Algolia (YC W14) launches a Search API that lets you provide Apple Spotlight-like realtime search for your app or service

French startup Algolia provides a real-time search API that makes the search function on your website sexy. Now Y Combinator-backed, it’s faster than anything you’ve seen before — everything happens in real time, and results change with each keystroke.

“We first started with an offline search engine that would work well on mobile,” co-founder and CEO Nicolas Dessaigne told me in a phone interview. “It worked but wasn’t a success. Many people wanted us to run the search queries on our servers, so that’s what we did.”

Algolia is a developer-friendly hosted search engine for database objects. It will suit your needs perfectly if you run a sport results website, an e-commerce store, a movie database, a CRM, or any website that relies on small chunks of text (not big pages of text like Wikipedia or TechCrunch). Until now, there wasn’t any framework or API that was optimized for this kind of a database — Swiftype, Searchify and others all rely on big data-oriented Elasticsearch.

The installation process is very reminiscent of integrating Stripe for credit card payments — adding Algolia’s search engine is just a matter of adding a few lines of code. You can see all that in the live demo.

Read the full article on TechCrunch

MakeGamesWithUs Summer Academy (YC W12) receives 1,000 applications for their new game design course


On the MakeGamesWithUs blog:

A little over a month ago we quietly launched our new Summer Academy, a 2 month in-person course where students will design, code and ship their own original iPhone game. In the first month, we received 1,000 applications (400 final, 600 drafts). This year we’ll have 200 spots for the Summer Academy meaning we’re on pace to be as selective as top colleges in our inaugural class.

"I see a day when the traditional four-year college degree will be replaced… which is where [MakeGamesWithUs] comes in." —San Jose Mercury News

The Summer Academy is a spinoff of our wildly popular internship program where we had 75 college and high school students building games out of our living room. Between the two years we’ve run the internship, and the courses at MIT and UC Berkeley created off our curriculum over 200 students have taken our in-person courses. And thanks in part to being featured in the Hour of Codeover half a million students have started learning to build iPhone games on our website.

Read more at MakeGamesWithUs

InstantCab (YC W12) unveils new FareBack program to save riders up to 30% on trips, adds 3x more drivers

Following in the footsteps of Uber’s fare decrease for UberX, InstantCab announced a new program called FareBack intended to save riders up to 30 percent of the fare. The company hopes that this latest endeavor will increase ridership, saying that among all the ridesharing and transportation startups, it still doesn’t have surge pricing.

The company explains the process: riders who summon an InstantCab vehicle will have their entire tip, up to 20 percent of the fare, along with 10 percent of the fare, added back to their account as credit automatically applied to their next ride.

Recognizing that there may be an increase in demand as a result, InstantCab has made an effort to bring on more drivers. It claims to now have “an average of three times more cars on the road at all times.” In doing so, the company hopes to improve service and decrease wait times.

Read the full article on TNW

Announcing the Female Founders Conference

I'm delighted to announce that Kat Manalac, Kirsty Nathoo, Carolynn Levy and I are hosting Y Combinator's first Female Founders Conference on Saturday, March 1. We're going to gather together female founders at all stages to share stories, give advice, and make connections.

The original idea was to make this an event where female YC alumni shared their experiences.  But once we started planning the event we thought it would be exciting to invite Julia Hartz and Diane Greene to speak as well, so that we'd have speakers who could talk about what happens at even later stages.

As well as the speakers, many female YC alumni will be attending the event, so this will be an opportunity to get to know them and ask questions.

The best source of information about startups is the stories of people who've started them.  Our goal with this conference is to inspire women to start (or hang in there with!) a startup through the insights and experiences of those who have done it already.  If you're a woman interested in learning more about startups, I encourage you to apply.

WireOver (YC W12) launches unlimited file sending with end-to-end encryption app

Nothing is truly NSA-proof or hacker-proof, but WireOver wants to offer you more security than Dropbox, Google Drive, or Skydrive. The Y Combinator startup just emerged from stealth with a desktop app that lets you send files of any size for free. And for $10 a month, your transfers get end-to-end encryption so only the recipient can open them. WireOver can’t even look at what you’re sending.

If you just want to send huge video files or photo collections to friends and aren’t worried about encryption, WireOver is totally free for unlimited file-size sharing. But its premium level of privacy could be a big draw for anyone with sensitive files to send.

Read more in TechCrunch

WePay (YC S09) raises $15M and focuses on payments API for platform businesses

Bill Clerico, WePay Cofounder and CEO, on WePay in 2014: 

Today, we’re excited to share two major WePay milestones:

1. A $15 million Series C financing lead by Phil Purcell of Continental Investors, co-founder of the Discover Card and former CEO of Morgan Stanley.

2. Our API business has grown 600% over last year. As we double down on it, we will be discontinuing our direct-to-consumer business to allow us greater focus on our payments API for such platform businesses.

Andreessen Horowitz Invests $20M In Custom Apparel Platform Teespring (YC W13)

Providence, R.I.-based Teespring, a Y Combinator-backed startup that allows anyone to outsource the production and distribution costs involved with selling their own custom T-shirts, has raised $20 million in new funding in a round entirely led by Andreessen Horowitz. The funding, which closed around a month ago, will also see the firm’s Lars Dalgaard joining Teespring’s board.

FarmLogs (YC W12) Raises $4M Series A To Further Advance Farming Into The Age of Apps

Just a year after securing $1 million in seed funding, Michigan-based FarmLogs is announcing a $4 million Series A led by Drive Capital. The company says it is looking forward to a big 2014 and the co-founder and CEO tells me the company will use the influx of cash to execute on an aggressive product growth plan for the upcoming year.

Jesse Vollmar, CEO and co-founder of FarmLogs, explained to me that the company is building out its product to intelligently predict and optimize crop rotations as well as automate activity data collection. FarmLogs is also looking to ingest data collected by modern farming equipment that he tells me traditionally is rarely exported. By using low-cost Bluetooth hardware, the company expects to be able to analyse and upload this data in real time.

The Y Combinator alum touts the fact that 5% of farms in the US. are currently using its software. It’s an impressive stat considering the startup just graduated from YC in early 2012.

Airware (YC W13) Demos Its Drone Platform By Protecting Rhinos From Poachers


Airware wants to prove drones have plenty of uses beyond killing people. Today the unmanned aerial vehicle hardware/software/firmware startup detailed how it’s built and deployed special drones to thwart animal poachers in Kenya, Africa. The demo could build interest for the launch of Airware’s commercial drone platform later this year.

Airware was founded in 2010 and graduated from Y Combinator in March 2013 with the goal of bringing the drone revolution to a wide variety of businesses and other areas such as precision agriculture, land management, infrastructure inspection of power lines or oil derricks, and search and rescue.

E la Carte (YC W10) on the right way to go after big clients

A year after starting a restaurant-technology firm, Rajat Suri got an introduction to what would become by far his biggest client—the casual-dining chain Applebee's International.

Mr. Suri's startup, E la Carte, makes software for tablet devices that allows diners to order and pay for meals from their tables without the aid of restaurant staff. The 28-year-old came up with the idea after he and about a dozen friends struggled to divide up a tab at a restaurant.

While the introduction to Applebee's resulted in a lucrative outcome, Mr. Suri says striking a deal with such a big corporation required a lot more time, effort and risk than he anticipated.

The sale took three years to complete, compared with as little as one hour for deals with smaller clients. What's more, Applebee's required E la Carte to spend a full year testing its software at select outlets—and it had to compete against a rival business for the same opportunity.