Internet startups are notorious for calling themselves the (insert hot company here) for (insert sector of your startup here).
For example: the Facebook for students, the Groupon for travel, or the Twitter for businesses.
But the companies presenting at Y Combinator’s Demo Day take it a step further. They’re comparing themselves to other startups that most people outside the demonstration room have never heard of.
GitHub, Twilio, Trulia and Heroku are all models for these new startups to emulate. What do they all do? If you don’t know the answer, you’re probably not among the more than 400 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and bloggers piling in to see 66 very early startups give their pitches in hopes of raising dough and making connections.
Those in attendance surely know Kickstarter, the website that lets anyone raise money for projects. Well, Crowdtilt is Kickstarter for groups, letting friends and colleagues pool their money to fund everything from their favorite nonprofit to a weekend trip.
Another popular trick is to evoke the two most successful names of Y Combinator’s past: Airbnb and Dropbox. Both companies have soared to billion-dollar-plus valuations, winning support from Silicon Valley’s hottest VCs.
Airbnb’s room-rental site has emerged as the poster child for collaborative consumption, or the notion of letting people turn their services and excess goods into money makers. Enter Your Mechanic, the Airbnb of car repair, where customers can find the right mechanics in their neighborhood.
Fans of Dropbox will love Screenleap, so says co-founder Tuyen Truong. Just like Dropbox lets users sync their files and share them instantly via the web, Screenleap aims to take the pain out of sharing computer screens, which is currently a “15-step process,” Truong says.
As for the emulators of Github, Twilio, Trulia and Heroku, their presentations were off the record so their names can’t yet be published (no Tweets, no blogs). That leaves a little more time for the masses to learn about who it is they’re copying.