What's next in the enterprise? A view from Y Combinator's demo day
YC Demo Day is one of the most interesting days in tech. Twice a year, a new cohort of founders present their companies to an invitation-only group of venture capitalists.
The YC W22 batch presented last week virtually and consisted of 414 companies. Enterprise/B2B was the largest segment at 34% of the companies. As always, the batch was highly competitive with over 17,000 applications.
YC has significant success and presence in enterprise. The firm has funded 28% of the Enterprise Tech 30. YC investments include Dropbox, PagerDuty, Stripe, GitLab, Amplitude, PlanGrid (Autodesk), and Segment (Twilio). Given YC’s track record and the companies’ seed stage of development, the batches provide a lens into emerging pain points for enterprises and potential future solutions.
What does the W22 batch tell us about what’s next for the enterprise? We divide this post into two sections: I) our favorite quotes across the two days, and II) our detailed takeaways on sectors and companies.
I. Favorite Quotes
Our favorite quotes, that struck us as bold, insightful or controversial, included:
- “When a CEO looks at a dashboard with wrong numbers it is a nightmare for data teams.” - Elementary
- “LaunchDarkly is not flexible enough for modern data teams.” - GrowthBook
- “NFT is a $25B market despite the poor buying experience. Imagine what it would be with an easy buying experience.” - Winter
- “Tokens are the new form of equity” and “every crypto company and investor needs a solution for managing token equity.” - Magna and Liquifi, respectively
- “We give software developers DevOps super powers” as it’s “hard to find good DevOps engineers.” - Massdriver
- “The most successful sales reps make their own cheat sheets” for live SaaS demos but “even those are still incomplete.” - Demo Gorilla
- “Relying on agents to manually tag customer support data for product insights does not work.” - Blaze
- “Every company suffers from documentation debt.” - Mintlify
- “Today’s talent market is the most competitive, and companies who are the most transparent have an advantage.” - Complete
- “The technical interviewing process is broken, especially when engineers are pulled from day jobs to do interviews.” - Litebulb
- “We aim to be the world’s largest decentralized corporate university.” - ScholarSite
- “Technical docs don’t sell decision makers” for API products. - Coast
- “Teams are spread around the world but are tired of Zooms and want to connect more than ever.” - TeamOut
- “Zapier has done a great job in automation but lacks end-to-end analytics… from Hubspot to Asana.” - Takt
- “With changing industry dynamics, there’s never been a great need for tech for wood” industry. - CUTR
- “Adobe failed at collaboration” and “we are the Figma for video editing.” - Ozone
- “36% of the housing stock is leased and is blocked from solar today.” - Moneytree
- “We are the Superhuman for task management built specifically for startups.” - Dart
II. Detailed Takeaways
1) Healthtech and fintech were the largest sectors for the enterprise startups.
- Full-stack. spot, the “Twilio of lab testing,” provides at-home lab tests to digital health companies via an API. Equipt Health, the “Truepill for prescription medical devices,” enables companies to offer medical devices to users, starting with sleep apnea.
- Computational biology. Toolchest moves computational biology software to the cloud and enables computational biologists to “scale without software engineers.”
- Informatics. HypaHub runs advanced informatics in the cloud for diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies.
- Patient care. Ankr Health provides a patient support platform for cancer clinics. Nest Genomics, the “genomic medical record to manage results for life,” creates personalized patient care plans based on genomic tests. Starling provides an at-home urine monitoring system to enable physicians to track patients’ health and enterprises to generate new revenues.
- Provider SaaS. Arintra provides automated clinical documentation and medical coding for the ambulatory care market. Serif Health provides market price intelligence for healthcare providers. voize provides an app for healthcare workers to fill out unstructured forms with domain-specific speech recognition.
- Employee wellbeing. NudgeLabs states that 25% of employees are at risk of burnout and provides a smartwatch app to improve physical and mental health. Quan provides a platform to improve employee wellbeing and team performance.
- Biomanufacturing. Invert offers biomanufacturing data analytics to increase yields and decrease downtimes.
- Marketplaces. Float Health, the “Uber for nurses,” commented on the untapped supply of nurses during off days. Bemlo’s marketplace connects staffing agencies and healthcare workers in Europe.
