"Open Source" Accelerator N Combinator Launches As Antidote to Y Combinator

By Nathaniel Mott , written on May 10, 2012

From The News Desk

As any of the dozens of companies who get turned away by the incubator every year can attest, the “Y” in Y Combinator doesn’t stand for “Yes.” Jacques Crocker and his team decided to have some fun with that by taking the best parts of Y Combinator – the community, support, and mentorship – and building a new accelerator with a cheeky name: N Combinator. Guess what the “N” stands for.

Crocker announced the launch of the accelerator via Y Combinator’s Hacker News section today and watched as the discussion thread rose to the top of the first page and then, almost as quickly, fall back down. Crocker presumed the thread was deleted, while others guessed its ratings plummet was because it had been flagged too many times.

N Combinator was born from Crocker’s desire to build a support system while he and his team built Lizi, a personal assistant for mobile devices and Google Chrome.

Startups participating in the makeshift accelerator will meet on June 5 and build a support system before “demo day” in mid August. No startups will be turned away.

Without giving any numbers, Crocker says many companies have expressed interest in the concept. The worst case scenario, he says, is that the startups involved will all head down to a bar to drink together.

Is it possible that Crocker and his team are onto something with N Combinator? Sure. An example: Just a few hours after Apple’s 2012 WWDC event sold out, a few indie developers organized an alternative event for developers who didn’t get tickets.

The concept behind N Combinator is solid. Startups rely on a support group to function and thrive. The interplay of ideas and fresh minds can mean the difference between a breakthrough product and another Instagram clone. But the substance? Well, that's another question. So far, N Combinator is little more than a naughty name.