Y Combinator funds are divided into cycles. There is the summer funding cycle and the winter funding cycle. A startup must submit their application to be part of the accelerator program on time as There are deadlines for when applications for a funding cycle can be accepted and reviewed. Other requirements include:

  1. Y Combinator deals with founders, and the eligibility of a founder to apply is 10% equity in the startup that’s applying for funding
  2. Applications should be submitted at before the deadline for each funding cycle (I will share details on how to apply later.)
  3. All co-founders must apply to the same startup. One cofounder will submit the main application, while other co-founders will submit follow-up applications
  4. In your application, you will be expected to:
    1. Describe your company or startup in no more than one sentence
    2. Explain your traction, which is how much you have done with the company in the time you have been operational
    3. Show the depth of your knowledge and expertise on the job
    4. Describe everyone that is on your team and how you can build technology
    5. Describe how you plan to reach a billion-dollar valuation or $100 million in annual recurring revenue.
  5. Your startup must have a technical cofounder.
  6. A startup that will be approved must have the ability to achieve its goals regardless of Y Combinator’s funding.
  7. The startup must work on meaningful and beneficial products, projects, and software.
  8. The startup must have a solid team
  9. The startup should have an existing project, product, or software.

Is it Hard to Get Into Y Combinator?

Getting into the accelerator program is difficult when you look at the Y Combinator acceptance rate. The Y Combinator acceptance rate is between 1.5% and 2%, and the accelerator gets about 10,000 applications for each of the two funding cycles they organize. Is it about African startups or not? Y Combinator looks out for startups and companies that need funding and support regardless of location.

The difficulty in joining the Y Combinator accelerator program is evident in the number of startups and founders complaining about how their applications have been rejected. Most of the time, according to Y Combinator, the problem with many startups and founders getting disapproved is their inability to communicate what their projects are about and how important they are to the world or the audience they are preparing them for.

A startup’s prospect of joining Y Combinator can be improved when applications are frequent despite rejections. Y Combinator advises startups and founders to continue working on their projects while applying, because when the accelerator sees progress after the application, it improves the chances of the startup getting approved.

Y Combinator Application Deadline

Y Combinator is accepting applications from startups for its winter funding cycle at the time of writing this post. The Y Combinator application deadline for the Winter Cycle is September 12. According to the Y Combinator official website, the deadline is September 12, but they will accept applications until January 19.

It is important to submit applications before the stipulated deadline, as this will give Y Combinator enough time to review your application. It increases your potential for getting approved. When a startup submits their application on or before the Y Combinator application deadline for the Winter Cycle, YC will inform them of their success by November 18.

If you fail to submit before the September 12 deadline, YC will reach out to startups by January 19. A startup has to have an exceptionally great proposal to be accepted at this stage. During consideration, Y Combinator will organize interview sessions and meetings with founders in October, November, and early December.

How to Apply for Y Combinator

Having gone through the Y Combinator requirements and the application deadline, let me walk you through the application process towards becoming a part of the Y Combinator accelerator program. Applying is not difficult as the accelerator attempts to keep the entire process straightforward. To apply for the Y Combinator accelerator process, follow the steps below:

  1. Open your browser and log in to
  2. You will be required to log in if you already have an account or sign up if you are a new member
  3. Registering a Y Combinator account is easy as it only requires your name, email, and a password of your choice
  4. After you complete your registration or log in, you will see a welcome page where you can either apply as a startup, apply as a non-profit, or recommend a startup
  5. When you click apply as a startup, the page loads to the Startup Application Form, which contains 10 sections that provide information on what your startup is about
  6. You will be required to fill up these sections with accurate and concise information about your startup
  7. When you are done filling out the form, you can save the application for later or submit it immediately
  8. If your startup has more than one founder, they can all submit follow-up applications to improve your chances of getting approved.
  9. Combinator will contact you if your application is approved and invite your team for interview sessions.

You will be attending several interviews as you seek to become a Y Combinator startup. It is crucial to know some of the interview questions you will have.

Y Combinator Interview Questions ( Sample)

One of the ways to stand out during your Y Combinator interview sessions is to provide answers to questions quickly and concisely. You would be able to provide the answers Y Combinator partners are looking for when you have an idea of what they may likely ask. This is why we have provided this Y Combinator interview questions sample.

