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Elkrem is a blockchain dev board for tinkerers

Startup News - 3 hours 39 min ago

Creators of the 1Sheeld, a tool designed to connect smartphones to Arduino boards, have created something even more interesting. Their latest product, the Elkrem, is a smart kit for creating blockchain IoT devices and they have raised $250,000 from Endure Capital and Consensys to build the project.

The founders are Amr Saleh and Islam Mustafa launched the 1Sheeld at TechCrunch Disrupt 2013 and sold tens of thousands of units in 120 countries. Now they’re building a new tool based entirely on blockchain.

“Elkrem is a Blockchain hardware development board. It allows Blockchain developers to integrate Dapps with hardware prototypes in an easy way without having deep knowledge in hardware development, and also allows electrical engineers and hardware developers to connect Blockchain to their hardware projects without having deep knowledge of how the Blockchain works,” said Saleh. “So they both can trigger actuators through smart contracts and log sensors data to smart contracts as well.”

The board is similar to an Arduino and has two processors, storage, and WiFi model. One processor runs a specialized Linux variant with interfaces to Ethereum, IPFS, Swarm, Whisper, Bitcoin, Status.im, and others. The other processor can do anything else you throw at it.

“Our edge is faster development, faster prototyping and faster go to market,” said Saleh. “The board allows you to send private, decentralized IoT messages using peer-to-peer communication”

What does all this mean? Basically it’s a little board that makes it far easier to manage your Blockchain efforts. It uses a library called Koyn to let you accept payments in Bitcoin with a single line of code and they even built a few cool projects including a Bitcoin-enabled candy machine and an electrical outlet that you can rent with Bitcoins. The team plans to go live on Kickstarter later this year.

Categories: Business News

From ICO to SEC: Join us for a panel on regulation at TechCrunch Disrupt

Startup News - 4 hours 21 min ago

Capital, crypto, and regulation go together like bread, peanut butter, and jelly. And what better way to make a great sandwich than to bring them all together at TechCrunch Disrupt. I’ll be leading a panel with Avichal Garg of Electric Capital, Arianna Simpson of Autonomous Partners, and Valerie Szczepanik of the SEC in San Francisco.

Garg is a longtime investor and former product head at Facebook. He’s currently at Electric Capital where he’s a managing partner. Simpson is a skilled crypto investor and is currently managing director at Autonomous Partners. Szczepanik has had a long career at the SEC and was recently named Associate Director of the Division of Corporation Finance and Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation. All three of them will help us navigate the new world of investment we are no all coming to face.

The future of investment is currently up in the air. With the rise of token sales, fundraising seems like a needless task for most founders. But where will they be with the token world fizzles out? Can the new funding tricks stack up to VC and angel investment?

We’ll explore these concepts in our wide-ranging discussion and hopefully Szczepanik can shed some light on these new forms of investment.

The full agenda is here. Passes for the show are available here.

Categories: Business News

TraceLink, which helps pharma companies trace drugs through the supply chain, just raised $93 million

Startup News - 5 hours 30 min ago

TraceLink, a nine-year-old, software-as-a-service platform for tracking pharmaceuticals and trying to weed out counterfeit prescription drugs in the process, has raised $93 million in Series D funding. Most of the money — $60 million — was used to buy primary shares, with another $33 million used to buy up the shares of previous shareholders.

Georgian Partners led the round, with participation from Vulcan Capital and Willett Advisors, along with all of the company’s earlier investors. These include Goldman Sachs, whose growth equity arm had led the company’s $51.5 million Series C round last year, as well as FirstMark Capital, Volition Capital and F-Prime Capital.

As TC had reported at the time of that last round, TraceLink helps pharma companies comply with country-specific track-and-trace requirements through their supply chain, which has grown increasingly important following the passage of the Drug Supply Chain Security Act in 2013. The consumer-protection measure aims to prevent individuals’ exposure to drugs that could be counterfeit, stolen, contaminated or otherwise harmful.

At the time of its enactment, it also gave the industry one decade before unit-level traceability becomes enforced, meaning the clock is ticking.

Like Uber, WeWork and a small-but-growing number of private companies, TraceLink also appears to be preparing for life as a publicly traded outfit by releasing some of its financial metrics, including, in TraceLink’s case, quarterly revenue and customer growth numbers.

Just last week, the company published its “financial growth highlights,” which include a 62 percent year-over-year increase in its second quarter revenue; a 42 percent year-over-year increase in all bookings over the same period; and two-year revenue compound annual growth rate of 71 percent.

In June, we reported on TraceLink’s initial $60 million of funding after spying an SEC form relating to its fundraising. The company, based in North Reading, Ma., has now raised $167 million altogether.

Categories: Business News

10 startups that caught our eye from Y Combinator S18 Demo Day 1

Startup News - 7 hours 1 min ago

From new wearables that detect breast cancer to creating the industrial supply chain for the meat replacement industry, the latest crop of Y Combinator companies showcased the breadth of entrepreneurial innovation that encapsulates the waning days of 2018. While the entire batch of 63 companies was impressive, a few in particular caught our eye.

So take a look below at our picks for some of the hits from this year’s summer cohort of companies.

Oxygen

Breaking freelancers from the month-to-month boom-and-bust payment cycles that bind them, Oxygen provides working capital loans to freelancers who can go months without getting a paycheck. The company is more than willing to work with a group of borrowers who collectively make $1.4 trillion in 1099 income annually and who are locked out of loans. Oxygen offers flat-fee access to credit and free mobile banking, all while using machine learning to determine credit worthiness. Freelance workers of the world unite, indeed!

Why we liked it: Opening a new market in the lending space is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for the company that gets it right.

Higia

By monitoring thermal patterns inside a breast, the startup Higia hopes it can offer women a better, non-invasive method to detect breast cancer. The company’s wearable device, called EVA, can be placed under any sports bra, and offers a new way to fill the gaps that current screening techniques aren’t addressing — things like early breast cancer detection in women with high breast density. The company has already pre-sold 5,000 units in Mexico and will begin shipping them in the fall of 2018. Aiming for accurate and immediate risk assessments, Higia will release its device for $299, focusing on the U.S. market at first and moving forward with clinical trials at Stanford.

Read more about Higia here.

Why we liked it: A new diagnostic tool in the battle against breast cancer that clocks in at a reasonable price point for consumers could be a huge win for investors and the world.

C16 Biosciences

C16 Biosciences is aiming to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe with their lab-grown palm oil, an alternative to a product that is found in a truly massive amount of goods. C16’s alternative is grown in bioreactors and is 20 percent less expensive to customers but “doesn’t destroy the planet,” the company says.

The startup has already begun early partnerships with a number of beauty and food distributors that together spend $1.2 billion on palm oil annually.

Why we liked it: While everything old is new again in this venture capital cycle, highly touted technologies that were part of the first round of “clean tech” innovation have a chance to hit their stride in the current market.

JITX

Designing circuit boards as a service won JITX a spot in this latest batch of Y Combinator companies. Currently, every circuit board is designed manually by skilled engineers, but using JITX’s machine learning software, circuit boards can be created automatically, which can save both time and money for hardware companies. JITX is already selling circuit board designs that were totally computer generated and HP is on board, alongside at least one other major company they can’t name yet. The team out of Berkeley is taking aim at a $9.2 billion market, charging 20 percent of what a human-crafted design would cost.

Why we liked it: This startup is generating a ton of buzz already among investors, and while its current round is slated to clock in at $800,000, we’re hearing that it’s already three times oversubscribed. The draw? Put simply, the company is pitching a better way to make one of the building blocks of all tech hardware.

HoneyLove

HoneyLove aims to disrupt the traditional shapewear market by making an affordable, high-quality product that actually works.

The $89 product uses supportive structures inside the seams of the garment, similar to the flexible boning used in old-school corsets, and encases those structures in a soft channel of protective fabric. This simple enhancement ensures that the garment doesn’t bunch up around the legs or waistband. The company has already sold $500,000 in product

Read more about HoneyLove here.

Why we liked it: The market is huge and we’re hearing that the company’s early numbers are really, really promising.

Camelot

Camelot is a mobile app for esports betting… and one of the first companies to blaze a trail in the sure-to-be-lucrative business operating at the intersection of video gaming and sports betting. The company gives fans access to live updates and stats and an interface to bet against friends. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, there are billions of dollars to be made facilitating betting in any sport — including esports. Camelot is rolling the dice that it can hit the right number in this emerging market.

Why we liked it: Sports betting is already a billion-dollar business (at least). Expect esports to follow the same trajectory.

