MobileWorks (YC S11) virtual workforce completes 1M tasks

MobileWorks launched last summer with a simple, yet big mission: Build a viable alternative for Amazon Mechanical Turk and in so doing create a motivated, happy and accurate virtual workforce. While Mechanical Turk has its appeal, as a way to hire cheap labor to complete basic tasks through an online, crowdsourced marketplace, but the system is set up in such a way that workers tend to be anonymous, underpaid, don’t have much incentive to do good work, and largely ignored by Amazon.


So far it seems to be working, as the company announced today that its workers have collectively completed one million commercial tasks since launch. What’s more, companies have effectively outsourced five continuous years of work in the last year by hiring its cloud-based crowd, which the team believes is a testament to how much businesses can accomplish by collaborating with a virtual labor pool.

Read the full article in Techcrunch

The Coco Controller by Milkshake Labs (YC S12) will turn your iPhone and Android phone into a mobile gaming powerhouse

Roll over, Sony, and tell Nintendo the news. The Coco Controller is a Kickstarter project that adds directional controls and game buttons to almost any phone, including the Galaxy SIII, iPhone, and most standard Android handsets. Created by Harvard drop-outs Connor Zwick and Colton Gyulay, the project aims to be a usable, useful addition to the mobile gamer’s arsenal.

The guys are YC-backed and they’ve opened a $150,000 convertible note. The Kickstarter project, however, is looking for $175,000 to build and distribute the controllers. They’ve raised $12,000 so far. A black or white Coco will cost $42 while a color Coco will cost $50.

From the project page:

coco has all of the physical buttons you’re used to, including both an analog stick and a directional pad. By having an analog stick as well as the d-pad, we make sure that you can play any game with the case – not just arcade games. And we’ve put special thought into the analog stick/d-pad combo. The analog stick is low profile, but provides great control and is comfortable to use. The directional pad is capable of 8 directions, but we’ve learned from past commercial controllers and it’s also super responsive when you only need 4. You can play pretty much any game in the app store that requires joysticks with this control scheme.

Developers have already enabled multiple games to work with the new system.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Contribute to the Coco Controller on Kickstarter

Science Exchange (YC S11) launches the Reproducibility Initiative to verify scientific research

Many of the world's top media outlets, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have reported on the issue of reproducibility in scientific research. Currently researchers lack easy avenues to validate and publish reproduced results.

...that's all about to change.

Science Exchange, PLOS and figshare, with the support of top academic journals, are launching the Reproducibility Initiative.

The Reproducibility Initiative is a new program to help scientists validate studies for publication or commercialization. Simply submit your study, and we’ll match you to one of our 1000+ expert providers for validation. Validations are conducted blind, on a fee-for-service basis.

WePay (YC S09) rolls out white-label payments API, drops prices, targets PayPal

Online payments startup WePay is today announcing lowered pricing and new API features, as it celebrates the one-year anniversary of its WePay Payments API. The company, which is backed by $19.2 million in venture funding, is actually a bit older than just one year, however. As you may remember, WePay first emerged from Y Combinator in 2009 as a simple tool to collecting group payments. The company has since grown beyond group payments, and even beyond payments themselves, with added support for event registration and ticketing, custom invoicing, donations and online stores.


Since the API’s launch a year ago, over 1,000 applications have been built on top of it, including BookFresh,GoFundMeVenyooz, and Fundable, to name a few. Some, like GoFundMe, actually replaced PayPal with WePay as their default means for accepting online payments. According to Clerico, a lot of WePay’s customers are former PayPal customers. “We’ve found that PayPal has failed to innovate around the user experience,” he says. “These platforms really care about the user experience they offer their customers, and they can’t deliver the user experience they want with PayPal. So they rip out PayPal.” He notes that the solution is especially popular among crowdfunding sites and small business support sites, and is now making a big push into marketplaces as well.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

OrderAhead (YC W11) nabs $2.3M seed for the fastest easiest way to order takeout

You know what’s not fun? Ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant over the phone — actually planning ahead instead of just showing up — only to wait in line like a schlub once you get there to pick up your order and pay. If you’re anything like me, this has happened enough times that you’ve thought about starting a Facebook support group, or at least made a strongly-worded mental note of it. Well, luckily OrderAhead feels your pain.

