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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    RP women's tee

    • Richer Poorer, cult-favorite women's and men's basics brand, was once a successful sock and underwear wholesaler.
    • The brand wanted to build out collections and scale its direct-to-consumer operations, and was acquired in 2015 for $12 million by digital sales company
    • Richer Poorer's founders Iva Pawling and Tim Morse found out the new owners were going bankrupt in December of 2016, and bought the company back for $8 million. 
    • The company narrowly escaped bankruptcy, and is now bigger and better than ever.
    • If you ask us, Richer Poorer's best items are their T-shirts, which are made from a supremely soft and comfortable silicone-washed organic cotton.

    California brand Richer Poorer is known among its fan base for creating amazingly comfortable basics and loungewear. Its T-shirts are lusciously soft, sweats as cozy as can be, and bralettes as unrestrictive as possible — they sell out more often than not.

    But there was a time when the brand almost lost everything.

    The company, which was founded in 2010 by Iva Pawling and Tim Morse and invested in by the likes of Patrick Carney from the Black Keys, originally began selling comfortable, cleverly designed socks and underwear to upscale department store retailers like Bloomingdales. After a few years, the business found success as a wholesaler, but the company was interested in scaling to focus more on their direct-to-consumer efforts.

    To begin that process, they knew they'd need to raise $2 million capital — but they also knew it was unlikely they'd get anywhere with investment banks that often go for larger projects. So when online retailer offered to buy the company for $12 million total, keeping Pawling and Morse on to manage, they agreed to the acquisition. 

    Promising to help them with operations, digital strategy, and website development, seemed like a great fit. They'd have access to resources like never before, and be able to focus on what mattered for the future of their business.

    That was the hope — until they found out their new owner would be declaring bankruptcy, potentially bringing Richer Poorer down with them in the fire. 

    Pawling and Morse used the strong relationships they had built with two board members and bought the company back with them for $8 million just one month before officially went under (they have since re-emerged with decent success).


    After narrowly escaping a certain demise, Richer Poorer managed to rebuild themselves into a cult-favorite basics brand in a strange riches-to-rags-back-to-riches story of resilience.

    They are now expecting over $10 million in sales this year alone, and are building out a strong presence in the direct-to-consumer market. Lately, they've launched some fun collaborations that pay homage to their roots as a (mostly) sock brand, like a selection of colorful pairs designed by popular graphic artist Will Bryant.

    If you ask us, Richer Poorer's best items are their T-shirts, which are made from a supremely soft and comfortable silicone-washed organic cotton. They have a cropped style for women for $34 that's cut at the perfect length, and plenty of classic men's versions, too — all ranging from $34-$38. 

    Interestingly, the brand's laid-back vibe reflects nothing about the company's history. Through tumult and turmoil, they were able to build up a successful identity that represents the most aspirational version of "California cool" that we've seen since the era of Vans' skate shoes — and we've come to love them as much for their story as for their great clothing. 

    Keep scrolling to see Richer Poorer's best sellers and collaborations, or click here to go straight to their website.

    SEE ALSO: How a pair of 20-something brothers from Eastern Europe is shaking up the luxury watch scene

    Women's Muscle Tank

    Shop all women's Muscle Tanks, $32 each

    Men's Crew Pocket Tee

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    Shop all women's Bralettes, $28 each

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Geoff & Matt 2 (1)

    • Blink Health, a pharmacy startup that provides discounts to prescription drugs and has raised $165 million in funding, is suing a competitor it claims is an "unlawful copycat scheme." 
    • The lawsuit alleges Hippo, a new startup founded by former Blink Health executives, got ahold of Blink Health's trade secrets and unfairly uses them to compete with Blink Health. 
    • Blink Health is seeking $50 million in damages already caused, along with $200 million in punitive damages for a total of $250 million. 

    Blink Health is suing a pharmacy startup it claims is an "unlawful copycat scheme."

    Blink Health, a startup that helps negotiate lower drug prices, was founded by 35-year-old Geoffrey Chaiken and 32-year-old Matthew Chaiken. The company is now suing Hippo, a company founded by former Blink Health executives that operates under a similar format to deliver prescription drug discounts. 

    In its complaint, Blink Health claims violations of the Defend Trade Secrets Act, alleging that Hippo got ahold of Blink Health's trade secrets and has and continues to use "stolen property for its own benefit and in unfair competition with Blink at thousands of 'pharmacies nationwide.'"

    The company is seeking $50 million in damages, along with $200 million in punitive damages, for a total of $250 million. 

    "No company should be allowed to cheat and steal its way into existence, as Hippo is trying to do," Blink Health’s attorney Orin Synder said in a statement sent to Business Insider.

    8VC, which led Blink's Series A and B rounds, said in a statement, "We are fully supportive of Blink Health and its actions."

    Hippo said in a statement emailed to Business Insider that Blink Health's claims "a blatant attempt to interfere with fair competition by Hippo."

    Here's how Blink Health's prescription discounting

    When it comes to lowering prescription costs, there are a number of different approaches startups are taking, from comparing the price at one pharmacy to another nearby so consumers shopping around for a lower price can get a sense of where they might go. Others have delivery components as well as discounts. 

    Blink Health operates a little differently. Instead of having people go from one pharmacy to another, Blink Health negotiates to get the same price at different pharmacies for generic medications and some branded diabetes medications. Blink Health works at Rite Aid, Walmart, Kroger and K-Mart, but it doesn't currently work at Walgreens or CVS Health.

    Say you need to pick up a prescription for your medication, but you have a high deductible plan that requires you to pay $3,000 out of your own pocket before your insurance starts picking up the rest of the tab. Instead of going to the pharmacy and accepting whatever price they offer (which can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy), you could download the Blink Health app, or go to the company's website. 

    In the app, you can find your prescription and purchase it directly through the app. Then, when you get to the pharmacy counter, you show your phone to the pharmacist who rings it up instead.  In return, Blink gets a cut of the transaction.

    Where Hippo and Blink Health have similarities

    The system of having the same price at any pharmacy and presenting a virtual card is the same model Hippo is using, according to its website. 

    For example, here's how Blink Health describes the process:

    Screen Shot 2018 03 14 at 9.17.31 AMAnd here's how Hippo's site describes it: 

    Screen Shot 2018 03 12 at 1.25.48 PM


    Hippo was started by two former Blink Health executives: former chief financial officer Eugene Kakaulin and former general counsel Charles Jacoby. In 2016, Kakaulin sued Blink Health claiming breach of contract and violations of federal whistleblower law when Kakaulin came to the founders with information about securities violations. The case was later settled.

    Blink Health’s complaint alleges that Hippo got confidential marketing plans, such as strategies and slogans, information about how Blink Health set up relationships and contracts with pharmacy benefit managers, as well as some of the back-end coding that helps fill the prescription when someone using the app/website uses their card, and that these are trade secrets belonging to Blink Health.

    Here's Hippo's full statement: 

    "Blink Health’s claims are a blatant attempt to interfere with fair competition by Hippo. This new case follows on the heels of their lawsuit that was laughed out of New York State court last month. With the recent spate of lawsuits by and against Blink, their toxic corporate culture is now widely known, and this lawsuit is just another example of their questionable business practices. Hippo offered to retain an independent expert to verify that none of Blink’s non-existent trade secrets are being used in Hippo’s business.  Blink declined.  This says it all. Hippo is offering patients a better product with stronger industry partnerships, and Blink is now trying to accomplish through the courts what it knows it will not be able to achieve in the market. "

    SEE ALSO: The lines around healthcare are being redrawn — and all eyes are on pharmacy giant Walgreens to make the next move

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Stone Runner

    • Sneaker startup Allbirds became famous for their cloud-like, super comfortable Merino wool sneakers.
    • The direct-to-consumer brand has a deep commitment to sustainability, and as such, has released a new line of sneakers made from Eucalyptus pulp — called the Tree collection. 
    • The collection features two styles, the Runners and the Skippers, and we tried them to see if they're just as comfortable as the originals
    • Spoiler alert: They're amazing. 

    Chances are you've heard about Allbirds, the internet-famous $95 sneaker made from a soft, almost cashmere-like Merino wool. 

    Currently, Allbirds makes two styles of shoes — the wool "Runners", and the wool slip-on "Loungers." We've tested both of them before, and our team universally feels that they're pretty much the most comfortable shoes out there (read our review on the wool Loungers here and the Runners here). In fact, a recent Insider Picks survey showed that Allbirds was one of our readers' favorite products that they have purchased as a result of an article we wrote. 

    There are a lot of reasons people like these shoes beyond just how comfortable they are. They're also relatively affordable at $95 a pair — a low price they're able to maintain as a direct-to-consumer retailer — and they're easy to clean with a simple spin in washing machine. But for some, the biggest draw is the fact that the company maintains a deep, unshakable commitment to sustainability.

    Its this commitment that led the brand to develop and introduce a new and even more sustainable set of shoes made from trees — or more specifically, from a textile engineered using Eucalyptus pulp.  


