The top 7 startups from Y Combinator S16 Demo Day 1

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The top 7 startups from Y Combinator S16 Demo Day 1

In-flight VR entertainment and security guard drones were amongst our favorites from the 44 startups that launched at Y Combinator’s Summer 2016 Demo Day 1. After querying investors and our writers, here are TechCrunch’s picks for the 7 most promising companies from the first half of the batch, plus an honorable mention. Check back later for all the startups and our picks from Demo Day 2. Additional reporting by Lucas Matney and John Mannes.

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Aptonomy – Drone security guards

For sites that need to move their security needs way beyond the “smile, you’re on camera” signs, there aren’t a ton of great options. Security guards can be inefficient and undependable, plus they’re not actually supposed to do more than call the police. Security cameras can’t really do anything in terms of actually stopping an intruder. Aptonomy is hoping that drones are the answer. The company has built self-flying drones that can move around a set area and detect/record intruders or move about to physically stop them. A drone buzzing overhead shining a spotlight on you with sirens blaring could make criminals ditch their plans.

Read more about Aptonomy in TechCrunch

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Skylights – VR as in-flight entertainment

Those tiny seat-back screens cost airlines a fortune because of installation and the weight they add, plus they still make you feel trapped on the plane. Skylights has developed its own VR headsets and software so passenger can strap in and watch 2D and 3D movies on a giant virtual screen. Skylights has outfitted 100 flights for 4 airlines. With a founder who was a former commercial pilot and airline exec, Skylights wants to make VR in-flight entertainment a differentiation point. While you might ask why people don’t just bring their own VR headsets, Skylights are designed for stationary cinema viewing instead of gaming, so they’re lighter and easier to wear for long stretches. Skylights’ research showed people wore its headset for twice as long as a heavier Gear VR.

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Mentat – App that applies to jobs for you

Nobody likes applying to jobs, especially millennials. The job application has become far more “spray and pray” than ever before, and young job seekers easily feel overwhelmed managing large networks across dozens of companies. To combat this problem, Mentat wants to completely change the application process by automating resume reviews, app submissions, and interview coordination. The company is growing revenue at 40 percent week over week and has done $70,000 in revenue over the last month. Mentat is launching a paid pilot with the City University of New York (CUNY) that will be scaleable to $5 million in recurring revenue by the end of the year.

Read more about Mentat on TechCrunch

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Flex – The modern tampon

The tampons women use have seen very little innovation over the last eight decades. Flex has created a tampon replacement set to a subscription model, and acquired a competitor with similar design. The company has already sold $70,000 worth of product through pre-orders and has successfully navigated FDA approval and patenting. Traditional tampons can make sexual activity tricky, be messy, and even cause infections. Flex’s disposable menstrual product can be worn for 12 hours and is non-invasive, comfortable and healthy. Soon women will be able to buy the tampons for $20 per month, and Flex touts 70 percent margins.

Read more about Flex on TechCrunch

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Joy – Software eats wedding planning

Weddings can often seem to lead to temporary insanity. Joy is building a tool to help couples plan everything that takes place in-between the engagement and the honeymoon. The company’s marital software suite has seen some major growth over the past several months with about 150 happy couples joining the service daily to manage their RSVPs, track guests and keep everything organized. Joy is now looking to break into the $14 billion wedding registry market where they see even more potential to earn healthy commissions. Joy could disrupt the crooked deals where wedding planners book vendors who give them a bigger cut rather than giving the bride and groom the best price.

Read more about Joy in TechCrunch

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Raptor Maps – Drone-based farming analytics

Farmers don’t know which acres of their farms produce the most crops. Raptor Maps uses drones and tractor-mounted sensors to analyze and A/B test farmland. Raptor Maps can tell farmers which seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides work the best. It can boost farmer profits and even make food a little healthier. Raptor Maps charges $100/acre and already has paid alpha installations with farms that sell to McDonald’s and Costco. Eventually, it could even sell data on which crops are growing to grocery chains and food wholesalers.

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Scale – An API for human labor

Scale lets developers use an API to enter requests for flocks of humans to complete repetitive tasks. Mechanical Turk has quality control issues while business process outsourcing can’t be called via API and the firms are too big to work with some startups. Scale lets Houzz screen their housing listings for duplicates and price mismatches. Teespring uses Scale for moderation and categorization of user generated content. Scale is growing 40 percent week over week with over 50 percent gross margins. Computers can’t do every menial task, but now they can request humans that will do the rest.

Read more about Scale on TechCrunch

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Honorable Mention: Exponent – iOS, Android, Web from the same code

Too often, apps that strike it big on mobile stifle their growth by focusing their scant resources on launching with only an IOS or Android app. Exponent want to make it super simple for mobile developers to build out iOS and Android versions of their app while only coding in JavaScript. The free open-sourced software uses React Native, a framework for building native apps that’s used by companies like Facebook, Airbnb and Walmart. The service just came out of beta this week. Led by early Facebooker and Quora co-founder Charlie Cheever, Exponent has an enviable team.

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