Refer.ly (YC S12) lets you earn cash for recommendations (and now, donate it to charities)

Refer.ly, a Y Combinator-backed startup that makes it easy for people to earn affiliate revenue every time they recommend a product or book, is now allowing its users to donate their earnings to charity.

The company, which only just launched six weeks ago, is syncing up with about 100 charities or so including the March of Dimes and American Heart Association. All proceeds can go to a user’s charity of choice. Refer.ly takes no cut. The company also started a summer reading campaign on behalf of Room to Read, which builds libraries in the developing world. The company is donating $1 for every book purchased through Refer.ly this month.

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SwipeGood (YC W11) is now Elastic, a sales-as-a-service platform for startups

Elastic is a “sales-as-a-service” platform that provides both software and manpower that lets startups outsource their sales functions on demand. Efti sums it up thusly:

“We have a tech component and a sales component. We’ve built a sales communication platform that’s sort of our secret sauce, and that’s what our sales people use. The next part is the services business, where we let startups to essentially rent sales people in the cloud.”

Elastic has been received pretty well. “We’ve closed more than 300 deals for 10 different startups,” Efti said, noting that this has meant “millions” in dollars in top-line new sales for its clients. The team has grown from its 3 co-founders to a staff of 15, equally divided between “hackers” who build the company’s software platform and “hustlers” who help with the human-powered sales aspect. The headcount growth has been purely from Elastic’s own reinvested revenues (it takes a commission on the sales it helps companies generate) and Efti is looking to double the staff over the coming months.

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Acunote (YC W11) launches project management for software teams of 2 to 10,000 with a live Gmail-like interface

“On time and under budget” is manna from heaven for project managers the world over, but unfortunately for most of them, those working on the projects and those commissioning them, it’s not often the case. Now, a Y Combinator alum (Winter 2011 class) called Acunote is launching a new project management system that wants to change that — by offering a platform to help people manage their tasks better.

With real time updates and a simple interface that bears a loose resemblance to Google’s Gmail, Acunote is making it a lot easier and quicker for people to update what is going on (and what is not) in a project. And it’s setting its sights on taking that to the next level with features to make it much more collaborative.

Acunote is formally launching now, but it’s actually been operating quietly for much longer, and already has an impressive list of clients on the platform. They include IBM, Fujitsu, VMWare, Eclipse, HP, EMC, Disney, Bump, Bank of America, and the FCC, who use Acunote to improve communication around assigning, organizing and completing tasks. That not only helps people work more efficiently — but it helps manage expectations for teams of workers when projects do hit a snag and get delayed.

Gleb Arshinov, the founder and CEO of Acunote, tells me that customer feedback so far has focused on how quick it is to use Acunote. Keyboard shortcuts and the simple interface, he says, makes it virtually “as fast as the speed of thought”.

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Sendhub (YC W12) adds voice calls and voicemail - now the easiest way to get an extra phone number for your business

SendHub, the messaging startup that allows businesses to communicate with customers through SMS, is expanding its service today to include support for voice calls and voicemail. These new features put SendHub in more direct competition with Google Voice, as users will now be able to use their SendHub phone numbers to both make and receive phones calls, while keeping their personal cell numbers private. Although the company only has an iPhone application and online service currently, these voice calls can be initiated and received on any device that supports messaging – even on feature phones.

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Clever (YC S12) launches a Twilio for education data

We’re all a bit tired of the “X is Twilio for Y” brand of analogies (though it’s refreshing to see more of Twilio in this equation than Airbnb these days), but if ever there were an industry in need of some modern, standardizing APIs it would be education. Thankfully, Clever, a San Francisco-based startup and member of Y Combinator’s current batch, is today launching a solution that brings some of the Twilio vision to education.

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Citus Data (YC S11) makes scalable data analytics available to anyone, raises $1.6M from Trinity, others

As companies from small startups to large enterprise continue to generate an ever-increasing amount of data, the demand for affordable and scalable databases also increases. Typically, this market has been the domain of large vendors like Oracle, but besides them and the usual open-source players, we’ve also seen a growing number of closed-source startups enter this space. Citus Data, which is launching version 1.0 of its CitusDB today, is the latest startup to challenge these incumbents.

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The company, which has received a total of $1.6 million in seed funding, is based in Silicon Valley, with an additional office in Istanbul, Turkey. Among the seed investors are Trinity Ventures, Digital Garage, Matt Ocko, Ben Ling and Paul Buchheit. The founders are industry veterans who previously worked at Amazon and other companies that had to deal with large amounts of data since the early days of the web. The team has been working on the product for about two years now and already has a number of customers who are using CitusDB in a production environment.

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Custora (YC S11) has analyzed $10 billion in retail sales so far in 2012

Companies looking to monitor their web presence interactions have no shortage of analytics service providers to turn to. But in most cases, what they’ll get when they do set up an analytics solution is a database of numbers, which still have to be crunched by data scientists before they can be turned over to frontline staff and used to drive customer interaction policy and action. Custora, a startup looking to provide online retailers with insight about their customers, wants to shorten the loop on data gathered by organizing its analytics around questions rather than spreadsheets in its new 2.0 release.

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Tagstand (YC S11) hits 1M NFC actions, offers popular Android Task Launcher app for free

Last night, Google showcased Beam’s new functionality with two apps, Paper Camera and Tagstand’s Task Launcher. Y Combinator-backed Tagstand, in particular, has been on a mission to make NFC more of a mainstream technology and is starting to pick up steam as a result.

Tagstand co-founder Kulveer Taggar tells us that the startup saw a big jump in demand when the NFC-equipped Galaxy Nexus hit stores, so they rebuilt Task Launcher to include a bunch of new features — and a new interface — in March. Sales picked up almost immediately, and they went on to sell as many tags in March as they did during the entire month of June 2011 (when the app launched).

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