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Startups that launched today at Y Combinator’s S18 Demo Day 1 (techcrunch.com)
156 points by pestkranker 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 121 comments



I applied for the S18 and I was rejected. I have to admit that at least 80% of these startups are much better than mine one.

I can also notice that almost all of them are in the public beta, whereas my project is still in development. It seems that this is also an important factor in the approvement process.

What happened with: "we also invest in ideas", "you don't need a finished product in order to be accepted".. Those days are gone :)


Agreed. YC has moved "upstream" from the idea stage.

Startup growth is a funnel. Idea stage is at the top, and unicorn is at the bottom. The further down the funnel you invest, the more likely you are to end up with a unicorn.

YC is in the business of investing in startups that become unicorns. YC's brand, and initiatives like Startup School, have gotten them so many more qualified applications. They no longer have to invest in idea stage companies, unless they're insanely promising.


I'm the head of admissions at YC and I can assure you that a huge percentage of the companies that we interview and fund are at idea stage.

One explanation I have for why it my appear the startups we fund are "far along" at demo day is that the startups moved so quickly during the batch. For example, the startup Inokyo in the current batch recently put out a video of the autonomous store they built in Mountain View: https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/16/inokyo/ When we funded this startup 3 months ago it was for a different idea and so they quite literally started from scratch.

Startups moving fast should hopefully seem far along by demo day, irrespective of their starting point :)


>a huge percentage

A hard number would say more than that phrase :)


> YC is in the business of investing in startups that become unicorns.

Can you give specific examples of startups they have funded that became unicorns? The only two that come to mind are reddit and airbnb, and both are fraught with criticisms and legal issues over their business practices. Maybe there are more, but that's still an insanely low percentage of the total startups they have funded...


You're missing Dropbox, Coinbase, Gusto, Instacart, Stripe, Twitch, Cruise, and quite a few others that are a little more arguable, like Docker, DoorDash, or even Zenefits.


YC has moved "downstream"! Upstream is where things emerge and then they travel downstream.


> YC is in the business

sadly it has become a business. I guess we need a new old YC.


> it has become a business

It is, literally, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.


It has always been a business


You are comparing startups at the end of 3 months of intensive work to ones at the beginning. They're totally different.

It never stops being amazing to watch a team go from an idea to a profitable, fast-growing business in 3 months.


My understanding is that Demo Day projects are near the end of the 3-month Y Combinator experience. They could have been at a similar level of progress to you 3 months ago and gotten stuff done, with YC encouragement, over the past 90 days.


Best use of ones time during YC is to focus on growth, talking to customers and making sure you are building something that is a real pain point than initial development. This also helps in the program when you hold yourself accountable to a metric (user growth, revenue etc) and after demo day raising capital.


After your third sentence, I thought you were going to say "I really need to get to launch". But instead you blamed YC. So that's two attitudes that undermine you.

It requires a tremendous amount of trial and error, as you learn about the market, and the technology. Get data from reality as soon as you can. This requires a kind of courage... and behind it, a pragmatic ability to see how to get that information with minimal work/time, and then personal productivity and energy to get the work that is needed done quickly.

Sorry to be critical. If it's any consolation, I'm totally unqualified to be critical. And some projects do require longer deveploment (e.g. the R&D startups in this batch), maybe yours is one of them.


Some of these companies probably launched after they initially applied to the program, but that's just a guess.


It's interesting how few companies are in the classical tech stack in any way, and how few are in the more retail/consumer oriented techie things like social media.

Many of these are just regular businesses quite far from the ostensible advantages of having rockstar technologists etc., obviously the medical tech notwithstanding, but that's another field altogether.

It's also interesting how many of these I don't think will every fit the mold of 'high growth' kind of startup, as opposed to more along the lines of 'great new businesses'.

Aalo parts are considerably too expensive - basically they are quite a bit more expensive than IKEA, but they don't like quite as 'finished' and don't quite have the 'finished/unfinished' look to suit putting even in a modern living room, I feel it still looks like utility stuff. And at those prices ... I've just personally had to deal with a lot of brick and mortar stuff, and the reality of 'price sensitivity' hits home really hard. People don't have money for expensive, unnnecessary stuff, 'retail' is not at all like Kickstarter.

