Y Combinator’s Winter 2011 Demo Day: The Definitive Debrief
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Jof Arnold, Benjie Gillam
“Fitness for lazy people.”
FitFu is a motion-based fitness game for the iPhone that counts reps for common exercises such as situp and lunges. To keep users engaged, the app offers social elements that let users share achievements with friends and game elements such as badges. “If you are a fitness enthusiast, there are lots of products to provide you with a service, but nothing at the casual end,” says FitFu co-founder Jof Arnold. “We think this is an opportunity to become the default brand when it comes to casual exercise.” Previous apps from the FitFu founders, such as CrunchFu, have sold more than 140,000 paid copies at the iTunes App Store.
Victor Ho, Conway Teng, Matt Doka
“A million loyalty cards in one.”
Five Stars offers retailers a loyalty-card system without the loyalty cards. By checking in at retailers using just their phone numbers, Five Stars members can earn rewards that are delivered electronically via e-mail or Facebook, where customers are more likely to spread the word about their favorite merchants. The company’s Web-based platform lets retailers monitor customer rewards and target the best customers with special offers. The Five Stars system is already popular with eateries like EBaja Fesh Mexican Grill, Johnny Rockets, Red Berry Coffee Bar, Verde Teacafe, and Greencup Frozen Yogurt.
Nick Baum, Kapil Kale, Jonathan Pines
“A completely new type of gift card.”
With GiftRocket, you can send a friend or employee a cash gift which they can only redeem by checking in with their mobile device at a specific location, such as a restaurant or retail store. When the GPS coordinates on the recipient’s smartphone verify that they’re at the location, GiftRocket releases the cash to their PayPal account. It boils down to a way giving someone a gift card even for businesses that don’t offer their own gift cards, and/or to avoid the hassle of buying a physical gift card or gift certificate. GiftRocket says every business on Yelp is listed in its directory.
Eddy Lu, Daishin Sugano
“We build friendships over group dinners.”
It’s either an introvert’s worst nightmare, or just the thing to get you out of your shell: a group meal at a restaurant with a bunch of people you’ve never met. GrubWithUs lets users sign up for group meals at specific restaurants in their cities (so far, the startup covers Chicago, DC, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco). Prospective diners can start out by picking a restaurant they want to eat at, or by finding a person they want to meet and signing up to attend the same dinner. Users pre-pay for their dinners through the site. “Restaurants tell us we’re better than Groupon because they can actually make money,” the company says.
Joseph Walla, Neal O’Mara
“Throw away your fax machine.”
HelloFax—which I’ll be profiling at more length shortly—is an e-signature startup masquerading as an e-faxing startup. The truth about fax machines, argues co-founder Joseph Walla, is that the only reason anyone ever uses them anymore is to transmit signed documents. HelloFax has built a simple Web-based system that lets users create electronic signatures and paste them into a digital simulacrum of any document, then transmit that signed document to any fax machine or e-mail address. Over 6,000 people are using the app just five weeks after its launch, and HelloFax’s member base is growing 30 percent per week, Walla says.