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Startup School 2017 Presentations (startupschool.org)
322 points by src on June 16, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 96 comments

As a solo founder, I found startup school invaluable. It really helped keep me honest with myself to discuss what I had done and what I will do at the weekly office hours.

I would recommend Startup School to any startup but if you're a solo founder then I think you will find the weekly office hours especially valuable.

Here's my presentation: Pingy is a desktop app to create, share and deploy websites: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/373

Really neat product! I could definitely see myself using this in the future instead of messing around with gulpfiles. Is deployment limited to the pin.gy server or can I deploy straight to my own S3 bucket?

After reading through this entire thread, this is by far the most polished, and impressive project on here. Especially for a solo developer. Well done.

Wow, this is great! As someone who is coming back to web dev after a few years off, this will be awesome for my use!

Excellent product and great demo video! Best of luck to you and Pingy in the future.

Cool idea!

We completed startup school (https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/470). Took us about 3 hours to create a Keynote presentation and add audio to it.

Hopefully, this provides a somewhat different perspective. We aren't your typical founders in their twenties.

Startup School was overall very positive. Speaking with our advisor, Michael Johnston was absolutely excellent. He is an absolute mensch, very helpful, consistently useful advice and very generous with his time.

That having been said, would I say that time spent on startup school consistently added more value than just spending that time doing one of a) hacking away and pushing forward, b) resting or c) exercising? Nope. If you need outside validation and an external push and someone keeping you accountable for you to keep pushing forward, it's going to have much more value. On the other hand, if you know what you need to get done and your startup is something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning so you can get to it, which is how I feel about our startup, I'm not sure that you aren't better off just doing that and avoiding any distractions.

The startup school videos were consistently very good. I would recommend everyone watch those, even on topics that they think they know a fair amount about.

One more thing. We are pre-launch. If we had already launched then I think startup school would have been much more helpful than it was, because the checking in every week with revenue numbers would have created a lot more urgency. A lot of the advice is more tailored to what to do once you are already launched rather than what to do pre-launch. If you are a company like us and have to go through a bunch of regulatory hoops to get off the ground, you will probably benefit more if you do startup school once you have already launched.

Your site seems to be down at the moment.

I read your blurb under your presentation, admittedly did not watch your presentation. However I would say that your blurb comes off too much of an attack on robo advisors and not enough about your own company/approach and how you're different from every other active investor. I'd focus on why you're good, rather than on why the competition is bad.

We can't talk too much about why we are different given that a) we aren't SEC and NFA registered yet. b) there are legal issues around saying you generate better returns than the competition.

We talk a little bit about why we are different in the video so give it a listen if you are interested.

Interesting about points a, b, c. That's sort of the impression I got (though I applied, got rejected, and kept pushing forward, so maybe it's wishful thinking).

Would you say the connections/networking were a big asset?

Having completed startup school (https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/240)

I can say without a doubt it's useful, and would recommend it.

This is a post I made early explaining my thoughts (relevant here):

What's helpful is that you're placed in a group of say 20 other companies all trying to produce something, some are making money, some have literally nothing. You can learn from one another, share ideas, test out each others products, etc.

One thing most people trying to start a company don't have is a support network of highly motivated people doing the same thing. I know I personally do, but many of my fellow startup school colleagues do not. That's what's helpful: The startup school group office hours (or therapy sessions).

The second most valuable portion of startup school, is that they force you to be accountable. If I say I'm doing X, they want to see it. They expect results, and they push you to share.

Finally, and perhaps most valuable portion of startup school for some, is the fact you can network. I'd argue this is different than group office hours. There are many companies that have synergies, for example my project: https://projectpiglet.com/ can help identify trends, or "experts", which other teams could use.

There are other examples, but it's definitely been useful. That being said, it is not YC proper. You don't get funds, many of the founders don't actually have an LLC or C-Corps. Many are in school, or (like myself) have full-time jobs working 50 hours a week. Although not being able to work on the project full-time sucks, I've definitely made progress I wouldn't made, with the help startup school. We would have had less without it, the ideas from the team have bubbled up and the support pushes us to do better. I would recommend it.

