MakeGamesWithUs Summer Academy (YC W12) receives 1,000 applications for their new game design course


On the MakeGamesWithUs blog:

A little over a month ago we quietly launched our new Summer Academy, a 2 month in-person course where students will design, code and ship their own original iPhone game. In the first month, we received 1,000 applications (400 final, 600 drafts). This year we’ll have 200 spots for the Summer Academy meaning we’re on pace to be as selective as top colleges in our inaugural class.

"I see a day when the traditional four-year college degree will be replaced… which is where [MakeGamesWithUs] comes in." —San Jose Mercury News

The Summer Academy is a spinoff of our wildly popular internship program where we had 75 college and high school students building games out of our living room. Between the two years we’ve run the internship, and the courses at MIT and UC Berkeley created off our curriculum over 200 students have taken our in-person courses. And thanks in part to being featured in the Hour of Codeover half a million students have started learning to build iPhone games on our website.

Read more at MakeGamesWithUs

InstantCab (YC W12) unveils new FareBack program to save riders up to 30% on trips, adds 3x more drivers

Following in the footsteps of Uber’s fare decrease for UberX, InstantCab announced a new program called FareBack intended to save riders up to 30 percent of the fare. The company hopes that this latest endeavor will increase ridership, saying that among all the ridesharing and transportation startups, it still doesn’t have surge pricing.

The company explains the process: riders who summon an InstantCab vehicle will have their entire tip, up to 20 percent of the fare, along with 10 percent of the fare, added back to their account as credit automatically applied to their next ride.

Recognizing that there may be an increase in demand as a result, InstantCab has made an effort to bring on more drivers. It claims to now have “an average of three times more cars on the road at all times.” In doing so, the company hopes to improve service and decrease wait times.

Read the full article on TNW

SimplyInsured (YC W13) launches to take the pain out of health insurance quotes and enrollment

For small businesses, buying and managing health insurance is a “pain in the buns,” to quote my new favorite ad. Not only are its complicated terms, lack of transparency, slow quoting and on-boarding process and paper trail a pain in your buns, but health insurance can be a massive pain in your wallet, to boot. Hidden costs are everywhere.

Y Combinator-backed SimplyInsured is launching today with a solution. Founders Vivek Shah and George Huo, who were also both early employees at YC startup Cardpool (which sold to Blackhawk Network in late 2011), have built a simple, online health insurance manager and quote engine for small businesses, which aims to explain in plain English what is or isn’t working about your current plan and help you identify hidden costs and cost-savings.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Get instant quotes for health insurance for yourself and your small business at SimplyInsured

Save your business from password hell: Meldium (YC W13) launches secure cloud password service for all your SaaS apps

If you’ve been part of a small- or medium-sized business or organization recently, you’ve dealt with “the spreadsheet.” It’s that document that’s tacked up on the wall (or shared via email) where all the group’s important login names and passwords are kept — the team's Twitter DropBox LexisNexis subscription, et cetera.

It’s a mess to maintain in itself, of course, but the real problems come when people leave the team. Right away, an admin must go one by one through shared apps such as Yammer and WordPress and disable access to the group version. As for the spreadsheet? Well, here’s hoping nobody copied the information to take with them (and take the official Twitter account for one last joyride.)

It’s awful, but it’s the status quo. The good news is that a brand new company has created something much, much better.

Meldium, a company that’s set to graduate next month from Silicon Valley startup incubator Y Combinator, has created a way for small- to medium-sized businesses and teams to securely share access to all the apps they use.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Semantics3 (YC W13) launches the one Consumer Products API to rule them all: Over 20M products with clean metadata

As more merchants flock to the web to sell their products, there has been a deluge of data to be indexed by retailers who are looking to see where certain products are being sold and for how much. Parsing and extracting the value from all of this data is a huge challenge. YC-backed Semantics3 has created a database that aims to track every product sold online, and every price it has ever been sold at, providing retailers with an API to this database.

