Beyond Apps: These Startups Are Tackling Real-World Problems

Nick Statt | CNET | August 21, 2013

Startup incubator Y Combinator demos a refreshingly high volume of companies tackling real issues, from hearing loss and elderly care to immigrant hiring and sending money home.

Hopes, dreams, and buzzwords were in good supply Tuesday as startup incubator Y Combinator held its 17th Demo Day at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. Featuring 49 newly minted and potentially lucrative companies and a roomful of hungry investors, the day-long affair granted young entrepreneurs a chance to secure the next startup stepping stone while also framing the current tech landscape over the course of roughly three hours of elevator pitches.

But what was once a springboard for major players in now-colossal markets like shared services and consumer cloud storage has of late been consumed by the mundane, overdone, or just outright indulgent. This year was no exception: there were not one, but two food delivery services; a laundry delivery company; a flower delivery company; another supposed email killer; and a company that hopes to replace physical restaurant menus with digital versions on your tablet. You can hold your applause.