Gravitational (S15) Helps Companies Run and Maintain Cloud Apps on Their Private Infrastructure

Most software vendors put their software on a virtual machine and send it to their customers. That means that the customers are on the hook to hire system integrators and other IT personnel to keep that software running -- making the entire process of installing and maintaining enterprise software difficult and often expensive.

Gravitational, a company that was part of our Summer 2015 class, launched to the public this week with an answer to this problem: Gravitational helps software companies remotely manage their applications on private infrastructure, making it unnecessary to hire additional people to run complex software on premise. Essentially, Gravitational turns every on-premise installation into a remotely managed service.

TechCrunch's Ron Miller wrote a story about Gravitational this week:

"Without a solution like the one from Gravitational, companies would have to maintain two sets of code, which is simply too costly for most companies to pull off. That meant these companies were sometimes leaving deals on the table from customers who wanted a delivery model they couldn’t offer.

This wasn’t the founders’ first go with Y Combinator, Ev Kontsevoy, Gravitational’s founder told TechCrunch. His first company, Mailgun was a member of the YC Winter 2011 class. It raised $1.2 million, before it was acquired by Rackspace in 2012.

It was through his experience working at Rackspace for several years after the acquisition that Kontsevoy began to see some difficult problems facing companies hosting SaaS programs in the cloud, which would eventually come together and lead him to launch Gravitational."

Read the whole story here.

Why YC?

People often ask us what happens at YC and what benefits you get as a YC founder. Here is a list of the resources available to YC founders.

You can also read a longer version of what happens at YC here.

Applications for Summer 2016 are open! Apply here.


YC in Atlanta - 2/24-2/26

YC is visiting Atlanta next week, and we hope to see you there! 

Wed, Feb 24: Coffee with YC at Tech Square Labs
> 11am-12pm, 859 Spring Street Northwest Atlanta, GA 30308
> More info

Wed, Feb 24: Morehouse College Entrepreneurship Center
Sign up for office hours (2pm-5pm)

Thu, Feb 25: Georgia Tech with Startup Exchange 
> 6pm, The Garage, Basement of Sq5, 848 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA
More info
Sign up for office hours (2pm-5:30pm)

Questions? Shoot us an email at openofficehours@ycombinator.com.

Yardbook (YC W16) Brings Software to the $30 Billion Landscaping Industry


Landscaping is one of the last industries that has yet to be ‘‘software enabled’, with most companies running their businesses on pencil and paper.

Yardbook is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that's bringing cloud-based software tools to this vast yet under-served industry.

TechCrunch's Jon Shieber wrote a story about Yardbook this week:
"With the penetration of mobile phones, and simply the falling costs of hosting and managing and online business, new verticals are opening up to young companies at prices and scales that would have been unheard of even a few years ago.

In YardBook’s case, it’s the lawncare industry.

And the customer adoption of YardBook shows that, at least in this instance, the thesis might be proven correct.

In just over a year, the company has managed to snag 11,000 customers and processed $65 million in payments across the platform. Today, the company is launching a tipping feature for payments so that even more money can be captured by lawncare service providers without the need to resort to grubby cash payments (filthy lucre!)"

Read the full story here.

Acre Designs (YC W16) Makes It Simple to Build a Zero-Energy Smarthome

The typical American home built today is fundamentally very similar to homes that were built in the mid-20th century. In aggregate, this adds up to a lot of inefficiency: American homes consume a quarter of the nation’s energy and 14 billion gallons of water annually.

Acre Designs is a company launching out of our current Winter 2016 class that makes it incredibly easy to build a zero-energy smarthome -- one that's functional, beautiful, and reasonably priced. Acre homes are 100 percent solar powered, and use 70 percent less water than your average home.

TechCrunch reporter Frederic Lardinois wrote about Acre in a story published this week:

"As Acre co-founders Jennifer and Andrew Dickson told me, they started the company out of their own frustration in finding a sustainable home that was built to modern standards. Specifically, they were looking for a zero-energy home that could use solar to power the entire house.

'We realized existing homes were very difficult to get to any standard of efficiency without a lot of work,' Jennifer told me. 'But we are still building new homes with the same standards as 60 years ago.'

Andrew (an industrial designer with experience in working on everything from furniture to jet boats) and Jennifer (an architect) co-founded the company with builder Don Newman (now Acre’s VP of Construction) and got accepted into Y Combinator. ...Given how outdated the construction process and many of the designs and features of today’s new construction homes often are, it’s a bit of a surprise that nobody has really tackled this market yet."

Read the full story, and see more photos and a video of an Acre home, here.

Sendbird (YC W16) Adds Real-Time Messaging to Any App in Minutes


User engagement and retention is one of the biggest pain points for app developers: Research shows that the average app loses 77 percent of its users in the first three days. One of the best ways to keep users around is to add messaging and chat features -- but doing so can be time and labor intensive for a developer team.

Sendbird is a company launching out of our Winter 2016 class that lets you add messaging to any app quickly and easily. Its messaging-as-a-service platform lets developers to add real-time chat capabilities to their app in just five minutes.

TechCrunch's Matthew Lynley wrote about Sendbird in an article published today:

When John Kim and his team were working on a community-based application called Smile Mom — which was designed to connect nearby moms — they ran into a problem: They wanted to integrate messaging, but couldn’t find an off-the-shelf solution they liked.

They ended up building one themselves, and that led a bunch of friends to ask to use the service. So Kim and his team decided to pivot the company toward building just that. The result was Sendbird, a software development kit that enables developers to quickly build chat tools for their services. The company comes out of Y Combinator’s most recent class, and is launching today.


