The 9 Most Exciting Startups Out of Y Combinator’s S18

Hook these kids up with an IPO!

From yeast-grown cannabinoids to project management software to consumer apps looking to gauge opinions on college campuses, a wide variety of spaces was represented on the second day of pitches from Y Combinator’s Summer 2018 class.


The cost of childcare is one of the biggest financial burdens American families face, and though there’s up to $30 billion in government money available for childcare in the U.S. each year, it’s locked up in flexible spending accounts that are so complicated that 90 percent of that funding goes unused.

Kinside wants to help by automating the claims process. It also serves as a childcare management tool, letting parents pay their care providers with a Venmo-like feature, while making it simpler for companies to offer childcare benefits that can help attract talented employees. The company, which launched just six weeks ago, says it plans to target employers with more than 20 employees, which is a big market. There are more than 620,000 such businesses in the U.S. As for the total addressable market Kinside sees itself chasing, it’s $2.8 billion. Read more about Kinside here.

CB Therapeutics

Sher Butt, a former lab directory at Steep Hill, saw that cannabinoids were as close to a miracle cure for pain, epilepsy and other chronic conditions as medicine was going to get. But plant-based cannabinoids were costly and produced inconsistent results. Alongside Jacob Vogan, Butt realized that biosynthesizing cannabinoids would reduce production costs by a factor of ten and boost production 24 times current yields. With a deep experience commercializing drugs for Novartis and as the founder of the cannabis testing company, SB Labs, Butt and his technical co-founder are uniquely positioned to bring this new therapy to market.

Osh’s Affordable Pharmaceuticals

Osh’s Affordable Pharmaceuticals is a public benefit corporation connecting doctors and patients with sources of low-cost, compounded pharmaceuticals. The company is looking to decrease barriers to entry for drugs for rare diseases. Three weeks ago the company introduced a drug to treat Wilson’s Disease. There was no access to the drug that treats the disease before in Brazil India or Canada. It slashes the cost of drugs from $30,000 a month to $120 per month. The company estimates it has a total addressable market of $17 billion. “Generic drug pricing is a crisis, people are dying because they can’t get access to the medicine they need,” says chief executive Alex Oshmyansky. Osh’s might have a solution.


Put simply, Dinesafe wants to ensure that outbreaks of food poisoning will be a thing of the past. Foodborne illnesses sicken 48 million people, and kill roughly 3,000 people in the U.S. alone each year. Through its, the company allows for user-generated reports of food poisoning to detect outbreaks in real time. In fact, the company says it predicted that Chipotle would have food safety issues prior to its spate of outbreaks earlier this year.

The company has 25,000 consumer subscribers and offers data services, surveillance, benchmarking and industry analytics to corporate customers and 280 public health agencies. The service is helpful for restaurants, too. If they want to stay ahead of these trends, they need this data. No wonder 16 restaurant chains are already signed up for the service.

Leena AI

Leena AI is building HR bots to answer questions for employees instantly. The bots can be integrated into Slack or Workplace by Facebook, and they’re built and trained using information in policy documents and back-end systems.

Some of of the questions and answers are pretty standard, covering things like vacations and expense reports. But Leena AI also uses natural language processing to understand a company’s unique terminology or just the unusual ways someone might ask those questions. Read more about Leena AI here.

Cambridge Glycoscience

Looking to bake the perfect treat with a sugar substitute that can mimic not just the sweetness, but the gooey caramelization and sticky sweetness that typically only comes from real sugar? Well, YC company Cambridge Glycoscience has the sweetener for you. The company expects to produce its sugar substitutes at a cost that can make low- and no-sugar foods even more accessible for mainstream consumers. So toss that corn syrup and get ready for a new flavor revolution.

Their manufacturing process will let them produce their sugar substitute at scale and they have a patent portfolio to protect their innovation. Notably, they have signed letters of intent with five companies already, including Haribo.

Four Growers

The robot revolution is coming for agriculture, and one of the places where those robots will first raise their flag is in the hothouse. That’s the vision that Four Growers has laid out as it seeks to sell its robots to farms already squeezed by a labor shortage that shows no sign of relenting. The company pitches consistent quality of picked grapes or cherry tomatoes and a “workforce” that’s dependable and efficient. Four Growers predicts it can replace at least four human laborers with its robots, representing incredible economic efficiencies for growers.


Phiar is building an augmented reality navigation app for driving that shows a driver exactly where to go without taking their eyes off the wheel. With efficient AI fit into a smartphone, Phiar’s software can run at 200 fps on a dash-mounted iPhone.

With deep AI and computer vision expertise plus a team with members from Apple, Microsoft and VMware, Phiar wants to build the “killer AR application” to address the 1.7 billion people who use a navigation app each month. Phiar is counting on AR being the next meaningful evolution in driving navigation tech and a software solution that keeps a driver’s eyes on the road in front of them.


Breaking freelancers from the month-to-month boom-and-bust payment cycles that bind them, Oxygen provides working capital loans to freelancers who can go months without getting a paycheck. The company is more than willing to work with a group of borrowers who collectively make $1.4 trillion in 1099 income annually and who are locked out of loans. Oxygen offers flat-fee access to credit and free mobile banking, all while using machine learning to determine credit worthiness. Freelance workers of the world unite, indeed!

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