MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Twice a year, the most influential incubator in the world, Y Combinator, holds a demo day for its most recent batch of companies.
This year, the largest batch ever — 114 companies — is taking the stage for a few short minutes each, hoping to connect with an audience of angel investors, venture capitalists, corporate business development types — and fellow entrepreneurs.
It’s like a graduation ceremony for the most elite university in the world. This year, YC partner (and alumnus) Sam Altman told the crowd, the company funded less than 2 percent of all applicants to the program.
Additionally, all of the companies are using the “Handshake deal protocol,” a template designed to get founders and investors to a quick agreement before hashing out the nitty-gritty in the inevitably lengthy legal documentation.
But at 114 companies, it’s still a huge program — about twice the size of YC batches just a year ago. And the current batch is a substantial chunk of YC’s overall set of 842 companies to date.
There are so many that this year’s “demo day” is actually two days.
With a 2 percent acceptance rate, just getting into YC is an accomplishment. Many of the 470-odd people who have checked in to today’s event are no doubt here to get access to these super-hot entrepreneurs, knowing that the founders have already passed a stringent vetting process. It almost doesn’t matter what the companies learned or did during the YC program. Indeed, it seems clear that YC takes a fairly hands-off approach relative to other incubators: The organization offers a lot of resources, including weekly lectures from famous entrepreneurs and investors, but in the end leaves it more or less up to the companies to motivate themselves, produce a product, and attract the next round.
Still, it seems clear that YC has coached these companies well on how to pitch successfully. Most make reference to their traction, touting amazing annual run rates (based on the current month’s revenues, of course), quadruple-digit growth rates (even if the actual number of users is still in the low thousands), and, in a few cases, even profitability.
If there’s a bubble on, these companies at least know how to position themselves for its inevitable end.
A few more statistics on this class:
- 18 countries are represented
- 25 companies have a female cofounder
- 9 companies have a Black cofounder
- 6 companies have a Hispanic cofounder
- 30.27 is the average founder age
- 20 companies are consumer-focused
- 20 companies are B2B-focused
- 18 are biomedical
- 14 are marketplaces
- 13 are enterprise technology companies
I’ll be taking notes on the demos and talking to attendees to find out what looks promising. So if you’ve got a hot tip on one of these startups, let me and the VB news team know.