Bizzy (YC S15) Helps E-Commerce Brands Send Fewer, Better Emails

E-commerce brands don't actually want to annoy you with their frequent mass email campaigns -- though that's often the effect.

Bizzy is a company in our current class that helps e-commerce companies send fewer, better, more effective emails, without the need for a big budget or a marketing department. Bizzy's platform determines if and when to send an email to a certain person, depending on the likelihood that they will make a purchase, and formulates the most effective message to target the customer's habits.

Bizzy's clients boast as much as 1200% better sales than they had with other email marketing platforms, while sending 60 percent fewer emails.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Bizzy in a story published this week:

"The process starts when the ecommerce brand plugs in the customer database to Bizzy. From there, Bizzy puts those customers into various buckets, ranging from folks who signed up to be on the email list but have never purchased to folks who made a purchase yesterday to people who haven’t made a purchase in a few months.

Based on their various buckets, customers receive different campaign emails with copy that fits their customer life cycle. Bizzy generates the copy for their clients, giving them the ability to edit that in any way or send it off as is."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

Sywork (YC S15) Is The Twitch For Illustrators And Artists

The cliché goes that life is about the journey, not the destination. The same could be said for artwork. A lot of emphasis is placed on the final product of artists and illustrators, but if you're lucky enough to see the process that went into creating it, it can be just as satisfying.

Sywork is a company launching out of our current class that lets artists and illustrators host a livestream video of themselves at work, in the same way that Twitch lets people watch broadcasts of gamers in action. Since going live just four weeks ago, Sywork is attracting an audience of thousands of viewers from more than 115 countries around the world.

TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff wrote about Sywork in a story published last week:

"Today, a company called Sywork (shorthand for 'Show Your Work') launched its new live-streaming service for artists and illustrators. Ever wonder what the process is behind beautiful oil paintings? Comic books? Well now you can find out, thanks to this YC-backed company.

Each artist has their own channel, which you can subscribe to of course, and you’re notified when they’re live. A few of the illustrators I’ve watched have been heads down making things, with music bumping in the background. Much like Twitch, there’s a chatroom to the right, where people who are watching talk about what they’re seeing."

Read the full story, including an interview with Sywork co-founder Marcelo Echeverria, on TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.

bitcodin (YC S15) Encodes Videos 100X Faster, At Netflix-Grade Streaming Quality

Not only is the quantity of online videos booming, our expectations for what's acceptable streaming video quality keep going up too.  All this has created a problem for content creators and developers, who need to encode videos very fast, at full HD quality, for streaming in multiple formats on every device. And the bottleneck is only going to get worse in the future, as 4K/UHD TVs start to hit the mainstream.

bitcodin is a company in our current class that has created a solution to this problem, with a service that encodes videos 100x faster and at a higher quality than other transcoding services.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about bitcodin in a post last week:

"Bitcodin says it enables fast playback of videos, optimizes the streaming quality, and supports buffering. It claims that it’s going to be able to provide video encoding at speeds a hundred times faster than similar services, while also providing Netflix-grade quality streaming.

Developers interested in tapping into this platform can go to Bitcodin’s website to sign up. All they need to do is upload a video file and select the output format, such as MPEG-DASH at 1080p. From there, the service does all the work and will spit out a new video file that can play on every device.

Perhaps the best news is that when the resulting videos play, they do so without any additional technology or software. That’s right, you won’t need Flash or Silverlight installed. It’s compliant with the same streaming standards that Netflix and YouTube follow. Interestingly, these standards, both with MPEG and MPEG-DASH online video streaming, were formed thanks to contributions from Bitcodin’s founders Stefan Lederer, Christopher Mueller, and Christian Timmerer."

Read more about bitcodin in VentureBeat here, and in Hacker News here.

Convox (YC S15) Makes It Easier For Companies To Use AWS

Every year, companies spend more than $15 billion on cloud-based infrastructure services such as Amazon Web Services. But despite those massive bills, companies still have to deal with a limited list of supported software and services, unpredictable uptime, and an extremely difficult experience while trying to debug apps that are running.

Convox is a company in our current class that helps take care of all those issues, promising to make AWS itself as easy to use as Heroku -- and five times cheaper. In 10 minutes, Convox allows you to configure and scale storage, servers, containers, load balancing, network security, and database on top of AWS without an ops team.

