Software is moving to the web and as it does, tech companies are becoming easier than ever to launch. One of the most notable changes to the tech industry of late has been the emergence of a significant number of startups that have succeeded after raising only hundreds of thousands of dollars. Joe Kraus, CEO of recently acquired JotSpot was able to bring them to market on $100,000. Reddit took even less money and were just acquired by Conde Nast. Reddit’s primary backer, Paul Graham’s fund Y Combinator, has become the poster child for making a successful startup with only tens of thousands of dollars in funding. Charles River has also scaled back the size of some of their investments as entrepreneurs are willing to take less money in exchange for more control.
Y Combinator primarily invests in software and web services. Twice a year (Fall and Spring), teams submit applications about their ideas, focusing less on business models and more on vision and the founders themselves. Summer teams interview during the Spring in San Francisco, while Winter teams interview during the Fall in Cambridge. If selected, the Summer teams work in Cambridge, while the Winter teams work out of the Bay Area. The last application drive was Oct 18th, with interviews happening this past weekend. Startups are usually funded 3 months living expenses, or $6,000 a person. Y Combinator’s investment is not so much in money as it is in the experience and connections the group provides to the teams, often shared over their weekly dinners. The money teams get is a bare minimum, often stretched by living and working in an apartment or moving in with friends and family. The young teams (usually around 23 yrs. old) may be under-funded compared to investments by other funds, but companies such as Thinkature and JumpChat have shown themselves formidable competitors to larger startups.
While the Y Combinator team ponders what they saw in last weekend’s interviews for the next round of funding, we thought now would be a good time to take a look at the last batch of Y Combinator companies. Many of these companies are still in heavy development, but if you’re wondering what kinds of services are receiving funding from this innovative fund – here are some short introductions.
JamGlue – An online application to mix and share music tracks online. The site features an online audio editor that allows you to clip tracks, control their speed and volume, and nest tracks in other mashups. They are currently in private beta.
JumpChat – A platform bridging mobile text messages, email, and IM communication without needing to download anything. Users can send mass messages on any of the platforms and JumpChat will send it to the platform the receiver activates. They are currently focusing on mass mobile messaging, where users can shoot off mass messages to the groups they define.
LikeBetter – An online personality test game, where you look at two photos and choose which one you “Like Better”. After a few responses, Like Better makes some guesses about your personality, ranging from political preferences to your income bracket. They also have a “bizzaro” version called HateMore.
Pollground – A social polling site. Pollground allows you to easily create surveys and allow the “wisdom of the crowd” to answer your questions. Questions and comments can be posted anonymously.
Shoutfit – A “fashion related community”. More to come in the future.
Talkito – A service that enables its users to meet and chat when they visit the same websites.
Xobni – An Outlook plugin that tracks all kinds of email analytics. They’ll track all kinds of email time and quantity analytics tied to specific contacts, threads, or times of day.
“Social Documents” (name TBA) – A site that promises to be the YouTube of documents. They allow you to transcode doc, text, and html files into pdfs, and share an embeddable version online. They will be launching within the next couple of weeks.