Last week, Y Combinator’s summer Demo Days took the stage in SF with a whopping 197 startups pitching to an audience of investors. While Demo Day used to be a debut for many companies, their recent startup batches often boast major valuations and impending funding even before they pitch.
The sheer number of startups to evaluate is daunting, and most are irrelevant to corporate brands, so we vetted through the full cohort to identify 5 that could be relevant for our corporate partners.
  1. The Custom Movement - Sneakers x Art x Culture x Crowdsourced access. This company is creating a marketplace for affordable custom sneakers made by independent artists. Custom Movement’s platform is certainly fertile ground for brands and artists to collaborate on unique kicks that tell a deep story and build truly authentic brand relevance.
  2. Wren – This greentech startup has the power to capture the hearts and minds of your ecologically conscious consumers through its actionable solution against climate change. Users sign up on Wren and can track their carbon footprint. The company then plants trees to make up for the community’s carbon use. Partnering with Wren could provide your brand with the right eco-solution to meet your marketing and CSR goals.
  3. Beacons AI – Want a personalized shout out, message or response from your favorite influencer? Beacons is building an influencer marketplace that allows users to ask influencers questions and receive short video responses. From practical conversations to pure fandom, this platform could help connect your brand’s influencers directly to your consumers in direct and impactful ways.
  4. Athlane – Whether you’re knee-deep in esports activation or still considering your brand’s place in this powerhouse of an ecosystem, you’ll want to take note of Athlane. This startup is building what it calls the “NCAA for esports,” powered by its software, to allow college esports teams and athletes to compete and monetize their games. The power of collegiate allegiance combined with esports fanaticism might be just the recipe to supercharge your brand’s presence.
  5. Museum of Future Experiences – This new experiential museum turns physical space into trippy, engaging virtual reality experiences. In just 3 weeks since its launch in NYC, it’s completely sold out. With that level of popularity and interactivity, everything from tech and brand integration in the exhibit, to museum access/hospitality as a customer loyalty perk, could be valuable and buzzworthy for your brand.
There were certainly other interesting companies at YC this year – but as always, the most important thing is picking companies and technologies that solve your specific corporate challenge. At VentureFuel, we track over 150 global Demo Days per year to keep track of the newest, most interesting and most valuable opportunities to push your innovation forward. But we don’t send you endless lists, we deliver custom vetted solutions that solve your problem. If you’re interested in exploring access to this customized discovery flow for your brand or how to launch pilots, please reach out to: