YC Demo Day’s crowd favorite proves that if you fix real problems, you’ll find a customer

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We’re halfway through Y Combinator’s Summer 2014 Demo Day, and we already have a crowd favorite. Fixed tackles a well-known problem that almost everyone can identify with it: The pain of parking tickets.

Instead of opening with the classic YC hockey stick chart and melodramatic opening line, Fixed’s founder started with a joke. He went through the “stages of grief” you experience when you realize you’ve gotten a parking ticket; mostly denial, anger, and more anger. Sound familiar?

Fixed promises a solution that sounds almost too good to be true (and perhaps it is). Half of parking tickets have something wrong with them that disqualifies them. Using the Fixed app, you can take a picture of yours, send it in, and the company fights it on your behalf. If it wins, you pay it 20-30 percent of what the ticket would have cost. If it loses, well, you just pay exactly what you would have anyways — the cost of the ticket.

The company pitched to raucous laughter throughout and cheers when it closed, a first so far at today’s Demo Day. It followed one of the basic Paul Graham tenets of startups: Fix a problem you have. As Graham says in his blog post on the matter, “[I]t ensures the problem really exists.” Based on the tweets, the audience agreed.

Before the founder David Hegarty had even finished his three minute pitch, I was texting a friend of mine who received a parking ticket this very morning. It’s the kind of service that could spread like wildfire around a community. Once enough people hear about it and if – this is a big if — they have a good experience with the company, they’ll tell everyone they know.

The real crux of the issue is whether Fixed can actually make money fighting tickets like this. It seems like a money loser, unless its cited stats – that half of tickets have flaws that invalidate them, and 20-30 percent of the companies ticket fighting efforts work – is true across a wide swath of markets.

Until then, however, it has the hearts and minds of the YC Demo Day room. No small feat with an audience of seasoned old-timers who have seen every pitch in the book.

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