Love people trying to make fake meat taste great. I have yet to see anything available that really works well. I suggest that once a fast-food chain picks up on it and 'regular folks' get a try, it might fly.


I personally don't buy into the fake meat trend. Fake meat is highly processed, you have to add a lot of stuff to make it look, feel and taste like meat. So it's far away from being a "natural food". After spending a bit of time in the space, I've come to the following conclusion: Live mostly (!) vegan, eat fish 1-2x a week, eat chicken once in a while (both have very good feed to food conversion ratios [1]). Try to avoid beef as much as possible - I do eat it when I crave really badly (every 2-3 months?)

[1] http://ib.bioninja.com.au/options/option-c-ecology-and-conse...


I understand it's not there yet ... but in your experience were you able to live through a couple cycles to the point wherein you feel it might get there someday in terms of nutritional value and taste?

Also, should add ... I think most people don't care that much about the nutritional value of fake meat. A lot of fast-food meat is already processed and crap.

Anyone who can make something that's 'not steak' simply taste like 'steak' will do really well - it's going to be a cost consideration before anything. Consider the 'meat' in Taco Bell is 75% 'filler/chickenfeed' already.

I think huge chunks of people wouldn't mind eating vegan so long as they could eat stuff that tasted like meat, even if there were some extra processing.

That's why I think it will be a fast-food chain that will make it mainstream: they are cost conscious (as their consumers are), they have the reach and marketing power to change consumer behaviour, and their consumers don't have high-nutritional 'real food' expectations.

So a 'McNotBeef' would do really really well even among regular folks, even traditional meat eaters.


I agree. If the cost is low enough and it tastes, looks, smells the same, the fast-food giants will push it through. People who don't care too much that their meat is highly processed already today, probably won't care tomorrow either


Meat is a very nutritional source of protein & fat and generally very low carb. This is usually not the case with meat alternatives, which is very unfortunate because it makes them a poor substitute no matter how good they taste. Ice cream tastes good also, but in order to be a meat replacement it should at least have a similar macro profile.


I think this is one of the goals of the meat replacement companies. That’s why it’s very complcciated to replace meat: it needs to taste, smell, look like meat AND have similar nutritional value. And, lastly, have the same or lower price point, at least to become a mass market product


> eat chicken once in a while (both have very good feed to food conversion ratios [1]).

Depending on your animal welfare ethics, I'm not sure that's the best metric to optimise for. To get a good ratio, the animals' movement needs to be restricted and they need to be killed young. Hence, battery hens do very well.


From a health perspective I can see eating fish 1-2x a week, but from a sustainability perspective with the decline of our fish stocks, I've chosen to rarely eat fish at all.


It's a tradeoff I guess. There are organic fish farms that do a good job, e.g. the European ones. They won't thrive without demand. So I try to buy organic fish, it's expensive though.


This is where I wish I could actually buy the land-raised salmon.

http://www.kuterra.com


> Prodigal Technologies wants to improve the ways that lenders collect money from borrowers... If a payor misses a payment, lenders can now reach out on any messaging platform and enable lenders to find borrowers where they are

This sounds like it could be bad for consumers. I hope it doesn't lead to people getting shamed on social media for failing to answer bill collector's phone calls - their site is pretty vague about how it works so I'm not sure.

Just another reason to delete your social media accounts.

I think it's a good business idea though.


Instead via the old method of phone, they're texting about the bills instead. It seems that's what people are more responsive to today. All communication is private. It has nothing to do with social media.


That's good to hear, thanks for clarifying


What you're talking about would typically be considered illegal in the United States under FDCPA (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) so I'd imagine it would have to be a private message.

(For more information about debt collection, I'd recommend https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/debt-collecti... )

Even if you improve collection practices a tenth of one percent, however, you're still talking big money so I see the appeal of the market size and any potential improvement.


