Toronto’s Upverter is a startup that’s poised to effect change that could reshape the landscape of entrepreneurship. That’s not something you can say about most of the businesses we cover on a daily basis, whether or not they have good ideas. But it’s definitely true of Upverter, the company that’s hoping to build a cloud-based hardware engineering platform that can match and overtake its desktop-based counterparts within the next few years.
The rise of Upverter means a potential explosion on the horizon for hardware startups, which is why the company is hosting a hardware hackathon with Y Combinator on February 23rd. Making hardware engineering collaborative, affordable and easy to access can have a tremendous impact on the cost of doing business and risks associated with creating new hardware, which is why Upverter achieving its goals could lead to a new revolution for hardware startups, incubators and investors alike.
If you happen to be one of those hardware startups, Upverter is offering free team accounts to TC readers. Just follow this link to sign up.
Citus Data has launched CitusDB for Hadoop, a service that can process petabytes of data within seconds. The offering shows once again that the new class of analytics databases that can analyze everything from data to entire libraries of digital books are the next big thing.
CitusDB is based on Google Dremel, a real-time analytics database that has surpassed Hadoop’s analysis capabilities. The difference is in its parallel-computing capabilities and SQL-like functionality. Do a query across petabytes of data over thousands of servers and the results come back in real-time.
At just about a year of age, Referly may be a tad young to be making its first acquisition.
But the San Francisco-based startup is doing just that today with the purchase of 500 Startups-backed LaunchGram.
Basically, LaunchGram was a service that kept people up-to-date on upcoming product releases. Because Referly also appeals to people who like to curate products and earn extra cash off recommendations through affiliate revenue, there was a big overlap in their customer base, Refer.ly CEO Danielle Morrill explains.
Codecademy, the startup that aims to teach people everywhere how to code, wants to help make those APIs even more accessible. Today Codecademy is announcing that it has partnered with a number of established web companies to offer a host of new lessons that concentrate on the basics of building with their specific APIs.
Codecademy first launched API lessons last month, but this release brings a number of new big name API providers to the mix. Codecademy now has lessons for building with APIs from Twitter, Evernote, Box, and Gilt. The full list of Codecademy’s new API partners is rounded out by WePay, Microsoft SkyDrive, 23andme, Mashape, Ordr.in, Firebase, Easypost, Github, MailChimp, and Dwolla.
For startups and small businesses, providing and managing employee insurance and benefits can be a huge headache. In the early stages of business development, this responsibility generally falls into the hands of founders, who have to contact insurance brokers and manage the whole enrollment process themselves. It’s tedious and distracting, yes, but it’s also a critical part of running a business — and ensuring that your employees are happy, healthy and productive.
After experiencing this painful process twice (as a co-founder of Wikinvest and, again, at SigFig), Parker Conrad decided founders had been subjected to enough pain and set out to build a solution — “the product I wish had been available the first two times around,” he says. After recruiting Laks Srini, who had been a fellow software engineer SigFig, the two co-founded Zenefits to help startups and small businesses find insurance quotes and manage employee benefits in one place.
Airport car rentals are a $10 billion business. But until recently, most travelers were stuck with poor customer service and high rates from the incumbent rental car agencies. Y Combinator-backed startup FlightCar wants to offer a much cheaper alternative to those companies in airports around the country, and it’s starting in San Francisco.
FlightCar provides a peer-to-peer marketplace for car rentals at airports, connecting travelers with vehicles at much lower rates than they’d find if they went through one of the incumbent rental car agencies. It’s able to do that because it is renting out cars that would have otherwise been left in long-term parking.
Marketplace payment service Balanced has announced the official releaseof its Balanced Payouts, a standalone API that allows developers to tap into next-day ACH deposits . While not a new feature for the company, it is the first time it has been released on its own — previously it was part of the company’s full marketplace payments offering.
This is the latest update from the Y Combinator alumnus, formerly known as PoundPay. Since last October, the company tells us that it has seen growth increase five-times and has seen 100,000 API calls per day.
Series A crunch? Who cares with seed rounds like this? Today, Y Combinator-backed Virool, a self-service social video advertising platform, is announcing its monster “seed” round of $6.62 million. And Virool even got to pick from their choice of investors, institutional and otherwise, according to co-founder and CEO Alex Debelov.
No single VC led the funding, but the line-up of who invested is a fairly large list. On the VC side, there’sThomvest Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurveston, 500 Startups, Phenomen Ventures,TMT Ventures, DominateFund (err, #DominateFund?), and FundersClub.
Individual investors include YC partners Paul Buchheit and Garry Tan, Loopt Co-Founder Sam Altman, Yuri Milner, Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, former Yahoo CTO Farzad (Zod) Nazem, early Zappos investor Erik Moore, and Promus Ventures Founder Mike Collett.
In today’s web environment, where there are more mobile phones than toothbrushes around the world, and where smartphones are increasingly becoming consumers’ go-to computing devices, publishers who have yet to build a web site may be best focusing their development efforts mobile-first instead of building for the desktop environment. To help publishers reach new users on mobile devices, a new startup called Strikingly wants to enable publishers to quickly and easily build mobile web experiences. The company, which is part of the current Winter 2013 Y Combinator class, is launching a platform that will create a framework for mobile web sites that can take as little as 30 minutes for users — even those with little or no development experience — to build.
Sharing and keeping tabs on code is relatively simple for coders thanks to GitHub and the like, but developers aren’t the only folks who could benefit from services like that. Designers could also use a smarter way to manage their projects, and that’s exactly the sort of niche that San Francisco-based Pixelapse is aiming to fill.
The problem first really came to light when co-founder Min Ming Lo spent time working as UX design intern at Google — as it turns out, the process of keeping tabs on designs and mockups there wasn’t pretty.
“They didn’t really have a process to version-control their work,” co-founder/CEO Shravan Reddy said. “Everyone dumped their files in a single giant folder. It was hard to tell whose assets were whose. Giving feedback was a pain— it was kind of a mess.” Reddy went through some similar design headaches at his own job, and it wasn’t long until Pixelapse went from idle thought to Demo Days at Stanford and Y Combinator.