VentureBeat's Jordan Novet wrote about Convox in a story published this week:

"San Francisco-based Convox can boast that it knows all about operating infrastructure at scale — reliable Amazon infrastructure, at that — given its three founders’ experience at Heroku. [Convox CEO David] Dollar and fellow cofounder Noah Zoschke both joined Heroku in 2009. OpenDoor, that home-selling startup backed by superstar investors like Keith Rabois, Om Malik, and Naval Ravikant, recently moved its data science workloads from Heroku onto Convox.

...'Our job now is to bring the same Heroku-like experience to a more raw Amazon deployment,' Zoschke told VentureBeat. 'You shouldn’t have to worry about very much to take your application and put it on the Internet and deploy your first app instantly. That’s not the case on Amazon. It’s better than ever, but it still requires a tremendous amount of documentation."

Read the full story about Convox in VentureBeat here, and read a Hacker News discussion about Convox here.

Ohm (YC S15) Is Making A Lighter, Longer-Lasting, And Better-Performing Car Battery

Many things about cars are very different today than they were 100 years ago, with one important exception: Almost nothing has changed about how most car batteries work, from a technical standpoint. 

Ohm is a startup launching out of our current Summer 2015 class that's completely reimagined the car battery. The result is a battery that weighs one sixth of what a typical car battery does, lasts twice as long, and performs better in low temperatures. And the Ohm battery can be dropped in for use in any car, installed just like a traditional battery.

TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak wrote about Ohm and its technology in a story published this past week:

"Instead of lead plates, Ohm brings in a more modern, two-part system: an EDLC supercapacitor capable of dumping enough energy to start your engine, and a set of smaller batteries (LiFePO4, which contain no toxic heavy metals) to keep things powered when the engine is off.

The physical footprint for Ohm’s battery rig ends up being considerably smaller than its lead-acid counterpart — but as they want this thing to work in existing cars without bouncing around under the hood, they’ve tucked it into a case that makes Ohm roughly the same size as any other automotive battery. (Specifically, it’s built to fit into the same cavity as a Group 35 battery.)"
Read the full story, with more details of how Ohm works and when it is slated to be available, in TechCrunch here, and participate in the related discussion in Hacker News here.

Startup School Radio: Campus Job's Co-Founders On Leaving Google And McKinsey For Startup Life

In Episode 4 of YC's Startup School Radio, a podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with PlanGrid co-founders Ryan Sutton-Gee, Tracy Young, and Ralph Gootee, to talk about the early days of founding the construction software company and their path to joining Y Combinator's Winter 2012 class. The second half of the episode featured Liz Wessel and J.J. Fliegelman, the co-founders of Campus Job, which just launched out of YC in Winter 2015.

You can hear the episode in its entirety on SoundCloud here and on iTunes here, and read the full transcript here.

In one interesting excerpt, Wessel and Fliegelman talked about why they decided to leave their prestigious new jobs at Google and McKinsey to work full-time on Campus Job:

Aaron: You're both fairly recent college grads. I think you're, are you both two or three years out?

Liz: Three and four years.

Aaron: Three and four years out. Okay, you're not too far removed from college, building something for colleges. Have you wanted to do this since college, or what happened that you decided to start this company?

Liz: Yeah. So, J.J. and I actually became close friends during college because we, along with a few other friends, decided to start a company that was kind of the inspiration for what Campus Job is today. So, that company was a much more niche version. We didn't even call it a company. It was more of a side project, but it was something we worked on our senior year of college. We built it, we graduated, and it started to take off after we graduated.

Aaron: What was it?

Liz: It was basically a job board for campus rep opportunities...

Aaron: So, these are the students who will wear a Red Bull t-shirt around campus, hand out free Red Bull and get frats to join.

Liz: Exactly.

J.J.: The most popular kids on campus.

Aaron: They got free stuff to give. Everyone loves free stuff, especially college kids.

Liz: Exactly. So, we saw a big need for startups looking for students to hire and for students looking for marketing jobs on campus, so we started that side project in college. It started to really take off and, over a few years, when we were doing nothing related to it, and really had our own full time jobs, we decided to use the inspiration from what that side project was and actually quit our jobs at Google and McKinsey and start Campus Job and go big for all jobs for college students.

Aaron: This is one of those decisions that's like every mother's nightmare. "My son and daughter quit their jobs at Google and at McKinsey, two of the best companies to work at in the world, to go do something crazy, like start a company where they're not going to get paid and probably starve to death." So, what was it about this idea that made you leave such comfortable careers?

J.J.: Well, I think for me, there were two things. One was, even just this side project that Liz was just talking about, seeing that traction grow while we were doing nothing was really inspiring and also helped us realize that there was something there. Imagine if we really put effort into it and really, really made it work. It could be huge...

