Y Combinator’s Winter 2011 Demo Day: The Definitive Debrief

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Leah Culver, Eric Florenzano, Eric Maguire

“IRC for the rest of us.”

Convore co-founder Leah Culver is best known as the co-founder of Pownce, a Twitter competitor that allowed users to share messages, files, and links, and to track discussions. Six Apart acquired and shut down Pownce in 2008. Now Culver is back with a new instant messaging platform inspired heavily by Internet Relay Chat (IRC), a group discussion platform where users gather within interest-based channels. On Convore, a free service accessed via the Web or a native iPhone app, users can start or join conversations, post links to images, and review conversations they missed while offline. Launched last month, the service already claims 24,000 users, including the founders of most of the YC W11 startups.


Corey Pierson, Jon Pospischil

“Google brings them in, we keep them coming back.”

Acquiring a new customer costs five times as much as retaining an existing one—so website owners should do more to keep their existing customers happy, the founders of Custora argue. That can be as simple as sending them an offer, message, or coupon by e-mail. But knowing whom should be eligible and when is the trick. Custora says it has developed Bayesian algorithems to predict the lifetime value of each e-commerce customer, so e-retailers can send specific enticements to people known to be big spenders. “If you know what your customers are going to do, you can go about marketing more intelligently,” the startup says.


Allan Grant, Nori Yoshida, Jeff Yee

“Get your customers to refer their friends.”

Curebit is all about what happens after a customer has completed an e-retail transaction. The Twitter or Facebook “share” buttons that pop up after many transactions work only 3 percent of the time, Curebit’s founders say. By providing customers with a small incentive to make a referral, Curebit says it can increase that conversion rate to 30 percent. A typical incentive might be a $5 rebate for both the customer and his or her friends when friends pursue offers the customer shares on Facebook. Curebit’s technology enables the rebate offer and helps e-retailers track conversions by demogaphic group. The service is already in use at e-commerce sites like Dodocase, Americanmuscle.com, and Artisanalcheese.com.


Daniel Kivatinos, Michael Nusimow

“Bring your iPad into the exam room.”

Could the solution to the American healthcare system’s digitization challenge be sitting in the iTunes App Store? DrChrono thinks so. The company has spent two and a half years developing an electronic medical record system that runs solely on the Apple iPad and iPhone. The company says the app includes everything a small medical practice needs to run its practice on the iPad, including a clinical note-taking system, support for viewing X-rays and other test results, electronic prescriptions, drug interaction warnings, speech-to-text technology for note dictation, and paperless billing connections with insurance companies. Given that adoption of such as system can qualify a small practice for $44,000 in incentive payments under the 2009 stimulus bill, it may not be surprising that DrChrono already has 1,700 users and has made $200,000 in sales.

Earbits Radio

Joey Flores, Yotam Rosenbaum, Benjamin Bryant

“Google AdWords for the music industry.”

From a listener’s perspective, Earbits is much like Pandora—it’s an Internet-based streaming music system that lets users listen to specific channels depending on their preferences. But behind the scenes, it’s completely different. On Earbits, bands and musicians bid for airtime with the specific demographics they want to target. Bands make their money back by selling albums, merchandise, and concert tickets, and, ideally, through word-of-mouth promotion on Facebook and Twitter, to which Earbits connects. The company says it has agreements with 90 record labels and 1,300 bands, from indie artists to Grammy winners.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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