Here are the 63 startups that launched today at Y Combinator’s S18 Demo Day 1

From “cheese 2.0” to connecting flights for satellites, Y Combinator showed off a wide array of early stage startups fresh from its YC Summer 2018 batch. A total of 63 companies took to the stage in front of a full audience at the Computer History Museum today in Mountain View to pitch on-off switches for organisms, laundry detergent subscription services, gymless gyms, lab-grown palm oil and sugary sugar substitutes.

It felt like every other startup was trying to make us try vegan chicken nuggets, but from a bird’s eye view this YC batch saw startups clustered around B2B software and services (30% of companies), healthcare (28%), consumer goods and services (9%) and consumer media (7%). (Yes, blockchain companies were right behind, comprising 5% of companies).

For this batch, YC’s efforts to get more female founders on board mostly held steady, with 15% female founders, down one percent from last round’s 16%. YC’s diversity tracking around race showed a little more activity: 11% of this cohort’s founders were black or latinx, up from 9% in the previous group. A total of 19 countries were represented across the 132 companies pitching over two days, and 28% of companies were based outside the US. 

Which companies will go on to make a unicorn-sized splash? Are there really that many vegans? To figure it all out, you can read through our full list of the day’s YC S18 companies below (be sure to take a coffee break or two) or check back later for our own picks of today’s most interesting startups. Without further ado…

 

Public Recreation

The founders of Public Recreation want to take your workout outside. The company offers a modular system of benches, bars and smart lockers that can be installed anywhere and for a subscription price of $50/month customers get access to classes ranging from yoga to strength training and conditioning. Their first pop up is in San Francisco… literally on the corner of Octavia and Hayes.

BlueCargo

BlueCargo is optimizing container management for ports, kind of like Jenga for shipping containers. Normally, a single move costs a port $30, but up to 50% of those moves might not even be needed at all. Due to inefficient shuffling processes, terminals waste as much as $20 billion a year, but BlueCargo would eliminate that waste with machine learning, they say. The company has one paid pilot with France’s port of Saint Nazaire to date with three more in the works around the world. BlueCargo is also about to start working with the port of Long Beach, California — one of the largest ports in the US.

HoneyLove

HoneyLove aims to disrupt the traditional shapewear market by making an affordable, high-quality product that actually works.

The $89 product uses supportive structures inside the seams of the garment, similar to the flexible boning used in old-school corsets, and encases those structures in a soft channel of protective fabric. This simple enhancement ensures that the garment doesn’t bunch up around the legs or waistband. The company has already sold $500k in product

Read more about HoneyLove here.

C16 Biosciences


C16 Biosciences is aiming to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the globe with their lab-grown palm oil, an alternative to a product that is found in a truly massive amount of goods. C16’s alternative grown in bioreactors with yeast is 20 percent less expensive to customers but “doesn’t destroy the planet,” the company says. The startup has already begun early partnerships with a number of beauty and food distributors that together spend about $1.2 billion on palm oil annually.

Kobo360

Kobo360 is a Nigerian startup wants to be the Uber for logistics and trucking in Nigeria… with a twist. With $1.3 million in funding already in the bank, the startup not only has an on-demand trucking solution linking shippers with excess trucking capacity, it has also set up a crowdfunding platform called Kobo Wealth Investment Network, or KoboWIN to enable Kobo drivers to finance new trucks through citizen investors and pay them back directly (with interest) over a 60 month period.

JetLenses

JetLenses is taking on the major contact lens e-commerce sites and other online ordering systems. The startup’s goal is to bring down the cost of prescription products by automating the overhead associated with these businesses, then pass those savings on to consumers.

For example, it automates the process of contacting doctors to verify prescriptions by maintaining a data set of existing practices, automatically faxing the office to verify the prescription and then processing the doctor’s office response.

Read more about JetLenses here.

Higia

By monitoring thermal patterns inside a breast, the startup Higia hopes it can offer women a better, non-invasive method to detect breast cancer. The company’s wearable device, called EVA, can be placed under any sports bra, and offers a new way to fill the gaps that current screening techniques aren’t addressing — things like early breast cancer detection in women with high breast density. The company has already pre-sold 5,000 units in Mexico and will begin shipping them in the fall of 2018. 

Read more about Higia here.

CSPA

Founder and head of engineering at Crunchyroll, James Lin knows all about the pain of finding and hiring talented software engineers. That’s why Lin started The Computer Science Proficiency Assessment, which is basically the SAT for software engineers. Lin and his team have created standardized exams that are held in classrooms on or near college campuses and test both practical knowledge and theoretical principles.

Students pay to take the tests and have their results shared with the over 60 companies that are now accepting the results when considering new candidates.

Sterblue

Sterblue is a French drone software startup aiming to get off-the-shelf drones inspecting large outdoor structures up close with automated insights that identify anomalies that need a second look.

The startup’s software is specifically focused on enabling drones to easily inspect large power lines or wind turbines with simple automated trajectories that can get a job done much quicker and with less room for human error.

Read more about Sterblue here.

Cambridge Glycoscience

Looking to bake the perfect treat with a sugar substitute that can mimic not just the sweetness, but the gooey caramelization and sticky sweetness that typically only comes from real sugar? Well YC company Cambridge Glycoscience has the sweetener for you. The company expects to produce its sugar substitutes at a cost that can make low- and no-sugar foods even more accessible for mainstream consumers. So toss that corn syrup and get ready for a new flavor revolution.

Their manufacturing process will let them produce their sugar substitute at scale and they have a patent portfolio to protect their innovation. Notably, they have signed letters of intent with five companies already, including Haribo.

Togg

Yingzhe Fu, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, has been developing this home sensing and automation product at least since his graduation in 2016. Togg’s product is now installed in eight assisted living centers around the U.S. and is able to capture changes in residents’ health including sleep, breathing, bathroom visits and movement speed more accurately than actual caregivers at a facility.

Given the explosion in the number of elderly in need of home care (both in the U.S. and in Fu’s native China), it seems like Fu’s Togg is a product hitting the market at the right time.  

AskMyClass

Using smart speakers like the Amazon Alexa or Google Home, AskMyClass is bringing a deeper set of skills to elementary school classrooms. Like homes, schools are quickly picking up on the benefits of smart speaker deployment, and using AskMyClass teachers now can let those speakers handle a range of daily tasks, from vocabulary reviews to refocusing exercises — the software can even take notes and make lists for teachers on the go.

Teachers using it are reclaiming as much as 75 minutes a week in the classroom by using AskMyClass as a kind of teaching assistant. For example, AskMyClass can run math drills with one set of students while another works directly with their instructor. In five weeks, they’ve on-boarded 436 classrooms.

Skydrop

Making e-commerce easier across Latin America, Skydrop is focused on estimating drop-off times, buying and printing shipping labels and handling returns for its customers. Through a network of independent drivers, alongside a logistics platform recreated from the ground up, Skydrop is looking to offer shipping labels at a fraction of the cost by aggregating orders with thousands of like-minded (and like-sized) businesses. Companies simply add Skydrop’s plugin to their own online store and watch their logistics burdens take off.

