08/24/18 | Founders

The Female-founded startups at Y Combinator Demo Day 2

Women 2.0’s team headed to Y Combinator’s Demo Day to cover startups founded by at least one female founder or co-founder. There are 23 startups on day two, and 16 on day one, which equals to 39 startups in total (out of 132 startups).

Fun fact: since late 2017, YC has had its first female-founded unicorn, Gingko Bioworks, the synthetic organisms company co-founded by Reshma Shetty.

Intense and inspiring…

Did you know that the acceptance rate for startups with a female founder is higher than that of startups with only men as founders? While 23% of all the applications YC received this summer had at least one female founder, 28% of the current YC cohort had at least one female founder.

I spoke to Kat Manalac, Partner at YC, to find out more on what YC is doing to get more female founders to apply. In addition to the awesome female founders conference series (now in SF, NYC and Seattle), where the cofounders of BioRender actually met, Manalac also mentioned the creation of Leap, the brainchild of Cadran Cowansage, who felt that there wasn’t a place online where she could meet women and talk about issues in tech (essentially, HackerNews for women).

Kinside – Modern Childcare for Companies (Shadiah Sigala)

Employers can offer their employees $30B worth of free government money for childcare, yet only 10% of eligible parents use this benefit. This massive amount of unclaimed childcare FSAs is largely due to the onerous and tedious claims process (up to several weeks to process and requires a lot of form filling and receipt submission—think visa application process).

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Employers can offer their employees $30B worth of free government money for childcare, yet only 10% of eligible parents use this benefit.[/su_pullquote]

With Kinside, Sigala and her co-founders are modernizing childcare to enable employers to offer this benefit seamlessly, helping them attract and retain employees. This will have significant trickle-down effects not only on employees’ work-life balance and financial well-being.

Fun Fact: Sigala was actually in the middle of pumping milk (she has a newborn) when her co-founder called her to let her know about Women 2.0’s interest in getting an interview with her. I was happy to learn that Y Combinator had requisitioned a big room to become a nursing room and also provided refrigeration for the milk.

Cheerbox – Thoughtful custom gifts to employees (Tamar Lucien)

Tamar Lucien founded Cheerbox based on her own personal need and became her own first customer. She was going through the lows of being a startup founder (anxiety and all that) and wanted gifts for herself that weren’t only thoughtful, but also practical. According to Lucien, ‘Flowers and chocolates just aren’t good enough.’

There’s a need for more customization of gifts according to each life event, like a wedding, work anniversary, birthday, illness, injury and more. The product suggestions are based on a combination of wellness, humor and personality.

Fun fact: One of our favorite stories is a gift given to an avid marathon runner who had suffered from a stroke: a personalized pair of crew socks that says ‘I believe I can run again’. (We’re not crying, you’re crying.)

Tall Poppy (Leigh Honeywell) – Online harassment prevention for corporations

With over ten years of experience in computer security incident response, Leigh Honeywell found herself spending her evenings and weekends dealing with people who have suffered from online harassment, so she decided to make her service available to everyone, to help people feel safe again. Her company Tall Poppy allows her to do this at scale.

41% of Americans have personally experienced online harassment. This prevalence not only costs victims their mental wellbeing but costs corporations a lot of money.

Tall Poppy helps employees be proactive in the face of online threats through security awareness training, incident response, and compassionate care. Tall Poppy also provides information on the laws in each state, information victims can use to protect themselves and seek justice.

64-x (Alexis Rovner) – Recoding organisms to save the world

64-x engineered the first organism that speaks a new genetic language. The way DNA works is that every organism on Earth uses the same code, however, 64-x found a revolutionary breakthrough to engineer the first and only bacteria to speak a different genetic language.

One of the first applications of their technology will be biomanufacturing to solve viral contamination problems costing companies billions of dollars every year. They also intend to use their innovative biotech for biocontainment, to engineer probiotics and create bacteria that can clean up oil spills and more.

ExceptionAlly (Dana Lee) – Expertise for special needs

One in five kids have a learning difference in the US. The co-founders of ExceptionAlly do not like to use the word ‘disability’ because of its negative connotation. In fact, they are pushing for ‘learning exceptionality.’

