Lawn Love (YC S14) Wants To Bring The Whole “Software Eating The World” Thing To Your Own Backyard

Lawncare and landscaping are areas that have remained largely un-”disrupted” in the whole software eating the world trend that’s been going on in recent years. If you’re in one of the 80 percent of American households that have a lawn, chances are that you either take care of mowing and upkeep yourself, or you have hired a local lawncare provider you’ve found the old fashioned way, through a recommendation of someone you know — research shows that fully 98 percent of the $74 billion landscape industry business marketing is done through customer referrals. Getting a quote on lawncare is usually an in-person affair, and booking and payments are not often conducted through the web or a mobile phone.

Lawn Love is a new startup launching out of the Summer 2014 batch of Y Combinator that aims to add a layer of tech-enabled ease to the process of finding, booking, and paying a landscaping or lawncare provider. Essentially positioned as a Homejoy for lawncare, Lawn Love has built a web platform that works as a two-way marketplace with the aim of bringing more efficiency and protection to both sides of the business transaction.

Checkr (YC S14) Automates Background Checks For The New, On-Demand Economy

The nature of employment is changing. Thanks to a growing number of platforms offering on-demand services in more places around the world, there’s now massive demand for workers to perform services and deliver goods to users. As those businesses have scaled up, that’s created a need for better processes around vetting and bringing on new workers quickly.

The best example of this is probably Uber, which reported recently that it will complete 2 million background checks in 2014. But the process of getting background checks completed hasn’t changed much, even if companies are requesting a whole lot more of them.

Y Combinator-backed Checkr wants to change that.

Checkr was founded by Daniel Yanisse and Jonathan Perichon, who are two software engineers that used to work for an on-demand delivery startup that ran into the problem of running background checks for drivers it wanted to recruit. They decided that if they added a little bit of technology, they would be able to automate the process and enable companies to fit into their existing workflows.

Fixed (YC S14) Raises $1.2 Million For A Mobile App That Fights Your Parking Tickets For You

Fixed, the clever mobile application that helps you fight your parking tickets just by snapping a photo of the ticket with your mobile phone, has now closed on $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include Y CombinatorMerus CapitalScott Banister, John Cobbs, Mark Randolph, Matt Humphries, Eric Wu and David King.

Headquartered in San Francisco, which also serves as its debut market, Fixed first launched this January, allowing residents to snap photos of their tickets using an iOS device. Afterwards, Fixed checks for common errors before proceeding to write a customized contest letter on your behalf, which is sent to the city.

The company recently opened up its waitlist to the entire San Francisco metro area and has since seen 35,000 users sign up for its service.

OpenCurriculum (YC W14) Looks To Foster Open-Source Education By Releasing Free Online Library

YC W14 non-profit OpenCurriculum announced the launch of a free, online library of educational materials for math teachers:

Aimed at providing teachers with educational materials by making them open and competitive, OpenCurriculum, which launched in Pittsburgh, curates and organizes material from sites such as teacher blogs and lesson material publishers. Teachers can create lesson plans and more through OpenCurriculum.org.

In its effort to provide high-quality learning and an openness in K-12 education, OpenCurriculum released a 5,000-document library on its website for math teachers to use as lesson materials. Anyone can use the material on the website without logging in, but to get access to tools such as the lesson plan builder, you need to create an account. The tools aren’t tailored for a particular subject matter.

OpenCurriculum’s tools are used by about 6,000 teachers and users every month. With the tools from the new library, about 20 teachers who were in beta with the library found that teachers are saving 50 percent of the first-time lesson planning and 20 percent of lesson plan revision time.

Unbabel (YC W14) Raises $1.5M To Expand Translation Service, Grow Customer Base

Congrats, Unbabel team! 

In the interconnected world, machines are too rigid in understanding the nuances in translating languages and humans are too slow for on-the-fly translation. That’s why Unbabel brings robots and humans together to deliver a faster and affordable translation service.

Launched in March and backed by Y Combinator, CEO and co-founder Vasco Pedro says four months later, Unbabel is growing about 15 percent a week in sales and 12 percent a week on the number of editors working on the platform. The company has about 160 paying customers.

Welcome Scott, Dalton, Adora, Brett, Nicole, Alexis, and Qasar

We have a bunch of new additions to the YC team to announce.

Scott Bell is joining the YC software team.  He was a co-founder of Skysheet from YC W09. He’s coming to YC from Houston where he was doing consulting and Lisp hacking.

Dalton Caldwell is becoming a partner.  He was the cofounder and CEO of imeem (acquired by MySpace in 2009), and the cofounder and CEO of App.net.  He has a BS in Symbolic Systems and a BA in Psychology from Stanford University.

