Y Combinator announced the YC fellowship program earlier this week.
YC Fellows will receive a $12,000 grant and advice from the YC community for 8 weeks (from mid-September to mid-November) to go from an idea to a startup. Fellows need an idea or a prototype and the ability to work on this full-time for 8 weeks.
If you are unfamiliar, Y Combinator is a seed investment firm targeting startup companies. The combined market capitalization of all the firms YC has invested in is over $30B.
I have replicated the YC fellowship application questions here on my blog. (Keep in mind there are 120 word limits on every question.) Below are my answers where I outline a company called Assure.
What is your company going to make?
This company provides benefits to employees of the sharing economy.
Independent contractors miss out of the benefits that come with full-time employment. Assure changes this.
Assure bridges the gap between full-time employee and independent contractor. Assure provides retirement contributions, medical insurance, and general liability insurance to members of the sharing economy.
In two sentences, say the most impressive thing about this team / startup.
I want to do something important. I want to create something of value.
Please tell us in one or two sentences about the most impressive thing that each founder has built or achieved.
I dropped out of college when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. A month later I was hired full-time as a web developer with skills I taught myself.
Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you’re making?
A lot of my peers are oblivious to the benefits that come from being a full-time employee. (Something I have learned only recently after being hired full-time). Retirement contributions (401k), medical/dental insurance, and general liability insurance are the three areas I have a touch of experience in.
The sharing economy is expanding. A large number of jobs are tied to this industry. That number will continue rising.
Assure provides the safety and security employees need to maintain the growth of the peer to peer sector.
What’s new about what you’re making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)?
Providing benefits to employees who are independent contractors is not new.
Currently a contractor at Uber has scattered benefits. They have an IRA for retirement savings. Then, general liability insurance to protect their interests while working. And finally medical and dental insurance from their parents.
Assure brings these three interests together. Contractors wish to legitimize their employment. They will turn to Assure when they want their retirement contributions matched. When they want more protective liability insurance. Or when they turn 27 and no longer qualify for their parents medical coverage.
Who are your competitors, and what do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?
Companies that hire full-time employees are competitors. As are insurance companies that cover individuals.
Companies that hire full-time employees limit potential customers. While Insurance companies provide similar coverage to what we offer.
Our competitors are too slow to adapt to the sharing economy. Assure is agile enough to adapt as the peer to peer employment market grows.
How will you get users? How do or will you make money? How does this become a giant company?
Assure must educate people to turn them into users. Assure must provide information that allows millennials to see the value of working in a sharing economy while also receiving traditional full-time benefits. There is a knowledge gap.
Assure collects monthly premiums from members. Premiums are aggregated and invested. Profit is made from investment income, not premiums.
Assure is a component of the sharing economy. Employment opportunities are changing. Workers in this new economy will want benefits, Assure makes sure that happens.
Applications for the YC Fellowship are due by Monday, July 27th, two days from the time this post was published.
If you have feedback, please share it. I would appreciate hearing it before I press the submit button on Monday!