• Anchal Taatya

Y Combinator Interview W2020 experience: Circles

Updated: Nov 12, 2019

We were honestly very excited (and terribly nervous!) about the interview. We knew it was a long shot but wanted it to give it our best shot. So, what followed were long days of preparation, focused on getting our pitch just right.

We arrived at Meesho office in Bengaluru, India, around 2 hours before our interview slot. We thought reaching early would ease our nerves, and we kinda felt over-prepared before the interview, as we had followed all the regular advice floating around on the internet from YC alums. We also noticed that APAC startups were invited for interview to India and we only saw startups which had at least launched.


- We read a ton of blogs for YC interview prep. Below is a list of the ones we found especially useful:

1. https://www.aptible.com/blog/y-combinator

2. https://www.atrium.co/blog/yc-interview-guide/

3. https://hackernoon.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-ycombinator-interview-preparation-8372628154c3

- We did mock interviews with YC alums, our flatmate (who was as excited as we were) and an acquaintance in the startup world.

- We prepared answers for all questions listed on YC’s interview prep blog, practiced and iterated based on our mock interviews.

.. and Dilemmas:

- We spent a lot of time preparing for the interview. While investing all this time in prep, we debated if we should be spending this time in improving our product, talking to more users, but we still ended up prioritising YC interview prep.

- Our guess is that you should probably figure out the right balance for yourself. Do not spend more than a couple of hours a day.

The Interview:

- It was nothing like what we had expected or faced during any of our mocks. Adora, Nic and Laura interviewed us. Everything between the start of the timer and when it rang after 10 mins is a blur.

- Opening question, What is your company working on?

Ans: Circles is like uber for credit and debit cards. We match users looking for any card to cardholders willing to complete transaction. For example: When shopping online, If you don’t own a credit card or looking for a specific credit card with a great discount such as Bank of America then you use Circles.

We launched 3 months back, bootstrapped with 3000 sign ups, 60 transactions and USD 15000 GMV growing at 90% MOM...

- In our case, we are solving a problem which hasn’t been solved anywhere else and we are opening up a new market. We didn’t anticipate that they would spend a lot of time (and they were absolutely right to!) on understanding how the solution works now and how will it work at scale and how do you validate market size of a new market which hasn’t existed before.

- Our conversation with other startups was also around the same theme, they felt that the interview was tough and depending on their company and stage, volley of questions would change. But primarily the focus was on problem and market size and how much could you make.

We have to wait for a week for results, fingers crossed. Until then, we are left taking notes from the interview to see what we did right and, more importantly, what we did wrong.

Not that we have priceless opinions but if you ever want to poke us about the whole experience, do write to Anchal Taatya or Abhiram Nukalapati. We'd be happy to help in whichever way we can!

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Circles by two IIMA graduates and winner of GC Mital Entrepreneurship Award in 2019

GC Mital Entrepreneurship Award

Circles incubated and registered office at CIIE

IIMAvericks startup

 Email Us: founders@circlesway.com   |   Tel: 7704000453

Ideapad, CIIE Building, IIM Ahmedabad New Campus, Vastrapur, Ahmedabad - 380015

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