Enterprise Trends at YC W21 Demo DayRajeev Chand | March 24, 2021
YC Demo Day is one of the most exciting days in entrepreneurship. Twice a year, a batch of exceptional founders present their companies to an invitation-only group of investors and media. 125 YC alumni are valued at $100M+, and 30 YC alumni are valued at $1B. As we noted in our ET30 report, YC is the most active investor in the Enterprise Tech 30 with investments in 31% of the companies.
Yesterday’s YC W21 Demo Day featured 320 companies in a virtual setting. In this post we summarize the problems, trends, and innovations that the founders are highlighting in enterprise technology. Although not every company will become successful, the companies individually and collectively are insightful indicators as to what might be next for the enterprise.
Please note, in this post: 1) we focus on U.S. and Europe-based companies, 2) some of the companies are still off-the-record and are not listed, and 3) several companies fit into multiple themes, but we categorize them once under their primary category.
The categories include:
I. Collaboration and productivity
II. Business functions
III. Sales, marketing, and customer success
IV. Cloud, data, and security
V. Software development
I. Collaboration and Productivity
Innovation in collaboration and productivity is transforming how we work, and the pandemic-driven shift to remote and hybrid is presenting dramatically different challenges and opportunities. In our view, asynchronous is key to the new normal of remote and hybrid work. In addition, Zoom is clearly only the beginning of video communications and tools.
The YC W21 companies in collaboration and productivity included:
- Asynchronous. Spokn, a podcasting platform for work, allows companies to create podcasts for their team members, improving internal communications, engagement, and training ($150K ARR, +10% WoW). PingPong, a video messaging platform for remote teams, asserts that the “future of work communication is short videos” (1200 minutes usage, +89% WoW).
- Video. Perfect Recall provides highlight reels from Zoom calls and serves as a CRM for product teams (65 customers). Dyte, the “Stripe for live video calls,” provides video calling as a service.
- Notion-like experience. Dendron, the “Notion for developers,” provides a “super-fast” open-source platform that is built-in to the IDE (25K downloads, +30% MoM). Abacum provides a Notion-like experience to help finance teams work 10x faster in reporting, collaborating, and using real-time data ($240K booked ARR).
- Productivity. Compose AI enables “Gmail-like auto-completion everywhere,” reducing writing time by 40% with a proprietary AI model (5K sign-ups). TimeTackle analyzes calendar data to provide transparency and to align a team’s time with its company’s priorities. ($125K ARR, 650+ paying customers).
II. Business Functions
Each business function is becoming modernized. In many cases, the functions are being reimagined in a data-first, machine learning-powered context. The YC W21 companies included innovations across procurement, design, product management, finance, human resource, and management functions. The companies included:
- Procurement. Expent is the “fastest way for large companies to buy software,” providing one platform across engineering, legal, security, finance, and procurement. Alpas provides software for “procurement departments to find suppliers 10x faster;” for example, Alpas saved ABB 40% in procurement spend on an initial project (5 customers). Procoto is a self-service procurement SaaS for SMBs to give “enterprise procurement solution at a fraction of the cost” ($4K MRR).
- Design. Spline and Clay are “Figma for 3D design.” Spline is a design tool to create 3D web content without coding (1.8K active users). Clay provides real-time collaboration and feedback for 3D design. Zeroheight, the “GitHub for UX,” enables teams to document and reuse UX ($2.5M ARR, 1K+ customers). ClipDrop is a mobile and desktop app that “turns regular photos into professional product visuals.”
- Product management. Fable, the “command center” for product teams from decisions to specs, states that PMs roles are growing faster than engineering roles and aims to be for PMs “what Figma is for designers and Linear is for engineers.” June provides instant product analytics on top of Segment (200 companies, +10% WoW).
- Finance. Bluelight, a software platform to collect, clean, and control financial data, aims to be the “Segment” for financial data (10+ customers). Logica provides visual, collaborative, drag-and-drop forecasting software for finance teams ($6K MRR, +30% MoM).
