Paribus (YC S15) Gets You Money Back When Stuff You've Bought Goes On Sale

A lot of shopping is a waiting game. You see something you like, then negotiate in your head whether to buy it now or wait for it to go on sale. There's risk on both sides: If and when the price drops, your size or preferred color might not be available. But it's so frustrating to see something you've bought for full price discounted just days after you made your purchase.

Paribus is a startup in our current class that allows you to make the online purchases you want, when you want, without worrying about comparison shopping or price drops.

Business Insider's Jillian D'Onfro detailed how Paribus works in a story published last week:

"Paribus takes advantage of the fact that many of stores vow to refund customers the difference if their competitors offer the same product for cheaper or if they introduce their own additional discount not long after the initial purchase.

There are two barriers to people actually ever getting any money back though: Every store has a different specific policy, often buried deep within the fine print on their websites, and most people don't want to go through the hassle of keeping tabs on dropping or competitor prices, much less painstakingly contacting the company in question.

...[Paribus] users sign up with any email address that they plan to use for most of their online purchases. Every time a receipt hits their inbox, Paribus scrapes the product information and will spend several weeks poking around for potential discounts. If it finds one, the shopper will get a refund."

Paribus debuted its app in beta in May 2015, and currently has more than 15,000 users.

You can read more about Paribus in Business Insider here, and in TechCrunch here.

YC Fellowship

Ten years ago, Paul Graham said there could be ten times as many startups if more people realized they could try. Thanks to the work he, Jessica, Trevor and Robert helped do, that’s become true.

We think there is still room for another ten-fold increase in the number of (good) startups. But even now, a lot of good founders never get started because they can’t scrape together a relatively small sum of money at the idea stage.

So we’re going to try a new experiment, which we’re calling the YC Fellowship. This is targeted at teams that are very, very early.

Like YC, we will accept applications and evaluate both the team and the idea. We expect these startups to be early–a prototype is more than enough (though we expect you to have an idea). In order to have the most impact, we’re only considering companies that haven’t yet raised money from investors. Unlike companies that YC funds, YC Fellows won’t have to move to the Bay Area (though we strongly encourage they do). For this experiment, we’re willing to try office hours over video chat.

YC Fellows will receive $12,000 per team as a grant (though if this continues past this test run, we will probably do a more traditional investment with equity for future Fellows) and access to advice from the YC community.

The program will be much lighter weight than YC, but we’ll still try to help you a lot. A dedicated partner will advise YC Fellows and be available for office hours. Fellowship recipients will have a kickoff day and an end event in Mountain View, and we’ll pay for remote teams to fly out for these. We’ll also make some things from YC available to YC Fellows, like AWS and Microsoft hosting credits. We’ll encourage but not require that Fellows later apply to Y Combinator.

The program runs for 8 weeks, from mid-September to mid-November. You should expect to work full-time on your project for those 8 weeks.

Also, this doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. If you fail but seem good, we’ll happily consider you again with a new idea.

We understand that $12,000 is not a lot of money, and this won’t make sense for everyone. But for some people, it may be the difference between going to work at a big company and starting the next Airbnb. Those are the people we hope to help here.

Applications are open now and are due July 27th at 8pm PT. That’s not a lot of time, but it should be enough – the right teams are likely already tinkering with ideas.

Although this is an experiment, if it seems promising we’ll iterate quickly just like any good startup. Our goal at YC is to enable as much innovation as we can. Someday if it works, we’d love to fund 1,000 companies per year like this.

Apply to the YC Fellowship here

Luna (YC S15) Is A High Tech Mattress Cover That Turns Any Bed Into A 'Smart Bed'

We're happy to announce that Luna, the startup that has developed a new kind of mattress cover that turns any regular bed into a personalized "smart bed," is launching out of the Summer 2015 class of Y Combinator.

Luna's mattress cover is actually a combined software and hardware system that intelligently manages your bed temperature and tracks your sleep patterns. The Luna can also be integrated with other smart home devices, such as your bedroom lights and your entertainment system, to create a personalized experience centered around your sleep. Before joining YC, Luna had already garnered an impressive amount of attention from the press and the general public with an incredibly successful crowdfunding campaign that has raised nearly $1.18 million on Indiegogo.

