For a long time, YC founders (and other investors) have asked us why we don't continue to financially support our companies after our initial investment by doing our pro rata in future rounds. Many new investors really like to see the support of existing investors.
The fruits and vegetables that you find in your grocery store's produce section are typically hand-picked by millions of field workers around the world. It's a huge industry with a huge workforce, but the systems farms use to manage and track their workers are often woefully low-tech and error-prone.
PickTrace is a startup launching out of our current class that has created a hardware and software system that brings real-time analytics to farms, enabling them to track, manage and pay their workers fairly and accurately.
TechCrunch's Christine Magee interviewed Picktrace's co-founders Austin and Harrison Steed in a post published today:
"Generally farm employees are paid by the bucket, either at flat fee or by weight, to incentivize good performance, according to Austin.Read much more about PickTrace in TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.
'At the end of the day, the farm has to go back through and add up numbers for each employee, and calculate minimum wage based off of piece rates,' Austin says. 'Basically during harvest season you’re constantly doing payroll.'
With PickTrace, each picker in the field is provided with a barcoded ID badge so they can check in when they start. When they finish picking, they weigh their yield at a Bluetooth-connected scale, which automatically captures the weight, location, employee and how long it took."
In recent years, it's become almost the norm for United States-based clothing designers to manufacture their products in other countries. But from thousands of miles away, it is not easy for designers to ensure that the factories they're working with are truly reliable, trustworthy, and ethical.
Maderight is a startup in our current class that streamlines and simplifies the way that clothing companies source global manufacturers. With access to a network of 49 factories in 5 countries, Maderight ensures that clothing designers are hooked up with manufacturers that are vetted for good quality control, logistics, and labor practices.
TechCrunch's Catherine Shu wrote about Maderight in a story published this week:
"As an intermediary between brands and companies, Maderight provides each of their clients with a production expert who oversees every aspect of the manufacturing process, from creating a 'tech pack,' or technical design files, to making sure completed orders are shipped to warehouses on time.
Maderight, which is also taking part in StartX, the accelerator program backed by Stanford University, works with more than 50 factories which have been audited by third-party inspectors such as SGS, Intertek, and Bureau Veritas. It regularly conducts its own checks to make sure manufacturers maintain safe working conditions, don’t use child labor, and give employees enough rest breaks."
Read more in-depth about Maderight, its founders, and its plans for the future in TechCrunch here.
Neurological diseases have historically been very complex to treat. That's partly because brain diseases are caused by complex interactions between many genes, while many researchers and drug discoveries target just one gene at a time.
Verge Genomics is a startup in our current class that takes an algorithmic approach to map out the hundreds of genes that cause a brain disease such as Alzheimers, ALS, and Parkinsons. Verge Genomics then searches for drugs that target all the relevant genes at once. This system means that Verge Analytics can find the right combination of drugs for a brain disease up to 1000 times faster than current approaches.
TechCrunch's Jordan Crook interviewed Verge Genomics' co-founders in a story today:
"'I like to use a basketball analogy,' said co-founder Jason Chen. 'Big pharma is taking the approach of covering the best player on the court, whereas we approach the game by spreading out our defense and covering the whole team, man-to-man.'You can read more about Verge Genomics on TechCrunch here, and participate in the related discussion on Hacker News here.
The plan is to partner with pharmaceutical companies to accelerate what is now an antiquated process of blind testing of single genes. Using the Verge Genomics technology, these companies will be able to locate entire gene networks causing neurodegenerative diseases, as well as using existing approved drugs (which may have expired patents) to treat these diseases while saving time and money."
If you go to any ski mountain or surf spot these days, it seems like just about everyone has a GoPro video camera or an iPhone out to document their best moves. But it's much easier to passively shoot hours of video than it is to fish out the highlights and edit it all down to something watchable.
That's where Shred Video comes in. Shred Video is a startup in our Summer 2015 class with an app that makes it as easy to compose a cinema-quality movie from raw action sports footage as it is to upload photos to a photo album.
TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Shred Video in a story today:
"Shred Video, a new startup launching out of Y Combinator, allows users to take footage from their iPhone, GoPro or drone and simply match it with a song from the user’s iTunes library. That’s all. Shred Video does the rest of the work.
Taking into account the acceleration of the camera itself, Shred Video can pin-point the moments of action for surfers, snowboarders, skaters and other acceleration-based sports to highlight all of the coolest clips in your footage. And beyond that, Shred Video matches those epic moments with the beat-drop of the song."
Shred Video does its magic in around just 10 seconds -- it's pretty amazing to watch. You can see Shred Video in action in the video embedded at the bottom of this post, and read more about the company and its technology in TechCrunch here.
Tensions often flare up between UI designers and front-end developers as a software product is being built. Typically, a UI designer's job is not over once a design is created -- they also have to put hours of work manually preparing "specs" that translate the design into a format that developers can understand. The developers then have to spend a lot of time trying to understand the designer's mindset and looking for the right resources to build the product. The waiting and constant back-and-forth can lead to a lot of frustration between the two sides.
Zeplin is a startup that's in our current class that can help ease these problems, with a collaboration tool that helps UI designers and front-end developers work together quickly and easily.
VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about Zeplin in an article today:
"This Y Combinator-backed company offers a nicely designed interface that will provide developers with the information they need in order to program the website or app they’re working on. Designers import their completed design file, and Zeplin will automatically provide developers with the project element’s dimensions, colors, and behaviors. It also includes a component that allows designers to create a universal style guide for developers so they won’t have to constantly search for guidelines on how to treat text, buttons, and so on.