* people getting shamed on social media*

thats the only thing i can imagine is going to come of this


I was assuming communications would be private. Debt collection has a deservedly bad reputation, but I think any public communication would quickly become legally problematic. It seems like bad idea both ethically and practically if messages weren't private.


Hopefully it's private.

As far as the legal requirements, I believe in the US it's permissible for debt collectors to contact friends/family in order to get in touch with the debtor, but there are certain limitations (like they're not supposed to disclose the amount of the debt, etc).

I think you're right about the practicality issue - I doubt twitter or any other network would want anyone using their platform for that type of activity.


Even if private messaging, which social platform has bank level privacy/PII controls in place? How often are they hacked/sold/oopsied?


The Chinese courts have been exploring an _interesting_ and public method of debt collection.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-07/26/content_302507...


In India, lenders send goons to borrowers houses and sometimes thrash them. Shaming on social media is more dangerous.


In Spain and Portugal there's a company that sends people dressed in frock coats and top hats to the debtor's workplace entrance and such, to publicly shame them: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/09/spain-debt-...


When I read it, I assumed it would be private messages. If that's true, then it might be a bit like harassment, but not public shaming.


Perhaps, but on platforms like twitter where the default behavior is to only allow direct messages to mutual followers, I imagine they might use an @mention which is publicly visible - like "@newman8r - please get in contact with us, we need to discuss your car payment" - and they offer to delete the tweet after payment or something.... I guess that would be the worst case scenario. If it's just private messaging then it's not as big of a deal.


I think people can demand that debt collectors contact them only through certain types of media (email, print letters, etc.). I wonder if that applies to companies where collection hasn't gone to a debt collector...


@newman8r owes @PG&E $100 #PayYourBills


Both suck.


I'm excited to see all of the animal-alternative food companies coming through the pipeline. This space is really undergoing a renaissance.

I think most people would choose alternatives if they had similar taste, texture and price to "the real deal". Best of luck to them.


> I think most people would choose alternatives if they had similar taste, texture and price to "the real deal"

I, personally, would not. I like to know that what I'm eating has a known affect on my body; people have been eating beef for a long time, we know what it does and why. Whilst I appreciate this isn't a sweet chemical replacing sugar with little to no study into the long term side effects, do we know what the long term impact is? How does the change in diet need to be balanced with other changes?


Try the beyondmeat.com products. Here is a list of ingredients for the chicken strips - stuff we've been eating for a long time as well. And don't forget, beef and other meat coming from large scale factory farms is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken (Southwest Style Strips) Ingredients:

    Water,
    non-GMO soy protein isolate,
    pea protein isolate,
    amaranth,
    vegan chicken flavor (maltodextrin, yeast extract, salt, natural flavoring, sunflower oil),
    non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil,
    non-GMO soy fiber,
    carrot fiber,
    white vinegar,
    spices,
    garlic extract,
    salt,
    onion extract,
    evaporated cane juice,
    dipotassium phosphate,
    titanium dioxide (for color),
    potassium chloride,
    paprika extract.


> And don't forget, beef and other meat coming from large scale factory farms is pumped full of hormones and antibiotics.

I believe this is a problem limited to North America.

> non-GMO soy protein isolate > pea protein isolate

I understand that these come from natural products, but when was the last time you added 'pea protein isolate' to a salad? You haven't - you added some peas, which contain some protein, but also contain fiber, vitamins and a bunch of other things I don't know enough about. This was kind of my point, we're putting natural products in, but using them in ways that we've not used before.

At least in the UK, IMHO we'd be better off teaching people to cook properly, rather than buying ready meals, improving the standard of take aways and ensuring that food complies with a reasonable minimum standard of ethics and environmental impact.


More about pea protein, which you might find interesting:

"Scientific Studies

According to Medical News Today, research from Canada found that pea protein powder may help help reduce hypertension and chronic kidney disease. Researchers extracted pea protein hydrolysate from the yellow pea and fed a small dose each day to lab rats bred to have polycystic kidney disease. After eight weeks, these rats showed a 20 percent drop in blood pressure. Dr. Rotimi Aluko, the study's head researcher, said that eating the yellow peas in their natural state would not produce the same benefits as the extracted pea protein, which can only be activated with special enzymes."

from https://livewell.jillianmichaels.com/pea-protein-5427.html


You're right - people should be tought how to cook better etc.