Read the full story here.

IK12 + YC

We are excited to announce that Imagine K12, the original edtech accelerator, is joining Y Combinator to form an edtech vertical within YC. 

We founded Imagine K12 in 2011 to help companies innovate in education technology in order to improve outcomes for children in the United States and around the world. YC founder Paul Graham believed in our mission, and with his help and advice, Imagine K12 was launched and has run like a sister company of YC. We utilize a nearly identical application process and startup philosophy and, in fact, Geoff became a partner at YC at the same time. Several companies have participated in both IK12 and YC, and YC partners, including Paul, Jessica Livingston, Sam Altman, and others have given their time to IK12 companies.

Just as YC’s goal is to fund companies that “Make Something People Want”, the goal of Imagine K12 was to work with edtech companies to make something teachers, students, and parents want. We have funded over 80 companies, and in 2016 nearly every school in every district, in every state of the country uses a tool created by an Imagine K12 company. Several of the fastest growing edtech companies in the country are IK12 alumni, including, for example, Remind, ClassDojo, and Panorama Education. During the past five years, the edtech ecosystem has evolved and matured, and technology adoption by schools in the US and around the world has become inevitable. President Obama even promoted computer science education in his most recent State of the Union address.

YC has expanded and changed as well, with renewed efforts in focused areas such as hardware, healthcare, and enterprise. With this in mind, we began talking to Sam last year about more tightly integrating Imagine K12 within YC and creating a YC education vertical. Future YC/Imagine K12 edtech startups would then get the benefit of being full YC participants and we would eliminate the duplication of effort that Imagine K12’s separate schedule, application and interview process, and funding events represent.

We agreed that this year was the right time to create YC/Imagine K12 and decided to launch our first combined batch in the summer of 2016. Going forward, Imagine K12 will operate as an edtech specialization within YC’s program. New YC/Imagine K12 companies will have access to YC’s incomparable startup network and resources coupled with Imagine K12’s robust Educator Network and specialized understanding of the education market.

Edtech companies in the future will use the regular Y Combinator application process (the Summer 2016 application is currently open) and will automatically become part of YC/Imagine K12 if accepted. The entire Imagine K12 team will join YC and YC/Imagine K12 will emerge as a new and potent force in edtech.

- Geoff Ralston and Tim Brady

LendEDU (W16) Makes It Easy to Refinance Student Loans

Student loans are a major burden for millions of people: Some 43 million Americans currently hold an estimated $1.2 trillion in student debt, and 7 out of 10 college grads leave school with an average loan balance of $29,000. With figures like these, it's more crucial than ever that students have transparency and choice when it comes to borrowing money for school.

LendEDU is a startup in our current Winter 2016 class that aims to do for the student debt market what Kayak has done for the online travel industry -- making the process of shopping around for the best deal as easy and accessible as possible. LendEDU has built a marketplace for student loan refinancing that helps students, parents, and graduates save money through price transparency.

TechCrunch's Jonathan Shieber wrote about LendEDU in a story published today:

"The refinancing process for student loans is just too damn hard.

Normally, anyone looking to refinance their student loans has to fill out a fairly lengthy application each time they want to receive a loan. Their idea was… quite simply… to get rid of that hassle.

LendEDU is the fruit of [co-founders Nate Matherson and Matt Lenhard's] year-long sojourn in the entrepreneurial wild. A marketplace for student loan refinancing, the company’s service is simple. One application gets you visibility into all of the many different options for student loan refinancing.

...Average users at LendEDU save roughly $12,000 by refinancing their student loan debt (that’s a lot of beer, pizza, and ramen, y’all)."

Read the whole story here.

Y Combinator's Female Founders Conference

Y Combinator is delighted to announce the third annual Female Founders Conference, on Monday, April 4 in San Francisco. One of the best parts of the FFC is hearing the candid advice and lessons the speakers share. Many attendees have said that hearing stories from other women in the trenches have inspired them to take the leap, or motivated them to keep going. 

One of the more recent trends we’ve noticed within YC’s ecosystem is that more women are serving as their companies’ CEOs. We are very encouraged by this and hope to help deepen the pool of role models over the next few years as these startups grow and become better known. We don't just want to see more women starting startups. We want to see more women leading them.

We’re so excited to bring together current and future founders at this year’s FFC, to share their stories, give advice, and make connections. If you're a woman interested in learning more about building startups, we encourage you to apply.


Truebill (W16) Keeps Track of All Your Subscription Payments in One Place


Many things that used to be bought with a single upfront fee are now handled with recurrent payments. Album purchases have been replaced by Spotify, software like Photoshop and Microsoft Office are now subscriptions, and things like food and shaving razors are handled by services like Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club.

Truebill is a startup in our current Winter 2016 class that helps you track and manage all of your subscriptions and recurring payments in one place.

TechCrunch's Matt Lynley wrote about Truebill and how it got started in an article this week:

"When Yahya Mokhtarzada got a $40 bill from Gogo, he started taking a closer look at the subscriptions on his bank statement. It turned out that he had been subscribed to the service for more than a year — which racked up to a substantial amount of money.

'I called them to give me a refund on it, which was nice, but I said how many people are out there that have these subscriptions out there,' Mokhtarzada said.

...The result was TrueBill, a company launching out of beta today. TrueBill works with companies like Plaid to sift through bank statements and determine what subscriptions users have. Users can then monitor those subscriptions and, through an automated process, unsubscribe to them."

Read the full article here.