Gemnote (YC S15) Launches To Give Corporate Gifts A Personal Touch

Businesses in the United States spent a whopping $19 billion last year on gifts and promotional items for their clients and employees. But among all the cheesy fruit arrangements and overstuffed gift baskets, nothing stands out quite like an upscale, thoughtful gift accompanied by a handwritten note. 

Gemnote is a startup that just launched out of our Summer 2015 class that makes it easy for companies to send personalized gifts that seem like they've been selected by hand along with handwritten notes.

You can read about Gemnote's offerings in TechCrunch:

"The startup offers four regularly updated gift boxes, ranging in price from $80 to $175, as well as custom options, and cards that are handwritten in English, Chinese, or Spanish and mailed by a network of freelancers, called 'scribes' by the company, around the United States.

...Packages occasionally include food, but most products—like leather coasters, Fitbits, Bose headphones, USB cords, and external batteries—are meant to be kept and used frequently... Gemnote usually looks for gender-neutral items, but it also creates custom boxes. For example, a company that serves new moms might send out packages with organic toiletries, robes, or baby swaddles."

Gemnote was founded by Ashley Wong, who was previously the head of product at Spoonrocket. While at Spoonrocket, she once wrote and sent out around 100 handwritten cards and gifts to the company's investors and advisors -- and quickly realized how difficult it is for a company to maintain a "personal touch" as it scales. Wong told TechCrunch that Gemnote's online portal makes it so that sending out a personal designer gift is as easy as firing off an email.

Gemnote is currently being used by about 30 companies in the United States, and plans to expand into China next year.

Read more about Gemnote's launch in TechCrunch, and check them out on Product Hunt and Hacker News.


Roomblocker (YC S15) Makes Booking Hotels For Groups And Events A Snap

The latest startup to launch out of the Summer 2015 class of Y Combinator is Roomblocker, which has developed an easy and modern way to book discounted blocks of hotel rooms for groups and events.

Even though the Internet has revolutionized nearly everything about the travel industry, the practice of booking blocks of rooms for events like weddings or corporate outings has remained a surprisingly offline process. Typically, event organizers book group travel accommodations the old fashioned way: Calling various hotels, finding out if there is availability for certain dates, inquiring about group rates, negotiating discounts. It's a lot of legwork.

That's where Roomblocker comes to the rescue. With Roomblocker, all an event organizer has to do is fill out a quick survey about his or her group's needs. The app then hooks up the event planner with a dedicated concierge, who does all the work of finding available hotels, negotiating the best rates and ironing out various details. All the best options are presented on an easy-to-navigate dashboard, where the planner can select the hotel and package that suits them. Guests can then book their rooms themselves, via SMS, phone, or a customized group reservation webpage.

While Roomblocker obviously makes life much easier for event planners, it's also great from the hotels' perspective -- it streamlines a significant part of their business. Room blocks account for around 25 percent of all hotel reservations made annually, adding up to some $137 billion in sales worldwide.

You can read more about Roomblocker on TechCrunch, and on Hacker News.


Livecoding.tv (YC S15) Is Twitch For Coding

Livecoding.tv is launching today as part of the Summer 2015 batch of Y Combinator. 

Livecoding.tv is a livestreaming platform where you can watch people code products live. It's like Twitch for coding. 

Read more about them in TechCrunch

"The way Livecoding works is pretty simple. Developers stream live video of themselves coding, and users watching can ask questions or give feedback.

Since launching a beta in February, Livecoding has seen 40,000 people sign up across 162 countries. Users have streamed in a variety of spoken languages, including Portuguese, Russian, and German, and coding languages, including C#, Python, and PHP.

Anyone who wants to stream about coding can do so, from expert coders to 11-year-old kids building their first Java game."

You can visit the site any time of day or night to learn from developers who are building games, mobile apps and websites. Streamers come to share the projects they are working on, get feedback or help from viewers, and share their knowledge. 

Livecoding.tv was founded by Jamie Green and Michael J. Garbade. What they've built is a new type of educational platform.“Live education is the key to the future,” Green told TechCrunch. “Verticals like design could be very interesting to engage with this model.”

Livecoding.tv is free for both streamers and viewers

Instant eSports (YC S15) Is ESPN for Competitive Gaming

We're happy to welcome Instant eSports to the Summer 2015 batch of Y Combinator. 

Instant eSports is the ESPN for eSports. Their app makes it easy to keep up with eSports news and scores. 

In 2015, the worldwide eSports market reached 134 million viewers, and the viewership is growing every year. The 2014 League of Legends World Championship alone had an audience of 27 million—approximately the same number of people who watched the 2015 NCAA basketball final. This immense following translates to a market opportunity of $612 million worldwide. 

Instant eSports currently supports League of Legends and DotA 2 (with CS:GO and Hearthstone coming soon). The app is available in the App Store and will be coming to Google Play in July 2015.

Instant eSports is founded by long-time gamers Rick Ling, Jonathan Lin, and Sebastian Merz. Both Rick and Jonathan have worked in the gaming industry, and Sebastian was once a professional eSports commentator for ESL. They're avid players of League of Legends, DotA2, and CS:GO.

