It’s that time again. Y Combinator, one of the most coveted accelerators in the country, is hosting a demo day for its graduating batch of startups.
Expect a marathon of pitches. Eighty-five companies will present on stage for a few minutes apiece, hoping to convince investors to bank on their ideas to transform X, Y, or Z.
The accelerator is best known for its tightly knit network and breakout startups, such as Dropbox, Airbnb, and Twitch—all three of which are in the billion-dollar-valuation club. Earlier this summer, president Sam Altman said Y Combinator’s portfolio of more than 400 active companies exceeds $30 billion in value.
Fast Company’s Alice Truong will report live from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The event begins at 10 a.m. PT.
With the odds against you, entrepreneurs feel like they’re literally pushing against the tides every day so when companies fail, the price, which can include financial ruin, utter embarrassment, and even mental collapse, is a hefty one for the founders.
We spoke to four entrepreneurs to explore what they learned from this mourning and accepting period, how they picked themselves up and moved on to become the success stories they are today:
EyeQuant is a startup which isn’t too unusual in the fact that it deals with machine learning and artificial intelligence and has big-name clients like Google and Spotify. But the company’s current fascination—using machine learning to train their AI to recognize bad aesthetics and poor website design—takes it into uncharted waters. “We use machine learning and computational neuroscience to build predictive models of how humans look at web ites,” founder Fabian Stelzer told Co.Labs. “We focused on attention before but we are now branching out to more general things like why people prefer one image instead of another or what are the factors that drive trustworthiness of image.” And he’s betting that machines can be trained to detect web pages that most of us think are ugly.
But what if that’s not always the case? What if monetizing or attracting a buyer—to say nothing of mere survival—is more complicated than that? In late May the online radio station East Village Radio shut down—taking its famous glass-walled street-level studio with it. The station, its renegade founders say, had gotten too popular to survive.
Every tool for social media that you will ever need (for now).
Banana Republic and Susan’s Neighborhood Shirt Shop could be using the same social networks—Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.—but their marketing plans and their marketing tools are likely quite different. Enterprise solutions are great for the big guys, but the rest of us are in the market for something more our size.
Small businesses are eager to find valuable tools that take a lot of the time and trouble out of social media marketing and that do so without costing an arm and a leg. I think we’d all want tools like that, right?
Well, I went searching for just this kind of simple, easy, cost-effective tool, and I came up with 60 that made the cut. I tried out more than 100 in total, and I’m sure I missed a few along the way.
Hopefully you find one or two here that you can use in your small scale marketing that can get you big results.
“Ben Horowitz, general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, compared startups to babies that become angsty teenagers as they grow. “Everybody loves a baby,” said Horowitz of shiny new startups. “You never run into someone who goes, ‘I f*cking hate babies.’”
“Regardless of industry, size, or geography the most haunting feeling for any leader is when an employee gives their two weeks notice out of the blue,” Niu asserts. That confirmed what he already knew: a company’s people and culture were important strategic advantages.
Reviewing them only at year’s end left a lot unspoken and potentially hazardous to the health of the business. While Niu constantly reviewed finances, strategy, product, he, like many other leaders, assumed the staff was fine until they headed out the door to work for someone else.
In an attempt to set the tone for a new, restructured, and a hopefully one day resurrected Fab, CEO Jason Goldberg has sent around a memo that is less rally-the-troops and more “you’re lucky to be here.” Titled “It’s a fucking startup. Why are you here?" the note, also posted on his personal website, continues to remind his employees that they could, very realistically, lose their jobs.