Past Requests for Startups

Cleaner Commodities

At current rates of deforestation, there will be no rainforests in 100 years.

There are many environmental reasons for why this is bad, but it will also be problematic for the industries relying on these increasingly scarce resources.

Startups have already started to address the need for cleaner consumer products, but industrial commodities like palm oil and soy are getting less attention.

For example, palm oil is the most used vegetable oil in the world -- it’s in about 50% of grocery-store products. In 2016, the global palm oil market was valued at over $65 billion and it’s expected to reach $92 billion by 2021. But, palm oil production tends to rely on crude, environmentally destructive slash/burn methods, exploitative labor practices, and contributes the most global-warming emissions of any commodity aside from beef.

We think these big market/low-tech industries could be interesting to go after. Examples of startups we’d like to see apply are those working on synthetics, cleaner alternatives, or supply-chain improvements. Price point will likely be very important here, more so than for consumer products. It would also be great if new jobs are created or if the solution involves reforesting.

Computer Security

Securing computers is difficult because the work required is so asymmetric -- the attacker only has to find one flaw, while a defender has to protect against every possible weakness.

Unfortunately, securing computers isn’t just hard—it’s critically and increasingly important. As more critical information and systems are connected to the Internet, we become more vulnerable to cyberattacks and the disruption is more severe.

Programming Tools

Software developers are shaping more and more of our daily lives.

The products they use to make software are a powerful lever: they have a dramatic impact on the quality and kind of software being built.

We're interested in helping developers create better software, faster. This includes new ways to write, understand, and collaborate on code, and the next generation of tools and infrastructure for delivering software continuously and reliably.

We believe it's especially important to build products that make software development accessible to the widest part of our society. In fact, we’re especially interested in new ways to program. There are probably much better ways for people to program, and figuring one out would have a huge impact.

The frameworks are better, the languages a bit more clever, but mostly we’re doing the same things.

One way to think about this is: what comes after programming languages?

Robotics

Robots will be a major way we get things done in the physical world.

Our definition is pretty broad--for example, we count a self-driving car as a robot. Robots are how we'll likely explore space and maybe even the human body.

Safeguards Against Fake Video

Fake videos are on the rise

The tech to create doctored videos that are indistinguishable from reality now exists, and soon it will be widely available to anyone with a smartphone.

We are interested in funding tech that will equip the public with the tools they need to identify fake video and audio.

Voice Apps

Tens of millions of households have smart speakers.

We are interested in figuring out which voice apps will deliver the most value on this new platform.

Voice applications are so different from typical web/mobile applications that we think creating products that engage and retain users will require a lot of innovation.

Voice app companies who participate in YC will have a direct channel to the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant teams.

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