Double Robotics (YC S12) has started shipping iPad-equipped telepresence robots

The Y Combinator-backed startup officially launched in mid 2012 with a Segway-like telepresence robot that balances on two large wheels, uses any iPad as its screen and eyes, and rests on a smart kickstand when not in use. And, of course, lets you virtually visit locations, participate in remote meetings, and show your smiling face to distant colleagues.

“We’ve begun shipping production units,” cofounder David Cann told me via email today. “In fact, we’ve already shipped the first 100. We’ll ship another 1,000 units by September.”

That’s good news, Double Robotics said, not just for themselves, but also for hardware startups in general. There was a significant amount of skepticism that a $20,000-$40,000 Y Combinator-style investment would get the hardware company up and running, but Double Robotics was able to generate enough interest — and $1.2 million in presales — to pull off what would have been seen as impossible just a few short years ago.

“Now that Pebble, FORM 1, Oculus Rift, and Double have all begun shipping, I think it’s clear that hardware startups are legit and here to stay,” Cann says.

There’s one more bit of good news for anyone who wants a telepresence robot.

Read the full article at VentureBeat

BuildZoom (YC W13) raises $1.4M from Formation 8 and angels, has over 3M licensed building contractor listings

BuildZoom, the Y Combinator-backed service designed to connect homeowners with licensed contractors, is today announcing having closed on $1.4 million in seed funding, in a round led by Formation 8 (Joe Lonsdale). The company plans to use the additional funding for hiring and continued product development, with a specific focus on improving some of the site’s consumer-facing tools, like its online project gallery, Q&A section, and marketplace.

Also participating in the round were Hydrazine Capital (Jack & Sam Altman), DV Playground, Digital Garage (DG Incubation), Goldcrest Investments (Adam Ross), Netprice Partners, Michael Liou, Ted Geary, Ullas Naik, Pankaj Shah, Jason Young, and Dakin Sloss.

The service launched this March with over 2.5 million contractors in its database, which was built using public record data from state licensing boards, as well as select data from the Better Business Bureau. Today, the site includes 3 million licensed contractors, 25,000 of whom have now claimed their profiles and uploaded around 60,000 photos of their work.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

E la Carte (YC S10) raises $13.5M Series B from Intel Capital for user-friendly restaurant tablets

E la Carte, a company that develops a tableside tablet for the restaurant and related hospitality industries, has raised $13.5 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital with participation from Romulus Capital. The startup had previously raised over $5 million from Lightbank, SV Angel, Dave McClure, Joshua Schachter, and others.

E la Carte’s hardware for restaurants, called Presto, debuted last year to bring user-friendly tablets to restaurants. The 7-inch tablet includes a digital menu that lets you sift through the restaurant’s food and drink selections via photos and detailed descriptions using a touch-screen interface. There’s also a section for payments and games, including trivia and a drawing app.

Last year, the startup updated its hardware and software for a longer battery life, resilience to heavy restaurant use and spills and more.

For example, E la Carte redesigned the credit card reader for a more seamless swipe experience, and the LED light changes color based on table status (similar to the way you’d press the call button for a flight attendant on an airplane).

The company says that Presto helps restaurants achieve 10 percent sales boosts, 7-minute faster table turns, and 9X increases in loyalty program sign-ups. The company currently has thousands of tablets deployed, and is creating $1 million annually in value for installed restaurants. The tablets are processing over $6 million in orders and payments. 

Read the full article on Techcrunch

The Muse (YC W12) rebrands, now helps all professionals with job listings, career advice, company profiles

The Daily Muse is rebranding today to serve a wider audience. The company has expanded and is going under the name The Muse now, which includes job listings, company profiles, and a career advice publication under the old name, The Daily Muse. The Daily Muse originally targeted women in their twenties and thirties, but The Muse will now offer content for all professionals.

“As we grew, we began to notice something we didn’t expect: People we didn’t intend to find us, who we didn’t think would need or use our resources, came in droves,” the company wrote in a blog post today. “They were seeking the same thing we were: An answer to the question, “What do you want to do with your life?”

The site, founded by ex-McKinsey analysts Kathryn MinshewAlexandra Cavoulacos and Melissa McCreery, launched in September 2011. The company was a member of the Winter 2012 Y Combinator class, and launched the visual job search product Company Muse in February 2012.

Minshew tells me that the company heard from men, professionals in their fifties and sixties who were looking to re-enter the workforce or switch careers, military service men and women looking to enter civilian careers, and others who identified with their content and asked them to open things up to a broader group.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Origami (YC S11) launches family-focused private groups

Origami, the new family-focused product from Y Combinator-backed mobile social network Everyme, has now arrived after nearly a year of development. A spin-off of sorts, Origami takes some of the original inspiration behind Everyme – that people are looking for new ways to share outside of larger, more open social networks like Facebook – and tweaks the formula to address the needs of parents and families, specifically.

“What we saw pretty early on was that probably 50 percent of the usage on Everyme is families,” explains Origami co-founder Vibhu Norby. “And that’s 50 percent of total Circles [Everyme's groups], but in terms of actual usage, it was almost 100 percent of people using it with their families,” he says. “We felt like we found the market, but the product itself wasn’t really intended for that.”

