Y Combinator is known for software success stories like Dropbox, Stripe and Zenefits. But now it’s evolving to make the “real world” a *better* place, too. Last season’s batch had just 11 hardware starupts. 2014’s classes had just 8 and 9. This season, 20 of the 102 startups build hardware — a far bigger percentage than ever before. The include a weight scale that generates a virtual reality avatar of you that shows where you’re getting fat, and a full-service cafe on a bike.
Instead, it’s the production process and market for hardware that has prompted a metamorphosis in the makeup of YC’s batches. “Costs are coming down, and cycle time is coming down,” Altman tells me, referring to how quickly startups can build, test and rebuild. “When that happens in a new area, you get more startups.” Altman gave hardware, enterprise software, and biotech as the current examples that have now “become addressable by startups.”
To adapt, this month YC hired Luke Iseman, a veteran hardware entrepreneur and former CTO of Soil IQ/Edyn, which made an Internet-connected soil sensor for farmers. Iseman oversees the new wave of YC startups building physical products. He’s showing them how to turn a vision into a real business.