YC Demo-Day Winter-2021 batch, March 23, 2021

Today is Demo-Day for the YC (the famous Y-Combinator accelerator program) Winter-2021 batch.

This is the 3rd all-virtual demo-day, as the Winter-2020 batch started in-person and finished with a virtual Demo-day. This is the second all-virtual batch, which allowed YC to accept more companies into the batch and being remote, allowing for approx. 50% of all the startups in the batch to be based in other countries. According to YC, they funded over 350 startups in the batch. While there is a live feed of very short pitches, there is essentially no need to sit through them live. 

YC’s interface for the event is AMAZING. I’m super impressed. There are 319 startups on my feed. Each has a one-slide summary, and then a short bio/description and links to the founding team’s LinkedIn profiles.

I found this format to very efficient.  I was able to get into “focus mode” and make it through all 319 of them in under 2.5 hours (eliminating many in under 30 seconds each and spending a bit more time on a few interesting ones).  The built-in “like” button creates an automatic connection link between investors and founders, for streamlined follow-up. ( I wound up “liking” 13 of them).

Some takeaways:

  • Almost all of the startups are incredibly YOUNG. Most are less than 1-year old, and many only around 6-months old!
  • Almost all, despite being so young, already launched and have some early traction. Most even have actual revenue. YC does an amazing job taking ambitious founders and getting them to build and launch an MVP while in the program, truly ACCELERATING their time to market by a factor of 2-3 vs. startups not in an accelerator program.
  • While there are a few unique ideas, most are not original. Many are taking popular ideas and either applying them to a special case, a different geography, or some vertical.
  • Many shamelessly plug themselves as “Plaid for XXX” or “Stripe for XXX”.
  • Many telemedicine, telehealth type startups
  • Many, many fintech startups. Most are neo-banks or challenger banks, for either special demographics, geographies, or verticals.

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