Y Combinator’s summer startup class pitched to investors and the media Tuesday at the famed incubator’s demo day in Mountain View, Calif., with everyone hoping to nab big investments and become the next Dropbox or AirBnB.
I picked my five favorite startups from the morning pitches, which saw the majority of companies make their case. Half of the afternoon pitches were off the record, but of the ones that weren’t, here are my picks for startups to watch:
Pinterest may have popularized DIY craft projects, but as the founders of Tastemaker explained, not everyone is ready to re-design their own home without professional guidance. But most young people aren’t ready to spend big bucks on interior designers, either. Tastemaker aims to bring interior designer skills and quality to regular people at affordable prices, providing advice on furniture, paint, and room layout. Users can talk with a designer about their price points and style before getting a design, and then work with the designer if they like what they get. Tastemaker currently makes its revenue from a cut of the designer fees, as well as if customers choose to purchase furniture through Tastemaker.
RegistryLove is hoping to disrupt the wedding registration gift process, creating a clean interface for customers to select and present the gifts they want. The site allows users to pick gifts from different sites and stores, or even upload photos or describe gifts that aren’t available for online purchase. Considering the size of the wedding-industrial complex these days and the emergence of ecommerce, RegistryLove seems like it’s targeting a solid market.
Viacycle is trying to create a bicycle-sharing infrastructure that’s less clunky and difficult to use than what already exists on the market. The company produces a small box that attaches to bikes, allowing them to lock to normal bike racks at schools or offices. Those boxes can track ridership and provide data on bike use, and most importantly, riders can unlock them without having a smartphone or dedicated app — the bikes unlock with a phone call or text. The bikes can also be retrofitted to accompany whatever bike fleet a company already owns or operates. Obviously the Viacycle will have to compete with existing bike-share programs, but creating an affordable and adaptable piece of bike technology makes sense, as existing companies struggle to scale their technology and expand to new cities.