Startup Portrait: Microryza (YC W13) — Discovering, funding and experiencing new scientific discoveries

If Microryza succeeds, how will the world be different?

Science will play a bigger role in people’s lives. Right now science is really closed off to people outside of academia. You're going to see scientists sharing research more openly, and see people who aren't in academia pursuing research projects. The science stack is going to look dramatically different in the next year. Now you can get funding through crowdfunding, you can outsource your projects through websites like Science Exchange, you can buy materials cheaply online. Scientists care more and more about open access publishing. However, lots of scientists don't know about these tools, but as they do, how research ideas come to fruition is going to change dramatically.
Read the full portrait at Startup Portraits on Medium

Goldbely (YC W13) raises $3M from Intel Capital, ACE & Co, 500 Startups, Tim Draper for artisan food delivery

Goldbely, the startup that delivers signature foods from regional establishments (think: Skyline chili from Cincinnati, Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza from Chicago, and so on) to hungry people throughout the United States, just gobbled up $3 million in a hearty seed funding round led by Intel Capital with the participation of Y Combinator (the Silicon Valley startup incubator from which it launched this past February), 500 StartupsDave McClureTim DraperACE & Company, andFundersClub.

The new cash will be used to further expand Goldbely’s operations nationwide, the company says.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Instacart (YC S12) growing 10% weekly, expands to Chicago with more cities on the way

Grocery delivery service Instacart today added its first new major market, expanding to Chicago. The company found its footing in the San Francisco Bay Area, growing its cadre of stores to include Costco, Trader Joe’s, and its own hybrid solution that in some cases can offer foodstuffs at prices lower than local grocery stores.

Unlike in the Bay Area, shoppers of Instacart in Chicago will only have access to Trader Joe’s at launch. But that will change in time, as Instacart digs deeper into the locale; it plans to add Whole Foods, Mariano’s, and Dominick’s in short order.

Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta told AllThingsD that his company built a “feasibility matrix” to determine which city it would expand to. Components of the matrix included what you might guess: car-ownership density and income. Weather was reportedly also a factor. Mehta tells TechCrunch that “33 percent of the year, Chicago has some form of precipitation” and that his company has learned in the San Francisco area that “people just do not like grocery shopping when it’s raining.” Seattle, you might be next.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Future Advisor (YC S10) at Finnovate: Automatically manage your assets and portfolio for $19/mo

Even with the simplicity and low-cost characteristics of the increasingly-popular market of index funds, investing remains a complex task that requires more attention than the average investor can provide. Chores such as re-balancing and maximizing tax efficiency are often left undone. One financial startup, FutureAdvisor, aims to automate these investing “to-do’s.”

This week at Finovate, a financial technology conference, FutureAdvisor demonstrated a premium service that would automate the management of an investment portfolio.

For a flat $19 fee per month, FutureAdvisor will handle asset allocation, portfolio re-balancing, investment of new cash and tax-loss harvesting for investors with more than $50,000 in assets. Those with $50,000 or less in assets pay a $9 monthly fee but they don’t get automatic tax-loss harvesting.

For a premium user, FutureAdvisor will handle the transfer of assets in existing investment accounts to Fidelity Investments or TD Ameritrade, the two brokerage partners that will allow FutureAdvisor to make trades on a user’s behalf. FutureAdvisor may sell off existing holdings, and possibly incur trading costs, but FutureAdvisor will only buy commission-free low-cost index funds, including Vanguard mutual funds and iShares ETFs.

“We aim to serve people who don’t have a financial advisor today, including those who think their financial advisor is too expensive or simply don’t have have enough money to attract a typical financial advisor,” said Bo Lu, CEO and co-founder of FutureAdvisor, in an interview.

Read the full article at My Bank Tracker

Watsi (YC W13) in Salon: Click here, save a life, for real

The “conference room” in the San Francisco office the crowd-funding healthcare start-up Watsi shares with two other fledgling companies is a Silicon Valley cliché. There’s a ping-pong table and a couple of chairs and that’s it.

Chase Adam, the casually dressed but clean-cut 26-year-old founder of Watsi, also, initially, appears to have come straight out of central Silicon Valley casting. He’s passionate; his rhetoric about how Watsi provides “low-cost, high-impact medical care for people in need” flows in torrents. He believes that young people in Silicon Valley can “create great value.” He looks appropriately tired; his eyes display a tinge of red that suggest long hours spent staring into monitor screens. But he is also refreshingly convincing. These days, it is hard to resist rolling your eyes when you hear Silicon Valley start-up CEOs talk about their plans to “change the world.”

But Chase Adam means it.

Watsi applies the crowd-funding principles pioneered by Kiva into the healthcare “space.” So instead of loaning money to help someone in Uganda get a new freezer for his or her grocery store, visitors to Watsi help pay for the medical costs for someone in Nepal facing an acute healthcare crisis. Since going live in August 2012, the site has steered over half a million dollars into around 700 “interventions.” Demand is growing steadily … from donors. Right now, says Adams, the site is scrambling to find qualified patients.

Read the full article in Salon

Ark (YC W12) Launches Rapportive-Meets-Mailbox Email App In Pivot To Marketing Intelligence

Need to do some homework on who you’re emailing? You could search their name on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn, but on mobile that’s a lot of taps, and it’s hard to know if you’ve got the right John Smith. So Ark has just launched a mobile email client that pulls in all the social profiles of the people you’re emailing so you can quickly do research on business contacts or stalk your friends.

