The Definitive Y Combinator Demo Day Debrief

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koducoKoduco Games
Cole Krumbholz, Jonathan Beilin

Koduco aims to become the premier maker of multiplayer games for the Apple iPad and other tablet devices. It has already released versions of chess and checkers, and its most recent game, a Pong/Space Invaders hybrid called PongVaders, went live in the iTunes App Store this week. “The iPad is the first in a new class of devices, one that is going to create a completely different kind of game that is social, tactile, and collaborative,” says co-founder Cole Krumbholz. “We believe the next generation of gaming is going to be two or more people using the same device, sitting next to each other, sharing a game…with this new platform there is a huge market potential for huge winners.” Huge is right—Koduco’s games have already been downloaded a third of a million times.

Amanda Peyton, Jason Gavris, Sean Ahrens

MessageParty marries old-fashioned online chat with location. Any group unified by a location—fans at a concert, businesspeople at a conference, students in a school—can use the MessageParty iPhone app to communicate in a chat room tied to that location. “Not until recently have we been able to take it for granted that people have location-aware devices,” says co-founder Amanda Peyton. “Somebody is going to make an incredibly successful location-based messaging system that allows for interactions that previously wouldn’t have happened. As an MIT team that is fast, aggressive, and loves to win, we will make it happen.”

Lionel Jingles, Rajiv Ghanta, Jyotindra Vasudeo

HDTV displays are so cheap these days that most companies can afford to buy a few and mount them around the office. Leftronic, which came out of stealth mode at Demo Day, is developing “ambient dashboards” that use these displays to show key company metrics. Leftronic lets customers choose from many kinds of visualizations. Y Combinator alumnus WePay, for example, has a Leftronic display that shows real-time data about where customers are coming from, how much they’re spending using the company’s group payment service, and what they’re saying about the company on social media streams. “There’s a viral effect,” says co-founder Lionel Jingles. “When people see one they want one for themselves.”

Shawn Gupta, Reman Child

Co-founder Shawn Gupta calls OhLife “a personal journal that you’ll actually keep.” The startup’s secret: e-mail. Once you join, OhLife will send you an e-mail message once a day asking, “How did your day go?” You can write as much as you like in response, and your reply will be deposited in a private online journal. A full 50 percent of users, Gupta says, reply to the prompts at least once every other day. “Way more people want journals than blogs, which is why we will become an order of magnitude bigger than blogging,” he says. To monetize the service, the startup will eventually place targeted ads into the e-mail prompts.

Alex Solomon, Andrew Miklas, Baskar Puvanathasan

“We wake you up when shit breaks,” says PagerDuty’s blunt-speaking co-founder Alex Solomon. The company makes software that monitors IT systems and alerts the responsible engineers when something isn’t working. The system sends alerts via phone, SMS, and e-mail, and can automatically escalate alerts if the first contact doesn’t respond. Companies like 37Signals and AdMob are already using the system to respond to breakdowns faster, and the potential market includes 3 million system administrators around the world, Solomon says. “It’s a problem everybody has,” he told the investors at Demo Day. “Some of your portfolio companies already use us, and the rest should also.”

Rahul Vohra, Martin Kleppmann, Sam Stokes

Rapportive’s plugin for Gmail replaces the ads that usually appear in the right sidebar with rich data about your contacts. The startup hardly needed to pitch at Demo Day, as it’s already raised $1 million in seed funding from venture firms and angel investors including BoldStart Ventures, Charles River Ventures, 500Startups, Kima Ventures, and Zelkova Ventures, Paul Buchheit, Scott Banister, Jason Calacanis, David Cancel, Shervin Pishevar, Naval Ravikant, Roy Rodenstein, Dharmesh Shah, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I just profiled Rapportive on Monday—see “Rapportive’s ‘Social CRM’ Gmail Plugin Makes E-mail Social Again.”

Mike Johnston, Fred Cheng

Simperium’s first product was SimpleNote, a list-making app for the iPhone and iPad whose leading virtue is its ability to sync lists automatically across your computer and all of your devices. But the synching technology behind SimpleNote blossomed into an entire platform, one that’s now used by more than 400 mobile developers to synchronize application content across iPhones, iPads, Palm devices, BlackBerry phones, and Android phones. The company lets developers use the platform for free, and plans to earn money through promotions and premium subscriptions to a whole suite of mobile-centric products. “It’s a lot like Windows, in that our platform powers our product and our products fuel the growth of the platform,” says co-founder Mike Johnston.

Jong-moon Kim, Andrew Sugaya

Teevox’s founders, a pair of MIT-trained hackers nicknamed Jiggity and Suggy, want to turn smartphones like the iPhone into remote controls for a variety of content on the Internet. The startup’s first product is a free iPhone app that you can use to select and play TV shows and movies inside your desktop or laptop browser. “We call it ‘One-tap watching,'” says co-founder Jong-moon Kim (he’s Jiggity). The company will be releasing an application programming interface that allows third-party developers to connect their own Web services with the Teevox app, so that “any visitor to your site can pull our their mobile device and use it to control our site,” says Kim. “This is a game changer.”

Mick Johnson, James Gregory

Millions of parents in the United States already pay AT&T, Verizon and other wireless operators a monthly fee for services that periodically report the locations of their cell-phone-toting children based on their proximity to cell towers. Whereoscope has built an iPhone app that taps the smartphone’s built-in location sensors to provide far more detailed and versatile location tracking services. For example, parents can program the service to report when their children arrive at school or at an after-school location. Members of a couple could sign up to receive an alert whenever a significant other is getting close. The company plans to charge families $100 per year to use the service, which will eventually be available on Android phones and other location-aware devices.

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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.