A new startup launching today called Crowdtilt is taking a page out of Kickstarter’s book, riffing on “crowdfunding,” but instead choosing to call itself “groupfunding” or a “Kickstarter for groups of friends.”
What does that mean? Well, we all love Kickstarter, but if you’re looking to pool money to throw your friend a birthday party, for example, that ain’t going to happen on Kickstarter. For a good reason, but that doesn’t mean the crowdfunding model can’t work. Thus, Crowdtilt has built a site that makes it simple for groups of friends to organize things to do together, with the specific focus on making it easy for the organizer to collect money from anyone.
How does that work? The site allows you to easily create a campaign, like “Help Hagan get to San Francisco” or “Phish Party Bus in DC,” while specifying how much money is needed for the campaign to actually happen — or in the startup’s lingo — “tilt.” You can then send this campaign out to your friends, who can authorize their credit cards for a certain amount with Crowdtilt.
Like groupbuying, friends’ credit cards won’t be charged until the campaign has tilted, or in other words, the specified amount has been reached. Not dissimilar from Kickstarter in this way, especially as projects have a certain amount of time before they become defunct.
Crowdtilt has turned out to be a huge help even among the YC class itself. The current batch has used crowdtilt successfully to even buy a communal pickup truck!
Y Combinator and Start Fund-backed startup SendHub, which offers a simple SMS solution for businesses, is killing it…and it never “officially” launched. Instead, the company soft-launched a couple of months ago with zero fanfare, and already has several hundred customers, 40% of which are active monthly users, sending some 30,000 SMS text messages per month.
Although generating revenue through its premium services for businesses, SendHub is also making teachers’ lives easier, by providing them with free tools to communicate with students and parents via SMS.
The big draw for SendHub has nothing to do with buzzwords (aren’t you sick of local, social, photo-sharing apps, anyway?), and everything to do with building something people actually need: an affordable, easy-to-use alternative to today’s business-focused messaging platforms. In January, the startup grew its user base by 3x, and so far this month, it’s grown another 45%.
If you’ve ever set up an automatic ‘Bill Pay’ feature on your bank account to pay off your utility and cable bills, then you’ve taken advantage of a nifty feature called an ‘interbank transfer’, also known as an ‘Automated Clearing House’ payment. Once they’re set up, they tend to be very convenient — the amount of the bill is automatically deducted from your account, saving you the hassle of having to write yet another check (or fill out another online form) each month. Merchants benefit from this system as well, because their fees are significantly lower than those that are charged by the credit card companies.
Thing is, this feature is typically only available for paying bills from big companies — it’s rare to see a smaller online merchant that’s offering these automatic transfers, because the process for them to set it up is complicated and costly. Until now. Y Combinator-backed startup GoCardless is launching today as a UK-based service that allows smaller merchants to easily set up interbank transfers for customers.
Part of Y Combinator’s Summer 2011 class, GoCardless was founded in 2010 by Oxford graduates Hiroki Takeuchi, Tom Blomfield and Matt Robinson. GoCardless is also announcing a $1.5 million round led by Accel Partners, Passion Capital, SV Angel, Start Fund, and Y Combinator. Proceeds will go towards building out the team and product, and expanding the merchant base.
Ridejoy, a YC-backed startup that brings people together via ridesharing on long-distance trips, has raised $1.3 million in seed funding led by Freestyle Capital
with Lerer Ventures, Start Fund, SV Angel, Founder Collective, Y Combinator, Ben Ling, Owen Van Natta and Joshua Schachter participating.
The service allows drivers who are already planning to take a roadtrip to ‘sell’ their extra seats to other users. Drivers earn money on trips they were planning on taking anyway, and Ridejoy passengers get a door-to-door lift, in some cases for less than they’d pay for a bus ticket.
The MTA has spoken: Embark NYC is the app that can best help reduce your subway headaches.
Embark was selected by a panel of 9 judges as the grand prize winner of the MTA App Quest competition. The contest, which was announced in July, challenged developers to use MTA data to help New Yorkers navigate the transit system.
Forty-two apps vied for the honor of best app.
Embark features service advisories and schedules, displays the closest station to your location, and allows you to view service changes by tapping your destination on a map. The app is available for iPhone and Android users. The four-man Embark team also makes transit apps for other cities, including Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
A great in-depth look at Stripe:
Off of Ramona Street in Palo Alto, down a narrow alcove lined with potted plants and flowers, is a small office hidden by hanging leaves that passersby might confuse for a misplaced country cottage. Inside, Patrick and John Collison, brothers in their early 20s from Limerick, Ireland, are punching away at their keyboards. Crumpled bags of chips are on a nearby table; the hum of a maid's vacuum is heard from another room. This is the humble headquarters of Stripe, a startup with a decidedly not-so-humble mission: to become the next PayPal.
Don't let the implausibility of that mission throw you: Stripe is backed by Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and--how's this for irony--PayPal cofounders Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. A source at Google Checkout recently told me Stripe is one startup the company has definitely had its eye on in the Valley. And Paul Graham has boasted to Fast Company that he believes Stripe is the next big thing. (Y Combinator backed Patrick's first startup, Auctomatic, which he sold for $5 million at the age of 19.)
This year’s fifth annual Crunchies Awards has just finished up at the classy Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, and it was a smashing success. We poked fun #humblebraggers, got cussed at by Siri, honored former TechCrunch CEO Heather Harde, and gave wild monkey trophies to tech’s greatest innovators. If you missed the event or our livestream, check out the full list of nominees and winners below.
The world owes a thank you to Jack Dorsey, the “Founder Of The Year” and leader of Twitter, winner of “Biggest Social Impact”. His poise and dedication helped keep the microblogging service online so it could aid revolutions. And a big congrats to Dropbox on its win for “Best Overall Startup”. The company’s young founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi (from right to left below) demonstrated the power of the freemium model, and had the guts to turn down a 9 figure acquisition bid.
Having spun out of online broadcaster Justin.tv last year, SocialCam has managed to get a strong footing on iOS and Android. It passed 3 million downloads in December, and it’s now sending 3 million notifications a day, with video uploads and following counts up by 700% and 800% in the last few months, according to cofounder Michael Seibel.
But the three-man team is going back into Y Combinator, the early-stage seed fund that Justin.tv had grown out of, instead of taking the more obvious routes of raising venture funding or simply continuing to build on its own.
We're happy to announce that Y Combinator has recruited Geoff Ralston as our newest partner.I've known Geoff for 13 years. The company he founded, Four11, was acquired by Yahoo just before Viaweb was. Their product, RocketMail, became Yahoo Mail. Geoff was in engineering at Yahoo before running a business unit and eventually becoming Chief Product Officer.More recently he was CEO of Lala, which was acquired by Apple in 2009. He's a perfect match for YC because he's smart and energetic, and yet informal and a super nice guy. He's also a founding partner at Imagine K12, the educational technology incubator, where he's going to continue being a full partner with our enthusiastic support.