Y Combinator startups showing a more grown-up bent

I”m back after Round 2 of startup pitches at Y Combinator’s Demo Day. (For my take on Round 1, read this.) The third and final slate of startups is about to take the stage, but here are some quick thoughts.

Several of the CEOs who’ve pitched aren’t cut from the traditional YC cloth: They’re older, more experienced. There’s even (gasp) some grey hair up there. I asked YC partner (and Gmail creator) Paul Buchheit if it was my imagination, but he concurred that the program is getting applications from a broader array of entrepreneurs than in years past. “It’s not just kids from Stanford,” he told me.

Buchheit said one of his favorite startups in the year’s batch is Seven Cups of Tea, founded by a clinical psychiatrist from Virginia. The idea – and this is kinda wacky – is that while there are lots of people who need emotional help, few of them actually need a licensed therapist; most of them, said CEO Glen Moriarty, just need someone to listen to them. So that’s what the website provides: A clearinghouse for people trained in “active listening,” to whom troubled folks can pour out their hearts on the phone or online. While many of those listening sessions are free, some listeners charge, and the company takes a cut. Here’s Moriarty telling me about his experience pitching in front of YC’s well-heeled investors.

Other “grown up” problems the YC entrepreneurs are tackling include keeping seniors safe from falls at home (Amulyte), protecting the elderly from financial scams (TrueLink Financial) and developing cheaper, smartphone-powered hearing aids (SoundFocus). Not your father’s startups — but they may be your grandfather’s.


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