Parents don’t always understand how to support their child with a learning exceptionality. ExceptionAlly empowers parents who don’t know where to start by providing resources and expertise to help parents understand their child’s condition and make them aware of how schools need to cooperate to ensure the best learning environment for their children.

Medinas Health (Chloe Alpert) – Resell medical supplies and equipment

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Using automation and machine learning, Medinas Health is offering an efficient, secure and frictionless way to buy and sell the perfectly usable surplus.[/su_pullquote]

Founder Chloe Alpert wants to recapture the value from the $34 billion worth of unused medical equipment and supplies in the US left in massive warehouses as a result of equipment upgrades or contract changes. She became interested in this harsh reality and saw a business opportunity to help hospitals and small health providers cut costs, but more important, to enable the health care system to save more lives.

Using automation and machine learning, Medinas Health is offering an efficient, secure and frictionless way to buy and sell the perfectly usable surplus.

Fun Fact: Worldwide, $765 billion worth of surplus medical supplies are thrown away each year. That’s more than the national GDP of Norway and Denmark combined!

Anchor USD (KC Song)

Anchor USD is an honest stablecoin cryptocurrency backed one-for-one by the US dollar. They want to replace the go-to medium of exchange—Tether—by holding all their funds domestically in US banks, performing regular public audits to verify that there is exactly one coin per US dollar, and by building Anchor on Stellar for cheaper, faster, and safer blockchain transactions. Anchor USD will be the official US partner to the Stellar Exchange.

The founding team has a track record of solving complex issues: they previously solved Stripe’s scaling problems and built Facebook’s original system for tracking growth, so it will be exciting to see how they drop the Anchor (…USD).

Ixora (Holly Dale) – Automating the creation of digital environments for movies

Ixora is automating the creation of digital, photorealistic environments for movies at a much lower price than big film studios. What takes months of manual curation and processing can be simulated in hours using Ixora’s technology. Any studio will be able to create high-end digital content using cutting-edge simulation techniques and no technical ability is required.

According to Ixora, there are 100 blockbuster films each year containing 1,000 CGI shots, which is where they monetize–charging $10,000 per CGI shot. Moreover, their simulation technology doesn’t end with large-budget, blockbuster films. Since games, VR, and TV are all demanding experiences as good as movies, Ixora is in a position to supply and capture the forthcoming demand for simulating photorealistic environments.

Fixers (Lisa Simpson) – Travel and Experience Marketplace

The cofounders of Fixers claim that travelers, especially millennials, no longer view destination as the primary deciding factor. Instead, they look to experiences. Typically, the travel booking experience starts with choosing the destination then book everything else. But with Fixers, you choose an experience or an activity, think yoga or rock climbing, and destination is secondary.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]The cofounders of Fixers claim that travelers, especially millennials, no longer view destination as the primary deciding factor.[/su_pullquote]

Anima (Michal Cohen) – Software replacing front end engineers

Anima is creating software to replace front-end engineers. The already profitable company converts web design into code. Using Anima, teams can cut back on weeks of work by simply eradicating the back and forth between designers and developers.

Additionally, Anima’s team is led by seasoned development team managers with first-hand experience in dealing with the problem they’re solving. They’ve already begun partnering with teams at companies like Google, Netflix, and Amazon charging $500 per user per year.

Shopwith (Melody Kim) – QVC for GenX

Ever found yourself watching a YouTube video and wanting to find out where the YouTuber got their outfit from? In fact, 93% of teen girls decide what they want to buy watching videos. So did the cofounders of ShopWith. When they wanted to get rid of all their clothes from their embarrassing high school days but did not know where to start, they turned to YouTube for some fashion advice, but found it deeply frustrating that they couldn’t instantly purchase the pieces.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]They wanted to get rid of all their clothes from their embarrassing high school days, but did not know where to start.[/su_pullquote]

ShopWith allows users to shop the wardrobes of their favorite fashion and beauty influencers in their mobile app. It also provides a platform for these influencers to showcase their products, acting as a great testbed for aspiring fashion designers.

Ajaib (Yada Piyajomkwan) – First online wealth manager in Indonesia

Did you know that Indonesia’s middle class has doubled in the past eight years and is still growing? And that only 0.4% of Indonesia’s population have a portfolio of shares? This means that there is over $370 billion in Indonesian savings account that are left uninvested.