The company, which was founded by classmates at a computer engineering college program in Singapore, indexes several dozen of the top e-commerce sites online and provides a self-serve API so developers can tap into its constantly updated database of consumer products. Why would developers want to index this data? Retailers need to do UPC lookups, get detailed data for products (i.e. consumer electronics or clothing) sold on the web, price histories and more.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

From Triceratops excavation to Anthrax therapeutics: Microryza (YC W13) launches a Kickstarter for scientific research

Do you want to know whether cannibalism existed amongst Tyrannosaurus Rexes or whether specific viruses contribute to lung cancer risk? Better yet, do you want to be part of making this research happen faster?

A Y Combinator-backed startup called Microryza is positioning itself as a “Kickstarter” for science research. The idea for Microryza sprouted when Cindy Wu, then an undergraduate at University of Washington, found that she had little hope of getting funding for studying a potential anthrax therapeutic.

She had discovered it after helping to create a video game that let regular people fold and create virtual enzymes. They came up with 87 different mutants that summer through the video game, and found that one could potentially treat anthrax infections after winning an MIT-based synthetic biology competition.

Read the full article at Techcrunch

Visit microryza.com and fund original scientific research

Thalmic (YC W13) launches the Myo armband for gesture control

As stuff like Google Glass becomes mainstream, we’re going to see a lot more wearable computing devices around. But one thing that isn’t clear is how we’ll control them. One idea is to use gesture control, which would enable users to communicate with wearable computers without having to use a whole separate smartphone or other device to do so.

But so far, gesture control for most devices — like the Xbox Kinect, for instance — has depended upon cameras watching user movement. That means remaining in a fixed space and using pre-programmed gestures that are not exactly natural, but can be picked up by cameras. As a result, today’s gesture control technologies are far from perfect. In fact, most to date are just downright bad.

Y Combinator-backed startup Thalmic Labs believes it has a better way of determining user intent when using gesture control. To do so, it’s developed a new device, called MYO, which is an armband worn around the forearm. Using Bluetooth, the armband can wirelessly connect to other devices, such as PCs and mobile phones, to enable user control based on their movements without directly touching the electronics.

See it in action here:

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Preorder at getmyo.com

Padlet (YC W13) brings drag-and-drop to collaborative website creation

WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr have done a great job of making website creation accessible to anyone, but the novice can still be a bit overwhelmed by sometimes sophisticated back-ends and CMS, especially when these platforms are built specifically to be as complex as they are simple, to expand the potential demographic.

But a YC-backed company called Padlet(formerly Wallwisher) is launching into public availability, and its intuitive drag-and-drop interface bests even the top platforms when it comes to quickly and easily building a website. What’s more, Padlet works a lot like Google Docs in that multiple users can modify and add to the page in real-time, forming a truly collaborative place to work and create.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

TrustEgg (YC W11) launches the the way for any parent to set up trusts for their children

TrustEgg, a Y Combinator-backed startup which lets parents set up trusts for their children is actually launching. That’s a milestone in and of itself, because, as a financial services company, it had been facing a lot of regulatory hurdles. The company has also recovered from the loss of its first co-founder, Gabe Krambs, who left CEO Jeff Brice to take a job that paid the bills. It has since added John Zdanowski, co-founder, CFO, and investor to the team, and has relocated operations to San Diego.

Read the full article on Techcrunch

Upverter (YC W11) raises $650K, running a hackathon at YC on Friday Feb 23

Toronto’s Upverter is a startup that’s poised to effect change that could reshape the landscape of entrepreneurship. That’s not something you can say about most of the businesses we cover on a daily basis, whether or not they have good ideas. But it’s definitely true of Upverter, the company that’s hoping to build a cloud-based hardware engineering platform that can match and overtake its desktop-based counterparts within the next few years.

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The rise of Upverter means a potential explosion on the horizon for hardware startups, which is why the company is hosting a hardware hackathon with Y Combinator on February 23rd. Making hardware engineering collaborative, affordable and easy to access can have a tremendous impact on the cost of doing business and risks associated with creating new hardware, which is why Upverter achieving its goals could lead to a new revolution for hardware startups, incubators and investors alike.

If you happen to be one of those hardware startups, Upverter is offering free team accounts to TC readers. Just follow this link to sign up.

Read the full article on Techcrunch