> I believe this is a problem limited to North America.

This problem is limited to the large scale meat industry (factory farms and such) - which are all over the world.

Where do you think your cheap Tesco chicken comes from or the meat from KFC, burger king etc comes from?

If you're buying direct from a butcher who gets their meat from grass fed free roaming animal farms, well then respect for not supporting the large scale meat industry. Unfortunately most people can't afford to buy meat from these places, as it's expensive.

You should check out these videos to understand where the meat comes from and how it's being produced

Meet your Meat (narrated by Alex Baldwin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RX88IGJ35g

Earthlings https://vimeo.com/209647801

> Pea protein isolate - [...] but when was the last time you added 'pea protein isolate' to a salad?

I appreciate the word 'isolate' makes it sound unnatural, but really pea protein is consumed by fitness people etc. It's doesn't have a taste and can be added to salads if you want to, but usually you put it in your post workout shake. Check out the following how it's being made - pretty harmless. I'd rather have this than flesh from an animal.

https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Pea-Protein-Powder

> [...] reasonable minimum standard of ethics

What do you think this would be? When it's not about your survival, how do you kill a sentient being that doesn't want to be killed and actively tries to avoid pain and suffering if it can?


"Undoubtedly better for the environment than a carnivorous diet"

I think this quote is extremely dubious. How many of these companies study what the beyond organic movement is going with restorative agriculture. Having cows eat and poop grass is a really good thing for rebuilding what industrial farming has done to acres of land across the US.

This just smells of short cutting a process very similar to industrial farming that got us into this position to begin with.


Here is a study by the UN that basically says to stop or reduce our meat consumption - as our current meat eating habits destroy the environment.

http://www.unep.fr/shared/publications/pdf/dtix1262xpa-prior...


Would you welcome the scientific challenge, though? A couple new hypotheses to environment improvement?


Interesting to see that more companies targeting women's health are going through YC. I definitely think there is a gap there.. living with my girlfriend has opened my eyes to what sorts of things women have to go through from a health perspective that men never notice.


Well don't just stop there... Do tell


To all the animal-alternative food companies, please put phosphorus on your nutrition labels. That way those of us with kidney failure can watch their phosphorus levels while consuming the large amounts of protein we need daily due to our treatments.


That palm oil replacement thing is a really nice idea. I have stopped eating nutella some years ago because of destruction caused by the palm oil industry.


I‘m all for boycotting palm oil but I think you might have misjudged Ferreros efforts to only use palm oil that has been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Even Greenpeace says it‘s alright to buy Ferrero products containing palm oil.

[Source](https://qz.com/430450/no-you-dont-have-to-boycott-nutella-fo...)


Very interesting information!!!


Nutella is about 30% fat and 60% sugars [1] by weight... can't be good for you anyways...

1. https://www.nutella.com/en/uk/range


Good luck to all, except for CSPA. I hope they fail miserably.

The idea that they will insert themselves as a bureaucracy/testing service to "gauge" software engineers is simply offensive to me. This is typical bureaucrat thinking, and not what Silicon Valley is all about. They want to collect a toll tax on every programmer going forward. So frankly I hope they truly fail quickly and miserably.

I hate whiteboard interviews with a passion, but I don't hate them more than "certification processes", like what this group of people is trying to do.


I wouldn't mind seeing Grabb-It fail either. I'd find it sad if the fix for underpaying unofficial taxi drivers is more targeted advertising. I seems like we're getting closer and closer to those dystopian futures where every square inch of a city is filled with ads.


Agreed, we already have far too much advertising around us.


Real question - what is the history of the SAT? It has essentially created a toll tax on every student attempting to enter college/university in the US. Is it a private company?


It's run by The College Board, which is essentially a not-for-profit testing and (more recently) data analytics service.


Some would argue that College Board is barely a nonprofit. See https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2012/10/16/is-the-college-boa...


I never sat for the SAT and got myself a BA so it's apparently not a very good gatekeeper.


