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Star investors (and other stars) come out for Y Combinator's Demo Day

August 24, 2010 |  6:35 pm

Dozens of Silicon Valley’s top investors turned out to see the latest crop of companies from Y Combinator, which kicked off the 11th Demo Day at its Mountain View headquarters on Tuesday.

Thirty-six companies showed off what they had built and made their pitches in an "American Idol"-style audition for judges with deep pockets and connections. They each had 2.5 minutes to give presentations. With a mini heat wave hitting Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs could blame their sweaty brows on the weather.

Y Combinator is like a boot camp for entrepreneurs, total immersion in start-up life courtesy of Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, the brains behind the operation that invests time and money in promising teams and technologies.

AshtonThe 36 companies made this Demo Day the largest. Graham said nine of the 36 are already profitable.

Among the notables in the audience: prolific angel investors Ron Conway, Aydin Senkut, Ariel Poler, Jeff Clavier and Keith Rabois (who will soon spend his time on Square rather than on investments). Adding to the star power were Ashton Kutcher and wife Demi Moore. Kutcher helped catapult Twitter into the mainstream and invests in technology ventures. But he wasn't the only one holding court. Moore reeled in entrepreneurs with smart, thoughtful suggestions for new features.

“The tech world doesn’t get a lot of movie stars,” said Rudy Adler, one of the guys behind 1000Memories, a website that gives people a place to remember the people they love who have died. “It adds to my credibility when I say that I just presented my company to Ashton Kutcher,” Adler said. “Ron Conway is a household name around here. But my friends don’t know who he is.”

Here are the companies that presented:

FutureAdvisor: Gives personal recommendations on financial planning.

AdGrok: Helps you run AdWords campaigns.

Koduco: Multiplayer iPad games

FanVibe: Interact with friends and fans about sports and sporting events.

GinzaMetrics: A dashboard to see how your search marketing campaign is performing.

HireHive: Video prescreening for hiring

Hipmunk: New flight search tools that only shows you the good flights.

PagerDuty: Alerts you when your systems go down.

The Fridge: ”Facebook without Facebook,” share content privately.

Chart.io: Turns data into charts in seconds.

Gantto:  Trying to challenge Microsoft Project.

Brushes: Illustrations done with the iPad. (It already has 250,000 paying users and holds the record for the most profitable start-up on Demo Day, Graham says).

OhLife: Personal journal.

Simperium: Makes mobile products, including a note-taking program called Simplenote.

GazeHawk: Eye tracking for everyone with webcams.

Rapportive: Gives you contact profiles in Gmail.

MessageParty: Ties location to chat, say at a concert or sporting event.

Whereoscope: Child-tracking service on mobile devices for parents.

Leftronic: Dashboards for companies to see metrics.

inDinero: Imports data from bank accounts to create a financial dashboard for businesses.

Teevox:  Turns mobile devices into remotes to surf the Internet (with no software to download or hardware to buy).

1000memories: Friends and family can share photos and stories about people they love who have died.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Charles Dharapa / Associated Press

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