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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The latest startups from Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator that showed off their products at its demo day Monday are the first group to experience the entire three-month program under COVID-19's shadow.

What's new: The pandemic not only pushed the whole Y Combinator process fully online but in many cases also shaped the startups' choice of market and product, with many tackling suddenly booming areas like online education, e-commerce, and remote communications.

The big picture: It's not surprising to see so many companies building tools and services that are directly useful during the pandemic. Entrepreneurs are known to be easily inspired by a crisis or challenge, and YC's latest group is no exception.

For example:

  • Young kids' online education: Startups like Hellosaurus and Zipschool say they've built entertaining, yet educational video content for young children — a promise that's sure to appeal to exhausted parents who have been juggling their own work while caring for kids full-time since schools closed in the spring.
  • E-commerce tools for small businesses: Companies like Hotplate, which lets chefs sell home cooked meals online, and In Stock, which lets customers get products delivered from local retails quickly, are tapping into the online shopping boom.
  • Remote work and socializing: Several Y Combinator startups, like workplace social network Mesh, are building tools for the new era of remote work. Others, like video-chat startups Rally and Together Video Chat, are tackling remote socializing.
  • Online entertainment: From artists and entertainers to fitness instructors, many professions have been forced to move their money-making activities entirely online. These include Jemi, which helps customers sell merchandise and virtual experiences like video chats to fans, and Reach.Live, which offers a suite of tools for running an online live content business.

1 fun thing: According to a few investors who spoke to Axios, one of the hottest deals in this group of startups is a company named Trove, which helps employers communicate and manage compensation packages for employees and candidates.

  • Trove isn't presenting this week to investors because it's already raised a sizable new round of funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, per sources. (The startup has not responded to Axios' request for comment.)

Go deeper: The pandemic downturn might yield a new startup wave

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Nov 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America mortgages its future on school closures

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The decision by many U.S. states and cities to keep kids out of school because of COVID-19 will have crippling economic and health effects that could last for decades.

Why it matters: Evidence shows that children, especially younger kids, present a low risk for COVID-19 transmission and that remote education is no replacement for in-person schooling. By keeping schools closed — even as more risky activities are allowed to continue — the U.S. is kneecapping the next generation.

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

6 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.