    According to Allbirds, this new material uses 5% of the water and one-third of the amount of land when compared to traditional footwear materials. The brand also committed to using the "most rigorous sustainable forestry standard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, to protect trees, wildlife, and people."

    Naturally, considering that Merino wool prices have been steadily climbing, we wondered if the production of these shoes was intended to offset the increased cost of producing their wool line. After all, Allbirds is beloved in part because their shoes have maintained a steady and reasonable price since the very start. But the brand assured us that the idea for new, sustainable textiles had been in the works since before they even launched their original Runners in 2016. 

    We spoke with the founders of Allbirds, Tim Brown and Justin Zwillinger, who told Business Insider that they've always envisioned Allbirds as a sustainable material innovation company. "For us, it was about creating a brand that challenges the status quo and redefines what it means to make something 'better.'"

    Allbirds_2057_Shot_2_RoseTreeSkipper_W_0289 (1)

    The new line, aptly named the "Tree collection," includes two styles — the Runners, which we already know and love, and a pair they call the "Skippers," which are basically a thinner-soled boat sneaker. This new textile has more breathability, which Allbirds says was a response to costumer concern:

    We are always listening to our customers, and heard from them that there are moments when they needed a different type of experience than Wool. We developed Tree to address these situations and create a more comfortable warm-weather experience.

    The new material creates a cooling effect by wicking moisture away, making them perfect for summer, and the price has stayed consistent at $95 a pair. The makeup of the insoles has stayed consistent, so you can still expect the same comfort level of their classic pairs. The new women's styles come in navy, stone, and rose, and the men's styles come in navy, stone, rose, and cloud (a very light blue).

    As long-time fans of the brand, Allbirds gave our team the chance to test out the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers in advance of the launch. Keep reading to find a breakdown of each of our experiences with the new styles (spoiler alert, they're still really, really great). 

    Read our reviews below:

    Navy Runner

    Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter:

    "Allbirds is one of my favorite companies to shop from because they have always exceeded expectations on comfort, quality, and style. In other words, they’ve earned my trust as a valuable buy. I don’t feel bad dropping money on a new pair of shoes from them because I know I will wear them until they borderline disintegrate — and I will be glad every time I put them on. It sounds like an exaggeration, but they’re really that comfortable.

    I tried the Tree Runner in navy, which is actually a nice dark green-blue in person (less bright than a true teal), and — again — Allbirds has exceeded my expectations. They’re crazy comfortable, the silhouette is flattering and close-fitting, and I love the smooth but texturized upper. The stylistic contrast of the thick laces is a really nice touch, and the semi-muted color means they go with basically anything.

    The sole feels familiar (it’s the same structured, wool-lined insole found in my loungers) and supportive, but the upper is even more breathable than my other pairs.

    While I wouldn’t buy Allbirds if they weren’t consistently making the most comfortable shoes I own, I also love that they’re using sustainable materials (and encouraging innovation). They feel ridiculously good on, and any conscious consumer can feel great about buying them."

    Rose Skipper

    Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter:

    "I wear my wool Runners regularly and am always more than happy to talk about how wonderful and comfortable they are to anyone who’s curious, so I was excited to learn about this new launch from one of my favorite brands. Itching for the feel of summer, I opted for the Stone Skippers, which are a modern twist on the classic boat shoe.

    Again, Allbirds’ use of a surprising material has proven to be successful. I never would have guessed that the textile was made from eucalyptus pulp, but it provides an interesting, eye-catching texture that’s more unique than that of a traditional boat shoe. Eucalyptus is known for its cooling properties, so I appreciate that the Skippers offer the ideal casual summer look while also keeping my feet cool in warm weather. The neutral, sandy color of the Stone ones reminded me of the beach and can really match with any color you wear on top.

    Like Mara said, slipping my foot in felt soft and familiar since the shoe has the same wool-lined insole and heel cup of Allbirds’ other offerings. I’m also almost certain that these Skippers are more comfortable than the Runners, which is an impressive feat."


    David Slotnick, Insider Picks senior reporter:

    "I tested out the Tree Skipper in Kauri Stone, and think I’ve found the perfect summer shoe. They feel like a combination of a boat shoe and a sneaker — I’ve never found the former very comfortable, but sneakers can be warm or restrictive during summer. The Tree Skipper is lightweight and breathable, and, to my delight, feels like a nice, properly-supportive shoe that would be equally fitting for walking around a city during vacation, or wearing on the way to the beach or on a boat. I can tie the laces to keep them on as I walk — even if I walk quickly or run — although I can kick them off without untying them if I want to."

    Shop all styles from the Allbirds Tree collection here.

    Shop women's styles here.

    Shop men's styles here.


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Vlad Tenev, Baiju Bhatt, robinhood, sv100 2015

    • Stock-trading app Robinhood could be valued at $5.6 billion when it closes an upcoming fundraising round, according to a Thursday report in The Wall Street Journal.
    • According to The Journal's sources, the funding round is being led by Russian billionaire Yuri Miller's investment firm, DST Global.
    • DST Global led Robinhood's previous funding round in 2017. 

    Popular zero-fee trading app Robinhood could be valued in excess of $5 billion dollars — a huge increase over its previous $1.3 billion valuation in 2017 — when it closes a fundraising round that's currently in the works, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    The five-year-old company is finalizing a new funding round led by DST Global, the firm led by influential Russian billionaire Yuri Miller, The Journal reports, citing anonymous sources. The firm led the company's previous funding round in 2017, which was the first time Robinhood was valued at over $1 billion.

    Robinhood gained notoriety early on its for its straightforward design and zero-fee trading, which recently expanded to include cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin.


    In addition to fundraising talks, Robinhood has received other interest from investors recently as well. On Wednesday, the company announced that Greylock investor Josh Elman would be joining Robinhood in a senior position. In a statement to Recode, Elman described Robinhood as "hyper-growth company."

    Robinhood's reported $5.6 billion valuation would place it ahead of its rival platform, Coinbase, which was most recently estimated to have a $3.2 billion valuation

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • Few of us have the time or the will to research, prep, buy, measure, and blend healthy foods into delicious smoothies, chia parfaits, or soups.
    • Daily Harvest is a subscription service that sends healthy, pre-portioned superfood eats to your home either weekly or monthly.
    • I tried Daily Harvest's smoothies and was pleasantly surprised. All of the smoothies, while definitely healthy, tasted extremely good. 
    • In terms of prep, everything could not have been easier to make. Daily Harvest smoothies solved virtually all of my healthy food obstacles.

    Ever wished you could have those delicious, super healthy smoothies you see on Instagram without the nutrition degree or piles of perishable ingredients? So did Rachel Drori, a busy mom living in New York.

    As a result, she founded Daily Harvest — a subscription service that will send healthy, pre-portioned superfood eats to your home either weekly or monthly. The food combinations are developed by a nutritionist and chef, and the company is backed by big names like Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams.

    It's not hard to see why it's so popular: Few of us have the time or the will to research, prep, buy, measure, and blend healthy foods together habitually. Daily Harvest gets those super smart, balanced foods into your freezer and requires zero thought beforehand and almost zero prep (about 30 seconds' worth).

    Extra bonus: According to the company, apples you buy in the grocery store are picked over a year before you get to them. They lose much of their nutritional value along the way. Daily Harvest ingredients are "always picked at peak maturity, then flash frozen to maintain farm-fresh nutrient density and flavor, without using preservatives or added sugar." Frozen foods can be delicious and healthy, even if the word makes you first think about the soft beans in your "vegetable medley" bag.

    Right now, Daily Harvest delivers to 95% of the US, though they're not currently shipping outside the continental states.

    Here's how it works:

    1. Build your box: Choose any combination of superfood eats (smoothies, overnight oats, chia parfaits, soups, and sundaes) to be delivered to you. You can even choose foods based on dietary needs, key benefits, and your likes and dislikes via options found in the top-most bar.Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.54.27 PM
    2. Check your doorstep: The pre-portioned cups will arrive at your doorstep ready to be popped in the freezer/blended/heated up — whatever the minimal instructions or your schedule demand.
    3. Make it: Just open the lid, add the recommended liquid base and blend, soak, or heat. The cups are meant to be their own carrier, so you can drop the ingredients into a blender or pan, heat or blend them, and then drop them right back into the same container. Minimal cooking and minimal cleanup.

    Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.52.38 PM


    You can opt for weekly or monthly deliveries.

    If you choose weekly, you can get 6, 9, 12, or 24 cups per week. The price per cup decreases the more you order. For 6 cups a week, it’ll be $7.99 per cup (about $48 total, or $7.99 a day) and for 12 it'll be $7.49 per cup (about $90 total, or $13 a day). See more prices here.

    If you choose monthly, you’ll be sent 24 cups per month ($6.99 per cup, $167.76 total before taxes), which works out to about $6 a day.

    Use the promo code "businessinsider" and get 3 free smoothies in your first order.

    Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.50.05 PM

    Why I liked it:

    Daily Harvest solved some common problems for me. I want to eat healthily and smoothies are one solid way to make "healthy" taste good, as well as being travel-friendly. However, I have to buy single-person groceries, and it doesn’t make sense to buy the volume of veggies and perishable produce it takes to make even two different superfood smoothies — and having the same one every day because I need to use up groceries before they go bad is a fast way to kill a good habit.