Inokyo

Inokyo wants to be the indie Amazon Go, with a cashierless autonomous retail store. Cameras track what you grab from shelves, and with a single QR scan of the app on your way in and out of the store, you’re charged for what you’ve picked up.

The first store is now open on Mountain View’s Castro Street, selling an array of kombuchas, snacks, protein powders and bath products.

Read more about Inokyo here.

Why we liked it: White-labeling the technology that Amazon and Alibaba have spent untold millions to perfect for a lower price and with rapid deployments for retailers is a persuasive pitch for any startup.

Hepatx

Hepatx is creating therapies for severely damaged livers. Chronic liver disease affects 3.9 million Americans and is the cause of death for more than 40,000. The founders of Hepatx are developing a regenerative solution enabling hepatocyte production for therapeutic purposes. That means regenerating liver cells to avoid the cost and morbidity of whole-organ transplant. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. need a liver transplant but only a few thousand get one. Hepatx aims to fix the liver by taking fat tissue, turning that into liver cells and introducing that into patients to regrow the liver.

Why we liked it: Regenerating or creating new liver tissue is a big swing at a problem that is literally life-or-death. With a solid founding team and positive early trials, Hepatx seems like it could be a home run.

Cambridge Glycoscience

Looking to bake the perfect treat with a sugar substitute that can mimic not just the sweetness, but the gooey caramelization and stickiness that typically only comes from real sugar? Well, YC company Cambridge Glycoscience has the sweetener for you. The company expects to produce its sugar substitutes at a cost that can make low- and no-sugar foods even more accessible for mainstream consumers. So toss that corn syrup and get ready for a new flavor revolution.

Their manufacturing process will let them produce their sugar substitute at scale and they have a patent portfolio to protect their innovation. Notably, they have signed letters of intent with five companies already, including Haribo.

Why we liked it: Roughly 74 percent of packaged foods and beverages in the U.S. are made with some form of sweetener, which would size that market at roughly $100 billion, according to an article in Fortune citing a study from The Lancet.  If Cambridge Glycoscience can make its replacement at scale, that’s a sweet opportunity.

Seattle Food Tech 

Photo: James A. Guilliam/Taxi/Getty Images

At this point the notion of tastier, better, plant-based meat substitutes is no longer a fantasy. Investors have poured millions into making it a reality. The pitch from Seattle Food Tech is making that tastier, better, cheaper plant-based meat substitute at scale. They are using novel and efficient food processing equipment and facilities that can enable large-scale, low-cost production that can transform the way institutional food service companies that supply the office and university cafeterias across the country deliver tasty foods to hungry breakfast, lunch, and dinner diners.

“We’re using aerospace engineering to make plant-based chicken nuggets,” says chief executive Christie Lagally, a former Boeing engineer and technical project manager.

Why we liked it: While the company’s pitch onstage emphasized those tasty nuggs, what makes Seattle Food Tech compelling is its potential to create an industrial supply chain for the meat replacement market.

Categories: Business News

Talla builds a smarter customer knowledge base

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 11:48pm

Talla is taking aim at the customer service industry with its latest release, an AI-infused knowledge base. Today, the company released version 2.0 of the Talla Intelligent Knowledge Base.

The company also announced that Paula Long, most recently CEO at Data Gravity, has joined the company as SVP of engineering.

This tool combines customer content with automation, chatbots and machine learning. It’s designed to help teams who work directly with customers get at the information they need faster and the machine learning element should allow it to improve over time.

You can deploy the product as a widget on your website to give customers direct access to the information, but Rob May, company founder and CEO says the most common use case involves helping sales, customer service and customer success teams get access to the most relevant and current information, whether that’s maintenance or pricing.

The information can get into the knowledge base in several ways. First of all you can enter elements like product pages and FAQs directly in the Talla product as with any knowledge base. Secondly if an employee asks a question and there isn’t an adequate answer, it exposes the gaps in information.

Talla Knowledge Base gap list. Screenshot: Talla

“It really shows you the unknown unknowns in your business. What are the questions people are asking that you didn’t realize you don’t have content for or you don’t have answers for. And so that allows you to write new content and better content,” May explained.

Finally, the company can import information into the knowledge base from Salesforce, ServiceNow, Jira or wherever it happens to live, and that can be added to a new page or incorporated into existing page as appropriate.

Employees interact with the system by asking a bot questions and it supplies the answers if one exists. It works with Slack, Microsoft Teams or Talla Chat.

Talla bot in action in Talla Chat. Screenshot: Talla

Customer service remains a major pain point for many companies. It is the direct link to customers when they are having issues. A single bad experience can taint a person’s view of a brand, and chances are when a customer is unhappy they let their friends know on social media, making an isolated incident much bigger. Having quicker access to more accurate information could help limit negative experiences.

Today’s announcement builds on an earlier version of the product that took aim at IT help desks. Talla found customers kept asking for a solution that provided similar functionality with customer-facing information and they have tuned it for that.

May launched Talla in 2015 after selling his former startup Backupify to Datto in 2014. The company, which is based near Boston, has raised $12.3 million.

Categories: Business News

Braavo raises $6M for its app financing business

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 11:00pm

Braavo, a startup that provides financing to mobile app developers, is announcing that it has raised $6 million in Series A funding.

The might not seem like much compared to the $70 million that Braavo announced raising last year, but that was debt financing, used to loan money to developers. This new round is equity financing, used to fund Braavo’s own operations and growth.

Co-founder Mark Loranger told me Braavo was founded in 2015 in response to the “new dynamics” of mobile app businesses. And it’s worked with developers including Verv, Fanatee and Pixite.

“The data is there to create ways to provide financing to companies that otherwise would have to raise more [venture funding] and dilute themselves,” Loranger said.

For its first financing product, Braavo looks at Apple App Store and Google Play data, specifically the amount of money already earned by an app but not yet paid out. It can then provide an advance on some of that revenue.

Loranger described Braavo’s newer product as “more exciting” and “more data-driven.” It looks at user acquisition, user engagement and revenue, projecting how revenue would grow if a developer had more money for user acquisition — and then it can provide debt financing for that growth.

Braavo gets paid back as “a fixed percentage of future earnings,” Loranger said, so its incentives are aligned with the developers: “We only make our money back as they earn more revenue in the future.” And if app revenue doesn’t grow as anticipated, that just means Braavo gets paid back more slowly.

“We’ve never, ever lost a dime,” he said.

The company is also announcing the launch of a new analytics product that will allow businesses to track key metrics like the lifetime value of their customers.

Loranger said this will be available for free to anyone to anyone with a “revenue-generating mobile app business.” Rather than charging for the product directly, the goal is to “create more success for mobile app business that may end up qualifying for funding.”

The new round brings Braavo’s total equity financing to nearly $8 million. It was led by e.ventures, with participation from SWS Venture Capital (founded by Green Dot CEO Steve Streit) and Shipt CEO Bill Smith.

Categories: Business News

Foundries.io promises standardized open source IoT device security

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 10:18pm

IoT devices currently lack a standard way of applying security. It leaves consumers, whether business or individuals, left to wonder if their devices are secure and up-to-date. Foundries.io, a company that launched today, wants to change that by offering a standard way to secure devices and deliver updates over the air.

“Our mission is solving the problem of IoT and embedded space where there is no standardized core platform like Android for phones,” Foundries.io CEO George Grey explained.

What Foundries has created is an open and secure solution that saves everyone from creating their own and reinventing the wheel every time. Grey says Foundries’ approach is not only secure, it provides a long-term solution to the device update problem by providing a way to deliver updates over the air in an automated manner on any device from tiny sensors to smart thermostats to autonomous cars.

He says this approach will allow manufacturers to apply security patches in a similar way that Apple applies regular updates to iOS. “Manufacturers can continuously make sure their devices can be updated with the latest software to fix security flaws or Zero Day flaws,” he said.

The company offers two solutions, depending on the size and complexity of your device. The Zephyr RTOS microPlatform is designed for smaller, less complex devices. For those that are more complex, Foundries offers a version of Linux called the Linux OE microPlatform.

Diagram: Foundries.io

Grey claims that these platforms free manufacturers to build secure devices without having to hire a team of security experts. But he says the real beauty of the product is that the more people who use it, the more secure it will get, as more and more test it against their products in a virtuous cycle.

You may be wondering how they can make money in this model, but they do it by charging a flat fee of $10,000 per year for Zephyr RTOS and $25,000 per year for Linux OE. These are one-time prices and apply by the product, regardless of how many units get sold and there is no lock-in, according to Grey. Companies are free to back out any time. “If you want to stop subscribing you take over maintenance and you still have access to everything up to the point,. You just have to arrange maintenance yourself,” he said.

