Castle (YC W16) is a Tech-Powered Rental Property Management Company

There are 43 million rental units in the United States, and most of them are currently managed with some combination of faxes, mail, and unreturned voicemails on the landlord’s personal phone. To avoid this mess, owners often spend 10 percent or more of their rental income on a traditional property management company, with frequently disappointing results.

Castle is a company launching out of our current class that manages rental homes for landlords using automation and on-demand labor -- allowing owners to kick back, relax, and never worry about their rental properties again.

TechCrunch's Fitz Tepper wrote about Castle in a story published recently:

"Property management is one of those industries that typically lags behind the rest of the U.S. economy in terms of technology, customer service and transparency.

Castle, part of YC’s Winter 2016 class, is trying to bring the industry up to date with its automated property management platform.

The site consolidates all of the hard parts of property management — like property listing and marketing, tenant screening, rent collection and maintenance — into an easy to use interface that doesn’t look like it was designed in the 1990s.

But how has Castle consolidated all these services into one platform? Mainly through a combination of technology and on-demand labor."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

Enflux (YC W16) Makes Workout Clothes that Double as a Personal Trainer

Hiring a personal trainer to monitor every move of your workout for safety and effectiveness is something so expensive that it's out of reach for most of us. Enflux is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that wants to be the always-available personal trainer for everyone.

Enflux makes smart athletic clothing that acts as a fitness coach, measuring the quality of your form, the intensity of your workout, and other advanced exercise metrics through 3D sensors.

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

"Started by Doug Hoang, Mickey Ferri, and Elijah Schuldt, this Y Combinator-backed startup has developed technology and clothing that could be akin to a Fitbit, but for your entire body. Its shirts and pants have at least five separate motion sensors connected together, tracking your movements and syncing the data with Enflux’s Android app via Bluetooth. There’s also a built-in oxygen and heart monitor, and the batteries should last up to a month, depending on how active you are.

The athletic clothing is the latest iteration of Enflux over the past three years. The company had previously experimented with a strapped sensor and a live avatar that provided feedback. Eventually it developed a system of five independent sensors, integrated with each other by wire.

Enflux began when Hoang was training for triathlons and kept getting injured at the gym. He turned to Schuldt, an electrical engineer, for help, and the two began looking at using sensors to analyze Hoang’s motion.

'Form is everything for exercise,' Ferri told VentureBeat. 'What we do is analyze the quality of the form, improve workout efficiency, and reduce injuries.'"

Read the full story on VentureBeat here.

Compgun (YC W16) Makes Sales Commissions Clear, Simple, and Effective

In the enterprise software space, commissions pretty much make the world go 'round: In the United States alone, B2B companies spend some $800 billion on sales incentives annually. That's roughly three times what they spend on marketing. 

Compgun is a company in our Winter 2016 class that empowers companies to maximize ROI on their commission plans, making it clear and simple to gauge how much commission each salesperson has earned, and reward the highest performing staffers.

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

"'We’re trying to create the first sales commission software that everyone can love,' CTO Tim Sze told VentureBeat. Compgun functions as a self-serve platform with companies being onboarded in less than a day.

Founded by Sze and CEO Jake Seip, this Y Combinator-backed startup allows its customers to build, test, and administer their commission structures for salespeople. It also provides real-time analytics that lets you monitor individual performance and team rankings. Customized dashboards and graphs are also available in the subscription platform. Compgun will host your sales data and metrics, which it uses to build intermediate calculations and goals for your team to keep track of.

The founders are longtime friends, and when they started a previous business together, they discovered that sales commission is a giant pain point for businesses."

Read the full story and see screenshots of Compgun in action here.

Birdly (YC W16) Lets You Use Slack to Easily Access Data From Other Enterprise Apps

More and more companies are using Slack as a core communication tool, to help simplify their workflows and do more things in one central place.

Birdly is a startup in our current Winter 2016 class that helps companies do that even more, by allowing them to access customer data stored in other enterprise apps such as Salesforce and Zendesk inside their corporate Slack channels.

