Top Stories from the YC World - 12/18-1/01

YC Digest - 12/18-1/01
> Applications for the Female Founders Conference are open


Launches

Essays
Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In by Paul Graham: "The US has less than 5% of the world's population. Which means if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed, 95% of great programmers are born outside the US." 

> We're all communication hoarders by Aaron Harris: "There's a class of product yet to be successfully created that can sift through all of my communication, across all platforms, that finds what is actually meaningful." 

Fundraising



YC-Backed Omniref (YC W15) Is Rap Genius For Code

YC W15's Omniref announced their launch today on TechCrunch

"While the open source movement has made getting up and running with a software project incredibly easy for those who know what to look for, the reality is that not every project can be updated to support the latest versions of the code they’re built on.

Over time, this means that you see thousands of projects running on some old version of a library that seemingly no one is familiar with anymore.

Y Combinator-backed Omniref is building a code reference tool that could help developers get assistance from others building on the same code. Originally launched as a code search tool for Ruby in November 2013, the site has since added a Q/A feature resembling Genius’s annotation feature, as made famous by Rap Genius."

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Female Founders Conference 2015 applications are open

We’re delighted to announce the second Y Combinator Female Founders Conference, on Saturday, February 21 in San Francisco. 

Once again, we’ll bring current and future founders together to share their stories, give advice, and make connections. 

At YC, we have the honor of working with a lot of incredible female founders, and this is our chance to introduce some of them to you. If you are thinking about starting a startup or are in the midst of running one, we hope hearing stories from other women will inspire you to take the leap (or keep going!). 

We'll also be joined by distinguished guests like Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code), Ruchi Sanghvi (the first female engineer at Facebook and founder of Cove, acquired by Dropbox), and a few more, whose stories we're excited to hear ourselves.  

If you're a woman interested in learning more about building startups or non-profits, we encourage you to apply.

YC Digest -12/10-12/17

Top Stories from the YC World - 12/10-12/17

Amazon Not As Unstoppable As It May Appear - Instacart (YC S12) in the NYT 



Essays
> "How You Knowby Paul Graham: "Your mind is like a compiled program you've lost the source of. It works, but you don't know why." 

Launches

Fundraising






Hiptic Games (YC S11) Launches Its GameThrive Push Notification Service

Congrats to Hiptic Games on the launch of GameThrive

Hiptic Games, a Y Combinator alum that’s been operating in stealth since the summer 2011 batch, has launched GameThrive, a push notification service that aims to help developers engage players when they’re least likely to be annoyed.

Originally built for the team’s own needs, the service combines push-notification delivery automation with analytics tools to avoid overwhelming users to the point where they delete an app. Looking at things like playing habits and response rates to different notifications, the service schedules messages for in-game deals or events at times when players will be mostly likely to engage with them and come back to the game.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Bettir (YC W15) Wants To Chat With You About Your Blood Pressure

Meet Bettir, the first YC Winter 2015 company to launch. Bettir is an app that lets you record your blood pressure and get daily feedback from experts. 

Chances are you only get your blood pressure checked maybe once or twice a year at the doctor’s office. You sit down in a relaxed setting near the waiting room while a nurse wraps a black velcro unit around your upper arm and pumps away. Perhaps the reading comes out a little high, but nothing to worry about. At least until you find yourself in a high stress situation, your blood pressure spikes and you end up having a stroke.

Going to your doctor twice a year isn’t the ideal way to get an accurate reading, says Bettir CEO Mike Chen. He and his four other co-founders, David Merriman, Ben Godlove, Nic Novak and Michael Rubin, were all friends at Oberlin when they started discussing the idea of going the startup route together. The band formed and through some health research, Bettir was born. It’s now Y Combinator-backed and ready to ship.

Transcriptic for YC biotech startups

Reducing cost and cycle time as much as possible is one of the highest-leverage things anyone can do to help startups.  A few years ago, we rolled out deals with Amazon, Heroku, Microsoft, and Rackspace to make web hosting available for free to the startups we fund.

As we expand into new areas, we’ll put similar relationships in place.

I’m happy to announce a partnership with Transcriptic for our biotech companies.

YC biotech companies will get $20,000 of free credit from Transcriptic to run experiments on their platform.  Transcriptic is a remote, robotic life science research lab that lets a user type an experiment into a web browser and run it in the real world.  Transcriptic will hopefully do for biotech startups what AWS has done for web startups.

(In the interest of disclosure, Transcriptic is also in the upcoming YC batch.) 

We’ll be doing sharing some news along the same lines for hardware startups soon, and as we continue to expand into new areas we’ll continue to add new partnerships. 

Welcome Michael, Jon, and Ilya

I’m delighted to share that Michael Seibel (formerly a part-time partner at YC) and Jon Levy (formerly a part-time lawyer for YC) are becoming partners.

Additionally, Ilya Sukhar (CEO of Parse, which was acquired by Facebook) is becoming a part-time partner. 