- Data. RedBrick AI provides medical data annotation tools and estimates that 30% of medical AI teams’ time is spent on internal annotation tooling. Sophys Health provides a no code analytics platform for EHR data. Tuva provides open source software that cleans and transforms messy healthcare data.
- Payments. Tola provides an SMB tool for bills and invoices, enabling companies to pay and get paid with BNPL. SNAB automates B2B payments, providing an interface layer on top of existing bank accounts.
- Banking. Arpari is a vertical bank for commercial real estate. OnScale is a private bank for high earning creators. Nophin is a bank for SMB landlords. Arc is a bank for SaaS startups.
- Pricing. Kable adds usage-based billing for developers with three lines of code. Wingback focuses on SaaS companies and enables packaging and pricing of any feature set at any price with minimum engineering involvement.
- Compliance. Flagright, the “Stripe for AML Compliance,” provides risk-based transaction monitoring for fintech startups via an API.
- Data. Spade provides fintechs universal transaction data enrichment via an API.
- Productivity. Fuell provides expense management software for European businesses.
- Venture debt. 8vdx, the “AngelList for venture debt,” observes that the $25B venture debt market is “dominated by a sleepy incumbent ready for disruption.” Perl Street provides debt financing for climate tech specifically.
2) Data was a major theme. Several startups aimed to be the “Datadog” for different areas. Startups also identified potential unmet needs of the now-installed base of data warehouse customers and sought to help nontechnical users access data without data engineers.
- Observability. Metaplane, the “Datadog for data,” provides a monitoring solution for data teams. Trackingplan, the “Datadog for monitoring third-party integrations,” provides observability for analytics and marketing teams. Chaos Genius, the “Datadog for business KPIs,” provides an open source business observability platform with root cause analysis. Elementary provides an open source data observability platform and states that “when a CEO looks at a dashboard with wrong numbers it is a nightmare for data teams.”
- Data warehouse. Eto is the “Snowflake for AI datasets,” stating that existing tools do not effectively manage and analyze unstructured data. Eventual provides a data warehouse for imaging, stating that current data warehouses work poorly for images. iomete provides a data infrastructure platform that replaces Snowflake, Databricks, Fivetran, and Tableau. Hydra provides the Postgres data warehouse and states that “when developers choose, Postgres wins.”
- Data transfer. Bracket provides a data pipeline between ops tools and backend databases so that ops teams can work in Airtable and G-Suite rather than clunky internal tools. Castled Data syncs data from data warehouses to business apps without code. HelloGuru provides a no code tool to sync customer data from data warehouses to business apps so nontechnical users can access data without engineers.
- Data normalization. Segna automatically cleans and normalizes CSV files, saving companies from writing CSV importers.
- Data query. Cogram enables anyone to query databases by translating plain English to SQL. Cerebrium provides a fast way to set up a data platform and get business intelligence without hiring a data team or writing SQL.
- Data tools. Supersheets allows finance and ops teams to build data tools.
- Data privacy. Sarus enables analysts to run analytics on personal data without having access to it. Strac helps companies strip out sensitive financial data over email, Slack, chat, and web apps.
- Data center infrastructure. Enlightra provides multi-color lasers for data center communications, replacing single-color lasers.
3) Developer tools remain a major theme, and startups addressed feature flagging, Python development, testing, ranking, scheduling, multiplayer, natural language understanding, and webhooks, among other areas.
- Feature flagging. GrowthBook provides open source feature flagging and A/B testing and states LaunchDarkly is “not flexible enough for modern data teams.”
- Development. MutableAI transforms Jupyter prototypes into production quality Python and has the mission to massively reduce software development time.
- Testing. Requestly helps developers test web and mobile apps.
- Ranking. Shaped lets any engineer rank content on feeds, pages, and notifications via an API.
- Cron. Mergent provides cron scheduling and states that “every team has had problems scheduling background tasks.”
- Multiplayer. Snippyly provides an API to make any app collaborative and multiplayer, like Figma. Hyperbeam provides an API for shared embeddable web browsers.
- Web browser. Drifting in Space runs compute-intensive apps in a browser and mirrors GitHub Codespaces and Google Colab.
- Natural language. Speechly provides on-device NLU API for speech.
- Webhooks. Convoy provides open source webhooks infrastructure.
4) B2B founders in web3 discussed a) being the “Carta for web3” and b) removing NFT friction for consumers, developers, and companies, among other areas.
