Y Combinator, the mother of tech accelerators, says it is not planning to run its three-month YC program anywhere but Mountain View, but it is definitely starting to look further afield. Today YC announced that it would start running its Startup School, its one-day networking event, in cities outside of the Valley, starting first with New York and London.
“If we only focus on the U.S. we miss maybe 95% of the best founders,” said Sam Altman, who took over as the head of YC earlier this year from Paul Graham, elaborating on the news on stage at TC Disrupt in New York today. “It’s a big [request] to ask some kid to fly to the Bay Area.”
The New York event will be taking place next month, on June 18, and the London event will be on July 26. Startup School is “a free, one-day event where you’ll hear stories and practical advice from founders and investors. They’ll tell you how they got started, what went wrong, what surprised them, and what happened as their companies grew.” (Deadlines to attend are May 20 and June 20, respectively.)
This is less a revenue generator (it’s free) than it is a big marketing effort for YC. Altman today admitted today on stage, after questioning from Michael Arrington, that YC has a kind of monopoly on accelerator mindshare at the moment; and as the most selective program in terms of how many apply and get admitted, the very choicest pick of the startup litter.
But at the same time, the growing position of tech in our world has resulted in an explosion of startups and accelerators, not all of whom feel that the center of the universe is based in Silicon Valley. Led by Dave McClure, 500 Startups has made huge efforts to extend into lots of different countries via its Geeks on a Plane initiative and microfunds for specific markets.
At the same time, TechStars has also been expanding its footprint to other countries, and Microsoft is among those leading among corporate accelerators with operations across Europe, Israel, India and the U.S. so far.
Y Combinator has always had been open to getting startups from outside of the U.S. involved in its program. Companies like Songkick and Go Cardless (both based in London) are among those who have moved from strength to strength.
In the last batch it had founders from some 22 countries. And we’ve heard that it’s already accepted three startups from France for its next batch. “Every year we see an increasing number of international applicants,” YC wrote earlier today.