99dresses (YC W12) launches iOS app and goes mobile-only for clothing swaps

99dresses, the Y Combinator graduate that gives women the ability to hit “refresh” on their wardrobes as often as they like through clothing swaps, has gone mobile-only with the launch of its new iOS app. The startup has fundamentally reworked the virtual currency system on which its swaps operate, due to the fact that U.S. users didn’t take to it the same way that the startup’s original Australian user base had.

99dresses recreates clothing swap parties in a digital format — the main point is to unload pieces you don’t like any more with the possibility of picking up a cute new piece for free.

When 99dresses launched, it was based on a “button” economy in which users received buttons in exchange for each piece they sold to another user, which could then be used to purchase another item. The site sold additional buttons for $1 a pop, in case someone wanted to go for a bigger buy.

But while that system worked well in 99dresses’ native Australia, it didn’t work so well when operations moved to the U.S., founder Nikki Durkin explained. The startup no longer operates in Australia.

“We wanted something in America that was more about instant gratification,” Durkin said.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

YC-funded Twitch raises $20M for live video gaming, doubled viewers to 45M monthly in the past year

Live video gaming platform Twitch has been on a growth tear this past year and has raised $20 million from investors to rip it up some more.

Unlike competitors Ustream, LiveStream, YouTube and others enabling individuals and companies to broadcast video to the masses, Twitch is focused on just one category: gaming.

The company provides an online platform and community for gamers that features live streaming gaming events, personal streams of individual players in action, and talk shows dedicated to gaming.

Individual players who bring in large audiences to watch them play get a portion of revenue generated from advertisements on their stream. The company says some gamers are earning six-figure salaries by gaming full time on the Twitch platform, and it expects the number of gamers to grow when Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’sPlayStation 4 consoles launch this fall and gamers can broadcast and view Twitch content with a single button.

Previously, players had to use third-party software and install one or more hardware components to stream from a console.

The San Francisco-based company, which was spun off from Justin.tv, a Y Combinator startup that also hatched SocialCam, says it has more than doubled its monthly active viewers during the past year from 20 million to 45 million. The number of content creators, which include game developers, game publishers and independent gamers, have grown to 4,500 from 2,000 in September 2012.

Read more at WSJ Venturewire

Need leads for job candidates? HireArt (YC W12) launches a lower priced option for you

Y Combinator-backed HireArt, a job applicant screening service which today touts business customers including Airbnb, Cisco, eBay, Gap, Facebook, General Assembly and others, is today launching a second, less expensive pricing tier designed for those who don’t need a full-service recruiter, but rather a curated feed of potential job candidates they can review themselves.

Launched last year by three college friends from Yale, Elli Sharef, Dain Lewis and Nicholas Sedlet, HireArt has until today been focused on offering employers a contingency service, where it took a success fee of 10 percent of the first year salary from those job applicants it helped to place.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Swiftype (YC W12) raises $7.5M from NEA for site search done right—now serving 200M queries per month, up 20x in a year

Swiftype, a Y Combinator-backed startup that creates a smarter search engine for websites, has raised $7.5 million led by NEA, with angel investors participating. The startup previouslyraised $1.7 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Ignition, CrunchFund and angel investors. NEA partner Jon Sakoda will join Swiftype’s Board of Directors as part of the financing.

Founded in 2012, Swiftype basically adds a more intelligent, high-quality search engine for mobile and web-based sites and allows users to query and collect information more efficiently. The startup actually builds search engines in real-time, organizing pages based on importance rankings from your site. After creating your search engine, the Swiftype dashboard allows you to customize search results by editing titles or deleting entries. You can even drag and drop queries from the dashboard in order of the ranking you want them to appear in. Installation is relatively simple — developers need to paste the supplied JavaScript code into a website.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Mobile Deal-Finding App Shopular (YC W12) Raises $6.4 Million Series A From Sequoia

While most mobile applications today are heavily concerned with getting users to remember to open them regularly, mobile deal-finding application Shopular has been content to run in the background, alerting consumers to sales and discounts when they’re in a store or mall. Now, its focus on practicality over spammy behavior has paid off, in the form of a $6.4 million Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital. Sequoia’s Tim Lee will also join Shopular’s board of directors.

The startup had previously raised a seed round from Y Combinator and other angel investors, including Adam D’Angelo.

Shopular first emerged just ahead of the 2012 holiday season, after participation in Y Combinator’s Winter 2012 batch. Founded by former Shopkick engineers, Navneet Loiwal and Tommy Tsai, Shopular offers a different take on mobile deal-finding than their previous company’s solution.