Previously, Michael was a co-founder and CEO Justin.tv and the co-founder and CEO of Socialcam (YC S2012, acquired by Autodesk).  In 2014 Justin.tv became Twitch Interactive and under the leadership of Emmett Shear Kevin Lin sold to Amazon for $970MM.  Michael graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in political science.  

Jon Levy previously counseled public and private companies as an attorney for WSGR and began consulting with Y Combinator in 2008.  Jon also worked in investment banking for many years.  Over the past several years, Jon has become one of the most trusted advisors to many YC startups.  Jon earned a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and B.A. in English Literature and Religious Studies from Wesleyan University.

Ilya is cofounder and CEO of Parse (YC S2011) which was acquired by Facebook in 2013. He continues to run the company as a subsidiary of Facebook and also works on other platform projects there. Prior to Parse, Ilya was the first employee at Etacts (YC W10, acquired by Salesforce) and an early employee at Ooyala.  He studied Computer Science and Operations Research at Cornell.

Flow (YC S13), an intuitive and precise wireless controller, launches today

Flow, a low cost, high precision wireless controller, launched on Indiegogo today. 

According to the team behind Flow (Senic YC S13), "We work on graphic design, video editing or CAD on a daily basis. Keyboard and mouse are great but they are far from giving you the same sensitivity and abilities as your hand. 

The same applies for music, browsing or presentations. We need a tool that gives us flexible shortcuts and perfect control, a tool that makes the things we love fast, precise, intuitive and fun." 

Flow has developed controls for more than 30 applications, including YouTube, Spotify and Photoshop, and early backers will get access to their developer platform in March 2015.

Learn more: 

Pre-order on Indiegogo

What We Learned From 40 Female YC Founders

We’re excited to launch Female Founder Stories, a collection of interviews with 40 of Y Combinator’s female alumnae.  We asked them about things like how they got started, their experience at Y Combinator, their experience as female founders, and what they wish they'd known when they were younger.  As you'll see, their answers are fascinating, both individually and in their variety.

This is the biggest collection of interviews with female startup founders I've seen in one place, and as a result we have an unprecedented opportunity to notice patterns in their experiences (and just as interesting, where there aren't patterns).

One of the most consistent patterns is how many founders wished they'd learned to program when they were younger. Some wished they'd even known it was an option, and many others knew it was an option but were either intimidated or felt they’d somehow missed the window. "Don't opt out of computer science because you think you are behind," one founder said. "You probably aren’t."

We got an interesting variety of responses when we asked the women whether being a female was advantageous or disadvantageous in their roles as founders. Some felt they had been harmed but as many felt it was an advantage. Interestingly, many said it got them attention for being unusual, and that they'd used this to their advantage. Others felt that being female did impose some barriers, but didn't let it get them down.  "Given how hard it is to be a founder (male or female)," one said, "gender disadvantages are probably just a rounding error."

One surprise was how varied the founders’ backgrounds were. I know all these women and even I was surprised how varied their paths to Y Combinator were.  If you wanted evidence contradicting the myth that YC only funds one type of founder, you could not do better than read these interviews.

Not surprisingly, most of the women were domain experts solving a problem they themselves had.  That's something that tends to be true of successful founders regardless of gender.

When I started Y Combinator back in 2005, I was one of a tiny minority of women in the venture business, and from the start I've made sure YC had an environment that is supportive of women.  It wasn't even a conscious decision.  To the extent there was one partner in charge of YC's environment, it was me, and as a woman myself I would not have tolerated anything else.  And as YC has grown, so has the number of female partners. Now there are four of us and we are not tokens, or a female minority in a male-dominated firm. At the risk of offending my male colleagues, who will nevertheless understand what I mean, some would claim it's closer to the truth to say that that we run the place. As YC funds more and more startups, Kirsty, Carolynn, Kat, and I are dedicated to maintaining an environment where women feel welcome and can succeed.

The number of startups we've funded with a female founder has grown from a trickle when we first started to about 19% in 2014. In the most recent batch (W15), we asked about gender on the application form for the first time. The percentage of startups we accepted with female founders was identical to the percentage who applied. (And this happened organically; we didn't check the numbers until after.)  Which implies the percentage of female founders we fund will increase in proportion to the percentage of female applicants.

There are two ways I think YC can have the most impact in increasing the number of female founders. First, we need to continue to do what we’ve always done: to help individual female founders’ startups succeed.  Those women will then become role models who inspire other women to make the leap and start startups too.  To serve as role models they need to be visible, so we're also focusing on showcasing YC’s female alumni through interviews like these and events like our Female Founders Conference.

I said at the first Female Founders Conference last March that I thought 2014 would be the tipping point for female founders. I still think I’m right, and our hope is that these interviews will be part of what makes things tip-- that they will both inspire more women to start startups (and please apply to YC!) and also inspire some who already have started to keep going.

Startups are hard. They are not the right thing for everyone. But what makes them the right thing for you is whether you are driven enough, not what gender you are, and that's one of the clearest patterns in these interviews.

Save the date: Y Combinator's second annual Female Founders Conference will be held in San Francisco on February 21, 2015.