Paperspace (YC W15) Lets Anyone Access A Better Personal Computer That Lives In The Cloud

Paperspace, A Better Computer. from Paperspace on Vimeo

Imagine never having to buy new and expensive hardware to upgrade your personal computer with more speed and storage space. That’s the vision behind Y Combinator-backed Paperspace, a new company launching today, which is building a full, personal computer that lives in the cloud, which you access from any web browser. Similar, to some extent, to enterprise-grade solutions like VMWare, Citrix or Amazon Workspaces, but aimed also at a consumer or “prosumer” audience, the company is selling a small hardware device that plugs into any older desktop or laptop in order to provide you with the computing power you need on demand.

Called Paperweight, this low-cost hardware device connects you with your own remote machine on Paperspace’s servers, where you can choose from either a “basic” or “pro” option based on your computing needs. The device is considered a “zero client,” because unlike thin client technology, there’s only a small microprocessor on the inside – all the processing is taking place on the cloud.

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Kickback (YC W15) Lets You Make Money Playing Games

Kickback, a platform that lets you make money playing video games, launched yesterday. 

Kickback creates tournaments for players of all skill levels, where everyone has a shot at winning money. This is done by using new matchmaking technology and a state of the art anti-cheat system.

The first game to launch on the platform is Minecraft which, contrary to popular belief, can be played competitively and boasts 50 million users. Because the game is highly customizable, people can create a deathmatch, similar to the plot of the movie Hunger Games or a Zombie Apocalypse where winners are the last to survive. Players can play for free to win bragging rights, or enter a tournament with $1.00 to win anywhere from $2-$100.

Valor Water (YC W15) Helps Utilities Keep The Water Running

"Disrupt Battlefield finalist Valor Water is graduating out of Y Combinator just in time to help solve the world’s water crisis. Valor provides a suite of business-intelligence tools for water utilities.

In a drought, consumers are encouraged to conserve water and they often do. In California this past December, conservation was up from 10 percent in November to 22 percent in December, in year-over-year water-use comparisons done by the State of California. Since July 2014, consumers saved 134 billion gallons of water or enough to supply 1.8 million residents with water for a year.

But with that conservation comes a challenge for utilities: decreasing revenue. For every gallon conserved in a drought, that’s one more gallon a utility is not earning money on, over time putting the provider in a very precarious financial situation. Utilities, fearing for their survival, often end up issuing rate hikes to maintain revenue. This leads to a cycle whereby consumers are no longer incentivized to conserve, as they’ll end up paying the same water bill regardless." 

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Y Combinator and Imagine K12 at Princeton, Harvard, MIT & Dartmouth this week

How do you come up with an idea? 
Should you start a startup in college?
How do you raise money as an edtech company? 

Hear short talks from YC partners Sam Altman, Qasar Younis and Geoff Ralston (YC partner and founder of Imagine K12).

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Wednesday, March 4 - 6:30pm ET
Dodds Auditorium, Robertson Hall
More info here

MIT
Thursday, March 5 - 5pm ET
Room 54-100
More info here

HARVARD 
Thursday, March 5 - 7:30pm ET
Northwest Labs B101 
More info here

DARTMOUTH
Friday, March 6 - 2pm-3pm ET 
DEN Innovation Center (4 Currier Place, Hanover, NH)
More info here

Questions? Send them to info@ycombinator.com.

Shift Messenger (YC W15) Makes It Easy For Workers To Swap Hours

"Anyone who has worked a retail job knows what a pain it is to take time off. You usually have to find someone to cover your shift and, unless you’ve managed to arrange your schedule in advance, that often entails panicked texts and phone calls to co-workers. A new startup called Shift Messenger wants to make the process less painful.

Backed by Y Combinator, Shift Messenger was founded by Austin Vedder and Matt Tognetti. Former Redbeacon employees, the two got a look at the scheduling problems faced by retail workers after the home services marketplace was acquired by Home Depot."

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YesGraph (YC W15) Raises A Million To Build A Better Referral System For Mobile Apps

"When launching a new consumer application, especially those in the social space, many developers today rely on an invite mechanism that has the app’s initial user base reaching out and recommending the app to their friends. But today, these invite systems are often fairly basic – they connect to a phone’s address book and then force the user to sift through their hundreds of contacts for those they think would be interested in joining the new app, too.

A Y Combinator-backed startup called YesGraph wants to make these invite and referral systems more intelligent, with a tool for developers that puts the best contacts – meaning those who are most likely to accept an invite – at the top of the list provided to users.

The company has also now raised a $1 million seed round led by Bloomberg Beta to fund the service’s further development."

YC Digest - 2/20-2/26

Top Stories from the YC World - 2/20/15-2/26/15
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Where to start a startup by Yuri Sagalov

Booktrope (YC W15) Rethinks Book Publishing

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard horror stories about the publishing industry — books that are rejected by publisher after publisher, books that sit in submission piles for years, books that are published but basically disappear without publisher support.

At the same time, self-publishing has its risks for authors, too. You could end up paying a lot of your own money to an editor and/or a designer, and if you don’t, you could end up with a poorly edited book and a lame cover that looks, well, self-published.

So Booktrope, part of the current class of startups at Y Combinator, is taking a different approach. On one level, Booktrope is a publisher itself, but one that allows authors to go around the gatekeepers of traditional publishing while still working with a professional team.

Open Listings (YC W15) Enables Home Buyers To Purchase Houses Without Real Estate Agents

"Open Listings is a startup fresh out of the current Y Combinator batch that’s easing the home buying process by letting people move forward without real estate agents.

Because two-thirds of the overall residential market involves repeat buyers, some people may not want to rely on agents because they’re already familiar with what to do. So instead, Open Listings will refund the 3 percent agent commission, which can amount to tens of thousands of dollars here in California, and charge a flat fee instead. It’s basically a self-service platform with on-demand human experts.

Their belief is that the Internet is diminishing the role of the real estate agent by making it a lot easier to find homes, but commissions are getting out of control as they rise with the overall (insane) cost of real estate. (I’m mostly referring to California, which is Open Listings’ first market and makes up about 15 percent of national home sales.)"

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20n (YC W15), A YC Synthetic Biology Startup, Uses Software To Engineer Microbes For Chemical-Making

"20n, one of a wave of biotech-related startups that Y Combinator is starting to fund, is the brainchild of a UC Berkeley professor and a post-doc.

Saurabh Srivastava and J. Christopher Anderson have worked together for several years developing software that can design genetically engineered microbes to make specific chemicals. While at their DARPA-backed lab at UC Berkeley, they created bacteria that could produce acetaminophen or Tylenol.

Their special sauce is their software platform. While there are companies that do license out ways to create bacteria that produce specialty chemicals, the process of identifying how to create these microbes is tedious. 20n says its data mining technology can get to 100 times more chemicals than were previously thought possible."

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