TechCrunch's Matthew Lynley wrote about Birdly in a recent story:

"The bots are coming, and Quang Hoang knows it — so much so that he’s willing to bet his entire company on it. So what once started out as an app like Expensify is now Birdly, a Slack bot that makes it easier to call up customer data directly within Slack from sources like Salesforce and Zendesk.

'It was really difficult for companies to adopt [the app] because you had to relegate to another mobile app, another password to remember, another process,' Hoang said. 'The second problem we had was for the manager and CFO, it was another tool to deploy, and just doing it on top of Slack is much easier because you just need two minutes and everyone can use it.'

Slack administrators log in to their accounts that they want to link to Birdly, like Stripe, Zendesk or Salesforce, and then anyone can use the bot to call up information from that account. They request info from the bot, which then returns it in-line in Slack, with an option to jump to those various services for more information."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

Pulpix (YC W16) Boosts Traffic and Engagement for Online Video Publishers

All online publishers are looking for ways to boost their traffic and revenue. Pulpix is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that does just that, helping dramatically increase publishers' views and engagement within their online video content.

Business Insider's Nathan McAlone wrote about Pulpix and the problem it's addressing in a story published recently:

"Pulpix has taken a different approach to the idea of video 'recommendations,' one that has more to do with design than math. In its beta, Pulpix has helped 30 partners like Vice, GQ, and Le Monde drive an average 20% increase in video views for users who interact with Pulpix's overlay technology.

'We felt there was something missing in video,' cofounder Sabry Otmani tells Business Insider. With text articles, you have links that can easily give you deeper information. You jump into a new article if you want and then come right back where you left off. It's not as simple for video. Most of the time, everything is tucked inside because it's painful to bounce around, Otmani says.

That has led most video publishers to just stick recommendations at the end of the video, to try and stop you from leaving.

But Pulpix’s main design thesis is that you, the user, don’t just want a recommendation to be the next thing you watch. Sometimes you want to see articles, social pages, or other types of information while you are still watching the video."

Read the full story about Pulpix and how it works here.

REVL (YC W16) is Making the World's First Stabilized Action Camera

REVL is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class founded by a team of action sports lovers who got tired of spending hours editing the shaky footage they'd shot while kiteboarding.

So they developed a new and better kind of action camera.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about REVL in a story published last week:

"Founded in 2015 by Eric Sanchez, Revl is building an action camera that is fully stabilized, provides instant capture and share, and has 'intelligent features,' which the company plans to elaborate more on this spring. Revl will be making its device available for purchase through a crowdfunding campaign that’ll launch later this year. No price information has been released yet.

With this product, Revl is taking a clear shot at GoPro and other sports and action-focused cameras. The team — described as passionate kiteboarders and sports enthusiasts — 'got tired of spending hours editing shaky and rotating footage.' To solve this problem, they set about building a camera capable of reducing shakiness — it has technology that promises to keep the view level with the horizon at all times."

REVL has raised a total of $2 million in a seed round led by Bill Tai. Read more about the company and its recent funding in VentureBeat here and in the Wall Street Journal here.

Wakie (YC W16) Connects Like-Minded Strangers to Share Advice and Experience

Existing friends and family networks are who we often turn to for advice, or to talk about tough topics. But sometimes it's easier -- and more eye-opening -- to talk to someone you don't know at all.

Wakie is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that has created a friendly community of people who help each other by sharing their own life experience. The startup has built an app for iPhone and Android that lets you set any topic you want to discuss (work, relationships, traveling) and get an anonymous voice call from someone with a similar interest in seconds. It's like having millions of friends who are available 24-7 to talk candidly about any subject.

TechCrunch's Steve O'Hear wrote about Wakie in an article last week:
"Behind the scenes [Wakie] ...is building machine learning tech based on user profiles, the subjects its users have answered calls on, and feedback after each call to help Wakie become better at matching callers.

'We use machine learning to learn the life experience of each user and to provide better matching for any kind of question,' explains Wakie CEO Hrachik Adjamian, who, along with his brother Tatul, founded the company. 'We believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is too far from being a replacement for human company so we are building AI made to solve the problem of how to find real human intelligence.'

