In a standing-room only auditorium at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, 120 startup founders have two minutes to make the pitch of their lives. In the audience, 500 of Silicon Valley’s top investors are competing to find the next big thing.
“I’m here to see the latest and greatest out of the Y Combo batch,” proclaims Josh Elman, a partner at venture capital firm Greylock.
The startups are part of Y Combinator’s Demo Day, which is the culmination of the Valley’s preeminent accelerator program.
Since its founding in 2005, Y Combinator, sometimes called “YC,” has spawned more than 1,400 companies that now have a combined valuation of $80 billion.
Some of the program’s most successful graduates include Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe and Instacart.
The batch in this round includes startups like Hivy, which builds office management software, and Wright Electric, which is building electric planes.
Another hopeful is Fiix, whose founders call it the “Uber of car repair.” The Toronto-based company says it has already done about $1.2 million worth of repairs in the city, but is hoping to scale up in Toronto, and ultimately, expand to other cities.
“Y Combinator really helps you focus on what matters,” says Fiix co-founder Khallil Mangalji. “The partners have essentially seen thousands and thousands of the smartest minds in the world build startups.”
Just to get here is an accomplishment in itself. Seven thousand startups send applications for 100 to 120 spots. The ones who make the cut spend three months in Silicon Valley developing their companies, working under mentors like Y Combinator founder and entrepreneur Sam Altman, “23 and Me” founder Ann Wojcicki and former Twitter CEO Ali Rowghani.