Apptimize (YC S13) launches, bringing reliable A/B testing to native iOS and Android apps

As we shift more of our computing to mobile devices and applications, there’s also a need for a new crop of tools that help developers better build, design and test their creations, which are also specifically tailored to mobile. Newly launched, Y Combinator-backed startup Apptimize is one such service, offering a mobile A/B testing suite for both iOS and Android.

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Often, says Hua, companies in need of an A/B testing product simply use something that’s been built in-house, but those services aren’t usually very good.

With Apptimize, developers can instead place a small code snippet into their app then use the programmatic interface to make variations to the experiments they want to run, including which users will receive them and when. For example, developers may want to see if they increase conversions by offering a tutorial or making other changes to the first-run experience. They may want to adjust the pricing of in-app purchases or optimize the checkout funnel in some way, and much more.

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SpoonRocket (YC S13) launches in Berkeley, bringing $6 gourmet meals delivered to your curbside in less than 10 min

Y Combinator-backed SpoonRocket was built to fundamentally change the way we think about food. More than just another food-delivery service, the company seeks to provide ultra-cheap gourmet meals that can be delivered within minutes of ordering them. By doing so, it’s providing an alternative to fast food and even cooking at home.

Today that vision is being realized in the East Bay, where SpoonRocket has been making deliveries from Berkeley to Emeryville. The startup has two food options available each day — one for vegetarians and one for meat eaters — but both of which cost just $6 each.

At that price point, it’s almost more affordable to order a meal from SpoonRocket than it is to cook on one’s own, and it’s certainly more affordable than ordering out from most other restaurants. It even beats the price of fast food restaurants — and they don’t deliver.

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Standard Treasury (YC S13) aims to make software that eats commercial banking

Kim-Mai Cutler at Techcrunch writes

Standard Treasury, a YC-backed company, is hoping to make it easier for businesses to deal with their banks through standard APIs that ease transfers and other transactions.

The company says that integrating banking services for small businesses and startups is overly complicated. They can end up sending large files over FTP with specs that take up hundreds of pages.

Co-founder Daniel Kimerling had this experience when he was building up his last company, Giftly, which let people send gifts on the web and mobile devices to each other without affecting the point-of-sale systems at local merchants. They had to build up their own infrastructure to interface with the banking system to manage peer-to-peer payments.

“The existing model for bank-enterprise relationships hasn’t changed since the 1970s,” Kimerling said. “Banking is really painful. We have customers that ask — why can’t banking be like Stripe or Braintree?”

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Pebble (YC W11) is coming to a Best Buy store shelf near you, starting July 7

Pebble is selling its smartwatch via Best buy stores soon, with the device going on sale at the major U.S.-based electronics retailer on July 7 for $149.95. The e-ink display for the Pebble and Bluetooth connection it sports allow it to communicate information including caller display and notification alerts from a connected iPhone or Android device.

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Pixate (YC S12) raises $3.8M Series A from Accel to bring dynamic UIs with the power of CSS to iOS, Android and Mac

Pixate has closed a $3.8 million Series A round from venture capital firm Accel Partners. The Palo Alto-based plans to expand its engineering and support teams in order to build Android and Mac versions of its platform, which allows developers to style apps using CSS. It will also increase the quality of its support and improve developer resources and release the full version of Pixate Engine for free.

In addition, Pixate announced the launch of Pixate Labs, which is where it will publish beta versions of Pixate, as well as prototypes and experiments of other technologies and projects.

Quartzy (YC S11) raises $4M Series A round led by Khosla Ventures, making labs way easier to manage

In the WSJ today:

Quartzy Inc., the maker of free-to-use laboratory management software for scientists, raised $4 million in a Series A round led by Khosla Ventures, the company told VentureWire. The process of managing very expensive equipment and active chemicals in labs used to be a messy one, with scientists emailing lab managers and maintaining electronic spreadsheets to track thousands of items at a time. Quartzy puts all the information into a private and secure cloud-based platform.

Time Magazine names Kicksend (YC S11) one of the Top 50 Best Android Apps of 2013

Jared Newman at Time writes:

Kicksend is a quick way to send large batches of photos privately, without dealing with e-mail or cloud storage services. Just pick the photos you want to send and enter an e-mail address, and the recipient gets access to a web page where they can view and download the photos at their leisure. And in case you’re sending to someone who hasn’t fully embraced the digital age, Kicksend lets you buy prints, which can be mailed or picked up at a local CVS, Walgreens or Target.

Link: Kicksend (Free)

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.

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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. 

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