The Definitive Y Combinator Demo Day Debrief

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Dan Levine, Dave Fowler, as its name suggests, makes chart software. Its Web-based tool connects with any database and creates attractive, live charts. Co-founder Dan Levine says he saw the need for an easy chart creation tool after helping tech blog TechCrunch develop its Crunchbase company database and seeing how slow and expensive it was to hire consultants to turn the data into infographics. There are, of course, enterprise database analytics software packages that create nice charts, but Levine says they’ll set you back at least $25,000., which launched a private beta test on Monday, will cost much less, and “everyone can use it,” says Levine.

Vishwas Prabhakara, Joe Pestro, Art Chang

Think of FanVibe as the Foursquare or Facebook Places of the sports world. Launched at this year’s Super Bowl, it’s a mobile app that lets users check into a specific sports event, even if they’re just watching it on TV. Users can see who else is checked into the same games and start conversations (which is to say, trash talk). The company’s user base is growing at more than 50 percent per month, and it expects that partnership agreements recently signed with the NHL, the NBA, and Comcast will bring it more than 4 million users by the end of this year—all potential consumers of ads for personal goods, game tickets, and team merchandise.

thefridgeThe Fridge
Austin Chang, Alex Chung

Co-founder Austin Chang calls The Fridge “Facebook without Facebook.” It’s designed for those times when you need the functionality Facebook provides, such as group discussions or photo sharing, but you don’t want all the complications of the real Facebook. For example, families can use The Fridge to set up private, invitation-only sites for sharing baby pictures, or couples planning weddings can use it to create temporary communities where guests can connect and share photos “without having to add Cousin Larry to their friends list,” as Chang puts it. The company launched its service to the public on Monday, and Chang argues that the new social graph that will emerge there could be more valuable to advertisers than Facebook’s, because it will be more directly based on users’ interests and contexts.

Bo Lu, Jon Xu

FutureAdvisor is a Web-based service designed to help average consumers plan their financial futures without having to hire expensive personal financial advisors (spelling the beginning of the end for yet another category of trained professionals, alongside tax advisors and travel agents). Users connect their existing brokerage accounts and 401K accounts to FutureAdvisor, and the service analyzes their performance and offers alternatives—suggesting how users might have enough money to retire earlier, for example, if they switched to lower-cost mutual funds. The advice will be better than what human financial advisors dispense, FutureAdvisors’ founders argue, since it won’t be biased by the sales commissions that help pay these advisors’ salaries. Just two and half weeks into its public beta test, FutureAdvisor already has $170 million in funds under analysis.

Chris Carlson, Fred Barbagli

Gantto has set out to displace Microsoft Project with a simpler, browser-based method for visualizing and tracking large projects. (Its name comes from the Gantt Chart, a type of bar chart displaying a project schedule.) The company’s strategy is to “exploit key weakness in Microsoft Project,” says co-founder Chris Carlson, including the lack of a group editing function and the fact that charts for Project usually have to be drawn by hand using related tools such as PowerPoint. Users can build charts from scratch in Gantto or import them from Project, and export finished charts back to Project or to PNG images files for use in presentations.

Brian Krausz, Joe Gershenson

Gazehawk lets Web designers and usability experts commission inexpensive eye-tracking studies to determine which parts of Web pages users are looking at most, and which they are neglecting. Study results can help e-tailers and marketers adjust page designs to optimize sales. For more details see my August 17 story, “The Eyes Have It: GazeHawk Introduces Low-Cost Eye Tracking Studies for Web Designers.”

Ray Grieselhuber

Companies like Brightedge and Covario offer costly, enterprise-class tools to help big companies measure and improve the performance of their websites in organic (non-paid) search result rankings. Ginzametrics—the creation of lone founder Ray Grieselhuber, a former product development director at Covario—aims to offer the same automated analytics to smaller organizations in subscription-based, Software-as-a-Service form. “I can deliver this to my customers in a way that is faster, cheaper, and easier,” says Grieselhuber, who launched a private beta test last week. “This is taking big data out of the hands of the few and putting it into the hands of the many.”

Steve Huffman, Adam Goldstein

Hipmunk is out to reduce the complexity of purchasing airline tickets, and eventually other travel products, online. It has developed a flexible new Web interface that organizes flight search results in a way that makes it easier to find best flights. For all the details see my August 18 profile, “Hipmunk, Conceived by David Pogue’s Teenage Co-Author, Embarks on Mission to Make Travel Search Easier.”

David Albert, Nicholas Berson-Shilcock

The premise behind HireHive is that companies learn most of what they really need to know about a job candidate in the first 30 seconds of a face-to-face interview. The startup makes software that lets job seekers record short videos using their home webcams; companies can then use the recordings to pre-screen job applicants before spending time reviewing lengthy paper or digital CVs. “You know that hiring is a hair-on-fire problem, and it will only be more so in the future, so the only thing you have to decide is whether we are the guys to solve it,” co-founder David Albert told investors at Demo Day.

Jessica Mah, Andy Su

“What Mint did to Quicken, we are doing to Quickbooks,” says co-founder Jessica Mah. The company has built a real-time financial dashboard that small businesses can use to track their spending without having to rely on a bookkeeper. For the complete story see my August 11 profile, “InDinero Co-founder Sees ‘Humongous’ Market in Small Business Expense Tracking.”

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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5 responses to “The Definitive Y Combinator Demo Day Debrief”

  1. Your ballsy article title made me read this and simultaneously question did you earn the title? Definitive? Yep. You did. I felt llike I was almost there and your base of knowledge claimed the day.