    It’s also hard to portion single-person smoothies. Unless you’re following a specific recipe and halving your celery stalks and using x amount of kale, which takes time, I always wind up with leftovers that don’t sit well in the fridge, but that I also really don’t want to throw out.

    And lastly, I always wanted to eat well, but I wasn’t sure which combinations got me the most health bang for my buck — and also tasted good. I lacked the advanced nutritional knowledge and didn’t want to spend the time figuring it out. For this reason, and not wanting to waste money on food that might not blend together well, I wasn’t exactly adventurous.

    These are the reasons why Daily Harvest initially appealed to me. I try to go to the gym in the mornings before work, and a tasty smoothie immediately after that is good for me, pre-portioned, and easy to carry (with an opening for a straw already in the lid) — and also doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to make — is ideal. It’s something I’d be willing to commit to for the price simply because it does what I want to do better than I can on my own. If left to my own devices, it’s far less likely I’d get into a stable habit.

    In reality, Daily Harvest smoothies solved virtually all of my healthy food obstacles. 

    My experience:

    I contacted the company to see if they’d be willing to send some for testing, and I was able to choose my own box. I got the delivery soon after and committed to making one every morning after the gym. An immediate upside was 30-second prep time and not having to clean up any dishes aside from the blender, since the container it comes in doubles as a cup post-blend. I loved being able to carry it out the door and drink it on the way to work. Since I know that Americans throw out 500 million straws every day, I ordered stainless steel ones to use with the Daily Harvest straw-enabled tops without extra waste.

    I purposefully picked smoothie combinations that I was unsure about — mixes with more leafy greens and unknown ingredients in them than I would comfortably make myself (like Apple + Greens and Pineapple + Matcha). When I put the ingredients into the blender, I expected the result to taste healthy, but not good.

    product shot ingredients@3x

    I was pleasantly surprised. All of the smoothies, while definitely healthy, tasted extremely good. I really liked all of them, particularly the "green and leafy" ones that initially seemed too healthy to be tasty, as well as the Cold Brew + Almond.

    In terms of prep, everything could not have been easier to make. The instructions never required more than throwing the ingredients into a blender and adding liquid before blending (a simplicity mirrored uniformly in all of their food options). 

    If you're looking for a way to eat healthy, balanced, and fresh foods without spending all the time yourself grocery shopping, researching, or doing the prep and cleanup, you might want to look into trying Daily Harvest yourself.

    It's possible that not all of their mixes will appeal to you equally, but the smoothies at least were a safe place to start. Depending on your budget, it might not be realistic to do it every month, but I can't imagine superfoods for the masses getting any easier than delicious, pre-portioned cups that get delivered to your freezer. 

    Try Daily Harvest and get three free smoothies in your first box with the promo code "businessinsider" here.

    SEE ALSO: 13 organizing ideas that'll help you make the most of your space

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    • Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear and apparel company, recently launched their Allpa 35L Travel Pack through Indiegogo. 
    • Thanks to its incredible storage space, versatility, and comfort, it has become my most valuable travel accessory.
    • While it can fit 35 liters' worth of stuff, it fits airline restrictions for a carry-on and can function easily as either a duffel or backpack.

    I spend a lot of time traveling.

    While my family home — and family — still reside in the Midwest, I’ve been living on the East Coast for the last five years, which means that I spend a good amount of time shuttling back and forth on an airplane. Until recently, my best friend also lived out of state, making trips by train or bus a monthly fixture. 

    As a frequent traveler, I’ve become particular (a nicer word might be "efficient”) regarding what does and does not work well whilst traveling.

    Cordless headphones, portable battery packscollapsible water bottles all make the best value list. And, now, thanks to outdoor gear startup Cotopaxi, so does a comfortable and seemingly bottomless carry-on.

    The company sent the Allpa 35L Travel Pack for me to test a few months back, and I haven't gone on a single trip since without using it as my primary carrier. It's so good at fitting a never-ending amount of things that it has pretty much negated my tendency to overpack, simply because it fits surplus for a carry-on-sized weekend incredibly well.

    The Allpa is easily the best travel accessory I own. It seems bottomless while I'm packing, but also somehow fits airline restrictions for a carry-on. 

    It fits a ton of stuff (35 liters' worth), which is great on its own, but its design is what makes the most of all that space. The main zipper allows the bag to splay completely open, so you don't have to dig from top to bottom the way you do with a traditional backpack. The large internal mesh compartments make it easy to see what's inside a particular layer and function as helpful organizers. The back panel unzips to helpful padded laptop and tablet sleeves to store your gadgets, with a 15-inch laptop fitting comfortably. And in case you just need to grab your phone and don't want to unzip the whole thing, there's a shallow pocket on the exterior for the essentials. There's also a shortcut zipper so you can get into the main compartment without taking the pack off. 


    It can be worn as a backpack or as a duffel thanks to its tuck-away straps, and this is one area where the background in outdoors gear comes in handy. The backpack straps are contoured for comfortable wear, the hip belt is padded and adjustable, and the low-profile harness feels like a backpacking pack, helping to evenly distribute the weight you're carrying to places in the body best equipped to handle the load. The back panel is also made out of mesh, so you won't wind up with an overly sweaty back. In other words, it's really comfortable to wear even when it feels like it shouldn't be.

    On top of great storage space and versatility, the Allpa is also rugged enough to seemingly last years.  The exterior is made from a blend of tough, TPU-coated 100D polyester and durable 1680D ballistic nylon paneling.

    For those looking to use the bag for "roughing it," there's even a highly visible rain cover that packs down within the pack, since the material may be water-resistant but the seams are not.

    As an extra security measure, all the external zippers have a pretty cool feature: theft-proof webbing sewn across the openings, so a quick pick-pocket and run isn't exactly feasible.

    After using the bag for a few months, I can say that at least as a user it feels as if Cotopaxi has thought of nearly everything while designing the pack. So if you're looking to take the bus for a weekend trip away or plan to go backpacking on a multi-city Euro trip, I can't recommend the Allpa 35L enough for either trip. 

    Buy a Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack for $199.95

    SEE ALSO: 26 things we always pack when we travel

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Stanford University

    • Where Theranos and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes went wrong, these Stanford entrepreneurs are hoping to cover lost ground.
    • Just one day before Theranos and Holmes were charged by the SEC with "massive fraud," a demo day at Stanford revealed there is no shortage of interest in at-home healthcare solutions among Silicon Valley hopefuls.

    Theranos may been charged with 'massive fraud' by the SEC this week, all but ending what could have been a pioneering company. But the idea of simpler, better, more humane health technology remains alive and well. 

    That's judging from Tuesday's Stanford University startup demo day, where current students at the university — and a handful of alumni — showed off to potential investors and the media what their very-early-stage companies have been working on. Notably, the event was one day before the SEC levied its charges at Theranos.

    And while fields from augmented reality to drones were represented, it was definitely health-related technology that ruled the day. (A funny sidenote: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes herself attended Stanford herself, before dropping out.)

    cardinal ventures

    Many of these young entrepreneurs pitched various gadgets and online tools that promised to bring procedures, tests diagnoses, and healthier habits straight into the customer's home. The goal: winning the attention, mentorship and funding of several venture capitalists and angel investors in the audience.

    This trend toward personalized "wellness" products and services has been steadily growing, as previously noted by the Financial Times, Forbes, and others. And many of the founders at Tuesday's event, organized by the university's Cardinal Ventures startup accelerator program, are riding the healthcare wave.

    Several of the companies specifically described technology that will help patients shorten or avoid doctor visits by bringing medical procedures and testing into the comfort of their own home.

    Demetric Maxim, founder and CEO of Nephrogen Inc., says that Americans lose $52 billion every year in "opportunity costs," meaning potential earnings lost to wasted time, because of doctor visits solely dedicated to blood tests. On stage at the Stanford demo day, Maxim says that his company plans to combat this cost by developing a "rapid, cheap, at-home blood testing platform" that can examine blood samples in 30 minutes, for less than five dollars a test.


    Another startup, called CloudCath, also promised to minimize patients' number of doctor visits by building a skin patch that monitors and protects incisions in the skin surrounding catheters and other medical tubing inserted into the body.

    "Complete visibility into compliance, treatment adequacy and early complication detection is now available at the comfort of patients' homes," according to CloudCath's website.

    Another fledgling healthcare company, called, focussed on using technology to both simplify and reduce the costs of precision medicine, while effectively "bringing cardiology to pediatrics and general medicine."

    "By the time you get at CT scan, it is already too late," said co-founder Damien Kettud in his pitch. The company aims to use genetic sequencing technology, similar to that developed by other consumer products like 23andMe, to detect and predict heart disease. 

    Ultimately, it's different ways of getting at the same idea: The idea that technology can improve the healthcare experience and make for a healthier world. It's risky — as Theranos showed, healthcare is complicated, and it's easier to have a great idea than it is to actually execute on it. But the promise is a healthier world.