- NFTs. Remi Labs helps eCommerce brands sell NFTs and believes that “NFTs align incentives better than any platform before” but that “user experience must improve.” Winter provides an embeddable checkout widget for companies to sell NFTs via credit cards and notes that NFTs are a $25B market despite the poor buying experience. SimpleHash provides an NFT data API, enabling developers to query NFT data that is indexed across multiple blockchains.
- Carta for web3. Liquifi manages token vesting and states “every crypto company and investor needs a solution for managing token equity.” Magna states “tokens are the new form of equity” and provides equity distribution, cap table management, and analytics.
- Smart contracts. Yatima provides a Layer 2 blockchain with formal verification and zero-knowledge proof and states “errors in immutable smart contracts are hard to detect and rectify” and “proofs are better than audits.”
- DeFi. Arda enables fintechs to embed DeFi in their products via an API.
- Wallet. Cashmere provides crypto wallets for web3 companies.
- Communities. Mysterious, the “Discord for web3 companies,” allows creators to build fully customized communities rather than spending time “fighting with Discord.”
5) Startups provided new ML tools to address data scientists’ and developers’ challenges in model development, testing, validation, computing, and fairness, among other areas.
- Browser. Slai, the “Replit for ML,” builds ML apps in the browser to make ML “feel like ordinary software development.”
- Federated learning. DynamoFL enables data scientists to train models using federated learning with privacy-critical datasets.
- Bug bounty. Bobidi provides a global community for bug bounty as a service for AI.
- Model validation. Dioptra helps ML teams implement improvement loops for models.
- Computer vision. Strong Compute is a cloud computing platform with 20x faster computer vision training.
- Video. Sieve provides AI infrastructure for video that enables software developers to push video and make queries without an AI team.
- ML via an API. Nyckel, the ML API for non-experts, enables developers to build AI into products without the need for ML teams.
- Responsible AI. Armilla automates ML testing for transparency, robustness, and fairness in regulated industries.
6) In cloud infrastructure, founders aimed to be the “Heroku” for different areas and to help engineers deploy infrastructure without the need for DevOps teams.
- Heroku for cloud infra. Nullstone, the “Heroku for AWS,” fills in the gap between Heroku and an in-house infrastructure team. Ploomber, the “Heroku for Data Science,” helps data scientists develop and deploy cloud projects.
- Figma for cloud infra. Brainboard enables engineers to visually design and manage cloud infrastructure faster.
- No DevOps. Flightcontrol provides a managed layer on top of AWS for developers to deploy apps without DevOps. Massdriver gives “software developers DevOps super powers” and states that it is “hard to find good DevOps engineers.”
- Cloud dev environment. Nimbus is bringing “Facebook cloud development infrastructure to all companies,” enabling engineers to “commit production code on day 1.”
7) Startups in salestech and martech addressed areas such as product demos, customer support, and revenue operations, among others. Demo Gorilla observed that sales teams currently “make their own cheat sheets” for demos–a process that can be better done through AI.
- Demos. Demo Gorilla provides AI-generated presenter notes for live SaaS demos by sales teams, in lieu of manually-created “cheat sheets.”
- Customer support. Blaze transforms customer support data into product insights and observes that “relying on agents to manually tag data does not work.” Mosaic Voice automates call center quality assurance. Atlas provides a modern customer support platform.
- Revenue operations. Saay provides actionable insights for sales teams, monitoring apps like Salesforce to recommend when and how to follow up. SubscriptionFlow provides a subscription and revenue management platform for SMBs.
- Email marketing. Lightmeter, “the SendGrid for salespeople,” provides a sales email delivery service. Loops helps B2B SaaS businesses send automated emails. Unlayer makes embeddable email and web editing software.
- Domains. Instant Domains provides a mobile-first domain registrar.
- Notifications. nGrow provides a low-code platform for marketing in push notifications.
- Personalization. Suggestr provides “Amazon-level personalization” for Shopify merchants.
8) A few startups centered on user research and documentation, which are areas of increasing importance in the era of product-led growth. Mintlify states every company “suffers from documentation debt.”
- User research. 1Flow provides in-the-moment user feedback to product teams for mobile and web apps. Blitzllama provides tools to collect and analyze in-app user feedback. Rally provides user research CRM for product, design, and user research teams.