Cytera CellWorks

Cytera CellWorks hopes to revolutionize the so-called “clean meat” industry through the automation of cell cultures. It uses robotic automation to configure cell cultures used in things like growing turkey meat from a petri dish or testing stem cells.

Originally, the company was going to go for general automation in the lab, but had enough interest from clients and potential business in just the cell culture automation aspect they’re focused on that for now, and changed the name for clarity.

Read more about Cytera CellWorks here.

JITX 

Designing circuit boards as a service won JITX a spot in this latest batch of Y Combinator companies. Currently, every circuit board is designed manually by skilled engineers, but using JITX’s machine learning software, circuit boards can be created automatically, which can save both time and money for hardware companies.

Names & Faces

Not Facebook but not LinkedIn either, Names & Faces aims to offer any growing company a simple, fast directory of employees built specifically for that purpose alone. The company wants to solve a problem experienced by everyone at a company from its low level employees to chief executives: when your company gets bigger, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. Names & Faces already has more than 100 customers, including L’Oreal, Uber and Fedex with sales doubling month to month.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk offers a variety of Indian dishes at a low price that can be cooked up by simply adding hot water. Based in Seattle, Buttermilk launched in 2017 to the local market and has since expanded to serve their products across the country.

Dishes include Sambar, Daal, Khichdi, Rasam, and Upma, all of which cost $6 each. Buttermilk also sells Basmati Rice for $1.50. And there are “suites,” which pack a handful of meals into one shipment.

Read more about Buttermilk here.

 

Send Reality

Send Reality is looking to offer full 3D-modeling for virtual walkthroughs of real estate listings. The company sends photographers out to the listing with an iPad, a commodity depth sensor and a specialized Send Reality app. These photographers take hundreds of thousands of photos, and the Send Reality technology stitches those photos together to create a complete 3D model.

Send Reality sells directly to realtors, offering the product for $500 to $800 depending on the size and complexity of the home. In the future, the company can bring down that price point by allowing realtors to scan the home themselves from their own smartphone.

Read more about Send Reality here.

Allotrope Medical


Allotrope Medical has developed an electrical stimulation technology for smooth muscles that allows surgeons to identify critical tissue structures and distinguish functional from dysfunctional urologic and gastrointestinal issues. The Houston-based company is focused initially on decreasing the rate of injury to ureters during surgery.

With over 3 million surgeries performed in the US alone requiring identification and protection of ureters, there’s a $3.2 billion burden on healthcare systems due to injuries. The company is running an active clinical trial in Dallas and aims to be on the market by the end of 2019.

Augmented Radar Imaging 

Augmented Radar Imaging wants to address the kind of issues that have caused high profile driverless vehicle accidents. The company aims to solve two problems for current radar technologies: recognizing stationary objects and triggering false alarms.

With a team of radio engineers, physicists and data scientists, ARI has built a wide field-of-view high resolution radar system called Camdar that provides 3D spatial imaging plus velocity data and a solid state sensor with no moving parts that claims to be 300x more accurate than GPS. With 5 radar units per average in a self-driving vehicle, ARI could be looking at a $100 billion market if it can make inroads on those roads.

Canary Technologies 

The Canary Technologies co-founders have worked in the hotel industry, and have come to the conclusion that existing hotel software is awful. The company is working to tackle some of this dated software piece-by-piece starting with their far less dated programs used to handle offline booking processes. They’re getting rid of paper contracts with modern software that can make life easier for hotels.

Qurasense

Qurasense doesn’t think your period blood should go to waste. The company has developed a “diagnostic menstrual pad” called the Q Pad that includes an embedded collection strip that passively collects blood samples on a test strip that can be mailed for diagnostic testing which is then turned into data.

So far the company has run 5 clinical trials of a total of 500 women. It has 14 validated blood screening tests and two tests for sexually transmitted diseases and will operate on a $25 a month subscription model. Qurasense is working with Stanford Medicine to become the go-to platform for cervical cancer screening.

Inokyo

Inokyo wants to be the indie Amazon Go, with a cashierless autonomous retail store. Cameras track what you grab from shelves, and with a single QR scan of the app on your way in and out of the store, you’re charged for what you’ve picked up.

The first store is now open on Mountain View’s Castro Street selling an array of kombuchas, snacks, protein powders and bath products.

Read more about Inokyo here.

Tenderd

Based in Dubai and serving the entire Middle East and North African region, Tenderd is an on demand marketplace for heavy equipment like bulldozers and cranes. Think of it as the Uber for heavy equipment. The company began when the company’s founder left San Francisco to run the family business in the United Arab Emirates because of a family emergency. When he took the wheel, he steered the company toward what he realized was the most profitable business — renting out the heavy equipment. However, the process was so slow and cumbersome that the seasoned Bay Area launched Tenderd to solve his — and the region’s — problem.

Momentus

The heart of Momentus’ propulsion technology for space flight is a new system that uses water as a propellant instead of chemicals.

Using water has several benefits, the startup says. One, it’s a fuel source that’s abundant in outer space, and it’s ultimately better and more efficient fuel for flight beyond low Earth orbit.

Read more about Momentus here.

Spero Foods


Spero Foods is joining the legion of companies trying to transform the food industry with substitutes for animal proteins based on data analytics. Founder Phaedra Randolph launched the company after experiencing the transformative benefits of transitioning to a plant-based diet. Most vegetable substitutes for animal proteins lacked the flavor, texture and nutritional heft of their animal corollaries. So Randolph used her background in bioscience and software engineering to tackle the taste issue.

InkHunter

InkHunter is an augmented reality tattoo try-on app. The idea is that you can see how a tattoo might like on your skin before you actually make a booking with the tattoo artist.

The app requires people to anchor the virtual design by making a few pen marks on their skin where they want the tattoo to live. It also supports taking and sharing photos.

Read more about InkHunter here.

Frey

FREY is pitching dudes a new kind of detergent for the new way they live their lives (read on a monthly subscription basis). The company bills itself as an antidote to the tired myth that only women are doing laundry with products that incorporate natural ingredients, heady fragrances and plant-derived surfactants, enzymes, and oils for stain fighting. Add that subscription model and 20% month-over-month growth in the last 12 months and product margins post 60% post-shipping, and that’s a pitch that won’t rinse out in the wash.

Aalo


If you’re tired of the universal sameness of the typical Ikea, West Elm, or CB2-bedecked apartment, well look no further than Aalo, the new YC company that wants you to be your own furniture designer. With a Lego-like (not Legolas) furniture system composed of customizable, hackable and reusable parts, individuals can design their own furniture with a by-the-inch customization system for do-it-yourself designs. Founded by ex-Toyota engineer, Sejun Park, Aalo was created when an attempt to “hack” an Ikea shelf collapsed under the burden of its shoddy materials and zero weight support.