There is also a hobbyist and education package for $10 a month.

The company spun off from research at Linaro, an organization that promotes development on top of ARM chips.

To be successful, Foundries.io needs to build a broad community of manufacturers. Today’s launch is the first step in that journey. If it eventually takes off, it has the potential to provide a consistent way of securing and updating IoT devices, a move which would certainly be welcome.

Categories: Business News

Canvass Analytics raises $5M led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI fund

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 10:00pm

Canvass Analytics, an AI-based predictive analytics platform that helps streamline industrial operations, announced today that it has raised $5 million in funding led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI investment fund. Bedrock Industries, Viaduct Ventures and returning investors Real Ventures and Barney Pell also participated.

This brings Canvass’ total raised so far to $7.5 million. The Toronto-based startup tells TechCrunch that the new capital will be used to pursue “aggressive sales growth,” with expanded account and technical sales teams in North America, the European Union and Asia, with the goal of signing up more Fortune 500 companies. Many of the companies it serves are in the automotive, aerospace, food and agriculture, energy and metals and mining sectors.

Founded in 2016, Canvass’ analytics platform works with IoT hardware to automatically identify inefficiencies in industrial operations and prevent equipment malfunctions, save energy and increase production. For example, Canvass says it has helped manufacturers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by tens of millions of pounds and also helped an agricultural processing company figure out the best end time for fermentation.

In a statement to press, Gradient Ventures founding partner Ankit Jain said “Autonomous operation is the holy grail of manufacturing and AI is the game-changer that is making it a reality across the industrial landscape. We’re backing Canvass Analytics because of its unique approach to implementing AI and predictive analytics quickly and in an automated manner, without the need for lengthy and often cost-prohibitive consulting engagements.”

Categories: Business News

TomboyX picks up $4.3 million Series A

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 9:32pm

For the past ten to fifteen years, a crop of newer brands have found themselves gobbling up marketshare via direct to consumer channels. Some offer a better value proposition on an existing product category, like Warby Parker and Casper, while others offer a reinvention of the category itself, like Outdoor Voices and Glossier.

TomboyX, which just closed a $4.3 million Series A round, seems to be doing a great job of both.

The company, founded by Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez, offers gender-neutral underwear for an affordable price to folks who often aren’t represented in mainstream media. The company says that it serves a diverse customer base, including plus-sized, gender non-conforming and specialized tradespeople.

The funding, which was led through funds advised by TAU in conjunction with Redbadge Pacific and SBI Investments Korea, brings total funding to $6.3 million. As part of the deal, LVMH Group former Chairman of North America Pauline Brown has joined TomboyX’s Board of Directors.

TomboyX started in 2013 after cofounder Fran Dunaway found herself struggling to find a Robert Graham-style button down shirt. After a brief run making fun, hip dress shirts, the founders realized that the brand name itself, TomboyX, was really resonating with customers. However, dress shirts didn’t exactly work as a hero product.

The company shifted to underwear in September of 2014, and that’s when things started to take off. TomboyX sold out of its boxer briefs for women in under two weeks, and tripled revenue over the course of the next six months.

“At that point, we realized that we should evaluate the possibility that we’re an underwear company,” said Dunaway.

At the end of 2015, the company revamped the website and removed everything from the website that wasn’t underwear. Before that, TomboyX offered belts, buckles, shoes, and was centered more around a look than a specific product.

Since, the company has stayed laser focused on underwear, swimwear and loungewear, and has seen 2000 percent growth over the last three years running. Dunaway says that TomboyX is the only apparel company who sells every item in XS all the way up to 4XL.

With the new funding, the focus turns to ramping up marketing and awareness, building out the team, and adding more efficiency to the production process.

Categories: Business News

Semmle, startup that makes code searchable, hauls in $21M Series B

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 9:00pm

Semmle, a startup that originally spun out of research at Oxford, announced a $21 million Series B investment today led by Accel Partners. It marked the second time Accel has led an investment in the company.

Work-Bench also participated in the round. Today’s investment brings the total to $31 million.

Semmle has warranted this kind of interest by taking a unique approach to finding vulnerabilities in code. “The key idea behind our technology is to treat code as data and treat analysis problems as simple queries against a database. What this allows you to do is very easily encode domain expertise, security expertise or any other kinds of specialist knowledge in such a way it can be easily and automatically applied to large amounts of code,” Pavel Avgustinov, Semmle co-founder and VP of platform engineering told TechCrunch.

Screenshot: Semmle

Once you create the right query, you can continuously run it against your code to prevent the same mistakes from entering the code base on subsequent builds. The key here is building the queries and the company has a couple of ways to deal with that.

They can work with customers to help them create queries, although in the long run that is not a sustainable way of working. Instead, they share queries, and encourage customers to share them with the community.

“What we find is that the great tech companies we work with have the best security teams in the world, and they are giving back what they created on the Semmle platform with other users in an open source fashion. There is a GitHub repository where we publish queries, but Microsoft and Google are doing the same thing,” Oege de Moor, company CEO and co-founder explained.

In fact, the Semmle solution is freely available to open source programmers to use with their applications, and the company currently analyzes every commit of almost 80,000 open source projects. Open source developers can run shared queries against their code or create their own.

They also have a paid version with customers like Microsoft, Google, Credit Suisse, NASA and Nasdaq. They have relied mostly on these strategic partners up until now. With today’s investment they plan to build out their sales and marketing departments to expand their customer base into a wider enterprise market.

The company spun out of research at Oxford University in 2006. They are now based in San Francisco with 60 employees, a number that should go up with this investment. They received an $8 million Series A in 2014 and $2 million seed round in 2011.

Categories: Business News

Cootek, the Chinese maker of TouchPal keyboard, files for $100M US IPO

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 2:11pm

Cootek, the Chinese mobile internet company best known for keyboard app TouchPal, has filed for a public offering in the United States. In its F-1 form, submitted last week to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cootek said it wants to raise up to $100 million.

The Shanghai-based company began operating in 2008, when TouchPal was launched, and incorporated as CooTek in March 2012. In its SEC filing, Cootek said it currently has 132 million daily active users, with average DAUs increasing 75% year-over-year as of June. It also said it achieved 453% total ad revenue growth in the six month period before June.

While AI-based TouchPal, which offers glide typing and predictive text, is Cootek’s most popular product, it also has 15 other apps in its portfolio, including fitness apps HiFit and ManFIT and a virtual assistant called Talia. The company uses its proprietary AI and big data technology to analyze language data collected from users and the Internet. Then it uses those insights to develop lifestyle, healthcare and entertainment apps. Together, those 15 apps reached an average of 22.2 million monthly average users and 7.3 million daily average users in June.

TouchPal itself had 125.4 million daily average users in June 2018, with active users launching the app an average of 72 times a day. It currently supports 110 languages.

Most of Cootek’s revenue comes from mobile advertising. It says net revenue grew from $11 million in 2016 to $37.3 million in 2017, or 238.5% year-over-year, while its net loss dropped from $30.7 million in 2016 to $23.7 million in 2017. It achieved net income of $3.5 million for the six months ending in June, compared to a net loss of $16.2 million in the same period a year ago.

Cootek plans to be listed under the ticker symbol CTK on the New York Stock Exchange and will use the IPO’s proceeds to grow its user base, invest in AI and natural language processing tech and improve advertising performance. The offering will be underwritten by underwritten by Credit Suisse, BofA Merrill Lync and Citi.

Categories: Business News

Here are the 63 startups that launched today at Y Combinator’s S18 Demo Day 1

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 1:33pm

From “cheese 2.0” to connecting flights for satellites, Y Combinator showed off a wide array of early-stage startups fresh from its YC Summer 2018 batch. A total of 63 companies took to the stage in front of a full audience at the Computer History Museum today in Mountain View to pitch on-off switches for organisms, laundry detergent subscription services, gymless gyms, lab-grown palm oil and sugary sugar substitutes.

It felt like every other startup was trying to make us try vegan chicken nuggets, but from a bird’s-eye view, this YC batch saw startups clustered around B2B software and services (30 percent of companies), healthcare (28 percent), consumer goods and services (9 percent) and consumer media (7 percent). (Yes, blockchain companies were right behind, comprising 5 percent of companies.)

