YC Demo Day Session 2: Helion, BitAccess, uBiome, Fixed, And More

Next Story

Former Obama Campaign Manager To Lead Uber’s Political Crusade

Y Combinator’s Summer 2014 Demo Day is in full swing here at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The room is packed with investors and press, the coffee is flowing, people in startup t-shirts are pitching, and a team of us TechCrunch writers are hunched over our laptops taking notes on each company that takes the stage.

There will be four sessions in total today, and as always, we’re writing up a post for each. You can see our post on the first session of the day here. With 75 startups launching today in total, 66 of whom are presenting “on the record” (this YC class has a record 85 startups, meaning that 10 of them opted out of taking the stage today) we’ve got our hands full.

Here are the YC startups that pitched onstage in the second session of the day:

Bayes Impact: Bayes Impact is a nonprofit that hooks data scientists up with civic and nonprofit organizations to solve big social impact challenges. According to the founders, data science can be too expensive for most non-profits. However, good data can mean less wait for ambulances and save lives, for instance. BI has created a 12 month social development program to recruit data scientists to work on projects for good. Data scientists admitted to the program get a “living stipend” to work on the projects. Bayes Impact has employed over 30 projects, including more productive housing approval in SF and working with a microfinance organization on fraud detection.  The fraud detection project has reduced fraud losses by 30%. The startup has done all this with a team of just four people in two months time. You can read our prior coverage of Bayes Impact here.

Ravti: Ravti provides software to manage HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) for commercial real estate. That’s a $1 billion industry today, and represents about 32 percent of commercial real estate spending currently. But it’s a hugely fragmented market with 86,000 HVAC companies servicing those buildings. Ravti provides an alternative by cataloguing all a facility’s HVAC equipment, bid projects out for them, and help them save money. The company currently has 30 million square feet of real estate under management, and another 150 million square feet in the pipeline. But there’s an 85 billion square feet opportunity to go after. Ravti wants to take over that market by helping clients do better with software.

Helion: This is certainly one of the most talked-about startups in this YC class, due to its big ambitions. Helion says it is building the world’s first commercial nuclear fusion reactor. The company says that it can do this now despite failed government and private efforts for the last several decades because of advancements in modern electronics in the last three years.They already have a working magnetic-interial reactor in their labs in Redmond, Wash., and they think they can prove commercial scale fusion in three years’ time, building a 50 Megawatt reactor that could power 40,000 homes without producing carbon emissions or radioactive waste. Read our prior coverage of Helion here.

Pretty Padded Room: Yes, the name refers to what you might assume — Pretty Padded Room is dealing in mental health space, and is specifically aimed at women. Well, you can’t say it doesn’t grab your attention. Founded by a licensed mental health counselor, Pretty Padded Room aims to “redefine the mental health experience for the online generation.” Even though the benefits of talk therapy are well-documented, the process of finding and seeing a counselor is still a relatively difficult one: It’s tough to find insurance, the wait for good counselors can be long, and the entire thing is pretty darn expensive. That means that many of the people who are interested in getting therpay never actually get around to trying it out. Pretty Padded Room wants to make the whole system more accessible by offering licensed therapists via text or video chat for introductory prices of $25 per session. So far, the company has made $170,000 in revenue and is growing 100 percent month over month. 43 percent of its current user base is totally new to therapy.

Kash: Kash is attempting to replace Visa and MasterCard’s vast credit card networks, which charge 2 to 3 percent on every transaction. “Swipe fees are a tax on everything,” the company explains. “It leaves every single retailer desperately searching for a way to avoid credit card tax.” Users just have to install the Kash app for iOS or Android. Kash’s app gets around credit cards entirely by letting users pay straight from their checking accounts after entering their online banking log-in info, as you would with an app like Mint. Some people might not be comfortable with that, but Kash promises that it fully covers any fraud that could result from using its app. They say they’ve worked with 150 stories so far in the last four weeks and that they reduce transaction costs by 70 percent. Read our earlier coverage here.

