Y Combinator Demo Day
Fast Company's Alice Truong will report live from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The event begins at 10 a.m. PT. on Tuesday, August 19th.
It's that time again. Y Combinator, one of the most coveted accelerators in the country, is hosting a demo day for its graduating batch of startups.
Expect a marathon of pitches. Eighty-five companies will present on stage for a few minutes apiece, hoping to convince investors to bank on their ideas to transform X, Y, or Z.
The accelerator is best known for its tightly knit network and breakout startups, such as Dropbox, Airbnb, and Twitch--all three of which are in the billion-dollar-valuation club. Earlier this summer, president Sam Altman said Y Combinator's portfolio of more than 400 active companies exceeds $30 billion in value.
Fast Company's Alice Truong will report live from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The event begins at 10 a.m. PT.
Got a question before or during the event? Submit them to our reporter using the comment box below.
3rd & 7 37yd
3rd & 7 37yd
Looks like the event will be underway soon. People are starting to trickle into the auditorium.
Earlier this summer, Y Combinator president Sam Altman released some figures around the accelerator. Its portfolio exceeds $30 billion in value, with three companies (Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe) worth at least $1 billion and 20 companies worth at least $100 million.
Y Combinator's 19th demo day will feature 75 companies, the most pitches the accelerator's had in a single day. Their presentations will go by in a whirlwind, so stand by for a roundup of each group of presenting startups.
I'd love to see the original whirlwind pitches for Airbnb and Dropbox.
there are now 6 YC batches worth more than $1 billion eachby Sam Altman via twitter 8/19/2014 5:13:41 PM
Startups in the first group include:
- Ginkgo Bioworks is genetic engineering software to develop new organisms. The company says it is able to replace traditional farming "with a process that looks like brewing beer," resulting in 50% to 90% savings. In the last 18 months, Ginkgo Bioworks has signed nine contracts, projecting $10 million in annual royalties.
- TicketLabs is an e-ticket platform for artists. "Artists spend their entire careers building their fan base, so you would expect they know who those fans are, but they don't," says Ian Roberts. "iTunes does, and Ticketmaster does. Facebook sure as hell does, but none of these platforms share this with artists." In contrast, TicketLabs helps artists collect fan data and sell tickets directly to them. The company says half of its sales are done on mobile, and 75% use Facebook connect to purchase. Artists on board include Wiz Khalifa, Alesso, and Juicy J, reaching 83.4 million fans.
- ClearTax positions itself as the TurboTax of India. Ankit Solanki says there's massive opportunity in Indian taxpayer filing market, with 30 million filing their returns electronically last year and a projected 100 million Indians doing so in five years. "In a country with over a billion people, this number keeps going up," he says. Before ClearTax, Indians had to use bloated government software and fill out complicated spreadsheets, he says. "What used to take hours and hours of their time now takes 15 minutes," he added.
- Backpack is a global marketplace for used goods. Since products, such as iPads, are sold at different prices around the world, Backpack facilitates transactions between buyers in different countries and owners who happen to be traveling to those countries. "Backpack is intrinsically a marketplace, which means the more shoppers and travelers we have on the system, the cheaper and faster the network becomes," says Fahim Masoud Aziz.
- MTailor says it can custom tailor shirts with 20% more accuracy than a traditional clothier. "You're forced to shove yourself into standardized sizes of small, medium, and large, but we're not all one size fits all," says Miles Penn. The company's algorithm can extract information from smartphone imagery (customers stand about 10 feet away and spin while the phone is recording), reducing tailored shirts that typically cost about $125 to $69. Penn says the shirt market totals $10 billion, and this month, the company is projected to reach $48,000 in revenue. "In 10 years, you'll laugh when you wear something off the rack," he says. "Stop wearing another man's clothing."
- Glowing Plant raised $500,000 on Kickstarter to produce, well, a glowing plant. That proof of concept is expected to ship later this year, but the technology behind it demonstrates the company's potential: cow's milk without dairy farms or using plants for fuel. "Our technology allows us to drive down the costs of genetically engineering plants faster than Moore's law," says Antony Evans. "Unlike Monsanto, we have the brand to own consumer products in this space. From there, we can use these solar factories to open an enormous market."