The Y Combinator grad offers a free app (for the iPhone) that allows anyone and everyone to quickly order takeout from local merchants. Connect your credit card, order the food you want to shovel into your mouth at a later point, then pick up the food with your name and phone number — free of charge.

At present, OrderAhead’s network focuses on restaurants (mostly of the takeout variety), but in the future, the startup is thinking big: It wants to be the easiest way to order anything from local merchants via your phone. Sound like a pipe dream? Well, OrderAhead has a few investors who would beg to differ.

Up until now, the startup has largely flown under the radar, eschewing press for some good, old-fashioned heads-down company-building. But, today, along with officially making its presence known, OrderAhead is officially revealing that it raised $2.3 million in seed funding earlier this year from a bevy of recognizable names, including Facebook Co-founder Adam D’Angelo, Matrix Partners, Menlo Ventures, Ignition Partners, Y Combinator and YC partners (Harj Taggar, Alexis Ohanian, Garry Tan, Paul Buchheit, Geoff Ralston), CrunchFund, SV Angel, Eric Schmidt (via Innovation Endavors) and, last but not least, Bay Area crepe chain, Crepevine.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Flip Video co-founder unveils new e-learning company, Knowmia (YC S12)

On Tuesday, Flip's other co-founder will unveil a somewhat meatier startup: Knowmia, which CEO Ariel Braunstein says will help parents cut down on the high cost of tutoring.

"There's something magic that happens when a teacher and a student connect. How can we replicate that?" said Braunstein, who together with Kaplan launched the low-cost Flip digital camcorder in 2007 and sold it two years later to Cisco Systems (CSCO) for $590 million.

Cisco infamously reversed course on its unusual foray into consumer electronics, announcing plans to kill the Flip brand barely two years after the acquisition. But Braunstein said the experience of building the product and watching it become wildly popular taught him about the power of online-video sharing.

San Francisco-based Knowmia trolls the Web for teaching videos, then organizes them into study plans developed by a network of teachers from around the country. The startup has quietly amassed a trove of more than 7,000 public-domain videos from sources including YouTube, Vimeo and the websites of various government agencies.

Read the full article at the San Jose Mercury News

Kamcord (YC S12) Helps Record And Share Those Epic Mobile Gaming Moments

Big numbers, virtual badges, and achievements all lack a sense of context, and a way for other people to know exactly how good you are. After all, what good is nabbing a high score when you can’t show off how you nearly destroyed your fingers getting it?

That’s where YC-backed Kamcord comes in. The brainchild of MIT alumni Kevin Wang, Aditya Rathnam, and CEO Matt Zitzmann, Kamcord aims to help mobile gamers easily record and share their exploits via a free SDK available to iOS game developers.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

QuicklyChat (YC S12) Brings “Push-To-Talk” Video To Small, Remote Teams

QuicklyChat, a Y Combinator-backed startup participating in the Summer 2012 program, has an interesting take on video conferencing. With its newly launched solution designed for small teams working remotely, QuicklyChat is trying to bring back ad hoc conversations, which are still the most valuable aspect to the in-office work environment. With its “push-to-talk” video chat system, your co-workers can immediately reach you – but only when your status indicator says you’re not busy.

And here’s the key selling point – that status indicator updates automatically based on what you’re currently doing on your computer. In your IDE coding? It’s red. Surfing Reddit? It’s green. Reading email? It’s probably yellow.

“We think video is really the best way to communicate with anybody,” says co-founder James Harvey, “because you get more context than you do with IM. But Skype and things like that are too formal,” he adds. “It’s like having your phone ringing. You wouldn’t want to have your phone ringing every time someone asked you a 10-second question.”

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Meet The Double (YC S12), A Teleconferencing Robot With An iPad For A Face

Teleconferencing has changed the way business is conducted. Small companies can hire talent in another city, large corporations can save money by having international meetings in a conference room, and managers can keep tabs on off-site workers through services like Lua. But as technology never rests, neither does the teleconference industry, and Y Combinator-backed Double Robotics proves it.

The company has built an incredibly creative iPad stand that works as a robotic body double for you. 

Read the full article on Techcrunch