If the Ark name sounds familiar, it’s because the company launched as a people search engine on stage in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in May 2012. Soon after it raised a huge $4.2 million seed round. The Ark people search engine let you pull up all your friends who live in New York, who are single, or who Like the same band as you. It was built on Facebook’s data and worked a bit like the yet-unlaunched Graph Search…which ended up being a problem. Facebook shut off their access for using people’s friends data in ways that stepped on its policies.

Without its core data set, and with the eventual launch of Graph Search, Ark needed to find a new way to add value. So it’s announcing its pivot into marketing intelligence.

The problem it wants to solve is still in people search, but from a new angle. “When I search your name in Google, it goes ‘I don’t know [who you are], here’s 10 links,’” says Ark CEO Patrick Riley. “We wanted to resolve those entities…consolidating all your profiles into an uber-profile between multiple social networks.”

Read the full article at Techcrunch

One Direction raises $780,000 for charity using Prizeo (YC W13)

The friendly faces of boy band stars can help sell a lot of things: mp3s, arena seats, magazines, television advertising… But redirect that commercial power towards a charitable cause and the effect is just as strong apparently.

Prizeo, a Y Combinator startup that traces its roots to England’s Oxford University, manages the charitable campaigns of celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Khloe Kardashian and Samuel L. Jackson. The company relies on a raffle model where contributors get a single entry for every dollar donated, the grand prize being an in-person experience with the sponsoring celebrity.


The campaign page attracted 1.4 million views and 240,000 shares across Twitter and Facebook while the above video was viewed 445,000 times. The hashtag #hangwithliamandharry trended #1 worldwide on Twitter at one point. “It was absolutely invaluable,” says Sophie Epstone, Trekstock’s CEO. “We had no idea how much the campaign could raise.” In six weeks, the Prizeo effort raised more money than Trekstock had raised in the previous year. The non-profit’s Twitter followers jumped from 20,000 to 187,000, and it signed up 6,000 new ambassadors, each of whom promise to raise at least an additional £10.

“You can’t have a really successful campaign without a really strong fanbase,” explains Prizeo founder Bryan Baum, 24. “But the trick is taking that campaign from $50,000 to $800,000.”

Read the full article at Forbes

Appcubator (YC W13) lets you drag-and-drop create and host Django web apps with no code knowledge necessary

There are quite a few steps between starting to learn to code and developing a web application, and a new Y Combinator startup is trying to fill in those gaps. Appcubator has launched to allow users to create their own web applications with drag and drop, text inserts and custom themes, rather than having to endure the arduous process of learning to create a full-functioning website or hire a contractor.

Co-founder Karan Sikka tells me Appcubator’s average user has some sense of the technical aspects of building a website, but aren’t professional developers. “Business people have a hard time grasping the fundamental concepts behind web applications, and they often lack the patience required,” Sikka says. “They’re often much more willing to pay and not have to spend a few hours.”

Since most of the startup’s users have some knowledge of building an application, Sikka tells me they figure out how to navigate the site fairly quickly. I had a little trouble at first, but there’s a handy little chat box in the corner where users can ask questions. The founders have also created a lot of resources to help users out, with video tutorials, a demo guide and examples of what others have built.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Pebble (YC W11) founder Eric Migicovsky at TC Disrupt: Not shaken by smartwatch competition

Founder of smartwatch startup Pebble Eric Migicovsky took the stage at Disrupt, interviewed by our own John Biggs. He addressed head on the recently revealed competition from smartphone giant Samsung, and talked about what Pebble does that no other competitors out there have necessarily nailed down, and why he thinks their approach will continue to prevail despite mounting interest from top-tier, established hardware makers.

Migicovsky said that everyone seems to be ignoring the reason that Pebble was a success to begin with, which mainly has to do with identifying use cases for a wearable device. He argued that a smartwatch should “flow into the background” of a user’s life, and that the way to convince people to put one on is to show them how it can be useful to their life, but at the same time essentially become a background process, rather than something that requires major changes in how you live on a daily basis.

Read the full article and watch the interview at Techcrunch

Crohnology (YC S12) lets patients are collaborating for better health: A social network for Crohn's disease

Not long ago, Sean Ahrens managed flare-ups of his Crohn’s disease—abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea—by calling his doctor and waiting a month for an appointment, only to face an inconclusive array of possible prescriptions. Today, he can call on 4,210 fellow patients in 66 countries who collaborate online to learn which treatments—drugs, diets, acupuncture, meditation, even do-it-yourself infusions of intestinal parasites —bring the most relief.

The online community Ahrens created and launched two years ago,, is one of the most closely watched experiments in digital health. It lets patients with Crohn’s, colitis, and other inflammatory bowel conditions track symptoms, trade information on different diets and remedies, and generally care for themselves.

The site is at the vanguard of the growing “e-patient” movement that is letting patients take control over their health decisions—and behavior—in ways that could fundamentally change the economics of health care. Investors are particularly interested in the role “peer-to-peer” social networks could play in the $3 trillion U.S. health-care market.

Read the full article at the MIT Technology Review