For this batch, YC’s efforts to get more female founders on board mostly held steady, with 15 percent female founders, down one percent from last round’s 16 percent. YC’s diversity tracking around race showed a little more activity: 11 percent of this cohort’s founders were black or latinx, up from 9 percent in the previous group. A total of 19 countries were represented across the 132 companies pitching over two days, and 28 percent of companies were based outside the U.S. 

Which companies will go on to make a unicorn-sized splash? Are there really that many vegans? To figure it all out, you can read through our full list of the day’s YC S18 companies below (be sure to take a coffee break or two) or check back later for our own picks of today’s most interesting startups. Without further ado…

 

Public Recreation

The founders of Public Recreation want to take your workout outside. The company offers a modular system of benches, bars and smart lockers that can be installed anywhere, and for a subscription price of $50/month customers get access to classes ranging from yoga to strength training and conditioning. Their first pop up is in San Francisco… literally on the corner of Octavia and Hayes.

BlueCargo

BlueCargo is optimizing container management for ports, kind of like Jenga for shipping containers. Normally, a single move costs a port $30, but up to 50 percent of those moves might not even be needed at all. Due to inefficient shuffling processes, terminals waste as much as $20 billion a year, but BlueCargo would eliminate that waste with machine learning, they say. The company has one paid pilot with France’s port of Saint Nazaire to date, with three more in the works around the world. BlueCargo is also about to start working with the port of Long Beach, Calif. — one of the largest ports in the U.S.

HoneyLove

HoneyLove aims to disrupt the traditional shapewear market by making an affordable, high-quality product that actually works.

The $89 product uses supportive structures inside the seams of the garment, similar to the flexible boning used in old-school corsets, and encases those structures in a soft channel of protective fabric. This simple enhancement ensures that the garment doesn’t bunch up around the legs or waistband. The company has already sold $500K in product

Read more about HoneyLove here.

C16 Biosciences


C16 Biosciences is aiming to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe with their lab-grown palm oil, an alternative to a product that is found in a truly massive amount of goods. C16’s alternative grown in bioreactors with yeast is 20 percent less expensive to customers but “doesn’t destroy the planet,” the company says. The startup has already begun early partnerships with a number of beauty and food distributors that together spend about $1.2 billion on palm oil annually.

Kobo360

Kobo360 is a Nigerian startup that wants to be the Uber for logistics and trucking in Nigeria… with a twist. With $1.3 million in funding already in the bank, the startup not only has an on-demand trucking solution linking shippers with excess trucking capacity, it has also set up a crowdfunding platform called Kobo Wealth Investment Network, or KoboWIN to enable Kobo drivers to finance new trucks through citizen investors and pay them back directly (with interest) over a 60-month period.

JetLenses

JetLenses is taking on the major contact lens e-commerce sites and other online ordering systems. The startup’s goal is to bring down the cost of prescription products by automating the overhead associated with these businesses, then pass those savings on to consumers.

For example, it automates the process of contacting doctors to verify prescriptions by maintaining a data set of existing practices, automatically faxing the office to verify the prescription and then processing the doctor’s office response.

Read more about JetLenses here.

Higia

By monitoring thermal patterns inside a breast, the startup Higia hopes it can offer women a better, non-invasive method to detect breast cancer. The company’s wearable device, called EVA, can be placed under any sports bra, and offers a new way to fill the gaps that current screening techniques aren’t addressing — things like early breast cancer detection in women with high breast density. The company has already pre-sold 5,000 units in Mexico and will begin shipping them in the fall of 2018. 

Read more about Higia here.

CSPA

Founder and head of engineering at Crunchyroll, James Lin knows all about the pain of finding and hiring talented software engineers. That’s why Lin started The Computer Science Proficiency Assessment, which is basically the SAT for software engineers. Lin and his team have created standardized exams that are held in classrooms on or near college campuses and test both practical knowledge and theoretical principles.

Students pay to take the tests and have their results shared with the more than 60 companies that are now accepting the results when considering new candidates.

Sterblue

Sterblue is a French drone software startup aiming to get off-the-shelf drones inspecting large outdoor structures up close with automated insights that identify anomalies that need a second look.

The startup’s software is specifically focused on enabling drones to easily inspect large power lines or wind turbines with simple automated trajectories that can get a job done much quicker and with less room for human error.

Read more about Sterblue here.

Cambridge Glycoscience

Looking to bake the perfect treat with a sugar substitute that can mimic not just the sweetness, but the gooey caramelization and sticky sweetness that typically only comes from real sugar? Well, YC company Cambridge Glycoscience has the sweetener for you. The company expects to produce its sugar substitutes at a cost that can make low- and no-sugar foods even more accessible for mainstream consumers. So toss that corn syrup and get ready for a new flavor revolution.

Their manufacturing process will let them produce their sugar substitute at scale and they have a patent portfolio to protect their innovation. Notably, they have signed letters of intent with five companies already, including Haribo.

Togg

Yingzhe Fu, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, has been developing this home sensing and automation product at least since his graduation in 2016. Togg’s product is now installed in eight assisted living centers around the U.S. and is able to capture more accurately than actual caregivers at a facility changes in residents’ health, including sleep, breathing, bathroom visits and movement speed.

Given the explosion in the number of elderly in need of home care (both in the U.S. and in Fu’s native China), it seems like Fu’s Togg is a product hitting the market at the right time.  

AskMyClass

Using smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home, AskMyClass is bringing a deeper set of skills to elementary school classrooms. Like homes, schools are quickly picking up on the benefits of smart speaker deployment, and using AskMyClass teachers now can let those speakers handle a range of daily tasks, from vocabulary reviews to refocusing exercises — the software can even take notes and make lists for teachers on the go.

Teachers using it are reclaiming as much as 75 minutes a week in the classroom by using AskMyClass as a kind of teaching assistant. For example, AskMyClass can run math drills with one set of students while another works directly with their instructor. In five weeks, they’ve on-boarded 436 classrooms.

Skydrop

Making e-commerce easier across Latin America, Skydrop is focused on estimating drop-off times, buying and printing shipping labels and handling returns for its customers. Through a network of independent drivers, alongside a logistics platform recreated from the ground up, Skydrop is looking to offer shipping labels at a fraction of the cost by aggregating orders with thousands of like-minded (and like-sized) businesses. Companies simply add Skydrop’s plugin to their own online store and watch their logistics burdens take off.

Cytera CellWorks

Cytera CellWorks hopes to revolutionize the so-called “clean meat” industry through the automation of cell cultures. It uses robotic automation to configure cell cultures used in things like growing turkey meat from a petri dish or testing stem cells.

Originally, the company was going to go for general automation in the lab, but had enough interest from clients and potential business in just the cell culture automation aspect they’re focused on that for now, and changed the name for clarity.

Read more about Cytera CellWorks here.

JITX 

Designing circuit boards as a service won JITX a spot in this latest batch of Y Combinator companies. Currently, every circuit board is designed manually by skilled engineers, but using JITX’s machine learning software, circuit boards can be created automatically, which can save both time and money for hardware companies.

Names & Faces

Not Facebook but not LinkedIn either, Names & Faces aims to offer any growing company a simple, fast directory of employees built specifically for that purpose alone. The company wants to solve a problem experienced by everyone at a company, from its low-level employees to chief executives: when your company gets bigger, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. Names & Faces already has more than 100 customers, including L’Oreal, Uber and FedEx, with sales doubling month to month.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk offers a variety of Indian dishes at a low price that can be cooked up by simply adding hot water. Based in Seattle, Buttermilk launched in 2017 to the local market and has since expanded to serve their products across the country.

Dishes include Sambar, Daal, Khichdi, Rasam and Upma, all of which cost $6 each. Buttermilk also sells Basmati rice for $1.50. And there are “suites,” which pack a handful of meals into one shipment.

Read more about Buttermilk here.

 

Send Reality

Send Reality is looking to offer full 3D-modeling for virtual walk-throughs of real estate listings. The company sends photographers out to the listing with an iPad, a commodity depth sensor and a specialized Send Reality app. These photographers take hundreds of thousands of photos, and the Send Reality technology stitches those photos together to create a complete 3D model.

Send Reality sells directly to realtors, offering the product for $500 to $800 depending on the size and complexity of the home. In the future, the company can bring down that price point by allowing realtors to scan the home themselves from their own smartphone.

Read more about Send Reality here.

Allotrope Medical


Allotrope Medical has developed an electrical stimulation technology for smooth muscles that allows surgeons to identify critical tissue structures and distinguish functional from dysfunctional urologic and gastrointestinal issues. The Houston-based company is focused initially on decreasing the rate of injury to ureters during surgery.

