These 10 Y Combinator startups offer fixes for society’s problems by Cromwell Schubarth

These 10 Y Combinator startups offer fixes for society’s problems by Cromwell Schubarth

Silicon Valley has been criticized in recent years for making life harder for folks who can’t afford the likes of an Uber ride, a Nest thermostat or can’t pay extra to have their meals delivered.

A group of founders who pitched at the first of two Y Combinator Summer 2016 Demo Days on Monday, however, are tackling issues faced by populations that have been largely left behind by the recent tech boom.

To be sure, there are plenty of startups in this batch of 99 new businesses and nonprofits that are solving problems that the average Bay Area resident probably isn’t even aware of — like encrypted enterprise cloud storage, drone crash avoidance and in-flight virtual reality entertainment.

But 10 of the 48 companies that presented on Monday say they hope to really change the world for the better, not in the self-serving way that phrase too often gets uttered during a venture investment pitch.

Paul Buchheit, who took over managing YC’s core program this year, said these types of businesses have long been part of the Mountain View accelerator’s mission.

He pointed to two of the startups who pitched on Monday — Simbi and New Incentives — as prime examples from this batch.

Simbi has set up an exchange where people can barter their services. New Incentives is offering African mothers cash if they have their baby in a health clinic.

“As we have more automation and the question arises about what people do with their time, the obvious answer to me is they help each other out,” he said of Simbi. “People who may not have a lot of income can still have a really rich life by bartering their skills with people in their community.”


Cromwell Schubarth is TechFlash Editor at the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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