Vanhawks (YC W15) Raises $1.6M To Help Put The Valour Smartbike On The Road

"Smartbike startup Vanhawks, part of the Y Combinator Winter 2015 class, has raised $1.6 million from Real Ventures, Olympic triathlon gold medallist Simon Whitfield, Brenda Irwin of Relentless Pursuit partners and various angels. The company will use the funding to help deliver its Valour smartbike, which raised over $820,000 on Kickstarter last year, to its first customers starting this spring. The funding will help the startup overcome some of the challenges it encountered going from concept to full production in Taiwan, and set the company up for future growth plans, which include becoming category leaders in bike-based software.

Vanhawks co-founder Ali Zahid explained in an interview that the startup wasn’t surprised that it needed more funds to start shipping over and above what it raised on Kickstarter, since they were first-time entrepreneurs and didn’t know exactly what to expect when it came time for actual production and manufacturing. Despite missing their initial launch target of late last year for shipping the first Valour bikes out to Kickstarter backers, Zahid says they’re pleased with how things are going now and will start shipping in batches of 25 to 50 bikes at a time this spring, with the intent of working through the backlog by this summer and then offering two- to three-week delivery times on new orders. The funding also helps with the company’s long-term strategy, which extends beyond making bikes."

Read the full story on TechCrunch


Gradberry (YC W15) Curates Technical Talent

Gradberry (YC W15) helps fast-growing companies discover vetted talent. Read more about Gradberry in TechCrunch

"Gradberry is launching today out of Y Combinator to connect US companies with vetted technical talent. Candidates quickly build a talent profile, connecting their GitHub, online portfolios and projects, and LinkedIn account. The talent profile is then vetted by the Gradberry team and approved candidates are passed along to specific employers...

Gradberry has registered 106 companies on the platform which is up from 31 since early February; 80 percent of their customers are a result of inbound traffic. Almost all of that growth has come from U.S.-based employers who now represent 95 percent of their job opportunities...On the other side of the marketplace, the platform has recruited graduates from over 20 universities."

TeamNote (YC W15) Provides Enterprise Communications For Companies With People Out In The Field

Y Combinator-backed TeamNote is building an enterprise communication app that isn’t so much focused on the team, but on helping home base get important information to and from workers in the field.

Unlike many of its classmates at the Mountain View-based accelerator, TeamNote isn’t being developed by a couple of Millennials fresh out of college. Rather, they’re an established team from Hong Kong, and have been working together since 2010...

The original TeamNote app, which only launched last year, focused on secure messaging. This included password-protected conversations, the ability to send a message out to a group and get private replies, and even a feature to make sensitive messages disappear after a specific expiration date. As it expanded, the application has gained features for managing shifts for workers on the field, who can send back messages and photographs related to their work in to their company’s home base to complete tasks. There are also mobile training modules, letting teams quickly get new workers out on the field up to speed without making them sit down and watch an entire training session.

TeamNote is already in use at companies large and small, from teams of ten to organizations like Li Ka-Shing’s property management company Cheung Kong and workers in the Hong Kong and Macau governments.

Paperspace (YC W15) Lets Anyone Access A Better Personal Computer That Lives In The Cloud

Paperspace, A Better Computer. from Paperspace on Vimeo

Imagine never having to buy new and expensive hardware to upgrade your personal computer with more speed and storage space. That’s the vision behind Y Combinator-backed Paperspace, a new company launching today, which is building a full, personal computer that lives in the cloud, which you access from any web browser. Similar, to some extent, to enterprise-grade solutions like VMWare, Citrix or Amazon Workspaces, but aimed also at a consumer or “prosumer” audience, the company is selling a small hardware device that plugs into any older desktop or laptop in order to provide you with the computing power you need on demand.