Demonpore 

Nanopores identify molecules like DNA and Demonpore is the world’s first mechanical nanopore. Because normal, fixed nanopores require a good fit, they can only look at molecules that fit a pore well, which usually means being limited to DNA. Demonpore can change its size, making it possible to examine any kind of molecule at the nanometer scale. With a founder from Halcyon Molecular and a team of 70 scientists and engineers, Demonpore is developing a universal biomolecular sensor that can measure “virtually any type” of molecule with relevance to human health.

Savvy

Imagine being the all-seeing, all-knowing lookout for all of your company’s interactions with vendors, suppliers, and customers. That’s what the YC-backed startup Savvy is looking to provide to users by bringing together all of a company’s cloud applications into a single view. “Savvy is the glue between your work applications.” Not just slang for pirates, savvy is the know-how for all external interactions and can make businesses more savvy about their communications and operations. 

Cloud Workout

Logging onto Twitch may not be the most physically active experience in the world but Cloud Workout wants to take the site’s model and build a fitness empire in its image, bringing fitness instructors to their site who can become fitness personalities and build audiences. The company’s streaming product is in private beta currently.

Synvivia

Genetic engineering is one of the most powerful new tools of the 21st century, but its ascendance has come with attendant fears that the technology may not be able to be controlled when it’s unleashed from a laboratory. YC-backed Synvivia is developing what amount to the kill switch for synthetic biology outside of a lab. Commercializing technology developed by UC Berkeley with grants from the NSF and DARPA, Synvivia’s genetically encoded bio-containment system engineers organisms to only live when they have access to specific, small molecules. These type of control and containment measures are critical for the development of the industry.

RealtyBits

With a service that’s creating blockchain-based tokens for commercial real estate properties, RealtyBits is hoping to increase liquidity for investors and property owners. The goal is to let real estate funds take cryptocurrency investments from verified financiers globally while reducing transaction costs, which can amount to 10% in fund creation and investments across what the company says is a $9 trillion industry.

#ME


Taking the Highrise virtual community one step further, #ME is an avatar-based social network where users can make friends and influence virtual people through real time games and experiences. The original bootstrapped social media avatar game from which #ME evolved has already raked in $5 million in sales and attracted over 3 million registered users. At the core of that popularity is the company’s ability to create virtual identities untethered from the real world that appeals to a Gen Z audience, according to the founder’s pitch.

“We’re taking everything we learned from Highrise and building a better one,” says Anton Bernstein, the company’s chief executive. “The next Facebook will be a virtual world. And we launched it 30 days ago.”

Grabb-It

Grabb-It turns a car’s side rear window into a full-color display, playing location-aware ads to anyone who might be standing curbside. The product’s designed for rideshare/delivery drivers, enabling them to make a bit of extra coin while doing the driving they’re already doing.

As the driver crosses town, the ads can automatically switch to focus on businesses nearby. Near the ball park? It might pitch you on tickets for tonight’s game. Over in The Mission? It could play an ad about happy hour at the bar behind you.

Read more about Grabb-It here.

Alpha Vantage

For investors seeking a new way to create alpha from financial market data, Alpha Vantage has an API toolkit to give them a leg up. Using these low-cost APIs, developers can create digital assets like iOS/Android apps and trading monitoring, management and suggestion toolkits. The company already has over 100,000 registered users making over 300 million API requests on a daily basis.

BrainHi 


Cofounders Israel Figueroa Fontanez and Emmanuel Oquendo came up with the idea for BrainHi in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. When the devastation wrought by the hurricane made communicating with doctors offices nearly impossible on the island of Puerto Rico, the two founders thought there must be a better way to manage the process. The solution they came up with is an automated answering service that handles phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages with an automated bot that can schedule doctors visits and answer non-medical questions. The company already has 100 doctors, chiropractors, veterinarians in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

BHRD


Managing relationships with shareholders is an expensive business for public companies. Recalcitrant board members, activist shareholders and others can create problems for a management team focused on long-term growth. Using BHRD, companies can focus on targeting and engaging the investors who are aligned with their long term vision, freeing big business to focus on their business, rather than managing shareholder expectations.

Camelot 


Camelot is a mobile app for eSports betting… and one of the first companies to blaze a trail in the sure-to-be-lucrative business operating at the intersection of video gaming and sports betting. The company gives fans access to live updates and stats and an interface to bet against friends. In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision there are billions of dollars to be made facilitating betting in any sport — including eSports, Camelot is rolling the dice that it can hit the right number in this emerging market. 

Inscribe 


Using a web platform and APIs, Inscribe is pitching a service to identify digital forgeries in documents. The company’s technology uses image forensics and machine learning to check documents like bank statements, tax forms, and forms of state and national identification to look for tampered names, figures, text or signatures. The killjoys at Inscribe may finally get rid of the fake ID, but they’re also solving a billion dollar market in online fraud.

Fintual 

Betterment, the wildly successful automated financial management and investment platform is getting a Latin American twist with Fintual. The company offers wealth management services through low-fee mutual funds intelligently managed by the same sort of toolkit that used to be available to big banks and the quant programmers that work for them. It’s already a success in the markets it’s selling into, with week over week growth of around 10%.

Four Growers 

The robot revolution is coming for agriculture and one of the place where those robots will first raise their flag is in the hothouse. That’s the vision that Four Growers has laid out as it seeks to sell its robots to farms already squeezed by a labor shortage that shows no sign of relenting. The company pitches consistent quality of picked grape or cherry tomatoes and a “workforce” that’s dependable and efficient. Four Growers predicts that it can replace at least four human laborers with its robots representing incredible economic efficiencies for growers.

Annie Cannons

AnnieCannons is a San Francisco-based non-profit coding bootcamp aimed at transforming survivors of human trafficking into software developers or professionals in the technology industry.

Founded by Jessica Hubley and Laura Hackney, the organization aims to help the up to 18,000 people that the Justice Department believes are trafficked in the U.S. every year. The organization reaches out to after-care services organizations around legal aid and counseling services that are interested in placing survivors into a job-training program. Annie Cannons starts out with basic technical and job proficiencies and then works on giving their students into coding and development work.

BuyCoins 


BuyCoins wants to be the cryptocurrency exchange for Africa. Emerging markets are the ideal test bed and proving ground for cryptocurrencies and, in some cases, they’re the least able to take advantage of the purported efficiencies that these new platforms offer. BuyCoins is the only exchange in Nigeria that allows Nigerians to buy and sell cryptocurrencies ranging from Bitcoin and Ethereum, to Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash, directly with their local bank account or debit card. There’s already $4 billion traded in cryptocurrency in Nigeria and the market is growing quickly.

Mac’d

Mac’d is a build-your-own mac and cheese restaurant that lets customers choose their own adventure from the beginning. The company plans to expand through a low cost “ghost kitchen” approach, where it rents out kitchen space and sells its mac and cheese strictly through providers like UberEats, Caviar, DoorDash, Postmates.

And to quote TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey: “The mac and cheese was bomb.”

Read more about Mac’d here.

Penta Medical 


For professional athletes nothing is more frightening or career damaging than an injury. And Penta Medical wants to make those fears a thing of the past. The company has developed a wearable cold laser therapy system that purports to relieve muscle and joint pain, increase circulation and relieve muscle spasms all with a tap of a button on the smartphone. Indeed, Penta also tracks injury data, provides coaches and healthcare providers with visual representations and range of motion trends.

