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.

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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.

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Ready For Zero (YC S10) in Palo Alto Online: helps people get out of debt, especially student loan debt

Numerous start-ups are trying to address the debt problem in innovative ways, such as San Francisco-based ReadyForZero, which is an online space where users can manage all of their debt. Free of charge, the company pulls together all of a user's financial information — credit card debt, student loans, income, etc. — and creates a financial plan based on his or her ability to pay. For a premium of $7 a month, users can use ReadyForZero to schedule and make payments on their loans.

ReadyForZero's "fastest growing segment" is student-loan debt — $250 million out of about $1 billion total, said co-founder Rod Ebrahimi. He said that's because there is a "need for people to just figure it out" but also because ReadyForZero's target audience is people in their 20s and 30s, an age where one's debt is likely to be from student loans.

The idea for ReadyForZero was inspired by Ebrahimi's girlfriend, who one day asked him and his tech friends: "Where do I go to manage all my debt?"

"And we had no answer," Ebrahimi said. So they created the website, which tracks a user's payment progress, total debt, next steps to take, credit score and more.

"I know it seems very small, but just seeing (her debt) visually going down" helped, he said. "And we provide that. She was in the six-figure range in total, so just seeing that number didn't motivate her to pay it down. (She) just felt like, 'I can't do it.' ReadyForZero made it a little more tangible: 'This payment will save you this much in this much time'; 'make an extra payment'; or 'set up a recurring payment.'"
Read more at Palo Alto Online

Docker (YC S10) partners with RedHat OpenShift

DotCloud is a great example of a startup with a pivot that worked. The proof of that is in a new partnership that marries its Docker open-source app portability project with Red Hat and its OpenShift platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Docker is a lightweight Linux app container that DotCloud originally developed for its multiple-language PaaS.In March, DotCloud launched Docker as an open-source project. With Docker, apps are essentially transported in virtual containers by developers who often use them to sync between their laptops and the cloud.

Until now, Docker and Red Hat have had incompatible versions of the Linux kernel. Today’s partnership fixes that, making it possible for developers to use Docker containers in OpenShift to easily move code between different infrastructures without the heavyweight requirements that come with moving around virtual machines and operating systems.

Read the full article on Techcrunch