Watsi (YC W13) in Salon: Click here, save a life, for real

The “conference room” in the San Francisco office the crowd-funding healthcare start-up Watsi shares with two other fledgling companies is a Silicon Valley cliché. There’s a ping-pong table and a couple of chairs and that’s it.

Chase Adam, the casually dressed but clean-cut 26-year-old founder of Watsi, also, initially, appears to have come straight out of central Silicon Valley casting. He’s passionate; his rhetoric about how Watsi provides “low-cost, high-impact medical care for people in need” flows in torrents. He believes that young people in Silicon Valley can “create great value.” He looks appropriately tired; his eyes display a tinge of red that suggest long hours spent staring into monitor screens. But he is also refreshingly convincing. These days, it is hard to resist rolling your eyes when you hear Silicon Valley start-up CEOs talk about their plans to “change the world.”

But Chase Adam means it.

Watsi applies the crowd-funding principles pioneered by Kiva into the healthcare “space.” So instead of loaning money to help someone in Uganda get a new freezer for his or her grocery store, visitors to Watsi help pay for the medical costs for someone in Nepal facing an acute healthcare crisis. Since going live in August 2012, the site has steered over half a million dollars into around 700 “interventions.” Demand is growing steadily … from donors. Right now, says Adams, the site is scrambling to find qualified patients.

Read the full article in Salon

Ark (YC W12) Launches Rapportive-Meets-Mailbox Email App In Pivot To Marketing Intelligence

Need to do some homework on who you’re emailing? You could search their name on Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn, but on mobile that’s a lot of taps, and it’s hard to know if you’ve got the right John Smith. So Ark has just launched a mobile email client that pulls in all the social profiles of the people you’re emailing so you can quickly do research on business contacts or stalk your friends.

If the Ark name sounds familiar, it’s because the company launched as a people search engine on stage in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in May 2012. Soon after it raised a huge $4.2 million seed round. The Ark people search engine let you pull up all your friends who live in New York, who are single, or who Like the same band as you. It was built on Facebook’s data and worked a bit like the yet-unlaunched Graph Search…which ended up being a problem. Facebook shut off their access for using people’s friends data in ways that stepped on its policies.

Without its core data set, and with the eventual launch of Graph Search, Ark needed to find a new way to add value. So it’s announcing its pivot into marketing intelligence.

The problem it wants to solve is still in people search, but from a new angle. “When I search your name in Google, it goes ‘I don’t know [who you are], here’s 10 links,’” says Ark CEO Patrick Riley. “We wanted to resolve those entities…consolidating all your profiles into an uber-profile between multiple social networks.”

Read the full article at Techcrunch

One Direction raises $780,000 for charity using Prizeo (YC W13)

The friendly faces of boy band stars can help sell a lot of things: mp3s, arena seats, magazines, television advertising… But redirect that commercial power towards a charitable cause and the effect is just as strong apparently.

Prizeo, a Y Combinator startup that traces its roots to England’s Oxford University, manages the charitable campaigns of celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Khloe Kardashian and Samuel L. Jackson. The company relies on a raffle model where contributors get a single entry for every dollar donated, the grand prize being an in-person experience with the sponsoring celebrity.


The campaign page attracted 1.4 million views and 240,000 shares across Twitter and Facebook while the above video was viewed 445,000 times. The hashtag #hangwithliamandharry trended #1 worldwide on Twitter at one point. “It was absolutely invaluable,” says Sophie Epstone, Trekstock’s CEO. “We had no idea how much the campaign could raise.” In six weeks, the Prizeo effort raised more money than Trekstock had raised in the previous year. The non-profit’s Twitter followers jumped from 20,000 to 187,000, and it signed up 6,000 new ambassadors, each of whom promise to raise at least an additional £10.

“You can’t have a really successful campaign without a really strong fanbase,” explains Prizeo founder Bryan Baum, 24. “But the trick is taking that campaign from $50,000 to $800,000.”

Read the full article at Forbes

Appcubator (YC W13) lets you drag-and-drop create and host Django web apps with no code knowledge necessary

There are quite a few steps between starting to learn to code and developing a web application, and a new Y Combinator startup is trying to fill in those gaps. Appcubator has launched to allow users to create their own web applications with drag and drop, text inserts and custom themes, rather than having to endure the arduous process of learning to create a full-functioning website or hire a contractor.

Co-founder Karan Sikka tells me Appcubator’s average user has some sense of the technical aspects of building a website, but aren’t professional developers. “Business people have a hard time grasping the fundamental concepts behind web applications, and they often lack the patience required,” Sikka says. “They’re often much more willing to pay and not have to spend a few hours.”

Since most of the startup’s users have some knowledge of building an application, Sikka tells me they figure out how to navigate the site fairly quickly. I had a little trouble at first, but there’s a handy little chat box in the corner where users can ask questions. The founders have also created a lot of resources to help users out, with video tutorials, a demo guide and examples of what others have built.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Pebble (YC W11) founder Eric Migicovsky at TC Disrupt: Not shaken by smartwatch competition

Founder of smartwatch startup Pebble Eric Migicovsky took the stage at Disrupt, interviewed by our own John Biggs. He addressed head on the recently revealed competition from smartphone giant Samsung, and talked about what Pebble does that no other competitors out there have necessarily nailed down, and why he thinks their approach will continue to prevail despite mounting interest from top-tier, established hardware makers.

