GetGoing (YC S12) launches hotel search booking and lots of experience improvements

Coming out of beta four months ago, San Francisco start-up GetGoing has elicited buzz because of its unique opaque booking product for vacation packages: “pick two, get one.”

Today the San Francisco company adds traditional hotel booking to its menu of options — with an inventory of 140,000 hotels in 150 countries from Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN). It will mimick’s highly successful book-10-hotels-get-a-tenth-stay-free loyalty rewards concept.

The start-up, which has 35 full-time employees, is a graduate of the Y Combinator accelerator program and has received about $5 million in funding. In April it added ordinary flight booking.

We spoke with CEO Alek Vernitsky about the changes: "We integrated the historical weather for your dates of travel, to spare users from having to click over to The forecast is right there at the top of the search results. We have smarter Facebook relevance. We provide two metrics: How many of your Facebook friends live there and how many of your Facebook friends have been there. While some other sites tell you if your friends have been to a place, travelers often want to know whom they might be able to visit while they’re in town."
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Loom (YC W12) launches cloud photo sync done right: Don't fill your HD, store and view it all at any time on all devices

Loom, the new cloud storage and syncing service emerging from the ashes of Y Combinator-backed Popset, is today opening its doors and heading into beta. Though the company’s long-term vision for Loom is to offer users and developers a better alternative to Apple’s iCloud, the app that’s launching now on Mac and the iTunes App Store is only the first step. It allows users to sync their photos to Loom’s cloud storage, so they can delete the hundreds or thousands eating up space on their iPhone or iPad’s Camera Roll or computer hard drive.

When Loom first announced its plans in May, co-founder Jan Senderek had explained that the team had realized they were trying to solve the wrong problemwith Popset. People weren’t struggling to share photos with groups, they were in search of better tools to organize and manage their photo libraries. Chief among users’ complaints were their sometimes overwrought routines for backing up their phone’s photos: syncing to their computers or external hard drives, syncing through iTunes, and then losing too much room to store photos on their smaller MacBook SSD drives, for example.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Try Loom now

Goldbely (YC W13) in Fast Company: "We let people travel with their taste buds."

David Zax of Fast Company writes:

The idea of pizza delivery is, of course, very familiar: Just call up Domino’s, wait 30 minutes (or so), and you’ll have it at your door.

But what if you're craving a very particular kind of pizza--deep dish pizza, say, from the famous Lou Malnati’s in Chicago? And, to complicate matters just a tad, what if you don’t live in Chicago, or anywhere near Chicago at all?

Enter Goldbely. Cofounder and CEO Joe Ariel was born in New York, but began to get a taste for regional American delicacies when he went to college in Tennessee. “My eyes were opened to all these foods I didn’t have growing up--pulled pork, BBQ ribs, country ham, biscuits and pie,” he says. Eventually, after founding and running, he and three cofounders decided to launch Goldbely. The pitch was simple, if somewhat outlandish: a nationwide delivery service for delicacies and iconic dishes from all over the country.

Binary Thumb (YC S12) launches Grid for iOS, a beautiful collaborative grid-based spreadsheet

Designer Josh Leong was growing impatient with Microsoft. After spending a few years working his way up the chain from designing icons to helping design Flash Fill, one of Excel 2013's best new features, Leong didn't feel like he was making much of an impact. While working on Excel, he stumbled upon a Microsoft research paper titled "Excel: It's Not About The Math." It detailed how people all over the world were using Excel for everything from cataloging garage sales to keeping track of entire businesses on Etsy. Beyond that, these people were increasingly inserting images and other kinds of content into their spreadsheets, but with little success. The research paper was, for the most part, ignored. Microsoft's most lucrative customer, however, is the enterprise licensee, not the craftsman.

"You have to change the foundation and the frame to be able to put in more [than numbers]," Leong says, "to be able to put in all the things the internet gave us over the last twenty years." In an elevator one day, a senior colleague murmured "I promised myself I'd leave two years ago. It's been six years." Several months later, Leong has left Microsoft, founded a company called Binary Thumb, and is today launching his first mobile app Grid for iOS.

Read the full article at The Verge

FanHero (YC S13) launches, helping YouTubers sell merch to their fans

There are a lot of new YouTube stars out there, dudes who have a bunch of subscribers to their channels, watching their videos and whatnot. But sometimes it’s tough to make a ton of money from YouTube. I mean, advertising isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be, and then you share some revenue with YouTube and the next thing you know there’s not that much left.

They’ve got a lot going for them. I mean, it’s cheaper than ever to buy a camera and get started and edit your stuff together and, man, there are a ton of people on YouTube. But they just wish they could make a little more money, you know. It’s hard out there being a YouTube creator.

I mean, you’ve just gotta keep churning out the videos. You know, feed the beast.

So anyway, there’s this company called FanHero. It’s all about helping those YouTube guys make money in, like, non-advertising ways. Giving the community ways to support them through commerce — you know, selling stuff. It’s like the classic merch model, like how you go to your favorite band’s show and you buy a t-shirt or a CD.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Orbs CCG (YC S13) takes to Kickstarter to reinvent Magic: The Gathering online and make it async

Hey, remember Magic: The Gathering? Maybe you’re like me and you played the game religiously as a teenager, only to abandon it as you got older. (For those of you don’t know what I’m talking about: It’s a collectible card game in a fantasy setting. Also: Stop looking at me like I’m weird.)