    SEE ALSO: Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, have been charged with fraud by the SEC

    SEE ALSO: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes has been forced to give up majority control of the company to resolve charges of a 'massive fraud'

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    made in saucier main

    • When you're making sauces, gravies, and other thick foods, using a saucier is preferable to a saucepan because it lets you stir, whisk, and reduce ingredients more efficiently. 
    • Kitchen cookware startup Made In's saucier ($99) is even more rounded in shape than a typical saucier and is perfect for serious home cooks looking to improve their sauce-making. 
    • Though the saucier used to be more of a professional kitchen mainstay, Made In's well-designed, durable, and accessibly priced saucier deserves a space in your own kitchen. 

    In every home cook's kitchen you're likely to find a saucepan, the small round cooking pot with tall sides that's used for making sauces and gravies or warming up liquids.

    You're less likely to find a saucier, a similar type of pot that has a rounded bottom and slightly flared top. If you don't frequently make sauces, risottos, custards, and other types of foods that require frequent stirring or whisking, a saucier will just be another extraneous piece of cookware taking up space in your cabinet.

    However, if you are a sauce enthusiast and are frustrated with the flaws of a traditional saucepan, you should consider investing in a saucier. 

    I recently tested Made In's saucier, the shape and design of which made me question why I've put up with making sauces in a traditional saucepan for so long.

    Made In is a made-in-America, direct-to-consumer kitchen company that first wowed me with its nonstick frying pan, and it makes a variety of other quality cookware essentials.

    Its three-quart saucier, in particular, was designed based off customers' feedback, and because Made In can control all of its production processes, it was able to make a more "curated" saucier that specifically addresses these customer needs. 

    saucier productMade In's saucier is more rounded in shape than a traditional saucier, making it even easier to stir ingredients around. It's also more flared in shape at the top to encourage better evaporation when you're reducing sauces and gravies. 

    I made a variety of sauces, including a chunky tomato sauce filled with vegetables and a creamy alfredo sauce, in the saucier and the processes were so much smoother thanks to the design of the pot.

    Because it doesn't have hard edges like a saucepan, ingredients didn't get stuck in tricky-to-reach places and I could stir everything in smooth, continuous motions. The handle is sturdy and made me feel supported as I turned the pot and also stayed cool throughout the cooking process. 

    Reducing sauces and gravies makes more sense in a saucier instead of a saucepan with tall sides because there's more surface area to let the liquid reduce and condense faster. As a busy person who likes cooking but has many other tasks to get through during the night, I liked that the saucier made cooking more efficient. 

    As with the nonstick frying pan, what especially impressed me was the value I was getting from this well-made cookware.

    The saucier has a five-ply stainless steel and aluminum construction (the extra layers make it more durable), is induction compatible, and is dishwasher- and oven-safe. A three-quart All-Clad saucier has nearly all the same specifications — it's actually only three-ply — and is sold for double the price. With a lid, Made In's saucer is $99, while All-Clad's is $163 on Amazon and $195 at other major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond

    Savings like this combined with a product that was carefully designed for the actual cooking task in mind only further convinced me that Made In is a kitchen company you should be watching

    Shop the Made In Saucier (with a lid) for $99 or without a lid ($85) here.

    SEE ALSO: 7 high-protein pastas that are healthier for you and still taste great

    DON'T MISS: These super-sharp chef's knives got their start on Kickstarter — and they're perfect for home cooks

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    • Misen makes premium-quality knives at a price that is refreshingly accessible for the average person.
    • The company sent over some knives for us to test, and we found them to be a pretty fantastic option for starter home cooks thanks to their value for price.
    • Due to their 15-degree edge blades (most Western-style blades come with a 25-degree), Misen knives were incredibly sharp for their price point.

    Getting into cooking for the average person can be daunting. It can feel like you’re faced with the binary choice of the $20 knife set you used in college — which feels more like operating a dull saw — or the crazy price tag of the blade that the chef on your favorite cooking show uses. An in-between would be nice.

    And for that tall order, we give you the moderately priced and super-sharp blades of the startup Misen. Sold direct-to-consumer and funded by Kickstarter, the company is able to use premium materials and invest in research without having to add in the cost of middlemen.

    The company recently sent over a box of knives — not the weirdest thing we’ve gotten — to test. A few members of the team took them home, and after a few days of independent testing, our opinion was such:

    Misen knives are a fantastic choice for starter home cooks.

    Knives are arguably the most important tools in a kitchen, and you can do a lot with only a few quality tools. I tested Misen’s Essentials Knife Set, its iteration on the three most basic building blocks you need for a truly functioning kitchen, and I came away impressed by the versatility and precision of the collection for its price. For $130, the Essential Knife Set includes a chef’s knife, serrated knife, and paring knife.

    If you want details, you can find them below, but the short of it is that overall, the Misen knives are really solid options for the average person, but likely not going to stun a top chef. This isn’t a bad thing.

    Instead of replacing upper-level knives for a third of their cost, Misen seems to have created a particularly great mid-range knife sold at the cost of a knife of noticeably lower quality. In other words: Misen’s knives are a great deal for the average person.

    On the same day that we received the knives, I went and picked up a bunch of groceries and turned the night into a meal prep to rival all others. I used every knife in the set for a few Olympic cooking events each, and was pleasantly surprised with how each handled them.

    Even though the chicken I was preparing was still frozen in the middle, it only took one motion with the Chef’s Knife to halve it — which inspired an audible "oh, wow" in my empty apartment. It was smooth, instantaneous, and required little exertion. In comparison, the knife we had been using seems to simply hack at frozen food. It performed similarly well slicing through vegetables.

    The reason Misen gives for how much sharper their knives are is that unlike most Western-style knives with angles of 25 degrees, Misen uses a more acute 15 degrees for a sharper cutting face. And while there are many aspects to take into account when actually calculating how "premium" a cooking knife is, it seems that Misen has at the very least been able to deliver on this element.

    The serrated blade basically fell through loaves of bread, and the paring knife handled all vegetables and fruits with precision and agility.

    Screen Shot 2017 12 07 at 10.46.30 AM

    For me, the benefits of having a nice set of knives with which to cook was less about the time and effort it spared me (which was noticeable), and more about how enjoyable cooking was when it felt like I wasn’t fighting the food to get it made. Having tools that make you extra-effective in the process makes the entire act of cooking feel more manageable, controlled, and enjoyable.

    Cooking can be clumsy with the wrong tools; it can be much, much smoother with the right ones.

    Every member of the Insider Picks team who tried the Misen knives received at least a comment or two from somebody else who used them. For me, it was my roommate calling out into the living room that "These knives cut like a dream!" from the kitchen. For Insider Picks editor Ellen Hoffman, it was having somebody use the chef’s knife to cut through a piece of paper in midair.

    If you’re looking to upgrade to a new set or know somebody who loves to cook but maybe hasn’t graduated to buying themselves $200 knives, Misen is a great gift for the holidays.

    They check most of the boxes: They’re a thoughtful gift, have frequent real-life application, and they both look and feel more expensive than their price suggests. It also doesn’t hurt that Misen is a growing company, and they’re rapidly expanding into other aspects of cookware while keeping the same ethos of an "honest price" for premium performance. If they really like the knives, your giftee can return-shop at a startup that most people haven't found yet. 

    For the price, Misen is a great option for the average person. Their knives are incredibly sharp, easy to handle, and priced in a way that delivers a lot of value for a cost that won’t break the budget.

    Shop Misen Cookware here >

    Below are the two most popular selections currently offered by Misen:

    SEE ALSO: 15 kitchen gadget gifts for terrible home cooks that make life easier

    Essentials Knife Set

    Here is Misen's collection of the three most essential knives needed for a truly functioning kitchen. For $130, you can get a paring knife, a chef's knife, and a serrated knife all with the characteristic 15-degree angle blades for noticeably sharper cuts, sloped bolsters for comfortable grip, and intelligent hybrid blade design. That means you're only spending about $44 per knife.

    Misen Essentials Knife Set, $130

    Chef's Knife

    The Chef's Knife is the most important knife in the kitchen, and Misen's iteration is prepared to hold itself to that standard. Its résumé includes being made out of high-quality Japanese steel, having the hybrid geometry of both Western- and Japanese-style features for an especially versatile blade, a comfortable grip, and a 15-degree blade angle for a sharper cut.

    Misen Chef's Knife, $65

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Susan Fowler

    • For the last year, Silicon Valley in general and the venture-capital community in particular has been trying to come to terms with the tech industry's longstanding gender discrimination and sexual harassment problems.
    • Many venture firms are more seriously examining and weighing allegations of sexual harassment made against the founders and managers of startups they're considering backing, those inside the industry say.
    • Venture firms and startups themselves are putting more emphasis on companies having diverse management teams and workforces.
    • But not everyone is convinced Silicon Valley has a gender discrimination problem — or that venture capital should do anything about it.
    • And despite the heightened awareness, the industry has done little to address its underlying problem — the venture capital business itself lacks diversity.

    Dana Kanze has a pretty good sense of how the tech industry thinks about women.