I recommend the program to anyone thinking about starting a startup. The highlight was having live mentorship from very successful startup founders. My mentor had raised tens of millions in VC funding for his startup. He spent 2 hours with us every week.

My presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/242

I had a similar problem looking for a immigration lawyer. The problem with only looking at court records and other public information is it skews in favor of lawyers that take on slam-dunk cases.

If a law firm successfully processed 500 green card applications for Google that isn't as impressive as being successful in processing 10 EB-1 applications for early stage startup founders.

My solution was to ask for recommendations from people that required the same service as me. Could you integrate anonymous yelp style reviews for lawyers where the person giving the review could be verified?

It's a good idea to search for a lawyer who is good at the specific service you require. We're working on making the data as narrowly tailored as possible to the problem the user is searching for. Right now, the data is filtered to the level of case type. Later on, we can add additional specific factors.

Verified reviews are also something we'd like to add. Also, we'd want to filter the reviews to show more prominently reviews from past users who used the lawyer for the same issue.

Interesting concept, however assuming you become popular enough, then you could be victim of lawyers trying to game the metrics.

What happens if a lawyer choose to only defend a lot of easy to win cases to bump up their track record close to 100%. How do you identify how hard a case was in the first place, and find the lawyers who do go after hard cases successfully.

We'd like to be able to pinpoint a lawyer who is good at the specific legal problem that the user has. So we'd want to filter cases so that data can be counted on narrow ranges of very similar cases. Right now we're filtering the data at the level of case type, and we'd like to add additional filtering on specific factors in the future.

Some of the filtering and case patterns would probably be best identified with machine learning.

We had a great experience. Thanks to all of the mentors, who spent hours per week helping all of the participants in office hours.

We're working on Moonlight (https://www.moonlightwork.com), where we're helping companies hire expert software engineers as part-time consultants. We grew from no revenue before Startup School to thousands of dollars per week in revenue.

Here is our presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/14

From what I can tell, YC Startup School's first batch had 10K applicants, 3K accepted companies and 800 graduates presenting.

It was very helpful for us (MoQuality) and seems like a huge success overall. Thanks YC! :)

PS: Our presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/536

even considering that some companies have decided to not make a public presentation less than 30% graduating rate (3K to ~800) seens to be very low.

We're actually at a 56% graduation rate. Many companies opted to not make a video for various reasons, including wanting to remain in stealth or they felt they were too early.

I guess lot of companies just took the credits for AWS/Google/Microsoft and got tired with the weekly video calls...

Their loss...

Startup school was super helpful. Mike Robbins from Circuitlab/Pantelligent was an amazing mentor!

Every week before our group meetup, we had a few questions to fill out that really got us thinking deeply about our business. I wouldn't have thought something as simple as a few pointed questions would yield so much fruit, but it really was awesome. The questions force you to think about on your business value, how to describe it, your target customer and how you might address them. The advice is sound, and comes from the mentor's and YC's experience, which really grounds it. We'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Thanks for the kind words, Eric. The questions were not universal across groups... I had to come up with those each week!

Wow!!! I considered that possibility, but figured they were too good to be something that wasn't honed over the years.

They'd make a good template for the other groups--I would absolutely go back to them for thought-exercises for future ventures.

Thanks to the YC team for the opportunity. Our advisor (whom is also Sequoia backed) had a breadth of knowledge. Listening to his advice to other teams was very valuable. The next best value was watching the partners conduct Office Hours.

Would definitely love feedback for our presentation https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/355

And if you're an immigrant living in the US, I'd love to chat about the experience. Best of hard work to everyone.

Upon viewing the project website (linked in the presentation URL you shared), Radial appears to be some sort of music app - not a cultural social network.

Hi sjroot, you're correct. I mentioned in the talk that we started with music and discovered how much deeper it is. The actual app itself has social features and in the alpha version we're testing we have our video (think Snapchat for Music) feature. We'll be building out the food and events recommendations in our next couple sprints. Thanks for asking, I hope that helps. We should really update our website.


Greg here, founder of MarineVerse - virtual reality sailing.

If you're interested in sailing, you might like what we're doing.


