The 50 Startups That Launched At Y Combinator Summer 2015 Demo Day 1
Hardware took the spotlight at today’s Y Combinator Demo Day, reflecting a major shift of the accelerator beyond the cliche mobile app startup. Out of the 50 companies from the Summer 2015 batch that demoed on the record today, 20 featured hardware. What was formally the Demo Day lunchroom has become an expo hall for all manners of robots and gadgets.
Tomorrow, another 50 or so startups will present. Soon, we’ll have our selections made for our favorites. But for now, here’s a look at all 50 that strutted the stage today:
TeaBOT — An automated beverage vendor
TeaBOT is a robot that makes grab’n’go tea. You enter up to three types of its dozen teas, pay via iPad or credit card, and the bot automatically mixes you a hot cup of tea. The company says the bots can earn $100,000 a year. The startup licenses the TeaBOTs to retailers and colleges, and keeps 85% of the revenue, while giving the client 15%. With the tea and grab’n’go food and beverage markets growing, TeaBOT could absorb a ton of spend if it can convince businesses it will make them more than anything else they could do with 10 square feet of space.
BistroBot — Sandwich-making robot
BistroBot is a robot that automatically creates a sandwich with multiple toppings like Hummus, Nutella, peanut butter, and so on. You punch in your order on the attached iPad, bread slides in, and the toppings are dispensed on top. Right now it makes simple sandwiches, but it’s easy to change around the menu, and the robot can produce 300 sandwiches an hour, the company said.
Circle Medical — The Doctor That Comes To You
Circle Medical will send a primary care physician to your house to do everything you could get done at a doctor’s office, from checkups to blood tests. Users just scan their insurance card, and Circle Medical tells them which services they’re qualified to receive for free. Because 75% of doctor visit costs go to the office, Circle Medical can pay doctors $140 an hour while earning $60 for itself. It already has three full-time doctors in SF. To acquire users, it has a workplace program where employers block out time for multiple employees to see a Circle Medical doctor. It’s been able to gain users for just $5 each this way. That could let Circle Medical make health easier while breaking into the $300 billion a year primary medical care market.
getScale — Quality monitoring for factories
getScale wants to make sure everything your business has manufactured in China is of perfect quality. Customers pay to install the getScale cameras inside their factories besdie each worker. It monitors their work and instructs them how to do quality control tests, with the results visible to the customer in real-time. It’s been shown to reduce defect rates by 3X within a month. And since it reduces reshipments by suppliers, they want getScale in their factories because it can cut costs. getScale hopes to one day earn a cut for every unit of every product manufactured on earth.
Ixchel Scientific — Accurate pharmaceutical testing
Most drugs are first tested in 2D petri dishes that don’t behave like real human organs, which leads to a 95% failure rate for the drugs that make it to testing on humans. Ixchel Scientific has developed a 3D gel matrix that mimics the structure of human organs, so drugs can be more accurately tested. Ixchel was founded by PhDs who’ve worked on the technology for 15 years, and have had the research published in top scientific journals. Their 3D gel matrix could reduce the cost of drug testing, getting us closer to cures for cancer and other ailments, while taking a cut of the huge $28 billion medical testing resource market.
Cymmetria — Cybersecurity Through Deception
Stopping new types of cyber attacks is an endless game of wack-a-mole. Instead, Cymmetria sets up decoy virtual machines on a client’s network that fool hackers. They launch their attack against the decoy, which teaches Cymmetria their tactic so it can repel it from a client’s real system. 50 companies, including 4 major banks and 10 Fortune 500 companies are already using it. Cymmetria could let cybersecurity specialists proactively defend, rather than just react.
Ohm — A car battery that never dies
Ohm uses supercapacitors instead of traditional lead cells to make a battery that never goes dead, lasts twice as long, works in the winter, and is lighter than standard car batteries. “Traditional battery technology sucks because it’s based on technology from ’86…1886!” Ohm’s co-founder yelled on stage. Supercapacitors were too expensive until recently, but as they get cheaper they’ll open up even more markets for Ohm. It’s time for car batteries to get as smart as everything else in our lives.
