The Top 9 Startups From Y Combinator Summer 2015 Demo Day 1

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The Top 9 Startups From Y Combinator Summer 2015 Demo Day 1

Smart mattress covers, RNA diagnostics, and photosynthetic grow lights were among the big ideas that shone brightest on stage at Demo Day 1 for Y Combinator’s Summer 2015 batch. Fifty startups presented on the record, including a massive influx of hardware companies and biotech firms. You can read about all of them here. And learn about Y Combinator getting hardcore about hardware here.

Click through to see TechCrunch’s picks for the top 9 startups from the day.

To select our picks, we asked for the opinion of some of Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists, as well as founders in this YC class. Then, fellow TechCrunchers Matthew Lynley, Kim-Mai Cutler, and I combined these suggestions with our own favorites and debated the merits of the candidates. Continue to see our selections, in no particular order.


Luna – A Smart Mattress Cover

Luna is connecting your bed to the Internet of Things. It’s a mattress cover that measures your sleep patterns and then sends the data to both the Luna app and to other Internet-connected devices at home. The company has sold $1.4 million worth of Luna mattress covers and has signed a deal to potentially sell 6,000 units, which could put the company’s revenue on track for $20 million next year. Overall, they say their total addressable market is $27 billion. Read the full TechCrunch post on Luna.

Why? We spend a lot of time in bed, making it a worthy place for people to invest money. The problem is we replace our mattresses too infrequently for it to be “smart” without becoming obsolete. Luna has proven traction with the idea of making the mattress cover smart instead. It can improve our health with its sleep data, empower our other connected devices to make decisions with that data, and the data itself will surely be valuable to Luna in ways we can’t foresee.


Call9 – Emergency Video Chat With A Doctor

Call9 is creating a privatized emergency telemedicine line targeted at nursing homes, or what they call “911 for Enterprise.” It’s staffed with emergency doctors who can respond within 1 minute to medical needs and provide comprehensive diagnostics. They’ve signed letters of intent with 61 nursing homes, which puts them on track for $30 million in annual revenue with an average of $500,000 per contract. Within 30 days of service, they’ve attended to 58 patients and said they’ve prevented 26 hospitalizations and saved two lives. If they reach the U.S.’s 68,000 long-term care facilities, the market could be billions of dollars. Read our full TechCrunch post on Call9.

Why? Nursing homes conveniently aggregate end clients, making sales simpler for Call9. People spend a ton on consistent medical care and nursing homes, so it seems reasonable they’d pay for premium care in times of emergency.


Transcend Lighting — Efficient Indoor Grow Lighting

Indoor agriculture, with its enhanced control over quality, is growing quickly, but the second-biggest cost to farmers is lighting. Transcend Lighting has invented a patent-pending photosynthetic LED light that’s 35% to 50% more efficient than competitors. “And no, it’s not just for pot…although we do quite well in the cannabis industry”, the co-founder says. Traditional tomato and lettuce growing are its core business. It saved $150,000 for a farm that was planning on just $120,000 of profit. Read our full TechCrunch post on Transcend Lighting.


Why? Transcend could let more food be grown inside for a lot cheaper. As expanding middle class families around the world demand higher quality produce, and the cannabis industry continues to boom, indoor farming efficiency will become more important.


Hickory — Improved Customer Service Training

Hickory is changing customer service training with a mobile app that replaces the lengthy, outdated manuals that it says companies often use. The customer service industry is worth $84 billion, but it has 60% turnover among employees. Hickory says that customer service workers need to have consistent and up-to-date training, but companies don’t update their manuals as often as they should. Instead, the company has these bite-sized cards that its fits into a mobile app. Their algorithms can predict when customer service workers might forget lessons and the app schedules re-training. They have a partnership with a large electronics company and their initial pilot has trained workers in half the time with three times the correct response rate.

Why? There’s no reason why paper training manuals would ever be preferrable to an app. It’s just a matter of who digitizes them. The triumphs and failures of customer service are now amplified by social media. When a single incident can seriously hurt a company, consistent training becomes more important.


Captain401 — Paperless 401ks

Captain401 is a tool for smaller companies to give their employees access to 401k plans. It’s online software to more simply manage 401k plans for small businesses, much in the same way Zenefits and ZenPayroll work for human resources and payroll. Nearly all larger companies have to give employees access to a 401k, but only 24% of small businesses have a 401k, the company said. Read more about Captain401 on TechCrunch.

Why? Unsexy businesses are all the rage right now. Zenefits has become one of YC’s recent home runs tackling HR, and Captain401 could do the same for retirement funds. It seems obvious that paper document and snail mail-based financial services are going to go digital. The question isn’t whether there’s a market here, as much as whether Captain401 can beat out ForUs and others that also want to help us save for our golden years.


OnboardIQ — Applicant Tracking For On-Demand Services

OnboardIQ is a service that moves applicants for on-demand jobs through the hiring process automatically. It does this by automating some of the more data-oriented components, like background checks and collecting documents. Companies like Shyp and Munchery currently use it. OnboardIQ already raised $1.65 million in seed funding.

Why? The explosion of on-demand services with high contractor/employee churn makes nimble hiring critical. OnboardIQ already signed some of the larger ones, plus has raised a seed round.  Eventually as more of hiring goes digital, OnboardIQ has an opportunity to break out of on-demand into a wider breadth of clients. The software could also make it easier for companies to use more stringent hiring requirements, which could boost the quality of talent providing on-demand services.


GrowSumo — Reseller Programs As A Service

GrowSumo helps companies boost sales. It’s building reseller networks, connecting resellers with companies to sell their products for a commission. GrowSumo takes a 3% commission on all transactions, and after launching 3 weeks ago there are 700 resellers using the service. Read more about GrowSumo on TechCrunch.

Why? Hiring your own sales team from scratch is tough. It’s expensive and time consuming, and not something many product or technical founders are well versed in. Instead, GrowSumo lets companies tap into an existing sales force, and only pay when these resellers earn them money.


Zeplin – Collaboration Tool For Designers And Engineers

When designers hand engineers a design, the engineers have to manually fetch the different elements that they’ll need to build it. Zeplin helps do that automatically, displaying fonts, color codes, and more for engineers to work with. This reduces friction in the collaboration, and gets products built faster.

Why? Sources tell me Zeplin is receiving rave reviews from discerning designers. Though the product seems simple now, Zeplin has the potential to absorb and smooth out more of the interactions between designers and the rest of their teams. Slack has proven the value of expedited workplace collaboration around text, and Zeplin could bring the same convenience to technical asset handoffs.


Cofactor Genomics — RNA-Based Diagnostics

Cofactor Genomics is a genetics testing startup that uses RNA to diagnose diseases. The team, which worked on the human genome project, says RNA is a barometer for health. Patients take a blood sample, and the company generates a diagnostic report with its RNA sequencing technology and software. It has nine of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies as customers. Cofactor Genomics already has $4 million in annual revenue. Read more about Cofactor Genomics on TechCrunch.

Why? This YC batch featured several promising biotech startups including Ixchel Scientific and Verge Genomics. The problem is most Silicon Valley investors are stumped as to how to evaluate them. But Cofactor both had a buzz and a more reliable sign: top pharma companies as customers.


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