The Top 10 Startups of Y-Combinator’s Summer 2017 Class

Today, a friend of mine, Brett Fink, asked me for my 3 favorite companies from this YC batch’s demo day.

That’s an extremely difficult question, since there are so many excellent companies in this batch and they have all made incredible progress, but I thought I would try and compile a list of companies I thought were interesting and why. Here’s the full list:

Click for link to the spreadsheet.

Full disclosure, I don’t have a financial stake in any of these firms, I’m just interested in them because of my background and experience. I can’t share numbers about their progress, but every company listed here had some very impressive stats to share at Demo Day. Now, for a quick summary of why I like each company.

Audm: Subscription service for spoken-word audio content

I absolutely love audiobooks and think that, especially with improved wireless headphones like the AirPods, listening to content is much more efficient that reading it. Audm takes long-reads from tons of popular publications and turns in them into professionally narrated pieces for listening on the go. They do a good job of getting the subscription setup in a seamless way and offer enough content to make it worth the price.

Enzyme: FDA compliance as a service

Enzyme was of particular interest to me because I’ve seen first hand what a hassle FDA compliance can be at early stage companies. Often times, approval processes are not entirely clear or have loopholes or landmines that you need experts to help you navigate. Anything that increases FDA compliance is going to be good for consumers everywhere and speeding up the pace of innovation in FDA regulated markets is extremely exciting.

Flowspace: AWS for warehousing

Flowspace is another company that stuck out to me as useful based on my experience at Soylent and consulting for other ecommerce companies. The company has a network of warehouses that have extra capacity and acts as a broker between clients and warehouses to get product stored quickly and cheaply. It’s not uncommon for early-stage companies to have to move product around unexpectedly, so Flowspace could relieve some real anguish for growing companies.

Gamelynx: Next generation mobile eSport

I’ve been play playing competitive eSports since 2003 and watching the meteoric rise of the category has been very exciting. Gamelynx was founded by two former Riot Games employees and is focused on making a mobile version of a multiplayer online battle arena game. Riot Games, for reference, makes League of Legends, one of, if not the largest eSport in the world. There have been a few attempts to bring mobile eSports to the mainstream but none of them have truly crossed the chasm yet.

May Mobility: Deploying fleets of autonomous vehicles

This team has over a decade of experience in a field that barely has a decade of history, autonomous vehicles. They are focusing on full fleet management, meaning that cities, colleges, or corporate campuses could deploy a cluster of May Mobility autonomous vehicles with little to no in-house expertise in the underlying technology. I think that introducing people to autonomous vehicles in more controlled, low-speed settings like moving around a theme-park or college campus could be a good way to get the public more comfortable with robots in general.

Visualization of routes driven to gather data to support a deployment in Detroit’s central business district.

Prism IO: Help companies fix churn

All companies with subscriptions, from Netflix to Blue Apron, are concerned with churn. A few percentage point drop in churn can drive millions of dollars to the bottom line, increase overall profitability, and make marketing spend much more effective. It’s a crucial business metric for an increasing number of companies and Prism helps analyze customer churn and design intervention strategies.

Py: Teach coders new skills on mobile

I love pretty much every attempt to teach more people to code. It’s always fun to watch people go from curious about web development to releasing their own app in just a few months. Py stuck out to me in particular because I saw it’s addictive coursework play out first hand. Shortly after the app launched, I sent the link to my fiancé, an artist who has never taken a single computer science class in her life. A few hours later, she told me that she had completed the Python class and was working on the other classes now. Every app developer wants to make something that consumes the user and commands their attention, but this is especially difficult for educational content. It’s very impressive that Py has been able to successfully apply addictive gamification to learning programming.

Retool: A faster way to build internal tools

Building internal tools can drive a ton of business value, but it’s often hard to do so without devoting a ton of key developer time that could be used for customer-facing projects. Consequently, far too few tools actually get built and lots of employees are left without accurate data or required to do extra manual tasks that should be easily automated. Retool aims to give developers are sort of meta-tool for building these tools. Reusable components allow for quick development and maintainability. More than anything though, this just looks fun to play with. I imagine they will have a lot of developers itching to try their service.

Skyways: VTOL drones

I know nothing about self-driving personal airplanes other than the fact that I want one. I liked that they worked backwards from a grand vision to a product that they could launch quickly (no pun intended) and iterate on with real customer feedback (primarily the military). I really wish I had a photo to share because the demo drone looked really cool. I’ll try and dig one up and update this post when I find one. It looked a lot like this:

This is not an actual photo of a Skyways drone.

VIDA & Co: Marketplace for apparel designed on-demand by artists.

This is a great ecommerce company doing astoundingly well for how recently they were started. The model is different because they work with an open network of designers to source sustainable goods from around the globe. By acting as a platform to connect shoppers with apparel and accessories from artisans and designers around the world, they can offer a deeper variety of good with compelling backstories to match.


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