Piyajomkwan and her cofounder saw an opportunity to build Ajaib to create access for middle class Indonesians to invest without having to pay for wealth managers, which are typically reserved for the top 1% of the country. They realized that this new wave of investors will need more than just access. They will also need guidance on where to start, which is why a personal portfolio is put together through a questionnaire to gauge their investment goals and risk appetite.

Ajaib is not only democratizing access to sound financial advice for everyone, but is also paving the way for better financial inclusion for the Indonesian population.

Emojer (Raluca Apostol) – Animated emojis from one photo

Six billion emojis are sent every day, but the co-founders of Emojer feel that these animations simply are not personalized enough. They were not satisfied with seeing the same ones from the same library. Emojer allows you to animate yourself with only a full body photo of yourself. Their deep learning algorithms will then identify your body parts.

They have a library of different human actions that you can choose from and share with friends. Get ready to trick your friends to think that you’re surfing in Hawaii with Emojer…

[su_pullquote align=”right”]6 billion emojis are sent every day, but the co-founders of Emojer feel that these animations simply are not personalized enough.[/su_pullquote]

Mutiny (Jaleh Rezaei) – B2B Audience Intelligence for SaaS websites

The cofounders of Mutiny realized that 99% of website visitors never end up converting to buyers because they couldn’t find what they wanted right away, so they endeavored to change this by offering a personalized purchasing experience to each online visitor. Their goal is to personalize the experience for B2B companies, which receive visits from not only customers from a wide range of industries and sizes, but also from different decision makers within one organization who may have different goals and needs.

Through integration with existing data sources, Mutiny can tailor client logos, testimonials and product screenshots based on the visitor’s industry, AdWords Search terms and more.

Lemonbox – Customized daily vitamin pack for chin (Hang Xu)

Chinese customers do not trust vitamins manufactured in China (likely stemming from the previous fake milk formulation scandal that left for Chinese parents horrified).

Through WeChat, without ever having to leave the app, users simply fill in a dietary survey to create their personalized daily vitamin packs based on their nutritional needs, health goals and personal lifestyle. In the near future, Lemonbox plans to use purchasing data to recommend products related to health, wellbeing, and beauty.

UBITS (Marta Sepulveda) – Netflix for online corporate training courses

The cofounders of UBITS claim that none of the good courses are available in Spanish. This is a problem because Spanish is the second most frequently spoken language worldwide. UBITS offers learning and development courses for corporate customers to train their employees on skills ranging from corporate finance, leadership, sales, marketing and excel, for $50 each per year.

The Good Food Institute (Liz Specht) – Nonprofit for ‘clean meat’

The co-founders of the Good Food Institute claims that our current system for making meat is broken—bad for the environment, bad for global health and bad for animals. The Good Food Institute operates as a think tank-accelerator hybrid for clean meat and plant-based alternatives.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]They are building a talent pipeline of students, scientists, and entrepreneurs who they can connect to opportunities to create a better food supply.[/su_pullquote]

On top of advising and raising millions of dollars for the 350 startups currently in their ecosystem, they are also building a talent pipeline of students, scientists, and entrepreneurs who they can connect to opportunities to create a better food supply. They are also getting everyone, ranging from educational institutions, to corporations and VCs to care about plant-based meats.

Fun Fact: Their first ever conference taking place in 2 weeks has already sold out, with an incredible speaker list of Pat Brown (Founder of Impossible Foods), Uma Valeti (Co-founder of Memphis Meats), Seth Goldman (Executive Chairman of Beyond Meat) and many more.

And Comfort (Karine Hsu) – Everlane for Plus-size

60% of us women in the US are plus-size, but options are pretty limited. The founder of And Comfort, Hsu, saw this problem first hand while shopping with her mom, who struggled to find good quality plus-size clothing that also fits right.

Having only launched 4 months ago, And Comfort boasts 25K in sales through organic growth facilitated by her involvement with the vibrant plus size influencer community. Interacting with the community to ask them what they want from everyday comfortable and stylish clothing, And Comfort has built a strong relationship with plus-size influencers and have even created an AM:PM blog to feature the empowering stories of her users.

