Snapchat has come a long way since its origins as an app for the saucy and surreptitious. There may be no greater evidence of its maturation than the fact that between May 23rd and 26th, you could be pitching your startup to Y Combinator using the app to win $20,000 in funding.
The contest is an initiative of Justin Kan, a Y Combinator fellow. Along with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk and Mark Suster, the serial entrepreneur has been responsible for showing the Silicon Valley community how Snapchat can be used for more than just exchanging selfies. Now he’s giving back to his followers (or his “Snapfam”) by putting a Y Combinator Fellowship (YCF) and $20,000 up for grabs.
You can apply to participate in the competition via this online form. Anyone can apply – from people who have half-baked ideas to startups that have a fully developed product; the latter have a higher chance of winning, but you never know. The last date to send your entry in is May 19.
Kan will vet the entries with help from Y Combinator Managing Partner Kevin Hale and members of the the Y Combinator Fellowship committee. Once finalists have been selected, each will be given a chance to take over Kan’s Snapchat for an hour to pitch. During that period, they can pitch their idea/startup to the folks at Y Combinator and Kan’s followers using a series of Snapchat Stories.
The Y Combinator team will give their feedback on each of the pitches. They will also be posted online and opened for voting to the Snapchat community. The number of votes each startup gets will be taken into consideration. The competition isn’t, however, a popularity contest; the final decision will be made by the Y Combinator Fellowship committee. There’s a chance that more than one startup is selected if there are multiple impressive entries.
Being declared the top startup doesn’t automatically earn the winners the prize money – what’s actually at stake here is the chance to interview with the Y Combinator Fellowship team;“The top startup will get an interview for YCF for a potential $20,000 investment.”
Justin Kan himself is no stranger to pitching startups and working through incubators. The serial entrepreneur was part of Y Combinator’s first batch in 2005 for Kiko Calendar. He got a second run at the accelerator with Justin.tv, which is what eventually became Twitch.
Y Combinator’s Fellowship program is an 8-week stint with the incubator for early-stage startups. Ventures are given $20,000 in exchange for 1.5% equity. The equity translates to shares only if the startup IPOs or gets valuated at $100M or more. Kan hasn’t mentioned if the winning startup(s) from the Snapchat contest will be absorbed into the YC 2016 Summer batch, which is currently accepting applications.