The University of Southampton

Computer Science graduates placed among world's elite startups at Y Combinator

Published: 19 March 2019
Illustration
(l-r) Aura Vision CEO Daniel Martinho-Corbishley, CPO Jonathan Blok and CTO Jaime Lomeli.

Startup founders from the University of Southampton have taken their place among the world's best startups at Silicon Valley's Y Combinator accelerator.

Former student entrepreneurs from Aura Vision and Ysplit - formerly Cluttr - outshone thousands of candidates to join the latest cohort of the world-famous accelerator, which has launched countless global brands including Airbnb, Dropbox and Reddit.

Aura Vision has built upon cutting-edge postgraduate research in the School of Electronics and Computer Science to produce a visitor analytics platform for retail stores, while Ysplit has combined the talents of three engineering and computer science graduates to develop a virtual card which shares transactions between groups of friends.

The startups, which were both nurtured in the University's Future Worlds on-campus accelerator, have each received a $150,000 investment and are now valued at over $2 million. They will present to a select audience of investors and press at today's renowned Demo Day as they complete a three-month journey refining products that were first devised during their studies.

Aura Vision helps retailers measure their audience in unprecedented detail, by using state-of-the-art computer vision techniques on existing camera systems to provide precise visitor insights for footfall, heat maps, peel-off rates, area dwell times and service wait times. The startup was co-founded by Daniel Martinho-Corbishley and Jaime Lomeli during their PhDs in the Vision, Learning and Control Research Group.

"The opportunity to join a world-leading US accelerator has put us in a very strong position to scale our sales pipeline in a retail market that is ten times larger than in the UK," Daniel says. "Y Combinator is designed to slingshot you toward Demo Day and we a raring to go in front of the hottest angels and venture capitalists in the Valley.

"It's been a hard graft in the 18 months since we handed in our theses, but we feel so lucky to have been able to commercialise what we first started in Southampton. Our product is in live deployment with paying customers and we are always developing and improving our offer, so expect some exciting announcements in the next few months."

Ysplit creates virtual cards to use with groups, simplifying recurring payments by charging everyone separately. The startup was co-founded by entrepreneurs Tunde Alao, Landon Vago-Hughes and Boateng Opoku-Yeboah, having developed the idea during their studies in Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics and Astronautics.

"We've come a long way since we first pitched Cluttr at Future Worlds Dragons' Den and our offering has developed to not just track but solve the payment problems that houses face," Tunde says. "With a YSplit card, everyone will pay their share of the transaction automatically when the card is charged. I have been following Y Combinator for as long as I can remember and have always been impressed by the mentality of its startups. We have been growing as much as possible during the programme and our next milestone will be to hire more engineers and release hundreds of cards over the coming weeks."

Y Combinator has invested in over 1,900 companies since its launch in 2005, with Aura Vision and Ysplit taking their place in the winter 2019 cohort. To date, the accelerator has helped launch 93 companies that are now valued at over $100 billion, directly leading to the creation of over 28,000 jobs worldwide.

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