The team from Names & Faces, a South African tech start up with big dreams, has arrived in San Francisco to start on the Y Combinators (YC) summer programme.

YC is a well known US seed fund that invests in 130 companies from around the world. Some of its better known alums include Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe. “So no pressure for us,” says the brains behind Names & Faces, Paul Galatis, who chatted to Josie Dougall last week from Palo Alto, California, about the incredible adventure that is the YC summer programme.

Paul has been a recent speaker at our CN&CO ConFab session, and is one of the founders of Yuppiechef.

“We applied to the programme a few weeks ago and before we knew it, we received a call offering us a spot on the programme along with a small investment into the business,” says Paul. “We will be here for three months to learn as much as we can from the many smart people around us, grow the business and potentially raise money if need be.”

Below is a note written by Paul to his peeps in South Africa:

Hello from San Francisco, friends!

We’re a week into our programme and getting into the swing of things after a few days of admin getting ourselves set up. Here’s a short update and a few pics.

We’re staying in a great part of Palo Alto about 800m down the road from Steve Job’s house – which we walk past on the route we’ve marked out for our walks and talks. The little spot we’re in (which is due for demolition in August) is not quite as beautiful as Steve’s, but it’s taking shape nicely, one piece of cheap furniture at a time.

Joe Gebbia, the co-founder of AirBnB, was the guest at our first function last week. He was excellent. His talk provided great inspiration and affirmation that this entrepreneurial journey is full of ups and downs, lucky breaks, creative perspectives on old problems and, at the end of the day, requires a whole lot of grit and determination to take one’s product to the world. We’re excited.

By the end of this week our whole team will be here – nine of us in total. We have a cooking roster and a cleaning roster and I think it’s fair to say meals have exceeded expectations so far. Everyone’s in good spirits, despite sharing rooms and cramming into a smallish house. In truth, it’s just like being back in digs all over again!

Demo Day, which is essentially the culmination of the programme, takes place in 70 days’ time. We have a sheet of paper stuck to the wall in our lounge which we replace daily, showing how many days are left to go. On Demo Day we present our progress to 450 of the US’s top tech investors.

We’ve set some pretty ambitious targets for ourselves to achieve by then, which has introduced a healthy and exciting sense of urgency in the team.

We’re happy, healthy, working hard and loving the California summer. It’s getting more real by the day, but I’m still operating in a state of semi-disbelief that we’re here.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude to you all for your encouragement, love and friendship — but most significantly to my amazing wife and kids for being as excited, loving and supportive as they have been about us embarking on this crazy adventure.

I am Paul


Welcome to the glamour

Work table doubling as a dining room table

The daily countdown Post-It note

Team building

We have beach bats. I beat Rob.

Our first piece of functional furniture: our IKEA dining room table

And we have a couch

All of us at CN&CO wish the Names & Faces team the very best. We cant wait to track your journey through YC. Congratulations to you all for the incredible achievement so far.