Sustained by its $2.15 million A round, the company has been focused on Origami, a new product build from the ground up, since August 2012. Like Everyme, Origami offers both a web and mobile platform that allows families to connect with each other in a private group, and share photos. But the service goes further, too, offering tools for sharing videos, creating albums, and adding text-based entries for posting stories, recipes, or other notes.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

LendUp (YC W12) offers instant online and mobile loans, disrupting the payday loan space with funding from A16z, KP

Y Combinator-incubated LendUp launched in October with backing from Kleiner Perkins, Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Kapor Capital and others, to bring a fresh solution to an old problem: You have to pay your bills now, but you don’t have the money to pay them. Rather than turn to predatory lenders and banks, with their high interest rates, borrow money from friends or cover your eyes and hope they go away, what do you do?

It may seem like a situation that only befalls the chronically irresponsible, but in fact, 15 million Americans turned to payday lenders to borrow money last year. Instead of ending up saddled with long-term debt from hidden fees or wrestling with Draconian terms and costly rollovers, LendUp wants to give those looking for a speedy fix to a short-term financial conundrum a way to borrow money without hidden fees, costly rollovers and high-interest rates.

The lending space at large has begun to brim with startups — like BillFloat, Zest, Think, Kabbage, On Deck and Lending Club — each of which is trying to make it easier for consumers and small businesses to get access to capital without having to jump through a million hoops. LendUp, in contrast, is positioning itself as a direct lender, using technology and Big Data to allow consumers with poor or no credit to get access to small-dollar, short-term loans (of up to $250 for 30 days) and build their credit while doing so.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Crowdtilt (YC W12) raises $750K for Soylent and many others: Open source crowd funding with no restrictions

Crowdtilt has been busy this summer, and details its latest on its blog

It’s been a crazy early summer here at the Crowdtilt office in San Francisco: the first political candidate on Crowdtilt kicked off his campaign for Mayor of Oakland in 24 hours yesterday (“Tilt Oakland Forward”), Microsoft launched a high-concept store built on our API a few days prior, and we debuted Crowdhoster’s first few projects over the last month. The nutritional drink Soylent just raised $750,000 in under a month (ending later today), and the classic blogging platform Xanga is relaunching their site with funds raised through their crowdfunding effort.

Built on the Selfstarter project, Crowdhoster was created to be a free, open-source, no-code-needed way to launch a crowdfunding page for your project or objective. It’s customizable, host-able, and international, and we’ve been pushing updates to it when we have the time. Since Soylent launched using the platform 30 days ago, we’ve had over 1,300 project creators request access to use it! We still view Crowdhoster as a side project, but because of the initial success and subsequent interest we’ve received, we’ve dedicated a few more resources to kicking it up a notch.

During this beta period of opening up Crowdhoster more and more, we will continue to have *no* restrictions on project types… You can use it for a hardware/software project, a food project, an international project, community cause, or for a concert or large-scale event. We’ll send out a short form next week to help us speed up the queue.

In addition, the team is announcing Bitcoin support (via Coinbase), full theme support (see Punisher theme above), international payout support, and new docs on how to get Crowdhoster running yourself.

Crowdfunding projects also need ongoing support, and that's where YC startup Backerkit is coming in — it now works with Crowdhoster to provide an ongoing website for support and sales for successful campaigns. 

All in all, a busy summer for a team fresh off their $12M round from Andreessen Horowitz and Sean Parker

Kippt (YC S12) launches Inc, the way companies can build their own private knowledge base

As posted to the Kippt blog

Our new product, Inc, is built for those companies and teams.

You can share links to your team, make notes (ideas, memos or questions) and discuss about important files. Inc ends up as your private company knowledge base, where ideas, discussions and decisions are archived in one place. And everything is searchable.

If you want to join companies that communicate better, and get rid of annoying company wide email spam or dead “company social networks”, join Inc today with your Google Apps or company email.

Go to SendtoInc.com

Firebase (YC S11) raises $5.6M Series A from Union Square Ventures and Flybridge

Great news from the Firebase blog today:

We’re thrilled to announce our Series A today!

Firebase exists to help developers build extraordinary experiences. Every day we’re inspired by the things you build, from video sharing services to business collaboration tools to disaster simulation software. This new investment lets us pursue this mission even faster, and it provides the solid financial footing we need to ensure we’ll be around in the long term.

This raise would not have been possible without the amazing people on our team. Firebase would not be here if it weren’t for their dedication and truly excellent work.

Chip Hazard from Flybridge and Albert Wenger from USV will be joining our board. They both bring deep expertise building companies with developer-facing products. Both Chip and Albert sit on the board of 10gen, the makers of MongoDB, and between the two of them they bring experience from Twilio, Crashlytics, and many more.

Videopixie (YC S11) launches the easiest way to create beautiful videos with the help of pro video editors

There are tons of raw video footage out there: Videos taken on vacation or school trips, videos of friends and family, videos taken to show off new restaurants and boutiques. And every day there’s more. But the problem of editing that footage is a problem. For as many of us as there are who like to shoot video, very few of us know how to edit it.

That’s a problem Videopixie is trying to solve, by creating a marketplace devoted entirely to connecting users who have video with those who can edit it. By doing so, it’s providing a way for anyone to have beautiful videos created out of raw footage from professional video editors and animators.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Try Videopixie