One of the first things I did when I returned from Demo Day this March was to set up a SPV with my partner Firas (he’s the CEO of Marcella) to invest in YC startups. We named it BWB Ventures (‘Bubble What Bubble’, geddit?) and ended up investing in 8 YC startups, 6 from the batch that just graduated and 2 from previous batches. Here’s the final list:
Mashgin – http://mashgin.com/
Lully – http://lullysleep.com/
Cinder – http://cindercooks.com/
Smarking – http://smarking.net/
Padlet – https://padlet.com
GiveMeTap – http://www.givemetap.com/
Unwind Me – http://unwind.me/
Kuhcoon – http://kuhcoon.com/
We don’t necessarily believe all of these will eventually become billion dollar companies (if we are really really lucky maybe one will, we just don’t know which one), but we don’t think betting on the next billion dollar startup is the only reason to invest. Here are a few factors that informed our investment decision:
- We like the mission. GiveMeTap for instance. Not only does it help the environment by cutting down the use of plastic bottles, every bottle purchased gives a child in Africa 5 years worth of drinking water. Lully’s mission is to fix sleep. A fundamental human need.
- We like the product. Cinder is a really good looking smart grill. Steak tastes amazing too. Unwind Me brings high quality massage to the comfort of your home.
- We like the founders. Smarking is serving a market that’s as unsexy as can be – helping car park owners optimize pricing. But the founders struck us as really smart, really focused, and they obviously have thought deeply about the problem they are trying to solve. Padlet is the easiest way to stick something on the Internet. The founder has managed to bring the startup very far with a very lean team by focusing on the product.
- We like the tech. Mashgin uses computer vision to build a check out machine that recognises objects without the need for barcodes. Massive market if they can commercialise the product. Just think of Ikea cafeterias.
- We believe we can help. Kuhcoon automates and optimizes your Facebook and AdWord campaign. Lots of potential clients in South East Asia. We can help win those clients.
Some people think 8 is too many and that this is a spray-and-pray approach, but honestly whittling down from 110 really high quality startups that presented at Demo Day was incredibly difficult. In the end it came down to chance and chemistry – who we managed to speak to in person, and who we felt comfortable with.
Plus I’m Chinese. Has to be 8.