Cymmetria (YC S15) Uses Virtual Machines To Decoy And Detect Hackers

Cymmetria (YC S15) is launching out of the Summer 2015 batch of Y Combinator. 

They are building an enterprise security system that puts attackers in a rat maze. 

Today, security solutions are either signature based (they look for known attacks) or behavior based (machine learning extracts info from big data). These solutions are static — you build a system in advance and wait for an attacker to reach you. These solutions put defenders in an endless game of cat and mouse, where the attacking side has complete situational awareness, and defenders have none.

Strategically, there is no reason why the defenders shouldn’t have the “home court” advantage, and this can be achieved by the deployment of decoy technology. 

Cymmetria is building a system that can shape an attacker's behavior by leading them toward decoys. You can read more about Cymmetria on TechCrunch
"Their focus is APT attacks. Aka: advanced persistent threats — where attackers, perhaps State-sponsored, are aiming to get into a network and lurk undetected for a long time in order to steal large amounts of data.

'The first value proposition is essentially one alert — one critical alert,' he (founder Gadi Evron) says, explaining how Cymmetria works. 'Current solutions generate thousands upon thousands of alerts every day. We generate one because our decoys are real machines and nothing should run on them except for what we put on them. Which exactly means that if anything now runs on that computer that is not ours that is a 100 per cent indication there is an attacker now in the network. There are no false positives.'

At that point Cymmetria also performs forensic analysis on the attack, and offers an action plan on how to mitigate it — using a company’s existing systems and security infrastructure, with which it integrates."

Cymmetria is founded by Gadi Evron, Dean Sysman and Ran Harel. Gadi worked as VP of Cybersecurity Strategy at Kaspersky, headed PWC's Cyber Security Center of Excellence in Israel, and led the Israeli government Internet security operation. He sits on advisory boards with the Cyber Threat Intelligence Alliance and the Israeli CERT. Dean was formerly an officer and commander in unit 8200 in Israeli military intelligence. Ran was formerly a senior expert for a nation-scale cyber defense system and has over 10 years experience in enterprise security including global banks and financial organizations.

YC Digest - 6/19-6/25

Top Stories from the YC World - June 19-June 25, 2015

YC News
Startup School Radio: Ep 7 with YC's Kevin Hale and Johnny Chin of Bannerman (YC S14) is live on SoundCloud and iTunes

Launches
YC W15: Smyte Launches To Fight Online Fraud


YC Alum Updates

FarmLogs (YC W12) in the NYT: "The problem we’re solving is that the world needs to feed nine billion people by 2050, and we’re not going to get any more farmland." 


Fundraising
Tech In Asia (YC S15) Raises $4M To Grow From Tech Blog Into Startup Hub


YC Digest - 6/12-6/18

Top Stories from the YC World - June 12-June 18, 2015

YC News
Welcome Amy, Susan, Colleen, and Steven


Episode 6 of Startup School Radio w/ Marco Zappacosta of Thumbtack & Sanjay Dastoor of Boosted Boards is now on iTunes and SoundCloud

Launches

YC Alum Updates


Fundraising


Welcome Amy, Susan, Colleen, and Steven

I’m delighted to announce four new additions to the YC team.

Amy Buechler is joining us as an associate, working closely with founders in the current investment cycle.  Previously, she got an M.A. in Counseling Psychology at the Wright Institute, led study abroad programs through the Bali Institute, and managed commercial real estate. 

Susan Hobbs is joining us as Director of Events.  Previously, she was at TechCrunch for four years where she focused on programming for the TechCrunch events, including Disrupt.  Before that, Susan was the first non-engineering hire at both Codian and at CoTweet.

Colleen Taylor is joining us as Editorial Director.  Colleen was most recently at TechCrunch, where she served as the editorial director for TechCrunch TV.  Previously, she worked as a reporter at GigaOM, the Financial Times' Mergermarket newswire, and the semiconductor industry newsletter Electronic News. 

Steven Pham is joining us as our office manager.   Steven was formerly Garry Tan’s Chief of Staff and has a BS in Biomedical Engineering.

Welcome to YC!

YC Digest - June 5-June 11

Top Stories from the YC World - June 5-June 11, 2015

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia of Airbnb kick off YC S15 with the first Tuesday night dinner talk of the batch

YC News
Episode 5 of Startup School Radio is live on iTunes and SoundCloud: Ep. 5 features Dave Tisch and Alan Tisch of Spring, and Olga Vidisheva of Shoptiques 

YC Alum Updates
Product Hunt (YC S14) launches Product Hunt Games

SendHub (YC W12) launches Inbox - Gmail for Texting

Fundraising
Pachyderm (YC W15) Raises $2 Million To Power Big Data Processing For The Docker Era


YC Digest - 5/22-6/4

Top Stories from the YC World - May 22-June 4, 2015

Sam Altman kicks off the first Camp YC 

"Culture starts when you're just two people." - Jessica Livingston on FounderLine

Startup School Radio Ep. 4 featuring PlanGrid and Campus Job is live on SoundCloud and iTunes