Adjamian says that although Google is good at searching for information, it often falls short for more nuanced discussions or where seeking the opinion of another human is preferable and works best in real-time."

Read the full story here.


Bonsai (YC W16) Helps Freelancers Get Paid On-Time

Studies say that upwards of 50 percent of freelancers are paid late or not at all. Unfortunately, the most successful freelancers today aren’t necessarily the best at their chosen trade -- they are the people who excel at negotiating with clients and structuring payments.

Bonsai is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that takes care of those day-to-day business matters so freelancers can go back to focusing on more important things.

TechCrunch's Anna Escher wrote about Bonsai in a story published this week:

"Bonsai, part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 batch, has created a tool designed to guide freelancers through contract creation and invoicing. The two-person company bills itself as a system that takes care of contract creation, invoicing and payment processing for white-collar freelancers, or anyone who does contract work from behind a computer.

...There are plenty of invoicing systems and marketplaces for freelancers out there, but what sets Bonsai’s tool apart is the element of guidance and the simplified nature of its service. It’s also worth noting that Bonsai allows freelancers to get paid by ACH, which isn’t available in many other freelancer payment tools and results in much lower fees for high-earning freelancers.

With today’s digital economy allowing for the career flexibility that freelancers crave, the company hopes to serve more and more people as freelancing becomes a more viable choice for professionals."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

STILT (YC W16) Helps Expats in the U.S. Get Low-Interest Loans

Around 4.5 million expats from all over the world are in U.S. on long term visas. About a million of these are students who spend $30 billion on education in the U.S. every year -- and may need student loans.

However, many do not have credit scores and thus have no access to credit-based services such as loans, credit cards, and post-paid phones. Many of these people have no other option but to borrow money from family members, acquaintances, or friends, often at sky-high interest rates.

STILT is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that provides a better solution. STILT provides loans of up to $25,000 to foreign nationals in the U.S. at better rates than existing options, and without needing a cosigner.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about STILT in an article published recently:

"But in lieu of the credit history the average U.S. citizen has, the company considers a person’s job history, college transcript, visa status, social media profiles, and bank accounts to determine someone’s creditworthiness. All of this information is entered into Stilt’s algorithm, which will assess whether money should be lent out.

The company also takes into account why you want the loan, such as paying rent, school tuition, repayment of previous loans (some international students want to get rid of their large debts back home), relocation assistance, and more."

Read the full story in VentureBeat here.

The Fellowship + Stripe Atlas

Great startups can come from anywhere in the world. One of the Fellowship's goals is to make it as easy as possible for founders to start companies with strong foundations, no matter where they're located. It’s one of the reasons why we’re designing a program that founders can participate in without having to move to Silicon Valley.

Unfortunately, international founders who join YC usually have to navigate fairly complicated processes just to get access to the same tools as their US counterparts. There are two reasons why we set up YC companies as U.S. entities with U.S. bank accounts:

1) Access to the largest pot of seed capital in the world. U.S. investors tend to avoid investing in foreign entities.

2) It’s easier to collect revenue with a U.S. bank account in the U.S. market, which for most of our companies is still the largest market for them to go after.

Today, Stripe announced the launch of Atlas, a beta program designed to streamline the process of getting the basic building blocks of starting a company assembled without hassle. In partnership with Stripe, we’ll be offering Atlas to future Fellowship companies located overseas.

Atlas allows international founders to get everything they need to create a business in the U.S. simply by filling out a web form. Stripe handles the rest, providing each business with:

1) An incorporated U.S. business entity
2) A U.S. bank account
3) A live Stripe account to receive payments from anywhere in the world
4) Access to services they'll need to get started; including tax advice from PwC, legal guidance from leading international law firm Orrick, and $15,000 credit to Amazon Web Services to help scale their newly global business

Stripe initially joined YC to rethink how payments on the internet should work. Now they’ve rethought what borders mean for business. We’re delighted to be working with Stripe to make it easier for our international founders to spend more time working on their startup and less time on paperwork.