- Human resources. Humaans provides the “fastest way for companies to onboard and manage employees” via a mobile-first platform with APIs and integrations. Eqtble, an HR analytics platform, turns “HR data into insights” ($70K ARR). ModernLoop helps companies “scale and deliver the best candidate experience” by automating and streamlining recruiting operations. Simplify Jobs, a common application platform for jobs and internships, aims to be “the networking platform for Gen-Z.”
- Management. Firstbase.io allows founders to incorporate in the U.S. from anywhere in the world and aims to start with incorporations to “become the largest entity management platform on the planet” ($200K monthly revenue, +20% MoM). StartPack, a “business-in-a-box for online SMBs,” provides LLC formation, banking and payments setup, ongoing compliance, and IRS tax filings. Avenue aims to be the “PagerDuty” for business operations teams (37 beta customers).
III. Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success
Enterprise sales, marketing, and customer success are being redefined. YC W21 companies made several bold claims such as “we believe every company is a content company” and “our mission is to eliminate cold outreach.” The companies included:
- Content marketing. Milk Video states that “every company is a content company” and provides a platform to turn webinars into video highlights (29 customers). ContentFly, an on-demand content creation platform based on AI and humans-in-the-loop, aims to make requesting written content as easy as ordering an Uber ($3M ARR, up from $350K 11 mo. ago).
- Sales. PowerRouter, a lead routing platform in Salesforce, helps “sales teams route leads to reps who are most likely to close” ($200K ARR, 30+ customers). The mission at Partnered, a shared CRM for partnerships, is “to eliminate cold outreach” and make it “easy for one company to request introductions from another” (30 beta customers). Navattic, a shareable product demo platform, allows users to build, send, and track interactive product demos ($10K MRR, +65% MoM).
- Customer success. Chatwoot is an open source customer engagement software and an alternative to Intercom and Zendesk ($32K ARR, 1K+ companies, 7.5K Github stars). Bento provides customer onboarding as a service for B2B SaaS companies such that customer success managers can customize the onboarding workflow for customers without engineering resources. Pickle provides AI-powered conversation analysis for phone and video calls ($12K MRR, +25% MoM).
- Virtual conferences. MeetAnyway, an online conference platform, focuses on attendee networking and connections, which are often amiss in virtual experiences ($208K monthly revenue, +35% MoM). Venu provides a “true-to-life 3D virtual trade show and conference platform” (35+ conferences).
IV. Cloud, Data, and Security
Cloud, data, and security are foundational trends in enterprise technology, as discussed at our recent Wing Cloud Data Summit, Wing Data Science Summit, and Wing Security Summit. The YC W21 companies in the sectors included:
- Data. Pyroscope, an open source version of Datadog, claims to be “10x cheaper than existing solutions” (3.1K Github stars). Prequel “makes it easy for startups to set up a data warehouse, populate it with data, and generate insights” (20 beta customers). Tachyon provides APIs to make big data transfer “an order of magnitude faster.” Blotout is a unified customer data lake that provides first-party analytics and marketing attribution for “increasingly invisible users” ($200K ARR). Curvenote, the “Google Docs for scientists and engineers,” provides a collaboration platform with interactive graphs directly linked to data science notebooks.
- Computer vision data. Cord provides automated training data for computer vision using a “faster and cheaper” algorithmic approach ($14K MRR, +50% MoM). SBX Robotics provides synthetic data for robot vision (6 paid pilots, $11.5K February revenue). Segments.ai, the “best way to build computer vision datasets,” provides workflows to improve data selection and labeling “like Tesla’s data engine” ($87K ARR).
- Cloud. Arpio, which states that the “$25B disaster recovery market lacks cloud solutions,” helps companies eliminate cloud app downtime and recover from outages in 10 minutes or less (6 customers, $60K ARR). Taloflow helps “developers pick the best cloud infrastructure and API products for their use case” ($125K ARR, +40% MoM). Infracost helps engineering teams understand the impact of code changes on their cloud costs (35+ enterprise customers).