Coaches can even track how their team compares with others in a league. It’s important to note that the company isn’t for athletes alone. People in the U.S. are already spending $6 billion and they’re the ideal market for Penta Medical’s smart hardware for chronic pain treatment and management.

Data Driven Bioscience 


The 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper cancer diagnoses that Data Driven Biosciences promises for hospitals that use its genomic diagnostic tests could transform untold numbers of lives. Dr. Sandeep Dave, the oncologist and tenured professor from Duke University who founded the company, experienced firsthand how patients and doctors are affected by delays in getting a correct diagnosis of cancer.

Using standard equipment already deployed at hospitals around the country, Data Driven Bioscience is pitching a test that connects with the company’s cloud-based machine-learning software and a database of over 10,000 tumors to diagnose cancers within 24 hours.

Rain Neuromorphics

The founders of Rain Neuromorphics found inspiration for their processor for artificial intelligence applications in the function of the human brain. The company touts its Memristive Nanowire Neural Network chip architecture as being able to train larger, more powerful neural networks than any commercial chip that’s currently on the market. Fast, fully parallel, and ultra scalable, these chips are said to be capable of both online training and low-power inference, to enable complex machine learning applications both in the cloud and directly on a device.

As neurons increase, training time increases dramatically, but the company’s neuromorphic hardware scales well in time, but take up a lot of space on a chip. The company’s new architecture creates a structure that is filled with neurons connected by nanowires, and believes it can build and train the equivalent of $1 billion. With a $2 million letter of intent from OpenAI, several patents filed, and contracts with TSMC, the company is putting its neurons where its synapses are.

Spate


The “Google Trends” for business is exactly what Spate wants to be for its users. The company is pitching a predictive engine that can let companies know what types of latte people will be drinking, the skin care products they’ll be using and the food that their dogs will be eating in the next year. It’s no surprise that the team at Spate is looking to take on Google, since that’s where the company’s founding team cut its teeth.

Their work (initially as one of the famed 20% projects) at the search giant led to a product, which drove decision-making over how to steer some of the world’s largest consumer packaged good brands. They predicted the cold brew and turmeric trends and have a bet that yellow will be the next big color in the fashion world. There’s a spate of information out there, and the company wants to be the funnel to focus that flood of information into the right decisions.

Optic

Optic gives developers a way to grab very common coding use cases that they can drop right into their code. It works by finding the sort of routine additions developers might need, like how to create a form that will add a user to a database, as well as all the ancillary parts that come with it, like tests.

It works within a developer’s IDE, so they don’t have to look externally for the code they need. Right now it works for JavaScript, with Python next on the docket.

Read more about Optic here.

Phiar

Phiar is building an augmented reality navigation app for driving that shows a driver exactly where to go without taking their eyes off the wheel. With efficient AI fit into a smartphone, Phiar’s software can run at 200 fps on a dash-mounted iPhone.

With deep AI and computer vision expertise plus a team with members from Apple, Microsoft and VMware, Phiar wants to build the “killer AR application” to address the 1.7 billion people that use a navigation app each month. Phiar is counting on AR being the next meaningful evolution in driving navigation tech and a software solution that keeps a driver’s eyes on the road in front of them.

Seattle Food Tech 

Photo: James A. Guilliam/Taxi/Getty Images

At this point the notion of tastier, better, plant-based meat substitutes is no longer a fantasy. Investors have poured millions into making it a reality. The pitch from Seattle Food Tech is making that tastier, better, cheaper plant-based chicken substitute at scale. Using novel and efficient food processing equipment and facilities that can enable large scale, low-cost production that can transform the way institutional food service companies that supply the office and university cafeterias across the country deliver tasty foods to hungry breakfast, lunch, and dinner diners.

“We’re using aerospace engineering to make plant based chicken nuggets.” says chief executive Christie Lagally, a former Boeing engineer and technical project manager.

Prodigal Technologies


Prodigal Technologies wants to improve the ways that lenders collect money from borrowers. The company wants to make debt collection, if not kinder or gentler, then certainly more efficient. If a payor misses a payment, lenders can now reach out on any messaging platform and enable lenders to find borrowers where they are. The company has 11 pilots and three paying customers that handle $11 billion in origination of loans. There are $50 billion loans that aren’t paid, and with Prodigal lenders can get a 20% improvement in loan repayment.

Viaopt


In the U.S., trucks are moving goods across the country with roughly 35% of their available cargo space underutilized. Viopt, a software company that aims to be an Uber pool for shipping, thinks it has the solution. If the 65% of underutilized capacity could be filled it would save $30 billion for companies and remove 100 million tons of carbon emissions. By linking small and medium-sized companies with excess capacity, the company hopes to give small retailers the same logistics opportunities that were only available to the largest retailers, shippers, and logistics companies like Anheuser-Busch, Bimbo Bakeries, and Turkey Hill Farms.  

Goodly 

Perks for employees are becoming a big business in the tight labor market and Goodly wants to make one of the most important perks — student loan repayment — easy and accessible for employers. While the benefits of providing this benefit are universally inarguable, when you look at statistics indicating that women hold two-thirds of student debt and owe half a trillion dollars more than their male colleagues, the perk becomes more persuasive. Couple that with the statistic that African American employees hold 31% more student loan debt than their white peers, and Goodly’s offering looks even better to employers worried about improving diversity.

In all, an employer contribution of less than the cost of a cup of coffee could help the average employee pay off their debts 8.5 years faster. Talk about potentially doing well by doing good. Offers 50% higher retention for millennial employees and is tackling a $5.4 billion market.

Regology 

Hoping to take a bite out of the $10 billion market for financial services regulatory compliance, Regology has developed an automated software system to ease the burden for the world’s biggest financiers. Last year companies spent $54 billion on compliance and were still fined $22 billion for compliance failures. The company claims that its software can handle the manual monitoring tasks that took companies months in a manner of hours. Working with wealth management, banking, insurance and cryptocurrency companies, the company’s machine learning software aims to take the sting out of the Security and Exchange Commission’s oversight.

Enveritas 

Battling deforestation and child labor in manufacturers’ supply chains with software, Enveritas is helping companies secure themselves against reputational risk and increase efficiency in their operations. Initially focused on coffee companies, the platform Enveritas has built gives coffee companies a way to verify sustainability at origin for the coffee they source. While coffee may be the first industry, the work can be applied to other tropical products including cocoa, cotton, and palm oil (although if C16 — another YC company — has its way, palm oil may not be an issue).

Mylk Guys

Mylk Guys is the 100% vegan online grocery store, I’ve never wanted, but maybe you have. Undoubtedly better for the environment than a carnivorous diet, vegan options can be healthy and they may be tasty, but the foods that combine the two are few and far between. Giving a curated approach to all of the foods on the market, Mylk Guys is the online vegan grocery store aiming to make shopping “simple af”. The company bills itself as the “online vegan Trader Joe’s”. There are 21 million vegans in America that spend $54 billion on groceries. 