- Because selling used cars is a headache, there's Carlypso. The used-car market is worth $400 billion, and the marketplace monitors owners' cars for sale when they're not in use and facilitates test drives without the owner ever having to meet potential buyers. When Carlypso joined Y Combinator, it had sold $1.4 million in used cars, and has been growing 40% month over month.
- Bikanta uses nanodiamond technology to detect cancer. Traditional cancer detection methods require injecting imagine probes into the body to find tumors, but Ambika Bumb says Bikanta's nanodiamond-based probes and instruments, technology of which was developed at the National Institutes of Health, are 100 times more effective. Nanodiamonds sell for $150,000 a gram, and the company has received about $3 million in letters of intent from various companies and institutions.
- Weave calls itself a Tinder for networking. "Swipe left if you don't want to meet them. Swipe right if you do," says Brian Ma. When both parties express interest in each other, they're paired up to meet. The company says the average Weave user lands one relevant meeting in less than 50 swipes (about five minutes).
- Theorem is a marketplace for independent fashion. "The world has changed. Consumers have changed. Today we want to be stylish and shop for small-batch, exclusive designers," says Ryan Jackson. "Without a centralized marketplace, they're nearly impossible to find." In addition to providing that marketplace, Theorem also focuses on curation and discovery. Revenue has grown 50% week over week (for perspective, the week of August 10 logged less than $3,000), and jackson says the market is worth $20 billion.
- Parenthoods is a social network for millennial parents. "Parenting communities are the largest social network that have yet to go mobile," says Siobhan Quinn. "In this age of Snpachats and Instagrams, we expect to connect with our networks through our mobile devices." Parents can talk with each other pseudo-anonymously (a feature to encourage honest conversation) and are connected with other local parents, so they can share tips like how to find a nanny. In the month since its launched, the network says a quarter of its users are engaging with the app everyday.
- "I have a feeling by the end of today, most of you are going to need a massage," says Milan Thakor, cofounder of on-demand massage service Unwind Me. The service connects consumers with licensed and vetted massage therapists, who show up at the door. Thakor says Unwind Me is already the largest single provider of massages in San Francisco, and the average repeat customer is booking about two sessions a month. Though massages represent a $15 billion industry, Thakor says the market is highly fragmented--hence its opportunity.
- VizeraLabs is a projector that helps retail showrooms display more products without more square footage. Using an example of a white couch, Ali Cevik showed how consumers can see various colors and fabric swatches from a single product thanks to its projector. "This means show rooms don't have to be large anymore," he says. "In fact, all of them can be transformed to this--a whole lot smaller yet capable of demonstrating a lot more items." The company believes with 200,000 showrooms, its $30,000 a year subscription fee could mean a $6 billion market. Clients include high-end designer Ligne Rose, and the company is exploring other uses beyond furniture, such as cars and wallpaper.
- Checkr is an API for background checks. Instead of producing a 20-page report on a person, Checkr generates a simple one pager. Clients include screening contractors for new delivery services popping up, including Instacart, HomeJoy, and SpoonRocket, but it is expanding to all employers as well as tenant screenings. The company reported about $40,000 in monthly revenue in four month.
- LivBlends is an emerging health food brand. Elise Polezel says she started the company because she was diagnosed with prediabetes and wanted to find "healthy, honest food." The company attempts to differentiate itself by showing images of ingredients that are in its products. Thus far, it's sold 1,000 smoothies a day in San Francisco, projecting $1 million in revenue with 30% week over week growth. Apparently, smoothies represent a $10 billion market, but she says "smoothies in San Francisco is just the beginning."
- Just like how airlines overbook their flights, the hotel industry is guilty of the same practice. However, the latter lacks software so they can see which rooms are available. Providing this software for $200 a month, WalkSource says it has 43% of the marketshare in San Francisco in six months of operation. The company also has access to rooms, even when hotels are all booked up, and plans to sell them to third-party channels, such as Priceline and HotelTonight.
