YC Digest - 3/6-3/12

Top Stories from the YC World - 3/6/15-3/12/15
YC's 10th birthday was on March 11. Here's how YC started.

Welcome Peter - Peter Thiel joins YC as a part-time partner

The 5 Laws of Interface Design by Kevin Hale



Lully (YC W15) Built A Device To Prevent Night Terrors

Lully joins the YC W15 batch: 

"Lully cofounder Andy Rink grew up with a twin sister who suffered from night terrors. Each night, like clockwork, she would experience a terrible nightmare, but instead of waking from it instantly like most kids, she had to suffer through it.

That’s why Rink and his cofounder Varun Boriah teamed up to create Lully. After studying sleep patterns at Stanford Biodesign together, the duo took their research to the drawing board and realized that a strong enough vibration, at an easily predictable interval, could actually soothe the child through the potential period of night terror and let everyone in the house sleep peacefully.

Lully is a smart device that goes under the mattress of the child experiencing night terrors. Producing a vibration about 10x stronger than the one in your smartphone, the Lully brings children out of that unhealthy sleep pattern into a lighter sleep, avoiding the whole night terror episode before it even begins."

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Treeline (YC W15) Wants To Take The Coding Out Of Building A Backend

"Building the backend to power your dream app is one of the walls that stops front-end developers from even attempting to prototype their own app designs.

It’s got to run fast but efficiently on whatever infrastructure you decide to use. It has to work with any platform you might build a client for. If something goes wrong, it undermines all of the other work you’ve done to make your customers happy.

Y Combinator-backed Treeline is trying to break down that intimidation by stripping the job of building a backend down to its essence: building the pipelines data flows through in an application or service." 

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Notable Labs (YC W15) Provides Personalized Medical Testing For Brain Cancer Patients

Notable Labs joins the YC W15 batch:

"Matt de Silva was working as a hedge fund manager with Thiel Capital in the fall of 2013 when he got the news that his dad had brain cancer — specifically, a Glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

There are very few treatment options for this type of cancer. De Silva’s father was told he had about 3-6 months to live even with chemotherapy and radiation. Most patients live 15 months with this kind of cancer.

It was a devastating blow, but de Silva was determined to find a better option for his dad. A bit of research into alternatives gave him an idea. He could use the known molecular structures of a combination of already approved drugs to fight the aggressive tumor mutations. “It became apparent to me that doctors and patients are open to this approach, but lack enough data to implement it,” he said.

This convinced de Silva to pair up with his running buddy and pre-med student Pete Quinzio to found the Y Combinator-backed Notable Labs, a personalized testing service for brain cancer patients that prioritizes combinations of FDA-approved treatments that can be immediately prescribed by a doctor."

Meetings Are Usually Terrible, But WorkLife (YC W15) Aims To Change That

"I’m guessing that everyone reading this post has been in a meeting that made you hate your life. You know, where one or two people drone on and on, half of the attendees seem to be talking past each other, and at the end no one’s sure what’s been decide or who’s responsible for doing what.

Well, a startup called WorkLife has built tools designed to make meetings better. It’s part of the current batch of startups incubated at Y Combinator, and I got on the phone last week with co-founder and CEO Dave Kashen to discuss the product.

Naturally, we used WorkLife during our call. There are other startups promising to make meetings better, but what struck me about Kashen’s product is its simplicity — it doesn’t require any big changes in existing behavior, but it could still be pretty helpful." 

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Nomiku (YC W15), Maker of An Affordable Sous Vide Machine, Gets Into Software With Tender App

Nomiku joins the YC W15 batch and launches the sous vide app Tender: 

"Nomiku has come a long way in a year. The company, which makes the formerly haute cooking technique of sous vide affordable to the masses, is getting into software with a new recipes app and more e-commerce with a pre-packaged food service.

