Xfers (YC S15) Wants To Be The Go-To Payment Platform For South East Asia

Collecting payments and making online purchases in South East Asia can be challenging, as credit card penetration in the region is relatively low, with many consumers preferring to use cash.

Xfers is a startup launching out of our current Summer 2015 that aims to solve these problems, providing businesses in South East Asia with the ability to collect both credit card and internet banking payments, and letting customers make purchases online using only their phone number.

At the moment, Xfers is launched in Singapore, and plans to expand to other locations throughout South East Asia in the coming months.

Tech In Asia's Michael Tegos wrote about Xfers in a recent post:

"Xfers founders Victor Liew, Wenbin Tay, and Tianwei Liu wanted to tackle this area after experiencing first hand the difficulties of such transactions. The two NUS (National University of Singapore) graduates were working in Silicon Valley, at Quora and Amazon. Part of a large community of Singaporean engineers working in California’s Bay Area, they were frequently asked by friends back home for items that were easier to find in the US.

But when payment time came along, there would be all sorts of problems. They’d have to chase people for payment, relay their bank account information, manually log in to their account every time to see if the payment came through, and manually keep track of who sent them what.

Like many a startup, Xfers was born after someone said, 'There has to be a better way!'"

Read the full story on Tech In Asia here.

Markhor (YC S15) Makes Handcrafted Luxury Shoes For Half The Price Of Top Brands

More than $15 billion worth of luxury shoes are purchased worldwide each year. But often, the bulk of that money goes to the brand middlemen, while the actual craftsmen live on less than $5 a day.

Markhor is a company in our current Summer 2015 class that's disrupting that system. Markhor contracts directly with the same craftsmen who make shoes for some of the top European brands, pays them up to 5 times more, cuts out the middlemen, and passes on 50% in savings to the final customer.

TechCrunch's Christine Magee wrote about Markhor in a story published this week:
"When you purchase a pair of Markhor shoes, you are immediately looped into the production, and you receive periodic updates about the craftsman’s progress. When the shoes arrive, included in the box is a profile of the craftsman responsible, [Markhor co-founder Waqas] Ali says, which also tells you how much he makes.'People like to know that these shoes are not made by a child or a pregnant woman in China,' says Ali. 'When you’re buying high-end shoes from big brands, there are so many layers that you don’t know where the shoes are made.'

Ali says that Markhor is currently working with 75 craftsmen in Pakistan, and plans to scale up as needed.

'There are thousands of craftsmen like this in Pakistan, and if you include India and Africa, where we plan to expand our production, there are millions,' he says."

Read the full story about Markhor in TechCrunch here.

OnboardIQ (YC S15) Helps Companies Screen And Hire Their Workforces

With the rise of an increasingly fluid workforce, the way that many companies build and manage their teams is more complex than ever. Companies in the service economy today see an average 50% no-show rate to interviews, as many candidates have several jobs at the same time -- and even once applicants have been vetted and hired, many of them move on in less than a month, and the company has to start all over again.

OnboardIQ is a company in our current class that provides tools for operations and recruiting teams to build and manage a workforce, automating the screening and hiring workflow. The result is that companies can spend significantly less time and money on the hiring process, while keeping quality standards high.

Business Insider's Nathan McAlone wrote about OnboardIQ in a story published this week:
"'Sharing economy workers switch jobs, and work multiple jobs in a given week or even day,' [OnboardIQ co-founder Keith Ryu] says. The high turnover means that sharing economy companies have to be constantly bringing workers into the fold. This can be an immense burden, especially for a small company. OnboardIQ wants to make easier.

...OnboardIQ’s system automates scheduling phone interviews and orientations. It moves applicants through a series of 'stages,' reminding them of their various commitments primarily via SMS, which Ryu has found more effective than email. Among the over 100,000 steps OnboardIQ claims it automates are background checks and document collection — I9 forms, contracts, etc.

...When Ryu talks of expansion, he speaks of moving outside the 'on-demand' niche. Those companies — like heavyweights Shyp and Munchery  — have so far been OnboardIQ’s bread and butter, but there is no reason why the service couldn’t work equally well for any company with a large and transitory workforce."

Read the full story on Business Insider here.

Bizzy (YC S15) Helps E-Commerce Brands Send Fewer, Better Emails

E-commerce brands don't actually want to annoy you with their frequent mass email campaigns -- though that's often the effect.

Bizzy is a company in our current class that helps e-commerce companies send fewer, better, more effective emails, without the need for a big budget or a marketing department. Bizzy's platform determines if and when to send an email to a certain person, depending on the likelihood that they will make a purchase, and formulates the most effective message to target the customer's habits.

Bizzy's clients boast as much as 1200% better sales than they had with other email marketing platforms, while sending 60 percent fewer emails.

