15 Exciting Startups from W2016 YC Demo Day(s)

Though I have not attended YC demo days in person, I have been following the events for the past few years. I’ve dared to hope (such a wicked thing — this hope stuff) that the startups get (more)diverse and focused on solving real-world problems rather than creating the next Snapchat or Tinder, or G*d forbid, the next Candy Crush. And you know what, in some sense, they have. I was excited and so pleased when Watsi became the first non-profit YC startup and I’ve been following+supporting it since its launch (it’s a wonderful startup doing amazing work; you should check it out!). I’ve also been glad to see that over the past few years, YC has opened up its doors to a much wider range of domains and industries, including international markets in developing countries.

This year is no different — there are a few non-profit startups as well as others in a variety of intriguing, influential, and exciting spaces. Below are the 15 (and three bonus) I’ve taken particular interest in for the significant challenges they’re undertaking, untapped markets they’re developing, and critical demand/problem they’re answering. I’m looking forward to these startups’ progress and impact as they mature and realize their full potential (well, that’s the hope!).

Nurx — Uber for birth control. How great is it that such needed progress in this sensitive space is coming from tech and not government, politicians, healthcare providers, etc?!

Paystack — Online payments for African businesses

Kisan Network — Marketplace for Indian farmers. I love that this is directly empowering the farmers and cutting out the middle player. I hope Kisan will consider expanding beyond India because there are many other countries (like Ethiopia for instance where the majority of the population is part of the agriculture ecosystem) that would greatly benefit from its services.

STILT — Loans for non-US students and working professionals. All I can and need to say about this is: “It’s about time!!” Seriously.

WorldCover — Crop insurance for the developing world. While El Nino may have saved California this Winter, it has caused food crisis around the globe. Those most affected by such threats are, of course, the farmers whose livelihoods depend on their crops. This is the first time I’m hearing about a startup that’s focused on resolving this issue by establishing a much-needed social safety net for these farmers: WorldCover is currently working in Ghana to provide insurance for up to 200,000 farmers, which is incredible. You can register here to help them reach their goal!

Acre Designs — Affordable, modern zero-energy homes

LendEDU — Kayak for educational loans

Shypmate — P2P shipping for Africa. Oh, am I glad this is happening! I personally can attest to how inefficient and expensive the shipping process is, so, I’m very much looking forward to learning more about Shypmate and trying out its service.

Zenysis — Data systems for developing country governments. According to TechCrunch, Zenysis “is now in a $1 million pilot program with the Ethiopian government.; [it] found all the fragmented data on vaccinations, got 100% of it integrated, and made the distribution process efficient.” This is tremendous, be it in Ethiopia or in other developing countries where such key infrastructures are severely lacking. Very exciting indeed!

Unima — Fast and cheap disease diagnosis on paper strips

Perlstein Lab — Automated drug discovery for rare diseases

Copia— Earning tax credits for donating leftover food

iSono Health— Home breast cancer scanner

SHRI — Using human waste to create drinking water

X-Zell — Early cancer detection


Lynks— Efficient import e-commerce for countries that lack it

Boom — Supersonic passenger jets

mRelief — Non-profit that helps Americans get food stamps

Overall, about 127 startups presented over the two Demo Days, ranging in industries such as energy, biotech, logistics, agriculture, eduIT, etc. I’m indebted to TechCrunch for its great coverage of both days — thanks!

Which of the startups caught your attention?

Happy Thursday!

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