Amicus (YC S12) helps nonprofits reach volunteers through software, boosts participation by 50%

The process of recruiting volunteers is a pain felt by the entire American electorate: citizens are quick to hang up on complete strangers begging for their time and campaign organizations, as a result, are perpetually short staffed. Amicus, a Y-Combinator nonprofit volunteer-recruitment platform, may have found a clever way to ensure that citizens are only contacted by trusted friends. Amicus scours public and private databases and matches names up with their volunteers’ facebook friends, assigning volunteer outreach only to those who have a personal bond between the caller. “Amicus’ friend-to-friend connections enhance our traditional outreach program and make it easier to mobilize our supporters online,” said Jared Schwartz, Director of Digital strategies, AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US.

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NewsBlur (YC S12) takes feed reading back to the basics

Every few months or so, somebody will declare the death of RSS, and with it the death of old-school feed readers like Google Reader. Don’t tell that to Samuel Clay, though, the founder of NewsBlur, a web-based feed reader that’s in Y Combinator’s current batch of startups. NewsBlur has many interesting features besides the pure feed reading experience, but at first glance, the web app feels like a throwback to the heady early days of feed readers a few years ago. In addition to the basic feed-reading experience, however, the service also lets you curate your favorite stories on Tumblr-like “Blur Blogs,” which bring a strong social aspect to the service.

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PayDragon (YC S11) raises $1.35M so hungry people can skip lines

Y Combinator alumni and line-hating mobile purchasing startup PayDragon is announcing a $1.35 million seed financing today. The round included Rustic Canyon Ventures, Ron Conway’s SV Angel, Yuri Milner, Mark Schwartz, and a follow-on investment by Y Combinator.

PayDragon is based on the premise that waiting in line to purchase items is neither good for the customer or the merchant. Rather, the startup allows merchants to offer one-click mobile ordering (including payment) and send push notifications when the item is ready for pickup. Users skip to the front of the line, receive their item, and get on with their lives. The premise is being applied solely within the restaurant space, but future options are limitless.

Zencoder (YC W10) acquired by Brightcove for $30M

[Brightcove] announced that it has agreed to acquire cloud encoding vendor Zencoder, creator of the popular Video.js HTML5 video player. Zencoder has more than 1,000 paying customers for its encoding services, including PBS, Scripps Networks Interactive, IGN, SmugMug, Yammer, TwitVid, College Humor, Funny or Die, and others. The open source Video.js player is used on more than 24,000 websites.

Brightcove is paying $30 million for Y Combinator alum Zencoder, and plans to continue to operate the company separate from its core business. Founded in 2010, Zencoder raised just $2 million, mostly through a Series A round raised in April 2011.

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Also read the announcement on the Zencoder blog

Vayable (YC S12) lists 3,000 travel experiences in 600 cities worldwide, launches concierge service

We first covered Vayable when it launched to the public just over a year ago as a way to find interesting new travel experiences around the world. It’s been growing fast since then, adding new guides at a frantic pace. And it’s also been adding new features to make finding and booking unique experiences even easier, and paying for them a lot less painless.


Vayable has just three full-time employees today, but it has managed to get about 3,000 experiences available in more than 600 cities worldwide in its marketplace. (Compare that to last April, when it had just 70 experiences listed.) In San Francisco, it just added the ability to rent out Alcatraz for the night (COOL!) and it will also play host to a Startup Crawl on September 15, which will hit up the offices of popular local startups such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Eventbrite, Weebly, and Scribd. Vayable recently joined Y Combinator, and is part of the incubator program’s summer 2012 class.

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FundersClub (YC S12) launches a new way for startups to get funded

FundersClub is going to change how companies get funded. Today it launches a website designed to let anyone with as little as $1000 make equity investments in startups and earn money if they succeed.

For now you have to be an accredited investor with a net worth over $1 million or yearly earnings over $200,000 to use FundersClub. But an industry source familiar with the Y Combinator startup gave me an exclusive rundown of its whole roadmap, including that if the JOBS Act goes into effect or FundersClub pays to set up a mutual fund, literally anyone will be allowed to use it to invest and profit if a startup successfully exits.

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Meteor (YC S11) raises $11.2M from Andreessen Horowitz and Matrix Partners to create the next Ruby on Rails

Marc Andreessen’s now-famous “Software is Eating the World” manifesto made his firm, Andreessen Horowitz, the investor-of-choice for companies building solutions for software developers. Last month there was GitHub. Now, the firm, alongside Matrix Partners, has invested $11.2 million in Meteor, an open source developer platform that Matrix Partners’ David Skok calls “the next Ruby on Rails.”

Read the full article at Pando Daily

Sponsorfied (YC S12) launches marketplace that helps big brands sponsor top events with great swag

Today, Y Combinator Summer 2012 startup Sponsorfied launches its tool that connects and manages the relationship between brands and the events or influencers they want to sponsor. See, we’re all trained to ignore ads, but get your product in our hands or enhance a real life experience for us and we won’t forget you.

Top brands like Red Bull, Task Rabbit, and popchips are the first clients in the Sponsorfied private beta now that it’s out of stealth. By sorting out the mess of sponsorship management and installing feedback loops, Sponsorfied could make sure the next event you attend has a lot more free clothes, liquor, and food. You know, more fun.

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Chute (YC W12) raises $2.7M from Salesforce (and others) to become the Twilio for media content

Chute knows you’re tired of hearing about yet another photo-sharing or photo-syncing app. So, although it dwells in the photo sphere, thankfully Chute is taking a different approach. The recent Y Combinator grad set out to become the go-to service that app developers and content producers turn to for managing and enhancing photos in their app or on their website. You can think of Chute as a Twilio for photos, or if you’re into cloud-inspired taxonomy, as an Images-as-a-Service startup.

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SmartAsset (YC S12) launches the easiest, most trustworthy way to make tough financial decisions like buying a home

SmartAsset, a startup incubated by Y Combinator, aims to help consumers make the major financial decisions in their lives.

Right now, the site is focused on homebuying — founder and CEO Michael Carvin tells me the service originated in his own experience purchasing a home. When he was trying to figure out whether buying made sense, he found that online resources were pretty lacking, with lots of advice in the form of blog posts (“Content can be helpful, but me reading about your aunt buying a home or your cousin buying a home doesn’t really help me,” Carvin says) plus financial calculators with little depth and dubious accuracy. So instead, Carvin built his own financial model to figure out how the purchase would affect his finances over time, and he realized that as long as he stayed int he home for at least a few years, buying was good move.

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