Fun fact: Hsu originally wanted to build PoshMark for Plus size, but very quickly realized that there just wasn’t enough good clothing to resell on, which helped confirm the need for And Comfort.

Bot M.D. (Dorothea Koh) – AI Assistant for Doctors

Bot M.D. is on a mission to improve the quality of patient care by providing doctors with instantaneous access to clinical information, with a specific focus on underserved emerging markets. Google Search for healthcare professionals (Goodbye, WebMD). Through a simple search, doctors can easily find answers to questions about drug doses, diseases, clinical reference values, and even medical equations.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]To free up doctors’ time from writing up case reports, Bot M.D. also acts as your medical typist by transcribing patient notes automatically.[/su_pullquote]

To free up doctors’ time from writing up case reports, Bot M.D. also acts as your medical typist by transcribing patient notes automatically – especially in areas where resources are limited. For example, a user in Venezuela said that him and his eight coworkers only have access to one computer to record patient notes, so the transcription feature is a ‘lifesaver’.

OpenPhone (Daryna Kulya) – Business phone number, in an app

The cofounders of OpenPhone witnessed first hand their parents, who are small business owners, having to use their own personal phone number, which led them to taking phone calls even outside of working hours. This meant overwork, terrible work-life balance, and even lack of privacy.

With OpenPhone, you can easily set up a business line for calls and texts on your own phone and share the same number with all your team members to share the workload around customer support. With smart call-forwarding and voicemail systems, business owners can make sure to never miss a call from a customer again.

iLabService (Jing Wang) – Monitoring and Analytics for Labs

Did you know a fridge malfunction set back the research at Harvard on Alzheimer brain cells by 10 years? iLabService is here to avoid this problem. The cofounders spotted that customers needed real-time monitoring and management of lab equipment. With the growth of IOT, many other instruments such as security cameras need to be consistently monitored. Checking that it works every now and then is not a sustainable or safe option.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Did you know a fridge malfunction set back the research at Harvard on Alzheimer brain cells by 10 years?[/su_pullquote]

It is particularly exciting to see how scientific research will be incorporating the monitoring data provided by iLabService to understand the fixed environments and the variables within their research, such as temperature, vibration, humidity and sound, as well as to predict the likelihood of failure.

Dreamcraft (Veronica Yao) – Platform for video game modders

Did you know that League of Legends, PUBG and Counterstrike were all created by video game modders? (“Modding” is simply jargon for “modifying” video games, and it could range from making small changes, like adding a new item, to changing a whole storyline.) Video game modding is a $4 billion industry. However, modders cannot monetize them because they don’t own the original game.

Dreamcraft is here to change this: Modders can create new games on the platform, and they get to keep 70% of the revenue generated from the games.

Reformer Therapeutics (Elizabeth Iorns) – Novel therapies for cancers

Did you know that the deadly triple negative breast cancer (20% of all breast cancer cases) currently has no effective therapy? The traditional treatment is chemotherapy, which is not only long but also expensive. Fourteen years and $2.6 billion to be specific.

With Reformer Therapeutics, their drug, which is already safe in human clinical trials, gets straight to the part where drugs are approved, by targeting cells that cause cancer to spread. The team has a pipeline of drugs to target other equally life-threatening diseases.

A fun way to end the post with Cowboy Venture’s Aileen Lee’s shoes which are simply a gift to all of us. Thank you!

Watchen Nyanue

Watchen Nyanue

Watchen Nyanue is a strategic marketing and business development expert from Liberia, who resides in Chicago, Illinois. She is currently the Vice President of Marketing Partnerships for the WNBA Chicago Sky. As an advocate for female leadership and empowerment, her journey has been filled with more than twelve years of executive experience, where she has excelled as a proven business strategy leader who understands the importance of building relationships and capitalizing on a firm “it” factor in order to take the organization to the next level. Watchen holds a bachelor’s in communication from DePauw University. She is currently pursuing her MBA at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Prior to working at the Sky, she has had the honor of working with a multitude of renowned companies, including Comedy Central, Hearst Digital, Yahoo!, and Johnson Publishing Company. When she isn’t immersed in her career, Watchen happily serves on the Board of Trustees of the Associated Colleges of Illinois. The NextGen group of UNICEF and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is also a 2018 Chicago Business Journal Women of Influence Honoree.

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