Justin Kan

YC Partner and I started some companies.

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Snapchat Pitches

This week we ran a pitch competition for YC Fellowship on Snapchat. We tried this out as an experiment to reach more founders; when we came up with the idea for the competition we weren’t sure how well it would work. I’m pretty pleased with the results: we got over 400 applications to pitch on my channel, and overall the founders selected did a great job explaining their business and being engaging. We’ve also gotten a lot of positive feedback from the audience that people have learned from both the pitches and the feedback we gave the founders afterwards. Overall, the founders seemed to have a lot of fun with it.

We are reposting the pitches below. For the next 24 hours, you can vote for your favorite by screenshotting their name on my Snapchat Story. After taking into account audience voting, we’ll announce who the contest winner is this weekend.

Follow me on snapchat to vote!

DAY

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Snapchat Pitch Competition

For the past four months I’ve been experimenting with Snapchat. It’s a pretty fun medium: low friction enough to easily create content, but dynamic enough to share things that are educational and entertaining. Since then, I have been actively sharing startup advice on my channel and (hopefully) inspiring young entrepreneurs.

Today we are launching a new entrepreneurship experiment on my Story: a Snapchat takeover pitch competition. Select startups will be invited to make a pitch through my Snapchat channel to myself, Kevin Hale and the Y Combinator Fellowship team. The top startup will get an interview for YCF for a potential $20,000 investment.

How will this work? Companies will apply for the competition. We will select a group of finalists to take over my Snapchat channel. Each company will pitch us and my Snapfam through a series of Stories. We will give feedback on the pitches and

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UX/UI Designer Wanted for The Artist Union

The Artist Union is working! We are helping fans discover artists, and artists connect with and make money off their fans. So far over 20,000 artists have published music on our platform (and we’re growing fast!).

So far we’ve designed the site and mobile apps ourselves. We’re looking for a UX/UI designer to come help us take the AU to the next level. 🚀

This probably starts off as a contract job for the moment, but could turn into something more.

If you’re interested, please email ranidu@theartistunion.com with a portfolio of work.

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Job Post: Media Relations and Snap God

Justin.tv was nine years too early.

After learning about Snapchat Stories, I’ve become obsessed with Snapchat. As a social tool, it fulfills a need outside of messaging (1-1 and group communication) and Facebook / Twitter / Instagram (social validation). As a platform, I think Snapchat is on the tipping point of going mainstream.

I love putting my random adventures in travel, startups and entrepreneurship on my Snapchat Story. It’s led to a lot of positive feedback and serendipitous interactions. So, after discussing this with a few people and not coming up with any good reasons not to do it, I’ve decided to restart Justin.tv as a Snapchat channel.

I’m looking for someone to help me do it. You will:

  • Film stuff from an iPhone
  • Work on ideas to promote and grow our channel
  • Generate ideas for fresh content
  • Help The Artist Union and other startups I’ve invested in generate press ideas

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Why I love Snapchat

When I first heard about Snapchat, it sounded like a toy. That should have been the first warning. Exploding photos, good for sexting. I tried it, mostly for industry research purposes, found the UI confusing, saw I had very few friends active, felt old, and then didn’t open it for two years.

In October 2013, Snapchat added the Stories feature, allowing anyone to send a snap (photo or video) to their own linear channel called their Story. In order to view a channel for a friend you have to:

  • Specifically tap on your friend
  • You can tap to skip through a photo or video
  • Each photo or video has a 24 hour window it is viewable, and then it disappears

When I first tried stories I didn’t get it either. I didn’t really understand what it was for (or even how it worked), and I wasn’t friends with anyone who was posting any stories. Two years later, I opened Snapchat again, after hearing about

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The 99% (of startups)

Little known secret: nine months before we sold Twitch for $970mm, I tried to sell some of my shares in a secondary transaction at less than a fifth of that price – and I was turned down by every VC I asked.

This is for all the founders who know they have built something that people want, but the rest of the world hasn’t recognized it yet. There is a tremendous amount of excitement about the top 1% of startups, but there are hundreds if not thousands more startups that will make their founders and investors rich. Sometimes the startup ecosystem can seem like it is entirely Uber and Airbnb, but there are lots of great businesses and lots of big waves that are just getting started. Press stories and mega-rounds of funding are lagging indicators; trust your numbers and growth to give yourself confidence in the face of rejection.

Watching people play video games is a niche” is now “I’m in

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Three stories

It’s easy to recall the things that went well during your startup. Here are three stories about times when things weren’t going so well.


In the first two years of Justin.tv’s existence, we had a bus number of 1: Emmett was the only person who knew how the application servers worked, likewise Bill for the chat servers and Kyle for the video system. Because we worked pretty much all the time, this was deemed an acceptable situation (we had bigger problems, for example: having no revenue and a very unstable product).

Because we were young and terrible managers, we had an “unlimited vacation” policy, which translated into passively discouraging people from taking vacation. Still, some people knew their limits and took some time off, including my cofounder, Kyle, who one weekend planned a trip to Tahoe.

Key people leaving on weekends was always scary to us because weekends were always

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Survive and Thrive

This is an excerpt from the introduction I give to my group at Y Combinator at our orientation before each batch begins.

Several years ago my my cofounder Michael and I were recalling the early days of Justin.tv when he made a memorable observation to me: “Isn’t it funny that we knew so many geniuses back then?”

Michael was referring to the group of us founders that all lived in the same apartment building, called Crystal Towers, in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. After we had moved in to work on Justin.tv in October of 2006, we were quickly followed by a slew of other YC founders, including those of Reddit, Dropbox, Disqus, Weebly and Scribd. The founders were all attracted by the community and because the apartments were leased month-to-month and came furnished. The founders in our early group were all close, and most went on to create companies worth hundreds of millions

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Announcing the Artist Union iOS app

We are excited to announce our new free iOS app for the Artist Union. You can download it here.

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Fun with Magic

Over the past month I’ve been using Magic, the text for anything service, more extensively. Being able to fire off job requests and get them easily outsourced is a service I’ve always wanted to exist – so badly so that several years go I started Exec to do exactly that. Magic improves on Exec: it still uses human operators to do your task, but they are in a call center and outsource to other companies for real world operations, solving some of the problems we had around how to maximize utilization when your operators have to be in the real world.

Now that I’ve used Magic for a while, I wanted to share some of the more interesting things I’ve gotten the service to do. A fairly simple one: some of my friends and I were making a DJ set of trap music for a party, and wanted some more songs:

justin-kan-trap.jpg

That was pretty cool. A few weeks ago I wanted to change my flight, but Virgin America wouldn’t

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