Yesterday was day two of Y Combinator‘s winter cohort demo event, and I have some thoughts.
If you’re unfamiliar with the YC Demo Day process, the entire cohort of startups goes on stage individually to give short, 2-3 minute pitches about their company. It happens in quick succession in front of a large audience of journalists and VCs.
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This year’s winter cohort included a mish mash of more than 180 startups tackling ideas ranging from genetic testing for rare diseases to fintech. I stopped by the event late yesterday afternoon to catch a glimpse of a few of the pitches, and I’m glad I did.
Five startups that presented yesterday afternoon stuck out to me in particular: Pyxai, Mage, Inito, Shef, and Community Phone.
First up, recruiting.
Pyxai (pronounced pics-eye) is a recruiting tool that aims to help companies hire individuals with desirable soft skills and culture fit. Its 30-minute online assessment, which is completed by applicants, is analyzed by its natural language processing-enabled tool which extracts soft skills and produces a report. The team said that the software can limit unconscious bias, by not targeting specific individuals based on a resume. Pyxai CEO Kurt Edwards said the team has seven startup customers, $21,000 in revenue, and has conducted more than 3,000 screens.
The second company I’d like to highlight, Mage, said it’s doing what GOAT did for sneakers for Magic: The Gathering. Mage’s AI-powered software helps its customers scan, organize, price, and sell magic cards. According to the team, Magic is the largest trading card game in the world. The average Mage customer spends about $120 month on Magic cards, and Mage takes a 10 percent cut of each transaction. If there was ever a niche market to dominate, it sounds like they’ve found it.
At Demo Day II, the “digitized self” was also center stage as more companies aim to provide their customers with affordable, accessible personal health data. In particular, Inito is a startup aiming to provide medical-grade fertility data to its customers. Sound familiar? Inito is very similar to a startup called Mira, which sells a device that allows women to track hormone levels, like LH and estrogen (and which also participated in TC Disrupt).
Like Mira, Inito has both a hardware and app component to its offering, and the company said it will make $60,000 in revenue this month and has a 65 percent margin on its hardware. The company said it is planning to add eight more blood and urine tests to its pipeline which can be used to diagnose more than 10 additional conditions related to fertility.
Of course, what’s a group of startups without at least one of them focused on food delivery? Shef is a company that is aiming to capitalize on California’s recent law allowing people to sell home-cooked food. And before you get skeptical of the economics (like I did) the company isn’t targeting the long-distance delivery market like Postmates. For now, it’s focusing on neighbors. The team said it has secured partnerships with three of the largest property management companies in the U.S.
“They love it because they get to offer home-cooked meals as an attractive perk for their residents,” Shef Co-founder Alvin Salehi said in his pitch, adding that some residents have started weekly meal subscriptions. According to the team, the home-cooked aspect lowers overhead costs, making meals cheaper than on alternative platforms like UberEats, and the company is growing by 50 percent weekly.
Finally, the most charismatic pitch of the bunch that I watched goes to Community Phone, an alternative cell service company that claims it’s building a better AT&T.
“Has anyone here ever referred anyone to your phone company ever? It’s highly unlikely,” Co-founder and CEO James Graham said, adding that the company has a 20 percent referral rate. According to Graham, the company is profitable with $230,000 in ARR. “We have had no voluntary churn, but have lost a total of five to death, and have been invited to one of these five funerals.”
What a note to end on. We’re keeping our eye on a few of these teams, you never know who could be the next Airbnb, right?
Illustration Credit: Li-Anne Dias
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