CodeCombat (YC W14) Wants You To Learn To Code By Playing Games

"So you’ve decided you want to learn to code, but don’t know where to start. There are dozens of services out there that can help you find your way, but a new YC-backed company wants to teach you how to code through gamification.

The web-based game teaches rudimentary JavaScript fundamentals, including everything you’d learn in an introductory computer science course, by forcing you to code your way through the game. In order to get from one level to the next, you must understand the lesson being taught and prove it through writing your own code." 

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Two New YC Partners: Justin Kan and Aaron Harris

I'm delighted to announce that Justin Kan and Aaron Harris are joining Y Combinator as Partners.

Justin was in the very first YC batch with me in the summer of 2005, and has been a part-time partner since 2011. Justin founded Kiko, Justin.tv/Twitch.tv, Socialcam, and Exec. He took the "do what it takes" directive of startups unusually far with Justin.tv, when he wore a webcam on his head and broadcast his entire life for 8 months, 24 hours a day.

For some time now, Justin has been who we send startups to with questions about growth and marketing. But he knows a ton about nearly every part of startups.

Aaron was in the YC Winter 2011 batch doing Tutorspree, which moved back to New York after their batch. He’s actually been a partner since October 2013—sometimes it takes us a while to get around to announcing things.

Aaron will also advise startups on all topics, but he’s especially good with anything related to finance.

We're all very happy to have both of them on the team.

Threadable’s (YC W14) Mailing List For Teams Makes Your Inbox Less Noisy

"One of the problems with mailing lists today, especially when used for work-related purposes or organizing large groups around some sort of project, is that they can quickly become overwhelming. Annoyed, many users then create a filter to archive the mailing list so it stays out of their inbox. Y Combinator-backed Threadable, a newly launched mailing list management solution, wants to offer a better way.

It aims to improve group communication within teams by making emails more actionable. That is, emails sent with Threadable let users quickly mute message threads, turn threads into tasks and claim them, mark tasks as done, and more."

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Boostable (YC W14) Offers A New Way For Online Sellers To Advertise

"Boostable, which is part of the current class of startups at incubator Y Combinator, says it’s giving the individual sellers on online marketplaces a smarter way to promote themselves.

If someone’s trying to promote (say) their products on Etsy, or their events on Eventbrite, or their housing on Airbnb, they can already buy ads for themselves. However, co-founder and CEO Selcuk Atli said that many of those sellers “don’t have the time or the expertise” to actually do so. Or if they do, it’s hard to tell whether their ads are actually paying off — sure, they may (or may not) see an uptick in sales and traffic, but they won’t know how much of it was actually driven by a given ad or campaign.

Boostable, on the other hand, has integrated with various marketplaces to offer these sellers “a massively simple solution,” Atli said. Using the URL of their store, sellers are supposed to be able to sign up and create an ad within minutes. The ads will actually be branded as an ad for the broader marketplace, but they’ll be paid for by the individual seller and point to that seller’s web page."

Healthy Food Delivery Startup Zesty (YC W14) Goes Corporate With The Launch Of A Catering Service

"If you work at a startup or tech company, one of the perks you’ve probably gotten used to is a free lunch. Those meals have become ubiquitous through a number of tech companies in San Francisco, but too often, there aren’t a lot of healthy options provided. Healthy food delivery startup Zesty wants to change that, with the launch of an office catering program.

Zesty launched an app late last year that provides its customers with healthy food options from nearby restaurants. With a combination of technology and data, as well as the help of an on-staff nutritionist, it was able to create a curated menu of dishes from dozens of restaurants around San Francisco."

MadeSolid (YC W14) Is Creating Next-Gen 3D Printing Materials

It seems like we can’t go a week these days without hearing about some new startup making a new 3D printer that wants to be better and cheaper than everything else. I’m not complaining, of course — competition is good for everyone. But it’s a tough space if you’re looking to stand out.

MadeSolid, a YC-backed company out of Emeryville, CA, is going after the 3D printing market from the other end: they want to fix the materials we 3D print with.

Divorce service Wevorce (YC W13) adds video calls to its lineup of mediation tools

"Over the past few months, Wevorce has been quietly testing and tweaking a new service for couples who are seeking an all-online divorce process. The new feature is videoconferencing, and it might be a much better way to handle online divorces with sticking points such as custody and financial settlements.

Many sites offer online-only divorces, but these work best for uncontested divorces with little or no common property. These services are designed to help parents avoid heated battles over kids and money. For these big, sensitive topics, a few online forms just don’t cut it."

Next Caller (YC W14) Brings Smarter Caller ID To Businesses And, Soon, Phone-Based “Shopping”

"Y Combinator-backed Next Caller, the makers of a caller ID system for businesses offering access to a secondary database containing a caller’s personal information — including their name, phone, number and, if available, email — has come a long way since its launch at TechCrunch Disrupt last fall. Since then, the company has grown from just a handful of users to 240 paying customers, and has now signed distribution deals with ZenDesk and Nextiva, who will offer the service to their existing install bases."

Read the full story on TechCrunch


Wit.ai (YC W14) is Twilio for natural language — lets anyone add voice interfaces to their app

Last year, voice technology giant Nuance quietly acquired VirtuOz, a developer of virtual assistants for online sales, marketing and support — a “Siri for the enterprise” that counted with the likes of PayPal and AT&T as customers. Now, Alexandre Lebrun, the founder and CEO of VirtuOz, has taken a dive back into the startup world to launch Wit.ai, a platform and API that will let a developer incorporate speech recognition and a natural language interface into any app or piece of hardware.

In Lebrun’s words, the idea here is to apply, effectively, a “Twilio or Stripe model” to the world of voice interfaces, where Wit is able to understand the intent of users, as well voice recognition.

Developers who want to incorporate this into their apps entering a few lines of Wit.ai code; for the first time, the developers themselves do not have to be experts in the field, or face the prospect of huge expense to bring in that technical knowledge from elsewhere.

Read the full article in TechCrunch

StoryWorth (YC W11) in the NYTimes: Preserving Family History, One Memory at a Time

Nick Baum, center, created StoryWorth, a website that allows people to collect family stories. Sam Parr and Jenna Pinedo, who share a work space with him in San Francisco, watched him demonstrate the site. (Photo: Jim Wilson/New York Times)

Until recently, Jessie Leiken, 27, a union organizer in Brooklyn, was confident that she knew about the major adventures of her mother’s life: a hot-air balloon ride in Egypt, a snowshoeing excursion in Montana, a camel-meat meal in Morocco. But two weeks ago, an email appeared in Ms. Leiken’s inbox from her mother, Nancy Mills, 64, that told an entirely new tale:

I do want to share one particular adventure that you may not know about: the one Antioch College demanded of all students who were planning to go abroad for part of their education. As I recall it, they gave us each $10 (or thereabouts) and drove us to a small, very small town in rural Ohio and dropped us off on the side of the road and told us they would pick us up at the same place 48 hours later.

Ms. Mills’s family has been receiving messages like this one, containing nuggets of her past, as well as memories of her own parents’ and grandparents’ lives, a few times a month since last April. That was when Ms. Leiken signed her up for a service called StoryWorth.

StoryWorth provides a selection of questions, chosen by Ms. Leiken, for her mother to answer each week. It then emails the questions to Ms. Mills, and when she replies, her answers go to her family and are stored on a website where they can read them privately. It is one of a handful of new companies focused on enabling people to collect their family histories.