Techcrunch goes hands on with home try-on custom fitted polo shirt service Vastrm (YC S12)

Y Combinator alum Vastrm has been pretty busy lately. In addition to locking up another $1 million in seed funding from A16z, SV Angels, Ignition Partners, and Will Smith (to name a few), the startup redesigned its website slightly modified its sense of purpose. The team has always been about giving its customers the perfect fitting polo, but now they’re working to make the process even more personal.

The process is largely unchanged from when Billy checked it out last year, but the biggest recent addition was the launch of a try-at-home option. In exchange for a $20 deposit, you’ll get a trio of shirts in sizes of your choosing so you can try to pin down your perfect polo. Vastrm toyed with the idea for a long while and tested it with a slew of early beta users (CEO Jonathan Tang said 55 percent of testers tried the feature), but the full-on launch took place fairly recently.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Chute (YC W12) lets brands ask its fans for permission to use their photos

Chute is a startup aiming to become a “complete visual platform” for brands and publishers, initially by helping customers collect and publish user images and videos. Today it’s taking an important step in that direction by adding tools for companies to actually get user permission to republish their content.

There are companies, including Chute’s customers, who were already taking advantage of user generated content — one common approach is to ask users to share photos using a certain hashtag, and to treat the inclusion of that hashtag as “implied consent”. But co-founder and CEO Ranvir Gujral told me that as “bigger and bigger brands” want to use this content, and as they start using it in more commercial ways (such as incorporating them into ads powered by Chute), they’re also taking a “more conservative” approach to these issues.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

MIT Technology Review: One Month Rails (YC S13) and WeFunder (YC W13) on the forefront of crowd investing

During a “demo day” in Silicon Valley last August, entrepreneur Mattan Griffel took the stage with a well-practiced, carefully timed pitch.

“We teach people how to code, online, in one month,” said Griffel, adding meaningful pauses between the words. The startup he cofounded, One Month Rails, will “change the face of online education,” Griffel promised.

Such technology salesmanship used to be reserved for a select audience of angel investors, like those who attended the invitation-only Y Combinator event where Griffel’s video was filmed.

But starting Monday, Griffel’s pitch appeared on the Internet, next to a clickable blue button that says “Invest.” Buying into his startup is now almost as easy as purchasing a toaster on eBay.

“Crowd investing” is the idea that anyone should be able to invest easily in startup companies. That idea took a big step forward thanks to new federal regulations that allow startups, for the first time, to invite large swaths of the public to invest in them.

The new rules are part of the 2012 JOBS Act, a basket of regulatory changes that Silicon Valley lobbied for and that are meant to make it easier for small companies to raise money. The rule that took effect Monday reverses a longstanding ban on “general solicitation” or advertising risky securities to the public.

Under the new regulations, startups can advertise their shares anywhere—on billboards, on Facebook, via direct mail, e-mail lists, or via a dozen online crowd investing portals that have been set up to solicit and manage investments from the public at large.

Griffel’s company appears on Wefunder.com. The site, which was founded last year but became fully operational today, allows anyone to navigate through pitches from two dozen companies developing everything from small farms in shipping containers to new ways to transmit money overseas.

Read the full article in the MIT Technology Review

Thalmic Labs Myo (YC W13) featured in VentureBeat: The line between man and machine is blurring

Myo is a gadget straight out of science fiction – a smart armband that lets you control other devices with the swing of an arm. Thalmic Labs, the Canadian company that created Myo, raised $14.5m in June. Here, we speak to the founders about how the technology works and whether we’re in a new era for hardware startups.

"We’re Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant, the founders of Thalmic Labs. Our company was founded in spring 2012 when we came up with the idea of Myo. The three of us all went to school together at the University of Waterloo, studying Mechatronics Engineering. We all believe that we are moving towards a new era of computers, where the lines between man and machine are becoming more blurred."

Read the full article on VentureBeat

Strikingly (YC W13) launches its site builder for Southeast Asia

Strikingly, the mobile Web site builder we profiled when it was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2013 class, is honing in on the Southeast Asia market to leverage the region’s rapidly increasing smartphone penetration.

Strikingly’s platform is designed to let people with little or no Web development experience build mobile-optimized sites in a few minutes. Since we first wrote about Strikingly in February, it has redesigned its dashboard, added new templates and customization options, and improved SEO by enabling subdomains. The platform’s app store also has new products that allow users to integrate platforms like FacebookSoundCloudGoogle Maps and Twitter into their sites.

Read the full article on Techcrunch