Numericcal

Simplifying machine learning on edge devices. Machine learning today lives in the cloud and it’s the biggest downside of machine learning in many systems, according to the founders of Numericcal. The solution is to move the processing down to the edge — something that can take two to six months for programmers. Numericcal has 20 billion potential devices that it can service in less time and for less money.

Oxygen 

Breaking freelancers from the month-to-month boom-and-bust payment cycles that bind them, Oxygen provides working capital loans to freelancers who can go months without getting a paycheck. The company is more than willing to work with a group of borrowers who collectively make $1.4 trillion in 1099 income annually and who are locked out of loans. Oxygen offers flat-fee access to credit and free mobile banking, all while using machine learning to determine credit worthiness. Freelance workers of the world unite, indeed!

Hepatx

Hepatx is creating therapies for severely damaged livers. Chronic liver disease affects 3.9 million Americans and is the cause of death for over 40,000. The founders of Hepatx are developing a regenerative solution enabling hepatocyte production for therapeutic purposes. That means regenerating liver cells to avoid the cost and morbidity of whole organ transplant. Over 200,000 people in the U.S. need a liver transplant but only a few thousand get some. Hepatx aims to fix the liver by taking fat tissue, turns that into liver cells and introduce that into patients to regrow the liver.

Plexus

Plexus is looking to create a low-cost, flexible glove for controlling augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. It’s a silicone glove, secured by velcro, that doesn’t cover your hands or fingers entirely, so it shouldn’t leave you super sweaty.

The tracking sensors grab the position of where the hands are in space via the magnetically attached tracker and, after calibrating a resting state of the user’s fingers, individual sensors communicate their position to the game engine.

Read more about Plexus here.

 

We’ll be back again tomorrow for the dozens of startups pitching on Day 2, check back a bit later for our top picks of Day 1 as well.

Joseph Lubin, Amanda Gutterman and Sam Cassatt from Consensys to speak at Disrupt SF

There is perhaps no firm that has done as much to promote the adoption of Ethereum as the dominant cryptocurrency platform for actual product development as Consensys.

Founded by Ethereum Foundation co-founder Joe Lubin, Consensys has emerged as an investor, accelerator, educator and product developer in its own right in little more than three years that it has been in existence.

A Princeton-educated roboticist and autonomous vehicle researcher, Lubin has become a billionaire through his bet on Ethereum as the cryptocurrency that would win the hearts and minds of developers.

And with Consensys he’s built an empire that spans the globe. From its headquarters in Brooklyn, Consensys now has operations, offices and partnerships in Ireland, Israel, and Singapore, and the global expansion shows no sign of slowing down.

That’s why we’re absolutely thrilled to have Joe Lubin, Chief Marketing Officer Amanda Gutterman, and Chief Strategy Officer Sam Cassatt join us on the Disrupt SF stage.

Nothing summarizes Lubin’s ambitions for Ethereum better than this comment on the transformative power that he sees in the cryptocurrency.

Lubin, Gutterman and Cassatt join a world-class agenda, with speakers like Brian Armstrong, Kirsten Green, Reid Hoffman, and Marty Chavez. Tickets to the show, which runs September 5-7, are available here.

ExceptionAlly helps parents navigate the special needs education labyrinth

The challenges faced by parents of kids with special needs are always unique, but in one way they are surely much alike: making sure the kids are getting what they need from schools is way harder than it ought to be. ExceptionAlly is a new startup that aims to help parents understand, organize and communicate all the info they need to make sure their child is getting the help they require.

“There are millions of parents out there trying to navigate special education. And parents with special needs should have access to more information than what one school tells them,” said ExceptionAlly co-founder and CEO Rayford Davis. “Those with the means actually hire special education attorneys, but those are few and far between. We thought, how can we democratize this? So we’re trying to do what TurboTax did for CPAs: deliver a large percentage of the value for a small percentage of the cost.”

The company just emerged from Y Combinator and is pursuing full deployment ahead of this school year, with a visibility push during the usual back-to-school dates. It’s still early days, but Davis tells me they already have thousands of users who are taking advantage of the free and paid aspects of the service.

Just because a parent has a kid with dyslexia, or a hearing impairment, or a physical disability, doesn’t mean they suddenly become an expert in what resources are out there for those kids — what’s required by law, what a school offers voluntarily and so on. Achieving fluency in these complex issues is a big ask on top of all the usual parental duties — and on top of that, parents and schools are often put in adversarial positions.

There are resources out there for parents, certainly, but they’re scattered and often require a great deal of effort on the parents’ part. So the first goal of the service is to educate and structure the parents’ information on the systems they’re dealing with.

Based on information provided by the parent, such as their kid’s conditions or needs, and other information like school district, state and so on, the platform assists the parent in understanding both the condition itself, what they can expect from a school and what their rights are. It could be something as simple as moving a kid to the front row of a classroom to knowing how frequently the school is required to share reports on that kid’s progress.

Parents rarely know the range of accommodations a school can offer, Davis said, and even the schools themselves might not know or properly explain what they can or must provide if asked.

For instance, an IEP, or individual education plan, and yearly goals are required for every student with special needs, along with meetings and progress reports. These are often skipped or, if not, done in a rote way that isn’t personalized.

Davis said that by helping parents collaborate with the school and teacher on IEPs and other facets of the process, they accomplish several things. First, the parent feels more confident and involved in their kid’s education, having brought something to the table. Second, less pressure is put on overworked teachers to produce these things in addition to everything else they have to do. And third, it either allows or compels schools to provide all the resources they have available.

Naturally, this whole process produces reams of documents: evaluations, draft plans, lesson lists, observations, reports and so on. “If you talk to any parent of a child with special needs, they’ll tell you how they have file cabinets full of paperwork,” Davis said.

ExceptionAlly will let you scan or send it all these docs, which it helps you organize into the various categories and find again should you need them. A search feature based on OCR processing of the text is in development and should be in place for the latter half of the coming school year, which Davis pointed out is really when it starts being necessary.

That, he said, is when parents need to keep schools accountable. Being informed both on the kid’s progress and what the school is supposed to be doing lets the resulting process be collaborative rather than combative. But if the latter comes to pass, the platform has resources for parents to deploy to make sure the schools don’t dominate the power equation.

“If things progress that way, there’s a ‘take action toolkit’ to develop communications with the school,” Davis said. Ideally you don’t want to be the parent threatening legal action or calling the principal at home. A timely reminder of what was agreed upon and a nudge to keep things on track keeps it positive. “It’s sort of a reminder that we should all be on ‘team kid,’ if you will,” he added.

Schools, unfortunately, have not shown themselves to be highly willing to collaborate.

“We spent about six months talking to over a hundred schools and districts. What we found was not a lot of energy to provide parents with any more information than what the school was already providing,” Davis explained.

The sad truth here is that many schools are already neck-deep in administrative woes, the teachers are overworked and have new responsibilities every year and the idea of volunteering for new ones doesn’t strike even the most well-intentioned schools as attractive. So instead, ExceptionAlly has focused on going directly to parents, who, confidently and well-armed, can take their case to the school on their own.

