Kan co-founded Twitch.tv — a video platform and community for gamers (bought by Amazon in August 2014), Justin.tv (shut down in February 2014 to focus on Twitch) and Socialcam (bought by Autodesk in July 2012 and shut down in October 2015).
Kan, who is a Y Combinator alumnus joined the incubator as its Partner in March 2014. Kan announced on Facebook and Twitter yesterday:
“After three years at Y Combinator I am sad to say I am leaving. Becoming a partner at YC was a blast and the fulfillment of a career dream; it’s been amazing to work with so many great friends and talented people.”
He said that he’d joined YC after coming “off of nine years of startups and wanted to recover from the brain damage.”
“Happy to say that selective memory has now set in and I’m ready to get back at it! With YC’s support, I’m starting a new vehicle, Zero-F, to work on new startups ideas.”
YC will be supporting Kan’s new initiative.
“Y Combinator is excited to work with Justin as he launches this new startup incubator. He has been an amazing YC entrepreneur and mentor and we are confident that he will continue to help founders create billion dollar startups for years to come,” Michael Seibel, the program’s CEO and a Justin.tv co-founder, was quoted as saying by TechCrunch, in a statement.
Kan later took queries in an AMA session on Q&A video app, Whale. For the record, Whale is one of the three startups at Zero-F right now. The other two are ScriptDash, an online pharmacy startup; and a yet-to-be named venture with a focus on law firms. Kan, according to TechCrunch has personally invested $200,000 into Whale, which also raised $500,000 more from angel investors.
We are putting up some of the edited Q&As here:
Why another incubator? Why start another incubator? The market seems pretty saturated and YC dominates the market. How will Zero-F differentiate?
Y Combinator is not an incubator. In fact PG (Paul Graham, Co-founder of Y Combinator) always hated that whenever anyone would call it an incubator. YC is a seedfund that invests in early stage startups and it takes applications and gets founders from all over the world. What I am imagining for Zero-F is really a company that helps start companies with friends of mine in my extended network for ideas which are mine or theirs… It’s more like a startup lab something like Expa, or Betaworks, even smaller scale with me and Nick (Nick Cortes, who has worked with Kan for more than two years, and is a marketing consultant) over here.
What is the mission behind Zero-F?
The mission behind Zero-F is to empower entrepreneurs to start amazing startups and for me personally to get back into building companies – more hands on – which I haven’t been able to do as much as I would like to in the past couple of years. I am particularly interested in starting startups in industries where technology hasn’t been applied yet. I think a lot of easy wins have already been taken and Michael is ready to focus on industries working use tech to innovate their processes and improve efficiencies.
What will you do differently at Zero-F that you couldn’t do at YC? That is why leave YC to do this? And why would they invest if you are competing with them?
Zero-F is not in competition with YC. We are not opening up applications for startups. Zero-F is really about a vehicle for me and Nick to co-found startups with some of my friends… for people who have worked for me before, people who’ve worked for my friends before. So there is no program, there is no $150,000, there is no demo day. It’s really about starting startups that I am interested in, in industries which I think are interesting… So it is different from YC or 500 Startups. I love YC. I think I can work there forever. It was basically like being like a university professor and was really exciting and challenging for me. But what I really really wanted to do was to get back starting companies myself and that’s why I left.
Why the name?
Great question. Actually Nick (Nick Cortes) came up with it. It stands for Zero-to-funded. And our logo is a fox, named Zero-fox.
Kan, according to TechCrunch is funding the venture himself, and doesn’t have any plans to bring in money from others. He plans to invest between several hundred thousand and one million dollars to kick off new projects. Beyond just initial financing, the online tech media portal said that he wants to build businesses that, when ready, can go out and raise money from other investors, leveraging, of course, the relationships that he has developed as both a founder and an investor.