With more than 3 million surgeries performed in the U.S. alone requiring identification and protection of ureters, there’s a $3.2 billion burden on healthcare systems due to injuries. The company is running an active clinical trial in Dallas and aims to be on the market by the end of 2019.

Augmented Radar Imaging 

Augmented Radar Imaging wants to address the kind of issues that have caused high-profile driverless vehicle accidents. The company aims to solve two problems for current radar technologies: recognizing stationary objects and triggering false alarms.

With a team of radio engineers, physicists and data scientists, ARI has built a wide field-of-view high-resolution radar system called Camdar that provides 3D spatial imaging plus velocity data and a solid state sensor with no moving parts that claims to be 300x more accurate than GPS. With five radar units per average in a self-driving vehicle, ARI could be looking at a $100 billion market if it can make inroads on those roads.

Canary Technologies 

The Canary Technologies co-founders have worked in the hotel industry, and have come to the conclusion that existing hotel software is awful. The company is working to tackle some of this dated software piece-by-piece, starting with their far less dated programs used to handle offline booking processes. They’re getting rid of paper contracts, instead using modern software that can make life easier for hotels.

Qurasense

Qurasense doesn’t think your period blood should go to waste. The company has developed a “diagnostic menstrual pad” called the Q Pad that includes an embedded collection strip that passively collects blood samples on a test strip that can be mailed for diagnostic testing which is then turned into data.

So far the company has run five clinical trials of a total of 500 women. It has 14 validated blood screening tests and two tests for sexually transmitted diseases and will operate on a $25 a month subscription model. Qurasense is working with Stanford Medicine to become the go-to platform for cervical cancer screening.

Inokyo

Inokyo wants to be the indie Amazon Go, with a cashierless autonomous retail store. Cameras track what you grab from shelves, and with a single QR scan of the app on your way in and out of the store, you’re charged for what you’ve picked up.

The first store is now open on Mountain View’s Castro Street, selling an array of kombuchas, snacks, protein powders and bath products.

Read more about Inokyo here.

Tenderd

Based in Dubai and serving the entire Middle East and North African region, Tenderd is an on-demand marketplace for heavy equipment like bulldozers and cranes. Think of it as the Uber for heavy equipment. The company began when the company’s founder left San Francisco to run the family business in the United Arab Emirates because of a family emergency. When he took the wheel, he steered the company toward what he realized was the most profitable business — renting out the heavy equipment. However, the process was so slow and cumbersome that the seasoned Bay Area resident launched Tenderd to solve his — and the region’s — problem.

Momentus

The heart of Momentus’ propulsion technology for space flight is a new system that uses water as a propellant instead of chemicals.

Using water has several benefits, the startup says. One, it’s a fuel source that’s abundant in outer space, and it’s ultimately better and more efficient fuel for flight beyond low Earth orbit.

Read more about Momentus here.

Spero Foods


Spero Foods is joining the legion of companies trying to transform the food industry with substitutes for animal proteins based on data analytics. Founder Phaedra Randolph launched the company after experiencing the transformative benefits of transitioning to a plant-based diet. Most vegetable substitutes for animal proteins lacked the flavor, texture and nutritional heft of their animal corollaries. So Randolph used her background in bioscience and software engineering to tackle the taste issue.

InkHunter

InkHunter is an augmented reality tattoo try-on app. The idea is that you can see how a tattoo might like on your skin before you actually make a booking with the tattoo artist.

The app requires people to anchor the virtual design by making a few pen marks on their skin where they want the tattoo to live. It also supports taking and sharing photos.

Read more about InkHunter here.

FREY

FREY is pitching dudes a new kind of detergent for the new way they live their lives (read on a monthly subscription basis). The company bills itself as an antidote to the tired myth that only women are doing laundry with products that incorporate natural ingredients, heady fragrances and plant-derived surfactants, enzymes and oils for stain fighting. Add that subscription model and 20 percent month-over-month growth in the last 12 months and product margins post 60 percent post-shipping, and that’s a pitch that won’t rinse out in the wash.

Aalo


If you’re tired of the universal sameness of the typical IKEA, West Elm or CB2-bedecked apartment, well look no further than Aalo, the new YC company that wants you to be your own furniture designer. With a Lego-like (not Legolas) furniture system composed of customizable, hackable and reusable parts, individuals can design their own furniture with a by-the-inch customization system for do-it-yourself designs. Founded by ex-Toyota engineer Sejun Park, Aalo was created when an attempt to “hack” an IKEA shelf collapsed under the burden of its shoddy materials and zero weight support.

Demonpore 

Nanopores identify molecules like DNA and Demonpore is the world’s first mechanical nanopore. Because normal, fixed nanopores require a good fit, they can only look at molecules that fit a pore well, which usually means being limited to DNA. Demonpore can change its size, making it possible to examine any kind of molecule at the nanometer scale. With a founder from Halcyon Molecular and a team of 70 scientists and engineers, Demonpore is developing a universal biomolecular sensor that can measure “virtually any type” of molecule with relevance to human health.

Savvy

Imagine being the all-seeing, all-knowing lookout for all of your company’s interactions with vendors, suppliers and customers. That’s what the YC-backed startup Savvy is looking to provide to users by bringing together all of a company’s cloud applications into a single view. “Savvy is the glue between your work applications.” Not just slang for pirates, savvy is the know-how for all external interactions and can make businesses more savvy about their communications and operations. 

Cloud Workout

Logging onto Twitch may not be the most physically active experience in the world, but Cloud Workout wants to take the site’s model and build a fitness empire in its image, bringing fitness instructors to their site who can become fitness personalities and build audiences. The company’s streaming product is in private beta currently.

Synvivia

Genetic engineering is one of the most powerful new tools of the 21st century, but its ascendance has come with attendant fears that the technology may not be able to be controlled when it’s unleashed from a laboratory. YC-backed Synvivia is developing what amounts to the kill switch for synthetic biology outside of a lab. Commercializing technology developed by UC Berkeley with grants from the NSF and DARPA, Synvivia’s genetically encoded bio-containment system engineers organisms to only live when they have access to specific, small molecules. These type of control and containment measures are critical for the development of the industry.

RealtyBits

With a service that’s creating blockchain-based tokens for commercial real estate properties, RealtyBits is hoping to increase liquidity for investors and property owners. The goal is to let real estate funds take cryptocurrency investments from verified financiers globally while reducing transaction costs, which can amount to 10 percent in fund creation and investments across what the company says is a $9 trillion industry.

#ME


Taking the Highrise virtual community one step further, #ME is an avatar-based social network where users can make friends and influence virtual people through real-time games and experiences. The original bootstrapped social media avatar game from which #ME evolved has already raked in $5 million in sales and attracted more than 3 million registered users. At the core of that popularity is the company’s ability to create virtual identities untethered from the real world that appeals to a Gen Z audience, according to the founder’s pitch.

“We’re taking everything we learned from Highrise and building a better one,” says Anton Bernstein, the company’s chief executive. “The next Facebook will be a virtual world. And we launched it 30 days ago.”

Grabb-It

Grabb-It turns a car’s side rear window into a full-color display, playing location-aware ads to anyone who might be standing curbside. The product’s designed for rideshare/delivery drivers, enabling them to make a bit of extra coin while doing the driving they’re already doing.

As the driver crosses town, the ads can automatically switch to focus on businesses nearby. Near the ball park? It might pitch you on tickets for tonight’s game. Over in The Mission? It could play an ad about happy hour at the bar behind you.

Read more about Grabb-It here.

Alpha Vantage

For investors seeking a new way to create alpha from financial market data, Alpha Vantage has an API toolkit to give them a leg up. Using these low-cost APIs, developers can create digital assets like iOS/Android apps and trading monitoring, management and suggestion toolkits. The company already has over 100,000 registered users making over 300 million API requests on a daily basis.

BrainHi 


Co-founders Israel Figueroa Fontanez and Emmanuel Oquendo came up with the idea for BrainHi in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. When the devastation wrought by the hurricane made communicating with doctors’ offices nearly impossible on the island of Puerto Rico, the two founders thought there must be a better way to manage the process. The solution they came up with is an automated answering service that handles phone calls, texts and Facebook messages with an automated bot that can schedule doctors visits and answer non-medical questions. The company already has 100 doctors, chiropractors and veterinarians in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

BHRD


Managing relationships with shareholders is an expensive business for public companies. Recalcitrant board members, activist shareholders and others can create problems for a management team focused on long-term growth. Using BHRD, companies can focus on targeting and engaging the investors who are aligned with their long-term vision, freeing big business to focus on their business, rather than managing shareholder expectations.