Called Paperweight, this low-cost hardware device connects you with your own remote machine on Paperspace’s servers, where you can choose from either a “basic” or “pro” option based on your computing needs. The device is considered a “zero client,” because unlike thin client technology, there’s only a small microprocessor on the inside – all the processing is taking place on the cloud.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Kickback (YC W15) Lets You Make Money Playing Games

Kickback, a platform that lets you make money playing video games, launched yesterday. 

Kickback creates tournaments for players of all skill levels, where everyone has a shot at winning money. This is done by using new matchmaking technology and a state of the art anti-cheat system.

The first game to launch on the platform is Minecraft which, contrary to popular belief, can be played competitively and boasts 50 million users. Because the game is highly customizable, people can create a deathmatch, similar to the plot of the movie Hunger Games or a Zombie Apocalypse where winners are the last to survive. Players can play for free to win bragging rights, or enter a tournament with $1.00 to win anywhere from $2-$100.

Valor Water (YC W15) Helps Utilities Keep The Water Running

"Disrupt Battlefield finalist Valor Water is graduating out of Y Combinator just in time to help solve the world’s water crisis. Valor provides a suite of business-intelligence tools for water utilities.

In a drought, consumers are encouraged to conserve water and they often do. In California this past December, conservation was up from 10 percent in November to 22 percent in December, in year-over-year water-use comparisons done by the State of California. Since July 2014, consumers saved 134 billion gallons of water or enough to supply 1.8 million residents with water for a year.

But with that conservation comes a challenge for utilities: decreasing revenue. For every gallon conserved in a drought, that’s one more gallon a utility is not earning money on, over time putting the provider in a very precarious financial situation. Utilities, fearing for their survival, often end up issuing rate hikes to maintain revenue. This leads to a cycle whereby consumers are no longer incentivized to conserve, as they’ll end up paying the same water bill regardless." 

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Y Combinator and Imagine K12 at Princeton, Harvard, MIT & Dartmouth this week

How do you come up with an idea? 
Should you start a startup in college?
How do you raise money as an edtech company? 

Hear short talks from YC partners Sam Altman, Qasar Younis and Geoff Ralston (YC partner and founder of Imagine K12).

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Wednesday, March 4 - 6:30pm ET
Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall
More info here

MIT
Thursday, March 5 - 5pm ET
Room 54-100
More info here

HARVARD 
Thursday, March 5 - 7:30pm ET
Northwest Labs B101 
More info here

DARTMOUTH
Friday, March 6 - 2pm-3pm ET 
DEN Innovation Center (4 Currier Place, Hanover, NH)
More info here

Questions? Send them to info@ycombinator.com.

Shift Messenger (YC W15) Makes It Easy For Workers To Swap Hours

"Anyone who has worked a retail job knows what a pain it is to take time off. You usually have to find someone to cover your shift and, unless you’ve managed to arrange your schedule in advance, that often entails panicked texts and phone calls to co-workers. A new startup called Shift Messenger wants to make the process less painful.

Backed by Y Combinator, Shift Messenger was founded by Austin Vedder and Matt Tognetti. Former Redbeacon employees, the two got a look at the scheduling problems faced by retail workers after the home services marketplace was acquired by Home Depot."

Read the full story on TechCrunch

YesGraph (YC W15) Raises A Million To Build A Better Referral System For Mobile Apps

"When launching a new consumer application, especially those in the social space, many developers today rely on an invite mechanism that has the app’s initial user base reaching out and recommending the app to their friends. But today, these invite systems are often fairly basic – they connect to a phone’s address book and then force the user to sift through their hundreds of contacts for those they think would be interested in joining the new app, too.

A Y Combinator-backed startup called YesGraph wants to make these invite and referral systems more intelligent, with a tool for developers that puts the best contacts – meaning those who are most likely to accept an invite – at the top of the list provided to users.

The company has also now raised a $1 million seed round led by Bloomberg Beta to fund the service’s further development."

YC Digest - 2/20-2/26

Top Stories from the YC World - 2/20/15-2/26/15
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