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Jacob's Newsletter - Issue #8 - This Winter in Y Combinator, My Top 12 Picks

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It's that time of half-year again, Y Combinator just launched nearly 200 companies into the world on
 

Jacob Mullins' Weekly Newsletter

March 21 · Issue #8 · View online
My weekly snapshot perspective on tech, startups, venture capital and its effects on daily life and our world.

It’s that time of half-year again, Y Combinator just launched nearly 200 companies into the world on two stages in San Francisco over two days. TechCrunch has comprehensive listings of the Day 1 and Day 2 companies, but I wanted to share my short list. My interests tend to focus on companies that structurally affect industry that change the way that people live and work. Specifically, I tend to gravitate towards products that have high repetition, or high impact, and give leverage to people to live healthier, happier and more prosperous lives.
Y Combinator is a funny thing, by the numbers one of the largest generators of new startups, and one of the most valuable seed stage portfolios in all of venture capital, ever. They have a very specific framework of mentoring their companies and a formula to generate incredible hype around them. When meeting with companies around Demo Day, they never have a deck to present (by design), their valuations skyrocket faster than a SpaceX rocket launch, and the deals are mostly done before Demo Day even begins.
Even though it turns us VCs into frenzied stock pit traders, it is an incredible platform for companies to gain mentorship, build a network, and raise money. I often encourage early entrepreneurs to seriously consider applying to YC, they can add tremendous value to a young startup. And this class, YC W19, as the “insiders” know it, is no different that others, it’s chock-full of exciting entrepreneurs creating new world changing businesses for people and industry. Here is my short list…
Fintech
Cuanto: Cuanto is a Latin America-focused SMB payments solution enabling merchants to take payments in popular mobile apps like WhatsApp or Instagram. In one of the worlds fastest growing regions, the ability to easily take payments for small merchants will be a game changer.
Seawise Capital: Seawise Capital is providing working capital loans for global exporters starting in India. I’m a big fan of solving cash issues with cash flow-based credit solutions.
Woke: In a similar vain to the above company, Woke focuses on financing eCommerce user acquisition cost, with future sales. Similar to Clearbanc, this is a simple arbitrage of cash and timing. Traditionally known as “factoring,” with today’s proliferation of data lenders, like Woke, can do a much better job of understanding the credit risk they are taking on.
CredPal: As I recently wrote, one of the keys to financial stability and financial independence is access to smart credit and global payments networks. CredPal is targeting Africa’s 200M person growing middle class who is largely lacking access to credit. This is a no brainer.
Dyneti Technologies: Dyneti is a merchant solution that reduces credit card fraud and charge backs. Integrated into a mobile application it uses your mobile phone camera and modern payments fraud data to quickly analyze the viability of a card before a purchase can be made. Real time + computer vision = solve fraud. Hand meet glove.
Consumer
Brew.com: Despite my own disinterest (I don’t know what’s wrong with me!?), in the age of consumer podcast mania, Brew.com is a subscription service for great content enabling independent creators to get a part of the action. In my mind, this is Netflix of the 2020s for the mobile, millennial generation.
Mage: Marketplaces, they are some of the biggest businesses in the world, Amazon, Ebay. Mage is a marketplace starting in the $50B annual Magic: The Gathering market, the largest trading card game in the world. Use your mobile phone camera to scan the cards you have and it will recognize the identification of the card, suggest a value, and you can quickly list it for sale. What other marketplaces will be more easily enabled through our mobile cameras?
Industry
Nowports: The efficient shipping of goods is one of the largest and most important parts of our global economy. Nowports is a software system designed for container freight in Latin America to increase efficiency, speed and cost of shipments.
Overview: Manufacturing plants are largely automated, but all too often the automated processes end up creating small errors in products that result in big downstream problems. Overview combines standard web-connected cameras with factory-specific computer vision, to identify production line mistakes before products can ever get out of the factory saving manufactures precious time and real money.
Nabis: Due to federal regulations the cannabis industry contains tremendous inefficiencies that create big opportunities for startups. Nabis is a logistics provider that physically handles distribution of cannabis products from producer to retail store. FedEx can’t touch the products, so Nabis handles them offering on-time deliveries to keep inventory topped up. The cannabis business will be as big as the alcohol industry, companies like Nabis are cutting paths for the future.
Biology
Shiok Meats: Shrimp is one of the largest healthy global food sources thanks to its low fat and high nutrient content. Unfortunately, much of our global fish supply is being overfished putting us a huge risk of damage to our ecosystem and food supply. Shiok is an animal-less cell based shrimp meat company that tastes great and doesn’t harm our oceans.
Instapath Inc: In a case where hours and days matter, Instapath is developing a unique technology to deliver critical results of cancer biopsies within 5 minutes, while you’re still in the doctors office.
These are just a few of the nearly 200 companies that launched at YC this week. It’s exciting to see so many entrepreneurs bringing their backgrounds and experiences to bear, creating new businesses that will change our world. It is indeed, exciting times!

Happenings Around Shasta
Congrats to LeanData on their Series C !! LeanData Raises $27.5 Million in Series C Funding Following Record Growth
Open Markets
For all the hell we all give the US government for over-regulation, I am grateful for the open market we do have. This quote on China’s affects on Tencent from Fortune Data Sheet this morning is shocking.
Tencent announces fourth-quarter financial results here in Hong Kong Thursday. It won’t be pretty. The Wall Street Journal reports that analysts expect Tencent’s earnings for the three months to December 31 plunged to $2.8 billion, down 11% from the same quarter the previous year. That would be Tencent’s biggest quarterly decline a decade. 
The company’s biggest problem is that it is too dependent on revenue from online games. That was considered a strength until last March when China’s regulators—fearful of rising rates of online addiction and the deteriorating eyesight of the nation’s youth—slapped a nine-month moratorium on new game releases. Beijing lifted the ban in December, but Tencent has won approval for fewer than a dozen games since.
The Real You in the Virtual World
Very cool research out of Facebook and Oculus creating photorealistic avatars that look just like us. Through computer vision, machine learning and 3D representations this is what having a conversation in VR will look like. On the left is the reality, on the right is what you will see inside the headset which tracks your eyes, emotions and vocal intonations. https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-oculus-codec-avatars-vr/
"Almost a decade ago, visionaries predicted how the world would look and made a video. Is this the beginning point for all the things below? #augmentedreality #immersive #futurism #tech #ar #vr #mr Video credit: Keiichi Matsuda" Khayyam Wakil on LinkedIn
Upcoming Events
One more shout out for those interested – but don’t know much about Synthentic Biology. Join us at Shasta SF next week for the inaugural SF SynBio Meetup co-hosted with Justin Farlow of Serotiny and entrepreneur Isaac Roth.
Chimeric Antigen Receptor | Meetup
Keep in Touch
I invest in Emerging Platforms at Shasta Ventures, specifically technologies innovating on our financial world (the universal language of $$$) and innovations that bridge the digital & physical worlds including Applied Computer Vision, Perception, Robotics, AR/VR, Esports, and Blockchain.
Would love to hear your thoughts, feedback or insights. Get in touch at jacob at shastaventures dot com. Or find me on:
Twitter: @jacob
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