- San Francisco Open Exchange bills itself as an eTrade for bitcoin. "We enable our customers to get the best price because we work with multiple exchanges," says Akbar Thobhani. In the last four weeks, the company has grown its revenue from zero to $50,000 weekly. "We recognize that bitcoin is an asset and assets get its value through trading, which is why we're building a trading platform," he says. Last year, about $3 billion in bitcoins were traded, growing 1600% from the year prior.
- Greentoe is a name-your-own-price marketplace that aims to get consumers better discounts. "There's a secret out there, and that secret is: Just ask," Joe Marrapodi says, noting this could result in savings up to 20%. Retailers aren't able to offer prices lower than the prices manufacturers set, he says.
- Zen99 is HR software that helps contractors prepare for tax season and buy insurance. "The workforce is fundamentally changing," says Tristan Zier. "A full-time job is being replaced by hosting on Airbnb, driving on Uber, or selling goods on Etsy."
Excited to view the event live
What's the line up sequence?
Any particularly impressive ones so far?
Lunch break is over, and the third group of startups is presenting:
- UPower is the other nuclear startup part in this Y Combinator class. Jacob Dewitte says the aim is to transform 50 cents worth of fuel into $4,000 of energy using nuclear fission. UPower "could be the cheapest, safest nuclear power plant in the world," according to Dewitte. So far one company has expressed interest to buy $60 million of energy annually.
- Onename calls itself the Facebook Connect for bitcoin. Deviating from the cryptocurrency's roots, the company creates profiles for users to simplify sending and receiving bitcoin. Ryan Shea says the company has grown its user base to about 13,000 users, a growth of 12% weekly. "This week, 16% of bitcoin wallets will support sending bitcoins with a single click using Onename," he says. "We're building fundamental infrastructure and this requires a lot of bitcoin expertise."
- Roost is an API for browser push notifications. The company has more than 540,000 subscribers, seeing growth of 10% week over week. "This is not theoretical," says Casey Haakenson. "We have over 1,800 sites sending millions of notifications live right now."
- PicnicHealth manages medical records for cancer patients, so they don't have to lug around binders of documents to doctor's appointments. The service went live 10 days ago and so far has 30 customers paying $500 a year. "As a patient, you just tell us your doctor's name," says Noga Leviner, whose mom was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after her college graduation. "From there, we go and collect your records, organize your information so your care makes sense, and we take the responsibility of keeping your doctors informed."
- BlockScore is a service that verifies people's identities. "When you sign up, the information you provide is sent to BlockScore," says Chris Morton. "We verify the identity is for a real living person who is safe to do business with. ... This all happens in under a second." The company says it has 80 paying customers, and is in talks to provide this service to banks.
- PersistIQ is a service to manage and follow up on cold leads. Cyrus Karbassiyoon says it takes an average of seven touch points to convert a cold lead into a sale, yet most sales representatives give up after two. "Staying persistent is incredibly hard to do at scale," he says. PersistIQ synchronizes with email and provides automatic lead status updates. Having recently launched in private beta, the startup reports 10% increase in productivity and 300% increase in conversions for clients.
- Vatler is an on-demand valet parking service. The company has been in beta for four weeks, seeing 40% weekly growth through word-of-mouth marketing. It's starting by targeting commuters in San Francisco, about 200,000 of them drive to work everyday. "If we park only 5% of those workers every day, that represents a $65 million market every year only in San Francisco." The service plans to expand and target people driving to events, meetings, and restaurants.
- Filecoin is a cryptocurrency file storage network. Juan Batiz-Benet describes Filecoin as a marriage between bitcoin, Bittorrent, and Git. The service lets users rent out their disk space and earn a virtual currency called Filecoin, which can be cashed out in dollars, bitcoin, or another currency.
- Shipbob is an on-demand shipping service for businesses. To use, businesses schedule a pickup, and a designated "ship captain" picks up the order in 30 minutes. Since launching in Chicago eight weeks ago, the company has seen 23% weekly growth in shipments and 57% of orders have come from repeat customers. "Since then, we've been growing organically," says Divey Gulati. "Every customer of Shipbob has referred our service to at least three more people."