Jeff Pickhardt, founder of Y Combinator-backed developer Jerpix, loved Magic too. He said he used to play, then after stopping for a while, he tried to pick it up again, but he found the online version “just kind of hard to use for a number of reasons.” At the same time, he was playing Words With Friends, and he realized that collectible card games could be improved by cribbing from the Words With Friends playbook.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Contribute on Kickstarter

NASA Develops Novel Carbon Nanotube Growth Through Science Exchange (YC S11)

A collaboration formed using the online scientific services marketplace, Science Exchange, has lead to new developments in the production of carbon nanotube forests – the blackest materials ever measured. The research resulted from a partnership between NASA and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN), a part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF).

“NASA and the ANFF’s research is monumental, and we are thrilled to have been part of such an important development in nanotechnology,” said Dr. Elizabeth Iorns, co-founder and CEO of Science Exchange. “Scientists can now access the vast expertise available globally to produce powerful partnerships that lead to innovative research.”

Read the full article at the Science Exchange Blog

Apportable (YC W11) helps Björk release Android app album Biophilia—cross-compiled from iOS in less than 1 hr

Lora Kolodny writes:

Music and design icon Björk spent two years creating her 11th record, Biophilia, as an “app album” — songs in app form, games, and educational content that can get users involved so they’re not just passively listening.

Though critically acclaimed, there was one major problem with the Biophilia app–Björk fans using Android mobile devices couldn’t experience it. Until today.

The artist finally released an Android version of Biophilia (for $12.99 in the U.S. Google Play store) Wednesday, two years after its iOS release.  So what took so long?

According to Max Weisel, one of the developers of the original Biophilia app for iOS, “Porting Biophilia to a new platform was a daunting task,” because it is a “large suite,” not just a simple, casual game.


Enter Apportable Inc., a San Francisco startup that automates the process of turning an iOS app into an Android app. One of the company’s engineers, Zac Bowling, reached out to Mr. Weisel to see if Apportable could help.  Using Apportable, Mr. Weisel says, he was able to “translate” one of the song-apps on Biophilia to Android, in less than an hour with minimal effort.

Here’s how Apportable makes converting apps a faster and less costly process, according to the startup’s chief executive, Collin Jackson: “We package a mini version of [Apple’s] iOS in with an Android installer, so an application thinks it is running on iOS but is really running on Android instead.”

Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal

Instantly cross-compile your iOS app to Android with Apportable

Meldium (YC W13) raises $1M in seed funding to help teams manage their passwords securely

Startup Meldium now has $1 million in seed funding to help ease password-management headaches for businesses.

And that’s no easy task. Speaking from experience, I have about four or five outside accounts — for photos, for site tracking, etc., for work as well as personal Twitter, Facebook and other accounts — and I probably use fewer apps than most of my colleagues. Worse, all those passwords are not-so-securely stashed on Post-it notes and/or a spreadsheet. That’s a problem, especially for younger companies that grew up on web applications like GitHub, Box, Asana and Dropbox.

For older companies nurtured on client-server applications, passwords and access rules typically sit on a single server — a mode that does not work so well now. “We aggregate all that — all the user and account data via  API connections to those services,” in an access-management layer, co-founder Boris Jabes said in an interview.

“We see people just love using more apps, but that gets more and more confusing. It’s not just about the passwords but who has access to what,” said Jabes, who spent seven years at Microsoft’s tools group. His co-founders Anton Vaynshtok and Bradley Buda are both Amazon alums.

Read the full article at GigaOm

Be more secure and use Meldium to manage your team's passwords

RealCrowd (YC S13) brings crowdfunding to commercial real estate: Own real property, collect rent, $5K minimums

Hardware projectsT-shirtsPeopleScientific research. Crowdfunding is getting applied to every possible niche vertical.

Now a Y Combinator-backed team is looking to bring crowdfunding to real estate, with big-ticket projects that often start at around a $10 million range.

Called RealCrowd, the startup is the brainchild of Adam Hooper and Roman Rosario, two longstanding real estate investors who worked for a Sacramento-based brokerage called Palmer Capital. At Palmer, Hooper and Rosario helped closed on more than $3 billion in investment transactions and was involved in managing investments in buildings like the ones on 625 Market St. or 260 California St. in San Francisco.

“There have been very few actual technology improvements with real estate investments over the last few decades, so the opportunity to change that only happens once in a life time,” Hooper said.

RealCrowd is aiming to give accredited investors the chance to put in as little as $5,000 to $10,000 to participate in larger commercial real estate transactions.

Each property on the site is vetted and features a business plan, detailing any kinds of improvements or maintenance that may be needed over the life of the investment. RealCrowd clients become minority stakeholders that entrust the operations and maintenance of the property to a real estate operator vetted by RealCrowd. Because Hooper and Rosario have been in the business for so long, they say they’ve accumulated enough relationships to know trustworthy operators, that will have profiles with their track records on the site.

“Going into it, you’ll know if the plan is for a 25-year lease to Walgreens with no capital improvements — which is a very straightforward deal, or whether it’s to buy a building in SOMA and renovate it,” Hooper said.

Read the full article at Techcrunch