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Yoke Dating Site

Finally, a dating site where you can find someone to actually date, not just sleep with. New dating app Yoke matches you with single friends of friends you’re truly compatible with but who don’t even need to be Yoke users. Yoke does this by comparing  you and their Facebook Likes and listening activity with datasets from Amazon, Netflix, Echo Nest, and a proprietary college graph. That lets Yoke show you potential dates because “you listen to Lil Wayne and she listens to Jay-Z”, or “You went to Stanford and he went to MIT”.

It’s got a dead simple Facebook app interface, and lets you ask mutual friends for introductions. These all combine to give Yoke the power to challenge sites like OkCupid and succeed where strict matchmaking sites like Thread failed.

Yoke was founded by ex-Huffington Post social media editor Rob Fishman, and Jeff Revesz who sold his company Adaptive Semantics to HuffPo in 2009. It’s backed by a $500,000 seed round led by Lerer Ventures and joined by SoftBank Capital.

First reason Yoke’s awesome? You don’t have to create a new profile. You connect to its app and it automatically pulls your Facebook profile and sexual orientation. While most dating sites give you an overwhelming set of browsing options, Yoke just immediately starts showing you potential matches. Dating is already stressful enough, so a calm, straightforward interface is refreshing.

Your Yoke matches aren’t just other users as with most dating sites — they’re any friends of your Facebook friends who list themselves as “Single” and live nearby. You’ll see their public profile photos and a list of shared and similar characteristics such as music listened to; books, movies, and activities Liked; and where you went to college.

Yoke’s communication system is integrated with Facebook Messages, so when you go to contact someone who’s not already on Yoke it opens a Facebook Message form with a link attached noting “You’re both friends with [friend's name], see what else you have in common. Yoke is a Facebook app that introduces you to people you might like.” If you’re shy about contacting someone you can ask a mutual friend to introduce you. Once your crush confirms with that friend that they want to meet you, your friend can send an introduction and kick off a message thread.

I’m a fan of Yoke’s data-driven approach to matching, which utilizes the APIs of content recommendation engines, Facebook’s Graph API, and its own proprietary college and Facebook Page graphs. Those let it say “You both went to Ivy League schools” or “You Like TechCrunch and she Likes LinkedIn”. It references your Spotify, Rdio, or MOG listening data against Echo Nest‘s graph of how popular musicians are clustered to suggest people with similar but not identical taste. These facts could actually serve as ice breakers: “Yoke says I listen to Daft Punk and you listen to Justice. What’s your favorite Justice song? I want to check them out”.

Yoke’s site design could use some polish, but it works. My only concern is people might be a little weirded out by getting a message from someone on a dating app they don’t even use. Yoke will need to refine the pre-filled message text to minimize this. It could also let you set preferences for ages you’d like to be matched with.

Fishman tells me Yoke’s lightweight approach that doesn’t require a new profile makes it great for those “who want to meet new people but don’t want to be on a dating site. Yoke resembles how you date in real life — you meet through friends or at a concert because you like the same band.” This beats OkCupid’s unstructured profile data, which means it can’t accurately find you matches that share your interests.

Most dating sites make you constantly wonder, “They’re cute, but will we actually get along?” Yoke could make sure the answer is always yes. The rest is up to you.

[Disclosure: Both Huffington Post and TechCrunch are owned by AOL, but that had no impact on this article]

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The Best Of  Y

65 startups showed off today at Y Combinator’s Demo Day, and we covered all 39 that were ready for the public. After talking to VCs and tech moguls, the TechCrunch teamed huddled up and picked these 10 companies as the best. They’re disrupting commerce, evolving how we communicate, and making our phones even more powerful.

Check out our coverage of session one, two, three, four, and five to choose your own favorites, but here’s a cheat sheet to the startups we think are going to change the world, or at least make a ton of money.

Carsabi:  An evolved search engine for buying used cars. Carsabi aggressively crawls every online car sale listing it can find, from classifieds to dealers. It already surfaces more deals than industry leader AutoTrader, and has features that let you sort by the biggest savings, not just lowest price. Social features let users ask friends for purchase advice, which cleverly doubles as a viral mechanism. It’s a huge market, as last year $650 billion was spent on car sales and $3.8 billion on auto ads. Carsabi has 10% week-on-week growth since its mid-February launch, because when people save they tell their friends.