- Documentation. Mintlify provides automation for writing and maintaining code documentation.
9) In the API economy, in addition to the API-based startups already mentioned above, there were numerous startups in the batch positioned as the “Plaid” for different areas.
- Construction. Agave, the “Plaid for construction,” unifies fragmented software systems for construction companies via an API.
- Utilities. Pelm, the “Plaid for utilities,” enables developers to query properties’ energy data for home electrification, sustainability, and other products.
- Retail brokerage. SnapTrade, the “Plaid for trading,” enables developers to connect to retail brokerage accounts and execute trades via an API. Realize lets developers pull account information and trade in retail brokerage accounts.
- CRM. Vessel provides a universal API to access CRMs and enables developers to build applications for their customers’ CRMs.
- Electric vehicles. Telematica provides an API platform of telematics and battery data for electric vehicles.
10) Several companies also provided SaaS solutions targeted at pain points for API companies themselves.
- Demos. Coast states that “technical docs don’t sell decision makers” and provides a sales demo environment for API demos.
- Customer support. Fogbender provides customer support software for API companies, who provide team to team support and currently work with a “clumsy solution” of Slack Channels + Zendesk.
- Testing. Karate Labs provides an open core solution unifying API and UI test automation.
- Documentation. Theneo provides a tool to generate Stripe-like API documentation automatically.
11) Numerous founders identified challenges in remote and hybrid work. As examples, TeamOut provides the “Airbnb for team retreats,” and Spinach.io “makes remote work work” through daily standup meetings.
- Retreats. TeamOut, the “Airbnb for team retreats,” states that teams are spread around the world but are tired of Zooms and want to reconnect more than ever.
- Socials. Campfire helps virtual teams have virtual socials that are actually fun.
- Collaboration. Spinach.io is “making remote work work” by fixing collaboration, starting with daily standup meetings.
- Hybrid. Tahora connects remote and in-person employees and states that 51% of employees quit due to lack of belonging.
- Conferencing. Venue.live is a video conferencing platform that makes large remote meetings fun and interactive and focuses on engagement.
12) More broadly, founders identified problems in HRtech areas such as compensation, technical interviews, women’s benefits, and student loan benefits, among others.
- Compensation. Complete helps companies “close top talent” through tools to help candidates and employees understand their full compensation package.
- Interviews. Litebulb automates onsite coding interviews and says that “technical interviewing process is broken especially when engineers are pulled from day jobs to do interviews.”
- Collaborative. Agentnoon builds a single source of truth for HR data across enterprise HR systems and enables “collaborative people planning.”
- Education. ScholarSite lets leading experts run live cohort-based courses and aims to be the “world’s largest decentralized corporate university.” AntWalk provides live employee upskilling delivered by top industry professionals.
- Women. Syrona Health provides employee benefits for women “from Endometriosis to Menopause.”
- Student loans. Unsaddl provides student loan contributions as employee benefits.
13) Automation-related startups identified pain points with developers, field teams, documents, operations, and business processes. Takt noted that “Zapier has done a great job in automation but lacks end-to-end analytics.”
- Analytics. Takt provides no code workflow analytics that “starts in Hubspot and ends in Asana.”
- Developers. BotCity, the “UiPath for developers,” is “expanding the reach for RPA from 100,000 skilled users to 22,000,000 developers.”
- Field teams. Fieldproxy, the “Retool for field teams,” provides a tool to manage field teams.
- Documents. LiveDocs provides a no-code analytics tool to create documents that are connected to data and apps.
- Operations. Iron Leap helps ops teams take immediate action on time sensitive events in data.
- Processes. Workflow86 provides a no code platform to document and automate internal business processes.
14) Inspired in part by Faire’s success, there were numerous startups targeting vertical marketplaces in different areas.
- Convenience stores. Attain, the “Faire for convenience stores,” provides a marketplace for convenience store inventory.
- Real estate. Cash Flow Portal provides a marketplace for large real estate investments.
- Trucking. EXO Freight provides a trucking marketplace for open deck shipping, which represents 20% of the trucking market.
- Fashion. Fleek provides a B2B marketplace for secondhand fashion, stating that “demand has always been online but supply has not been.” re-mint helps fashion brands offer official secondhand marketplaces, rather than using Poshmark or other platforms.