The issue I see is that there is a huge gap between something a company might find useful and something that could replace part of a hiring process. I'm not really excited about studying and taking a test if I still have a full interview process. It's just making the process more annoying.


As someone who's been self-learning computer science on the side (I've been working as an engineer for 5 years, but have a bootcamp background, plus I'm just interested in all that stuff), I can't wait to take it.

I plan to take it every 6 months to quantify my progress.


Although maybe not as strongly, I sympathize with your comment because of the feeling that we are moving away from indirect reputation (like certificates, diplomas, etc) and towards direct reputation.

I've posted about it before:

"The reasoning goes: the reasons why we need degrees are certification and reputation. By certification I mean that we only let people who we all trust practice medicine, as that kills people directly otherwise. So we restrict the people who can to those with the appropriate degrees.

The second point is more relevant to most other careers. A degree is nothing but a more reputable institution 'lending' reputation to its graduates. The reason this is necessary is because nobody's got the time to verify whether every person knows Computer Science - we're better off just knowing that people from University of X know CS if UoX says so. Even if you're going to personally interview every candidate for a job opening, still relying on degrees helps you filter candidates.

The thing is our interactions are recorded to the level that we can now reason about individuals in a way that was not possible before. Why do I need to trust UoX if I can mine your entire internet presence with reasonably comparable effort?"

I still think we (broadly, the folks who seem to be the core audience of HN) are the ones most likely to make this transition first.

CSPA looks like a step in the complete opposite direction.

Personally, I too hope it fails as I think that if it ever becomes the norm the best case scenario is no better on my end; and in the worst case scenario, it can be a living nightmare.


The thing is that the gap between "is (probably) good at computer science" and "can program our website for us" is so large and diverse... When I was a recruiter the university degree was only important because they had to be a certified engineer (mech e chem e etc), beyond that I still had to make reference calls, the hiring manager still had to check their technical skills etc. When we did hiring interviews for programmers at my current job I didn't even look at the degree. My boss is the API engineer here and he's got a degree in literature. The lead frontend guy doesn't have a degree, he's just been doing it since before JavaScript existed.

Basically, whether or not people filter on degree, or even this cspa thing, they're still going to have to do all the tests they did before. I guess the hope is that they'll have a higher apply-to-hire ratio? But I think that'll only last as long as it takes people to figure out how to specialize to pass this test.


Agree with the degree part.

Having hired a few software engineers, a question I am asked a lot (not by the engineers themselves, but a lot of other, some even non-tech friends) is that why do I use college and degree as a filtering criteria. My explanation is that, one we do not have the resources of Google to access the candidate in that depth. Two, even if we were to do that, it would mean a candidate going through 7-8-10 rounds, given the kind of things that need to be tested. If you could end up in a good program/college, it tells me that you have some ability and saves me on a few tests. Then, I can take 2-3 tests/interviews and make the decision quickly. This is not to say that other person without the degree is less talented, but that the talent isnt demonstrated yet and it would take more tests to maybe see that. Moreover, its not an exact process, we are as likely to fail with a good degree hire as we are with not so good degree. So, does not seem fair to take a candidate through 8-10 tests. (it also has a cost for us, given we are a small team and everyone's time is important)


> 7-8-10 rounds

If you need 7-8-10 rounds you got something very wrong.


I was counting all the assignments, interactions and written rounds I would need to take to have confidence I have a good hire. FYI, google themselves take that many rounds iirc.

We currently take 3 rounds - one initial interview, one assignment, and then a final interview for the fit. Hence given the weightage to the college.


I used to agree, but thinking broadly this seems to be a reactionary thinking.

You want food products tested and certified?

You want bridge engineering to be verified safe?

You want medicine to be tested thoroughly before injecting?

Why not try to create a brand of tested software engineering practices?

Clearly it would create a public distinction with online gigs, people expecting xYears of experience with crap pay.

I think there can be positives found.


I understand where you are coming from, I shared the same concern in my comment. However, isn't a college degree just another certification as well? And most companies do require it. At the end of the day, both have curriculum and seek to be a validation standard, it's just that you, or at least many employers, prefer one over the other.