Camelot 


Camelot is a mobile app for esports betting… and one of the first companies to blaze a trail in the sure-to-be-lucrative business operating at the intersection of video gaming and sports betting. The company gives fans access to live updates and stats and an interface to bet against friends. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, there are billions of dollars to be made facilitating betting in any sport — including esports. Camelot is rolling the dice that it can hit the right number in this emerging market. 

Inscribe 


Using a web platform and APIs, Inscribe is pitching a service to identify digital forgeries in documents. The company’s technology uses image forensics and machine learning to check documents like bank statements, tax forms and forms of state and national identification to look for tampered names, figures, text or signatures. The killjoys at Inscribe may finally get rid of the fake ID, but they’re also solving a billion-dollar market in online fraud.

Fintual 

Image credit: Li-Anne Dias, Crunchbase News.

Betterment, the wildly successful automated financial management and investment platform, is getting a Latin American twist with Fintual. The company offers wealth management services through low-fee mutual funds intelligently managed by the same sort of toolkit that used to be available to big banks and the quant programmers that work for them. It’s already a success in the markets it’s selling into, with week-over-week growth of around 10 percent.

Four Growers 

The robot revolution is coming for agriculture, and one of the places where those robots will first raise their flag is in the hothouse. That’s the vision that Four Growers has laid out as it seeks to sell its robots to farms already squeezed by a labor shortage that shows no sign of relenting. The company pitches consistent quality of picked grapes or cherry tomatoes and a “workforce” that’s dependable and efficient. Four Growers predicts it can replace at least four human laborers with its robots, representing incredible economic efficiencies for growers.

AnnieCannons

AnnieCannons is a San Francisco-based nonprofit coding bootcamp aimed at transforming survivors of human trafficking into software developers or professionals in the technology industry.

Founded by Jessica Hubley and Laura Hackney, the organization aims to help the up to 18,000 people who the Justice Department believes are trafficked in the U.S. every year. The organization reaches out to after-care services organizations around legal aid and counseling services that are interested in placing survivors into a job-training program. AnnieCannons starts with basic technical and job proficiencies and then works on getting their students into coding and development work.

BuyCoins 


BuyCoins wants to be the cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. Emerging markets are the ideal test bed and proving ground for cryptocurrencies and, in some cases, they’re the least able to take advantage of the purported efficiencies that these new platforms offer. BuyCoins is the only exchange in Nigeria that allows Nigerians to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, ranging from Bitcoin and Ethereum, to Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash, directly with their local bank account or debit card. There’s already $4 billion traded in cryptocurrency in Nigeria and the market is growing quickly.

Mac’d

Mac’d is a build-your-own mac and cheese restaurant that lets customers choose their own adventure from the beginning. The company plans to expand through a low-cost “ghost kitchen” approach, where it rents out kitchen space and sells its mac and cheese strictly through providers like UberEats, Caviar, DoorDash and Postmates.

And to quote TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey: “The mac and cheese was bomb.”

Read more about Mac’d here.

Penta Medical 

For professional athletes, nothing is more frightening or career damaging than an injury. And Penta Medical wants to make those fears a thing of the past. The company has developed a wearable cold laser therapy system that purports to relieve muscle and joint pain, increase circulation and relieve muscle spasms, all with a tap of a button on the smartphone. Indeed, Penta also tracks injury data, provides coaches and healthcare providers with visual representations and range of motion trends.

Coaches can even track how their team compares with others in a league. It’s important to note that the company isn’t for athletes alone. People in the U.S. are already spending $6 billion and they’re the ideal market for Penta Medical’s smart hardware for chronic pain treatment and management.

Data Driven Bioscience 


The 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper cancer diagnoses that Data Driven Biosciences promises for hospitals that use its genomic diagnostic tests could transform untold numbers of lives. Dr. Sandeep Dave, the oncologist and tenured professor from Duke University who founded the company, experienced firsthand how patients and doctors are affected by delays in getting a correct diagnosis of cancer.

Using standard equipment already deployed at hospitals around the country, Data Driven Bioscience is pitching a test that connects with the company’s cloud-based machine-learning software and a database of more than 10,000 tumors to diagnose cancers within 24 hours.

Rain Neuromorphics

The founders of Rain Neuromorphics found inspiration for their processor for artificial intelligence applications in the function of the human brain. The company touts its Memristive Nanowire Neural Network chip architecture as being able to train larger, more powerful neural networks than any commercial chip that’s currently on the market. Fast, fully parallel and ultra scalable, these chips are said to be capable of both online training and low-power inference, to enable complex machine learning applications both in the cloud and directly on a device.

As neurons increase, training time increases dramatically, but the company’s neuromorphic hardware scales well in time, but take up a lot of space on a chip. The company’s new architecture creates a structure that is filled with neurons connected by nanowires, and believes it can build and train the equivalent of $1 billion. With a $2 million letter of intent from OpenAI, several patents filed and contracts with TSMC, the company is putting its neurons where its synapses are.

Spate


The “Google Trends” for business is exactly what Spate wants to be for its users. The company is pitching a predictive engine that can let companies know what types of latte people will be drinking, the skin care products they’ll be using and the food that their dogs will be eating in the next year. It’s no surprise that the team at Spate is looking to take on Google, since that’s where the company’s founding team cut its teeth.

Their work (initially as one of the famed 20 percent projects) at the search giant led to a product, which drove decision-making over how to steer some of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods brands. They predicted the cold brew and turmeric trends and have a bet that yellow will be the next big color in the fashion world. There’s a spate of information out there, and the company wants to be the funnel to focus that flood of information into the right decisions.

Optic

Optic gives developers a way to grab very common coding use cases that they can drop right into their code. It works by finding the sort of routine additions developers might need, like how to create a form that will add a user to a database, as well as all the ancillary parts that come with it, like tests.

It works within a developer’s IDE, so they don’t have to look externally for the code they need. Right now it works for JavaScript, with Python next on the docket.

Read more about Optic here.

Phiar

Phiar is building an augmented reality navigation app for driving that shows a driver exactly where to go without taking their eyes off the wheel. With efficient AI fit into a smartphone, Phiar’s software can run at 200 fps on a dash-mounted iPhone.

With deep AI and computer vision expertise plus a team with members from Apple, Microsoft and VMware, Phiar wants to build the “killer AR application” to address the 1.7 billion people who use a navigation app each month. Phiar is counting on AR being the next meaningful evolution in driving navigation tech and a software solution that keeps a driver’s eyes on the road in front of them.

Seattle Food Tech 

Photo: James A. Guilliam/Taxi/Getty Images

Seattle Food Tech looks to create what effectively looks and feels like a chicken nugget out of plant-based food — all the way down to the puff it gets in an oven.

It’s planning to sell its first product to larger food services companies. That’s the market that’s most useful, environmentally speaking, given that a significant portion of the chicken consumed by the population comes through food services.

Read more about Seattle Food Tech here.

Prodigal Technologies


Prodigal Technologies wants to improve the ways lenders collect money from borrowers. The company wants to make debt collection, if not kinder or gentler, then certainly more efficient. If a payor misses a payment, lenders can now reach out on any messaging platform and enable lenders to find borrowers where they are. The company has 11 pilots and three paying customers that handle $11 billion in origination of loans. There are $50 billion loans that aren’t paid, and with, Prodigal lenders can get a 20 percent improvement in loan repayment.

Viaopt


In the U.S., trucks are moving goods across the country with roughly 35 percent of their available cargo space underutilized. Viopt, a software company that aims to be an Uber pool for shipping, thinks it has the solution. If the 65 percent of underutilized capacity could be filled it would save $30 billion for companies and remove 100 million tons of carbon emissions. By linking small and medium-sized companies with excess capacity, the company hopes to give small retailers the same logistics opportunities that were only available to the largest retailers, shippers and logistics companies like Anheuser-Busch, Bimbo Bakeries and Turkey Hill Farms.  

Goodly 

Perks for employees are becoming a big business in the tight labor market and Goodly wants to make one of the most important perks — student loan repayment — easy and accessible for employers. While the benefits of providing this benefit are universally inarguable, when you look at statistics indicating that women hold two-thirds of student debt and owe half a trillion dollars more than their male colleagues, the perk becomes more persuasive. Couple that with the statistic that African American employees hold 31 percent more student loan debt than their white peers, and Goodly’s offering looks even better to employers worried about improving diversity.

In all, an employer contribution of less than the cost of a cup of coffee could help the average employee pay off their debts 8.5 years faster. Talk about potentially doing well by doing good. Offers 50 percent higher retention for millennial employees and is tackling a $5.4 billion market.

