As I said in the first entry to this series, Y Combinator is a great way for small Internet startups to get seed funding and guidance. Without this funding, the great ideas from the minds of some great Internet entrepreneurs may not have ever come to be. Did you know that both Reddit and OMGPOP received Y Combinator funding?
The core focus of this list is on Y Combinator startups that cater mostly to saving you time and money. They’re hear to help you live the smarter life, automating the things that can be automated and otherwise making your daily tasks just a little easier. This can be from the professional context, as well as from the personal side of things. After all, the smart life is the complete life, right?
Let’s have a look at the next ten startups worth your attention.
Are you wasting time on Facebook? Again? What if you could more easily quantify the time that you spend at your computer, breaking it down by the task at hand? That’s exactly what RescueTime does. The app runs in the background of your Mac or Windows PC, tracking the time that you spend with each browser window or program. It only tracks whatever is on top, so if you have multiple tabs open in Safari, it’ll only track the active tab. Then, through the time tracking reports and graphs, you can see exactly how much time you’ve wasted playing Angry Birds in Chrome. Again.
While platforms like BlackBerry Messenger have a pretty good group chat function, not everyone has a BlackBerry and not everyone wants to chat from a cell phone. And people don’t necessarily want to sign up for a new service either. That’s part of the beauty of Chatterous. It’s a group chat platform that can be used on the web, via email, or on the phone. It even allows your friends to use existing communication tools like Google Talk and you can embed the chat room on your website for further flexibility. Save time with this more efficient way to communicate and collaborate.
We’ve all been there. A new version of our favorite software gets released and then we have to go through the process of updating it. We click next. And then we click next. Then, we agree to the terms and conditions. Then, we click next again. And then we do it all over again for another program. Ninite fixes that. You simply pick the programs you want and Ninite does the rest, automatically updating them to the latest version whenever they become available. Supported software programs include Skype, Thunderbird, iTunes, VLC, Flash, IrfanView, OpenOffice, Avast, eMule, Dropbox, WinRAR, and more.
Do you want to host a contest on your website or blog? Contest Machine is a real timesaver, because it really automates the whole process. Instead of you having to gather up all the entries manually, enter them into a spreadsheet, and choose a winner by hand, Contest Machine will collect all the entries for you and it can even be used to contact the winner. The widget is easy to embed on any site and you can use it gather user feedback. There’s even an opt-in mailing list feature. Plans start at $9.95/month.
The big names in this arena are probably Meetup.com and Evite.com, but Anyvite shouldn’t be ignored. Yes, it’s “just” another easy way to create online event invitations, but it’s also remarkably robust. You can customize the design of the invitation with different main images and background images, but the guest list can be imported from your email address books, guests can promote the event via Twitter, and you can even use the platform to sell tickets to your event, getting paid via PayPal.
Responsibility and accountability are big in the workplace, but who has time to keep track of all that? Ididwork is an online application where employees can keep a work log and see how their work impacts the team, while managers can quickly see what everyone is doing and give regular feedback back to the employees. This makes preparing performance reviews a heck of a lot easier and it ensures that everyone stays on the same page.
While I’m mostly inclined to view photos on a computer screen, there’s still something to be said about printed pictures. Picwing makes the process easier, because it will automatically print and mail your photos twice a month. This is a great way to automate sending baby photos to grandma, for example. All you do is email the photos to your personalized @picwing.com address from an authorized e-mail address and the rest is taken care of for you. Plans start at 15 prints per batch with one recipients for $6.95/month with any unused prints rolling over into the next batch.
If you have more than one Mac where you use iTunes, you’ll want to take a look at Echodio. They say that it is the “easiest way to sync iTunes playlists, ratings, and play counts across your Macs,” working directly in iTunes. And yes, it will sync all your music files too, working with multiple libraries and preventing duplicate tracks. As an added bonus, Echodio will backup your music colleciton to the cloud and even let you stream music online via a Boxee plugin.
Staying in hotels can be expensive, especially when you plan on being in a city for an extended period of time. Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in a condo, townhouse, or even a whole house? With Airbnb, you interact directly with homeowners who are looking to rent out their spaces on a short-term basis. There’s a feedback system to make sure that Manhattan flat is really as great as the owner says it is, and the money is kept in escrow to ensure that the transaction is safe and legitimate.
Do you have some stuff kicking around, but you don’t want to bother trying to sell it on eBay or Craigslist? Listia offers an interesting alternative. Instead of selling your old clothes and gadgets, you list them on the site and give them away for free. When you do this, you earn credits that can then be “spent” on the stuff that other Listia members are offering. It’s win-win all around.
We’re only halfway there! Stay tuned for twenty more Y Combinator startups for the smarter life.