Referly (YC S12) raises $1M to bring affiliate commerce to everyone

Referly, a YC-backed company that makes it easy for anyone to earn a bit of money while sharing links to products they adore, just raised $1 million in seed funding.

Investors include New Enterprise Associates, Ignition Partners, 500 Startups, Jeff Lawson (CEO of Twilio), Elliot Loh, Eileen Burbidge, Ullas Naik, Michael Liou, Damien Tanner, Matt Monahan, and Carter Rabasa.

Danielle Morrill, the company’s CEO, is pretty frank about using the funding to go all out or go home. They’ll use the funding to hire a back-end engineer to scale up the service. Referly has about 10,000 users now and is growing 45 percent month-over-month.

“Funding is not actually success. Success is being cash-flow positive, especially if you’re in a transaction-based business,” she said.

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Heyzap (YC W09) launches the easiest way for mobile gamers to play with their friends

Heyzap has convinced more than 8.5 million mobile gamers to download its social app for mobile games in the past year. Now, it will enable gamers to go a step further by making it easy for friends to play with each other. 

Previously, players used Heyzap to manage their games, discover new ones, and see what their friends were playing. The new Heyzap “play with friends” feature makes it easy for users to start playing games together with a few taps on the touch screen.


ReadyForZero (YC S10) now detects when payments happen automatically, making it easier for consumers to get out of debt

Y Combinator-backed financial service ReadyForZero, which focuses on helping Americans pay down their $2.5 trillion in personal debt, is expanding its feature set today to include online payments. The new addition, a part of ReadyForZero Plus, will detect when you have new deposits in your bank account, and will then immediately advise you how to spend that money to more quickly pay off your loans, credit card bills, and more – before it burns a hole in your pocket.

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LendUp (YC W12) raises from A16z, Start Fund, Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Kapor to disrupt payday loans

New Y Combinator-incubated startup is entering the fintech scene today, aiming to disrupt payday loans and consumer finance. LendUp, is leveraging technology to redefine the payday lending experience, bringing a new level of innovation and transparency to an industry that desperately needs disruption. And the San Francisco-based startup is launching today with funding from an impressive group of VC firms and angels including Y Combinator, Kleiner Perkins, Yuri Milner’s Startfund, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Thomvest Ventures, Kapor Capital, Bronze Investments, Founders CoOp, Data Collective, Garry Tan, Harj Taggar, Alexis Ohanian and others.

At a basic level, LendUp is direct lender and has created a way to use small-dollar loans as an opportunity for consumers to build credit and move up the financial ladder. Consumers who have poor or no credit can apply for and receive small-dollar, short-term loans (up to $250 for up to 30 days). But it doesn’t stop there. The company’s mission is to use small-dollar loans as a way to help customers build credit and move up the financial ladder.

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Embark (YC S11) transit apps double in reach after iOS 6 update

Apple’s changes in iOS 6 are already proving plenty beneficial for some of its developers, including mass transit app-maker Embark. The San Francisco-based startup has seen 1.3 million trips routed through its app since Apple decided to ditch Google Maps in favor of its own solution, which lacks integrated transit mapping options. Embarks’ suite of apps, which serve customers across 12 U.S. and international transit systems, have also been downloaded over 100,000 times since iOS 6 arrived, representing a huge upwards spike in traction.

Compare that to the startups previous rate of growth: it’s planned over 40 million trips total, but was doing just 2 million trips a month in January of this year. Now, it’s on pace to do around 4 million a month, achieving well over 1 million in the single week since iOS 6 was released to the public. Embark founder David Hodge tells me that the upwards curve of growth has been tremendous since the launch, with clear inflection point at the time of the iOS 6 release.

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MinoMonsters (YC W11) retools and hits 1.5M players

When a mobile game pivots: Y Combinator-backed MinoMonsters, a Pokémon-inspired game from two of the incubator’s youngest founders made a bold move earlier this summer when they released version 2.0 of the iOS game. This wasn’t a minor feature release – they significantly changed the gameplay. Instead of exploring worlds and performing quests with battles in between, the game’s focus shifted to become entirely about the battles. That strategy, it seems, is working. MinoMonsters has now passed 1.5 million players, and nearly every other metric has improved as well. The team has even taken in an extra bit of funding.

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Grouper (YC W12) launches in 10 cities - SF, NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA, more

There are a lot of dating sites out there and the world doesn’t really need another one. That’s why the young, New York-based startup, Grouper, calls itself an “online social club” even though its members go on “Groupers” (i.e. dates) and sometimes even end up in relationships. In fact, founder and CEO Michael Waxman met his current girlfriend on a Grouper. Instead, the site doesn’t promise to introduce you to the love of your life, a la eHarmony, just to give you a more fun, casual way to meet new people, especially when compared to the creepy, mechanical browse-and-message approach that prevails in online dating today.


Initially launched in New York and San Francisco, the online social club has found more traction in the last year, enough so that the co-founders felt that the time was right to expand into more big, metro areas. Today, Groupers are taking place in SF, NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA, Miami, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, and Washington D.C. More than 10 additional cities (with some in Canada) are on the docket for later this year, too. So chances are Grouper will be in your hood soon if it’s not already.

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Come meet YC partners and alums in Cambridge at MIT (Weds at 5:30PM)

Harvard and MIT area computer scientists and hackers are invited to come join us for short talks and a mixer Wednesday at 5:30PM at 32-123 Auditorium in the Stata Center at MIT.

Hear short talks and meet partners and alums including:

  • Aaron Iba, Partner, Y Combinator, Cofounder, Etherpad (acquired by Google) YC Summer 2007 Alum
  • Garry Tan, Partner, Y Combinator, Cofounder, Posterous (acquired by Twitter) YC Summer 2008 Alum
  • Aston Motes, First Employee, Dropbox YC Summer 2012 Alum
  • Adam Goldstein, Cofounder, Hipmunk YC Summer 2010 Alum
  • Geoff Schmidt, Cofounder, Meteor YC Summer 2011 Alum
  • Adam Bouhenguel, Cofounder, Tsumobi YC Winter 2007 Alum 

Food and drinks will be provided, with Q&A and to follow. 


Wednesday Sept 19th, 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM
32-123 Auditorium (Stata Center, MIT) 

SpinPunch (YC S12) builds beautiful high-performance HTML5 games - first launch is Starcraft-like Mars Frontier

“You can run StarCraft on your PC, but the best game you can in your browser is, like, FarmVille,”SpinPunch co-founder Ian Tien told me. While he’s quick to note that there’s nothing wrong with tilling fields and raising livestock, the games powered by the Y Combinator-backed startup’s HTML5 platform aspire to break down that quality distinction by being faster-paced, and more visually rich than the rest.

Mountain View-based SpinPunch was founded by ex-Microsoftie Tien and Dan Maas, a software developer and 3D animator who won an Emmy for his work on a documentary called “Five Years on Mars”. 


To highlight the power of their “high performance” in-house HTML5 platform, the SpinPunch team decided to offer up their own take on a classic (and hard to nail) genre for their first game: real-time strategy. It’s a tricky endeavor for sure, but the SpinPunch team thinks of as a trial by fire — after all, gamers don’t take very kindly to gameplay-cripping bugs no matter how impressive the technology behind it is. Called Mars Frontier, the HTML5 Facebook game plays home to something like 140,000 monthly actives (or so AppData tells me), and puts users in the midst of a Martian conflict between multiple maladjusted AIs.

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