Kivo (YC S13) uses git to make collaborating on documents easier, starting with PowerPoint

Most collaboration software these days seems to focus on real time, but Kivo, a new Y Combinator-backed startup out of the accelerator’s current class, is taking a different approach.

Co-founders Zefi Hennessy Holland (CEO) and Leo Anthias (CTO) argue that most people still work on a draft-based system and send their Office documents back and forth over email. Kivo lets its users sync changes in their documents. The idea is to expand this to a wide range of often-used formats, including all of the standard applications in the Microsoft Office suite. For now, however, it only works for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 on Windows XP and up (support for the latest version of PowerPoint is coming soon).

In its current version, Kivo allows you to sync documents and track changes on a per-slide basis. The tool integrates itself with PowerPoint and it just takes a few clicks to sync a new version to Kivo’s servers or to restore an older version from Kivo’s repository. The basic idea here is to ensure that users never again have to share files with names likepresentation_v4_final_final.ppt.

On the backend, Kivo uses Git, the incredibly popular distributed version control system that was originally designed for source code management, to keep track of all of these changes. As Holland and Anthias told me, this allows users to keep their files wherever they want to and Kivo then hosts the Git repository on its own servers. This also has the advantage that after the initial sync, users only have to download whatever has changed in between sessions instead of the complete — and often very large — document.

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One Month Rails (YC S13) launches, teaching you how to build your startup while you learn to code

If you build it, they will come. But what if you don’t know how to build it?

That was the problem facing Mattan Griffel, founder of a new YC-backed startup called One Month Rails that is launching today.

“I didn’t study computer science or anything, but I had this great idea for a startup,” he said. “I just didn’t know how to build it. I spent the next few months looking for someone who could build it for me, and never quite found the right person.”

Eventually, says Griffel, he realized he had to build it himself if he wanted to get it done, and started scouring the web for resources to help him learn to code.

“I realized that when you don’t know anything about coding, you don’t know what language to learn or what you need to know,” said Griffel.

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FlightCar (YC W13) lets car owners in San Francisco ditch their idle cars and get paid up to $400/mo

Got a car you don’t ever really drive? Wanna not pay for parking or worry about shuffling it around on the street every couple of days? Have an interest in actually making some money from that car that you’re not actually using while it’s sitting around on the street?

Well, car rental startup FlightCar might be able to help you out with the launch of a new program in which it keeps users’ cars for a month at a time and rent them out to travelers. The program, called FlightCar Monthly, is designed to appeal to a group of users who own a car in or near the city of San Francisco and find it kind of a hassle and want to profit off of that asset.

It works like this: car owners submit their cars to be rented from the airport, and someone from FlightCar comes and picks the car up and keeps it in the startup’s secure parking lot near the airport. Travelers are then able to rent that car during the month that FlightCar has it.

Depending on what type of automobile you have and how new it is, FlightCar is offering between $150 and $400 in guaranteed payments to rent the car out for the month. That is a slight deviation from the startup’s usual peer-to-peer plan, where travelers drop their cars off when flying out of town for blocks of time, and get free parking and a small bit of money if the car is rented out while they’re gone.

But let’s say the owner wants to get away for a weekend? What happens then? Well, car owners can use their car for free for up to four days per month, if it’s available during that time. If not, the company will offer users a car in the same class for use.

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Hipmunk (YC S10) launches Hipmunk Tonight Ony: instant hotel rooms available this evening last minute

Travelers who are looking to book a hotel at the last-minute should be able to find better deals with travel startup Hipmunk starting today, thanks to the launch of a new feature called Tonight Only.

The feature, which is available in Hipmunk’s mobile app only, will include hotel deals that offer rooms with as much as a 60 percent discount on standard rates. Those deals can be viewed as part of Hipmunk’s general hotel search results (where you should also see slightly-less-last-minute discounts for hotels that are available up to 72 hours in advance), or in the separate Tonight Only section.

Co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein said the company started to notice that people searching for hotels on Hipmunk fell into two distinct groups — those who booked in advance and those who were looking for last-minute accommodations. The second group is sizable (it accounts for more than 50 percent of searches on Hipmunk’s mobile apps), but the company hadn’t built any features to make their specific experience easier until now.

The idea of last-minute hotel deals isn’t new (indeed, it’s the main focus of startup HotelTonight), but Goldstein said Hipmunk’s approach is different from most deal providers because it aggregates deals from a variety of sources, giving users a broader selection to choose from.

“It’s basically a business model distinction,” he said. “With a big travel company, what makes their business tick is, they are the merchant who is going to process your credit card, who is going to collect your commission. We are a meta-search site and not ourselves a seller of travel.”

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Soylent (YC S12) Closes In On Finalizing Its Formula, Reaches $1M In Pre-Orders

Soylent, the seemingly wacky personal experiment of 24-year-old engineer Rob Rhinehart, is maturing into a full-fledged business.

Rhinehart and his team, who were running a Y Combinator-backed startup called Level RF last year, did what Paul Graham has called the “pivot of the century.”

