Sharethebus (YC W16) Makes It Incredibly Easy to Organize a Charter Bus Trip

They may not get the same glory that the car does, but buses are an important vehicle in American culture. After all, buses are what people rely on for transportation to many defining moments: political rallies, championship games, music festivals, school outings, group travel to new places. Every year, the charter bus industry moves more than one billion people across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, generating upwards of $16 billion.

Yet, unlike cars, there have been no major technological advancements for organizing a bus trip. Features such as splitting a fare, watching a vehicle arrive in real time, or receiving a notification when there’s a change in travel itinerary do not exist in the bus industry, which is currently still run on pen and paper and legacy systems.

Sharethebus is a company in our Winter 2016 class that is finally bringing the bus industry into the digital age, making it quick and easy to organize a charter bus trip anytime, anywhere.

For passengers, Sharethebus lets its users quickly set up a bus trip and split the bill between any number of riders. SMS notifications are sent to travelers when the bus is on its way, arriving, and if the departure location is changed; and to provide expert help at any stage of the process.

For event organizers, Sharethebus provides a specialized dashboard to gauge demand for rides from various locations, and set up multiple bus trips to and from the event. It's an ideal way for organizers of everything from music festivals to corporate conferences to bring in more people and foster stronger community bonds among attendees.

Sharethebus is connected to a strong supplier network of bus companies across North America, whose buses spend an estimated 70% of their lifespan unused. These companies are eager to make their fleets more efficient and become more accessible and appreciated by a new generation of consumers. With its partners, Sharethebus has redesigned the entire customer journey from booking a bus online, to managing passengers, schedules, payments, and improving on a trip’s execution.

In just 12 months of operations, Sharethebus has moved more than 50,000 people across 1,000 bus trips, and served more than 200 North American cities. Since launch, Sharethebus has maintained 25% month-over-month growth and worked in collaboration with large event partners including music festivals, colleges, student associations, and conferences.

Sharethebus was founded in by Wolf Kohlberg and Kyle Boulay. Wolf is a bus industry expert who founded a travel agency at 16 in Germany where he organized thousands of bus trips. After moving to North America, he partnered with Kyle Boulay, a designer turned developer who had built strong friendships on past bus trips to music events and was frustrated by the lack of simple solutions for organizing more.

Read more about Sharethebus in Betakit and TechVibes.

PaveIQ (YC W16) Takes the Technical Work Out of Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be confusing for small and medium-sized businesses without a dedicated analytics team. Often times non-technical users are overwhelmed with their dashboard and have no idea of what it all means. Moreover, tracking critical things like conversions require technical support. As a result, companies struggle and give up or end up losing money on ineffective marketing strategies.

PaveIQ is a company launching out of our current Winter 2016 class that helps businesses make the most out of Google Analytics. Frustrated with setting up analytics for his own website, ex-Googler Jash Patel started PaveIQ along with his co-founder Eric Ho.

To make things easy, PaveIQ sets up Google Analytics, analyzes the data, and returns specific insights designed to increase revenue and improve marketing strategies. These reports inform users which marketing and advertising efforts are working, which are not working, and ways to improve.

Current analytics solutions available are only built for technical users but PaveIQ does all the legwork with just a few buttons, removing any need for technical knowledge or support. Business plans start at $49/month.

Learn more about PaveIQ here.

DeepGram (YC W16) is Building a Google for Audio


Call centers in the United States generate more than a billion hours of phone audio every year, at a cost of over $10 billion. Despite this huge investment, less than 25% of this audio is currently made searchable or analyzed.  Other industries, such as legal discovery and sales, also have large amounts of neglected but valuable audio content.

DeepGram is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that uses deep learning to index audio and make it searchable for businesses. For example, a company can use DeepGram to analyze their phone support audio dataset and search for moments where their competitors' names are mentioned.

DeepGram has been made possible thanks to the convergence of several relatively recent technical developments: Cloud storage has enabled companies to store their recorded audio cheaply; and advanced GPUs have allowed deep learning to mature, so that it's now possible to build deep neural networks that can capture the complexity of speech.

Speech search is also motivated by market factors. There has been a structural change in phone support from on-site employees to a distributed workforce which makes quality assurance more challenging. Businesses are focusing more on data and analytics, and they want actionable insight from their information-rich audio datasets.

The status quo approach to the audio search problem is to use speech recognition to create a transcript of the audio, and then use a conventional text search to search the transcript. But the inevitable errors in the computerized transcript make this work poorly. DeepGram is far more accurate and efficient: For example, in the image above, DeepGram correctly identifies the word "turbine" where the speech transcript misreads it as "turban."

DeepGram was founded by two particle physicists searching for dark matter. The idea for the audio search engine came from a weekend project of theirs, to record all the audio in a person’s life 24/7. But with so much audio data, it was impossible to find and recall certain moments, and they couldn’t find a search engine that worked well with speech. So, they built an AI-based index and fuzzy search, making their recorded audio accurately and easily searchable. They realized the search engine would be even more useful for businesses with large amounts of audio -- and DeepGram was born.

Businesses can sign up and start using DeepGram now at www.deepgram.com.

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.