YC Demo Day Session 3: UPower, Edyn, Craft Coffee, Immunity Project, And More

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The crowd of founders, investors, and press has finished eating lunch here at Y Combinator’s Summer 2014 Demo Day (quinoa, salad, some kind of beef stew thing, soda, and beer, FYI) and we’re back in the saddle for the third of four sessions of startup pitches.

We’re halfway through a historically big day as far as YC Demo Days go: There are 75 startups pitching onstage today in total, 66 of whom are presenting “on the record” (this YC class has a record 85 startups, meaning that 10 companies deferred their launch and opted out of taking the stage today at all.) The day is broken up into four sessions, with breaks in between.

If you want summaries of every YC startup that’s taking the stage with an on-the-record presentation, you’ve come to the right place. You can see our post on the first session of the day here, and the post for the second session here.

Without further ado, here are the startups from the third session of the day:

UPower: Building a small-scale nuclear fission reactor that can operate using uranium, thorium, or recycled nuclear fuel. While the company acknowledges that the regulatory process is an issue, the company avoids many risks in the process by working with regulators to “license by testing.” That is, they’ve simulated much of the nuclear process based on decades worth of data collected on nuclear reactions in plants already in operation — regulators just need to see that their process for removing heat works reliably to get to the next phase. Powers first reactor design will produce 2MW of electricity, enough to power a town with 2,000 homes, mining operations, and military bases.The company predicts that its first reactors will hit the market in 5 years’ time and that customers will be able to go 12 years without refueling. Read our prior coverage here.

Onename: Onename is positioning itself as the Facebook Connect of Bitcoin. Instead of typing in an extremely long public address to sends someone Bitcoin, you can just look for someone handle on OneName in the same way you’d look for someone on Twitter or Instagram. The company says it’s now serving 16 percent of Bitcoin wallets with payments sent in a single click. “We’re building fundamental infrastructure. Today we are the Facebook Connect for Bitcoin and tomorrow we’ll be the decentralized identity layer for the web,” said the two Princeton graduates Muneeb Ali and Ryan Shea, who are behind the company. Read our previous coverage of Onename here.

Roost: Roost is a company doing push notifications for websites. The technology is being added to nearly all the major browsers, which offers up a huge opportunity for publishers who wish to use notifications in the same way mobile apps do. The company has seen 10 percent sustained growth over the last several months, and it’s just the beginning since all those publishers and notifications today work just on Safari. In the future, however, Firefox and Chrome will add the same functionality, which will reach 14x the number of consumers who have access to notifications now. Check out our previous coverage of Roost here.

PicnicHealth: Rather than wait in line or deal with a bunch of bureaucracy, PicnicHealth provides a platform for secure online access to your own health records. The YC-backed startup chose to begin with medical records for what they say is a market with more than 50 million cancer patients. Co-founder Noga Leviner took to the stage to share her story about how her mom had to battle both breast cancer and a giant stack of medical records. This gave her the idea for the patient-focused company that aims to get people the help they need with medical record management. You tell PicnicHealth your problems and then it keeps your doctor informed. They try to send a physical copy. The cost is $500/year to help users avoid waiting in line in a medical office for their records. Read our earlier coverage here.

BlockScore: Positioning itself as “the new standard in identity verification,” BlockScore provides fraud protection and individual I.D. verification in a software as a service model for companies that perform online financial transactions. According to BlockScore, the currently dominant methods of I.D. verification don’t move quickly enough for the modern world, where more companies than ever are dealing in online financial transactions in which they must quickly verify that any given identity is for a real living person that’s safe to do business with. “We give companies one API that gives them global coverage that they can implement in minutes, not months,” BlockScore’s co-founder said in his pitch. During the YC program, BlockScore has grown its revenue by 22X, and it counts startups, companies, and banks as its customers. Read our earlier coverage of BlockScore here.

PersistIQ: PersistIQ says it increases sales for companies by making sure that sales teams don’t let leads fall to the wayside. It’s basically a task management system, keeping sales representatives from forgetting to keep in touch with potential leads, tracking each interaction by syncing with email and reminding users about relationships that haven’t been maintained. The company claims that early data shows a 10x increase in productivity among users, measured in the number of emails sent to leads in a given day. Our earlier coverage of PersistIQ is here.

Vatler: Vatler is trying to be the Uber of Parking. They are a valet service for the 200,000 or so workers that commute into San Francisco every day. They have built an app where you can request a valet at your office in one tap. They’ll take care of the rest by parking your car. After being in beta for four weeks, they’ve been growing at 40 percent week-over-week through word of mouth and are working with companies including Instacart, Tidepool and AdRoll. They say the market alone could be worth $65 million in San Francisco. If they were able to tap into the country’s top 15 cities including New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, they’d be able to tap a $1 billion opportunity. Read more on Vatler here.

Filecoin: The launch and growing popularity of Bitcoin has created an arms race among those who are trying to brute-force hashes because they are incentivized to do so. That’s led to the power behind the cryptocurrency surpassing that of the fastest supercomputer in the world currently. Filecoin created a way to incentivize people to store files on its network. The company enables them to rent out storage, earn Filecoin, and then cash out in Bitcoin.

ShipBob: ShipBob provides on-demand shipping on your smartphone. The main focus is shipping for businesses but it can also be for personal use. A ship captain will physically show up to take items to the post office and handle packaging and tracking for you. Launched in Chicago 8 weeks ago, the company is growing 28% week over week and it says 58% of customers plan to repeat use. It also claims to be growing organically. The startup claims every one of its customers has referred the service to at least three more customers. Shipbob now moves beyond Chicago and into the mainstream market. Read more on the company here.

