Emma Haak and David Lidsky interviewed scores of techies in the Valley to figure out their paths to success. An infographic of their interviews can be found on Cliff Kuang's blog which I found on Ben Robertson's Twitter page (always cite sources, right?). In sum, social connections matter and they happen in lots of ways, from being on each others' frisbee teams to being video game buddies...and to having planned dinners designed to connect innovators. The paths are often circuitous, e.g., from meeting at a wedding, to joining each others' broom ball team, to meeting others at those games, and so on (see the infographic and pick a random path). The big point is that Y-Combinator can be "manipulated" by arranging regular "connector meetings" in the form of weekly dinners and so on. In this way, individuals get to meet potential mentors in a more direct and guaranteed manner.
I am reminded of social media breakfasts which became popular, at least on the seacoast out this way (I'm actually tucked in the southwest corner of NH near VT...away from most happenings). But social media gatherings did not deliberately pair innovators with mentors, but instead were simply gathering places for social media types.
I'm thinking we should consider the "Y-Combinator" concept as we try to help out lots of folks, including graduating college students seeking jobs, internships, graduate opportunities; individuals with special skills but poor connecting skills, and so on.