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.

Thunkable (YC W16) Makes it Super Simple for Anyone to Build a Mobile App

It used to be that only programmers could make websites. But in recent years, millions of websites have been created by non-programmers, as the barrier to entry has been significantly lowered by helpful website building tools.

Thunkable is a company in our current Winter 2016 batch that wants to help facilitate the same phenomenon for building mobile apps: making it so easy that anyone can do it, with a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Thunkable is the commercial version of the MIT App Inventor, a hugely successful project that launched out of MIT five years ago. TechCrunch's Natasha Lomas wrote about Thunkable and its origins in a recently published story:

"So why the fork of the original MIT project now? The success of MIT’s App Inventor meant it had outgrown the resources afforded it within academia, say Thunkable’s co-founders Arun Saigal (CEO) and WeiHua Li (CTO).

Hence the decision to seek to commercialize the core technology under a new name, building atop the MIT open source code with new features they hope will also support their intention to monetize down the line. (To be clear, Thunkable’s code will not be open source, although they say they do hope to take in community contributions in future.)

While MIT App Inventor’s original target was educators and students, offering a free learning tool to lower the barrier of entry to coding, the pair say the success of the software — which has been used to make some 13 million apps at this point, and garnered 4.3 million registered users — called for spinning out of the academic setting."

Read the full story about Thunkable and how it works in TechCrunch here.

Nova (YC W16) Helps Salespeople Send Highly Personalized Emails, at Scale

Many salespeople send out hundreds of impersonal, template-based emails per day in an effort to garner more sales. This is bad for business: It makes a bad first impression, triggers spam blocking, and wastes leads. More personalized emails are vastly more effective, but naturally require much more time.

Nova is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that provides an alternative. Nova is a tool that creates and sends highly personalized emails on behalf of salespeople. According to Nova, this leads to salespeople booking 3x as many meetings by spending half of the time they normally would.

TechCrunch's Lucas Matney wrote about Nova in a story published recently:

"Sometimes generating leads is about finding connections wherever you can. I went to school at X too!' 'X is a great cause, my brother has done some work with them also.' And so on and so forth.

The problem for salespeople is braving the firehose of information available online to find these connection points easily and quickly. YC-backed Nova is an email analytics platform that also uses artificial intelligence to scrape through a contact’s online identity and generate a personalized introductory paragraph that salespeople can add to their pitches.

The software, which integrates directly into a user’s inbox, tracks the rate of opens, clicks, replies and bounces for sales pitches. A key to boost those numbers, Nova CEO Will Dinkel tells me, is email personalization."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

flexReceipts (YC W16) Helps Retailers Re-engage with Customers After a Sale

Although consumers increasingly like to shop online, over 90% of purchases made today still occur offline, in physical stores. Even so, the growing field of targeted digital marketing is primarily focused only on driving online purchases -- completely ignoring a big part of the industry's shopping activity.

flexReceipts is a company launching out of our current batch that bridges this divide, helping retailers understand who their offline customers are and effectively target them online to drive engagement and repeat sales -- all by leveraging the data rooted in good old fashioned receipts and bringing it up to modern times.

Ken Yeung at VentureBeat wrote about flexReceipt's very clever solution in a recent article:

"At a time when everything is being made 'smarter,' the time has come for a smart receipt. That note you receive in paper format or electronically after making a purchase hasn’t really evolved for decades, and merchants are losing out on a potentially valuable touch point. FlexReceipts enables retailers to exploit this proof of purchase with targeted offers based on data they know about the customer.

This Y Combinator startup provides a marketing platform that captures a customer’s email address at the point of sale and combines that with any known information to engage them through the electronic receipt. The company leverages the data gleaned to embed custom promotions, product recommendations, videos, surveys, and more, all with a focus on growing loyalty. So if you happen to buy a shirt from Macy’s, for example, and then enter in your email address to receive an electronic receipt, FlexReceipts may include a coupon toward your next purchase or notify you of other clothing that goes with the shirt you just bought.

'On a website, retailers know who you are and can tailor the experience for you. FlexReceipts is very similar to that but with receipts. We know who you are, what you’ve purchased in the past, and can better pinpoint you with the right targeted promotions, discounts, and more,' cofounder Jay Patel told VentureBeat in an interview."

Read the full story about how flexReceipt works in VentureBeat here.

Hykso (YC W16) Brings Tech and Data to Kickboxing, Boxing, and MMA Training

Hykso is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that helps boxers throw better, stronger punches -- and makes the sport more engaging for people watching at home.

With some 35 million people worldwide training in boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts (MMA), Hykso brings a new level of data and technology to an increasingly popular sport. Hykso's wrist sensors track how fast and frequent punches are, allowing the fighter to improve his or her form and also providing data to broadcasters that can help engage viewers -- much like tracking a baseball's pitch velocity.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about Hykso in a story published recently:

"Khalil Zahar started Hykso while he was a graduate student at the University of Toronto, where he studied micro-electro mechanical systems. As a boxer, he found the instruction to be 'extremely subjective' and decided to explore the use of a performance-tracking sensor he hoped would provide 'concrete, quantifiable feedback.' Working alongside cofounders Alexander Marcotte, Alexander Lapointe, Tommy Duquette, and Charles Lampert, Zahar wants to one day own the combat sports market.

'Our ultimate vision is to leverage our expertise in embedded system gesture recognition, motion tracking, and data analysis to move into other sports that are starving for better sports-specific metrics,' Duquette told VentureBeat in an email.

With Hykso’s mobile app, coaches and athletes are able to monitor punch output as it happens."
Read the story on VentureBeat here, and check out Hykso's pre-order campaign, which is selling the wrist sensor product for $131.95, 40 percent off of list price.

Elucify (YC W16) Is an AI-Powered Plugin That Keeps Sales Contact Lists up to Date

Over the course of one year, 30 percent of a company's contact data becomes invalid due to people changing jobs and leaving positions. The cleaning, sourcing, and researching of accurate data tends to fall to the company's salespeople, who spend over two-thirds of their days trying to find accurate information about prospects.

Elucify does those duties automatically, letting the salespeople get back to their real jobs -- selling. As an artificial intelligence-powered add-on to Salesforce, Elucify finds the most current contact information for prospective customers and updates a company's records within 10 seconds.

TechCrunch's Ron Miller wrote about the company in a recently published article:

"Elucify, a member of the Y Combinator Winter 2016 class wants to solve an annoying and persistent problem for sales people — making sure they have the most recent customer contact data.

To solve this problem, the company created a plug-in for Salesforce.com CRM based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. The system connects to various public and private data sources looking for the most current contact information, according to Gerald Fong, Elucify CEO and co-founder.

...'The pain point we are focusing on is the pain sales teams run into every day. They spend time hunting for [good contact] data every day. Instead of spending time on the phone, they are spending a lot of time on various websites trying to verify [contact] information,' Fong told TechCrunch."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.