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The Y Combinator Application – A Short Story

Applications are more than self appraisals, they are those little time-bombs which when opened by the recipient, can make or break one’s life, magical or sinister, depending on one’s luck that day.

And luck of Karan Singh seems like that old thatched roof on a July night at Harmal, which has no strength of its own and getting blown in the direction, from where the strong one is coming from…

Karan had apply again to You Combinator, world’s best Startup accelerator, about a month back.

The last time he applied at YC, as You Combinator is popularly known as, was two and half years back. A lot has changed in his life, except for the fact that, he was still running solo.

In startup parlance, he was still without a co-founder.

Bordering on sin, it is an unforgiven folly. There is no hopes for DELTAS!

It was not as if Karan did not agree with the philosophy of MUST-HAVE-A-COFOUNDER, he had himself experience the disaster of not having one, earlier. But then fools, die hard and one does not give up trying, just because he or she does not have a co-founder; he always told himself.

He had spent almost 9 months working on this new idea, 7 of those working for free in a startup of same domain. That was his way of learning, doing things, living as he called!

And as two months back, when he clicked that button, loudly calling him “APPLY”, he was already sure of what would be the result of that application, some 50 or 60 days letter. He would open the much awaited email and it would say, “ Thank you for applying to Y Combinator…”

It would be the same familiar words, which were there in the email received by him some two and half years ago…

That time he was deeply anxious about the outcome of his application, more anxious than all of his past anxieties, of all other exams put together.

For him, YC was the mother of all exams!

He was broke at that time, had just lost his father to cancer and also a well-fought battle of startups which raged for more than 4 years. A successful outcome would have meant that he could start a new life, bereft of past losses with hope and enthusiasm.

Deep within he did not believe as much in the idea on which he has sent his application, as on the belief that he deserved that, after all that which he has been through.

Karan Singh was on a runaway vacation at that time, living in Goa on strict shoe-string budget from borrowed money, with a job offer in hand.

So not all was lost exactly, if he would have not been successful at YC, he could join that job, but that would also meant doing things, which he would not enjoy and being with people, with whom he would not want to be or rather avoid; all this at the expense of false security.

He still remembers it, it was either 28th or 29th October. He was at Anjuna in Goa. At San Francisco morning time, he came to this sea-side restaurant which had Free WiFi and ordered a pint of Kingfisher beer, the cheapest one available. He had no smartphone, having to sell of his BlackBerry and buy a cheaper Nokia feature phone earlier.

He was acquainted with a guy who had a laptop and would frequent this restaurant almost every evening. He had always seen him sitting over there, while going for his dinner walks.

The guy came in and he went over and politely told him about this one email, that must check, it was all that he wanted to do on that laptop and would not take more than two minutes. The guy agreed.

He logged in to his Gmail account and there it was… an email with the subject line “Your Y Combinator Application”, the subject line was definitely chosen carefully, which at first glance, does not give any indication, whether you have made it or screwed it.

Perhaps it was done, so as not to give the weak hearts a heavy jolt; whether one makes it or screws it in a YC application, everyone gets a jolt!

Karan opened the email and his heart sank within some 4 seconds. Those words he could now remember for the rest of his life “Thank you for applying to Y Combinator; however, your startup was not selected to interview for the upcoming Y Combinator batch.”

There was no use reading ahead, he logged out and returned the laptop with a sad smile. And as if on a cue, the restaurant manager put on a slow and “definitely sad” Konkani songs playlist, the ones which are played in late afternoon or evening.

YC applicants don’t receive individual feedback, but he knew the reason, he was a DELTA.

The email had urged him to apply again and he resolved that he would be once more brave. He would apply again…

But he could not see, when?

He decided to devote the rest of the night, when he would be able to apply again? He looked towards the sea, there was not even a single spec of light out there on that winter evening; as if all the fishermen had also applied to YC for W14 batch and they were also drowning their disappointment somewhere, like him.

He thought, he could work for some time, save some amount of money and be brave, quit the job and work again on an idea.

But then, he was emotionally, almost a wreck, nothing had gone right in those last four years, and he decided that he would stop living and for a change would rather exist.

Living , as he had experience was emotionally a very difficult and arduous task and he had done his time.

No more being DELTA, time to join the Junta; he thought!

That night as Karan borrowed some money for himself, from himself of the next day’s quota and drank himself to Seagram’s Imperial Blue and it’s punch-line, “Men will be men”; he slurred “Men like me would always be, men like me!”

Two and half years later, he is neither wiser or saner in the traditional sense, but definitely calmer.

Today is the result day to see who is more courageous and brave; a guy who after losing everything, re-applies working 9 months on that idea or it is Your Combinator, shutting him out once again for being a DELTA?

18th April, calm like usual for Karan Singh, because now he knows the certainty which is going to arrive in that email from San Francisco, and also the certainty, which would follow that certainly…

Yes, he would apply again

Not sure when, but he would apply again. He would continue to be brave and strive to live, rather than exist. Men like him would always be men like him…

The email notification pops up, this is it…

He opened the email, as he closed his thoughts; “Thank you for applying to Y Combinator, however , your startup…”

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