Happy to answer any questions!

Best regards, Greg

Wow! I don't have a VR set yet but this looks very, very interesting.

I can imagine people competing against each other in short regattas from their homes. Or myself just practicing & trying a new boat.

We've completed startup school alongside with a local accelerator program (https://kworks.ku.edu.tr/en/). As a co-founder, I have to admit that the YC network was really helpful. We've really benefited from the internal discussions and the local meetups really helped us a lot. Our mentor, Chris, kept giving us valuable insights and overall we had a great time participating.

Building a company requires a lot of time and dedication. And the biggest lesson we've learned so far from YC:SS is to keep iterating no matter what. The whole YC philosophy of having one key KPI and trying to improve it WoW no matter what is really important. It brings clarity to your decisions and helps you focus on the important stuff.

As an entrepreneur, I'm glad that our company had the opportunity to participate in this program and internalized such an important philosophy.

Here's our presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/447


Codela is a cloud-based platform for automating the technical screening of software developers using online knowledge measurements.


I just published an article about our experience from Startup School. https://medium.com/@a13n/a-review-of-y-combinators-startup-s...

Also, here's our presentation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07ljML9g0Yg

After completing the course I can't recommend Startup School enough. For a free course the value I got out of it was amazing.

* Our group's mentor (James, co-Founder of Lista YC S09) was totally committed and freely giving of his time. We could set up individual office hours for 1-on-1 advice and he put a ton of effort into surveying us & adjusting his approach so we could get maximum value.

* Being part of a 25 startup cohort (the size of our group) was hugely motivating. Even when the conversation in our video chat office hours wasn't perfectly incisive it was still energizing to hear other founders pushing at the same things you're facing.

* The internal Startup School networking tools were decently effective and I don't think YC talked about them too much when inviting people to apply. Building a network of other founders when you're bootstrapping in Cape Town, South Africa can be a little tough. Now I've got around 30 different folks I'm emailing with - all of whom have resonating experiences due to the Tinder-style networking tool in the Startup School portal.

* I also got around $5000 in AWS, Azure and GCP credits. Apart from being able to spend this year's infrastructure money on other business things (awesome!) I can also experiment pretty freely with the different platforms and pick the most ideal setup for my app.

Finally a shameless plug for my startup: https://watchdog443.com

I'm building a tool for ongoing monitoring of your HTTPS state & configuration. Feel free to mail me (address in profile) to chat about it or Startup School!

We participated in Startup School with AWW (shared online whiteboard) and it was a great experience - can't recommend it enough!

Although we knew a lot "in theory" and had some experience and traction already, we got a ton of value out of actually speaking with other founders and our group's mentor (jamesg - thanks mate!) who listened intently about our problems, gave constructive criticism, pointed out problems, and in general focused our thinking.

Based on this (and feedback from our users) we pivoted slightly to a more lucrative market and I'd say got our priorities straight (or at least less wrong :). Also, the huge motivation boost! :-)

(Our presentation video: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/145 - feedback welcome!)

Startup School was great, but it doesn't end here. I expect we all will get more value from this amazing network in the following months.

Best of luck for all the founders!

BTW, I'm one of the founders of Hubtype (https://hubtype.com), a messaging and chatbots solution for businesses. Our pitch here: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/344

We had an incredible experience at Startup School. I finally feel connected to a startup community I thought was out of my reach. The networking opportunities alone make the program worth every minute you put into it. Thanks to everyone that made this possible!

We made Strength of Two - get alerts from people at risk of self-harm (https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/205). Any feedback/ideas would be greatly appreciated.

i just watched 3 random presentations, and i was surprised how low quality these videos are.

I mean, they might have an amazing product, but the delivery could be a show stopper. What do you guys think?

For many of the teams, english is a second or third language, and they came from areas where startups/tech are in it's infancy, so access to decent hardware is tough.

With that said, we only spent a week working on videos and it's more our fault than theirs that we chose to focus on building product rather than pitching, as many companies were very early.

I think a couple text lines about the market, some screenshots, and a product demo video would be good. Optionally, for those looking for funding, some info on traction growth.