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook wrote about Bizzy in a story published this week:

"The process starts when the ecommerce brand plugs in the customer database to Bizzy. From there, Bizzy puts those customers into various buckets, ranging from folks who signed up to be on the email list but have never purchased to folks who made a purchase yesterday to people who haven’t made a purchase in a few months.

Based on their various buckets, customers receive different campaign emails with copy that fits their customer life cycle. Bizzy generates the copy for their clients, giving them the ability to edit that in any way or send it off as is."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

Sywork (YC S15) Is The Twitch For Illustrators And Artists

The cliché goes that life is about the journey, not the destination. The same could be said for artwork. A lot of emphasis is placed on the final product of artists and illustrators, but if you're lucky enough to see the process that went into creating it, it can be just as satisfying.

Sywork is a company launching out of our current class that lets artists and illustrators host a livestream video of themselves at work, in the same way that Twitch lets people watch broadcasts of gamers in action. Since going live just four weeks ago, Sywork is attracting an audience of thousands of viewers from more than 115 countries around the world.

TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff wrote about Sywork in a story published last week:

"Today, a company called Sywork (shorthand for 'Show Your Work') launched its new live-streaming service for artists and illustrators. Ever wonder what the process is behind beautiful oil paintings? Comic books? Well now you can find out, thanks to this YC-backed company.

Each artist has their own channel, which you can subscribe to of course, and you’re notified when they’re live. A few of the illustrators I’ve watched have been heads down making things, with music bumping in the background. Much like Twitch, there’s a chatroom to the right, where people who are watching talk about what they’re seeing."

Read the full story, including an interview with Sywork co-founder Marcelo Echeverria, on TechCrunch here, and participate in the Hacker News discussion here.

bitcodin (YC S15) Encodes Videos 100X Faster, At Netflix-Grade Streaming Quality

Not only is the quantity of online videos booming, our expectations for what's acceptable streaming video quality keep going up too.  All this has created a problem for content creators and developers, who need to encode videos very fast, at full HD quality, for streaming in multiple formats on every device. And the bottleneck is only going to get worse in the future, as 4K/UHD TVs start to hit the mainstream.

bitcodin is a company in our current class that has created a solution to this problem, with a service that encodes videos 100x faster and at a higher quality than other transcoding services.

VentureBeat's Ken Yeung wrote about bitcodin in a post last week:

"Bitcodin says it enables fast playback of videos, optimizes the streaming quality, and supports buffering. It claims that it’s going to be able to provide video encoding at speeds a hundred times faster than similar services, while also providing Netflix-grade quality streaming.

Developers interested in tapping into this platform can go to Bitcodin’s website to sign up. All they need to do is upload a video file and select the output format, such as MPEG-DASH at 1080p. From there, the service does all the work and will spit out a new video file that can play on every device.

Perhaps the best news is that when the resulting videos play, they do so without any additional technology or software. That’s right, you won’t need Flash or Silverlight installed. It’s compliant with the same streaming standards that Netflix and YouTube follow. Interestingly, these standards, both with MPEG and MPEG-DASH online video streaming, were formed thanks to contributions from Bitcodin’s founders Stefan Lederer, Christopher Mueller, and Christian Timmerer."

Read more about bitcodin in VentureBeat here, and in Hacker News here.

Convox (YC S15) Makes It Easier For Companies To Use AWS

Every year, companies spend more than $15 billion on cloud-based infrastructure services such as Amazon Web Services. But despite those massive bills, companies still have to deal with a limited list of supported software and services, unpredictable uptime, and an extremely difficult experience while trying to debug apps that are running.

Convox is a company in our current class that helps take care of all those issues, promising to make AWS itself as easy to use as Heroku -- and five times cheaper. In 10 minutes, Convox allows you to configure and scale storage, servers, containers, load balancing, network security, and database on top of AWS without an ops team.

VentureBeat's Jordan Novet wrote about Convox in a story published this week:

"San Francisco-based Convox can boast that it knows all about operating infrastructure at scale — reliable Amazon infrastructure, at that — given its three founders’ experience at Heroku. [Convox CEO David] Dollar and fellow cofounder Noah Zoschke both joined Heroku in 2009. OpenDoor, that home-selling startup backed by superstar investors like Keith Rabois, Om Malik, and Naval Ravikant, recently moved its data science workloads from Heroku onto Convox.

...'Our job now is to bring the same Heroku-like experience to a more raw Amazon deployment,' Zoschke told VentureBeat. 'You shouldn’t have to worry about very much to take your application and put it on the Internet and deploy your first app instantly. That’s not the case on Amazon. It’s better than ever, but it still requires a tremendous amount of documentation."

Read the full story about Convox in VentureBeat here, and read a Hacker News discussion about Convox here.