- Wood. CUTR provides a B2B manufacturing marketplace to connect designers and manufacturers, stating there “has never been a greater need for tech for wood.”
15) In addition to vertical marketplaces, numerous startups offered vertical SaaS solutions, often positioned as the “Operating System” for different areas.
- Entertainment. Cinapse, the “Operating System of Hollywood,” provides “one app for the entire crew” of high budget film and television productions.
- Construction. HippoBuild, the “Operating System of the construction industry,” automates supply chains for small and medium construction companies. PermitFlow, the “TurboTax for permitting,” simplifies construction permitting, enabled by the Covid-driven trend for permitting departments to become digital.
- Legal. Kula, the “Shopify for law firms,” helps lawyers build their own firms.
- Mining. KorrAI provides a geospatial analytics platform to simplify satellite data for mining.
- Homeowners associations. Forest provides a digital property manager and neobank for HOAs.
- Rental properties. Moneytree makes it profitable for landlords to offer tenants solar, noting that “36% of housing stock is leased and blocked from solar today.”
- Restaurants. haddock helps restaurants control costs by taking pictures of invoices.
- Creators. Criya provides an operating platform for creative professionals including a storefront with CRM. Ping Labs provides software for studio-quality video.
- Insurance. PolicyFly is modernizing specialty insurance, consolidating data and automating workflows.
- Electronics. Cofactr provides software and logistics to help hardware companies automate the electronics supply chain.
16) Security was another theme in the batch with founders identifying problems in access, authentication, and data, among other areas.
- Access. Vista helps developers enable role-based access across customer groups, which is a tablestakes feature required for enterprise sales but is not a differentiator.
- Authentication. PropelAuth provides team-based authentication for B2B SaaS companies who onboard teams, not just individuals. Rownd is “killing the static login page” and provides “frictionless sign-in for the modern web”.
- Personal cybersecurity. Agency states “consumer security is now a company problem” and provides enterprise-grade personal cybersecurity.
- Data. JumpWire enforces data security for APIs and databases.
- Physical infrastructure. Palitronica detects cyber attacks on critical physical infrastructure by monitoring power consumption of embedded compute units.
- Deepfakes. Reality Defender provides enterprise deepfake detection for images, video, and audio.
17) In manufacturing, companies such as Industrial Next looked to bring Tesla autonomous technologies to other manufacturers and AiSupervision replaced paper and spreadsheets in factory production lines.
- Autonomous. Industrial Next is bringing Tesla autonomous manufacturing to other manufacturers.
- Production lines. AiSupervision is the “operating system for factory production lines,” replacing paper and spreadsheets.
- IoT. IoTFlows connects industrial machines to the cloud to improve manufacturing efficiency.
- Solar. SmartHelio helps solar developers prevent downtime in solar plants.
- Warehouses. Powerhouse AI automates inventory checking within warehouses by taking pictures on phones.
- Sustainability. Syncware measures factories’ electric currents to detect faulty and idle machines and save power and CO2.
18) Finally, other notable sectors included productivity, gaming, video, and metaverse video.
- Productivity. Capture, the “productivity OS for knowledge workers,” offers a new kind of workspace for tasks, notes, and files. Dart is the “Superhuman for task management” and is built specifically for startups. Heptabase provides a visual note-taking tool for learning complex topics.
- Gaming. WorldQL is full-stack backend for multiplayer games, aiming to make the primitives that make Roblox available to game publishers in their own environments. Bonsai Desk, the “FullStory for 3D experiences,” provides 3D session recordings to help fix UX.
- Video. Ozone, the “Figma for video editing,” claims that “Adobe failed at collaboration” and provides a cloud-powered video editor. Uberduck, the “Canva for programmable video,” provides video that can be automatically generated.
- 3D video. Vimmerse provides a platform and SDK to create, share, and play 3D video. Lifecast provides software to enable 3D video for VR, robotics, and film.
Congratulations to the entire YC W22 batch! The breath of innovation, as evidenced by this post, is stunning, and we look forward to watching as some of these new companies are likely to become industry disruptions and long-lasting platforms.
1. We list startups in a single theme only in the post, although many startups reflect multiple themes.
2. In healthtech, we include startups where the core technology is more “math” than “biology,” and we exclude biotech startups.
3. In addition, we excluded climate and space technologies and emerging markets geographies in this post.