I see a college credential as a problem to be solved. Replacing it for a centralized certification doesn't solve that problem, just change the entity that is earning money from the existence of the problem.

I agree with the GP. But to not sound too negative, I hope they pivot to more legitimate and beneficial business model that does not perpetuate a problem and succeed only with this pivot :)


Think of it this way - perhaps with CSPA one day you’ll take the test once and we’ll be able to kill individualized whiteboardong sessions once and for all.

There will always be verification of skill from employers no matter what you’d prefer.


What if you have a bad day and end up performing miserably in this test? Even if you're really good, this one hour can hijack 60 separate chances that you have to prove yourself. This will definitely increase the pressure on the people getting evaluated.

What about the fairness of this evaluation? Over a period of time, questions may be published in the public domain and then the scores of candidates are rendered meaningless. How do you assess whether the person truly solved a problem or merely recalled a solution they had read before?

Over a period of time, the score will be given too much weightage and we will not be able to get a wholistic picture of the candidate.

Ultimately, this is going to end up to be as damaging as automatic resume scanners. Used as a tool to filter good candidates but mainly to reduce the workload of hiring candidates.

People find a way to work around these scanners by dumping keywords even if they are not very familiar with certain skills. Similarly, people will find a way to game the new system as well.

Whiteboarding sessions, despite being more time consuming, seems to be more effective at what it has been designed to gauge.


Do they even charge for taking the tests? I don't see anything about pricing on their site.


From the article:

Students pay to take the tests and have their results shared with the over 60 companies that are now accepting the results when considering new candidates.


Yeah you're right. I just tried to register for an exam and it was $19


They probably will if they succeed. They are solving their chicken and egg problem right now.


> The company wants to make debt collection, if not kinder or gentler, then certainly more efficient.

Yikes.


The range of these things always astounds me. There's one that's like "it's a social network but with avatars" and then there's one that's like "we can repair damaged livers by turning fat cells into healthy liver ones to replace the damaged ones."


> Mac’d is a build-your-own mac and cheese restaurant that lets customers choose their own adventure from the beginning.

Is this for real? I mean I love a good mac and cheese as much as the next guy but it doesn’t strike me as anywhere near the usual markets targeted by start ups.


They posted here on HN recently and I went and checked out their menu. And while it sounds delicious, I just cant believe that I, personally, would be regularly paying ~$15 for mac and cheese - let alone that be a venture backed startup.

I am already of the opinion that food is exceedingly expensive in every regard, and when even McDonald's is now $11 for a big-mac meal, I just can't believe how we aren't looking to make food any more affordable.


I'd be shocked if you could put down the entire Mac n cheese on your own... It's at least a 2 person meal and my GF and I usually have leftovers anyway.


I've eaten at MAC'D in SF, we had two people on one plate, and still had leftovers.


Haha yeah I was also a bit perplexed on this choice. But hey the team must be strong as getting past the YC partners is no easy task.

My first thought when seeing this was Peter Thiels lecture where he discussed restaurants and why they make bad choices for disruption. Would be really interested to see where/how they go from here.


MAC'D is interesting because it can use low-cost ghost kitchens (e.g. commissary kitchens and only a couple staff) and logistics middlemen (e.g. Doordash, Uber Eats) to spin up high-margin, operationally efficient restaurants. I believe they've already started to expand beyond SF. Pretty neat stuff.


Oh shit I didn't even see that they were on the list! They recently opened up a location across the street from me, at Polk and Vallejo.

It's pretty darn good, decently priced too. Food takes a weird amount of time to make, maybe because I went in a day after the new shop opened.


I wonder if it's a play similar to the coffee machine startup (whose name escapes me right now). The business is actually about putting excellent coffee robots in places that wouldn't sustain a staffed coffee shop.


I think this is CafeX.


Is CafeX just a gimmick, given there have been simple vending machines that can brew and make coffee?


My understanding is that it's a bit more than a simple coffee vending machine. It uses a similar process to that used in coffee bars (I assume along the quality of Starbucks, not your favorite super-competent local shop). It grinds the coffee fresh, has high quality ingredients, etc.