TechCrunch's Anthony Ha reported today that Luna has also raised an additional $1.3 million from venture investors, on top of the amount it has received in crowdfunding and pre-orders. Ha wrote:

"Co-founder Matteo Franceschetti said Luna actually raised this funding before the Indiegogo campaign. So why bother with crowdfunding at all?  The campaign, he said, was more about connecting with early users and getting their feedback. For example, it was through the campaign that Franceschetti realized the importance of Bluetooth connectivity and of security, so Luna is incorporating more features in that vein.

Luna isn’t disclosing its investors, aside from YC. I guess the other question is why it needs to join an incubator, since it already has funding and seems to resonate with consumers. Franceschetti said he can still benefit from the firm’s mentorship: 'They’re really helpful at cleaning up your mind when you have doubts.'"

You can read more about Luna -- and see a video of it in action -- in TechCrunch here and here.

Afrostream (YC S15) Makes It Easy To Find And Watch African And African-American Movies

Afrostream is a startup launching out of our current class that has built a movie streaming service that specifically highlights films with African and African-American actors and themes.

Starting in September, Afrostream will be available in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast and cost €7 per month. More The demand is quite high: Afrostream's service has already attracted 2,000 signups, pulling in $100,000 in subscriptions in a matter of weeks.

TechCrunch's Romain Dillet wrote in an article about the company today:

"Streaming services like Netflix are great, but you often end up watching the same blockbuster movies showing how a white man will save the world. Meet Afrostream, a niche movie streaming service that only features African and African-American content. Launching in September, this startup may have found a great underserved segment.

'When I was a kid, for a long time, I was looking for role models on TV to relate to them,' co-founder and CEO Tonjé Bakang told me. 'There are a lot of successful athletes and artists, but it’s hard to find African and African-American movies... What’s great is that this content already exists. Our goal is to leverage streaming to address our audience. They don’t have any legal solution to access this content,' Bakang said."

Read more about Afrostream in TechCrunch here, and participate in the discussion on Hacker News here.

YC Digest - 7/10-7/17

Top Stories from the YC World - July 10-July 16, 2015
Startup School Radio ep. 9 with YC's Geoff Ralston and David Bladow of BloomThat 

7 Important Lessons from Airbnb's 7 Rejections by Jessica Livingston

The Electric Car by Geoff Ralston

YC Alum

Why desktop apps are making a comeback by Front's Mathilde Collin (YC S14) 


Her (YC S15) Launches Its Women-Only Dating App Throughout The United States

Her, a startup in our current batch that has made an app specifically for women looking to meet and date other women, today launched its iOS app to be available throughout the United States.

Her is more than just a dating app: In addition to personal profiles and a matchmaking feature that links people who have mutually liked each other's profiles into an in-app chat, Her also has a news feed featuring "lesbian pop culture" stories, and an events feed with upcoming exhibits, parties, and festivals. This makes Her an app that's just as much about building conversation and community as it is about facilitating romantic hookups. In addition to the U.S., the app is also available in the U.K. and Ireland.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote in a story today:

"Her’s founder Robyn Exton says that the company has seen 'unprecedented demand' for the app in the two months it has been on the market. Previously the app was only available in seven cities.

One tidbit Exton offered was that women were no longer seeking to apply labels to their sexuality, saying, 'There is a large and growing number of women that don’t want to take a label, women who may have previously considered themselves straight, but are now in a relationship with a woman. This is something we’ve seen with the big growth in the ‘no label’ option of users in the app.'"

Read more about Her in VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and Fast Company.

Click & Grow (YC S15) Lets You Grow An Indoor Garden With Zero Effort

Click & Grow is a startup in our current class that has built a stunningly easy-to-use system for growing a garden indoors.

The freshest and best tasting produce and herbs are the kind you grow yourself. But traditionally home gardening has required at least two things: a lot of space in the sun, and a fair amount of time and effort for tending to the plants. Click & Grow takes care of both of those things, with a self-watering indoor gardening device that requires zero natural sunlight. With Click & Grow, plants can grow faster while using 95% less water.

The company is officially launching out of Y Combinator this week, but has already fielded incredible demand for its "Smart Herb Garden" devices which are for sale at Home Depot and on Amazon: The startup has shipped some 250,000 products to date.