    A former entrepreneur and CEO of a tech company, Kanze studies how women are treated in the venture capital and startup worlds as a doctoral fellow at Columbia Business School. In the last 18 months — in the wake of Donald Trump's election and Susan Fowler's famous post about her "strange year" at Uber and the explosion of public accusations of sexual harassment in the tech industry — she's noticed a distinct shift in attitudes in the venture capital community.

    VCs in general are more aware of gender discrimination issues, of how poorly women are often treated in the industry, and of research that indicates that firms with more diverse partners tend to have better returns, she said. And women in the venture industry are more willing to speak up about the discrimination and other challenges they've faced.

    "I've had very positive discussions across the board," Kanze said.

    But she's also gotten pushback. One Silicon Valley VC she spoke with challenged the very notion that gender discrimination exists or that his firm should do anything about it.

    "He basically disregarded the issue out of hand," Kanze said.

    Kanze's observations mirror those of others inside and outside the venture capital industry. Many say what became the #MeToo movement has had a marked influence on the business. But not everyone in the industry has taken it seriously or thoughtfully, and it's unclear whether the movement will effect lasting change.

    "More and more venture firms are looking at their firms and seeing what they can do to be more inclusive and to create an environment where everyone — regardless of gender or race or personality differences — can thrive," said Fern Mandelbaum, a partner at Vista Venture Partners who teaches classes about diversity and entrepreneurship at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.

    But, she continued, "by no means is it the majority. I wish it was."

    Gender discrimination is a longstanding problem in Silicon Valley

    Gender discrimination is nothing new in the tech industry, much less in corporate America. But Silicon Valley in general and the venture business in particular have long been resistant to doing much about it.

    For decades, women have been vastly underrepresented in tech and venture. Female-founded startups have attracted a tiny fraction of the funds drawn by those founded by their male counterparts. And women partners in the VC are so rare that some firms still don't have any. When major firms name their first woman partner — as Sequoia did just two years ago when it hired Jess Lee — it's big news.

    Coupled with the lack of female representation have been persistent rumors that those women who did find work in the industry often had to contend with toxic work environments and sexual harassment. Few spoke out publicly about what they faced, and those that did — most notably former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Ellen Paofound themselves under attack.

    Dave McClureBut in the last year or so, a bright spotlight has been shone on the way Silicon Valley treats women. It started with Fowler's blog post describing how she was allegedly sexually harassed by her manager at Uber and how the company's human resources department did nothing to address that or other complaints she made about how women were treated at the company. That post spurred a major investigation at Uber that eventually led to the resignation of its CEO, Travis Kalanick, the ouster of several other executives, and the firing of more than 20 employees.

    More importantly, Fowler's post — and the change it led to at Uber — spurred other women to come forward. By the end of the year, numerous executives and venture partners, including powerful figures such as Draper Fisher Jurvetson partner Steve Jurvetson and 500 Startups CEO Dave McClure, had resigned under clouds of allegations.

    The women who came forward and the consequences that followed helped raised awareness of gender discrimination issues in the Valley — and what might happen if the industry tried to continue with business as usual, those inside and outside the industry said.

    Venture capitalists are starting to act 'like grownups'

    In the venture capital business, this newfound awareness has led partners to think more about the lack of diversity in their ranks, they said. In general, venture firms are trying to bring more women into the business and trying to make sure their funds aren't biased against women, said Duncan Davidson, a general partner at Bullpen Capital.

    "I think most people in the business are acting like grownups," Davidson said.

    The heightened awareness of gender discrimination has also spurred venture investors to pay more attention to rumors of sexual harassment at the startups they're considering investing in, Duncan and others in the industry say. They're doing more digging into such allegations and it's more likely if they find something that they'll walk away from potential deals, they said. Such allegations are taken particularly seriously if they're being made about the startups' founders or management, said one Silicon Valley VC, who asked not to be named.

    "Before July 2017, most people would have looked the other way" the VC said. "The standards have changed."

    The newfound focus on gender issues in the Valley has also opened up opportunities for female entrepreneurs and investors and for firms that have long pushed for diversity. Last fall, for example, Sequoia's Lee, together with several other female venture partners, launched Female Founder Office Hours, an organization devoted to offering coaching to women entrepreneurs.

    Diversity is being pushed inside and outside startups

    Obvious Ventures, which was started by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, has emphasized the importance of its portfolio companies having diverse workforces since it started, said James Joaquin, one of the firm's cofounders. About a year ago, Joaquin proposed that venture firms include something he called the "world positive term sheet"in the contracts they sign when they invest in startups. The non-binding agreement would encourage companies to make a positive impact on the world, including by building diverse teams.

    More recently, Obvious has been pushing for startups to put in place formal procedures for handling complaints by employees accusing managers of sexual harassment and other bad behaviors. Larger companies typically have such formal channels, but they are often lacking at startups, Joaquin noted.

    james joaquin obvious venturesSuch initiatives have gained new attention in the wake of the Valley's MeToo moment, as has the focus on giving women more opportunities, he said.

    "I think we've made more progress in the last 12 months than in the last 12 years prior to that," Joaquin said.

    Relatedly, startups are focusing earlier in their lifespans on putting in place human resources teams to ensure they have good hiring and management practices in place, said Jennifer Carolona, a cofounder and general partner at Reach Capital. Meanwhile, she's found that workers — particularly younger ones — within Reach's portfolio companies are becoming more vocal in pressing their companies to have greater diversity among their executives and directors.

    There's a "groundswell," Carolona said. Socially conscious Millennial workers "really putting pressure (on companies) to make sure they have diversity," she said.

    Not everyone is on board

    Still, for all the heightened awareness and high-profile resignations, not everyone has signed on to do something about gender discrimination in the Valley and the changes have by no means upended the way the industry goes about its business.

    Ellen PaoFemale VCs are still few and far between. Female founders still struggle to get funded. Women engineers still are a distinct minority. And tales of sexual harassment still keep percolating out of the industry.

    While many VCs have reacted to this moment by trying to be fairer to women, the lesson others have drawn is just that they need to be more careful of what they say around women or that they need to avoid them entirely, said Bullpen's Davidson.

    "There are some people who are acting like grown ups and others that are acting like children," he said.

    While many VCs are paying closer attention to sexual harassment allegations, others still don't care. Indeed the chance that a firm will look away from such allegations within a startup it's considering investing in is still about "50-50," said the VC who asked not to be named.

    And it's an open question whether addressing gender discrimination and stamping out sexual harassment will remain a priority for the industry. It's still early days, said Pao, now a partner at Kapor Capital.

    "It was heartening to see some investors step back from certain investments because of these risks, but disheartening to see others invest anyway," she said in an email.

    In one high-profile example, the popular trivia app HQ Trivia was unable to raise money at the end of 2017 as the company was dogged by allegations of past behavior by cofounder Colin Kroll during his time working at Twitter.

    Earlier this month, HQ Trivia raised $15 million, from Founders Fund, which reportedly carried out its own investigation and decided to put one of its female partners on the board as part of the deal. In a statement to the news site Axios, Kroll apologized for past "things I said and did that made some feel unappreciated or uncomfortable" but said he had never sexually harassed anyone while at Twitter.

    Silicon Valley hasn't dealt with its underlying problem

    As much attention as gender discrimination issues have gotten in Silicon Valley in the last year, the tech industry has yet to address the underlying structural issues that give rise to such unequal treatment, said Y-Vonne Hutchison, founder and CEO of ReadySet, a consulting firm that works with companies that are trying to create more diverse workforces.

    They're continuing to invest in people and technology that look certain way. They're not changing who's in power ... Without that, there can be no change.

    The crux of the problem, she and other critics say, comes down to what they call pattern matching. Venture capitalists are largely white and male and come from affluent backgrounds. In their minds, they know what a successful entrepreneur looks like. No surprise, it's typically someone white and male who comes from a privileged upbringing.

    It's a self-perpetuating system, because when looking for new partners, venture firms often want to hire the people who founded successful startups — who happen to be the white, rich male entrepreneurs they funded in the first place.

    "They're continuing to invest in people and technology that look certain way. They're not changing who's in power," Hutchison said. She continued: "Without that, there can be no change."

    Indeed, whether the Valley's MeToo moment will maintain its momentum and prompt further changes or just peter out is anyone's guess.

    "It's a favorable time for change," said Mitch Kapor, a longtime champion of diversity and founder of Kapor Capital. "But if people wait for the storm clouds to pass and for it to blow over — that could happen."

    SEE ALSO: This Stanford grad went from living in motels to working in VC — here's his unusual path and how he wants to help others like him

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    kathryn minshew

    • Entrepreneur Kathryn Minshew is the cofounder and CEO of The Muse.
    • In her seed round of investing, she was rejected 148 times.
    • In the Series A round, she was more strategic about pitching investors and figured out how to ensure that her idea was viable.

    A different type of entrepreneur might have given up.

    And after 148 rejections from investors, no one would have faulted her for throwing in the towel.

    But if there's one thing Kathryn Minshew values, it's perseverance— when one approach doesn't work, she's ready to try another.