Call9 — Private telemedicine for nursing homes
Call9 is creating a privatized emergency telemedicine line targeted at nursing homes, or what they call “911 for Enterprise.” It’s staffed with emergency doctors who can respond within 1 minute to medical needs and provide comprehensive diagnostics. They’ve signed letters of intent with 61 nursing homes, which puts them on track for $30 million in annual revenue with an average of $500,000 per contract. Within 30 days of service, they’ve attended 58 patients and said they’ve prevented 26 hospitalizations and saved two lives. If they reach the U.S.’s 68,000 long-term care facilities, the market could be billions dollars.
Second Measure – The New Bloomberg
Second Measure offers web applications that analyze billions of credit card transactions for big macroeconomic trends. Their set covers more than 1% of U.S. consumer spending. They can tell you information like Netflix’s retention last month or how many Lyft riders simultaneously use Uber.
Greenshoe – Loans for the mobile age
Greenshoe is trying to reinvent the mobile banking sector in developing countries by analyzing SMS spending and receipts to underwrite small consumer loans. To date, they’ve given out 8,100 loans and grown at 47% week-over-week with an 84% retention rate. They say that their default rate so far on their 30 to 60-day long loans is about 8.5%.
Xendit — Venmo for Southeast Asia
Xendit is building Venmo for Southeast Asia with instantaneous peer-to-peer mobile payments. This is key in the region because only 15% of the region’s consumers have debit or credit cards and the vast majority of transactions happen in cash. Meanwhile, mobile phone penetration has grown to about 120% penetration (as many consumers have more than one phone). That presents an enormous opportunity for mobile commerce. Since launch, Xendit has acquired 13,000 users and is growing 50% week over week. They’ve handled 1.5 billion rupiah in Indonesia, or about $110,000.
Bodyport — A smart scale that measures your heart disease risks
Bodyport is building a smart scale that goes way beyond measuring your weight. It’s targeted at consumers who are at risk of contracting or dying of heart disease. They’ve outfitted the scale with additional sensors that measure blood pressure, heart rate, heart rate variability, arterial stiffness and six other factors right through a person’s feet. The scale doesn’t require you to wear cuffs, cables or electrodes. It just takes 15 seconds of time. They’re launching their product with a $199 campaign later this summer. The team previously sold a medical device company to Medtronic.
Tab. — Let merchants in developing nations accept credit card payments
Buying things while on vacation can be tough. Merchants often lack credit card machines. Those that have them are often gouged for 7% by local providers, and tourists still have to pay a 4% fee. Tab. has created an app that lets merchants accept payments with just a smartphone. They’re charged only 1%, and tourists pay less too as transactions happen in their home currency. With 40% week over week growth thanks to word of mouth amongst merchants, Tab. is rapidly growing to take a chunk of the $40 billion in transaction fees paid on tourism payments in emerging markets. Soon you won’t need cash anywhere.
Zeplin – Collaboration tool for engineers and designers
When designers hand engineers a design, the engineers have to manually fetch the different elements that they’ll need to build it. Zeplin helps do that automatically, displaying fonts, color codes, and more for engineers to work with. This reduces friction in the collaboration, and gets products built faster.
Branch8 – Lets merchants sell on every major Asian ecommerce platform
In America, Amazon and eBay dominate ecommerce, but in Asia, the market is fragmented amongst 200 markets. Most merchants don’t have time to maintain presences on all of them, but Branch8 does it for them automatically. In exchange for a 1% commission on sales, Branch8 handles items, prices, and stock on all the platforms, earnings merchants more money. Now, ecommerce platforms are baking Branch8 into their onboarding, speeding growth as the startup tries to make all ecommerce rely on it.
CareLedger — A better way for employers to buy medical procedures
Some medical procedure providers cost more than others for no reason. CareLedger works with a business’ existing health insurance to find the best, cheapest provider of procedures their employees need, saving an average of 50% on each procedure. It pays any out-of-pocket costs for the employees too. And it brings fair-cost providers more business. CareLedger then keeps 30% of the money it saved the business, which could amount to $90 billion in revenue if every business in the US switched to it. It’s a win for everyone except companies charging too much for medical care.