HauteDay: Gamified shopping site HauteDay applies the same addictive gaming mechanics to women’s fashion. The community on HauteDay goes to the site to look for and vote on a particular pair of skinny jeans, for instance. The person who finds the jeans gets them free.  The site launched two weeks ago and is reportedly seeing a 50% daily retention rate so far. According to the founders, this means each person who signs up is coming back each day. The founders believe they’ve built what could be a $100 million dollar shopping game.

Tiempo: Tiempo provides a platform for helping freelancers to get paid instantly. With up to 40 percent of people moving to freelance or contract work in the coming years, there’s a huge opportunity to serve people who regularly wait up to 60 days to get paid. Tiempo provides a mobile app where freelancers can track their hours and send invoices to those who are paying them. The freelance market is a $9 billion market opportunity today, but it’s growing to $15 billion by 2020. The team worked with small business owners at Intuit, and has also felt the pain of working as freelancers. So yeah, they’re excited about changing up the market. Read our prior coverage of Tiempo here.

BitAccess: This company is building out a network of Bitcoin ATMs, with more than 30 currently in operation. BitAccess sells its ATMs to licensed operators like gas stations, convenience stores, and other frequently-trafficed locations. The startup has sold its teller machines in 15 countries, and is profitable based on sales of the physical hardware alone: each costs $4,000 to build and sells for sells for $12,000. In addition, the company takes 1% off the top of all transactions on its ATMs. While the company acknowledges the niche audience that currently uses Bitcoin, it identified several use cases that make sense for users who aren’t cryptocurrency enthusiasts, like sending Bitcoin to friends and relatives between in other counties instead of dealing with exchanges rates or paying for expensive wires. Read our earlier coverage of BitAccess here.

uBiome: There’s a saying in medicine that “death begins in the colon.” That sounds dramatic, but it’s often true: The complicated mix of bacteria in your gut has a massive impact on many parts of your overall health. Certain bacterias are linked to everything from indigestion to cancer to autism. uBiome has created a system that uses big data to take a complete picture of your personal mix of bacteria — also known as your microbiome — and provide ongoing analysis about it. The process works a lot like 23andme: As a customer, you take a sample of your microbiome (in this case, through a stool sample), send it to uBiome, which then uses its patent-pending system of robots and machines to sequence the sample and deliver pertinent information. Read our prior coverage of uBiome here.

Fixed: Fixed is that controversial and interesting platform that helps drivers contest parking tickets. You get the app, you take a photo of your parking ticket and Fixed’s legal advocates will figure out if there are errors or issues with the ticket. If so, they’ll write a contest letter to the city on the driver’s behalf. About four to six weeks later, the consumer will figure out if they’ve gotten their ticket dismissed. If they do, Fixed earns a 25 percent success fee when they win. Their win rates are about 20 to 30 percent. They say they’ve been growing at a 20 to 30 percent clip since the start of Y Combinator. They’re currently contesting about 400 tickets per week in San Francisco. Next year, they plan to expand to 100 cities and then into other types of overcharges like Comcast overcharges, healthcare overcharges, traffic tickets and other types of moving violations. They refer to their model as “justice-as-a-service.” “The anger comes from thinking there’s nothing you can do about it,” the company explains.

Flynn: Flynn is a single, open-source platform to help developers scale and deploy apps with git push and Docker containers. More startups are sending out apps than ever before. Flynn aims to solve the pain points for the little guy and Fortune 500 companies alike. Flynn crowd funded a campaign to validate the problems associated with ops to prove the concept first. Developers send any app to any cluster in seconds.  As it says on the site, “Flynn is the single platform that ops can provide to developers to power production, testing, and development, freeing developers to focus.”

Think Gaming: Think Gaming helps mobile games find paying players through advertising. Today, mobile gaming is a $15 billion opportunity, with the biggest games as big as the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. The problem is that it takes a ton of advertising to grow, but there are more than 400 mobile ad networks for game publishers to use. Think Gaming helps them to learn what works and what doesn’t by pooling data from game publishers and making it available to the total group. That combines the network effects of pooled data across games with a huge market to conquer. Read our earlier coverage here.