Liz: ...We kinda figured if we were going to do this idea, which we knew we wanted to do, now was the time because we're close enough to college age where we still know what the big problems are [in the college market] and how to tackle them. We're risk takers. Google and McKinsey, we could always go back to them if we needed to. But Campus Job now is an even better place to work. So we're happy.

Video Syndication Platform AllScreen (YC W10) Has Been Acquired By Zealot Networks

AllScreen, the video syndication platform technology startup that launched out of our Winter 2010 class, announced today that it has been acquired by Zealot Networks, the Los Angeles-based media technology company from the founders of Maker Studios.

AllScreen's technology is used to power multi-platform video syndication for publishers including People Magazine, brands including Viacom's Nickelodeon division, and many others. AllScreen, which was previously known as 140Fire, was founded by Jason Wilk and Paras Chitakar. In addition to YC, AllScreen's investors include Mark Cuban, video game pioneer Skip Paul, and Jonathan Kraft, the president of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots.

You can read more about the acquisition in VentureBeat.

Prayas Analytics (YC S15) Powers A/B Testing For Brick And Mortar Stores

Retailers can derive huge benefits from monitoring how customers behave in their brick and mortar stores. By closely observing the way that people move through a shop and interact with different displays and merchandise, stores can make key changes that will maximize their efficiency and sales.

This kind of research is something that very big retail chains have performed for a long time -- but has been mostly too expensive and complicated for many retailers to implement.

Prayas Analytics is a company in our current class that makes detailed analytics available for all kinds of brick and mortar retailers, by leveraging the security cameras many of them already have.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about Prayas Analytics in a story published recently:

"Using existing infrastructure inside a physical store, Prayas Analytics says it’s able to glean enough information to help retailers make more informed decisions on how to increase sales. There’s no installation needed, and all pertinent software can be installed and integrated with the retailer’s existing systems. All the software needs is to tap into the store’s security cameras.

It’s one thing to try to spitball what’s happening in a store, but it’s another to have actual data and insights to educate yourself on why customers leave, how to make your workforce more efficient, ways you can better position merchandise and the overall store environment to increase purchases, and more."
Read more in-depth about Prayas Analytics and how it works in VentureBeat here.

Second Measure (YC S15) Lets Investors Know How Private And Public Companies Are Really Doing

Shiny pitch decks and optimistic business reports can be convincing, but are not always accurate -- making it difficult for investors to ascertain how a company is *really* doing.

Second Measure is a startup in our current class that promises to bring some clarity to the process of analyzing companies and their success. Through partnerships with proprietary data providers, Second Measure has built a software platform that analyzes billions of consumer purchases to provide valuable insight into the sales and growth rates of public and private companies.

TechCrunch's Lucas Matney wrote about Second Measure in a recent story:

"[Second Measure co-founders Mike] Babineau and [Lillian] Chou showed me a demo of the product, comparing a couple of ride-sharing companies, and the analysis presented by the web application seemed pretty game-changing (check out some of the Uber data on this company blog post).

Through Second Measure, investors can dig through operational metrics like revenue and customer growth, retention and cohort analysis, while also benchmarking companies against their competitors to track overall market penetration.

The company is focusing its offering 'primarily towards VCs and hedge funds,' according to Babineau, and it’s pretty easy to see why the product would be attractive to them. Right now, venture capitalists are primarily scouring Second Measure’s product to identify fast-growing companies, and hedge funds are using it to 'inform their financial models' and anticipate the earnings releases of public companies."

Read in-depth about Second Measure in TechCrunch here.

Scentbird (YC S15) Is A Subscription Sampling Of Luxury Fragrances For Women & Men

Scentbird is a company in our current class that sends a personalized sampling of luxury fragrances for a flat monthly subscription fee of $14.95. The concept is to let people "date" a number of fragrances, instead of taking the plunge by commiting to a full-sized bottle right away.

This past week, the company, which first launched its service for women's fragrances in the United States this past spring, launched a new Scentbird service for men.

TechCrunch's Sarah Buhr wrote about the launch of Scentbird for men this past week:

"The male scent market is a bit smaller than the female perfume market – the majority of men either spray it on too thick or just don't wear it at all. But that’s starting to change, according to Euro Monitor International. Department store cologne sales rose 3.7 percent, pulling in $7.92 billion in 2013. Scentbird could capitalize on that growth with men’s growing interest to smell nice.

Gentlemen looking for a way to smell better without breaking the bank can add 8 ml / 0.27 fl oz bottle (120 sprays) of Scentbird’s array of designer colognes for about $15 each month."
Read more about Scentbird in TechCrunch here.