August 29, 2020
Image: Karyne Levy/Protocol
Hello and welcome to Pipeline. This week is a little different: I'm going to dig into two different Demo Days I attended this week. Let me know if you enjoy these sorts of dispatches.
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When I started writing about Demo Day back in 2015, Y Combinator's class was much smaller than it is now. But in 2020, the overarching idea is still the same: The startups presenting could be the next Airbnb, Dropbox or Instacart. You just have to be able to spot it.
This week, I tuned in to the two days of YC's Demo Day, plus a "Demo Faire" held by alumni of South Park Commons (a kind of "techie collective" that's closer to the idea of a builder community where people can join without a startup in the works). That meant I listened to eight hours of pitches on Zoom, including the 197 Y Combinator startups who each got one minute, and the 16 startups from South Park Commons that were exhibiting for its alumni fair. (Technically, one of the YC companies was also an alum of SPC, so that's how we get to 212 companies total.)
Unfortunately, I can't tell you what the Airbnb of 2020 is. But here are a few of the people, pitch lines, startup themes and competitive deals that I thought were fascinating.
The hard part of listening to all of these pitches in a row is that many start to sound the same, whether it's another API, another B2B marketplace, or the seventh "Shopify for …" (Also, take South Park Commons' lead to build-in guided stretch breaks during hours in front of Zoom.) But if you had to ask me to pick some favorites from the week, the startups I liked included:
Edge computing is an emerging concept that holds great promise. AI best practices are still evolving in the cloud. Join us on Tuesday at 9 a.m. PT for our virtual event Computing at the Edge. Protocol's Tom Krazit will host a discussion with Edgeworx's Farah Papaioannou, IBM's Rob High, Cox Communications' Nancy Li and Swim.ai's Simon Crosby. This event is presented in partnership with Intel.