The service opened up in beta last September and has more than 30,000 individual users, including teams from Slack, Pinterest, Shopify, and Feedly."
As we have said many times before, we work hard to keep a level playing field for all investors in the YC ecosystem. Helpful early-stage investors that come after YC are crucial to the ongoing success of our companies, and we believe high-quality companies and fairness are the ways to attract them.
Some YC alumni are starting to raise venture funds, and as the YC community gets bigger and more successful, we expect to see more instances of this.
On the whole, we’re delighted about this.
But we want to be very clear that alumni that raise venture funds are treated as investors and not alumni—for example, they come to regular demo day, not alumni demo day.
We also want to be clear that none of these funds have any special access from YC (though the YC network is pretty tight, and many of the social relationships are strong). Sometimes this point gets lost in the noise and people get confused, so we thought we’d double-clarify this.
Launching today out of our Summer 2015 class, Call9 is a startup that has built an app that connects emergency room doctors to people in need of urgent care.
The average ambulance wait time is 15 minutes -- a time period that can be far too long to wait for medical assistance in emergency situations. Call9 is a mobile app that bridges that gap by connecting patients in need of urgent care with an on-call emergency room doctor via video chat within one minute.
Call9's service is targeted to businesses that already have nurses or staff trained in First Aid on hand (think nursing homes, schools, and hotels) but need extra help in the event of medical emergencies.
TechCrunch's Christine Magee wrote about Call9 in a story published today:
"Call9 has developed a 911 alternative for nursing homes, schools, and hotels to use in case of a medical emergency. The nurse, teacher, or concierge can open the Call9 app to immediately connect, via video chat, to an on-call ER doctor. The doctor assesses what’s going on with the patient, instructs the person on the ground how to perform basic medical procedures and administer medicine, and hits a button to order an ambulance if necessary.
The app is just part one of Call9’s two-pronged approach to on-demand urgent care. The company distributes mobile emergency kits to each facility, which include an EKG machine, ultrasound machine, and other equipment necessary to perform bedside laboratory tests. The data collected by these machines is uploaded into the cloud, which means that the remote doctor can see the results of an ultrasound on his screen in real-time and advise the nurse on where to place her hands, for instance."
A lot of shopping is a waiting game. You see something you like, then negotiate in your head whether to buy it now or wait for it to go on sale. There's risk on both sides: If and when the price drops, your size or preferred color might not be available. But it's so frustrating to see something you've bought for full price discounted just days after you made your purchase.
Paribus is a startup in our current class that allows you to make the online purchases you want, when you want, without worrying about comparison shopping or price drops.
Business Insider's Jillian D'Onfro detailed how Paribus works in a story published last week:
"Paribus takes advantage of the fact that many of stores vow to refund customers the difference if their competitors offer the same product for cheaper or if they introduce their own additional discount not long after the initial purchase.Paribus debuted its app in beta in May 2015, and currently has more than 15,000 users.
There are two barriers to people actually ever getting any money back though: Every store has a different specific policy, often buried deep within the fine print on their websites, and most people don't want to go through the hassle of keeping tabs on dropping or competitor prices, much less painstakingly contacting the company in question.
...[Paribus] users sign up with any email address that they plan to use for most of their online purchases. Every time a receipt hits their inbox, Paribus scrapes the product information and will spend several weeks poking around for potential discounts. If it finds one, the shopper will get a refund."
You can read more about Paribus in Business Insider here, and in TechCrunch here.
Ten years ago, Paul Graham said there could be ten times as many startups if more people realized they could try. Thanks to the work he, Jessica, Trevor and Robert helped do, that’s become true.
We think there is still room for another ten-fold increase in the number of (good) startups. But even now, a lot of good founders never get started because they can’t scrape together a relatively small sum of money at the idea stage.
So we’re going to try a new experiment, which we’re calling the YC Fellowship. This is targeted at teams that are very, very early.
Like YC, we will accept applications and evaluate both the team and the idea. We expect these startups to be early–a prototype is more than enough (though we expect you to have an idea). In order to have the most impact, we’re only considering companies that haven’t yet raised money from investors. Unlike companies that YC funds, YC Fellows won’t have to move to the Bay Area (though we strongly encourage they do). For this experiment, we’re willing to try office hours over video chat.
YC Fellows will receive $12,000 per team as a grant (though if this continues past this test run, we will probably do a more traditional investment with equity for future Fellows) and access to advice from the YC community.
The program will be much lighter weight than YC, but we’ll still try to help you a lot. A dedicated partner will advise YC Fellows and be available for office hours. Fellowship recipients will have a kickoff day and an end event in Mountain View, and we’ll pay for remote teams to fly out for these. We’ll also make some things from YC available to YC Fellows, like AWS and Microsoft hosting credits. We’ll encourage but not require that Fellows later apply to Y Combinator.
The program runs for 8 weeks, from mid-September to mid-November. You should expect to work full-time on your project for those 8 weeks.
Also, this doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. If you fail but seem good, we’ll happily consider you again with a new idea.
We understand that $12,000 is not a lot of money, and this won’t make sense for everyone. But for some people, it may be the difference between going to work at a big company and starting the next Airbnb. Those are the people we hope to help here.
Applications are open now and are due July 27th at 8pm PT. That’s not a lot of time, but it should be enough – the right teams are likely already tinkering with ideas.
Although this is an experiment, if it seems promising we’ll iterate quickly just like any good startup. Our goal at YC is to enable as much innovation as we can. Someday if it works, we’d love to fund 1,000 companies per year like this.