As Digital Trends wrote in an article published today, Click & Grow's larger next-generation "Smart Farm" and "Smart Mini-Farm" devices could be incredibly useful both inside the home, and for larger food production needs:

"Thanks to the its own proprietary nanotech Smart Soil growth medium, ultra-efficient LED grow lights, and electronic precision irrigation systems, it won’t matter whether or not you have a green thumb. The plants are automatically provided with the ideal amount of water, light, and nutrients, enabling them to grow more efficiently.

Currently in the works are Click & Grow’s Smart Farm and Smart Mini Farm, which will bring higher yields to families, restaurants, and even the pharmaceutical industry — without pesticides or GMOs."

Read more about Click & Grow in Digital Trends here.

Jopwell (YC S15) Helps Tech Companies Recruit And Hire More Diverse Candidates

Jopwell is a startup launching today out of our Summer 2015 class that is looking to help tech companies find and hire more diverse staffers. Jopwell has built an online platform that connects recruiters at technology companies with minority candidates from colleges across the country for both technical and non-technical job roles.

TechCrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler interviewed Jopwell's CEO Porter Braswell about the platform in an article published today:

"[Jopwell is] open to all colleges, not just elite schools, and already have candidates from more than 200 schools across the country. 'Our pipeline is incredibly diverse across many spectrums including income,' Braswell said.

For now they focus on Black, Latino or Native American candidates. 'We will expand our definition of diversity over time,' Braswell said.

On the employer side, they’ve partnered with 24 companies, including AppNexus, BuzzFeed, Etsy, Facebook, McKinsey, Morgan Stanley, Pinterest and Square. They have a flexible fee structure that ranges from a subscription model to something that resembles recruiting fees for placement. So far, the company says it’s been able to place 20 candidates in either full-time or internship positions."

Read more in-depth about Jopwell and the problem it's tackling in TechCrunch here, and participate in the related discussion on Hacker News here.

Interviewed (YC S15) Takes The Guesswork Out Of Evaluating Potential Hires

Companies often have a codified process when it comes to interviewing potential technical hires: Interview questions, whiteboarding, and code samples can all be evaluated in a relatively straightforward way. But when it comes to hiring for non-technical roles such as sales and customer support, there isn't as clear of a rulebook. An interviewer may be impressed by a candidate's personality or résumé, but find out after making the hire that his or her actual skills aren't quite up to snuff.

Interviewed is a startup in our current summer class that simplifies the process of interviewing non-technical hires, by enabling job candidates to prove what's on their résumés. By creating a system of advanced simulations for what a candidate will actually be doing on the job, Interviewed has created a way for companies to tangibly assess how well a person may fit in with a job opening.

TechCrunch's Fitz Tepper wrote about the company's platform this week:

"The simulations on Interviewed are extremely realistic, and include the use of mock tools like email and phone calls. For example, a three-part sales simulation first had me write a cold email, then reply to a customer inquiry, and lastly make a cold sales call (using my real cell phone) for a potential client.

...Darren Nix, cofounder of Interviewed, explained that some companies currently run their own mock simulations, but the process is so time-consuming that it is often done at the last stage before hiring.

By automating the simulations, Interviewed’s platform allows companies to administer these simulations on a mass scale, reducing the chance that companies pass over someone who is actually awesome at the required skills."

Read more about Interviewed in TechCrunch here, and check out the related discussion on Hacker News here.

GiveCampus (YC S15) Is A Crowdfunding Platform For College Donors

Technology has transformed many aspects of the payments space, and the concept of "crowdfunding" has become a major force in recent years when it comes to fundraising. But the way that universities solicit donations from alumni has remained fairly old fashioned, relying on phone calls and snail mail campaigns.

GiveCampus is a new startup in the summer class of Y Combinator that's bringing university fundraising into the modern age, with an online crowdfunding platform that lets people donate money easily and quickly to their higher education institution of choice.

GiveCampus' founders were interviewed by TechCrunch's Lucas Matney, who wrote in an article today:

“The bottom line is that what colleges and universities do now doesn’t work. About 90 percent of college graduates give to charity. Only 8.2 percent made a gift last year to their college,” GiveCampus co-founder Kestrel Linder said in an interview. “So there’s an enormous divide between people with the inclination and the capacity to give and people who give to higher education.”

GiveCampus’s model blends Kickstarter’s crowdfunding platform with a social network aspect that allows users to directly appeal to fellow alums for join them in donating to their institutions. Campaigns on the site range from projects raising funds for class gifts to projects looking to create new scholarships.

Check out the full article about GiveCampus in TechCrunch here.