Outschool (YC W16) Helps Parents Find and Book Great Classes and Field Trips


Many parents are frustrated by the one-size-fits-all, standards-based approach of the U.S. education system. Every kid is unique, with their own interests, and ready to learn different things at different times. It's nearly impossible for a child to get the best learning experience by taking the standard path alone.

Outschool is a startup launching out of our Winter 2016 class that wants to fill in the gaps left by the standard education process, by helping parents find and book learning activities for kids outside of regular school.

In just a few months since its initial launch in the San Francisco Bay Area, Outschool has grown to offer more than 300 classes from independent educators to a community of more than 1,500 parents. Classes have included an outdoor science hike, a wind-tunnel physics class with indoor skydiving, and WWI espionage technology.

The Outschool approach creates the best learning experiences because it allows students to learn about what they’re interested in, from teachers who are teaching what they’re passionate about. Outschool's classes also cover topics that are broader and more interdisciplinary than standard school curricula. This is important, because now more than ever, success depends on creativity, original thought and developing diverse skills. Each interest a child pursues is an opportunity to discover the world, develop new skills, and connect with the greater community.

Outschool is currently active in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, and Sacramento. Learn more at outschool.com and the company blog.

Hingeto (YC W16) Lets Fashion Brands Gauge the Clothes Customers Will Want to Buy

Every year, fashion brands make multi-million dollar inventory decisions without any customer feedback. This approach leaves them with tons of unwanted stock.

Fast fashion brands such as Zara have enjoyed surging popularity (and profitability) by making products based on customer data: They feature styles with limited inventory to test in their stores, and then produce more of the top sellers within weeks.

Hingeto is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that democratizes this approach, giving every brand the tools to test their fashion ideas before they have to invest in producing them. 

Hingeto builds crowdfunding sites that let fashion brands test demand for new designs without having to produce them upfront. Hingeto’s sites integrate seamlessly into a brand’s own website, and lets them test dozens of new designs simultaneously, and only produce the popular ones. 

Take the jacket pictured in the feature image above. The bomber jacket was a trending fashion item for this spring -- but youth fashion brand Crooks & Castles didn’t have one in stock, and had no way to know if it was worth the investment to add one to their lineup. Hingeto enabled them to design a mock-up and offer it to their customers within a day, without any upfront monetary commitment. As a result, they’ve sold nearly 100 units in a few weeks at high margin, generating thousands of dollars in new revenue.

The key difference between Hingeto and traditional crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter is that traditional crowdfunding sites focus on one product at a time, but fashion brands want to to crowdfund dozens of designs at once.  Fashion brands are also already selling products on their own site, so it doesn’t make sense for them to send traffic away to a crowdfunding site.  Hingeto plugs into the brand’s own website, creating an extension of their existing experience.

Hingeto has raised a seed round of funding led by Kapor Capital, early Zappos investor Base Ventures, and Charles Hudson’s Precursor VC.

Gigwell (YC W16) Offers an End-to-End Solution for Booking Professional Talent

Live music events have grown in popularity but the tools for artists and musicians have not caught up. Gigwell is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that streamlines the entire event management process.

Josh Constine recently wrote about Gigwell on TechCrunch:

"It’s dumbfounding how an industry as huge as live music still relies on a patchwork of backwards, outdated technologies. Word document offer letters, PDF riders, endless back-and-forth emails, spreadsheets, physical checks. Fax! It makes the whole process a headache that takes forever when organizers could be focusing on making the experience better for attendees and making performers more money.

One guy got so sick of it he coded his own solution. It’s called Gigwell. The Y Combinator startup offers a complete concert booking software suite that handles everything from asking artists to play to paying them.

If Gigwell takes off, it could do more than streamline booking for big agents. Gigwell could grow the live music revenue pie for artists, who make 70 percent of their income from concerts. That’s because if Gigwell makes it easy enough for anyone to book a show, there’ll be fewer artists pinching pennies in basements and more making the big bucks on stage."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.


Toymail (YC W16) Lets Kids Exchange Voice Messages With Friends and Family

Parents worry that giving their children a smartphone too early will contribute to attention problems and possibly expose them to inappropriate content. At the same time, parents also want their kids to stay connected to friends and family for social and security reasons.

Toymail is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that offers an elegant solution by allowing kids to use their WIFI-enabled plush toys to communicate with friends and family. Parents can send voice messages through the app throughout the day while the kids simply respond with their toy.

Aaron Souppouris wrote about Toymail recently in a story on Engadget:

“Talkies build on the basic functionality of the original line with a number of new features. As before, you connect the toy to WiFi, download an app, and you can then send messages between the two. But now it's opened up a bit. You can send messages to multiple contacts through a Talkie, play back the last 10 messages you've received, and record messages offline for sending later. Also new is the ability to talk to other kids (provided they're approved contacts) toy-to-toy, without going through an app.”

Read the full story about Toymail here.


