Mark this up as one more crucial chapter in the much-thumbed book called “The Consumerization of IT”: a new app has launched from a Y Combinator-backed startup that offers builders the ability to store, manage and view blueprints on and iPad tablet.
The unique selling point for PlanGrid, as the app is called, is that it promises to present building blueprints in a far more efficient way than they have been presented before.
But on a more general level, PlanGrid is a sign of how the iOS platform is maturing and attracting a new wave of developers who target specific enterprise verticals with solutions tailored to their business needs.
How it works. PlanGrid is a cloud-based service that delivers blueprints as PDFs directly on the tablet; then people working in the field can use these instead of paper-based versions. When a modification needs to be made, that can be directly noted on the plan, in the app. That is subsequently updated into a new version. PlanGrid’s technology makes the rendering and scrolling of those blueprints significantly faster, too.
Today, a member of the current batch of Y Combinator startups called Flypad joins the group of entrepreneurs looking to game-ify smartphones, albeit with a more specific focus. Flypad transforms the iPhone into a steering wheel for PC racing games, allowing gamers to steer their vehicles of choice in games like Need For Speed: The Run — with their iPhones.
Sometimes the genesis of a startup happens just like this: Guy buys iPhone. Guy breaks iPhone. Guy then pays Apple way too much to fix said phone, grumbling ensues. Guy breaks phone again. Roommate breaks phone. Then, a lightbulb goes off. This is what happened to A.J. Forsythe when he was a student at California Polytechnic State University. He and his friends broke their iPhones more than a few times, so he decided to teach himself how to fix it. Then, like any good entrepreneur, he turned that solution into a business. Forsythe started charging people at school $75 per fix, set up a few social media accounts to hawk his services, remodeled his room into a repair shop, and iCracked was born.
Mixpanel, the analytics startup backed by Sequoia Capital, hasn’t yet succeeded in its goal of unseating established analytics services like Omniture — but momentum is building.
Let’s start with the biggest number that co-founder Suhail Doshi shared with me this week. He says the company is now tracking 4 billion actions every month. Back in July 2010, that number was “only” 1 billion. He also says there are more than 2,500 organizations who are sending Mixpanel data every month (I guess that’s Mixpanel equivalent of an “active user”). And that customer base was built through word-of-mouth because, Doshi says, “We basically do almost no marketing” the startup’s total monthly marketing spend is between $3,000 and $5,000.
Mixpanel charges customers based on the number of actions it’s tracking, so with billions of actions tracked, it’s not too surprising that the business model seems to be working as well. Doshi says revenue has quadrupled since nine months ago, that Mixpanel now on a run rate for several million dollars of revenue a year, and that the company is cash-flow positive.
Exec is the latest project of Justin Kan, YC alum from Kiko and the eponymous Justin.tv. It's a simple task service that lets you get anything done quickly and with zero guesswork. Get groceries, get your house cleaned or even web research of any kind, for $25 flat fee per hour.
Exec has been in testing the last few weeks, but Kan already has some meaningful anecdotes to share. A friend’s scooter ran out of gas on the way to a late night at the office, took a cab the rest of the way and booked an Exec at 6:26pm. An hour later, the vehicle was on site and refueled. Kan’s goal is to orient the site towards whatever a user might want (that’s legal, of course), and he says that someone has already managed to order an original piece of art for a birthday they’d almost forgotten.
Popset, a new mobile app from the current Winter 2012 batch of Y Combinator startups, is a way for groups of friends to privately share photos. Oh what, you’ve heard that one before? Yes, it’s true – mobile photo-sharing is a crowded space. However, there hasn’t been a de facto leader established in the particular category Popset is after: sharing photos in private groups, easy photo album creation, and support for exporting entire albums to Facebook.
Each of Popset’s features may remind you somewhat of other apps, including group texting apps like Beluga and GroupMe, the earlier incarnation of Path, Batch, LiveShare, and others, but none of Popset’s competitors share the exact same feature set implemented in the exact same way.