Pair : A private social network for couples first covered by TechCrunch last week, Pair lets two people create a private timeline where they share photos, videos, sketches, activities and more. The iPhone app, which launched just four days ago, has already garnered more than 50,000 registered users who have used Pair to send more than 1 million messages. Pair has received funding from SV Angel and Path founder Dave Morin, who told Pair’s team that Facebook has created social networking’s “cities,” Path is building its “houses,” and Pair is like its “bedroom.” I think the the one-click “Thinking of you” button could be a big hit with guys.

Priceonomics: An online price guide for anything. Type in anything you want to own and it will tell you how much it should cost, like a Kelly Blue Book for smartphones, laptops, TVs, stereos, etc. Priceonomics crawls through hundreds of millions of transactions to find out what people are selling and how much they’re selling it for. It got 250,000 page views in March, plans to make money through targeted advertising, and already has funding from SV Angel, Andreessen Horowitz, CrunchFund, and several angels.

Your Mechanic: Aiming to be the “Airbnb of car repair,” Your Mechanic is a website that connects you with the best mechanics in your local community, and commission them to come to your house and fix your car. According to the company, this is on average 30 percent cheaper than the typical mechanic or car dealership. In private beta, Your Mechanic has had $90,000 in billings thus far, saving each user an average of $200 per transaction.

Sonalight: Touting itself as “Siri on steroids,” Sonalight is an app aimed at letting you send text messages while driving by using just your voice. The app purportedly works even while a phone is your pocket. Already, the app has been used to send 500,000 text messages at a rate of 50,000 per week since its debut back in October. In the long term, the Sonalight team aims to bring its voice command functionality to other devices such as thermostats.

42Floors: Aiming to be the Trulia for commercial real estate, 42Floors has built a slick website for companies searching for office space. 42Floors has also built a marketplace for service providers such as interior designers and furniture suppliers for when commercial tenants need to outfit their new offices. 42Floors already has 10 investors including SV Angel and Startfund.

Exec: Ever wish you had your own personal assistant? The Exec app lets you have one at your disposal within ten minutes for $25 an hour. You can use Exec to outsource errands and small jobs such as dry cleaning pickup and basic research tasks, and so far it has proved quite popular: 99 percent of customers in the past week have rated jobs completed with Exec with four or five stars, 29 percent of customers come back within the first week of using it, and the company has already processed $32,000 worth of transactions since launching in beta earlier this year. You can read our previous coverage of Exec here and here.

Midnox: They’ve built the Luma, an iPhone app that stabilizes the videos taken with a mobile phone in real time. The app also adds full resolution visual filters in real time, which are “non-disruptive,” meaning that they can be changed or removed after recording is over. The company has also built editing tools and sharing features for the videos taken with Luma.

Crowdtilt: A  simple way for anyone to crowdfund anything. While Kickstarter is great for bigger organizations and startups, Crowdtilt is optimized for groups of friends. It specializes in making sure organizers get their money, and in the six weeks since launch it’s seen $400,000 come through its system. That figure is growing at 21% week over week, and 34% of users come back and fund another project. Imagine the fun trips you could go on and parties you could plan when you split the cost with friends.

iCracked: Chances are, if you’ve owned an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, you’ve either cracked your screen at some point or come perilously close to doing so. iCracked has built a very booming business fixing those problems. iCracked says it is currently the nation’s largest iOS device repair company, and it has more than 500 technicians worldwide who can come to you and repair your cracked or water damaged device in a half hour for half the price of its competitors. The company has had over 10,000 customers in the past three months, tripling in size since January, and is signing up 10 new iTechs (device repair people) per week. Going forward, iCracked is looking to expand out of iOS, build an insurance arm, and launch device redistribution models.

Additional blogging by Eric Eldon and Colleen Taylor

Read more Y Combinator Demo Day coverage and check out all 39 startups who presented publicly:

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TEDxBRISTOL 2011 - ALPHASPHERE

TEDxBristol 2011 took place on Thursday 8th September 2011, at the MSHED Museum, in Bristol, South West England. Find more of our talks, the videos, the audio and the TEDxBristol experience, online at: www.tedxbristol.com More information about the other Music Performers at TEDxBristol 2011, can be found online at tedxbristol.com ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Developed by Bristol based company, nu desine, for almost one year, the AlphaSphere is a brand new electronic musical instrument. It changes the way that musicians interact with music technology, through a revolutionary touch interface, and a unique spherical design. More information online at: alphasphere.com Join us for an exclusive performance of the AlphaSphere, by up-and-coming bristol-based artist, Whitepatchboy, who is currently recording his debut EP with the AlphaSphere. This performance is one of the first opportunities anyone in the world will have to see and hear the AlphaSphere in action! ABOUTTEDx: In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
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