The hardest is the demo video, but that is the most important. Without a good demo video you don't understand why your product exists.

If they have a laptop with a microphone, they still have the ability to make a much, much more impressive presentation than nearly any of the ones I watched.

Why spend hundreds of hours building your product if you spent 10 minutes writing a script you're going to read out to your webcam in a dimly lit room?

Probably because they are busy growing their businesses in other ways.

As far as I can tell, the distribution of the pitch videos is unknown (and there are hundreds of pitches) so there is no end goal, it seems to be mainly a way of sharpening one's pitch.

Yeah a lot of these pitches were very wooden, and many seemed to try to catch your attention by quoting the multi billion dollar markets the founders wish to grab a piece of the pie from. Shark Tank pitches are way better.

Not too surprising given the low barrier to entry and acceptance rate. Doesn't mean there aren't some gems. In fact that's the whole point of this program, to give more people chances to do something great. Maybe not everybody makes full use of that chance, but it gives the opportunity to do so to more people

I checked presentations on AR and every video was either low quality or I didn't even understand what it was about.

Keep in mind, these videos are nice, but unlike demo day, they are unlikely to result in funding. For companies that are working on getting stuff out the door, the video is probably not the highest priority.

We went from startup school, to participating in techcrunch battlefield NY 2017.[1]

We were clueless to what to expect or how all this works, but through the guidance and many one on ones with our instructor we were able to manage it.

The course prepared us for meeting with investors, helped us with how to deal with the first rounds of investments (first money can be overwhelming) and how to do the non scalable things early on. It was definitely a useful course.

Also, being on a video call every week, listening to 20+ plus other people's business can be very valuable. Problems that seemed unique to us and unsolvable were solved with a quick chat with someone who already went through it.

Any way, i'll write a post about it eventually. In the meanwhile here is our presentation for Renly: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/435

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/16/renly-launches-studio-book...

Startup School was really a great experience for us. More than anything, getting into the mindset of delivering weekly results really changed the internal team dynamic. It also forced us to be very clear about our priorities, which in turn has helped us really achieve laser focus. The results are starting show with traction on our platform.

The other thing that I really appreciated was the fact that everyone in the batch that participated in the calls was treated individually by our mentor, Gleb. Not entirely sure how he achieved this but I can definitely say that if you put the hours in, the program helped organized thoughts and streamline energy.

To close out, my mandatory plug :)

We're building the first global marketplace for the space industry: "Digi-Key for space". Our presentation page: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/465.

If anyone is interested in NewSpace, feel free to reach out!

Startup school was awesome. The amount of dedication and commitment of our mentor, Daniel Kivatinos(founder drchrono) was beyond words. The Mattermost community helped us with ideas on growth hacking. The best thing about startup school was founders talking to founders. We got an opportunity to meet couple of YC alumni in Bangalore, India through offline(informal) startup school meetups. The talks at these offline meetups were very insightful and open.

We are from India, building Clorik for Indian market - 90% of the population prefers to converse in their native language. Clorik is a crowd-sourced discovery platform for content in Indian languages. Startup school helped us in being pitch ready, YCombinator style. Here is our presentation link - https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/354

Startup School gave us a lot of motivation for early developing our product. Weekly hours was great, thanks to our mentor Chad.

We are building web service called Adapty.

Adapty is AI-powered digital ads manager that helps you with automation routine tasks. Adapty works with Facebook Ads and myTarget platforms.

Here is our presentation https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/378 and slides https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/16R9qBkyUm2HIMngL19Ug...

If you are interested in our product, please feel free to contact us via email info@adapty.io or directly via Facebook facebook.com/iwitaly

Epic course, got great advice and even managed to raise some money during the process.

The best thing is weekly update structure which really forces you to get a lot of stuff done.


So, here we are.

11 weeks completed, lots of great mentoring sessions and listening to conversations with the rest of the startup of the group.

11 weeks trying to find product market fit for our product and idea and at last (coinciding with the end of startup school :) it looks like we might be there there.

This week we broke a few records all together. Most importantly during these 11 weeks we discovered that many people believe in what we believe and that many know inside that recruitment should not have to be as bad as it is today.

