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

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Simon Willison, Natalie Downe

“IMDB for conferences.”

Lanyrd is building a giant database of professional events and the people who speak at them. After signing in using your Twitter credentials, you can see which conferences your Twitter contacts are attending or speaking at. For each conference, there’s a detail page with the date, information links, and lists of speakers and attendees. For past events, speakers or organizers can upload PowerPoint decks and other materials from individual speakers. “What Khan Academy is doing for education, we want to do for professional development,” says co-founder Simon Willison, who was the co-creator of the Django Python Web framework for rapid development. The company hopes to earn money on lead generation for conference-related travel services.


Chris Chen

“The social network that connects people across music services.”

Like.fm founder Chris Chen argues that Last.fm, the popular service that tracks what you listen to and recommends music and concerts based on your taste, has stagnated since CBS bought the company in 2007. “Their users are itching for a new service,” Chen says. Like.fm does roughly the same thing as Last.fm, tracking plays on every service from YouTube to Pandora, but with added social features that show users what songs and groups are trending. “Rdio and Spotify are making a push into social features like this, but Like.fm has two advantages,” Chen says. “We are the only service that works across all these other services, and we’re the only one that’s free and accessible to everyone. We’re in the best position to control the social element of all these services, and whoever is the company that controls [that] controls the future of online music.”


Josh Buckley, Tyler Diaz

“Pokemon for 2011.”

At age 19 and 17, respectively, Mino-Monsters co-founders Josh Buckley and Tyler Diaz are the youngest co-founders ever admitted to Y Combinator. They’ve created a social game spanning Facebook, the Web, and the iPhone in which players train pet monsters for battle. “Think of it as Pokemon if it started today,” says Buckley. The company argues that Zynga, while very good at building social games, doesn’t understand the importance of emotional engagement—hence the pet monster angle. “We are the best of both worlds,” Buckley says. Just four weeks after launch, he says the company’s game already has 120,000 active players on Facebook and is growing at 10 percent per day.


Matt Huang, Sandy Spicer

“A personalized TV Guide for streaming online video.”

More and more people are giving up cable and satellite TV for Internet-delivered shows, but that content is split across dozens of sources with varying prices and constantly changing availability, points out Moki.tv founder Matt Huang. The startup aggregates video listings from Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Hulu, and other sources, helping users find the cheapest or most convenient source for thousands of movies and TV shows. It also tracks what they watch and recommends new content. Huang and co-founder Spicer are both MIT graduates with math and computer science training. “Neither of us have actually owned a TV in over five years but we love movies and TV, and we are trying to make online TV actually work,” says Huang.

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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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