“Listen, we’re not getting ready to solve all of education today with our solution. We’re going to find that one mom who says, ‘I know there’s more out there, can someone help me find it?’ Yes, we’re going to help you do that,” he said. “Could that put pressure on the system? As long as it does it legally and lawfully, I am perfectly okay with advocating for a child and parents’ legal rights and putting pressure on the system to give them what they by law deserve.”

After the official launch ahead of this school year, the company plans to continue adding features. Rich text search is among them, and deeper understanding of the documents could both help automate storage and retrieval and also lead to new insights. At some point there will also be an optional program to submit a child’s information (anonymously, of course) to help create a database of what accommodations in which places and cases led to what outcomes — essentially aggregating information direct from the source.

ExceptionAlly has some free content to peruse if you’re curious whether it might be helpful for you or someone you know, and there are a variety of paid options should it seem like a good fit.

CivTech Scotland wants to procure what no one knows exists

Here’s a tale of two organizations. When it comes to banking, I can walk up to an ATM anywhere in the world, slide in a card, hit a couple of buttons, and walk away with cash, often in less than 20-30 seconds. It’s magical, but so quotidian that we easily forget the vast technical infrastructure that powers this experience.

Now, try to walk into a government agency to get service done. You often need to get a ticket and wait, often for an hour or more. During a recent trip to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, I ended up getting sent to four different lines, all of which were independent, and because of a computer malfunction, the whole place was being run by people pointing and shouting.

The dichotomy between those two experiences is, fundamentally, a difference in procurement.

Before you run to get coffee (or whiskey, for that matter), let me say this: procurement is the sort of extremely boring but absolutely vital task that is both the barrier but also the opportunity for making the DMV and other government services more like the ATM. New initiatives around the world are trying to rebuild procurement from the ground up, with entrepreneurship at their core. One initiative I’ve spent time with recently is CivTech, based in Scotland.

CivTech, a component of the digital directorate of the Scottish government, is a sort of two-sided marketplace connecting startup founders with government agencies. Agencies sponsor challenges, and startups compete to be the best at solving that challenge, potentially winning hundreds of thousands of dollars and a reference customer. Those startups are organized into batches, with the program launching its third batch shortly (applications are due July 2nd).

Alexander Holt, head of CivTech, is an energetic true believer that startup innovation can transform government services. For him, the key question for public agencies is “how do you procure what you don’t know exists?”

In the classical model of procurement, an agency drafts a Request for Proposals (RFP) that spells out exactly what the agency is looking for from vendors. Then, whoever bids lowest on the RFP will usually get the contract. The disconnect is that agencies rarely know what solutions they need, and Holt says that often leads to disaster. “We are writing specs that we don’t understand, and we are looking at the solution, not looking at the problem,” he said.

Holt wants to completely change that process. Instead of presenting a solution and asking for implementations, he wants agencies to present problems and keep an “open mind” about what a solution might look like. His message to agencies is “don’t give us a solution you think you need, but give us a problem you think you have.”

Then — and this is a major difference from traditional procurement — he encourages agencies to select several teams (usually three) to build pilot projects that could solve the problem. The idea is to get a better sense of what solutions exist, and also learn how the companies function. “You get an understanding of their capacity and more importantly, their culture, and that is really important,” Holt explained.

After a few weeks of building, the agency can choose to work with one company, and help them launch their product. The model is fast, since startups are iterating rapidly in competition with each other, but also cheap. As Holt said, “The other benefit for the challenge sponsor is that the amount of time that the companies are putting in versus what you’re paying them is 10 times cheaper,” than conventional procurement models.

CivTech wants to educate the next generation of civic entrepreneurs

For startups participating in the program, CivTech hopes it can provide them with legitimacy and a first customer for their business. By the end of the program, “you have a first reference client, which is the government, that allows you to keep your equity 100% and your IP 100%,” Holt said. Plus, the program connects its startups to citizens to accelerate the innovation feedback loop.

While the team has a bold vision, the program had humble beginnings. The first cohort launched in June 2016 within days of Brexit, which radically redefined the future of the United Kingdom and Scotland along with it. The program also faced its own procurement challenge around finding a home, eventually signing a lease for its first batch less than an hour before launch.

The program has grown rapidly since its inception. It had just 6 challenges during its first batch, but this time around has 10 challenges from a diverse set of agencies, including Scotland’s health service and illicit trade agencies.

Transforming procurement and therefore government won’t happen overnight, but a change in mentality is the key to imprinting entrepreneurship and startup culture on bureaucrats. Holt said that his message is always consistent: “show me the law, not the rule.” Laws are much more flexible than we think, and changing procurement doesn’t start in the legislature, but in the acquisition office of every public agency.

Patriot Boot Camp wants to turn soldiers into entrepreneurs

From the earliest moments of boot camp, budding soldiers learn about entrepreneurship. They learn how to operate in unknown terrain, how to listen to signals, and perhaps most importantly, how to make things happen with extremely limited time and resources.

Yet, when soldiers return home following a deployment, the transition to civilian life can be jarring. Even with those valuable soft skills, there aren’t many obvious jobs in the private sector for a combat engineer or a fire support specialist. Perhaps even more challenging, according to Josh Carter, is their lack of connections. “The biggest thing that veterans are facing is network — they don’t have a big network,” he said.

Carter is working to change that situation through Patriot Boot Camp, a series of programs under the TechStars banner that gives veterans the tools and connections they need in order to launch a startup. The non-profit, which was founded by Taylor McLemore, congressman Jared Polis, and TechStars founder David Cohen, hosts multi-day “boot camps” in cities across the country that are designed to quickly immerse participants into the life and thinking of startups. Since its founding in 2012, the program has held nine boot camps in cities like San Antonio, DC, and Austin, with its next program in Denver later this year.

Carter’s own experience making the transition from the navy to the private sector is telling. He joined the service when he was seventeen in the mid-90s, and over the following three years, traveled to thirty different countries. The experience matured him he explained, and on his return, he joined the telecom industry, starting his career climbing poles and eventually joining Twilio as an escalation manager and early employee. Twilio changed Carter’s life, encouraging him to pursue startups as his own career. “During that time I really got the bug to create something,” he said.

He tried to build his own startup called Brightwork, which was a developer microservices API founded in 2015. The company went through TechStars Chicago, and Carter was hoping to build the kind of company he had seen at Twilio. But growth challenges early on proved insurmountable. “We were really struggling to figure out our target market and struggling to find investors, so it just sort of died,” he told me.

During this period, Carter had been participating in Patriot Boot Camp’s programs, and liked what he saw. Following the dissolution of Brightwork, he eventually joined the program as an executive, first as chief operating officer last November, and then as interim CEO earlier this year when his predecessor, Charlotte Creech, stepped down to join USAA.