Regology 

Hoping to take a bite out of the $10 billion market for financial services regulatory compliance, Regology has developed an automated software system to ease the burden for the world’s biggest financiers. Last year companies spent $54 billion on compliance and were still fined $22 billion for compliance failures. The company claims that its software can handle in a matter of hours the manual monitoring tasks that took companies months. Working with wealth management, banking, insurance and cryptocurrency companies, the company’s machine learning software aims to take the sting out of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s oversight.

Enveritas 

Battling deforestation and child labor in manufacturers’ supply chains with software, Enveritas is helping companies secure themselves against reputational risk and increase efficiency in their operations. Initially focused on coffee companies, the platform Enveritas has built gives coffee companies a way to verify sustainability at origin for the coffee they source. While coffee may be the first industry, the work can be applied to other tropical products, including cocoa, cotton and palm oil (although if C16 — another YC company — has its way, palm oil may not be an issue).

Mylk Guys

Mylk Guys is the 100 percent vegan online grocery store I’ve never wanted, but maybe you have. Undoubtedly better for the environment than a carnivorous diet, vegan options can be healthy and they may be tasty, but the foods that combine the two are few and far between. Giving a curated approach to all of the foods on the market, Mylk Guys is the online vegan grocery store aiming to make shopping “simple af.” The company bills itself as the “online vegan Trader Joe’s.” There are 21 million vegans in America that spend $54 billion on groceries. 

Numericcal

Simplifying machine learning on edge devices. Machine learning today lives in the cloud and it’s the biggest downside of machine learning in many systems, according to the founders of Numericcal. The solution is to move the processing down to the edge — something that can take two to six months for programmers. Numericcal has 20 billion potential devices that it can service in less time and for less money.

Oxygen 

Breaking freelancers from the month-to-month boom-and-bust payment cycles that bind them, Oxygen provides working capital loans to freelancers who can go months without getting a paycheck. The company is more than willing to work with a group of borrowers who collectively make $1.4 trillion in 1099 income annually and who are locked out of loans. Oxygen offers flat-fee access to credit and free mobile banking, all while using machine learning to determine credit worthiness. Freelance workers of the world unite, indeed!

Hepatx

Hepatx is creating therapies for severely damaged livers. Chronic liver disease affects 3.9 million Americans and is the cause of death for more than 40,000. The founders of Hepatx are developing a regenerative solution enabling hepatocyte production for therapeutic purposes. That means regenerating liver cells to avoid the cost and morbidity of whole organ transplant. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. need a liver transplant but only a few thousand get one. Hepatx aims to fix the liver by taking fat tissue, turning that into liver cells and introducing that into patients to regrow the liver.

Plexus

Plexus is looking to create a low-cost, flexible glove for controlling augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. It’s a silicone glove, secured by velcro, that doesn’t cover your hands or fingers entirely, so it shouldn’t leave you super sweaty.

The tracking sensors grab the position of where the hands are in space via the magnetically attached tracker and, after calibrating a resting state of the user’s fingers, individual sensors communicate their position to the game engine.

Read more about Plexus here.

 

We’ll be back again tomorrow for the dozens of startups pitching on Day 2; check back a bit later for our top picks of Day 1, as well.

Categories: Business News

Titan launches its mobile ‘not a hedge fund’

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 2:37am

What Robinhood did to democratize buying individual stocks, Titan wants to do for investing in a managed portfolio. Instead of being restricted to rich accredited investors willing to pour $5,000 or even $500,000 into a traditional hedge fund that charges 2 percent fees and 20 percent of profits, Titan lets anyone invest as little as $1,000 for just a 1 percent fee on assets while keeping all the profits. Titan picks the top 20 stocks based on data mined from the most prestigious hedge funds, then invests your money directly in those with personalized shorts based on your risk profile.

Titan has more $10 million under management after quietly spinning up five months ago, and this week the startup graduates from Y Combinator. Now Titan is ready to give upscale millennials a more sophisticated way to play the markets.

This startup is hot. It refused to disclose its funding, likely in hopes of not tipping off competitors and incumbents to the opportunity it’s chasing. But it’s the buzz of YC, with several partners already investing their own money through Titan. When you consider Stanford-educated free stock-trading app Robinhood’s stunning $5.6 billion valuation thanks to its disruption of E*Trade, it’s easy to imagine why investors are eager to back Titan’s attack on other financial vehicles.

“We’re all 28 to 30 years old,” says co-founder Clayton Gardner about his team. “We want to actively invest and participate in the market but most of us who don’t have experience have no idea what we’re doing.” Most younger investors end up turning to family, friends or Reddit for unreliable advice. But Titan lets them instantly buy the most reputable stocks without having to stay glued to market tickers, while using an app to cut out the costs of pricey brokers and Wall Street offices.

Titan co-founders (from left): Max Bernardy, Joe Percoco, Clayton Gardner

“We all came from the world of having worked at hedge funds and private equity firms like Goldman Sachs. We spent five years doing that and ultimately were very frustrated that the experiences and products we were building for wealthy people were completely inaccessible to people who weren’t rich or didn’t have a fancy suit,” Gardner recalls. “Instead of charging high fees, we can use software to bring the products directly to consumers.”

How Titan works

Titan wants to build BlackRock for a new generation, but its origin is much more traditional. Gardner and his co-founder Joe Percoco met on their first day of business school at UPenn’s Wharton (of course). Meanwhile, Titan’s third co-founder, Max Bernardy, was studying computer science at Stanford before earning a patent in hedge fund software and doing engineering at a few startups. The unfortunate fact is the world of finance is dominated by alumni from these schools. Titan will enjoy the classic privilege of industry connections as it tries to carve out a client base for a fresh product.

“We were frustrated that millennials only have two options for investing: buying and selling stocks themselves or investing in a market-weighted index,” says Gardner. “We’re building the third.”

Titan’s first product isn’t technically a hedge fund, but it’s built like one. It piggybacks off the big hedgies that have to report their holdings. Titan uses its software to determine which are the top 20 stocks across these funds based on turnover, concentration and more. All users download the Titan iOS or Android app, fund their account and are automatically invested into fractional shares of the same 20 stocks.

Titan earns a 1 percent annual fee on what you invest. There is a minimum $1,000 investment, so some younger adults may be below the bar. “We’re targeting a more premium millennial for start. A lot of our early users are in the tech field and are already investing,” says Gardner.

For downside protection, Titan collects information about its users to assess their risk tolerance and hedge their investment by shorting the market index 0 to 20 percent so they’ll earn some if everything crashes. Rather than Titan controlling the assets itself, an industry favorite custodian called Apex keeps them secure. The app uses 256-bit encryption and SSL for data transfers, and funds are insured up to $500,000.

How have its bets and traction been doing? “We’ve been pleasantly surprised so far,” Gardner beams, noting Titan’s thousands of clients. It claims it’s up 10 percent year-to-date and up 33 percent in one year compared to the S&P 500’s 2 percent year-to-date and 22 percent in one year. Since users can pull out their funds in three to four business days, Titan is incentivized to properly manage the portfolio or clients will bail.

But beyond the demographic and business model, it’s the educational elements that set Titan apart. Users don’t have to hunt online for investment research. Titan compiles it into deep dives into top stocks like Amazon or Comcast, laying out investment theses for why you should want your money in “the everything store” or “a toll road for the Internet.” Through in-app videos, push notifications and reports, Titan tries to make its users smarter, not just richer.

With time and funding, “Eventually we hope to launch other financial products, including crypto, bonds, international equities, etc.,” Percoco tells me. That could put Titan on a collision course with Wealthfront, Coinbase and the recently crypto-equipped Robinhood, as well as direct competitors like asset managers BlackRock and JP Morgan.

“If we fast-forward 10 to 20 years in the future, millennials will have inherited $10 trillion, and at this rate they’re not equipped to handle that money,” says Gardner. “Financial management isn’t something taught in school.”

Worryingly, when I ask what they see as the top threats to Titan, the co-founders exhibited some Ivy League hubris, with Gardner telling me, “Nothing that jumps out…” Back in reality, building software that reliably prints money is no easy feat. A security failure or big drop could crater the app’s brand. And if its education materials are too frothy, they could instill blind confidence in younger investors without the cash to sustain sizable losses. Competitors like Robinhood could try to swoop in an offer managed portfolios.