- Serverless. SST, an open source framework that is the “easiest way to use serverless,” states that “serverless will be the cloud” (2.6K weekly downloads, +21% WoW). Neuro provides serverless compute for ML and reduces the time to build production ML infrastructure (3 customers). Webiny provides an open source framework for serverless applications.
- Security. Cyble, a cyberintelligence company, focuses on dark web and cybercrime monitoring ($1.2M ARR, 25+ enterprise customers). Feroot Security, a client-side risk management platform, secures the frontend of the web (10 customers).
V. Software Development
The rise of the citizen developer, enabled by no-code, is a major trend in software development. The YC W21 batch included at least 5 companies focused on no-code, indicating that RPA companies such as UiPath may only be the beginning of innovation in automation. The YC W21 companies in no-code, as well as developer tools, included:
- No-code/automation. Smartcuts, a Chrome extension that turns clicks and keystrokes into no-code automation, aims to “make automation intuitive and accessible to everyone” (2 paid pilots). Prefix, a self-serve computer automation platform, enables businesses to automate repetitive work on computers without specialists ($20K ARR, pilot with Coinbase). Uiflow states that the “no-code industry is not focused on enterprises” and provides a no-code platform for enterprise software companies. Axiom.ai is a no-code browser RPA (1K+ active users, +30% MoM). FlutterFlow, the “Webflow for mobile,” provides a no-code tool for Google’s Flutter, the fastest growing mobile app development framework now with 20% of Play store apps (9K sign-ups).
- Developer tools. authzed states that most businesses have challenges to address with permissions and provides a “fast, flexible permission system API.” Parsagon provides a developer tool for web scraping. Runops provides code review for DevOps tasks to prevent developer blocking ($90K ARR, 3 customers). Emerge monitors and reduces app size, as “international users pay a tax to use large mobile apps.”
Vertical SaaS is a major trend in technology, and the YC W21 batch included companies across a wide spectrum of industries. In addition, there were many companies across healthcare. The vertical-specific YC W21 companies included:
- Vertical SaaS. Atomic Industries provides software for the injection mold industry, delivering 2x faster design, fabrication, and performance of complex, high-end injection molds. SwiftSku is management and analytics SaaS for convenience stores (181 stores, +39% MoM). Fountain9 provides food inventory management to help brands and retailers reduce the $260B in annual food wastage. ($145K ARR).
- Subscription models. Rinsed, the vertical SaaS for the car wash industry, enables car wash companies to offer monthly subscriptions ($33K MRR, +30% MoM). The Third Place enables subscriptions and brings the “superpowers of e-commerce and software” to neighborhood businesses ($42K GMV monthly, +135% MoM). Corrily provides price optimization for subscription- and usage-based companies (4 customers).
- Healthcare verticals. Juniper is the “software stack for behavioral health, starting with autism, from scheduling to billing” (38 clinics). MedMe Health provides software for pharmacies to move beyond dispensing to become healthcare hubs ($70K MRR, +45% MoM). furmacy, the “PillPack for pets,” provides same-day delivery prescription service for veterinarians ($10K revenues in 2 weeks).
- Healthcare technology. Terra, the “Plaid for health, fitness and wellness,” provides APIs to connect health and fitness data (20 beta developers). Gradia Health helps clinics increase throughput by delivering timely information to patients’ phones (150K booked ARR). InpharmD provides medical reference software for hospitals that provides curated, evidenced-based answers to doctors’ questions ($1M ARR, +300% YoY). Anima is automated, always-on triage software for primary and outpatient care that is “10x faster” to resolve patient requests (2 clinics).
We congratulate each of the founders in yesterday’s YC batch. The breadth of opportunity and depth of innovation in enterprise technology are stunning, as evidenced by the themes discussed in this post. If you are working on these or other areas, I’d love to hear from you—please find me on Twitter @rajeevchand or send me an email at email@example.com.
* For this post, we excluded satellite/space technology, energy/climate/carbon technology, fintech, and life sciences.
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