With Fluttr we are transforming recruitment in a very social process, where candidates can learn from the job application process itself.

Where recruiters are in charge, but no longer they need to "guess" if somebody is talented simply looking at their CV. Because through our platform they can ask help assessing candidates to real experts in that job and working in other companies.

We are the AirBnB of recruitment. A warmer, more social and alternative way to find a job or a talent.

Companies recruiting and recruiters alike can now hire the best talent confident that the technical screening (we focus on Design, Marketing, Data Science and IT at this point) has been run by real experts.

They can now hire people also measuring the candidates' motivation to join the company.

They can now discover the most talented people independently of age, sex, religion and other discriminatory factors, because the "experts" never know the real identity of the job applicants.

But more importantly every job seeker receives a feedback by an expert about their application and skills and can also benchmark their own skills against the other applicants too via our platform.

If it sounds interesting here you might find a few more details: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/797

And if you want to test out platform get in touch; write me at amleto@fluttr.in or visit www.fluttr.in.

You too can help us making recruitment #awesome.

Thank you classmates, Geoff Flaherty and Y Combinator!

During Startup School we built TechLeaks.org, a Glassdoor for Software Engineers (https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/511).

We went from idea to growth in just 10 weeks and I seriously doubt this could have been possible without the accountability required at the weekly office hours.

Thank you Ian (our mentor) and to the rest of mates in our group-45 cohort.

The best is yet to come. Good luck everybody!

This should be very useful if the reviews are trustworthy and more specific than what Glassdoor provides today. Glassdoor reviews are too nebulous sometimes and a service which brings out the best/worst/commonplace of every company in open.

All the best.

Isn't Glassdoor, Glassdoor for Software Engineers? Why even make the comparison?

First, thank you for your question. You are not the only one with the same doubt. Probably it means we need to craft a better definition for TechLeaks.org

The difference between Glassdoor and TechLeaks is that Glassdoor reviews are broad and targeted to all kind of audiences. There's a lot of noise from sales, marketing and other departents making reviews and there's no specific info relevant to software engineering.

Techleaks is different than glassdoor because it just targets software engineers. The reviews hosted in TechLeaks are related to questions software engineers always ask in their job interviews. For example:

What is the Agile maturity in the project? Can you choose the computer flavour? Do you get free tickets for dev conferences? What's the level of CD/CI ?

I would definitely recommend startup school. The weekly video office hours with our mentor was very helpful. Our mentor even had 2 other startup co-founders as guests and helped us brainstorm ideas on how to get more traction and improve the product.

Here is our presentation: keereo is where pinterest meets wikipedia for antiques.


We didn't do a video because we felt we were too early (we probably should have done one anyway). We're making a platform for "bite-sized learning", starting with daily email courses.

We don't have the platform ready yet, but if you want to learn React.js, check out our first course: (it's free!) https://nanohop.com/react-daily-emails/

We already had a few thousand in MRR before joining Startup School, but didn't have proper roadmap towards growth, sales, development and running a business in general.

Startup School and the weekly calls helped us identify our weaknesses and now we're better equipped towards scaling Nestify.

Our presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/532

Another happy graduate - the program was great!

I highly recommend others to sign up for the next cohort when the opportunity arises. The weekly calls, content, and team spirit was all really motivational and taught me tons.

Here's my presentation for Monkey Test It. Check it out and let me know what you think:


Congrats to all the founders!

I hope it is okay to let folks know about our site in this thread: https://capitalandgrowth.org

It is a free resource for founders to ask questions on sales and marketing--we have about two dozen and growing domain experts. We also do weekly interviews with investors, one of which ran on Y Combinator's blog (Paul Buchheit).

The experience was great.

Aside from really great advisors, the group spirit and interacting with fellow founders was best part of the program for me.

Shoutout to our advisor, Joshua, and others at YC for all their time and hard work.

I will be launching in a few weeks, here is my presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/791

I like the sense that I can get a broad overview of what is out there and what the market looks like by seeing such a large sample of successful companies.

How do you guys pick the categories?

