Hundreds of press, investors and entrepreneurs converged on the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. on Tuesday to learn about the next new crop of startups to go through the most recent Y Combinator program. Each of the 65 companies got about two and a half minutes to explain what their plan is, how they are going to change the world, and most importantly — why investors should write them checks.
We’ve already covered a few companies from the current YC batch — Socialcam, which launched over a year ago, Justin Kan’s Exec and 42Floors spring to mind. But there were plenty others that we got a first look at today. Here’s a list of my 10 favorites, from those I hadn’t already seen:
PlanGrid is the example of a startup applying new technology to an industry that has been more or less stuck in the Stone Age: It offers a platform that will allow people in the construction industry to share blueprints without having to invest in printing and re-printing plans over and over again. That’ll provide real cost savings to major construction projects, which frequently budget millions of dollars for printing costs alone. According to founder Ryan Sutton-Gee, the construction industry has some 17 million people who use blueprints. With an average charge of $35 per person per month, that has the potential to translation into a $7 billion addressable market.
It seems like everyone loves Microsoft Kinect, which has brought gesture control mainstream. The problem is that in order to use it, you need a dedicated piece of hardware. Flutter changes that by enabling users to control their computers with the same type of gestures using nothing more than the PC’s webcam. While Kinect has sold 18 million units, Flutter says its addressable market is the 5 billion computers with webcams: that’s a huge number.
Sonalight solves a pretty big problem for mobile users — it gives them the power to do hands-free voice control of their phones. The big pitch is being able to send a text message without even having to take the phone out of a user’s pocket, which it says will save lives. And the voice-recognition technology seems pretty good, at least based on the demo given. While texting is the first use case, Sonalight could also enable hands-free email, maps, navigation and search, and could provide tech to be used for Siri-like control of your TV.
Crowdtilt is attempting to tackle what is a pretty common problem — how to pool funds between groups of friends. While it was originally pitched as a way to run charity campaigns for large organizations, the startup found that it was instead being used by smaller groups of people who already knew one another. The company is growing 21 percent week over week — and that’s in the amount of money it’s processing, not the number of users that have signed up. So far it’s processed more than $400,000, with 34 percent of users coming back more than once.
Kyte’s pitch is to parents whose children are chomping at the bit to own a smartphone, but who don’t want those kids to be able to access the open Internet or any type of apps that aren’t age appropriate. The Kyte app solves that by turning any Android phone into a kid’s phone, one that can only make calls and access apps that parents have approved. The app charges about $10 a month and based on a population of around 50 million kids in the U.S., gives it an addressable market of $6 billion a year.
It seems like everyone’s talking about Pair — the new “social network” for couples. Pair allows users to create shared experiences through an iPad in a way that is designed to be extremely personal. The app has already gotten a huge amount of traction since being launched just four days ago: Since then, it’s amassed 50,000 downloads and more than 1 millions messages between its users.
In the realm of crazy ideas, Per Vices seems pretty crazy: let’s replace every hardware-based wireless device with software-defined wireless radios. By doing so, hardware companies will be able to take a single piece of hardware and then use it across any type of wireless application, whether it be based on cell phone technology, WiFi or whatever. The startup claims to have a piece of hardware that is already two generations ahead of anything else on the market, which it hopes to use to replace each and every proprietary piece of wireless hardware out there. Well, we’ll see, I guess.
iCracked takes a pretty obvious problem — lots of people, at one point or another, have cracked the screen of their iDevices — and provides an easy, fast, low-cost solution. The company wants to hire technicians who can swing by and fix the screen quickly in major metropolitan markets. And where those technicians are not available, users can send in their devices for repair or order a self-repair kit. The startup has already had 10,000 customers in the last three months, and revenue has tripled since January. It’s now seeking to build out its network of iTechs in the U.S. and abroad, and is also looking to offer insurance against untimely iAccidents.
About 30 percent of all searches online are searches for people, but Google isn’t necessarily motivated to help you find people that publicly share data on social networks like Facebook now that it is pushing Google+ so hard at its users in search results. Enter Ark, which seeks to be a neutral third-party in the people search world. Not only is it designed to create structured data around searches for user names, but it also allows users to search based upon different filters, like hometowns or current location.
MatterPort was the last startup to present, but man, was it worth it. The company has developed some awesome 3-D scanning technology that it says will allow customers to wave a wand in air and build realistic models in its software. The idea is to change how people measure space and to replace crude hand drawings. Not sure how much the 3-D scanner will cost, but it looks really really cool.