The top 7 startups from Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 1

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The top 7 startups from Y Combinator W17 Demo Day 1

A Fitbit for cows, USB ports for bionic limbs and microbatteries were amongst the most promising companies of the 52 that launched at Y Combinator’s winter 2017 Demo Day 1 yesterday. After asking investors their favorites and huddling with the TechCrunch team, here are our picks for the top 7 startups.

Click through/scroll to learn about each. You can read our full coverage of all the companies that demoed yesterday here, and plus here’s our write-ups for the 51 Day 2 companies and our top Day 2 picks.

Additional reporting by Ryan Lawler and Sarah Buhr


Cowlar – Fitbit for cows

It’s way smarter than it sounds. Cowlar makes a special collar for cows that tracks their temperature, activity and other data, and makes it available to farmers. It can recognize a cow with an infected hoof from the change in its gait, or identify that a cow is pregnant and will eventually produce milk. Cowlar costs $69 per cow with a $3 per month subscription, and provides a solar-powered “cow router” that collects data from the collars. It already has 600 cows on the platform, with 7,200 on the waitlist, and has alerted farmers about 103 sick cows. It already has the opportunity to build an $11 billion business on milk cows, and could enter the 3X bigger beef cow market next. While the idea might seem ridiculous, cows are a huge part of the economy, and more data on them leads to more revenue from them.


Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems – Standard for human bionics

CBAS wants to be the USB port for the human body. The startup has developed a low-cost implant that can connect any bionic device like artificial limbs to any part of the body and give patients control of their prostheses. It also created the first live streaming nerve implant to gather data from a pig’s leg. CBAS wants to be the standard on which all bionic implants build. Just for amputees, this could be a $9 billion a year market, and now 10 companies have switched to the CBAS standard. This is how human augmentation goes from sci-fi to reality.


Neema – Banking for the unbanked

Neema lets anyone cash checks instantly via phone, send money to family overseas and have a debit card. The startup makes it easy for the unbanked to join the modern economy while avoiding high fees associated with check cashing stores, Western Union and overdrafting. Neema partners with banks, remittance services, and debit card providers on the backend to provide security and reliability, while building a front end specifically designed for the 70 million underbanked Americans and legions more abroad. Neema has already generated $30,000 in revenue from its 1,000 users in Israel, and is now launching in the U.S. to disrupt greedy financial services that prey on the poor.

4/7 – ISP for Africa

There are 120 million middle class people in Africa with smartphones, but only 12 million have broadband at home. builds solar Wi-Fi transmission towers that can support 1,500 homes with Wi-Fi at 30 percent of the price of mobile data. It now has 35 towers and earns back the infrastructure cost in 7 months. The startup has $1.2 million annual recurring revenue, and is growing 25 percent per month. Africa doesn’t have the phone lines or roads to run traditional cables, and satellites and drones won’t work in dense cities, so Wi-Fi is the answer. believes it can become the Comcast of Africa.


Symple – Venmo for B2B payments

There are 5 billion checks written and mailed per year for business-to-business payments in the U.S. Symple lets users take a photo of an invoice to digitize it and pay right through the app. It now has 219 companies onboard, and it’s growing virally as businesses force their vendors to sign up. Symple charges $4 per invoice, but waves fees for the first six months to boost growth. It could become a $20 billion business if it can convince companies to ditch paper for a quicker, easier digital alternative.

Read more about Symple on TechCrunch


Effective Altruism – Finds you the best charities

Giving to charity without doing intense research is like burning money, because a study showed that 75 percent of social programs have zero or negative impact. Effective Altruism is a nonprofit that does the legwork for you. You sign up, choose causes you care about, like global poverty or animal treatment, and make a donation. Effective Altruism finds charities with the most positive impact in those areas and routes the donation for you for free. It believes it could provide donors 400X more impact per dollar, and could boost charitable giving by increasing confidence that the money gets good done.


Millibatt – Customizable battery technology

Millibatt sells small, inexpensive, custom-shaped batteries to consumer electronic manufacturers. The company touts batteries that last 10 times longer than existing technologies at one-tenth the tooling costs traditional battery providers would charge. The company estimates that there will be 75 billion new consumer electronics devices that will need batteries in the coming years, and they want to service that market.