Before 174 companies gave their pitches, Y Combinator's president Geoff Ralston (center) kicked off Monday and Tuesday's Demo Day alongside CEO Michael Seibel. Y COMBINATOR
Y Combinator’s biannual Demo Day kicked off this week, with nearly 200 of the accelerator’s latest batch of startups presenting two-minute pitches to an audience of investors. All face a greater challenge than early Y Combinator alumni such as Airbnb and Dropbox. The accelerator itself has experienced significant changes in recent months, headlined by president Sam Altman stepping downin March.
Still, new startups could become hits, such as fintech company Brex, from the accelerator’s 2017 batch. On Monday and Tuesday, 174 pitched their ideas to change the world, giving insights on the direction that tech is headed.
Emerging overseas markets are ripe for opportunity. YC CEO Michael Siebel kicked off Demo Day by noting that 15% of the batch is focused overseas. Some startups simply tagged themselves the “Compass for Latin America” or the “Robinhood for India.” TradeID claims it’s to be the first to offer U.S. stocks to Indonesian citizens. Coco helps Venezuelan migrants send support to their family not through money, but with food. Egypt-based Breadfast bakes its own bread and delivers it alongside other breakfast foods. Lezzoo delivers food and medicine in Iraq and, like Grab in Southeast Asia and WeChat in China, wants to expand beyond its original functionality in an emerging market to become the one-stop super app of the Middle East.
People in tech are starting companies for other people in tech. Outtalent’s cofounder Tilek Mamutov was making $4,000 per year in his home country of Kyrgyzstan when Google offered him a salary that soon reached $140,000. Now, Mamutov’s startup helps talented tech employees in emerging markets find jobs at tech heavyweights abroad, taking a small cut of their salary if successful. Other startups are targeting Silicon Valley, including Compound, a wealth advisor for employees at top startups and Elpha, an online community for women in tech to chat, network and find jobs.
The housing crisis is giving rise to new ideas. When it comes to building affordable housing, two startups are turning to the backyard. Node is using Ikea’s ready-to-assemble furniture model to quickly build backyard cottages, while Rent the Backyard plops a studio apartment in your backyard in return for splitting the rental income. And Globe is building an Airbnb-esque platform for an hourly basis—think people who might need a quick nap or privacy for a phone call.
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