If you missed Startup School Europe, you can now watch the talks on YouTube.
If you missed Startup School Europe, you can now watch the talks on YouTube.
If you’ve been to a Starbucks in the past year or so, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve seen someone in line pay with their smartphone by opening the Starbucks app and holding a bar code up to a scanner. Kash is hoping to bring the same experience to other retailers and small businesses while cutting out one of their biggest costs: credit card fees.
Users just have to install the Kash app for iOS or Android. Unlike the Starbucks app, which forces you to create an account and enter your credit card information the first time you use it, Kash’s app just shows a green debit card labeled “tap to pay,” and the first purchase is on them. It’s a smart way of jumping straight to the best part of the app experience, even if the card does seem weirdly skeuomorphic in the otherwise flat iOS 7-style interface.
Kash gets around credit cards entirely, letting users pay straight from their checking accounts by entering their online banking log-in info, as you would with an app like Mint. Some people might not be comfortable with that, but Kash promises that it fully covers any fraud that could result from using its app. Since payments are being handled directly, retailers get paid for their sales in a day instead of potentially waiting days or weeks for things to go through traditional processors.
When we last checked in with New York-based Think Gaming, the company was hoping to create a sort of AngelList for mobile games in an effort to connect developers with strategic partners and investors. The company has refocused its business a bit since then, and is now seeking to help mobile game developers to get wider distribution by helping them to maximize their reach through install ads.
The company, which is part of the current Y Combinator class, has created what it’s calling a mobile advertising co-op. Through that co-op, gaming companies share data about the cost of the ads they’re purchasing across multiple networks, and the effectiveness of those ad networks.App installs are a $10 billion global market, but until now most developers were in the dark about which networks perform best for their games, and the only way to find out was through trial and error. That gave major game developers like King and Supercell an advantage over indie gamers, simply because they already have the size, distribution, and marketing budgets to optimize their ad spend.
Y Combinator-backed Tiempo is a free time-tracking app for iOS, Android and the web that can be used by individuals or companies to track employee hours to pay them faster.
Employees can log in hours and send it to their manager for approval. An approved invoice can be paid in moments, and the payment arrives in the employee’s bank account in less than 3 days.
Lawncare and landscaping are areas that have remained largely un-”disrupted” in the whole software eating the world trend that’s been going on in recent years. If you’re in one of the 80 percent of American households that have a lawn, chances are that you either take care of mowing and upkeep yourself, or you have hired a local lawncare provider you’ve found the old fashioned way, through a recommendation of someone you know — research shows that fully 98 percent of the $74 billion landscape industry business marketing is done through customer referrals. Getting a quote on lawncare is usually an in-person affair, and booking and payments are not often conducted through the web or a mobile phone.
Lawn Love is a new startup launching out of the Summer 2014 batch of Y Combinator that aims to add a layer of tech-enabled ease to the process of finding, booking, and paying a landscaping or lawncare provider. Essentially positioned as a Homejoy for lawncare, Lawn Love has built a web platform that works as a two-way marketplace with the aim of bringing more efficiency and protection to both sides of the business transaction.
The nature of employment is changing. Thanks to a growing number of platforms offering on-demand services in more places around the world, there’s now massive demand for workers to perform services and deliver goods to users. As those businesses have scaled up, that’s created a need for better processes around vetting and bringing on new workers quickly.
The best example of this is probably Uber, which reported recently that it will complete 2 million background checks in 2014. But the process of getting background checks completed hasn’t changed much, even if companies are requesting a whole lot more of them.
Y Combinator-backed Checkr wants to change that.Checkr was founded by Daniel Yanisse and Jonathan Perichon, who are two software engineers that used to work for an on-demand delivery startup that ran into the problem of running background checks for drivers it wanted to recruit. They decided that if they added a little bit of technology, they would be able to automate the process and enable companies to fit into their existing workflows.
Fixed, the clever mobile application that helps you fight your parking tickets just by snapping a photo of the ticket with your mobile phone, has now closed on $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors in the round include Y Combinator, Merus Capital, Scott Banister, John Cobbs, Mark Randolph, Matt Humphries, Eric Wu and David King.
Headquartered in San Francisco, which also serves as its debut market, Fixed first launched this January, allowing residents to snap photos of their tickets using an iOS device. Afterwards, Fixed checks for common errors before proceeding to write a customized contest letter on your behalf, which is sent to the city.
The company recently opened up its waitlist to the entire San Francisco metro area and has since seen 35,000 users sign up for its service.
YC W14 non-profit OpenCurriculum announced the launch of a free, online library of educational materials for math teachers:
Aimed at providing teachers with educational materials by making them open and competitive, OpenCurriculum, which launched in Pittsburgh, curates and organizes material from sites such as teacher blogs and lesson material publishers. Teachers can create lesson plans and more through OpenCurriculum.org.
In its effort to provide high-quality learning and an openness in K-12 education, OpenCurriculum released a 5,000-document library on its website for math teachers to use as lesson materials. Anyone can use the material on the website without logging in, but to get access to tools such as the lesson plan builder, you need to create an account. The tools aren’t tailored for a particular subject matter.OpenCurriculum’s tools are used by about 6,000 teachers and users every month. With the tools from the new library, about 20 teachers who were in beta with the library found that teachers are saving 50 percent of the first-time lesson planning and 20 percent of lesson plan revision time.
Congrats, Unbabel team!
In the interconnected world, machines are too rigid in understanding the nuances in translating languages and humans are too slow for on-the-fly translation. That’s why Unbabel brings robots and humans together to deliver a faster and affordable translation service.
Launched in March and backed by Y Combinator, CEO and co-founder Vasco Pedro says four months later, Unbabel is growing about 15 percent a week in sales and 12 percent a week on the number of editors working on the platform. The company has about 160 paying customers.
Welcome to Y Combinator, Product Hunt!
Much-buzzed-about startup Product Hunt has another trick up its sleeve — it turns out the startup is in the current Y Combinator batch. As a reminder, Product Hunt is a community-powered news website for tech product launches. It’s a website where you can submit, upvote and comment on today’s new tech products. And it has quickly become the center of the conversations for many influential tech people.