Though grinding fresh and having high quality ingredients doesn't need the giant robotic arm, which serves only to move the cups around.


My personal theory is that robotic arms are cheap enough now that you can purchase relatively standard coffee making equipment and program the arm to operate it, rather than needing specially designed coffee making equipment. Throw it all in a big box, and the arm makes for a good show while also just being cheaper.


That's the one! Thank you.


Welcome to the absurd bay area of now. YC used to fund interesting revolutionary companies (Dropbox, Stripe, Airbnb, Heroku) now it's $15 plate of Mac and Cheese, 100 percent vegan online grocery stores, and spandex pants.


It is! Previously discussed here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17726090


It doesn't look like they funded many companies under the YC Bio RFP, where companies get $500K-1M for longevity products / treatments for aging related disease. I see one regen med company working on regenerating liver cells (Hepatx), and then a few diagnostics / synbio / research tools companies that don't seem to fit the YC Bio / longevity bucket. Wonder if there will be more tomorrow...


I'd love to work on a medical/biotech startup, but the barriers to entry seem so much bigger than a standard SAAS project. It seems like there's some progress towards cloud-labs that could reduce those barriers (https://www.emeraldcloudlab.com/ looks interesting) - and that's something I want to learn more about.


The barriers to entry are certainly different, and maybe bigger, but I think there's a lot of misconception about what it takes to get a biopharma company started (i say biopharma rather than biotech bc biopharma is where the vast vast majority of VC money in healthcare goes). You usually need:

* a team made up of a few molecular / cell biologists (analog to needing engineers for a SaaS)

* solid early-stage science (could be nothing more than a few experiments to validate / build on a publication)

* a well thought out experimental plan -- details of the initial work you'd do to validate your core hypotheses, why you chose those experiments and not others, and feedback from other smart scientists and investors to validate your design (this would be the analog of early product development, culminating in product-market fit over 12-24 months)

* funding for your initial experiments: a few hundred thousand up to a few million

The main difference is that 1) iteration cycles are much longer and more expensive in biopharma and 2) value inflection is more binary. So you need to be really thoughtful about every detail of your initial work.

In recent years, biotech startups have actually been able to grow really big faster than tech startups. Kite and Juno were acquired for $12B and $9B less than 5 years after Series A -- getting to decacorn status faster than pretty much any software co I think including dropbox, snap, etc

A lot of the initial work is done as a "virtual" company with no lab. There is a massive network of outsourced research groups that can do pretty much any experiment you want at high quality and reasonable cost


> A lot of the initial work is done as a "virtual" company with no lab.

After that stage, if a true "wet lab" is necessary, one of the perceived barriers may be, especially for the majority of modern software professionals, the situation with lab computing.

Interpreting what former colleague (who is now a YC biotech founder) recently explained to me, labs often face significant challenges in needing on-premises computer hardware. [1]

For some labs (DNA sequencing being a notable example, with the cost of sequencers plummeting), the sheer quantity of raw data flowing from the instruments can make (fully) cloud-based processing prohibitively expensive, if not impossible [2]. Having on-site servers hardware can be necessary, but, as a self-fulfilling prophecy, the knowledge about how to do this (supposedly) "nightmare" task well has been dying out.

The far bigger issue, applicable to the vast majority of not all labs, is all the computers attached to the instruments and lab automation equipment, which are, in general, running proprietary software on a broad spectrum of Windows versions, which the users (lab) patch/maintain/administer at their peril (lest the proprietary software and, thereby, the instrument itself, stop working).

Unfortunately (for me), the on-site server problem is generally much less dire and painful than the instrument-control problem. It can also be solved just barely well enough to cut down the size of the raw data, at which point software people breath a huge sigh of relief because they can ship it to the cloud and pretend hardware doesn't exist.

The instrument-control/Windows problem ends up being hugely labor-intensive even to approximate a solution involving decent security and reliability. It also can require a remarkable amount of learning things that might never be used again in ones career, such as how a particular vendor's software communicates with a particular model and version of that vendor's instrument (so worth it, if it means making virtualization possible!).

