Buttercoin (YC S13) Uses Bitcoin To Attack The $500B-A-Year Remittances Economy

With Bitcoin’s promise of frictionless transactions, particularly across international borders, it’s inevitable that a team would use the math-based currency to attack the global remittances market.

The World Bank estimates that migrants will send about $515 billion to relatives in developing countries by 2015, which is about 10 times the size of the U.S.’s budget for foreign aid.

The old stand-bys like Western Union can charge around 10 percent for transactions in the market, an amount that Buttercoinco-founders Cedric Dahl and Bennett Hoffman find obscene.

But Bitcoin, which is a pure math-based currency that allows for anonymous and irreversible transactions without the need for a third-party facilitator like a bank, promises transactions at a substantially lower cost.

Buttercoin plans to open in India within the next three months and then to operate in six countries in nine months’ time. Their model is to open a local Bitcoin exchange in each country. When they enter a market, they pair with local money transfer businesses to have legal compliance in the country. But these local partners don’t touch the Bitcoin-to-local currency transactions; they merely get a 50 percent cut ofButtercoin‘s fees in exchange for having the proper licenses and relationships with regulators.

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Graft Concepts (YC S13) is the Swiss Army Knife of iPhone cases

Card slots. A bottle openerPepper spray.Defense against a .50 caliber bullet. Whatever you might need on the go, people are thinking of ways for you to integrate it right into your iPhone case.

But Y Combinator startup Graft Concepts is trying to cover all your basic needs with one case, using a simple latched frame and interchangeable backplates. Named Leverage, the case’s frame alone is meant to be a bumper for the phone and comes with either a plain backplate for $40 or a card holder (which fits about five cards) for $50. Additional backplates range from $7 to $30 based on design and material.

The idea behind Graft Concepts is to offer easy installation and removal, functionality and a complement to the iPhone’s sleek design. Inspired by watch clasps, the metal latch lets you fit the frame around the phone and then click it into place to avoid any damage from snapping or pulling the case. Co-founder Anthony Ko describes the product as “a Swiss army knife” for iPhone cases, because users can switch out backplates to suit their current needs.

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How PlanGrid (YC W12) will save NEA Baptist Hospital almost $2M, for an ROI of 7753.41%

The NEA Baptist Hospital is one of thousands of projects leveraging PlanGrid for construction document management. This Arkansas-based project is around 770,000 squre feet, has a two and half year construction schedule, and a project cost of $175 million.

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Adding up time, paper and rework savings together results in annual savings of $786,196[5] per year or $1,965,490[6] over the entire length of the project. The total project cost for PlanGrid including hardware and subscriptions for the 13 users was $10,140 per year[8]. This leads to an ROI of 7753.41% or 77x.[7]

Read the full post on The Plangrid Blog

Teleborder (YC S13) uses tech smarts and SaaS to cut through the red tape of getting visas for all your workers

While immigration reform continues to be a hot topic of contention in the U.S., Teleborder, a new startup that’s part of the current batch of YC companies, has developed a service that aims to tackle another aspect of the issue: the immense amount of red tape that companies have to go through once theydo decide to employ someone from outside the U.S.

The problem, says co-founder and CEO James Richards, is that when it comes to work visas, while a lot of companies are keen to bring in top talent to fill vacant positions, even when the U.S. immigration authorities have created channels for them to do so, it’s time-consuming to gather together the different documents needed, and very easy to get it wrong, get the application rejected, and then have to start again.

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Coinbase (YC S12) in the New Scientist: Launching instant Bitcoin micro payments off-blockchain

The New Scientist, in the recent magazine edition writes: "Micropayments now ready to slash price of online news":

The digital currency Bitcoin could help. Coinbase, a digital wallet and platform that lets anyone with a US bank account buy and trade Bitcoin currency, announced last week that it is now supporting instant, free micropayments, in Bitcoins, with none of these drawbacks. In a blog post, Coinbase CEO and founder Brian Armstrong wrote that Coinbase would start handling small – typically under $1 – Bitcoin transactions "off-blockchain". That means each one wouldn't have to go through the algorithmic validation process across the whole Bitcoin network, which can take a few minutes or more, but would instead be sent directly between two Coinbase accounts and validated later.

These microtransactions could let users read the rest of a New York Timesarticle for a few cents instead of signing up for a full monthly subscription, Armstrong wrote, or "pay for Wi-Fi internet metered by the minute (or second!) if you just need to check one email" or "support your favorite artists or coders with a tip".

Anthony Ha at Techcrunch gets the tour of Homejoy (YC S10): Launched in 26 cities in 6 months

Anthony Ha at Techcrunch writes

If I were ranking startups based on how much I value their services, Homejoy would place pretty darn near the top — every month or so, one of their cleaners comes by my apartment and in two or three hours it becomes more sparkly than I’ve ever been able to make it. All for just 20 bucks an hour.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

FundersClub (YC S12) goes invite-only

“Democratizing venture capital” sounds great until equity crowdfunding fills startup financing rounds with amateur angels who don’t add value. So while other funding platforms open the floodgates to any accredited investor, and eventually anyone if the JOBS Act goes into full effect, FundersClub will now only accept investors who’ve been invited by existing members or applied for an invite.

FundersClub was a pioneer in the equity crowdfunding space when it launched a year ago. The company acts as an online VC that vets startups looking to raise money, secures space in their upcoming funding round, and then lets its members invest money to fill up the space. The idea is not to replace traditional expert venture capitalists, but augment them with a crowd of evangelists, recruiters and connectors.

Since it was founded, the Y Combinator-accelerated FundersClub has raised $6.5 million for itself. It has also collected $7.2 million for its 31 portfolio companies from its crowd of 6,700 investors.

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Coinbase (YC S12) adds SMS commands for easy mobile bitcoin transfers and requests

Coinbase has added SMS commands to their already user-friendly Bitcoin wallet and purchasing systems. The system, which uses simple commands (qr $100 will make a QR code for a $100 request to your account) and a trusted phone to make things a bit easier on BTC lovers.

Another example, “request 1.5 user@example.com sold him a bucket of steam,” allows you to request 1.5 BTC from a certain user with a note in the request. You can read more about the commands on Coinbase’s blog.

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