There have been many views about life post-COVID-19 and many have argued that remote work will be embraced more broadly. Just as companies and employees are preparing to adopt this, startups and accelerators are not left out.
The prestigious YCombinator has announced that it will be moving its accelerator program for the next batch of startups, S20, to a fully remote format.
This will be the first time the program will be done full virtual and according to the accelerator’s CEO, Micheal Seibel, the move is necessary following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have decided to run the S20 batch remotely because, amid the COVID-19 crises, the safety of founders and YC staff is our top priority,” says Micheal Seibel, CEO, Y Combinator.
According to the accelerator, the whole process for the next cohort will be virtual. The entire final interview process for selection will be done remotely. Same also, office hours, evening talks and the respective meetups throughout the batch will be done over video conferencing.
Although it wasn’t stated, Demo Day could also be a virtual event, just like it was for the last cohort.
Startups in the last cohort had the option to defer an onstage launch until a later Demo Day, an option that may not be available for startups in the Summer batch.
The final month of its Winter program (W20) batch, the last cohort, was entirely online. As such, the accelerator is hoping its experience from that event as well as that of its last 15 years, will produce a great remote batch.
The seed money startup accelerator provides actual support and mentoring at the YCombinator 2 weeks accelerator program as well as a seed funding of $120,000 for 7% equity. The startup has so far launched over 2,000 companies including an ample number of Nigerian startups like Flutterwave, Paystack, 54Gene, BuyPower, Helium Health, Tizeti and several others.
While this move to go virtual might not affect the basic offerings startups receive from the accelerator, it might affect other areas such as networking. Virtual sessions make networking harder, and this is one of the big benefits of an accelerator program for startups, especially a prestigious one like Y Combinator.
Also, the familiarity and human-to-human connection between mentors and the startups which are needed to better help startups identify their competencies and knowledge gaps might not really exist.
Also, since there’s a chance that there’s no physical Demo day, this eliminates the easy access to in-person introductions startup founders have with VCs and industry stakeholders who are always at such events.
Nevertheless, startups and accelerators like Y Combinator will have to adapt and find suitable options to augment these benefits that founders might miss out on.