Ambika Bumb — YC Female Founder Stories
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Alright, here we go. There were a bunch of questions about you guys pre-YC, and I think maybe the easiest way to do this is flow through from there. Before you guys were in YC, and then Fellowship, and then Core, and then now.
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Going all the way back, Phil Thomas asked, what did you learn from the Fellowship that you applied during the main YC Core program? When we got in, we were basically, the concept was this cooler, curated Etsy. Everything was online, we would find these cool, emerging brands, sell their product online, and have a content element to it. And so I feel we basically used, I think it was two months, that program, and we just ran experiments every week.
And they were like, no, we would never use this. This has been figured out already. And then, by the time you started working on your product as it is now, that was before YC Core, right? We, in the spirit of YC, asked our users, so we asked all of the brands that sold on our platform what they wanted, and it turned out that they actually needed more help selling offline than they did selling online.
A lot of them made boatloads of money doing craft fairs, and selling in retail environments, or doing pop-ups, or markets. And so what we did is we listened to that and said, okay, what if we basically just started doing this? We, the idea was that, we wanted to test this concept without spending a lot of money. And it works the same way it works now.
And so we looked everywhere, and the first place we ran it was at a bar, there was a bar with a big courtyard. Our weekends, it was, this was all we would do. And so we did it at this courtyard, and then we wanted a bigger space, and so I found this massive… Ali Kriegsman [ It was totally overgrown. We ran it from April of until the end of October that year. And it was a total nightmare, because we were outdoors, it would rain, or it would be the middle of July in New York City and like… Ali Kriegsman [ And yeah, I feel like we were able to prove that that summer.
And so we started, we were like what would be a more long- term solution? And so we started looking at actual, physical retail spaces, like a normal, with an inside. It allowed us to work with larger brands. But mostly it was new brands. You filled it quickly, but how did they even find out about you? We would do that, they would see zero sales on our website, but… Alana Branston [ I think that that was how, and I think with opening the store, it was basically tapping the network of brands that had been doing the pop-up, and then creating a nice little email and sending that to brands on other e-commerce sites that we thought might want to sell in person.
We obviously looked at New York Now, Renegade, other sites that did this IRL sales thing that we were trying, and just always had very, I would say very successful outreach with potential customers, and I think we still do.
- The 50 Startups That Launched At Y Combinator Summer 2015 Demo Day 1
How did you figure that out, once you opened the store? We had an idea of what they would pay from that, and then move that over to the store. But even now, we keep that number very accessible for brands.
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We like the idea of brands that are emerging to be able to partake in this. And you get a wider range of brands that would sell in the space, which is kind of cool. What kind of scale are we talking about? Do you even know the annual revenue numbers of a lot of these brands?
Adora had a question for you about store— Alana Branston [ For Fellowship and Core. She asked you about a couple things, but one of which was store expansion. So for you guys, how do you think about opening up new spaces?
How do you find them? Do you think it will work in every city? What are your thoughts? Definitely trying to be careful there. And I feel like, even now, we have such a good idea of what a successful store looks like, as far as square footage, as far as location, the types of neighborhoods.
I will say, when it comes to how we pick actual stores and the availability of stores, real estate is in crisis right now, in particular retail real estate. How did that happen and how are you guys making money off of that opportunity? People have less of a reason to go to the store for their normal, utility kind of purchase, and so I think those traditional retail stores do get hit because of that.
Also restrictions around how long that lease should be. Brokers and property owners want five to 10 year leases. They want long-term leases. All these stores are opening up everywhere. It just takes 15 seconds of time. The team previously sold a medical device company to Medtronic. Merchants often lack credit card machines. Zeplin helps do that automatically, displaying fonts, color codes, and more for engineers to work with. This reduces friction in the collaboration, and gets products built faster.
The 50 Startups That Launched At Y Combinator Summer Demo Day 1 | afrocolombianidad.info
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It pays any out-of-pocket costs for the employees too. And it brings fair-cost providers more business.
Wheelys lets entrepreneurs avoid these costs by putting a full coffee, juice, and snack-dispensing cafe on a bike-drawn cart. Beyond selling the carts, Wheelys also sells the supplies.
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Verge Genomics can patent these drugs and sell them to big pharmaceutical companies, giving it a natural business model. So when a new server comes online, Foxpass issues a secure account for every user.
It has customers like Yik Yak and Instacart. Oolu users pay over text message. Oolu has 2, people signed up on a waitlist and 1, paying users, the company said. For example, automated the contracts that YC companies use to raise money.
Compliance training is mandatory for pretty much every company. The company says RNA is a barometer for health, and the team worked on the human genome project. Patients take a blood sample, and the company generates a diagnostic report with its RNA sequencing technology and software. Vernox Labs — Big data for construction Vernox Labs analyzes unstructured data from construction projects to figure out how to sidestep building errors.
Construction projects generate a ton of data across many dimensions, which is kept for audit reasons. Patterns of repeated mistakes are buried in this data, and Vernox Labs uses that data to give recommendations that are tailored to new projects.