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.

Welcome x 11

We have a lot of new additions to the team to announce.

Tim Brady is joining YC as a Partner.  Previously, he was a Partner at ImagineK12.  Tim was Yahoo’s first employee and spent 8 years as the company’s Chief Product Officer.  Tim was also the CEO of QuestBridge, an educational startup that helps bright low-income high school students gain admissions and aid to many of the nation’s best colleges.  Tim has an MBA from Harvard and a BS in electrical engineering from Stanford.

Chris Clark is joining YC Research as head of operations.  Chris previously ran operations at Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012.  More recently, he was Mayor of Mountain View and still serves on the city council.  Chris has a BA in Political Science from Stanford University.

Bill Clerico is joining YC as a Part-time Partner.  Bill is the co-founder and CEO of WePay (YC S09), a payment company for two-sided marketplaces and software platforms that helps them manage risk.  Previously, Bill was a technology investment banker and studied CS at Boston College.

Cadran Cowansage is joining the YC software team.  Cadran most recently worked for MongoDB, Inc. in NYC.  She has a Master's in Biomedical Informatics and previously worked in several industries, including healthcare, intermodal transportation and finance. 

Jason Kwon is joining YC as a lawyer.  Before joining Y Combinator, Jason was the Assistant General Counsel at Khosla Ventures, and prior to that, an attorney at Goodwin Procter.  In his past life he was also a coder and product manager at several startups.

Karen Lien is joining YC as Edtech Principal.  Karen was previously at Imagine K12, which she joined in 2011 to help launch its first cohort of edtech startups. Before Imagine K12, Karen was the Director of College Relations at QuestBridge.  Prior to QuestBridge, she briefly taught high school chemistry, getting a first-hand taste of the challenges and rewards of working as an educator.  Karen has a B.S. in astronomy and physics from Yale University and an M.S. in astronomy from UCLA.

Brad Lightcap is joining YC Continuity.  Brad brings experience in both finance and operations.  He joined Dropbox in 2013 where he worked on projects ranging from product/partnership analytics to corporate finance and M&A.  Prior to Dropbox, Brad was an analyst with J.P. Morgan's Healthcare Investment Banking group in New York.

Sharon Pope is joining YC as a Part-time Partner.  Sharon is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Green Dot Corporation (a pro-consumer financial technology innovator), where she has worked to conceptualize and launch products for Americans who seek alternatives to big banks. Prior to Green Dot, Sharon was the head of marketing and communications at Loopt (acquired by Green Dot, 2012).

Tom Sparks is joining the YC software team.  He is a systems and network engineer with over 20 years of experience in the field. He's worked for Microsoft, realtor.com, some of the Fortune 100, an early groundbreaking music startup and was one of the founders of one of San Francisco's largest ISPs. He cofounded Cryptoseal (YCS11), which was later acquired by Cloudflare.

Finbarr Taylor is also joining the YC software team.  Finbarr previously co-founded Shogun and worked for Pebble, Exec and Groupon. Before that, he studied CS at Strathclyde University in Scotland. 

Catherine Uong is joining YC as an Associate.  Catherine was previously at ImagineK12, and is passionate about learning and the power of creativity to help unlock students’ potential.  Catherine has a B.S. in Business Administration and a B.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from University of Southern California. 

Welcome, everyone!

Prompt (YC W16) Lets You Interact With Apps and Services With a Simple Text or Slack Message

It seems like there's an app for everything these days. This leaves us with the somewhat absurd but real problem of "app overload" -- it can be time consuming and distracting to open up a dozen different apps to do the stuff you're wanting to get done.

Prompt is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that serves as a "command line for the real world," by letting you interact with all kinds of apps and make purchases through simply sending an SMS, Slack message, or through the web. It lets you access the best parts of your favorite apps quicker and easier than ever.

Sarah Perez wrote about Prompt recently in a story on TechCrunch:

"Prompt offers automated assistance across categories, including commerce, home automation, information and productivity. That means you can text to order an Uber or a Domino’s pizza, get directions, check your flight, read the news or get the weather, find a business on Yelp, get a recipe or manage your IoT devices like WeMo switches, Hue bulbs, Rachio sprinklers or Nest, among other things.