Carter has big ambitions for the program. While today the boot camp has been focused on 1-2 multi-day events per year, he wants to build the program into a full-fledged growth accelerator that would target startups in addition to budding entrepreneurs. He also hopes to increase the number of boot camps per year to three. He’s also investigating raising a fund, now that there is a cohort of more than 750 entrepreneurs who have gone through the program. Ultimately, his goal is to “build better founders” and give them the resources they need for victory.

One aspect of the program that I found interesting is that it isn’t just limited to veterans, but includes military spouses as well. Networks are incredible important for founders, and Carter points out that spouses have “this special tenacity about them” and need to know “how to build a network quickly in a town where she knows nobody.” They often face just as much challenge in returning to life outside the base as the veteran themselves, and startups could prove to be an important avenue to make that transition.

As its numbers and successes swell, Patriot Boot Camp hopes that it can serve as a beacon for soldiers returning home, telling them that startups aren’t the sort of crazy risk that they first appear. Indeed, after what many of these men and women have just been through, it may not be all that daunting of a next mission after all.

Startups can now apply to take part in Google’s first Demo Day event in Asia

Google is bringing its Demo Day event to Asia for the first time this September and now the search giant has opened applications for startups wanting to take part.

Google’s Demo Day are akin to a short version of an early-stage startup program. As the name suggests its a Demo Day but without the months-long program leading up to it. The company instead identifies promising companies, and it works with them ahead of the demo day to give mentoring, coaching and perfect a pitch that is delivered to VCs and others from Google’s entrepreneurship network who attend the demo day.

Aside from working closely with Google and earnings Google Cloud credits, Google says its events help get startups connected and raise capital. To that end, it says that startups which have pitched at Demo Days have raised a cumulative $259 million from investors.

Events have been held in North America and Europe, with some participating companies from Asia, but this coming event — which takes place in Shanghai on September 20 — will be the first on Asian soil.

Companies wishing to apply should visit the sign-up site before the deadline of July 1 at 11:59 pm SGT.

The move is a further sign that Google is escalating its presence in Asia, and particularly in China.

In past months, we’ve seen Google agree to a partnership with Tencent,  invest in China-based startups — biotech-focused XtalPi and live-streaming service Cushou — and announce an AI lab in Beijing. Added to that, Google gained a large tech presence in Taiwan via the completion of its acquisition of a chunk of HTC, and it opened a presence in Shenzhen, the Chinese city known as ‘the Silicon Valley of hardware.’

Beyond China, Google has made its first direct investments in Asia-based companies by backing India’s on-demand service Dunzo and Southeast Asian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek.

Meet the speakers at The Europas, and get your ticket free (July 3, London)

Excited to announce that this year’s The Europas Unconference & Awards is shaping up! Our half day Unconference kicks off on 3 July, 2018 at The Brewery in the heart of London’s “Tech City” area, followed by our startup awards dinner and fantastic party and celebration of European startups!

The event is run in partnership with TechCrunch, the official media partner. Attendees, nominees and winners will get deep discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.
The Europas Awards are based on voting by expert judges and the industry itself. But key to the daytime is all the speakers and invited guests. There’s no “off-limits speaker room” at The Europas, so attendees can mingle easily with VIPs and speakers.

What exactly is an Unconference? We’re dispensing with the lectures and going straight to the deep-dives, where you’ll get a front row seat with Europe’s leading investors, founders and thought leaders to discuss and debate the most urgent issues, challenges and opportunities. Up close and personal! And, crucially, a few feet away from handing over a business card. The Unconference is focused into zones including AI, Fintech, Mobility, Startups, Society, and Enterprise and Crypto / Blockchain.

We’ve confirmed 10 new speakers including:


Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital

Carlos Eduardo Espinal, Seedcamp

Richard Muirhead, Fabric Ventures

Sitar Teli, Connect Ventures

Nancy Fechnay, Blockchain Technologist + Angel

George McDonaugh, KR1

Candice Lo, Blossom Capital

Scott Sage, Crane Venture Partners

Andrei Brasoveanu, Accel

Tina Baker, Jag Shaw Baker

How To Get Your Ticket For FREE

We’d love for you to ask your friends to join us at The Europas – and we’ve got a special way to thank you for sharing.

Your friend will enjoy a 15% discount off the price of their ticket with your code, and you’ll get 15% off the price of YOUR ticket.

That’s right, we will refund you 15% off the cost of your ticket automatically when your friend purchases a Europas ticket.

So you can grab tickets here.

Vote for your Favourite Startups

Public Voting is still humming along. Please remember to vote for your favourite startups!

Awards by category:

Hottest Media/Entertainment Startup

Hottest E-commerce/Retail Startup

Hottest Education Startup

Hottest Startup Accelerator

Hottest Marketing/AdTech Startup

Hottest Games Startup

Hottest Mobile Startup

Hottest FinTech Startup

Hottest Enterprise, SaaS or B2B Startup

Hottest Hardware Startup

Hottest Platform Economy / Marketplace

Hottest Health Startup

Hottest Cyber Security Startup

Hottest Travel Startup

Hottest Internet of Things Startup

Hottest Technology Innovation

Hottest FashionTech Startup

Hottest Tech For Good

Hottest A.I. Startup

Fastest Rising Startup Of The Year

Hottest GreenTech Startup of The Year

Hottest Startup Founders

Hottest CEO of the Year

Best Angel/Seed Investor of the Year

Hottest VC Investor of the Year

Hottest Blockchain/Crypto Startup Founder(s)

Hottest Blockchain Protocol Project

Hottest Blockchain DApp

Hottest Corporate Blockchain Project

Hottest Blockchain Investor

Hottest Blockchain ICO (Europe)

Hottest Financial Crypto Project

Hottest Blockchain for Good Project

Hottest Blockchain Identity Project

Hall Of Fame Award – Awarded to a long-term player in Europe

The Europas Grand Prix Award (to be decided from winners)

The Awards celebrates the most forward thinking and innovative tech & blockchain startups across over some 30+ categories.

Startups can apply for an award or be nominated by anyone, including our judges. It is free to enter or be nominated.

What is The Europas?

Instead of thousands and thousands of people, think of a great summer event with 1,000 of the most interesting and useful people in the industry, including key investors and leading entrepreneurs.

• No secret VIP rooms, which means you get to interact with the Speakers

• Key Founders and investors speaking; featured attendees invited to just network

• Expert speeches, discussions, and Q&A directly from the main stage

• Intimate “breakout” sessions with key players on vertical topics

• The opportunity to meet almost everyone in those small groups, super-charging your networking

• Journalists from major tech titles, newspapers and business broadcasters

• A parallel Founders-only track geared towards fund-raising and hyper-networking

• A stunning awards dinner and party which honors both the hottest startups and the leading lights in the European startup scene

• All on one day to maximise your time in London. And it’s PROBABLY sunny!

europas8

That’s just the beginning. There’s more to come…

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Interested in sponsoring the Europas or hosting a table at the awards? Or purchasing a table for 10 or 12 guest or a half table for 5 guests? Get in touch with:
Petra Johansson
Petra@theeuropas.com
Phone: +44 (0) 20 3239 9325

Particle physics gets the machine learning treatment as collider data multiplies

The volume of data particle physicists have to sort through at the Large Hadron Collider is staggering, and it’s about to increase by an order of magnitude. To cope with this torrent of data, CERN is turning to machine learning, offering prizes for AI models that can cut through the clutter and help make the next breakthrough.