Adora Cheung is joining as a part-time partner.  She is the cofounder and CEO of Homejoy.  Previously, she studied computer science at Clemson University and was the cofounder of Task.FM.

Brett Gibson is joining the YC software team.  He was cofounder of Slinkset and Posterous, both funded by Y Combinator in 2008 with the latter acquired by Twitter in 2012. He later founded Posthaven with fellow Posterous cofounder Garry Tan.

Nicole Lazar is joining YC as our first batch manager.  She’ll be responsible for helping the founders in the current batch and making sure everything runs smoothly.  Previously, she worked at Andreessen Horowitz.

Alexis Ohanian is becoming a partner.  Alexis cofounded reddit, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 acquired by Condé Nast in 2006 and he's now on the Board of Directors. He then launched hipmunk (YC 2010) and ran marketing + PR until leaving to fight SOPA & PIPA.  He has a BA in history and BS in commerce from University of Virginia.

Qasar Younis is becoming a partner.  He was the founder and CEO of TalkBin, which was funded by Y Combinator and acquired by Google. At Google, Qasar went on to be the product lead for business facing product.  He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University and a MBA from Harvard. 

Welcome to the team!

(Dalton and Qasar were already part-time partners, and Alexis was our ambassador to the east.)

Product Hunt (YC S14) Is In Current Y Combinator Batch

Welcome to Y Combinator, Product Hunt

Much-buzzed-about startup Product Hunt has another trick up its sleeve — it turns out the startup is in the current Y Combinator batch. As a reminder, Product Hunt is a community-powered news website for tech product launches. It’s a website where you can submit, upvote and comment on today’s new tech products. And it has quickly become the center of the conversations for many influential tech people.

Why The First YC-Backed Biotech Company (Ginkgo Bioworks YC S14) May Just Be The Future Of Pharma

Ginkgo Bioworks sounds kind of like a mad science lab of the future. The Boston-based biotech company is currently working on a project with DARPA to treat antibiotic-resistant germs, using designer microbes to convert CO2 emissions into fuel and is somehow making yeast smell like roses.

Bioworks co-founder Jason Kelly considers these projects, and many others, the future of the pharmaceutical industry. “The designer organisms we create are solving a supply problem,” he says. “Instead of going to the agriculture industry or pharma we will eventually just use organisms.”

Kelly says this is the main reason he and his co-founders started Ginkgo while at MIT. The four students began discussing how inefficient it was to program microbes. It was too slow and tedious to make any real dent. It was also a good reason biotech didn’t get the kind of funding that other tech was used to. So they switched things up, added robotics and created the first organism engineering foundry. Their “organism engineers” now take DNA sequencing from nature and basically create designer microbes that can actually replace technology with biology.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Harnessing Big Data For Social Good, Nonprofit Bayes Impact (YC S14) Launches

We're excited to welcome Bayes Impact to Y Combinator. Bayes Impact is a nonprofit that deploys teams of data scientists to create data-driven solutions for challenging social problems. The organization runs full-time fellowship programs that bring together domain experts and data scientists from top technology companies and academic institutions.

Currently, Bayes Impact has 6 fellows working on 4 projects over the course of their 3-month pilot summer program. The Fall Cohort will have 25 Fellows working on 10 projects that tackle problems including:

• Reducing prison overcrowding by educating parole decisions with inmates risk assessment models

• Making microfinance more economically viable through fraud detection algorithms

• Predicting fires and smarter routing of fire trucks for fire departments

• Identifying early indicators of Parkinson’s in collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Bayes Impact was founded in April 2014 by Paul Duan (formerly lead data scientist at Eventbrite), Andrew Jiang (founded the government tech company Hitchhiker Labs), and Eric Liu (former VC at Thomvest Ventures). They are funded by Y Combinator, and supported by Teespring (YC W13) with a $50,000 grant. 

YC Portfolio Stats

We get asked a lot for statistics on the YC portfolio.  Even though some of these aren’t that helpful [1], here is the latest update on the numbers we get asked about the most.  As always, all the credit goes to the founders. 

Total market cap of all YC companies: >$30 billion

Total money raised by all YC companies: >$3 billion

Number of YC companies worth more than $1 billion: 3 [2]

Number of YC companies worth more than $100 million: >20 [3]

Number of companies funded by YC so far: 716

Number of companies in the current batch: 85

Acceptance rate of the current batch: <3%

Number of nuclear energy companies in the current batch: 2


[1] Intermediate valuations aren’t worth very much, for example.  But we don’t keep statistics on total revenue or jobs created, though I expect both numbers would be impressive.

 [2] This is how many companies are currently worth over $1 billion, but even if we never funded another company I think it would at least double and probably triple or quadruple.

 [3] Similar to the note above, this number should go up a lot just from our current portfolio—it generally takes companies a few years to get above this threshold.