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How to Get Into Y Combinator: Look Like Mark Zuckerberg

Paul Graham at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 in San Francisco
Paul Graham at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 in San FranciscoPhotograph by Araya Diaz/Getty Images

This week’s New York Times Magazine feature on Y Combinator and Paul Graham has a wealth of detail on how the startup accelerator preps entrepreneurs to pitch their companies at demo day. Reporter Nathaniel Rich also gets a look at Graham’s effort to diagnose his own biases:

When I talk to people about why women and minorities are underrepresented in VC-backed startups, I hear this all the time: Investors are looking for entrepreneurs who look like Mark Zuckerberg. Blip.tv co-founder Dina Kaplan told me exactly that in a 2010 interview: “There’s an expectation that the next Mark Zuckerberg will look like Mark Zuckerberg.” People usually mean this in the broader sense: that investors look at young white men differently than they look at entrepreneurs with different demographic profiles.