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Thematic is taking part in YCombinator!

Alyona Medelyan
Alyona Medelyan

We are excited to announce that Thematic is taking part in the Summer 2017 batch at YCombinator, a Platinum Plus tier U.S. startup accelerator according to Forbes, which has produced deca-unicorns like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe.

Thematic + YCombinator: How it all happened

In March 2017, we applied for YCombinator’s online course Startup School. Out of 50,000 applicants, they chose a few thousand, including us. This experience was valuable. We loved the accountability, the focus on metrics, as well as the problem-solving. Towards the end, our mentor encouraged us to apply for the real thing: the summer batch of YCombinator in California. Only around 100 companies are selected to take part in this program. While the chances were slim, we placed our bets, and here we are!

We’ve now spent 2 months in the heart of Silicon Valley. The experience has been incredible: Every aspect of our business has visibly improved and we’ve learned a huge amount from the best of the best. Thematic grew 3 times and has now customers such as ManpowerGroup, Stripe, Air New Zealand, Vodafone, and Ableton. And, we are the only company in the batch that signed up YCombinator itself as a customer.

Not your usual Silicon Valley story

This is special because Thematic is not a classic Silicon Valley startup. Our story does not fit the usual pattern of two Stanford grads coming up with an idea, getting angel investment, assembling a team, then racing to product-market-fit before the money runs out.

First, the founders are 30 plus parents with two young kids (one and four) and a sizeable mortgage who live on “the other side of the world”, in New Zealand.

Second, we did not raise any money. We’ve bootstrapped into significant profitability by having a highly-efficient tiny team of just the two full-time founders, with some part-time contractors.

And third, we are two engineers who sell to large enterprises – typically a recipe for disaster, but our sales cycle is counted in weeks, instead of months.

Thematic at YCombinator
Thematic at YCombinator

We are very proud of our achievements and are also grateful for the supportive ecosystem in our home country. New Zealand is the easiest place in the world to start and run a business. The government fosters innovation through R&D grants, of which we received two since the initial idea, resulting in technology recognized by others as world-class.

Being so far away from everywhere else means that we needed to compete internationally from day one, rather than relying on personal networks. The kiwi lifestyle of beaches and barbecues made the start-up grind easy to bear. Last but not least, our friends and family also have been a huge support.

YCombinator continues for another couple of weeks culminating in Demo Day. We have got great things to show and are excited about what’s coming next.


Alyona Medelyan

Alyona is one of the founders of Thematic. Her love of writing comes from spending years of publishing papers during her PhD. She believes customer feedback should be top of mind at every company.