How YCombinator Solves The ‘Credentials Trap’ ProblemDecember 22, 2012 5:00 am
Chris Dixon wrote about this very dangerous problem called the ‘credentials trap’ – basically it is the fact that we are used to getting external validation for most of our career moves – this is how he states it:
“But optimizing for external validation is a dangerous trap. You’re fighting over a fixed pie against well-credentialed peers”
Part of his post is based on a thought from Jessica Livingston, who made this interesting observation during her talk at Startup school:
“What you don’t realize until you start a startup is how much external validation you’ve gotten for the conservative choices you’ve made in the past. You go to college and everyone says, “Great!” Then you graduate get a job at Google and everyone says, “Great!”
What do you think people say when you quit your job to start a company to rent out airbeds?”
Getting into a structured program like YC solves that problem for you. It is an option that did not exist few years back. That is huge. The fact that “I am doing YC” fits into that group of statements (“I am going to college”, “I got a job at Google”) is huge for someone with an idea and is actually taking a risk. It has taken years for YC to get to this point, but right now it is a risk reduction and odds improvement engine. And that changes perceptions. Lets say, if 1 out of 10 people with an idea would have pursued it in 2004, now, maybe 3 out of 10 would. You get the idea.
A program like YC helps you get the best of both worlds – it essentially proves that credentials and risk need not be mutually exclusive. It might be an unintended impact – but in a lot of ways, making “I am doing YC” not something weird – that is huge, and is a heavily underrated impact of YC overall.