DoseDr (YC W16) Helps People with Diabetes Control Their Treatment in Real Time

Diabetics with controlled blood sugar levels cost less and lead happier, healthier lives. But the traditional methods for achieving this are often inefficient and ineffective.

Diabetes patients typically see their doctors every three months for adjustments of their insulin doses. Between these visits, their blood glucose levels may be poorly controlled, as patients struggle with complicated treatment regimens. They often rely on pen and paper, trips to the clinic, or nurses checking in with phone calls to track and assess their blood sugar logs. Existing apps promote healthy living through tracking data, but they don't use that data to help doctors make adjustments to their patients' treatment plans in real time.

DoseDr is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class with a mobile app that helps diabetics better control their disease by adjusting their insulin doses in between doctor visits. This can prevent the $150 billion wasted each year from complications from poorly controlled diabetes.

The DoseDr mobile app allows patients to track glucose readings and insulin injections and suggests changes to their regimen, bringing patients closer to goal faster than routine clinic visits. Providers are able to intervene remotely through the web portal, making dose adjustments as necessary. DoseDr also offers a dedicated provider that helps patients stay on track.

It's an approach that has already proven effective. DoseDr has taken on some of the sickest patients – ones uncontrolled despite years of conventional treatment – and gotten their blood glucose levels under control in less than a month. The first patient DoseDr enrolled was saved from a trip to the ICU that would have cost some $13,000. Their provider was alerted by DoseDr to a series of abnormally high blood sugars and saw the patient immediately, catching an infection early enough to avoid hospitalization.

It won’t stop here. DoseDr is starting with diabetes, but the company has an eye on transforming routine medical care across other diseases.

DoseDr is currently available in California and Louisiana, with plans to expand into New York, Florida, and Illinois in the second quarter of 2016.

Tovala (YC W16) Helps You Cook Perfect Meals With Its Countertop Smart Oven

Whether you’re constantly busy, on the go, or just don’t feel like cooking, eating healthy can become a hassle. Takeout doesn’t give you any control over ingredients or portion sizes, and meal delivery plans can be unexpectedly time consuming in preparation and cleanup. 

Tovala is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that allows you to enjoy home cooked meals  using its smart oven and food delivery plan. All you have to do is choose a meal on the app, scan the barcode when it arrives, and just sit back while it cooks. And better yet, you’re left with no dirty dishes.  

Sarah Buhr wrote about Tovala recently in a story on TechCrunch:

"Tovala is a new startup out of Y Combinator that came up with what they hope to be a less expensive alternative to professional combination ovens. The Tovala is a smart oven that can bake, boil and steam meals at up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 to 30 minutes.

The meals come prepackaged from Tovala or can be made using a crowdsourced recipe platform.

Tovala utilizes a combination of dry and wet heat cooking technology instead of microwave technology to quickly cook food and get the right overall temperature for each meal. You can cook several different types of foods such as chicken, rice and asparagus in the same unit at the same time, for example, using Tovala’s technique."

Alex Konrad from Forbes also wrote about Tovala in a story:

"In practice, it looks part Jetsons, part Easy-Bake Oven for millennials. “You’re probably the 200th person to make that comparison,” says Rabie, Tovala’s cofounder and CEO.

The technology behind Tovala isn’t science fiction, Rabie says, nor is it a toy. The hardware, manufactured in China, uses cooking methods that already existed in commercial kitchens, which pay tens of thousands of dollars for large, low-tech versions of Tovala’s hardware already. What’s new is that the startup designed software to scan and process each meal automatically, with a network of chefs behind its meals."

Tim Moynihan from Wired also gave it a try and wrote about his experience:

"We started with Beef Wellington and a side of carrots and roasted garlic—a 18-minute cook time—and it had the balance of juicy meat and crusty goodness down pat. The beef was cooked to medium, warm in the middle, juicy and flavorful and tasty. The pastry was flaky and sog-free, and the carrots were tender without being mushy. Nailed it.

Our second course of herb-stuffed chicken with a side of asparagus was a revelation: Juicy, delicious bird with great seasoning. Restaurant-quality good."

You can also learn more about Tovala through their Kickstarter campaign.



Cover (YC W16) Helps You Insure Anything With the Snap of a Photo

90 percent of all property insurance policies end up getting finalized over the phone. Wouldn't it make sense for them to start there, as well?

Cover is a startup launching out of our Winter 2016 class that provides a mobile-first solution to quickly and easily get a price quote for insurance coverage. Using the Cover app for iOS or Android, you simply take a photo of the property you want insured. Cover connects you with an insurance brokerage in your area best suited to insuring that piece of property.

Cover currently handles 300 requests to help insure cars, homes, pets, electronics, jewelry, phones, computers and more each week.

Many people currently begin the insurance buying process through web aggregators, which are often time-consuming and require more information than is necessary. Ultimately, these services resell that data to a variety of different brokerages, resulting in weeks or months of unwanted spam. Cover provides a straightforward alternative to this system, by connecting you with one partner that will provide the best service and rate, without involving any other middlemen.

Cover first joined the YC community as part of our first ever Fellowship batch. Subsequently, they joined Y Combinator as part of the W16 class.

