What questions can I expect from investors when pitching them my idea, and where can I find the resources for those answers?


I've just applied to Y Combinator and was wondering what kind of questions I might be asked and where/how I should research to know the answers.

Pitch Investors

asked Oct 17 '11 at 11:11
11 points
Get up to $750K in working capital to finance your business: Clarify Capital Business Loans
  • They don't offer any advice? – Jeff O 13 years ago
  • Are you referring to the questions asked during the in-person interview portion of the YC application process? – Zuly Gonzalez 13 years ago

3 Answers


Expect the usual set of "devils advocate" style questions.

You will likely be asked for information on competitors/competitive options (and don't say "none", there is always SOME alternative).

You will likely be asked what makes you a domain expert on the product/service you are proposing. How you expect to scale, what does it take to be profitable, how will the company grow, and so on.

Also, rumor has it that YC is very big on demos, you should be prepared to demo your concept in some way. Ideally on at last a bare-bones implementation, but if not on something more real than simply "slide-ware".

The interviewers may also want some background info on you. How you got "here", cool/significant things you have done, what makes YOU the person to invest in (remember, they are investing in You/the team far more than just the idea).

There is also many helpful blog posts online from other interviewees.

answered Oct 18 '11 at 03:34
Brian Karas
3,407 points


Your question is a little unclear. I'm assuming you're asking about the questions the YC folks will ask during the interview phase. I think the best way to prepare for that is to watch Paul Graham in action with other startups.

Paul Graham and Harj Taggar recently held a public session of their famous Office Hours at TechCrunch Disrupt. This is the second time they've done this. The goal was to reproduce the sessions they hold with the startups who participate in Y Combinator. PG spoke with six startup founders to flesh out their ideas, ask probing questions as he tried to figure out what they were setting out to do, and what they might need to change.

You should watch these two videos (video 1 , video 2 ). It's interesting to see how quickly PG can think through problems, and figure out what are the right questions to ask. He's not looking to stump you. He's just trying to determine how much potential your startup has.

In addition to watching these videos, make sure you have a demo ready. Also, look to the YC application as a guide. My experience is that they will revisit some of the questions on the application.

As a bonus, I would also recommend listening to Smart Bear Live, which is Jason Cohen's version of PG's office hours. The first two podcasts are available online (episode 1 , episode 2 ).

answered Oct 18 '11 at 16:58
Zuly Gonzalez
9,194 points


Keep in mind that there's a reason why you get asked those questions. No one is trying to stump you. There is no right way to answer question X. The answers to the questions are important for you to be able to articulate if you are going to be the founder of a company. You need to be confident and build their trust that you passionate about your customer and understand the market. If you don't know then say so, nothing turns away and investor quicker than the BS meter going off.

answered Oct 19 '11 at 01:27
Lean Starter
46 points

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Pitch Investors