How YC founders talk to users

How YC founders talk to users

Y Combinator’s most core advice to founders is to always talk to users while building the product.

But in practice, talking to users can get tricky. To share some of that YC secret sauce, I surveyed YC founders about how they do it.

YC founders talk to users daily. 

We at Kraftful certainly do! Along with 60% of the YC founders that I surveyed. As a benchmark, I also surveyed product builders (founders and PMs) outside the YC community on the same topic and found that most of them (88%) talk with users weekly rather than daily. No surprise there. We’re YC founders, of course we will talk with users often 😉

In fact, while already speaking to users very often, YC founders still wish they did it more and to an even broader audience: 

“I wish it was easier to prompt for feedback without being annoying” Adit Abraham, Reducto AI

“Talking to users at all stages of the intention ladder would be best— it's easy to only have video calls with the most motivated users of your software, meaning the users that might require the lightest experience actually have the hardest time being heard.” BB, RenderNet

“We respond to users as quickly as possible, sometimes even within minutes of their email. Our goal is to delight users even when there are bugs that arise.” Tim Qin, Roame

Video calls are most common

Most YC founders connect with users via video calls. But social media, in-person meetings, and emails are also common. 

Interestingly, in-app chat is much more popular with non-YC product builders (38%). Personally, I found that surprising because as founder I spend a lot of time chatting with users in Intercom, whereas when I previously was a PM only support had access to chatting with users.

Personally, I do a mix of all of these communication channels and also spend a lot of time talking with users in Intercom. At Kraftful, we connect our Google Meet calls, Intercom chats, support emails, and social media DMs to Kraftful, to summarize and create a repository of user feedback. 

Generally, YC founders will talk with users wherever they can:

“We talk to current users on Slack. That's what is working with most teams. If they don't use Slack, we do email, or whatever they prefer. Now, to configure the product, sessions are in video, of course. In-person would be ideal, but would slow down operations. To talk to prospects and the community, we use Linkedin and Discord.” Javi Palafox, Happyrobot

“Being able to combine feedback from all the different places where we interact with our customers would be extremely helpful. This might also include adding additional notes after meeting people in-person.” Vlad Matsiiako, Infisical

YC founders get feedback on a mix of topics

Most YC founders report that they mostly get general feedback from users. But they often also hear about feature requests, bug reports, and (less commonly) usability issues. 

That data really resonates with what I’ve seen. General feedback, feature requests, and bug reports are more common. Whereas, usability issues are communicated indirectly when users ask about an existing feature in Intercom or if I have users screen share and walk me through their user experience on a video call.

“Paying users provide any type of feedback, from bugs to new features.” Javi Palafox, Happyrobot

“Our users are great, and they are rooting for us. I really appreciate that, but sometimes it means that they give us feedback about what they think will help us succeed with other companies in addition to or instead of what they personally want or need at their company. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.” Jake Stein, Common Paper

Shoutout to

Adit Abraham, Reducto AI

BB, RenderNet

Tim Qin, Roame

Javi Palafox, Happyrobot

Vlad Matsiiako, Infisical

Jake Stein, Common Paper

Kevin Wu, Downtobid

David Phillips, Fondo

Emmie Chang, Citron Labs

Zack Swafford, Dart

Shen, Coldreach

Jed White, Andi Search

One Chowdhury, Octolane

Brenden Ashworth, Bunting Labs

Yi Zhang, Relari

Mathias Nestler, AccessOwl

Harrison Telyan, Numi

Jake Ruth, Stock Unlock

Luigi La Corte, Provision

Abdullah, DraftAid

Aakash, Wyndly

Kartik Donepudi, Quill

For the input.

For a brief overview of how I created the AI-generated survey that I used to learn more about how YC founders talk with users, here’s a quick YouTube video.

Innovative teams use Kraftful to engage users & boost revenue.


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