MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — If there’s one thing Silicon Valley is very good at, it’s figuring out a way to take the pain out of just about any “regular life” task or nuisance with the simple tap of a button, usually in an app on your smartphone.
Whether some of these services are solving “hard problems” is debatable, but we thought we’d share the Y Combinator Summer 2014 startups working to make your life that much easier.
MTailor lets your order a custom tailored shirt simply with your phone. All you have to do is take a photo of yourself with your phone or tablet, design the shirt you want (fabric, cuffs, collar, etc.), and it will arrive in three weeks, for $69 to $89. If you’re like many dudes, you don’t like to shop or go to a tailor, so this is perfect. And if simplicity and convenience weren’t advantage enough, MTailor is also 20 percent more accurate in measuring you than in-person tailors are, so no more ill-fitting shirts due to human errors. The only downside is that the company is currently only suggesting shirt fits, not colors or patterns, so there’s still a chance that you might buy a funny-looking shirt.
Driving can be a pain, but parking is a bigger one. Vatler wants to help people by parking their car for them once they’ve arrived at their job. The company is first targeting commuters — 200,000 drive to San Francisco every day — but the service could be just as useful for events, meetings, restaurants, and really any situation that requires someone to deal with the horrible task of parking. So far, employees at TidePool, Eventbrite, Instacart, and other companies are already using Vatler. But Vatler will have to put up a fight: ValetAnywhere, Zirx, and others are also working to provide this to you.
Carlypso will sell your car for you, and all you have to do is ask it to and then accept the buyer’s money. Here’s how it works: You sign up to sell your car with the startup. It sends you a certified mechanic and inspector to check out and clean your car. Carlypso takes care of suggesting a price (based on data it has gathered) and listing your car on various marketplaces. Prospective buyers can test-drive your car using a digital key card (like you do when picking up a Zipcar), and you just accept or deny offers. Carlypso is not the only company that’s spotted an opportunity here. Beepi, Instamotor, and others are all working to take car selling out of your hands.
The most relaxing of all “Uber-for-X” services, literally, Unwind Me lets you order a licensed massage therapist right to your door. Apparently, one in six Americans got a massage last year (we must be very stressed from the jobs we work in order to afford this). But this isn’t just a win for customers. Therapists are earning two to three times more than the industry average of therapists working for spas and other businesses.
Fixed makes your parking tickets disappear — most of the time. The startup fights your parking tickets on your behalf, largely exploiting the fact that lots of tickets (50 percent of them, according to Fixed) actually have errors and mistakes that render them invalid. And because you’re so grateful to that the company has saved you both money (paying the ticket) and time (fighting it yourself), you pay it 25 percent of what the ticket would have cost you. Fixed is currently processing 400 tickets per week in San Francisco, either a signal that San Franciscans can’t park or that parking maids are out for blood.
Why drag yourself to a store to buy coffee when you can buy it online? Y Combinator’s Craft Coffee wants to put coffee shopping in the Interwebs and take a chunk of the $4 billion a year we spend on beans just to make coffee at home. But Craft Coffee doesn’t just sell you coffee, it helps you figure out what coffee you really want. “Tell us what you drink. We’ll sell you the coffee you love,” the startup’s Mike Horn said during his presentation. And why not? You might well already pay Sprig, Munchery, and SpoonRocket to feed you, so why not splurge on Craft Coffee to keep you caffeinated?
Zenamins mails you personalized vitamins. Yep, no more pill packs, big containers of vitamins, and overall confusion around which vitamins you need to take. Apparently, 40 million Americans take three or more vitamins per day — or at least try to, as many forget to or give up, according to Zenamins. To solve that, Zenamins will customize a vitamin regimen based on the profile you create and the health aspects you care about, and then just send you monthly packs of the vitamins you should take. Moreover, Zenamins can enable health professionals, and even celebrities, to brand their own vitamins or mixes — you could someday consume whatever vitamins Kim Kardashian recommends. The company is also building out a database to continue refining recommendations and health data.