Inside the massive detectors that dot the rings of the LHC, protons accelerated to near light speed smash into each other with incredible energy and produce a fountain of exotic, short-lived particles that impact on sensors lining the walls. Improvements being made to the magnetic fields guiding these protons around the ring mean that where once you could expect a couple dozen collisions to draw data from, soon there may be hundreds.

Great for the scientists, but with more collisions comes more data, in this case an order of magnitude more. The old methods of sorting and categorizing the data are too slow, researchers told Nature. So they’re doing what any modern data scientist would do when faced with a massive set of noisy data: hand it over to the AIs.

I use the term loosely, of course — machine learning models are just really great at chewing through reams of data in search of what they’ve been trained to find. Medicine, astronomy, and of course psychology (courtesy of Facebook) have all been advanced by this convenient ability to separate the statistical wheat from the chaff. Particle physics is just another example of it.

A little healthy competition, as always, is a good way to jump-start the field. So CERN established TrackML, a relatively low-key contest in which physicists and data scientists can download gigs of real collider data and train up models to classify it correctly. Of course, there are terabytes available for the picking, but you’ll want to use this particular dataset.

The prize pool is relatively small, with a total of $25,000 available to the winners. Perhaps they used up all their money on… you know, upgrading the world’s biggest particle collider with state of the art cryomagnets.

There’s no entry fee, so if you’re interested in giving it a shot, head over to Kaggle, where the contest is hosted, and download your own copy of the data. You’ve got plenty of time — submissions are due in August. Oh, and anything you submit will be open sourced, so don’t worry that they’re going to commercialize your algorithm.

EarthNow promises real-time views of the whole planet from a new satellite constellation

A new space imaging startup called EarthNow aims to provide not just pictures of the planet on demand, but real-time video anywhere a client desires. Its ambition is matched only by its pedigree: Bill Gates, Intellectual Ventures, Airbus, SoftBank and OneWeb founder Greg Wyler are all backing the play.

Its promise is a constellation of satellites that will provide video of anywhere on Earth with latency of about a second. You won’t have to wait for a satellite to come into range, or worry about leaving range; at least one will be able to view any area at any given time, so they can pass off the monitoring task to the next satellite over if necessary.

Initially aimed at “high value enterprise and government customers,” EarthNow lists things like storm monitoring, illegal fishing vessels (or even pirates), forest fires, whale tracking, watching conflicts in real time and more. Space imaging is turning into quite a crowded field — if all these constellations actually launch, anyway.

The company is in the earliest stages right now, having just been spun out from years of work by founder and CEO Russell Hannigan at Intellectual Ventures under the Invention Science Fund. Early enough, in fact, that there’s no real timeline for prototyping or testing. But it’s not just pie in the sky.

Wyler’s OneWeb connection means EarthNow will be built on a massively upgraded version of that company’s satellite platform. Details are few and far between, but the press release promises that “Each satellite is equipped with an unprecedented amount of onboard processing power, including more CPU cores than all other commercial satellites combined.”

Presumably a large portion of that will be video processing and compression hardware, since they’ll want to minimize bandwidth and latency but don’t want to skimp on quality. Efficiency is important, too; satellites have extremely limited power, so running multiple off-the-shelf GPUs with standard compression methods probably isn’t a good idea. Real-time, continuous video from orbit (as opposed to near-real-time stills or clips) is as much a software problem as it is hardware.

Machine learning also figures in, of course: the company plans to do onboard analysis of the imagery, though to what extent isn’t clear. It really makes more sense to me to do this on the ground, but perhaps a first pass by the satellite’s hardware will help move things along.

Airbus will do its part by actually producing the satellites, in Toulouse and Florida. The release doesn’t say how many will be built, but full (and presumably redundant) Earth coverage means dozens at the least. But if they’re mass-manufactured standard goods, that should keep the price down, relatively speaking anyway.

No word on the actual amount raised by the company in January, but with the stature of the investors and the high costs involved in the industry, I can’t imagine it’s less than a few tens of millions.

Hannigan himself calls EarthNow “ambitious and unprecedented,” which could be taken as an admission of great risk, but it’s clear that the company has powerful partners and plenty of expertise; Intellectual Ventures doesn’t tend to spin something off unless it’s got something special going. Expect more specifics as the company grows, but I doubt we’ll see anything more than renders for a year or so.

AngelPad, the accelerator, just closed on a new $35 million fund

AngelPad, an accelerator program that has launched more than 140 companies across 11 different “classes,” has raised a new, $35 million venture fund, shows a new SEC filing.

Its husband-and-wife cofounders, Thomas Korte and Carine Magescas, declined to comment on the filing.

The fund appears to be its first fund of substantial size, following a trial fund the duo had begun investing at AngelPad’s outset in 2010 with their own capital, and a second fund that was roughly $7 million in size and included some outside investors.

Korte has told us in the past that AngelPad also relies heavily on special purpose vehicles (or SPVs) to double-down on its breakout companies. In recent years, for example, the outfit and its investors have made an outsize bet on the delivery company Postmates, say our sources. (Postmates was among the earliest companies to pass through AngelPad’s program.)

We wrote about AngelPad last week, noting that it recently decided to do away with its twice-yearly demo days in San Francisco, in favor or organizing a day of one-on-one investor meetings with its startups instead. (Y Combinator, known for its very full demo days, also helps set up one-on-one meetings with investors and startups that want to meet each other over the course of one day.)

What hasn’t changed at AngelPad: it continues work with roughly the same, low, double-digit number of founding teams as it always has.

You can check out its newest batch of startups — 10 in all — right here. Others of its portfolio companies include the insurance comparison site Coverhound; Vungle, which helps developers insert video ads into their apps; Kinnek, a marketplace that helps small businesses find suppliers; the growth marketing platform Iterable; drone mapping and analytics platform Drone Deplo ; and Zum, a company offering on-demand rides for kids.

All have gone on to raise substantial rounds of follow-on financing, though Vungle had a rocky 2017, after its cofounding CEO was arrested and charged with shocking abuses that police officials believe may have taken place while he was under the influence of LSD. (Vungle quickly replaced him with the company’s former COO, Rick Tallman.)

AngelPad has also had numerous exits over the years. Its biggest win may be Mopub, a startup that helped mobile publishers manage their ad inventory and was acquired Twitter in 2013 for $350 million.

Other trade sales include the acquisition of shopping optimization startup Adku by Groupon in 2011, the sale of to-do app Astrid & Blik to Yahoo in 2014, and the sale of the social search engine Spotsetter to Apple.

Terms of these last three deals were not disclosed publicly.

Korte joined us on stage in Berlin at TC’s Disrupt event last December to talk about his penchant in particular for European founders willing to come to the U.S.

He said at the time that he admired the “fiscal responsibility that Europeans have, because they’re so used to building their companies with relatively little money or knowing they might not get another round.”