Popular wisdom has it that tablets are great for consuming content but aren’t that useful for creating it. Don’t tell that to Josh Leong, though. His Y Combinator-backed startup, Grid, is based around the idea that a tablet should be a great place for spreadsheets. Indeed, as Leong told me earlier this week, his idea is to reinvent the spreadsheet around touch, all the tools and sensors available on mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, and the way normal people (as opposed to Excel power users) actually use them.
Grid is launching in beta for iPhone and iPad today and you can sign up for an invite here. There are still some features missing in this beta, but you can already use Grid’s collaboration tools and get a feel for its ingenious “Maestro” user interface.
An in-browser web design app, Easel, has just launched. The WYSIWYG web design tool aims to make web design and development easier for teams who want to quickly get their ideas online without having to hire a designer.
The most important features are speed and collaboration. Documents can be edited by multiple users in real time and changes are automatically synchronized like Google Docs.
Try Easel now
Co-founder and CEO Wojciech Gryc says that large enterprises usually hire outside consultants to build these kinds of lead optimization tools and customer models. Slightly smaller companies (namely, those that still have more than 10,000 customers) could still benefit, but they probably aren’t going to spend the money.
Naturally, that’s where Canopy Labs comes in. Instead of paying to develop their own tools, mid-sized businesses can buy Canopy’s self-serve product, and while that might not be quite as good as a custom solution, Gryc argues that what these businesses really need is not “the most accurate, the best model ever built,” but rather something “actionable and quick” that’s usable by your average marketing analyst or sales analyst.
MakeGamesWithUs is a new iOS game publishing company with a twist: its focus is on helping high school and college students to build games. MakeGamesWithUs us will take the kids’ creations, provide professional graphics and art and publish them in the App Store. The kids will own the code, and the company will own the graphics and take a cut of the sales. The company already has a few games built by students available, including Elemental Fury.
Co-founder Ashutosh Desai, creator of the iPhone game Helicopter, says that one thing that’s been missing from the code literacy movement up til now is help in making the jump from knowing some code to actually building something with your knowledge. “There’s a huge number of kids out there with the potential to make games, but they get held up in the process,” Desai explains.
THE world doesn’t necessarily need the gazillion-and-one games that seem available on smartphones. But it could use more apps and services that address the needs of business people with specialized needs. Like farmers.
FarmLogs, a start-up based in Ann Arbor, Mich., is a one of a few new companies that are making a pitch to farmers. It offers a cloud-based software service — no software is downloaded; only a Web browser is needed — that embodies the latest technology.
Enter Yardsale, a new app for selling things locally that ran through the Summer 2011 Y Combinator program. After launching just weeks ago, the app picked up more than 100,000 installs and is going straight after eBay and other peer-to-peer local sales services.
You can download the app here.
FiveStars, a loyalty program for local retailers, has raised $13.9 million in a first round of funding.
The Mountain View, Calif., company is trying to eliminate the need for loyalty punch cards in a very low-tech way — in other words, no fancy iPads or mobile applications.
Investors in the round include Lightspeed Venture Partners and DCM. Other investors include Y Combinator, Mayfield Fund, and angel investors Chamath Palihapitiya and brothers Hadi and Ali Partovi.
Arda Kara and Alexander Blessing are from two pretty different places — Turkey and Germany, respectively — but as students pursuing master’s degrees in computer science at Stanford, they both faced very similar problems when it came to communicating with their family and old friends.
Because of the massive time zone differences between California and Europe, it was pretty much impossible to schedule a time to talk daily on the phone or via Skype. Texts and emails were a bit too cold. Video messages through mobile apps such as SocialCam and Viddy were just a bit too high-maintenance — who wants to have to shave before sending a quick “Hi” to mom and dad?
So they teamed up to build VoiceGem, a simple app for the web and the iPhone that lets you send and receive personal voice messages. VoiceGem, which is part of the current Summer 2012 class at Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator, is launching in public beta today.
If you want to add two factor authentication to your own app but don’t know where to start, you’re in luck: Authy is a Y Combinator backed startup launching today that makes it easy to add optional two factor authentication to your application. You just add some API calls to your app and your users will be able to use their phones as a second layer of authentication.
Technology succeeds when it makes the everyday more magical, more efficient, just…more. E la Carte provides exactly that experience with its customized Presto tablets for restaurants.
The Y Combinator alumni company has been disrupting the everyday restaurant experience for just over a year by delivering menus, wine lists, nutritional info, instant ordering, play-while-you-wait games, and payment options tableside via touchscreen tablet.
Today, the company announced its biggest partnership to date. E la Carte has partnered with HMSHost, owner and operator of restaurants in 113 airports nationwide, including the 20 busiest airports in North America. Together, the companies plan to make in airport dining faster, more enjoyable, and less stressful. Evidence of this impact can be seen in E la Carte’s existing restaurant partnerships where tips increase by an average of 15% and sales by 10% with the introduction of the Presto.