For those of you who don’t know what sous vide is, it’s a way of cooking food in a water bath that’s precisely temperature controlled. Food gets evenly cooked all the way through instead of being charred and dry on the outside and raw on the inside. Nomiku’s immersion circulator has a knob that you rotate to the exact temperature that you want, then you drop your sealed ingredients into a bucket full of water and wait. Since launching the company, they have created some of the most successful food-related Kickstarters of all time by raising more than $1.3 million in two separate campaigns. The original version of the product is also in 7,000 homes.

Now they’ve joined Y Combinator and are bringing a sous vide recipe app to the market. Called Tender, it contains recipes from well-known chefs like Rene Redzepi, Kristen Kish and Mei Lin. It also lets you remotely control your Nomiku and share recipes with others."

Read the full story on TechCrunch

SIRUM (YC W15) Matches Unused Medicine With Low-Income Patients

YC welcomes SIRUM to the W15 batch: 

"An estimated $5 billion worth of prescription medication gets burned up, flushed down the drain or thrown in the garbage each year. About $2 billion worth of it just sits on the shelf at long-term care facilities in the United States until it expires, according to University of Chicago researchers.

That’s a terrible waste, considering prescription medication is one of the highest costs in our healthcare system and that one in four families in the United States can’t afford to pay for those prescribed medications.

SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that operates out of the Haas Center at Stanford University. It’s a patent-pending software platform that acts as a sort of on-demand inventory for pharmacies and care facilities to make it easier to redistribute the otherwise unused medications to patients who can’t afford to pay for their prescriptions each year."

Welcome Peter

I’m delighted to announce Peter Thiel is joining YC as one of the (now 10!) part-time partners. 

In addition to founding PayPal and Palantir and being the first investor in Facebook, Peter has been involved with many of the most important technology companies of the last 15 years, both personally and through Founders Fund, and the founders of those companies will generally tell you he has been their best source of strategic advice.  He already works with a number of YC companies, and we’re very happy he’ll be working with more.

We generally won’t bring on people that are involved with other investing firms given the obvious conflict, but Peter is so good we felt like we had to make an exception.  Peter won’t invest in any companies while they’re in YC or for 3 months after they present at Demo Day (this will apply to Peter’s investment entities as well), which should eliminate any unfair advantage.  We’re pretty paranoid about potential conflicts, and we’ll continually evaluate this and change it if it’s not working.

On a personal note, Peter is one of the two people (along with PG) who has taught me the most about how to invest in startups.  I am confident that Peter joining will be great for YC.

BuildScience’s (YC W15) Platform Ties Hardware Systems Together In Big Office Buildings

"Google’s $3 billion acquisition of Nest made it clear that Internet-connected hardware in the home was a big opportunity. But what about the commercial market?

Y Combinator-backed BuildScience is betting that owners of large commercial office buildings are going to want a similar way of managing heating, lighting, utility metering, and security. But this startup is not building its own hardware. Instead, they are plugging into and building a software platform for existing ventilation and lighting systems, which they say have caught up dramatically in the last five years with the Internet-of-Things wave. They say these systems now make use of thousands of sensors, but there’s no elegant way of viewing or using that data.

The app that Patel and co-founder Jaimal Soni have built lets building owners and property managers drill down into floor-by-floor stats on security and lighting among other areas. They can track down unique issues if, say, heating stops working on a certain floor. That data can also go toward managing costs and energy usage better."

Read the full article on TechCrunch

EquipmentShare (YC W15) Is Like Airbnb For Construction Equipment

EquipmentShare joins the YC W15 batch: 

"In today’s world it seems there are fewer and fewer industries exist where there isn’t some sort of peer-to-peer model emerging for access to the goods needed to get a job done. Every segment is creating its own “Airbnb for X,” which you can attribute to a growing acceptance that as we all become connected, there’s little reason for each of us to own all the same stuff when we could just borrow what we need from a neighbor.

Apparently that theory even holds true for the construction industry, where a little startup called EquipmentShare is making it easier for construction crews to rent equipment they don’t own from other contractors, while also allowing them to make money off their own idle gear."

Read the full story on TechCrunch