Sunday, 28 April 2013

StoryKid, Created By Literature PhDs, Is An App That Helps Young Ones Tell Stories (And Their Parents, Too)

storykid screenshot
Children are known for how much they love to play make believe, and StoryKid, an app introduced today during the Disrupt Hackathon in New York, takes this and gives it a new twist by offering a series of pictures as visual cues for a child to tell a story based around them. StoryKid is aimed at children aged 2 to 5 who are already talking but may either be too young or just starting to write. Created by two comparative literature PhDs from Columbia University, the idea is that this will, in turn, help bring children into the world of story telling and literature. And as co-founder Tianjiao Yu tells me, it can also be used by parents when they’ve run out of inspiration for their own made-up bedtime stories.
storykid smallerYu, left, says that she learned to code to create the app, while her co-founder Lu Xiong, right, boned up on design and user experience to work on the visual elements. Their motivation to do this was to take what they’ve been learning out of the ivory towers of higher learning.
“Both of us are interested in the humanities and making them accessible to everyone,” Yu says. “We find creating an app is the perfect way to do this.” StoryKid is one of three ideas that the pair have to make literature more accessible to people. The other two, however, are more about discovery of existing literature rather than creating new things. The two are on the lookout now for a third coder who can help with creating these.

Startup Common Application Wants To Make Startup Job Applications More Efficient

Startups still have a hard time finding the right applicants for their jobs. During our Disrupt NY 2013 hackathon, Codecademy engineer Bob Ren wrote a little web app that takes the Common Application for college admission as its inspiration. Just like high school students can use the Common Application to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously, Startup Common Application will take your application and then submit it to multiple startups.
Large companies typically have a huge pipeline with job prospects, but startups “naturally suffer from not having the big pipelines that big companies have,” Ren told me – and for a small startup, it’s even harder to find the right applicants.
Currently, startups either rely on email, Job Score or Resumator, but the system is still very inefficient, especially for the applicants. You often spend hours getting your applications ready and submitted, but a system like Startup Common Application could just automate all of this for you (and you don’t even have to pretend that you really personalized the system).
Common Startup Application runs on top of Heroku and Ren is working on a number of scripts that will take his users’ data and then auto-submit it to more startups. In the spirit of the Hackathon, Ren coded until 6 a.m. and then slept an hour before getting ready for his demo this afternoon.
Obviously, this is still a hack, so Ren will surely have to work on the design a bit more, but he’s definitely tackling an interesting problem. Given that he can automate much of it, what he really needs right now, of course, is support for as many startups as possible, but there are some pretty obvious ways he could monetize this service if he decides to continue working on it.

Pay With Bits Wants To Be The Square For Bitcoin

Considering the gold rush around peer-to-peer currency Bitcoin, it’s not surprising that one of the hackers at the Disrupt NY hackathon created an application around the currency. Pay With Bits was to be a Square for Bitcoin. The startup essentially allows Bitcoins to be transfered between parties via their mobile phones.
The idea is the brainchild of Cody Byrnes, Prateek Gupta, Jon Bardin, Ben Daniel, Brett Mascavage, and Brad Smith, director of engineering at RadiumOne.
The original idea came from Byrnes, a Developer at COG1 Interactive in San Francisco. Smith sold his startup Focal Labs, which launched at TechCrunch50, to RadiumOne in 2011. The rest of the team (Prateek, Cody, Jon, and Ben) developed in June of last year.
Smith explains that the team wanted to find a way to make Bitcoin accesible to the masses. You simply enter your Bitcoin account information on Pay With Bits, and you can send money via text message to any other party who also has entered their info on Pay With Bits. Pay With bits serves as a node on Bitcoin network, Smith adds.
Smith says that using Pay With Bits, Bitcoins can be transferred internationally in a secure way within minutes. Because there are no interchange charges from a bank or credit card, Pay With Bits only incurs fees that are a fraction of a percent. In the future, Smith wants to add NFC capabilities as well.
Pay With Bits adds to the growing number of startups in the Bitcoin world, including BitPay andBitinstant.