Say you’re sitting at your laptop, listening to music while responding to emails, writing code, or reading blogs. Then your phone rings, and the typical scramble ensues: You minimize your browser, maximize your music app, and search frantically for the pause button or volume control — all, hopefully, before you miss the call. Sound familiar? That’s a problem that Flutter, a startup in Y Combinator’s latest batch of companies, has solved.
Flutter is an app for Mac that lets you control the play function on Spotify or iTunes by simply waving at your computer. You can watch it in action in the video embedded above. That in itself is pretty nifty — as evidenced by the 11,000 people who downloaded Flutter in the first 11 days it was available, and the 400,000 gestures the app logged from those users. In the near-term, Flutter expects to expand its functionality to control other media apps such as Pandora and YouTube, as well as to other operating systems and devices beyond the Mac.
To participate on 99dresses, users upload a dress that they may be tired of, but that somebody else might appreciate. Unlike other clothing swap services Poshmark and Threadflip, 99dresses is aiming for the Forever 21 and Zara set, not necessarily the well-heeled worshippers of Lanvin, Balenciaga and Prada.
Also unlike its competitors, 99dresses doesn’t use any actual currency, so women who upload dresses must sell them for “buttons.” In turn they can use these buttons to buy other dresses (sortable by size), and can also buy extra buttons for a dollar each if they’re short a needed amount. The company currently monetizes by selling these buttons.
Facebook is on its way to having a billion members, but it’s not always making friends everywhere it goes. Two young men, both aged 19 and in the most recent crop of Y Combinator startups, think they’ve found a gap in the market that has yet to be served that well by the biggest social network: families.
FamilyLeaf was created by childhood friends Wesley Zhao and Ajay Mehta (last seen here spinning out a Y U NO yarn to gain entry into YC; it worked). And it was borne out of a desire to have an easy-to-use online space for you and your relations that address some key “misuse” of sites like Facebook — something they say became especially apparent to the two of them after they left for college (respectively Wharton and NYU Stern, where they are now on a leave of absence).
Last August, Y Combinator-backed Leaky had one of those “good news, bad news” startup launches. The good news — the launch got plenty of attention, and (thanks in part to some coverage from TechCrunch), the site attracted 10 times as much traffic as expected, according to co-founder Jason Traff. The bad news — that attracted the attention of the insurance companies, who sent Leaky cease-and-desist letters.
The problem? In order to compare the insurance prices you’d pay with different providers, Leaky was scraping the data directly from the insurance companies’ websites. It sounds like Traff wasn’t entirely surprised by the letters (“We understood their objections and complied with them,” he says now), but he thought Leaky would have more time to fly under-the-radar while it figured out the best way to get its data. However, the high-profile launch made that impossible, and the site went offline after four days.
Now Leaky is back, and it’s offering price comparisons based on a new data source — the regulatory filings that car insurance companies have to file with the government. Using those filings, the company has created a model that predicts, based on your personal details, how much each insurance provider will charge.
Google and Facebook can’t help you find which of your friends are single, or live in New York and like Radiohead, but Ark can. Today Y Combinator-backed Ark.com sails into private beta in hopes of becoming the best place on the web to do people searches. With a variety of layer-able filters, Ark lets you search through public profiles and the private data of your friends across Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and other networks. It’s also got filter sets for easily discovering old classmates and new business contacts.
Let’s say you’re in a serious relationship, but you work all the time and you’re long-distance. How do you stay close to the other person? I’ve personally had this situtation for the last year and a half. My girlfriend and I use Skype, email, our phones, Facebook, and everything else we can to stay connected. We’ve even been using Instagram as a two-person social network to share photos about what we’re up to each day.
But now there’s an app to solve this exact problem. It’s called Pair, and it’s packed with the features you see in private social networks like Path, but designed for two people.
Life is painful for those of us who try to manage our daily workload in Gmail. The stars, the labels and filters, Google’s inaccurate “Priority Inbox” ranking system, the extensions… well, they all sort of help out. But my inbox is still a mess and yours probably is, too. Until someone comes up with a vastly superior communication protocol (one of those frighteningly ambitious problems), a new startup called Streak is trying to create order from the inside.
Part of last year’s summer Y Combinator class, the company is bringing customer relationship management (CRM) functionality directly into Gmail. Right now, most people who are trying to track customers are using separate systems (Gmail plus Salesforce, for example). The process of forwarding emails into these systems or replying out of them via email requires extra work on the part of the user.
Streak is a much faster way to keep track of customers right there in your gmail. No more copy-paste.
If you want to bring some art into your life, but you’re intimidated by the art world, a Y Combinator-backed startup called EveryArt wants to help.
The site is a marketplace where people can commission artists to create pieces, and it’s opening to the public today. On EveryArt, you can browse samples of the artists’ work, and if you find someone you like, you can send them a request. It can be very specific, with lots of details about what you’re looking for, or more general: “Hey, I liked this piece, can you do something similar for me?”
Artist listings include an expected price range, and they set the price based on the commission. Founder Justin Cannon says the average so far has been about $1,000 for “a sizable piece.” Once the work has been commissioned, EveryArt collects the money, and when the work is finished, the payment is delivered to the artist.
As an avid shopper, I tend to buy clothes, jewelry, and accessories from both big-name stores as well as smaller boutiques. But as a whole, some of my most coveted items in my closet are from local boutiques who carry designers and fashions that you would never be able to find at stores like Bloomingdale’s. But while I can peruse the boutiques of Chicago, I can’t access the smaller boutiques in New York, LA, San Francisco and other cities without visiting those areas. Until now. Enter Y Combinator startup Shoptiques, which aggregates inventory from local fashion boutiques and puts it online. The company is launching today, and announcing an undisclosed amount of funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Benchmark Capital, SV Angel, Y Combinator and other angels.
As Vidisheva explains, many of these local boutiques don’t have an online presence and find the whole process challenging. Shoptiques takes the hassle out of creating an independent store online, setting up inventory and payments infrastructure and also helps market these stores as well. It’s similar to what Etsy has done for artisans and craftspeople.
Y Combinator startup FutureAdvisor has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sequoia Capital and angel investors Keith Rabois and Jeremy Stoppelman.
FutureAdvisor, which debuted in 2010, is an online financial advisor designed to help people get the most out of their investment portfolios. FutureAdvisor’s web app provides people with personalized financial advice by recommending ways to reduce fees, maximize on tax efficiency and select the right investments.
FutureAdvisor is a simple web app pretty much anyone can use to make smarter investments. If you've got a 401k, it'll give you personalized results in 2 minutes.