Meet the Y Combinator Winter 2024 cohort startups with Canadian roots

Y Combinator
W24 participants include Senso, DraftAid, AgentHub, GovernGPT, Datacurve, and more.

Y Combinator’s Winter 2024 demo day is currently underway, and Canada has made up a notable presence in this season’s cohort.

As part of the Silicon Valley-based accelerator’s 38th demo day, over 200 companies from around the world are pitching their ideas to a throng of investors and media.

For this cohort, at least eight of those participants are either Canadian or have a Canadian founder. That total is higher than the country’s representation in Y Combinator’s previous two cohorts: seven Canadian-affiliated firms took part in the accelerator’s Summer 2023 demo day, while six participated in Winter 2023.

Many of the startups with Canadian ties are focused on artificial intelligence (AI) applications, ranging from automating workflows to developing AI copilots for institutional fundraising. Here’s more on the Canada-based and Canadian-founded tech startups in Y Combinator’s Winter 2024 cohort:

Senso

Toronto-based FinTech startup Senso is building an AI-powered knowledge base for customer support, marketing, and sales teams.

Founded in 2018 by CEO Saroop Bharwani and CTO Thomas Nelson, Senso got its start serving credit unions, closing its first funding round in 2019 and an additional $4 million in July 2020, as well as inking a deal with TransUnion the same year.

The startup’s product is aimed at centralizing enterprise knowledge, including documents and conversational data, by using a large language model (LLM) to improve information flow across support and marketing teams.

DraftAid

Toronto-based AI startup DraftAid purports to be the first-ever generative AI for computer-aided design for the manufacturing sector. The startup’s product is designed to dramatically reduce the time it takes for engineers to create detailed drawings.

DraftAid was founded by CEO Mohammed Al-arnawoot, product owner Abdullah Elqabbany, and CTO Tahsin Rahman, born out of Elqabbany’s experience as a mechanical design team member, where he created thousands of drawings and longed for a more efficient process.

Since its launch in August, DraftAid has secured paid pilots with contracts valued at $150,000.

AgentHub

Vancouver-based startup AgentHub has built a no-code platform designed to automate repetitive and complex workflows with AI. The startup offers tools it says can operate at a far greater speed compared to the traditional process of writing, testing, and productizing code. 

AgentHub was founded in 2023 by Max Brodeur-Urbas, a Microsoft and Oculus alum, and Rahul Behal, who previously worked as a machine learning engineer at Amazon.

GovernGPT

Toronto-based GovernGPT offers an AI copilot for institutional fundraising and buy-side investor relations. The startup aims to replace the manual work of filling out diligence questions, by automating the process of funding fresh answers to queries, database maintenance, and intracompany communication.

GovernGPT was founded by CEO Mamal Amini and Oliver Walerys. Prior to founding the startup, Amini trained LLMs on the Cerebras chip, and worked in AI at Huawei. He also co-authored foundational AI models with Yoshua Bengio.

Datacurve

Datacurve is looking to provide startups and foundational model labs with high-quality code data, sourced from skilled software engineers. The startup hopes to fill the need for well-curated, quality training data by offering a gamified annotation platform that not only draws in top-tier engineers but makes solving complex coding problems an enjoyable experience.

While based in San Francisco, Datacurve’s co-founders are both Canadian. Serena Ge began building software at a young age, starting with a climbing training app for Team Canada athletes, and interned at Toronto-based Cohere before founding Datacurve. Ge and co-founder and CTO Charley Lee are graduates of the University of Waterloo’s computer science program. Lee has had previous experience interning at Google.

Clarum

Clarum aims to help private equity firms close more deals by conducting quicker due diligence with AI. The startup’s tool, which it says takes minutes to set up, centralizes data, answers diligence questionnaires in minutes, and finds critical data easily.

Like Datacurve, Clarum is based in San Francisco, but its founding team is composed of Canadians. CEO Anton Otaner and CTO Tommy He studied at McGill University before founding the startup. Otaner worked as a software engineer at Mint, while He worked as a software developer at Montreal-based startup Optable prior to the duo starting Clarum.

Blacksmith

Blacksmith claims it can help companies run their continuous integration—the build and unit testing stages of the software release process—up to twice as fast, at half the cost by running these processes on high-performance gaming central processing units.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Blacksmith’s three co-founders met at the University of Waterloo. CEO Aditya Jayaprakash did research in theoretical computer science and later joined Canadian-founded Faire, while co-CTOs Aayush Shah and Aditya Maru were early engineers at Cockroach Labs.

The trio observed that many of these firms were allocating millions of dollars and dedicating a substantial portion of their engineering teams to a continuous integration process that frequently proved to be sluggish and inefficient. Their startup is positioned as an alternative that can support companies in their quest to become more streamlined and efficient.

Basalt Tech

San Francisco-based Basalt Tech is a spacecraft software company based in San Francisco. The startup is developing an operating system that allows different types of satellites to work together and produces optimized instructions for fleets of spacecraft.

The startup was founded by CEO Max Bhatti and COO Alex Choi, who were previously lead engineers at the MIT CubeSat program. Previously, the duo worked as systems engineers at SpaceX and the UK Ministry of Defense. Choi, who is Canadian, received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto last year.

Attunement

San Francisco-based Attunement offers a remote monitoring solution that allows healthcare providers to track patients’ behavioural health. The platform provides automated patient assessments at regular intervals, chat-based mental health detection, physiological biomarkers, and self-reported inputs for in-treatment patients.

Attunement was founded by CEO Angie Muller and CTO Briar Smith. Smith, who is Canadian and University of Waterloo alumnus, previously worked at several organizations in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, including BrainStation, FleetCarma, and WATonomous.

Circleback

San Francisco-based Circleback aims to help teams get more out of meetings. The startup automatically identifies feature requests that come up during product demo calls, creates tasks for each of them, or allows users to update their CRM with customer details after a sales call.

Circleback was founded by CEO Ali Haghani and Kevin Jacyna, both Canadians who graduated from the University of British Columbia.

Feature image courtesy Y Combinator.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

0 replies on “Meet the Y Combinator Winter 2024 cohort startups with Canadian roots”