At launch, there are already a ton of integrations, including Uber, AngelList, Bitly, Etsy, Foursquare, Google Maps, IMDb, WhoIs, Merriam-Webster, Hue, Powerball, NYT, Weather Channel, Wikipedia, WeMo, XE.com, Wolfram Alpha, Yahoo Finance, Yelp, Zillow and many others, just to give you an idea. Several more are in the works, including access to CrunchBase, Domino’s, Evernote, Gmail and Google Calendar, PayPal and Wunderlist."

Read the full story about Prompt and how it was developed here. Developers can check out Prompt's SDK here.

Konsus (YC W16) is an On-Demand Platform for Highly-Skilled Freelance Workers

Research indicates that 40% of office time is spent on relatively simple tasks such as polishing presentations, data entry and translations. That's a lot of time spent by full-time staff that could be going toward doing things that are more concretely impacting the core business. But since it can be just as time-consuming to find and hire a qualified freelancer, many companies just continue to do things like this themselves.

Konsus is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class whose aim is to do these tasks for companies, freeing up time and saving money. Konsus has built an on-demand freelancer agency that aims to be the Uber for highly-skilled workers.

Biz Carson recently wrote a story about Konsus in Business Insider:

"To save businesses time, Konsus pre-screens and vets the freelancers to work on its platform, making it easy to find help immediately and not go through the back-and-forth hiring phase. For freelancers, it's a big boost to have a constant stream of tasks without having to invest time into responding and competing for job postings. 

The company narrows down its freelance help to 10 core competencies, ranging from website and logo design to data entry. After spending hours scanning freelancer forums all over the web, these tasks accounted for 60% of contract volume, Thomassen said.

When a business chats Konsus a request, a project manager quotes the company a price and puts it into a pool of available tasks. The project manager will be someone from your country, but the task could be sent to freelancers around the world based on their skill set and availability."

Read the full story about Konsus and the problem it is solving on Business Insider here.

Drive Motors (YC W16) Lets You Buy a New Car Completely Online

The process of going in person to a dealership to shop for a new car can be intimidating and time-consuming, to say the least. Drive Motors is a company that is launching out of our Winter 2016 class that lets you bypass that altogether, enabling people to buy cars completely online.

TechCrunch's Josh Constine wrote an in-depth story about Drive Motors and how it works recently:

"We’re in the era where everything can be done online, so it’s crazy you can’t buy a new car straight from the web. Every site and startup that claims to help you do that just dumps you on a contact form to request more info or a meeting with a car dealer.

But Drive Motors does exactly what you imagine should already happen. It’s a plugin for car dealer websites. Pick a car you like, and Drive lets you configure options, set up a financing plan, and pay the dealer right there. Then all you do is drop by the lot and pick up your new car. Drive brings the Tesla buying experience to every other car brand.

If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. But still, no one had built it right. Car dealerships don’t know their way around tech. Neither do the car manufacturers, and even if they did, the dealerships don’t want to give them any more leverage. Plus, dealerships would want a manufacturer-agnostic system.

So that’s what Drive Motors built. The startup is part of this season’s Y Combinator batch, and has raised a $1.5 million seed round from the accelerator, Khosla Ventures, Propel and Gil Penchina."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

UpLabs (YC W16) Brings Designers and Developers Together in one UI Tools Marketplace

The highest quality products are often made when designers and developers work together closely. But the existing communities that these groups use to access site- and app-building tools are often segregated from each other.

UpLabs is a company launching out of our Winter class that brings designers and developers together in one resource marketplace for user interface tools.

Anna Escher wrote about UpLabs in a recent article on TechCrunch:

"UpLabs is a community-powered marketplace that lets designers and developers share ready-to-ship UI resources — like login boxes and payment forms — to build apps and sites.

Originally from France, founders Matt Aussaguel and Guillemette Dejean moved to the U.S. after finding their way into Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 class. They had long felt that existing communities segregate designers and developers in a way that keeps either from working efficiently, and that when they collaborate and understand each other’s constraints, beautiful products are made.

...UpLabs wants to be a resource for developers to learn more about design and to purchase interactive prototypes. Within the UpLabs community, designers and developers can get feedback from each other on live concepts, as well as buy and sell their prototypes."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.