    Minshew is the cofounder and CEO of job-search and career-advice site The Muse. At this point, she and her colleagues have raised nearly $30 million.

    But as Minshew told CFP Bobbi Rebell on an episode of the podcast "Financial Grownup," the site had a rocky start, fielding one "no" after another during their seed round of investing.

    In their Series A round, Minshew told Rebell, she was more deliberate about the way she pitched investors. She found that two strategies in particular helped her.

    1. She pinned all of her first meetings with investors to a roughly three-week period.

    Before that, Minshew said, she'd take whatever appointment the investors had available.

    Now, she'd ask them to meet in a specific time frame and if they said they weren't available, she'd respond with something like: "I need to get all of our first meetings done by X date. I can push it a few days. Let me know if you're going to be able to make it work, and if not, totally fine. Maybe there will be another round that you can participate in."

    Inevitably, Minshew said, many investors would say they'd move around their schedule to fit in the meeting. "And the ones that weren't able to or the ones that said, ‘No, sorry, I can't do it,' they probably would have never backed the company to begin with," she added.

    2. She solicited candid feedback from her end users.

    This second strategy allowed her to stay confident that her idea was viable.

    "If you tell someone you're the founder of a company and ask for their input, they're more likely to give you positive input because they don't want to hurt your feelings," Minshew said.

    "If you tell them that you're a consultant, helping a company understand how its market positioning lands or helping a company better understand what it's doing well and what it's not, people are much more likely to give you totally unfiltered feedback."

    Based on the feedback she was getting from her target audience, Minshew said, she understood that she had "tapped a nerve." Even though there were areas where they could improve, there was a need for The Muse.

    Minshew said, "We were on a path that people loved."

    Listen to the full podcast episode »

    SEE ALSO: Here's the cold LinkedIn message that prompted a CEO to give the sender a job

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    Patrick Stapleton

    • Patrick Stapleton founded, a CMS platform that was accepted into Y Combinator's 2018 class.
    • Stapleton, a college dropout, learned to code almost entirely from resources he found online.
    • He says he owes his education in coding to Codecademy, another Y Combinator company. 

    In March, Patrick Stapleton launched his company,, a content management system that's geared toward nontechnical users. Despite creating a highly technical product, Stapleton's route to programming recalls the nontraditional path taken by many  startup founders before him:  Stapleton is a college dropout and a self-learner who learned to code almost entirely from resources he found on the internet.

    Stapleton first began coding in high school, when he started tinkering with the HTML and CSS code on his Myspace page. It wasn't long before his glitzed-out profile caught the eye of other teens at school, and soon he was receiving commissions to design custom layouts for his classmates. 

    "Everyone in high school wanted a custom layout," Stapleton said in an interview with Business Insider. "I had the best-looking Myspace profile at school, and everyone was asking me to make them one." From there, Stapleton began soliciting small businesses, charging anywhere from $20 to $200 for a tailor-made Myspace page. 

    At first, Stapleton thought that his flare for aesthetics would land him a career in graphic design. But then, as he began toying with the back end of more and more web pages, he realized that his passion lay not in design, but in writing the code for the websites themselves. Eager to learn more about coding, Stapleton began to explore the web f0r more resources.

    "I was really obsessed," he said. "At that stage, I was like a sponge." 

    When Stapleton first began coding in 2011, there weren't as many online resources as there are today. Of the few programs he used, Stapleton said that Codecademy, which had been launched early that year, was the one that occupied most of his time. Nearly every day, Stapleton said he worked from 9 am to midnight on Codecademy learning coding languages like JavaScript, Ruby, HTML, CSS, and Python.

    "I'd wake up everyday and learn everything I could," he said. "It was like a full time job."

    Two years later, Stapleton was ready to put his programming skills to the test, and in 2013, he entered a hackathon where he helped build the Reddit analytics site, Reddit Insight. The project won the contest, and in an unexpected twist, went viral. 

    Reddit Insight

    "It was picked up by everyone," Stapleton said. "I started getting calls from Apple and Twitter  big companies that I never thought I would work with because I was still learning how to code."

    And while Stapleton had yet to graduate from Codecademy, he was soon working on projects for Google, Netflix, and several Fortune 500 companies.

    But despite his high-profile freelance work, Stapleton ultimately opted for an alternate path. Last year, he decided to create his own product: a content management system that would provide seamless collaboration between content creators and developers. 

    In an effort to grow his new project, Stapleton and his team applied to enter prestigious Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator's 2018 class. "We didn’t think we would get in," said Stapleton. "We thought 'Hey, let’s just apply and see if it works.'" 

    To Stapleton's surprise, Y Combinator picked Tipe up immediately, and on March 19, Stapleton launched the company at Y Combinator's Demo Day. 

    Stapleton credits his company's fledgling success to the resources he found online as a programmer and specifically to Codeacdemy, which went through Y Combinator's 2011 class  the same year Stapleton discovered the platform.  Stapleton said he believes that his nontraditional education in coding is indicative of Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial culture.

    "It's getting easier for everyone to pick up this skill set and learn how to code," he said. "It's all about creating products that make coding more accessible."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • Modsy is a service that makes 3D models of the rooms you want to decorate based on pictures you send and its basic dimensions.
    • The company's interior designers will create two versions of the room, decorated with furniture from popular home stores that you can actually buy and that match your tastes and budget. 
    • For $69, you'll get the home designs and the ability to edit them on your own. For $199, you'll get more features, like a stylist who will chat with you and make adjustments and recommendations to the design for you.

    If you've ever bought a piece of furniture online and realized only after the setup that it either didn't fit the space physically or aesthetically, you can already name at least one time when you would have benefited from a service like Modsy.

    Modsy is an online company that lets you upload photos and dimensions of any room and then creates a 3D model, complete with recommendations from an interior designer on how to fill it — using furniture from popular home decor stores that you can buy after the fact at a discount through Modsy. If you've already got a nightstand or bed frame, you can pay $10 and Modsy will make a 3D model of it as well, so you truly never have to wonder about what something will look like once put together. You also don't need to crawl around your house with a tape measurer. 

    There are two pricing options, but for both, you'll receive a 3D model of your room, curated products that match your style profile, two custom designs of how to put it together, and unlimited edits to the room itself. Every furniture option is real and shoppable, and they show you which products are used in a bar at the bottom of the design. Not only can you view the room from all the angles you'd find while standing in it, you can also see it from a bird's-eye view. At $69 for the most basic pricing level, it's a lot of value (especially for those who have a tough time imagining something like that on their own) for a low cost, especially when it's for an important investment like furniture.

    In my experience, the value was definitely worth the price. The 3D designs were extremely helpful and also allowed me to be more creative with the space.

    The furniture the Modsy designers use is all chosen to fit your preferences, and if you're not sure if you like "traditional" or "urban," as I wasn't, there's also a quiz they'll direct you to which will help you discover that.

    If you love the furniture and want to shop it, you can buy directly through Modsy and you'll receive a discount on your purchase. For the first pricing option, you'll get $20 off, and for the second you'll receive $50 off. 

    Right now, get 25% off a design package when you use "FALL25" at checkout.

    Studio Image_preview

    When I used Modsy, it came as a complete relief. I was moving to a new place after college and wanted to take furniture shopping more seriously, but interior design is not a natural gift. I can appreciate when things look put-together, and I know what I like, but being on the other side of things isn’t easy, particularly the visualization (which Modsy took care of for me). While my spacial awareness allowed me to parallel park during my license exam without hitting any cones, it doesn't transfer to sofas for the living room as easily. Not being able to imagine all of the furniture, light fixtures, and rugs together also had me buying more basic furniture simply so that I would know it would go together. Modsy allowed me more freedom and creativity. 

    Modsy, like the best of services, did something I could not have done on my own — and did it very well for a moderate price. I would have been more than happy to shell out $69 for what was included in the basic package, but as I wanted to invest in furniture I could have for a while, I was also happy to part with $199 for the added style advice their second option offered.

    Even if you can't afford all the items Modsy uses to fill your space (although they do customize the selection to your budget), it's still a great way to get ideas from experts at an affordable price. I pay a lot in rent so that I can enjoy where I live, and I felt like Modsy was a valuable tool as an extension of that. 

    For me, Modsy was a great service. Their pricing seems more than fair for what you get in return, and it helped me enlist experts to do a job I knew they could do much better than me. Modsy helped me make the most out of my apartment and made sure I did so without wasting money on furniture I would later hate.

    If you’re moving and don’t have the mind of an interior designer but want to love your space, I can’t recommend the service highly enough.

    Here’s how the process works:

    SEE ALSO: This startup makes sofas that sound almost too good to be true — they’re easy to move and only take 10 minutes to build

    Getting started:

    To begin, head to the Modsy homepage and click "get started" to start the questionnaire. 

    Select which room they'll be creating a 3D model of for you.

    And select what the reason for the redesign is.

    If you're moving and looking to completely revamp your space, or just want to update your living room, Modsy will be able to help.

    Sign up to get a 3D model of your own home decorating project here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Liz Wessel

    Female-founded companies are on the rise.