Wheelys Cafe — A full-service cafe on a bike
2 billion cups of coffee are served per day but one of the main costs is rent. Wheelys lets entrepreneurs avoid these costs by putting a full coffee, juice, and snack-dispensing cafe on a bike-drawn cart. The cart costs just $3,000 and can be pedaled between the best spots to sell, while “a Starbucks is really heavy” says the co-founder. Parked outside a Starbucks, the Wheelys CEO served 210 customers by lunch while the Starbucks had only served 148. Beyond selling the carts, Wheelys also sells the supplies. Eventually, it wants to build a network of the carts where people can pay with an app like Uber.
Transcend Lighting — Efficient Indoor Grow Lighting
Indoor agriculture, with its enhanced control over quality, is growing quickly, but the second biggest cost to farmers is lighting. Transcend has invented a patent-pending photosynthetic LED light that’s 35% to 50% more efficient than competitors. “And no, it’s not just for pot…although we do quite well in the cannabis industry”, the co-founder says. Traditional tomato and lettuce growing are its core business. It saved $150,000 for a farm that was planning on just $120,000 of profit, more than doubling their success and making the lights return their cost quickly. Transcend could let more food be grown inside for a lot cheaper.
TetraScience — Cloud-connected scientific instruments
Researchers still use old-school instruments, monitor them in person, and log data with pen and pencil. TetraScience creates cloud-connected instruments like thermometers that let researchers monitor experiments remotely, get alerts, and automatically log data. Major pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and universities like the co-founders’ alma mater Harvard are already using TetraScience instruments. Now it’s partnering with instrument makers like Corning to embed its software into their wares. Science is going to the cloud, and TetraScience could accelerate that shift.
Xfers — PayPal for Southeast Asia
Most of Southeast Asia has less than a 5% credit card penetration rate, leading to low usage of PayPal and most ecommerce purchases being paid for with cash on demand. Xfers has erected a payment network on top of the existing online bank accounts most people have, and APIs it built for the local banks. With a growing middle class, the region could be spending $350 billion on ecommerce just 5 years from now. Just a 1% fee could earn Xfers $3.5 billion in this rapidly evolving market.
Serica — Financial backbone for the cannabis industry
The marijuana business is growing 15% year-over-year. But businesses in the US can’t use traditional banking or credit for legal reasons, and rely on cash management. Serica offers a blockchain-based finance system that can handle online payments, and is starting to manage payroll and supplier invoicing. For clients, it can often be the only way they can accept money online, which can boost growth…so Serica’s clients can grow or sell more pot.
Leada — Teaching Professionals Data Science
Data is a bottleneck for many business decisions because companies don’t have enough data scientists. Rather than hire a specialist, Leada lets businesses pay to train their employees to be “data literate” with a 12 hour online course. Leada says training 100 Zenefits operations employees saved Zenefits $75,000 a month through better decision-making. Leada likens data literacy today to being able to type in 1970, and sees a huge market training every professional to understand data science.
Seva Coffee — A roasting machine with unroasted cofee beans
As soon as coffee beans are roasted from green to brown, they start to lose their flavor. Yet most coffee, especially drunk at home or the office, is still made with pre-roasted beans. Seva Coffee has invented a machine that takes pods of unroasted green coffee beans, automatically roasts and grinds them to your preference, and pours a great cup of coffee. The company sells the machine for thousands of dollars and the pods for $1 each with 75% gross margins. It’s starting with the corporate office market, but eventually wants people making coffee from fresh beans at home.
Captain401 — Paperless 401ks
Captain401 is a tool for smaller companies to give their employees access to 401k plans. It’s online software to more simply manage 401k plans for small businesses, much in the same way Zenefits and Zenpayroll work for human resources and payroll. Nearly all larger companies have to give employees access to a 401k, but only 24% of small businesses have a 401k, the company said.
Verge Genomics — Drug discovery with genomic data
Verge Genomics mines data on existing drugs to predict which ones will work for specific diseases. One example is brain injury, where using the company’s algorithms, Verge Genomics was able to find and patent 32 drugs. It also did some work on Alzheimer’s disease and found a drug that provided an 80% improvement in a lab setting called “Compound X”. Verge Genomics can patent these drugs and sell them to big pharmaceutical companies, giving it a natural business model.
Click & Grow — A self-contained smart home garden
Click & Grow is a maintenance-free indoor garden that grows vegetables. It costs $299. The garden consists of “smart capsules” that contain seeds, nutrients and soil that’s geared toward the specific plant. (It’s kind of like a Keurig capsule, but for plants.) Owners of the garden can pay $29 per month to get access to additional capsules. The first version of the garden generated $4 million in revenue, the company said.