Impraise: A mobile app for offering feedback to coworkers. Impraise wants to replace today’s system of using performance reviews, which it says are broken because the biannual nature of most companies’ reviews don’t allow companies to identify problems and implement change fast enough. The startup claims that users of its app offer feedback every week, providing much more data to human resource departments than traditional reviews. Impraise already has pilot programs at 60 companies, including eBay, Dropbox, and Intuit, 25% of which were started by workers themselves. Read our earlier coverage of Impraise here.

Front: It’s a well established opinion that as ubiquitous as it is, email as it is today is not the most efficient way to communicate, especially among groups. Front is the latest startup to toss an email alternative into the ring. Front is essentially a shared inbox for enterprise teams, giving the constant “BCC” and “CC” method of writing the heave-ho. The company describes its product as “a multi-player version of Gmail in a smart desktop app,” and so far it seems to be catching on. Since its launch two months ago, Front has attracted 130 active companies as users, processed more than 1.2 conversations, and the average Front user spends 3 hours per day on the app. Its revenue is growing 25 percent week over week, and its engagement figures are pretty good too. Read our earlier coverage here.

Sliced Investing: Sliced democratizes access to hedge funds. Even though hedge funds have outperformed S&P 500 over the past decade, very few investors have access to them. They typically have minimum investment sizes of $1 million. “They should be part of everyone’s portfolio,” Sliced explains. The company groups together investments of roughly $20,000 and pools them into hedge funds that meet certain strategies — say, equities or real estate. After the pool meets a certain threshold, the accumulated monies will be disbursed into several hedge funds that match the selected strategy. Read our prior coverage here.

Bannerman: Bannerman is basically an on-demand bouncer service. It hooks you up with a private security guard within 30 minutes of your order. in much the same way as you might order an Uber or cleaning service from HomeJoy, you visit the site and give details such as date, address, and number of security guards needed. Bannerman sends out licensed guards for $35/hour, per guard. Co-founder Johnny Chin says most of the Bannerman guards are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. The YC startup looks to tap into a $96 billion security market. The largest player only owns 8% of that market, currently. Bannerman has 35% in operating margins and it says it pays security guards more but costs less than the competition by using on-demand software.

ListRunner: ListRunner is a startup that is seeking to help prevent the more than 400,000 deaths each year that are caused by physician error. Many of them are caused by communication problems between doctors, and those communications issues are caused by doctors who are forced to share notes on paper. ListRunner offers a HIPAA-compliant app that enables doctors to better keep track of patients and share information with colleagues. Rather than sell to hospitals, ListRunner sells to the doctors who use the app, using a bottom up approach to capturing the market. Read our earlier coverage here.

Doblet: The Doblet team is creating a network of portable batteries in restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. The company provides these venues with a supply of mobile batteries that can be distributed to customers, who can pay per use or subscribe for unlimited use anywhere they’re available. Besides making battery life less of a concern for its users, Doblet promises to bring business in for its partner venues, as its app will give a notification offering navigation to the nearest Doblet location when a device’s battery runs low. In the last five weeks, the company has deployed batteries at 80 venues in San Francisco, and as part of its expansion plans to move to new cities and to offer its chargers at new venues where chargers are frequently needed, including airports and hotels. Read prior coverage here.

Lawn Love: Even throughout the whole “software eating the world” movement of recent years, getting a quote on lawncare and landscaping is usually an in-person affair, and booking and payments are not often conducted through the web or a mobile phone. Lawn Love brings some Uber-like technology to the whole process of finding, booking, and paying a landscaping or lawncare provider. The platform, which is currently live in four areas in California (Orange County, San Diego, the South Bay of San Francisco, and Los Angeles) serves as a middle point int he two-sided marketplace between independent lawncare providers and customers. Since its launch earlier this summer, Lawn Love has grown an average of 80% month over month in jobs booked, grown its revenue by 107 percent month over month, and currently has a $250,000 run rate. Read our prior coverage of Lawn Love here.


Colleen Taylor, Ryan Lawler, Kim-Mai Cutler, Sarah Buhr, and Kyle Russell all contributed reporting.