Migicovsky said that everyone seems to be ignoring the reason that Pebble was a success to begin with, which mainly has to do with identifying use cases for a wearable device. He argued that a smartwatch should “flow into the background” of a user’s life, and that the way to convince people to put one on is to show them how it can be useful to their life, but at the same time essentially become a background process, rather than something that requires major changes in how you live on a daily basis.

Read the full article and watch the interview at Techcrunch

Crohnology (YC S12) lets patients are collaborating for better health: A social network for Crohn's disease

Not long ago, Sean Ahrens managed flare-ups of his Crohn’s disease—abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea—by calling his doctor and waiting a month for an appointment, only to face an inconclusive array of possible prescriptions. Today, he can call on 4,210 fellow patients in 66 countries who collaborate online to learn which treatments—drugs, diets, acupuncture, meditation, even do-it-yourself infusions of intestinal parasites —bring the most relief.

The online community Ahrens created and launched two years ago, Crohnology.com, is one of the most closely watched experiments in digital health. It lets patients with Crohn’s, colitis, and other inflammatory bowel conditions track symptoms, trade information on different diets and remedies, and generally care for themselves.

The site is at the vanguard of the growing “e-patient” movement that is letting patients take control over their health decisions—and behavior—in ways that could fundamentally change the economics of health care. Investors are particularly interested in the role “peer-to-peer” social networks could play in the $3 trillion U.S. health-care market.

Read the full article at the MIT Technology Review

Estimote (YC S13) Wins Best Hardware Startup At TechCrunch Disrupt SF

Manufacturing and logistics giant PCH International alongside hardware incubator Highway1 have announced that Estimote, a tool for helping retail spaces interact with customers, has been chosen for Best Hardware Startup at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013.

“I was excited to see a company jump on Apple’s ibeacon technology so quickly to make a location service,” said Brady Forrest, VP of Highway1. “Estimotes are part of the new breed of hardware startups – one that uses hardware to build a unique data set & charge money for web services. We think that touring Shenzhen will help them expand their supply chain.”

Estimote is selling a small device called the Beacon. It allows customers to interact with a retail space using their smartphone and supports touchless payments and will push discounts and information to phones at the customer’s request.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Crowdtilt (YC W12) launches first mobile app - Crowdfund anything while on the go

As we’ve discussed before, thanks to a handful of names, including Kickstarter and Indiegogo and the gaggle of startups that have emerged in their wake, crowdfunding is on the “Big screen.” Yet, the team behind Crowdtilt — also known as the Y Combinator-backed startup building a “group fundraising” platform for projects that don’t work on Kickstarter — believe that this is just the beginning.

The Kickstarters and Indiegogos have owned most of the headlines about crowdfunding, but there’s more and more spillover from projects that don’t fit, with many bypassing platforms altogether. That’s why Crowdtilt launched Crowdhoster last month — an open-source, customizable crowdfunding platform to let anyone and everyone launch their own campaign without having to touch a line of code. Called the “WordPress for Crowdfunding” and using Crowdtilt’s API, Crowdhoster allows you alone or groups of friends to build and launch their own crowdfunding pages all on their own.

Today, the startup is taking Crowdhoster and Crowdtilt into phase two, with the long-awaited mobile piece of their platform, designed to continue following through with the company’s mission to build the most open and accessible crowdfunding tool out there. It’s an ambitious mission, and Crowdtilt is beginning with an iPhone app that puts Crowdtilt on your phone, and slowly see Crowdhoster woven into the feed after launch. Yes, the app itself isn’t live yet, but it is coming to the App Store next week and to Android (and Google Play) in the near future.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Regalii (YC S13) is changing the way people send money to family abroad

Those who emigrate to countries like the U.S. come for a shot at new lives and new opportunities, but many of them still keep close ties back to their families at home, including sending money to help them financially. However, current methods leave much to be desired. As the sender, you cannot guarantee that the money will always go towards what you intended. And when you are the receiver and live in precarious circumstances (the same ones that may have pushed your family members to move abroad), receiving cash can be a risk. And that’s before even considering the costs involved.

Enter Regalii, a Battlefield finalist presenting today at TC Disrupt. The company has devised a way for people, via their mobile devices, to send remittances to their families back home, which are received in the form of credits to pay bills, or to buy groceries.

The company has already been operating in limited beta between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. Today, it’s extending that service to Mexico, and CEO and co-founder Edrizio de la Cruz tells me the company is now busy raising a seed round to extend that further, including remittances between countries that do not originate in the U.S. One investor that’s already committed: Maverick Capital. It’s been helped on that front by virtue of also having been part of the recent class of startups to have come through the Y Combinator incubator.

“We see this as a global play, with a lot of interest for this already in Europe and SE Asia. It’s not just an American but a global problem,” De la Cruz says.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Trigger.io (YC W08) open-sources its cross-platform dev libraries as OpenForge

Trigger.io makes it simple for web developers to create native mobile apps for iOS and Android using JavaScript. But early on in our company’s history we also created a cross-platform browser add-on framework for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

We are now open-sourcing that codebase, calling it OpenForge.

This codebase will be far from stale – development of the browser add-on framework will continue with a full-time maintainer who will also provide support. In open-sourcing the framework we have also provided the ability to build locally without reliance on Trigger.io infrastructure.

Read more on the Trigger.io Blog