The world’s best accelerator’s top >100 startups of 2017

Philipp Römer
5 min readMar 22, 2017

Y Combinator held their 24th Demo Day on the last two days, where the world-renowned accelerator showcased 103 fresh companies to investors. This article gives you an overview and classification of the startups on demo day, as well as a link to a spreadsheet for your own analysis.
*Update: There were 7 startups missing, which I added on March 23rd

The startups in this list have already gone through a rigorous selection process to be selected to join Y Combinator. Then a hyper-acceleration phase follows, in Y Combinator’s own words:

“The [selected] startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which we work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.”

Y Combinator is arguable the top accelerator in the world. Therefore, the class of startups on demo day is interesting from both a startup and an investor perspective.

I went through the exercise of grouping the startups by location, theme and customer focus (with the help of these TechCrunch articles Day1, Day 2 ).

Overview Y Combinator Class of 2017 by location, theme and customer focus

# of startups by location, theme and customer focus / *some startups fit more than one category

See the full spreadsheet-file with ALL startups, links, mini descriptions and classification here.

I can’t guarantee I got everything 100% right, since I am working off a short description here and some companies do not have full websites yet.

If you are one of the startups in the list and feel I should change your classification, let me know.

Click the image to go to the Google Sheet

Assessment of the current class of Y Combinator startups

Y Combinator clearly takes a broad look on startup opportunities as you can see by the broad split of the portfolio. I even grouped 12 startups under “other” that come from categories such as food, HR-tech, activities…

There are 11 Hardware / Industrials startups, so roughly ~10% of the total class including a “plug-and-play standard for bionic devices” and “a fitbit for cows”. The rest of the companies are almost all software-based with the exemption of some food startups. Scalability and growth is apparently still easiest with this type of companies.

# of startups by theme (some fit in several themes)

Given the investment of 120.000 US$ per startup, these ~100 companies represent a total investment of ~10 Million US$ with Y Combinator owning 7% of each company.

Total valuation of the portfolio is therefore already >142 Million US$ after three months in Y Combinator and pre further investment.

I am surprised at the relatively large number of international startups. I really wonder if Y-Combinators strengths of bringing together kick-ass teams with great investors can pay-off abroad the US.

# of startups by location

Especially the six startups with a focus on “Africa” will be interesting to watch. Africa, unlike the US is not a single market with a single currency and one language.

I think Africa is probably one of the hardest areas to tackle globally. Also, the Chinese are investing so heavily in several areas of Africa, that I wonder whether US companies will run into strong eastern competitors and/or even political/regulatory problems.

# of startups by customer focus (some address both)

A huge chunk of the current class is B2B. This is interesting given the fact that many of the biggest Y Combinator successes are B2C (incl. Dropbox, Airbnb, coinbase, reddit, twitch…). Also I classified several of the “Platform / Marketplaces” as B2C, even though the startups will make money from the companies offering on these platforms (e.g. ServX — Uber for auto repair in India, Fiix — Uber for auto repair, Snappr — On-demand pro photographers)

It will be interesting to see how the B2B companies perform on growth. Often the B2B players sell their services to other startups within the Y Combinator network or even the same class creating “high traction” quickly.

Generally, B2B scale much slower than B2C due to longer sales cycles but with Y Combinators massive network who knows what is possible.

Fourth Industrial Revolution Startups in the current Y Combinator batch

Personally, I am most interested in AI / Automation companies, that address topics regarding the fourth industrial revolution. To me this means addressing anything from sensor technology, to BigData, Machine Learning to eventually automate tasks and even full job profiles. (See my infographic explaining the revolution here, or a list of top articles regarding the topic here).

There are 11 companies focused on AI / Automation in the current Y Combinator batch. The companies in sales, customer support and bookkeeping are “to be expected”. These are areas that have long been heralded for automation. There are also already companies working on these topics for a while (e.g. bookkeeping SMACC).

Sales

Customer support

Automated Bookkeeping

Other

For the “other companies” I am especially curious about xix.ai “founded by AI researchers from OpenAI, Google Research and the University of Berkeley. XIX was built to actively predict what users want to do at any time.” (Source)

Their website is only a launch-page with a waitlist, yet they made it to Y Combinator. I would be very interested to hear what they presented at demo day.

I will keep my eyes on these companies! ;)

Summary

The Y Combinator class of 2017 has >100 startups and is already valued at >140 Million US$ based on the initial investment. Internet Technologies, Hardware Startups, Health, Platforms/marketplaces and AI/Automation are key themes. For the first time a strong international focus is clearly visible with >15% of startups not native to the US. Also, B2B startups represent more than 57% of startups, opposed to 43% B2C.

Let me know some of your thoughts in the comments! Did I miss anything regarding these startups? Also click the little heart ♥ if you like this article and would like to continue reading more articles like this in the future. Thank you! :)

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Philipp Römer

Founder at tekkr.io helping tech teams achieve their potential. Ex-VP product at forto.