What’s it like being interviewed by Paul Graham when you’re applying to Y Combinator? Watch this unmissable video of intense grilling and inspired brainstorming in front of a live audience

This is pretty darned real. Actual hopefuls, some of whom Paul eventually suggests need to consider abandoning their entire project and start over! This, for the uninitiated, was the legendary ‘office hours’, until now, a strictly confidential mentoring blitz held regularly throughout the Y Combinator program. But this time, for the first time, it was held in public, and there were no punches pulled.

The event was TechCrunch Disrupt New York.

Here’s an extract from the TechCrunch introduction to this session:

“The goal was to reproduce the sessions that Graham and other YC partners hold with each of the startups who participate in Y Combinator — except the startups at Disrupt were getting sage advice in front of a few thousand people. And boy, was it awesome.

Six companies were chosen at random from the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield. Then, for six sessions of less than ten minutes each, Graham spoke with each startup founder to flesh out their idea, asking probing questions as he tried to figure out what they were setting out to do, and what they might need to change.

Graham has a knack for being insightful and critical on his feet, and he doesn’t require much background information to hone in on some of the pain points and weaknesses in a startup’s idea (it’s a skill that likely comes from practice, as he’s held office hours with hundreds of YC companies). At the same time, he comes across as being curious and empathetic rather than overly negative — even when he’s telling a founder that their company is dead in the water.”

For me, the other seminal video from the event was the Charlie Rose interview with Paul Graham.