Foxpass — Employee access control
Foxpass is a cloud-based access control infrastructure for services like Amazon. When new cloud servers spin up, additional security — like wireless networks and VPNs — are often an afterthought. So when a new server comes online, Foxpass issues a secure account for every user. It has customers like Yik Yak and Instacart.
Oolu — Off-grid solar for Africa
Oolu is a subscription service that gives people in places like West Africa, which don’t have easy access to charging for things like phones, solar panels for charging. Oolu charges $6 per month and provides maintenance for those panels. Oolu users pay over text message. It’s inspired by the founder who rode 6 miles “by donkey” to get to a charging station while living in Africa. Oolu has 2,000 people signed up on a waitlist and 1,300 paying users, the company said.
Ironclad — Automate legal paperwork
Ironclad is an automated service that helps businesses work through legal paperwork, which is crucial for larger companies that have to deal with tons of contracts and have more than a hundred lawyers on staff. For example, automated the contracts that YC companies use to raise money.
GO1 — Training software
GO1 is a service for onboarding and compliance training. Compliance training is mandatory for pretty much every company. By becoming the go-to for onboarding, GO1 says, the company is setting itself up to be the default for training needs — giving it an even broader market opportunity. GO1 charges $2 per user per month, and is already profitable, the company said.
Cofactor Genomics — RNA-based diagnostics
Cofactor Genomics is a genetics testing startup that uses RNA to diagnose diseases. The company says RNA is a barometer for health, and the team worked on the human genome project. Patients take a blood sample, and the company generates a diagnostic report with its RNA sequencing technology and software. It has nine of the company’s largest pharmaceutical companies as customers. Cofactor Genomics has $4 million in annual revenue.
Vernox Labs — Big data for construction
Vernox Labs analyzes unstructured data from construction projects to figure out how to sidestep building errors. Construction projects generate a ton of data across many dimensions, which is kept for audit reasons. Patterns of repeated mistakes are buried in this data, and Vernox Labs uses that data to give recommendations that are tailored to new projects.
Vest — Protected investments for everyone
Vest is a service for protecting stock investments. Vest brings investment protection that’s available to high-worth individuals to smaller investors. The company charges a 0.5% fee on a minimum investment of $5,000. The technology bypasses banks by going directly to the exchange where it provides exchange-traded options, Vest said.
ROSS Intelligence — Legal search engine powered by Watson
ROSS Intelligence is a service that uses IBM’s Watson natural language processing technology to dig into legal documents for research purposes. Lawyers normally bill customers for time spent on research, which can cost hundreds of dollars per hour of research. ROSS Intelligence costs $250 per month per lawyer, and is used by 20 of the larger law firms, the company says.
Tesorio — Discounts for paying vendor invoices faster
Tesorio is a B2B invoice system that offers suppliers a way to get paid earlier by choosing to receive less money in exchange. For example, a business can order a large amount of clothing from a supplier, and offer to supplier the opportunity to get paid immediately at a discount, or wait for the full payment. Suppliers running Tesorio’s pilot program have already chosen $2.1 million in early payments, the company said.
GrowSumo — Reseller programs as a service
GrowSumo is a service that helps build reseller networks for businesses. They’re essentially building a network of salespeople that connects resellers with companies to sell products for a commission. GrowSumo takes a 3% commission on all transactions, and after launching 3 weeks ago there are 700 resellers using the service.
Traversal Networks — Network security monitoring service
Traversal Networks installs appliances to monitor networks for malicious activity. After that, Traversal Networks works with experts to detect and analyze that malicious activity. It’s basically plug and play — businesses plug in the appliance and then start get security monitoring right away.
Luna – A smart mattress cover that measures your sleep
Luna is connecting your bed to the Internet of Things. It’s a mattress cover that measures your sleep patterns and then sends the data to both the Luna app and to other Internet-connected devices at home. The company has sold $1.4 million worth of Luna mattress covers and has signed a deal to potentially sell 6,000 units, which could put the company’s revenue on track for $20 million next year. Overall, they say their total addressable market is $27 billion.