Fascinated by inefficiencies in the industrial food system, Rhinehart designed and then started living off a meal replacement he cheekily named Soylent — after the dystopian movie Soylent Green where Charlton Heston discovers that society has been living off rations made of humans.

This Soylent, thankfully, is not made of humans.

It contains an assortment of carbohydrates,amino acids, proteins and dozens of other vitamins that are deemed medically necessary to for a person to live by the Institute of Medicine, plus other modifications Rhinehart made through the testing process.

“I’d like this to be something that is like coffee — a commodity something that’s available everywhere. Maybe a utility like water and power. Something that is ubiquitous and easy to consume,” he said. “I’d like to see it in grocery and convenience stores soon.”

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Asseta (YC S13) launches their open and transparent marketplace for the $6 billion used semiconductor market

Thank you, Y Combinator, for not just investing in a million photo-sharing apps. While you might not be personally excited about an online marketplace where you can buy and sell used manufacturing equipment – and, at launch, primarily semiconductor equipment – a new startup called Asseta demonstrates the potential in taking the now familiar concept of a transparent buyer and seller marketplace to a new vertical, which has yet to be flattened by the power of the web and the one-to-one connectivity it allows.

Like many traditional businesses which have since seen their old ways of doing things transformed in similar ways – anywhere there’s a middleman that can be eliminated, that is – Asseta, too, is taking on its own fragmented market of competitors. Today, there are hundreds of used equipment brokers employing sales people who manage the sale of these goods, often without letting buyers know where the equipment comes from, who the sellers are, and definitely not what the real, underlying price of the item is.

Asseta’s founders know how this works, of course, because three of the four worked for one of the largest brokers in the business – a company responsible for 1.6 percent of the $6 billion (as of 2010) market in used semiconductor equipment sales.

Explains CEO Anton Brevde, there was no specific event that prompted him and the other founders, including his ex-brokerage co-workers Jonathan Pease and Garrett Beck, or CTO Danial Afzal, to leave their current jobs and build Asseta. “It was just seeing how much money [our former] company was making, and how inefficiently the processes and the company was being run – it just didn’t make any sense,” says Brevde. “We realized there was a bigger opportunity here…we were all young, and understood the potential of technology. We decided we could do a better job.”

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True Link Financial (YC S13) is out to help the elderly avoid scammers with pre-paid Visa cards

It’s a heartbreaking and, unfortunately, common story: an elderly man receives a phone call from someone claiming to be his granddaughter asking for him to wire money to get her out of a sticky situation. A late night infomercial offers a deep discount on dishware without mentioning the hundreds of dollars in nonrefundable shipping fees.

These are the scams targeting the elderly that True Link Financial, a Y Combinator startup that launches today, is hoping to help families avoid by equipping prepaid Visa cards with personalized fraud protection.

CEO Kai Stinchcombe said he had been looking for a solution to this problem for a few years before founding True Link, after his 92-year-old grandmother began writing up to 75 checks a month for organizations posing as charities. Banks can’t do anything to reverse this kind of damage once the check is written and sent, he said. Families don’t have many options besides taking away their elderly family members’ checkbooks and depriving them of their sense of autonomy.

True Link develops risk profiles for elderly people, who are typically signed up by their adult family members. If an individual over-gives to charities, they can limit donations to a list of approved organizations while blocking payments to potential scams. Stipulations can be set on only allowing transactions made in person, and payments can be capped at a certain amount per purchase.

All this goes through a pre-paid True Link Visa card, filled through the person’s checking account, which is free for the first year and costs $20 annually after that. True Link acts as the preauthorizer, giving it the power to see incoming charges and approve or deny them accordingly.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Sign up for the True Link Card

SlidePay (YC W12) launches the "Android" of mobile payments—now any app can take payments like Square does

Back in February, I wrote about a startup called Cube that was trying to build a point-of-sale system for small and medium-sized businesses that would eventually give analytics about inventory.

Cube has since pivoted, and now they’re going after a completely different market under a new name, SlidePay. They’re trying to offer a payments API for third-party developers that want the ability to accept credit card payments through a reader.

For example, Joist, an app for contractors who might do repair work on homes, now has a way to accept payments through a Square-like reader without kicking their customers out to another payments flow.

SlidePay is essentially a white-label version of Square. Square doesn’t currently offer an API for third-party developers, but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of building one. 

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Try SlidePay

Grid (YC S12) raises a seed round from Phil Libin of Evernote, Jerry Yang, Yuri Milner, Founders Fund, others

Grid, an “Excel minus the equations” app that helps you plan and organize more effectively and beautifully, announced today that it has raised a seed round. The app, made by a former Microsoft Excel designer, is an interesting take on the way many people use Google Docs or Excel spreadsheets.

Investors in the round are Phil Libin (CEO of Evernote), Jerry Yang (founder of Yahoo), Yuri Milner (founder of DST Global), Innovation Endeavors, Founders Fund Angel, General Catalyst, Dan Rose (VP of Business Development at Facebook), Joshua Reeves (CEO of Zen Payroll), Jared Friedman (Founder of Scribd), John Suliman (Managing Partner at Step Partners), and Salesforce.com.