Y Combinator Goes Global - Winter 2021 Demo Day

While the pandemic has severely restricted travel this past year, the tech ecosystem continues to trend global, with Y Combinator's most recent batch being the most geographically diverse ever.  50% of the 319 startups featured were based outside of the US - hailing from over 40 different countries.  What does this mean for Silicon Valley, multinational corporates, and our tech appetites? For one, it signals that innovation sourcing should be expansive in its geographic scope, and that bustling global markets may be ripe for growth.   

We vetted this most recent cohort to identify the 5 startups most interesting to corporate partners from a technology, new market, or ingenuity perspective.  Each of the five hail from a different geographic region, giving you visibility into the global innovation ecosystem and market.  

North America

Mezli - A robot-restaurant-in-a-box

Mezli - A robot-restaurant-in-a-box

The pandemic shifted our eating habits, exposed fragilities in our supply chain and illuminated the challenges with a labor force that can get sick.  Mezli is combining fast, affordable and healthy options with a fully automated robo-restaurant in a shipping container.  With Mediterranean-style bowls at $4.99 - it crates safe, healthy and wallet friendly meals on-demand.  Partnering with startups such as Mezli early can help ensure a healthy distribution point for your food ingredient or product as the shifting food market continues to evolve. 

South America

Estoca - The logistic operating system for e-commerce in LATAM

Estoca - The logistics operating system for e-commerce in LATAM

Brazilian e-commerce jumped 57% in the first 5 months of 2020, reaching $20.5B in sales revenue and continuing to soar. Estoca plans to further unlock this market by selling warehouse management and logistics software to bolster LATAM logistics infrastructure. As e-commerce continues its ascent, its the last-mile delivery and logistics that truly fuel its growth.  Corporate partners would be wise to look outside of the US for ideas and new platforms that can help facilitate swift global solutions to this vibrant challenge.


FanPlay - Influencers cash-in through gamification and mobile apps

FanPlay - Influencers cash-in through gamification and mobile apps

FanPlay is a mobile app where influencers can host live games to monetize their fans and followers with real money. Based in India where over 50% of the population is under the age of 25, social media apps that incorporate gamification align well with this social media savvy and mobile-first generation. By tapping into this platform early, brands can connect with this highly influential and lucrative consumer base in a fun, interactive, and social way.  There are also tremendous learnings for brands around how these influencers are monetizing their actions, engaging their fans and creating opportunities for social commerce.


NowPay - Financial wellness for corporate employees

NowPay - Financial wellness for corporate employees

Founded by ex-IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon employees, NowPay is a fintech startup focused on corporate employees in emerging markets. From instantly paying bills to getting an advance on their salaries, NowPay aims to cover the 4 pillars of financial wellness: saving, spending, budgeting, and borrowing. Partnering with NowPay for corporate offices in emerging markets could help streamline operation and improve employee productivity and happiness for years to come.  


Infracost - Reduce your company's cloud costs

Infracost - Reduce your company's cloud costs

Infracost is an open-source tool that helps enterprises reduce their cloud costs. Utilized by engineering teams, their app shows how code changes affect cloud costs - leaving comments such as "this change will increase your AWS bill by 25%".  In a world where data is king, corporates can partner with startups such as Infracost to keep growing cloud costs down, leading to direct and substantial savings. 

As this most recent YC cohort demonstrates, a successful innovation strategy must be global in reach to ensure a robust funnel of new technologies and business initiatives.  At VentureFuel, we understand that a state-of-the-art innovation strategy requires an expansive lens, looking to all corners of the world to find the right solutions for your specific corporate need.  Wide lens, narrow focus.  We have executed over 100 pilots and partnerships with brands like Nike, AB InBev, Comcast NBCUniversal and Beam Suntory - let's discuss your innovation strategy and how we can help you architect the future. 

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