Klarismo — Inexpensive MRI and body scans
Klarismo is providing inexpensive MRI and body scans for $249. They can not only measure body fat percentage, but also how much of that fat is subcutaneous or visceral (i.e. healthy or bad). They are on track to amass the world’s largest collection of body scans, which will give them longitudinal data on how bodies evolve over time in response to aging and lifestyle.
Hickory — Improved customer service training
Hickory is changing customer service training with a mobile app that replaces the lengthy, outdated manuals that it says companies often use. The customer service industry is worth $84 billion, but it has 60% turnover among employees. Hickory says that customer service workers need to have consistent and up-to-date training, but companies don’t update their manuals as often as they should. Instead, the company has these bite-sized cards that its fits into a mobile app. Their algorithms can predict when customer service workers might forget lessons and the app schedules re-training. They have a partnership with LG and their initial pilot has trained workers in half the time with three times the correct response rate.
Drip Capital — Efficient lending to small businesses
Drip Capital is building software that identifies small businesses that should get financing, but don’t from the traditional banking system. Instead of looking at historical data through a largely manual process, as many banks do, Drip Capital focuses on work orders, among 50 other factors. Work orders are an indicator of future performance, rather than past performance. They’ve extended $1 million so far in loans at an 18% annual rate. They believe this is a $15 billion total lending opportunity.
Microhealth — Connecting patients and doctors for more efficient clinical trials
Microhealth is using software to quickly connect patients and doctors for cheaper clinical trials for FDA-approved drugs. Typically, recruiting patients for trials can cost millions of dollars and years. But recently, mobile platforms like iOS have started to make it easier for patients to record and share data. Microhealth is starting with the hemophilia space, where 10% of all patients with this disease are already on the company’s platform. They recently signed a deal with the Hemophilia Federation of America to get the other 90% on board.
Supply — Wireless cellphone charging
Supply is building wireless chargers that can work off of WiFi and function within a five foot range of your mobile device. The team, which came out of MIT, uses smart antennas like those in the latest generation of wireless chargers to route power signals to your mobile phone or tablet.
Auro Robotics — Self-driving shuttle for closed campuses.
Auto Robotics is building self-driving shuttles that roam college campuses, resorts, industrial sites and theme parks. They are using a subscription model for revenue instead of just selling the shuttles. They’ll charge $5,000 per month per vehicle and have already signed three letters of intent with different college campuses.
ShapeScale — Smart scale with 3D body scanner
ShapeScale is a smart scale that scans your entire body for changes in your shape. It creates a 3D avatar of your body and sends it to an app where you can see where you are losing fat or gaining muscle. The company argues this will make it a much more effective motivational tool than regular scales, which only measure weight. They’re launching next year for $299, so you’ll have to wait to see if your gut is bulging or shrinking.
Flirtey — Drone delivery service
Flirtey says it’s the leading drone delivery company, which beat Amazon to delivering the first package in the U.S. after being cleared to drop medical supplies earlier this summer. They’ve signed a deal with the largest package delivery company in New Zealand and are doing a partnership with McDonald’s for a fast-food delivery pilot.
GiveCampus — Crowdfunding for educational institutions
GiveCampus is a crowdfunding service for schools collecting money from donors. GiveCampus charges a 5% fee on donations — and through the service, schools have raised $750,000 thus far. Around 15% of those donors are first-time donors, the company said.
OnboardIQ — Applicant tracking for on-demand startups
OnboardIQ is a service that moves applicants for on-demand jobs through the hiring process automatically. It does this by automating some of the more data-oriented components, like background checks and collecting documents. Companies like Shyp and Munchery currently use it. OnboardIQ already raised $1.65 million in seed funding.
Open Invest — Open-source hedge funds and ETFs
Open Invest is a service that helps investors implement ideas. For example, an investor may have an idea that companies focused in a certain sector will perform better than the rest of the market. Open Invest will help implement that strategy.
Nebia — Water-efficient shower
Nebia is building the water-efficient shower of the future, with financial backing from Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt. It’s built a shower-head that uses 70% less water by creating millions of tiny droplets that have a surface area which is 10 times larger than normal shower water streams. “This creates an immersive cloud-like experience that people have raved about,” said CEO Philip Winter. They’ve tested their showers at the Google, Apple and Stanford campuses, in addition to Equinox gyms. They say the total addressable market is about $11 billion with 27 million shower heads sold per year.