- Edyn is a soil sensor for irrigated gardens. The Yves Behar-designed device was a hit on Kickstarter, hitting its goal in three days and raising $384,000 on the crowdfunding platform. The smart irrigation system is powered by solar and uses data it collects to assist gardeners. Edyn has struck up a strategic partnership with Home Depot, where products are due to hit shelves in the spring, and has other big-box partners, including Lowe's and Best Buy, lined up. Eventually, it hopes to enter other segments of gardening and lawn care, including flower growing, tree care, and even commercial agriculture.
- Naytev is a/b testing for social sharing, and its clients include Slate and MarketWatch. The company says it has driven 150 million page views, with 30% growth every month. "That kind of explosive growth is only possible because optimizing for social is something every business needs to worry about, but doing it well is a full-time job," says one of the company's cofounders. "Optimizing for social is the new SEO. However, unlike SEO, which is extremely fragmented, this is a winner-takes-all market."
- Neptune.io wants to eliminate that 2 a.m. call every engineer dreads. "The first rule of server management: Shit breaks," says Kiran Gollu. "This often happens at 2 a.m., and when this happens, an engineer has to wake up and fix it right there and it can take up to hours. During that time, the company has an outage and lost business." Gollu, part of the Amazon Web Services founding team, says Neptune.io's servers can fix themselves, similar to the proprietary technology used at Amazon, Facebook, and Netflix. Since launching two weeks ago, it has deployed 60 servers used by seven companies. On average, they are saving about 10 hours of down time.
- Rigetti Computing wants to bring quantum computers to market. A former engineer at IBM, Chad Rigetti says the last hurdle standing in the way of that vision is scalability. "Building quantum computers is hard," he says. "There are maybe 50 people in the world who can do this." Most though, he notes, are occupied with writing papers and chasing tenure. "I'm the only one who wants to build real products and make money." In 18 months, it launched its first product, an emulator for developers to build quantum application.
- Beep builds computers for speakers. The startup sells these computers--like Sonos's networked system, Beep can play synchronized music across various rooms in a single home--to speaker manufacturers. The computers include a mic for voice input and an API for development. Pandora and Spotify have spent the last year and a half to bring their apps to the platform. Beep plans to start shipping this year, expecting to ship 100,000 units in 2015, and has 12 partners in the pipeline.
- Local businesses have a tough time securing financing, and Local Lift is hoping to help with its crowdfunding platform. The company takes a $500 commission for campaigns and says it has helped small businesses raise $190,000 of capital, with a weekly growth rate of 42% in funding volume.
- Because people aren't buying coffee online yet, Craft Coffee wants to make it easier for coffee drinkers to find new brews they'll love. "Coffee, like everything else, is going to be sold on the Internet," says Michael Horn. The company has already sold $2 million of coffee to "tens of thousands of customers." Since it's hard to judge a cup of joe by its bean, Craft Coffee built an algorithm to understand users' tastes.
- Shift is a bitcoin debit card that users can spend at stores. "Our users are eating, drinking, paying bills, and making everyday purchases with their Shift cards," says Meg Nakamura. Thus far, the company has shipped 100 cards in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, with users spending about $20,000 worth of bitcoin. "In the future, the Shift card will be the only card you need," she says.
- BillForward is a flexible recurring billing payments platform for subscription services. In the six weeks since it's launched, BillForward, which integrates with Stripe and Braintree, reported 150% week-over-week growth in payment processing.
- Immunity Project is a nonprofit startup developing an HIV vaccine that is currently undergoing testing. Dr. Reid Rubsamen says he has been studying HIV controllers, people with natural immunity to the disease. "The goal of the vaccine is to turn everyone into an HIV controller," he says. Immunity Project has already completed tests in more than 100 mice, a study of which was recently published in the journal Vaccine, and is currently testing the vaccine on human blood. Though all early experiments failed, it was able to eventually prove its effectiveness. (Fun fact: Y Combinator founder Paul Graham volunteered a vial of his blood, which successfully fought the virus.) Clinical trials are expected to be completed by the end of next year.
Sounds like it's Bitcoin, Bitcoin, and more Bitcoin.