Instapainting (YC W11) makes it easy to turn any photo into a hand-painted canvas painting for under $100

Surprise! It’s Valentine’s Day, the stealthiest of all the holidays. Sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?

If you’re trying to get a gift today, you… might be a bit short on options. Will you go with the gas station teddy bear? The twice-crushed box of chocolates? A bouquet of acceptable-looking roses for $200?

If your nearly-forgotten flame would be content with the promise of a pretty cool gift in a few weeks, though, you might be set. Instapainting, a YC-backed company launching this morning, turns any photo into a hand-painted piece on canvas for under $100 bucks.

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Renthop (YC S09) launches its successful NYC apartment rental marketplace nationwide

Who likes Craigslist? No one! Who wants to see a startup succeed in providing a better alternative when searching for an apartment? Pretty much everyone! Will RentHop be that startup? I dunno, maybe.

RentHop, which launched in 2009 and has spent the last several years refining its marketplace for apartment rentals, is now moving beyond just that market and has opened up nationwide. In doing so, it will (hopefully) make apartment hunting more bearable to people outside of New York City.

The key to RentHop is in giving each listing a score, based on a lot of different data it has. That includes information about the apartment itself, its location, the property manager, the number of photos it has and how good they are.

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Meet Bellabeat (YC W14), The Quantified Self Startup That Wants To Be The FitBit For Pregnancy

"If there’s ever a time in a person’s life when she wants to keep tabs on everything that’s going on with her body, it’s while she’s pregnant. Every inch added to her waistline, pound gained, heartbeat she hears, and kick she feels is something to be monitored and celebrated.

But even as the quantified self movement has become mainstream when it comes to counting steps and tracking calories, many expectant mothers still largely rely on their doctor appointments to chart out the progress of the lives growing inside of them.

Bellabeat, a startup in the current Winter 2014 class of Y Combinator, wants to help change that by providing a “connected system” that enables mothers to track their pregnancies on their own, while in between doctor visits. Today the startup is launching its first product, a $129 pocket-sized digital ultrasound tool that connects to a smartphone app to let women hear, record, and share their babies’ heartbeat."

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Group Matchmaking Startup The Dating Ring (YC W14) Launches In San Francisco

"I haven’t online dated in a while*, but everyone I know who does it laments the current state of matchmaking technology. When being able to swipe right to express interest in a person is a major technological achievement, you know something is broken.

Y Combinator alum The Dating Ring thinks it has a better way of getting people to meet one another and hopefully start dating, by matching up users in groups of six. After several months of operating in New York City, the startup has brought its group match making service to San Francisco."

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Beacon (YC W14) Offers A New Approach To Crowdfunding Journalism

"Beacon, part of the current batch of startups incubated by Y Combinator, gives readers another way to support (and get access to) high-quality journalism.

Two of the company’s co-founders, Dmitri Cherniak and Adrian Sanders, told me that they previously worked together on a photo storytelling app for the iPhone, where they wanted to pay the photographers and give them an incentive to post more content.

Given the relatively small size of the audience, Sanders said, “The digital ad model did not make any sense,” but the pair still wondered, “Man, wouldn’t it be great if these mobile photographers could earn real money with this niche community?” Then they encountered Dan Fletcher, formerly managing editor at Facebook and social media director at Bloomberg, who would become the third founder at Beacon. As they discussed the state of the journalism industry, they realized that they could solve a broader problem."

BloomThat (YC S13) is Latest Startup to Stop and Sell the Roses

"Venture capitalists are letting a thousand flower sellers bloom.

The latest to raise funding, BloomThat, offers Web and mobile apps that let users select, pay for and have flowers or live plants delivered by courier within 90 minutes to a recipient in their address book.

Investors in BloomThat’s new $2 million seed round include SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s A-Grade Investments, Joe Montana, Alexis Ohanihan, Ron Rofe, Oliver Jung, Garry Tan and Baron Davis."

Read the full story on WSJ.com

Stripe (YC S10) now accepts payments in 139 currencies

"As the internet’s global reach grows, Stripe users increasingly sell to worldwide audiences. Companies like DailyMotion in Paris, HubSpot in Boston, and Shopify in Ottawa build products that are popular everywhere, not just in their home markets.

Starting today, businesses using Stripe in the US and Europe can accept payments in 139 currencies. You can create charges in any of these currencies, and we'll automatically handle converting and transferring funds to you in your home currency. Currency conversion incurs a 2% fee atop market exchange rates." 

Read more on the Stripe blog


Sendwithus (YC W14) Offers A/B Testing And Analytics Tools For Email Marketers

"Sendwithus aims to bring optimization and A/B testing to marketers and anyone else sending out targeted promotional emails.

The company, which is part of the current class of Y Combinator-incubated startups, was founded by Matt Harris and Brad Van Vugt. Harris told me that Sendwithus emerged from the pair’s work as developers, when they found themselves repeatedly having to change a bunch of email templates and wanting to test different variants but finding that there was no real technology in place to do so. (Larger companies will usually build their own systems for this, he said.)"

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HackerRank (YC S11) Launches CodePair To Improve Technical Interviews

"HackerRank is a social platform for fun coding challenges that launched at TechCrunch SF Disrupt in 2012. It grew out of Interviewstreet, a technical recruiting platform that’s being used by companies like Evernote and Amazon to screen potential hires. Today, the company is combining these two brands under the HackerRank label. HackerRank will continue to operate as usual and Interviewstreet will become HackerRankX, a white label version of the HackerRank platform.

At the same time, the company today launched CodePair, a new tool for doing technical interviews online as part of HackerRankX. With CodePair, developers and interviewers can collaboratively code online in real-time. Interviewers can set the environment up for their coding questions ahead of time and create a catalog of their favorites. These questions can then be shared and reused across the company, which HackerRank says will allow candidates to be measured across the same rubric." 

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