Edyn: This is a “smart irrigation system” for gardeners and small farmers. Edyn has built a wireless and solar powered device that uses sensors to understand everything that’s going on with your plants and water them as needed. The system has a connected app that lets gardeners see what’s going on with their plants from anywhere in the world. If the company looks familiar, it may be because it’s been around and gathering popularity for months: The company first debuted under the moniker Soil IQ at the Disrupt San Francisco Startup Battlefield in September 2013. Since then, it’s renamed to Edyn, raised a bunch of money on Kickstarter, and locked down a production deal with device manufacturer Flextronics. Edyn says it is on track for a retail launch in 2015.

Naytev: This company offers A/B testing for social sharing. Much like Buzzfeed and Upworthy’s proprietary platforms, a publisher can submit a link with multiple headlines to Naytev’s software, and based on data gathered from social networks, it determines which will generates more clicks and shares and distributes that headline across platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Naytev claims that as it gets bigger, its algorithm will become more effective, as getting more customers means they can collect more data, which they can then turn into better optimization. Read more coverage here.

Neptune.io: Neptune.io is a company from some of the founding engineers behind Amazon Web Services. Their goal is to make servers “self-healing.” By that, they mean that their service will automatically fix some of the most common server alerts like when a process crashes, when a disk is full or when there is low CPU utilization. That will help those reliability engineers sleep more peacefully at night. The company says that the IT industry loses $26 billion annually on outages. Since launching two weeks ago, the company is supporting 60 servers and seven companies. They say they’ve been able to save 10 hours of down time for each company and charge about $10 per server per month.

Rigetti Computing: Rigetti Computing is on a mission to build the world’s most powerful computer. Led by a specialist from Yale and IBM, the company hopes to bring quantum computing to the masses. The problem to date has been that quantum computing was too expensive to build at scale, but it’s planning to build and launch its first product in the next 18 months. In 3 years it expects to have a 1,024 Qubit machine available and in 5 years it projects that it will have a machine that is 10x faster than today’s most powerful supercomputer. Read our earlier coverage on Rigetti Computing here.

Beep: Beep is a device that connects the music to every speaker throughout your home at the same time. It wirelessly connects to your speakers, receivers, and dock to play synchronized music in every room. Beep sells it’s computer to manufacturers and they integrate it into their speaker design. Pandora and Spotify have worked with Beep to integrate with the platform. It is also working with Nest so soon you’ll be able to control your home temp with your voice as well. Beep has 12 partners in the pipeline and is built on an open platform on iPhone and Android. Competitor Sonos is currently a 5% market but Beep aims to go beyond what Sonos does and create a smart computer platform on both software and hardware. Led by  ex-Googlers Daniel Conrad and Shawn Lewis, Beep aims to put a platform in every room of your home. Read our earlier coverage of Beep here and here.

Local Lift: Built by a co-founding team with solid business and financial backgrounds, Local Lift aims to bring the crowdfunding power that’s been leveraged by thousands of startups through sites like Kickstarter to specifically benefit small local businesses. With the Local Lift platform, business owners are able to raise funds directly from their customer base and the community at large by running 30-day campaigns for small amounts of funding (campaigns are currently averaging around $7,000-$8,000, based on early trials.) The company has helped out small businesses such as local fitness studios, and provides much-needed support for companies that traditionally have only been able to rely on difficult-to-obtain small business loans from traditional banks. Local Lift debuted in late May, and currently is serving select beta markets including Austin, New Orleans, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more about Local Lift here.

Craft Coffee: Craft Coffee has a simple mission: to sell coffee online. While Starbucks and regional coffee shops have built lasting businesses by providing an option for getting coffee while on-the-go, Craft sees the $5 billion market for coffee prepared and consumed at home as a playing field without a clear leader in online sales. It wants to claim that mantle by providing consumers who don’t already have a clear idea of what they like guidance during the browsing process with a recommendation engine that points out beans that a user might like based on their responses to a survey about their coffee consumption habits. Read our earlier coverage here.

Shift: Shift is a Bitcoin debit card that lets you pay for everyday goods and services the way you would with a regular ATM or credit card. It connects to your existing Bitcoin wallets and deducts the appropriate amount for eating out, drinking, paying bills and making everyday purchases. “This card is the form factor that people want to use spend Bitcoin,” said co-founder Meg Nakamura on-stage. Users have spent more than $20,000 worth of Bitcoin in the last few weeks alone. “This Bitcoin card may seem like a simple idea. But it is really hard to produce. You have to work with a bank, card issuer, card processor and card network,” said Nakamura, one of Shift’s co-founder who added that the rest of the team has experience from Square and the Federal Reserve.

BillForward: BillForward is a highly flexible subscription billing platform that is designed to help businesses that are in that business online. The subscription economy is evolving and those businesses are entering a new world of sophistication. The goal is to solve the billing problems that those companies have. That has led the company to grow by 150 percent week over week processing growth as it seeks to go after the $33 billion subscription business market.


Immunity Project
: Immunity Project is creating a FREE vaccine to end HIV and AIDS. Founder Dr. Reed Rubsamen says his approach is radically different. He says 1 out of 300 people has a natural immunity to the virus. Immunity Project created a sort of Trojan horse to get the immune system to recognize the disease and attack those infected cells. The team has already tested the vaccine out on the blood of Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham. His blood sample was given the lab created vaccine and then infected with the AIDS virus. Then a miracle happened. The vaccine worked! According to the National Institutes of Health(http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/hivaids/research/vaccines/Pages/default.aspx), there is not currently a working vaccine in the market. Dr. Rubsamen says during the course of his talk 7 people will have died of AIDS. He says this is the most important work we can do. Immunity Project now needs a little over $8 million to complete trials and move forward.

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