I ask because some categories are largbe (B2B) and there seems to be a lot of overlap. (i.e. what if there is a B2B company that is also a developer tool?)

There are also some categories that I cannot find. There isn't, for instance, a data science category.

Thanks in advance.

For the first version of Startup School, we stuck with pretty broad categories, just to keep it simple. However, we do plan to make these categories more granular in the future.

I liked your hn nick :)

Had a lovely time participating! Here's our presentation: Helping people in big organizations get help https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/611

Please see this as an open invitation to ask question or give comments about our product :)

We had a lot of run doing SS!

Launched https://kyso.io - Kyso is the fastest way to share data analysis to your team and the world.

Our pres: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/411

It was a great experience, and really helped focus on getting a MVP out in the world.

Barely managed to release a public beta this week in time for the presentation :)

https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/91 (personal games for kids ages 1-5)

Big thank you to Steven for making the entire logistics work and Russ CTO and co-founder at Rainforest QA our advisor for his help, advice and support.


YC SS helped us a lot, thanks to everyone making it happen.

We just launched Tuiqo (simple document versioning) and this is our presentation: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/215

Launching soon, I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far.

"Mom, I'm on TV": https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/799

This is so cool. I watched a handful of presentations and was surprised/encouraged to see just how many startups are working on interesting things.

It was also great to see that there was clearly effort put into crafting a solid pitch.

Yep, it was very useful, we learned a lot.

Shameless self promotion: :)


Marionette Studio looks great ! http://marionettestudio.com/

I wish this were searchable. I mean, it's fun to browse but searching all of the teams for, "location" for example would be nice.

Sub categories would be good as well for larger categories.

Binge watched many presentations. This must be close to sitting through the Disrupt Conference at TechCrunch. Sigh.

Startup School was immensely helpful. Having an experienced founder as a mentor (In my case Ben Sand co-founder of Meta) was just so incredibly valuable.

My startup is Mindmeld, a better way to work remotely. Check it out :)


that was a great time spent with YC Startup School. Our presentation at https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/309 Middle.io Thanks, Steven!

Startup School was a blast. Connecting with like minded people, getting some sanity check and verification from YC alumni was awesome.

We're Gruply - Instagram for Learning (https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/452)

Why would your opening line include Instagram? We are X for Y is always red flag number one.

>We are X for Y is always red flag number one.

I am curious about this. Half the vc's recommend you to strongly use this language while the rest half consider it a red flag. Damned if you do, damned if you don't ;)

What does Instagram for Learning even mean? If someone puts up short instructional videos on Instagram, isn't that Instagram for learning?

Need a better way to split books with friends? https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/432

Based on the comments in this thread, it seems like there was some sort of instruction for all the students to come here and post about their experience, which has resulted in a complete non-discussion.

There were no instructions to come here and post about our experience, but most of us are huge HN fans so that naturally happens. And hey, since you're here already, check out my presentation on Toby: https://www.startupschool.org/presentations/649 hahaha.


Nice job on the video -- your pitch was very clear and I could understand right away what your company was about.

Thank you!!! That's great to hear

Awesome idea! I've always wanted something like this.

Thank you! Try it out and let me know what you think. You can send any feedback going to https://www.gettoby.com

Top notch animation in your on-site video

Thanks! Glad you like the video on https://www.gettoby.com :)

I was in Startup School--there was no suggestion to come here. This thread is what you get when you mix rave-reviews, public thank-yous, and self promotion. :-)

I enjoyed reading the comments. There might be some selection bias here but more importantly it seems that everyone found the experience to be personalised. I admit that I had doubts about how an online-only programme could possibly work, especially since next year's batch will be even larger. But I think I'm swayed.. might apply after all :)

There was none that I am aware of. But everybody has worked very hard and are understandably excited to show it off.

Some of the moves YC is making with their SS feeding the Core program and statements about aiming for 10k startups a year has me worried about how far they can stretch their founder-mentors and partners.

Bias disclosure: I interviewed for S17 but didn't get in.

I agree. I wish the comment section hadn't been flooded, I'd much prefer to have actual discussion than post after post of "What a great experience, watch our presentation!!!"

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