Creating Luck

This is Week 05 of 09 of Astra’s Y Combinator Startup School Journal.

Although the lectures for this week were super valuable covering How to Sell and Building an Engineering Team, the focus for us (and many of our fellow YCSUS founders) was really all about the application process for the core program. How to Apply and Succeed at Y Combinator:

The application deadline for YC is this coming Tuesday. Our conversations during our Office Hours sessions and the special Thursday lecture all centered around the what, why, and how of applying. The TL;DR:

  • It’s a simple online form
  • Fill it out, be clear, and don’t obfuscate
  • The program has a ton of benefits and the application itself is a useful exercise

Whether it’s applying to YC or trying to achieve just about anything else, Dalton’s take on luck resonated with us. Luck doesn’t just happen to you. There is a systematic way to create good luck – setting yourself up for as many circumstances to get as lucky as possible. Get those at-bats!

The whole point of YC is that you don't have to network your way in. All you have to do is fill out an application.

Program:

This week we attended the main weekly lectures on Tuesday and our group’s Office Hours on Thursday. Our advisor is holding them Monday – Friday for 30 minutes, so this time there were 6 companies in attendance with us. I thought this smaller group made communication more effective. Aside from those core activities, this week we also:

  • Continued to engage other founders in SUS via the forum, Slack workspaces, and in person
  • Offered a “feedback exchange” with other founders
  • Signed up for a meetup after next week’s lecture for SUS founders located here in the Penninsula
  • Shared our product release and blog updates on the SUS forum

 

Product:

After playing the App Store waiting game for 5 days, our new app version was finally approved and released.

Tip: For each app version you review, include any additional detail that Apple has ever asked for to avoid back and forth resubmissions. For us, this time that was a live demo recorded showing the app in use.

We shared last week what the key motivators were for this update and now that it’s live, we hope we will see some improvement around the onboarding flow. In the meantime, we got to work on development for the next update:

  • Refactored our navigation from react-router-native to react-navigation
  • Added more detailed error messages for views with fields
  • Highlighted the limit in the UI for a maximum per transfer amount of $5,000
  • Defined how we would enable additional bank accounts to be connected to the app – initially, we chose the simplest solution for our MVP but it came with some limitations.

 

Growth:

While we were waiting on the App Store approval, we took the opportunity to make a push on content marketing initiatives. We compiled quite a bit of feedback already on the items that we knew we needed to address, so we optimized for new learning by not pushing too hard on getting some of our current users through the verification process until the new version was available. Along the way, while digging into some of our “Core” data, we found that we had just crossed $10,000 of transfer value in the 4 weeks since launch! Beyond a quick celebration for that milestone, we:

  • Launched the Astra blog officially and shared with our fellow SUS founders
  • Hacker Noon published the Founder Interview  I submitted – thanks for the opportunity, Davis!
  • Udacity published a feature on my experience taking 4.5 Nanodegrees
  • Sent a ton of emails after the new app version was available on Saturday to follow up with our existing users and those we’d queued up to try it out

Per our refined dashboard, this week’s user stats:

  • 214 Total Users (+19)
  • 201 Signed Up Users (+19)
  • 80 Onboarded Users (+16)
  • 48 Verified Users (+10 or 26%)

Follow along with our progress by subscribing to our mailing list.

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