Ohm (YC S15) Is Making A Lighter, Longer-Lasting, And Better-Performing Car Battery

Many things about cars are very different today than they were 100 years ago, with one important exception: Almost nothing has changed about how most car batteries work, from a technical standpoint. 

Ohm is a startup launching out of our current Summer 2015 class that's completely reimagined the car battery. The result is a battery that weighs one sixth of what a typical car battery does, lasts twice as long, and performs better in low temperatures. And the Ohm battery can be dropped in for use in any car, installed just like a traditional battery.

TechCrunch's Greg Kumparak wrote about Ohm and its technology in a story published this past week:

"Instead of lead plates, Ohm brings in a more modern, two-part system: an EDLC supercapacitor capable of dumping enough energy to start your engine, and a set of smaller batteries (LiFePO4, which contain no toxic heavy metals) to keep things powered when the engine is off.

The physical footprint for Ohm’s battery rig ends up being considerably smaller than its lead-acid counterpart — but as they want this thing to work in existing cars without bouncing around under the hood, they’ve tucked it into a case that makes Ohm roughly the same size as any other automotive battery. (Specifically, it’s built to fit into the same cavity as a Group 35 battery.)"
Read the full story, with more details of how Ohm works and when it is slated to be available, in TechCrunch here, and participate in the related discussion in Hacker News here.

Startup School Radio: Campus Job's Co-Founders On Leaving Google And McKinsey For Startup Life

In Episode 4 of YC's Startup School Radio, a podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with PlanGrid co-founders Ryan Sutton-Gee, Tracy Young, and Ralph Gootee, to talk about the early days of founding the construction software company and their path to joining Y Combinator's Winter 2012 class. The second half of the episode featured Liz Wessel and J.J. Fliegelman, the co-founders of Campus Job, which just launched out of YC in Winter 2015.

You can hear the episode in its entirety on SoundCloud here and on iTunes here, and read the full transcript here.

In one interesting excerpt, Wessel and Fliegelman talked about why they decided to leave their prestigious new jobs at Google and McKinsey to work full-time on Campus Job:

Aaron: You're both fairly recent college grads. I think you're, are you both two or three years out?

Liz: Three and four years.

Aaron: Three and four years out. Okay, you're not too far removed from college, building something for colleges. Have you wanted to do this since college, or what happened that you decided to start this company?

Liz: Yeah. So, J.J. and I actually became close friends during college because we, along with a few other friends, decided to start a company that was kind of the inspiration for what Campus Job is today. So, that company was a much more niche version. We didn't even call it a company. It was more of a side project, but it was something we worked on our senior year of college. We built it, we graduated, and it started to take off after we graduated.

Aaron: What was it?

Liz: It was basically a job board for campus rep opportunities...

Aaron: So, these are the students who will wear a Red Bull t-shirt around campus, hand out free Red Bull and get frats to join.

Liz: Exactly.

J.J.: The most popular kids on campus.

Aaron: They got free stuff to give. Everyone loves free stuff, especially college kids.

Liz: Exactly. So, we saw a big need for startups looking for students to hire and for students looking for marketing jobs on campus, so we started that side project in college. It started to really take off and, over a few years, when we were doing nothing related to it, and really had our own full time jobs, we decided to use the inspiration from what that side project was and actually quit our jobs at Google and McKinsey and start Campus Job and go big for all jobs for college students.

Aaron: This is one of those decisions that's like every mother's nightmare. "My son and daughter quit their jobs at Google and at McKinsey, two of the best companies to work at in the world, to go do something crazy, like start a company where they're not going to get paid and probably starve to death." So, what was it about this idea that made you leave such comfortable careers?

J.J.: Well, I think for me, there were two things. One was, even just this side project that Liz was just talking about, seeing that traction grow while we were doing nothing was really inspiring and also helped us realize that there was something there. Imagine if we really put effort into it and really, really made it work. It could be huge...

Liz: ...We kinda figured if we were going to do this idea, which we knew we wanted to do, now was the time because we're close enough to college age where we still know what the big problems are [in the college market] and how to tackle them. We're risk takers. Google and McKinsey, we could always go back to them if we needed to. But Campus Job now is an even better place to work. So we're happy.

Video Syndication Platform AllScreen (YC W10) Has Been Acquired By Zealot Networks

AllScreen, the video syndication platform technology startup that launched out of our Winter 2010 class, announced today that it has been acquired by Zealot Networks, the Los Angeles-based media technology company from the founders of Maker Studios.

AllScreen's technology is used to power multi-platform video syndication for publishers including People Magazine, brands including Viacom's Nickelodeon division, and many others. AllScreen, which was previously known as 140Fire, was founded by Jason Wilk and Paras Chitakar. In addition to YC, AllScreen's investors include Mark Cuban, video game pioneer Skip Paul, and Jonathan Kraft, the president of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots.

You can read more about the acquisition in VentureBeat.