Startup accelerator Y Combinator's two-day Demo Day program raises the curtain twice each year on some of the more promising startups taking shape. Of the 104 companies from the summer 2015 cohort that presented Tuesday and Wednesday, here are five to keep an eye on.
Founders: Ahmed Haider, Tom Bass, Matthew Sweeny
What it does: Deliver anything from food and medical supplies to parcels and mail by drone.
Why it's notable: This Australian startup is already flying above the radar. While Amazon continues to grapple with Federal Aviation Administration regulations (or the lack thereof), Flirtey made the first FAA-approved delivery this summer. It dropped 24 medical packages to a clinic in West County, Virginia. As the drone delivery industry grows amid an ever-changing regulatory landscape, companies that have already finagled permissions are likely to have an edge on their competitors.
Founders: Andrew Arruda, Jimoh Ovbiagele, Akash Venkat, Pargles Dall’Oglio
What it does: Creates software that can answer legal questions using artificial intelligence, thereby helping lawyers cut down on time spent doing research.
Why it's notable: Lawyers spend 25 percent of their time doing research, charging hundreds of dollars per hour while doing so, according to Ross Intelligence. The Palo Alto, California-based startup uses artificial intelligence software with natural language recognition to hopefully get some of the most common questions from lawyers answered in a fraction of the time it would normally take. An example of a question might be “Can a company going through bankruptcy continue to operate?” according to the startup’s presentation at demo day Tuesday. If current demand says anything, Ross is onto something: 20 law firms are currently piloting the software, according to the presentation.
Founders: Eric Kreutzer, Jordan Brown
What it does: Moves items, such as furniture, on demand.
Why it's notable: Creating an on-demand moving service for the truck-less type is such an obvious idea, you would think someone has already done it. You would be right--Lugg is that someone. The San Francisco-based startup calls itself the “Uber for moving.” (You can’t have a batch of startups without an “Uber-for,” right?) And of course, Uber started testing its own moving service, called UberCargo, in Hong Kong earlier this year, according to GigaOm. So Lugg is likely to face some stiff competition down the road, but at this point, the company has a leg up in the U.S. The startup launched in the Bay Area around the same time UberCargo got started in Asia, according to TechCrunch.
Founders: Porter Braswell, Ryan Williams
What it does: Provides a platform for companies to network with diverse candidates for jobs.
Why it's notable: As powerful tech companies come under fire for lack of diversity among employees, some have pledged to improve the parity of ethnicities and genders in their workplaces. Not knowing how to tap into diverse networks keeps some companies from becoming more diverse. Cue Jopwell. Based in New York, this startup is working on building a pipeline companies can use to connect with black, Native American, and Latino applicants, and is already being used by companies and organizations as varied as Goldman Sachs, Facebook, and Teach for America, co-founder and CEO Porter Braswell said during Demo Day. “Our sole focus is to make the work force a bit more colorful,” he said.
Founder: Robyn Exton
What it does: HER is a social-networking site for primarily queer women.
Why it's notable: HER started as yet another dating site, albeit one for a relatively underserved sector of the online dating scene. But the San Francisco-based company's founder and CEO, Robyn Exton, soon realized that what her users really wanted wasn't necessarily just to find other women to date or for hook-ups--they wanted a platform for community. The website for the two-year-old company states simply that it’s “for women who like women.” That simplicity of brand gives HER a distinct advantage but also opens it to a wide range of types of users. Social-media startups and dating apps might seem pretty common, but HER might be different.
Hardware and business-to-business startups dominated the lineup, with 20 companies falling into each of those two categories. The remaining companies that presented generally fell into the categories of consumer, financial technology, biomedical, development tools, marketplaces, and non-profits.
Clarification: This post was updated to remove the name of an individual no longer working for or recognized as a co-founder by the company.