There are lab automation companies attempting to provide this sort of thing as a service, but they're not numerous, and it's unclear if this kind of IT is, so far, just a services/consulting add-on.

[1] I consider my expertise in this area to be differentiating part of my Ops skillset, so it was of particular personal interest.

[2] On a workable scale. With enough money, it should be possible to bring even 10-gigabit fiber Internet anywhere, or move the lab somewhere that already has it, but not in zero/negligible time.


The price slider on the Aola beam selector is broken

https://shop.aalo.co/collections/parts-library/products/stan...

It will quote $12 for 2 inches, then $4 for the same, then $15 for 30 inches and then $12 for 47 inches...

Every time it is moved it quotes a different price.

I would never use that to order anything.

Why can't I build a BOM - or specify the size of a bench and specify the frame design and have it spit out the bom?

Horrible UX/UI for the idea that I can buy-by-the-inch materials for my hipster ikea furniture.


The idea is interesting but I'm not sure how economically feasible it is. It seems like something I can put together with some PVC pipes and 3D printed brackets. Though time may prove me wrong.


The CSPA looks quite interesting. I wonder, though, if it won't just fall into the categorization of certifications. I know a lot of tech companies, especially startups, have not much use for certifications. They are only most relevant for compliance and other niche stuff like security.


Skydrop seems like a simple idea but for us in South America this is actually a huge issue. I hope they get successful.


I was surprised to see Alpha Vantage[0] on this list. As far i'm aware, they provide real time access to stock prices, and their service is free. Additionally, other services [1] exist that do the same, which are also free.

How might they turn their service into a viable business?

[0]: https://www.alphavantage.co [1]: https://iextrading.com


Lol literally just posted the same thing. I recently had my regular pull go down and ask for a pretty hefty sum


Names & Faces is similar to a tool Adobe created many years ago - it was my favorite product!

A great way to navigate the org chart of a growing startup. Nice design. You should try to sell it to EasyPost. ;)


Oxygen definitely interests me. I will be monitoring their progress with interest.

I have a requirement for credit facilities on a global basis and I haven't found anyone close to what bitbond [0] has offered. They are based in germany and would much rather deal with a US based company.

If anyone has come across such an entity, especially with revenue sharing for those who white-label their offering. Definitely let me know!

[0]: https://www.bitbond.com/


While Nova Credit is not specifically tackling lending, they are an awesome team (hi Loek!) that make it easy for you to access international credit reports to offer credit: https://www.novacredit.com/

This significantly eases the burden of obtaining credit for immigrants.


You ROCK!

Thank you. This is exactly what I was looking for!


Welcome, happy to help. They're great people.


jitX seems pretty neat though I have a feeling AI is used in more a marketing sense rather than a technical sense...Nevertheless the pricing is pretty competitive. I have a couple hardware ideas but always stopped because of the electrical part of things. Wiring and coding something that works for prototypes is pretty easy but drafting something that is producible gets pretty tough. I would love to see more customer use cases from this company.


I also found them interesting. However, regarding costs I found the direct opposite: the pricing is far too high. Might make sense in SF, not globally. I emailed their team expanding on this. We pay less than half those rates for design, fabrication, testing, high quality English documentation and delivery inclusive. I suggested they generate high quality documentation as well as the PCB and consider lead times to different parts of the world.


I was wondering why alpha vantage suddenly decided to start charging.

Sure they have 100,000 users, but the 3 people I know (including myself) are no longer using it.


Does "Grabb-It" seem like a public nuisance to anyone else?

Tracking conversions must be pretty creepy.


Vegan sh*t does not really help to prevent the upcoming apocalypse. I am wondering if any of those startups is working on band-aid solutions for this? Personal isolated bunkers, satellites that would allow living on the orbit, etc..?


Momentus confused me. It uses water to propel space craft.

"Using water has several benefits, the startup says. One, it’s a fuel source that’s abundant in outer space."

Wait, what?


Pretty excited to see Fintual on that list. It's the first Chilean startup that got accepted.


Any of them hire REMOTE?




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