CardPool (W10) Wants To Buy And Sell Your Unused Gift Cards

Gift cards can be a double edged sword. I recently got married and received a number of gift cards to stores where I never shop. But at the same time, I don't want the value of the card to go to waste. There have been a number of auction-like marketplaces, such as Plastic Jungle and Rackup, that have popped up to allow users can buy and sell their gift cards to each other in an eBay like interface (you can also do this eBay itself). Y Combinator startup CardPool is entering the space but with a slightly different twist to its model. Card Pool allows users to both buy and sell gift cards.

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Bump’s (W09) Mobile Data Swapping API Now Open To Everyone

Last December, mobile data swapping startup Bump opened up its iPhone API in a small, private beta. Today, they're opening the floodgates to everyone. Developers who implement Bump's API can use it to transfer data between two nearby phones simply by asking users to tap their devices together - a feat that's still remarkably difficult on most smart phones.

To kickstart its API launch, Bump held a contest that invited developers to work the API into their iPhone applications. You can see a gallery of the winners here. The winning apps include CheckOut, which lets you share gift cards with friends by tapping your phones together; CloudNote, which lets you swap digital Post-It notes; and SocialFuse, which allows you to connect on Twitter and LinkedIn with someone (again, by tapping your phones together). Be sure to check out the gallery page for a half dozen runners-up to get more ideas of what the API can do.

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Mixpanel (S09) Raises Seed Funding From Metrics Gurus Max Levchin And Michael Birch

Mixpanel, the Y Combinator-funded startup that looks to give web services more powerful analytics tools than other popular solutions, has gotten the endorsement of two of the biggest names in the space: Slide and PayPal founder Max Levchin, and Bebo and BirthdayDay alarm founder Michael Birch. The two of them have invested a total of around half a million dollars into Mixpanel.

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Hackathon at Berkeley this weekend!

The annual Hackathon is coming up this weekend. We expect 100 people to show up and spend the night starting at 6pm. The hacking will take place from 6pm on Friday in the Wozniak Lounge at Soda Hall, and end at 12pm on Saturday. Thats 18 hours of hacking craziness followed by presentations from the teams and deliberation by the 9 judges from Zynga, Facebook, Y Combinator, and EECS peeps @ Berkeley.

If you are a hacker, show up at 6pm for a brief description of the rules and Zachary’s Pizza. If you aren’t show up at 12 on Saturday to hear about the projects (or stop by Friday night/Saturday morning to watch the madness). Winners can expect a choice between the Amazon Kindle (which just launched an SDK), pocket projectors, or 80 GB solid state drives. Expect awesome t-shirts for everyone that lasts 18 hours and shaving creme to the head of anyone that doesn’t.

If you can’t make it to the event, expect a live blog here at ST@B and check in regularly to the live stream here to confirm everyone is still alive and coding.

Thanks to Zynga for sponsoring, we like those guys!


Trevor will be one of the judges at this year's Hackathon at Berkeley. Have fun everyone!

How to Avoid Mediocre Co-Founders

Said Livingston, "Above all else, never hire a B player - B players hire C players and then you find yourself with a mediocre team. My best advice is to always hire someone more competent than yourself."

Echoing Livingston's sentiment, Fast Ignite CEO Simeon Simeonov wrote an excellent guest post for Venture Hacks entitled, When to Fire Your Co-Founders. Simeonov argues that weak teams get built when founders fail to anticipate a pivot from the original business plan or model and when they do not spend the time expanding their recruiting network. He offers ten rules for building agile founding teams including using your investor network to recruit, setting clear expectations and agreements and my personal favorite, "[hiring] generalists early and specialists later."

We've all seen the early-stage company with one great founder / generalist and an entourage of childhood friends who are ill-equipped to help with anything beyond their lackluster specialities. As Simeonov points out, VC's just think, "Shoot, this is a backable entrepreneur and the idea may have legs but the two other founders are B players and a poor fit for the company at this point...Frustrating... this could have been a good seed deal. Now it's too complicated. I'll pass using some polite non-reason."

You can't afford to miss out on funding because your uncle fancies himself a salesman or your cousin lent you money and thinks he can dictate your operations. In addition to today's Venture Hacks post, ReadWriteWeb's articles on hiring an A team andhiring for the company's life cycle will help you get the info you need to make the right recruitment decisions.

At the Girls in Tech Catalyst conference last week I gave some advice about hiring that I learned from Joe Kraus, but the attribution somehow got lost along the way to this article. Joe is a favorite guest speaker at Y Combinator and one of his great bits of advice is to hire very carefully: "A players hire A players; B players hire C players; and C players hire Losers." Everyone a startup hires should be a star at the kind of work they do.