The questions are not completely like this, but the following should give you an idea of what to expect.

Your Market and Value Proposition

  1. What is the market like for what you are offering?
  2. How is your offer better than others in the market?
  3. What are the numbers in your market?
  4. What is the market worth in $B?
  5. What attracts new users to your startup?
  6. What is the competition for your startup?
  7. Which competitor are you scared of the most?
  8. How do you intend to crush the competition?
  9. How does your product work?
  10. Why isn’t someone else doing what you do or are doing?
  11. Are you open to changing your mind?

Your Users

  1. What are your user acquisition strategies?
  2. Why are you confident users will use your product or startup’s offer?
  3. What is your unique selling proposition (USP)?
  4. Why would users be reluctant to try your product or offer?
  5. How do you intend to keep users?

Current Numbers

  1. How many users have you engaged since you established your startup
  2. How many users are actively engaging with your startup?
  3. What is the total revenue of your startup?
  4. What is the total expenditure, including fixed and marginal costs?
  5. What is the customer acquisition cost for your startup?

Founders and Team

  1. Why did you choose the idea?
  2. What makes you confident in the viability of the idea?
  3. Why do you feel you are qualified to handle the project?
  4. What makes the idea worth devoting your time and life too?
  5. What brought the team together?
  6. What are the skills of each team member, and how does it help to achieve the startup’s goals?
  7. How sure are you that the team will stick together?
  8. Who is the main founder?
  9. Who will be the startup’s next hire?

Startup’s Progress

  1. What is the most impressive thing you have done as a startup?
  2. What has been your biggest move so far?
  3. What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
  4. What is the most surprising thing that has happened to or with your startup?

Startup’s Growth Potential

  1. How does your startup hope to make money?
  2. What is your revenue proposition?
  3. How will your startup become a billion-dollar company?
  4. What are your expansion plans?
  5. What will be the employee size?
  6. What will your company’s problem be 6, 12, or 36 months from now?

You would be asked other questions, but the above covers the essential details you should know.

Y Combinator Funding Amount

The Y Combinator funding amount is a fixed $500,000 investment for startups. It is broken down into two parts; the first is a $125,000 investment on a post-money safe in return for 7% equity of a startup. The second part is a $375,000 investment in an uncapped safe with a Most Favored Nation (MFN).

When Y Combinator accepts you into their program, they automatically get 7% equity in your company. The $375,000 investment under the MFN safe is based on the terms of the lowest cap safe issued between the start of the funding round and the company’s next funding round.

This means that Y Combinator will not demand equity or company shares for the $375,000 investment at the time but will agree to whatever terms a founder (or founders) decides after consultations with other investors.

With the Y Combinator funding amount, the accelerator hopes startups will take it as a cue to apply and join the program. This is undoubtedly an encouragement as you would get funding and support from one of the world’s leading accelerator programs.

What Is the Success Rate of Y Combinator?

The success rate of Y Combinator startups is around 9% to 10%, which is based on the fact that Y Combinator released a list of 271 of its most successful startups for 2022. The accelerator has invested in about 3000 companies, and only 271 are the most successful.

The success rate of Y Combinator, as stipulated above, is an assumed figure, but it would not be far from the truth. Being funded by Y Combinator does not guarantee success, and you should not bank on that to determine how successful your company will be.

Is YC Better than Techstars?

YC is better than Techstars. Depending on the expertise and knowledge of the founders of a startup and the level of the startup’s growth, when a startup gets on the YC startup list, it will enjoy more exposure and visibility, higher purchasing power, reliable internal networks, and stronger bonds. The only benefit of working with Techstars over YC is that the former supports startups in finding a pivot for their business.

Does Y Combinator Steal Ideas?

Y Combinator will not steal ideas. The accelerator does not present an NDA when your startup is at its idea stage or about to be established. Investors and partners at Y Combinator do not care how good your idea is and would be uninterested in stealing it.


Y Combinator is a great opportunity for African startups because it is a startup accelerator known to provide extreme value. They are unmatched in the startup industry. The only challenge facing potential applicants is the Y Combinator acceptance rate which puts them out of the reach of startups, not just African startups. The Y Combinator acceptance rate is 2%, meaning only 200 out of the 10,000 companies that apply for a funding cycle get accepted.

This article also discussed the Y Combinator requirements and how to apply for the Y Combinator accelerator program.