3 startups that want to make your life easier

Think Silicon Valley startups are way too focused on Web apps? Incubator Y Combinator's latest crop of 70 new ventures included a batch of hardware innovators. Here are three of our favorites.


Brad Moggach, Aditya Bali, Mike McCauley and Jay Shah

Funding: $150,000 from Y Combinator plus additional funding
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif. and Waterloo, Canada
Founders: Mike McCauley, Jay Shah, Aditya Bali

It's a pain when FedEx (FDX) arrives to deliver your package and you're not home. BufferBox has a solution.

The crew is building a network of kiosks located in venues like grocery stores that will allow you to pick up packages at your convenience.

Here's how it works: Shippers deliver your package to a kiosk. Only authenticated users (like FedEx) are able to load the kiosks, which have around sixteen compartments. You'll receive an email when your package has arrived. Enter that code into the kiosk, and the compartment it's in opens up and lets you retrieve your package.

"We're basically allowing people to receive packages 24 hours a day," McCauley says.

He thinks the U.S. Post Office's ongoing struggles will be a boon for his startup. "The mail service is losing tons of money," he says. "This is where mail delivery is going. They can't afford to come to everyone's house anymore."

BufferBox takes a per-transaction fee in the $2 to $5 range, generally paid by the shipper. Its Waterloo-based engineering team has 10 devices in pilot-test locations now and plans to launch 100 more in Toronto in the next year.

BufferBox has a few powerful allies in its corner: It's working with Wal-Mart and also recently sold several BufferBoxes to Google, which now deploys them at its headquarters.

But it's also facing a major rival. E-commerce Goliath Amazon (AMZN) is experimenting with its own delivery kiosks installed at spots like 7/11 stores. As Amazon pushes toward same-day delivery, it could be a powerful force in changing how packages get distributed.

  @LaurieSegallCNN - Last updated August 23 2012 09:27 AM ET

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