    From talks with investors and leaders in venture capital, we've rounded up a list of 10 female-founded companies that you should be paying attention to in 2018. These leading founders have set their sights on disrupting major markets like fashion, cosmetics, feminine products, online networking, and grocery delivery. 

    Check out the companies you should be paying attention to this year: 

    SEE ALSO: The 50 best-paying big companies, according to employees

    DON'T MISS: The 50 best small companies to work for of 2017, according to employees

    Maven is a telemedicine company that provides digital solutions for women's health.

    Founder: Katherine Ryder

    Funding: $15.3 million 

    What it does: Maven's app connects women to healthcare practitioners through video and private messaging and provides a community centered on women's health.

    Why it's taking off: The company has partnered with several high-profile companies (including Snapchat's parent company, Snap, and a number of Fortune 500 companies) that now offer Maven's maternity services to their employees. 


    Shippo, which was founded five years ago by Laura Behrens Wu, helps small businesses mail out packages with ease and efficiency.

    Founder: Laura Behrens Wu

    Funding: $20 million Series B

    What it does: Shippo connects businesses with a network of shipping carriers worldwide.

    Why it's taking off: Shippo is tackling the e-commerce industry by providing a way for small businesses to send out goods with the efficiency of Amazon.

    Glossier is redefining the online cosmetics marketplace.

    Founder: Emily Weiss

    Funding: Since 2015, Glossier has raised $86.4 million.

    What it does: Glossier is an online cosmetics marketplace. 

    Why it's taking off: In just three years, Glossier has overtaken a sizeable portion of the cosmetics market with its direct-to-consumer approach to beauty products. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    walmart 7897

    • Recent news on Walmart and Amazon suggests the two could be readying for war over the over-65 crowd. 
    • Walmart's looking at buying pharmacy startup Pillpack, according to CNBC, and is interested in new partnerships with Humana. Those two deals could change the way Walmart serves the elderly. 
    • The same crowd is clearly a focus for Amazon, also. Babak Parviz, a vice president at Amazon, said in February that the elderly was something "we deeply care about." 

    The US population is aging. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to be double what it was in 2012.

    An aging population means we'll see an increase in health concerns and chronic conditions like heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer that can be costly to manage. It also offers a business opportunity for those companies best placed to meet the healthcare needs of this growing population.

    Rivals Amazon and Walmart both seem to have the elderly on their radar, with reports of potential takeovers by Walmart that include a pharmacy startup and a health insurer focused on Medicare plans. Amazon's early moves in healthcare offer the promise of helping the company serve a community it has struggled to reach, meanwhile.

    It appears the stage is being set for a battle between Walmart and Amazon for America's elderly. 

    A wave of potential deals for Walmart

    Humana has held early-stage talks with Walmart focused primarily on new partnerships, though an acquisition has been brought up, multiple news outlets reported last week. While you probably think of Walmart as a giant retail business, it's also one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, behind only Walgreens and CVS.

    And on Monday, CNBC reported that Walmart is looking to buy Pillpack, a pharmacy startup that mails prescriptions that are packaged together based on when they need to be taken. Pillpack declined to comment. Walmart didn't respond to requests for comment. 

    Walmart may be known as a retail giant, but it's one of the biggest pharmacy chains in the US. It's also long had a focus on affordable prescriptions as well, offering some generic medications for $4.

    Walmart's historically had an interest in the Medicare population. For example, Humana and Walmart have a cobranded Medicare drug plan and an initiative that provides healthy-food credits.

    Should Walmart and Humana link up on more partnerships and a potential acquisition, Walmart would become more embedded with Humana's Medicare business, which is the health insurer's main focus.

    Under a combined Walmart-Humana, adding on a service like Pillpack could make a lot of sense geared at an elderly population that tends to have more prescriptions and more chronic conditions.

    Pillpack works with Part D and Medicare Advantage plans to provide prescriptions to members. This can be beneficial to the commercial health plans that can get better reimbursements from Medicare based on making sure members don't lapse in picking up their prescriptions.

    Should the deals materialize, it could put Walmart in an interesting position when it comes to taking care of an aging population.

    "This reported interest by Walmart is consistent with a focus on seniors, as PillPack's value proposition helps with seniors who have multiple prescriptions," and Humana is a leading Medicare Advantage managed care organization, Bernstein analyst Lance Wilkes wrote in a note Tuesday. 

    Amazon's interest in the aging population

    People over 55 aren't among the biggest users of Amazon Prime, which could be a case for Amazon getting into healthcare.

    "We note too that the older demographic still under-indexes toward Prime membership...which speaks to the opportunity for Pharma to help Amazon further penetrate the ~80 million 55+ population in the United States," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note in November speculating on Amazon's entry into healthcare.

    Since then, Amazon's ambitions in healthcare have become clearer. The tech giant is teaming up with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway on a nonprofit healthcare initiative, and it already sells over-the-counter medication, including an exclusive line called Basic Care.

    While those moves don't necessarily spell out a focus on the aging population, Babak Parviz, a vice president at Amazon, said at Klick Health's Muse event in New York in February that the elderly was something "we deeply care about." 

    "We have looked at the older population in the context of health obviously, but we know that this group has a lot of issues, a lot of unmet need, some of them relate to health, but their health and the broader issues that they face are all interrelated," Parviz said. 

    SEE ALSO: Walmart's talks with an insurance giant could be part of an assault on Amazon Prime

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    rapid ramen cooker $7.99

    Nine seasons in and hundreds of products later, the show "Shark Tank" continues to entertain us as well as the panel of celebrity investors with creative pitches. However, that doesn't always mean the products are actually good. Some end up being a little too creative or out-there and border on plain gimmicky or "Who would even use that?"

    We looked through all the "Shark Tank" products available for purchase and came away with a selection of star products for the home that made us curse and ask ourselves, "Why didn't we think of this earlier?"

    Many solve for the wasteful design of many common products you already use, while others address the annoying inconveniences that everyone experiences. 

    Check out the "Shark Tank" home products that are worth buying below.

    SEE ALSO: The 20 best gifts that got their start on ‘Shark Tank’

    A spring-loaded laundry hamper

    This hamper drops down as you add clothes and rises as you remove them, meaning doing laundry will no longer be that uncomfortable chore you never look forward to. It eases the strain on your lower back, so it's especially great for expecting mothers, people with bad backs, and the elderly. 

    Household Essentials Lifter Hamper, $29.99, available at Amazon

    A self-cleaning dog potty

    If you've already tried many indoor potty training systems, your search ends here with the world's first self-cleaning dog potty. You can adjust the timer to automatically change a dirty pad one, two, or three times a day, or manually change it with a push of a button. The machine will wrap and seal the waste, keeping your home clean and odor-free. It's best for dogs under 25 pounds. 

    BrilliantPad Self-Cleaning & Automatic Indoor Dog Potty + 1 Roll, $149.99, available at Amazon

    Note: Currently only available through third-party sellers

    A rapid ramen cooker

    Granted ramen is already a pretty convenient meal to make, this tool makes the process even easier. The water line stops you from overfilling the bowl, the bowl doesn't get overly hot, and you don't need to use a pot and stove. It's perfect for anyone who doesn't have access to a kitchen, including students living in dorms and office workers. 

    Rapid Ramen Cooker (Red), $8.58, available at Amazon

    Note: Currently only available thorugh third-party sellers


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Sarah Lacy

    • Chairman Mom is a new site for working moms created by PandoDaily founder Sarah Lacy. It aims to provide mothers with a network of support on a  judgment-free platform.
    • The site offers an ad-free platform that costs users $5 a month to join.
    • Chairman Mom's revenue model is intended to shut down trolling and promote positive online behavior. 


    In the wake of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, there's been a growing debate surrounding the role of social media giants. How do social networks ensure user privacy? How do they promote good behavior online? How do they keep problematic ads from surfacing on their sites? 

    One brand-new site might have the answer, and it's offering a solution to an often overlooked segment of the population: working moms.

    The site is Chairman Mom, the brainchild of  journalist and PandoDaily founder Sarah Lacy, who is creating an online community focused on connecting moms with a network of support where they can chat about their daily challenges on a pointedly judgment-free platform.  

    "What we're launching is a subscription-based platform to rebrand working motherhood," Lacy said in an interview with Business Insider. "Before I became a mom, I always heard about the guilt that working moms felt and the stigmas they faced. I had friends who would say things to me like, 'Get ready to feel like a failure all of the time.'”

    Lacy says the extreme pressure mothers face within the workforce is manifested not only in the office place, but in online interactions as well. "There's so many mother-focused Facebook groups where it turns into tribalism and mommy wars and horrible threads that end with someone calling someone else a bad mother," said Lacy.

    At Chairman Mom, Lacy aims to check these tribalistic, antagonistic behaviors at the door. "There's no such thing as being a s----y mother," said Lacy. "We're changing the stigma of women feeling like shit for doing something great for their families."

    Chairman Mom

    Trolling and bullying are problems that have long troubled the online landscape, but Lacy says the key to maintaining good behavior online resides in how a site is built, rather than the people that populate it. 

