Y Combinator S19 Demo Day Favorites
Y Combinator has written the playbook on identifying and developing world-changing ideas and talent; companies like Stripe, Airbnb, and Dropbox have all come out of this program. I like to think of Y Combinator as the farm league for tech. The Y Combinator S19 Demo Day showcased over 160 companies who each presented a 2-minute pitch to a room packed with investors.
Below are five themes that underpinned my favorite companies from the S19 Demo cohort. Note: I limit my investments based on the Peter Lynch “invest in what you know” philosophy (i.e., won’t touch biotech, blockchain, space, etc.)
1) The application of new tech (AI/ML, Kubernetes, etc.) to disrupt incumbent players/markets.
IMHO this trend is akin to the “cloud-native” advantages used by Y Combinator graduates like Stripe and Dropbox.
Percept.Ai uses ML to train on past support tickets and present resolutions via a bot.
KubeSail is hosted Kubernetes provider that simplifies the deployment of Kubernetes applications.
2) GTM strategy based on copycat business models in other geographies.
I love this model; it reduces the risk of product-market fit and decreases time to value. We’ve seen it play out over and over with companies like Alibaba (eBay of China), Yandex (Google of Russia), MercadoLibre (Amazon of Latin America), etc.
Kuarti aka the OYO of Latin America.
Nonu aka the hims of India.
3) Repackaging of in-house technology for everyone else.
Tech that was built in-house and only available to Google, Apple, etc.. Y Combinator graduate Castle is doing this with security, and Algoila doing it with search.
Kraftful allows smart home device companies (who are traditionally hardware companies) to build best in class app’s to control their devices.
Cloosiv is the Starbucks mobile app experience for independent coffee shops.
4) The rise of eSports.
I’ve seen what Strava and Peloton have done to the cycling world, and the tech is only getting better. Netflix, Disney, and Apple are locked in a race to be the king of content; I can’t help but think they’ve missed the boat on eSports. Y-Combinator graduate Twitch underpins the entire market; I can’t wait to what it spawns.
Athlane is creating an eSports league based on colleges, pitting schools against each other in live tournaments, self described as “the NCAA for esports”, with one difference: Athlane is sponsorship friendly (teams will have the ability to monetize).
Figments describes themselves as the WWE for esports. They use virtual characters with fictional storylines to play esports on Twitch.
5) Companies who solve the chaos of rapidly growing/new markets.
Y Combinator graduates Segemnt and Easypost are great examples of a companies who simplified the chaos of API’s.
Vendr: Vendr smooths the software buying cycle and flattens variable pricing across the SaaS ecosystem by consolidating (and outsourcing) software procurement..
Cuboh: Consolidates the chaos faced by restaurants who are straddling multiple online ordering platforms (DoorDash, Grubhub, Cavier).
Let’s check back in a few years and see how I did;)
ScholarMe: Streamlines the applications of student loans and scholarships.
Metacode: Better code search (Google for code).
Apero Health: Automated insurance and patients billing/API.
NomadRides: Commission free ridesharing (drivers pay a flat subscription).
Taskade: Unified workspace for distributed teams.
Vahan: On demand work in India (via WhatsApp).
Vouch: Insurance for Startups
Gmelius: Gmail based CRM, project mgmt, shared inbox.