I originally wrote this method out in 2017 while working with a small group of interviewees for the W2018 batch. Since then it’s been read thousands of times, and I personally know many teams who have been accepted after using these ideas in their preparation. The old version was starting to age a bit, so I think now, just before interviews for the W2021 batch, is a good moment to refresh it. I’ve added some new material, revised some of the dated bits, and added some pandemic-era specific advice. Enjoy!

My startup was accepted to YCombinator in April 2014, on our third application and third interview in two years. In that period, through our failures, successes, and a whole lot of talking to successful interviewees, we developed an interview preparation method that I think is quite good. Over the years I’ve taught this method to dozens of other interviewees with a high success rate. …

Lots of people have said this already, but I think I wanted to summarize a bit.

I was really excited when I heard there was a new Picard show coming out. I’ve been feeling for the past few years that the future just keeps looking more and more bleak, and what culture could really use was a positive vision, like we had in the 90s with Star Trek. Something that was part-escapism, part-challenge to us to be better, offering a positive vision for what humanity could look like in a few hundred years if we all just come together and figure it out. …

I spent a few hours last week working with the riding-by-riding data from the last Canadian election. I found lots I could write about. In fact, for a relatively small dataset (essentially 338 rows of 5 numbers each), it seemed like almost every angle I took on this data told me something I hadn’t known before. Sometimes this was putting a surprising number to well-known phenomenon (like Conservative dominance in Alberta), but other times it was an entirely new fact I hadn’t guessed. I’ve laid out just a few simple results below.

About half the effort of this was first finding the right data in the maze of Elections Canada’s website, and then converting it to a format that was simple to use. I have no idea why they had to make it so difficult, so I’ve left the data in this github repo along with all the code used to generate these results and visualizations in this post. …

We’re two days from the 43rd Canadian Federal Election and everyone is starting to make their final decisions. I’ve thought a lot about this over the last three months, talked directly with two candidates, and volunteered with one, so I thought I’d write down some of my own thinking in the hopes it can help inform others. I’m convinced that Mike Morrice is the best pick in our riding. Here’s five reasons why.

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1. The race in Kitchener Centre is Green vs. Liberal

There is a lot of talk about strategic voting to avoid a Conservative government in this election. The good news is, Kitchener Centre is one place where you don’t have to worry about that and can vote your conscience. Although Kitchener used to be held by Stephen Woodworth, an arch-conservative, the redistricting in 2011 moved most of his voters out of the area, and he doesn’t have a big enough base here anymore to win. …

In a past life I ran Tinker, the top cryptocurrency trading company of the mid-2010s. We traded billions of dollars worth of bitcoin and other currencies, and frequently topped 20% of all trading in the markets. The technology we built is now open source as part of the Gryphon Trading Framework, but many of the lessons from those years were not code, and are broadly applicable across many domains.

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Taking risks in a domain with catastrophic events. To win, you have to survive. Code for this simulation at the bottom.

The goal of Tinker was to build the Goldman Sachs of the blockchain-future, and our thesis was good. Granting that cryptocurrencies would be the next medium of finance, we’d start out with an early lead in market making, use that edge to expand into other investment products as the market grew, and by the time the traditional investment banks caught on to the game, we’d be too entrenched to beat. …

My startup was accepted to YC in April 2014, on our third application and third interview in two years. We followed a simple-but-rigorous method to prepare each time we had an interview, and I think it is a good one. I’ve talked about this with interviewees for every batch since ours, but maybe it will help more people if I write it down, so here goes.

The goal here is to be able to efficiently communicate about your startup. To get into YC you need to have a good startup, but that’s out of scope for now so we’ll take it as a given. You also need to be able to talk about your startup well, convince people that it is good, and do so in a high-pressure situation. …


Gareth MacLeod

CEO at Tinker, Blockchain, Waterloo & SF

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