Hopefully if finance democratization tools like Titan and Robinhood succeed in helping the next generations gather wealth, a new crop of families will be able to afford the pricey tuitions that reared these startups’ teams. While automation might subsume labor’s wages and roll that capital up to corporate oligarchs, software like Titan could boost financial inclusion. To the already savvy, 1 percent might seem like a steep fee, but it buys the convenience to make the stock market more accessible.

Categories: Business News

A Comparison of Business <b>VoIP</b> Vs PBX Systems For SMBs

Google News - VoIP - 2018, August 21 - 2:37am
Which one is best for your business, Yealink VoIP phones or a Yeastar PBX phone system? Consider the following factors when making a decision: ...
Categories: VoIP News

DOJ Asking Court To Force Facebook To Break Encryption On Messenger Voice Calls

Google News - VoIP - 2018, August 21 - 1:40am
VoIP enables voice calls online rather than by traditional circuit transmission. However, in cases of chat, gaming, or other internet services that are not ...
Categories: VoIP News

Zambia considers <b>VoIP</b> tax to bolster falling telco revenues

Google News - VoIP - 2018, August 21 - 12:45am
The southern African nation of Zambia has announced that it will introduce a tax levied on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls, such as those ...
Categories: VoIP News

DraftKings CEO Jason Robins is coming to Disrupt SF

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 12:41am

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had banned gambling on sporting events in most states. That ruling is set to unlock billions of dollars in new business opportunities for online fantasy sports sites like DraftKings.

That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to have DraftKings CEO Jason Robins join us on stage at Disrupt SF.

DraftKings launched back in 2012 and quickly grew into a household name by offering daily and weekly fantasy sports contests across a number of sports.

In fact, as of 2017, DraftKings had roughly 8 million users, and together with its top competitor FanDuel, the two companies owned more than 90 percent of the $2.6 billion daily fantasy sports market.

In 2016, DraftKings and FanDuel announced their intention to merge, but were met with resistance from the FTC who sued to block the merger. If it had been approved, the merger would have allowed both companies to combine resources with regards to regulatory approval and advertising spend.

At the time, Robins said that DraftKings has a “growing customer base of nearly 8 million, our revenue is growing over 30% year-over-year, and we are only just beginning to take our product overseas to the billions of international sports fans we have yet to even reach.”

At Disrupt, we’ll chat with Robins about the growth of the company, DraftKings’ plans for the 2018 NFL season, and what’s in store for the company following the Supreme Court ruling.

The full agenda is here. Passes for the show are available here.

Categories: Business News

How Blockchain Could Improve Collaboration...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, August 21 - 12:11am
Now take this down a peg or two to VoIP, which is the cornerstone of all collaboration platforms aside from those built around messaging. This will be ...
Categories: VoIP News

Safety and inspection bot startup Gecko Robotics adds $7 million to the coffers

Startup News - 2018, August 21 - 12:01am

Gecko Robotics aims to save human lives at our nation’s power plants with its wall-climbing robots. To continue doing so, the startup tells TechCrunch it has just secured $7 million from a cadre of high-profile sources, including Founders Fund, Mark Cuban, The Westly Group, Justin Kan and Y Combinator.

We first reported on the Pittsburgh-based company when co-founder Jake Loosararian came to the TechCrunch TV studios to show off his device for the camera. Back then, Gecko was in the YC Spring 2016 cohort, working with several U.S. power plants and headed toward profitability, according to Loosararian. 

You can see the original interview below:

The type of robots Gecko makes are an important part of ensuring safety in industrial and power plant facilities as they are able to go ahead of humans to check for potential hazards. The robots can climb tanks, boilers, pipelines and other industrial equipment using proprietary magnetic adhesion, ultra-sonics, lasers and a variety of sensors to inspect structural integrity, according to a company release.

While not cheap — the robots run anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 — they are also obviously a minuscule cost compared to human life.

Gecko robot scaling the wall for a safety inspection at a power plant.

Loosararian also mentioned his technology was faster and more accurate than what is out there at the moment by using machine learning “to solve some of the most difficult problems,” he told TechCrunch.

It’s also a unique enough idea to get the attention from several seasoned investors.

“There has been virtually no innovation in industrial services technology for decades,” Founders Fund partner Trae Stephens told TechCrunch in a statement. “Gecko’s robots massively reduce facility shutdown time while gathering critical performance data and preventing potentially fatal accidents. The demand for what they are building is huge.”

Those interested can see the robots in action in the video below:

Diesel_tank_A from Gecko Robotics, Inc on Vimeo.

Categories: Business News

RDMD attacks rare diseases with data mined from health records

Startup News - 2018, August 20 - 11:10pm

You wouldn’t expect a medical app to get its start as a Snapchat competitor. Neither did video chat startup TapTalk’s founder Onno Faber. But four years ago he was diagnosed with a rare disease called neurofibromatosis type 2 that caused tumors, leading Onno to lose hearing in one ear. He’s amongst the one in 10 people with an uncommon health condition suffering from the lack of data designed to invent treatments for their ails. And he’s now the co-founder of RDMD.

Emerging from stealth today, RDMD aggregates and analyzes medical records and sells the de-identified data to pharmaceutical companies to help them develop medicines. In exchange for access to the data, patients gets their fragmented medical records organized into an app they can use to track their treatment and get second opinions. It’s like Flatiron Health, the Google-backed cancer data startup that just got bought for $2 billion, but for rare diseases.

Now RDMD is announcing it’s raised a $3 million seed round led by Lux Capital and joined by Village Global, Shasta, Garuda, First Round’s Healthcare Coop and a ton of top healthtech angels, including Flatiron investors and board members. The cash will help RDMD expand to build out its product and address more rare diseases.

RDMD founders (from left): Nancy Yu and Onno Faber

“We believe that the traditional way rare disease R&D is done needs to change,” RDMD CEO Nancy Yu tells TechCrunch. The former head of corp dev at 23andMe explains that, “There are over 7,000 rare diseases and growing, yet <5% of them have an FDA-approved therapy . . . it’s a massive problem.” 

While data infrastructure supports development of treatments for more common diseases like cancer and diabetes, rare diseases have been ignored because it’s wildly expensive and difficult to collect the high-quality data required to invent new medicines. But “RDMD generates research-grade, regulatory-grade data from patient medical records for use in rare disease drug R&D,” says Yu. The more data it can collect, the more pharma companies can do to help patients.

Trading utility for patient data

With RDMD’s app, a patient’s medical data that’s strewn across hospitals and health facilities can be compiled, organized and synthesized. Handwritten physicians’ notes and faxes are digitized with optical character recognition, structuring the data for scientific research. RDMD lays out a patients’ records in a disease-specific timeline that summarizes their data that can be kept updated, delivered to specialists for consultations or shared with their family and caregivers.

If users opt in, that data can be anonymized and provided to research organizations, hospitals and pharma companies that pay RDMD, though these patients can delete their accounts at any time. Because it’s straight from the medical records, the data is reliable enough to be regulation-compliant and research-ready. That allows it to accelerate the drug development process that’s both lucrative and life-saving. “It normally takes millions of dollars over several years to gather this type of data in rare diseases,” Yu notes. “For the first time, we have a centralized and consented set of data for use in translational research, in a fraction of the time and cost.”

So far, RDMD has enrolled 150 patients with neurofibromatosis. But the potential to expand to other rare diseases attracted a previous pre-seed round from Village Global and new funding from angels like Clover Health CEO and Flatiron board member Vivek Garipalli, Flatiron investor and GV (Google Ventures) partner Vineeta Agarwala, Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal, former 23andMe president Andy Page and the husband and wife duo of former Instagram VP of product Kevin Weil and 137 Ventures managing director Elizabeth Weil.

“Onno and Nancy realized there’s an opportunity to do in rare diseases what Flatiron has done in oncology — to aggregate clinical data from patients, and to leverage that data in clinical trials and other use cases for biotech and pharma,” says Shasta partner Nikhil Basu Trivedi. RDMD will be competing against pharma contract research organizations that incur high costs for collecting data the startup gets for free from patients in exchange for its product. Luckily, Flatiron’s exit paved the way for industry acceptance of RDMD’s model.

“The biggest risk for our company is if we lose our focus on providing real, immediate value to rare disease patients and families. Patients are the reason we are all here, and only with their trust can we fundamentally change how rare disease drug research is done,” says Yu. RDMD will have to ensure it can protect the privacy of patients, the security of data and the efficacy of its application to drug development.

Hindering this process is just one more consequence of our fractured medical records. Hopefully if startups like RDMD and Flatiron can demonstrate the massive value created by unifying medical data, it will pressure the healthcare power players to cooperate on a true industry standard.

Categories: Business News

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