Cover's cofounders previously worked as management consultants in the finance, risk, and insurance practices of a large consultancy firm. The team has both an intimate understanding of the insurance industry, and expertise at building and distributing mobile products -- a rare combination that gives them a unique advantage in running Cover.

Halolife (YC W16) Brings Transparency and Ease to the Process of Planning a Funeral

Planning a funeral is a sensitive and often stressful process that is further complicated by having to call and visit multiple funeral providers in person, dealing with unclear pricing plans and constant upselling. Across the ten major U.S. metro areas, prices for the same exact funeral service type can vary by more than 100%, according to research from the Funeral Consumer Alliance.

Halolife is an online marketplace launching out of our Winter 2016 class that helps individuals and families find and plan a cremation or burial service that meets their needs, budget, and location. By providing an online solution for these services, Halolife aims to bring transparency and ease of use into a notoriously antiquated and opaque industry.

Using Halolife's automated online platform, individuals can select a plan, choose a funeral provider, complete paperwork electronically, and submit payment all through the web. There is no sales pitch. No pressure. Just a trusted advisor to help make the right choice.

The funeral planning industry is valued at $20.7 billion in the United States, with the average funeral costing between $8,000 and $10,000. With consumers carrying out more and more of their purchases large and small online, demand for an online solution in this market is only going to grow in the coming years.

Halolife CEO and cofounder Jake Beyer says,

“We are seeing younger family members using Halolife to plan for their loved ones in hospice, and even for themselves. Death is a difficult topic. We provide the option for people to plan online at their own speed on their own time."
Last month, Halolife launched a referral program with one of California's largest hospice providers for patients and families to make funeral arrangements.

Halolife's cofounders Jake Beyer and Sam Bolgert both previously worked on building early-stage tech marketplaces at Storefront and Lovely. After seeing the difficulties of planning a funeral firsthand, they decided to build Halolife.


Protonet (YC W16) Runs All Your Collaboration Tools From a Small Orange Box

Running a small business is already tough enough without having to tack on the complexity of managing and maintaining collaboration tools. Simple and easy-to-use solutions are often web-based but hosted off-site, creating headaches for companies that have to deal with strict compliance rules or who want control over their own data. Solutions that do allow for user control are often created for larger enterprises and require additional IT personnel to set up. 

Protonet is a company launching out of our current Winter 2016 class that addresses these two problems. As an Iranian-born refugee, co-founder Ali Jelveh saw an increasing trend in the centralization of information by a few corporations, resulting in businesses and consumers losing control of their own data. In fact, he feared that this continuing trend would limit technological advancement while disenfranchising others. Together with his co-founder Christopher Blum, the two software engineers envision a future where cloud technology can be run and owned by anyone.

To do that, Protonet has created a small little orange box that removes all the complexities of having to set up one’s own infrastructure. It provides easy file sharing, project management, and integrated group chat functionality, all hosted on-site with zero setup required. This allows a small business to run its own private cloud without the need for specific IT knowledge or personnel. The only step is to simply unbox the device and connect it to the office internet.

Current on-site solutions start at $7000, not including the cost of hardware, IT support, or additional add-ons. Protonet’s out-of-the-box solution costs anywhere between $1699 to $5199 depending on storage size and hardware configuration. Protonet has already democratized cloud infrastructure for more than 2,000 companies in Germany, and is now launching availability in the United States.

Learn more about Protonet here.

Georgette Packaging (YC W16) Makes Custom Branded Boxes and Cups for Cafes and Bakeries

Small- and medium-sized bakeries, cafes, and restaurants are currently enjoying a renaissance of sorts, thanks to a renewed enthusiasm for locally made food and the immense marketing power of social media platforms such as Instagram. But as important as branding is to many of these businesses, many of them serve their coffees and food in generic white cups and plain brown boxes. That's because the packaging industry does not tend to provide custom designs in small enough quantities for this market.

Georgette Packaging, a startup launching out of our Winter 2016 class, is filling in this gap, providing a platform that lets companies of any size easily and affordably create their own custom to-go boxes and cups.

Georgette Packaging provides live pricing and online ordering capability for 8 box sizes and 4 cup sizes, including over 660 customizing options. By batch manufacturing many small orders together, and shouldering the cost of tooling, the company is able to offer exceptionally low prices.

The small- and medium-sized food service niche alone is a sizable market, worth some $1 billion annually. But for Georgette, this could be only the beginning: The overall packaging industry currently makes up 1 percent of the United States' GDP, and is estimated to be worth $186 billion in 2017, growing apace with rising global consumption. Georgette Packaging is one of the first startups to address this under-served market from a technology perspective, and has the potential to expand beyond bakeries and cafes in the months ahead.

Georgette Packaging was founded by Sarah Landstreet, an entrepreneur who experienced the problem of finding custom packaging first-hand when she owned a bakery in Ireland. Georgette currently works with over 100 businesses across the US and Canada, and is growing its revenue by 10% every week.