    For Lacy, creating a judgment-free platform meant rethinking the site's revenue model from the ground up.

    To join Chairman Mom, users are charged a flat fee of $5 a month, and the site is a deliberately ad-free zone. That's because Lacy's fundamental agreement with the people who use her platform differs radically from that of most other mainstream social media sites. "Our users are the customer and not the product," said Lacy. "We won't obsessively track you, and we aren't trying to repackage you to sell to Procter and Gamble."

    "There's so many little things that are done within social media sites that promote fighting and drama because fighting and drama make you come back to the site again and again," said Lacy.

    With a subscription-based platform devoid of ads, there's no residual lure in attracting visitors to the site to gain revenue. A flat monthly fee not only incentivizes good behavior online, but it ensures that the people participating have some financial stake in the site itself. "You need a sense of barrier to create a trusted community online," said Lacy. "Five dollars a month isn't very much, but it's enough of a barrier to promote good behavior."

    And while a subscription-based platform might promote good behavior online, Lacy says Chairman Mom is firm on moderating users as well. Users can flag content for removal, and if an item is flagged three times, it's automatically pulled from the site. 

    Lacy's values for Chairman Mom reflect the unflinching critical insight she's levied on tech giants like Uber and Facebook during the years she spent working as a tech reporter in Silicon Valley. Lacy has long believed that social networks like Twitter and Facebook don't do enough to shut down trolling and abuse on their platforms. "These are wide open unenforced social networks that don't take these problems seriously," she said. "I’ve always had the point of view that if a tech company tells you that something like moderating commenters is hard, what they mean is that they don’t care about it."

    While Lacy believes that Chairman Mom is targeting a large segment of the population, she's realistic about the platform's limitations. For instance, she doesn't expect Chairman Mom to entirely negate the use of Facebook in the coming years for working moms.

    "I don't for a second think that there will be billions of people uninstalling Facebook," said Lacy. "What you're going to see is a shift in how people spend their time on Facebook. People are going to be using Facebook less, and we are carving a way out of Facebook in terms of what is a part of life."

    Chairman Mom

    While Chairman Mom's exclusive focus on working mothers might at first seem a niche market, the platform has caught the eye of several prominent investors. Its $1.4 million in seed funding was led by Floodgate Ventures and included prominent firms like Greylock Discovery and Precursor Ventures.

    Lacy describes Chairman Mom's market as a massive opportunity. "This is not a small or niche product," she said. "It’s going to grow in a sustainable way. If this is our number one focus, it's not that hard to pull off. There are a bunch of tech companies that pull off way harder things than not having a troll-based environment."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Jennifer Inthavong

    • Poshmark is a fashion marketplace app that lets users buy and sell used-clothing online.
    • Jennifer Inthavong, a Poshmark seller in LA, says that she's netted $480,000 since she started selling on the app in 2013. 
    • She's since quit her job in order to stay at home and sell clothing on Poshmark full time. 

    After Jennifer Inthavong had her first child five years ago, she realized that she wanted to stay at home and care for her son full time. However, Inthavong, who worked in LA as an advisor at a local college, knew she would need an alternative income to make that possible.

    One day, while scrolling through Facebook in 2013, she discovered an ad for Poshmark, a fashion marketplace that lets users sell used clothing online.

    Inthavong had a stash of handbags and clothing taking up space in her closet, and she decided to see if her unwanted items could turn a profit on Poshmark. When the items sold a short while later, she was immediately hooked. 

    "At first, I was buying more than I was selling," Inthavong told Business Insider. "But then I started looking through the closets on Poshmark, and realized that people were actually making money off of the clothes they were selling."

    Jennifer Inthavong

    And so, Inthavong started meticulously assembling her own online "closet" for Poshmark — an inventory of clothing and accessories that reflect a seller's available items and often, their individual fashion sense.

    Inthavong, who at first started listing only the goods in her closet that she no longer wore, was soon considering turning her Poshmark inventory into a full-time business: selling clothing culled from LA boutiques to buyers online. 

    While the app at first presented a learning curve in how to attract a steady stream of buyers, Inthavong soon realized she would grab customers by strongly representing her own style and taste. She also followed top sellers, taking notes on the comprehensive inventories they offered online. 

    "You have to get the feel for it, and it's a learning curve, but the community on Posh is very helpful,"  said Inthavong. 

    For Inthavong, Poshmark's sense of community was a defining feature that set the app apart from other online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. On Poshmark, Inthavong said she was soon making personal connections with the people who bought her goods, beyond just talking about style, sizing or fit.

    "It's a little like Facebook, but with fashion," she said. "You follow people and build a community. It's all based on relationships. My buyers know me personally. They know about my son. They know about my family."

    Inthavong said that one of the most compelling aspects of working through Poshmark is the chance to meet her network of online friends in person.

    "When I first started, I threw a local meet-up for all of the people that I talk to over the app," she said. "There was a Posh seller who flew down from Fresno to attend. I call them my 'Posh friends.'" 

    Aside from the friendships she's made, Inthavong says that connecting with Poshmark's community is integral to her thriving Poshmark business. Inthavong's success on the app has attracted the attention of other sellers, and she says that she often offers advice to other up-and-coming sellers.


    "I'm more than happy to help other people," she said. "I mentor people who want to go all the way, and who are trying to make a living off of it."

    For herself, Inthavong said that she's netted close to half a million dollars since she started selling on Poshmark.

    Her success on Poshmark wasn't instant and it wasn't easy. But after years of building up her network of buyers, and fine-tuning where she buys her inventory, in 2017, she quit her job and works exclusively at home, full-time, selling on Poshmark. Now she brings her son along when she stops in to buy items at local clothing manufacturers in downtown LA. 

    Inthavong says that her proximity to LA has been key to keeping her online inventory fashionable and hip. She's developed personal relationships with several downtown vendors and isn't afraid to haggle for a competitive price, 

    While Inthavong says that her sales on the app vary between $5,000 and $10,000 a month, the profit she's made has allowed her to help buy a home along with her boyfriend in a Californian suburb. 

    For sellers who are new to the app, Inthavong says the key to maintaining a successful inventory is all about developing a unique fashion sense.

    "What I tell people is that they should create their closet in way that will make them stand out," she said. "You want to let your inner stylist come out."

    SEE ALSO: How a college dropout learned to code on Codecademy, then launched a company that was accepted into the buzziest Silicon Valley startup incubator

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    Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive Officer of Uber Technologies, looks on as he attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

    • Venture-capital investing hit $28.2 billion in total deals in the first quarter, according to a new report.
    • That's the fourth straight quarter in which the level has topped $20 billion.
    • But fewer companies are getting cash; the 1,693 startups that got funding in the period marked the lowest number since at least 2011.

    Venture-capital investing has soared this year, though the money is flowing to fewer and fewer startups, according to a new report.

    VC firms collectively invested $28.2 billion in startups in the first quarter of 2018, according to a joint report from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. That amount was up from $23.8 billion firms invested in the fourth quarter of last year and was the most invested in a quarter since at least 2006, according to the report. It also marked the fourth straight quarter in which VC investment topped $20 billion, and it represented a higher dollar amount invested than in all of 2009.

    "2018 is pacing to extend the trends we've grown accustomed to over the last few years of total capital invested figures soaring to unprecedented levels," PitchBook and the NVCA said in the report.

    But much of the money is going to bigger firms, particularly the so-called unicorns — those relative few startups with valuations of more than $1 billion. In the first quarter, 17 unicorns got a combined $7.2 billion in new financing. Among the unicorns that got new funds were Uber, Lyft, and Faraday Future.

    All told, just 1,693 deals closed in the period. That was down from 1,772 deals in the fourth quarter and represented the lowest total in a quarter since at least 2011.

    SEE ALSO: This Stanford grad went from living in motels to working in VC — here's his unusual path and how he wants to help others like him

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Investors need to lower their expectations

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    • US Artificial intelligent startups raked in $1.9 billion in venture capital money in Q1 2018, up 29% from the quarter before. 
    • AI accounted for 116 US deals, out of a total of 1,206 across tech sectors.
    • AI accounted for three mega funding rounds — investments over $100 million — out of 34 across the US.
    • Digital healthcare and cybersecurity also ranked alongside AI as the most notable Q1 funding trends.

    Artificial intelligence startups in the US had a record quarter during the first three months of the year, raising $1.9 billion in venture capital across 116 deals, according to the 2018 Q1 MoneyTree Report published on Wednesday. That's 29% growth from the previous quarter. 

    Digital healthcare companies, by contrast, raised $1.4 billion in Q1, while cybersecurity companies raised just $528 million. 

    AI's strong Q1 numbers were underpinned by several mega deals in the space, including a $153 million series B for UiPath, a $112 million series A for, and a $100 million growth round for C3 IoT. 

    The flow of money into AI startups comes as sophisticated computing technologies such as machine learning, speech recognition and image recognition have graduated from the labs and made their way into the commercial market. Many of these AI-based products have the potential to upend major industries, from automobiles to retail. 

    All of the established tech giants — Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft — are spending heavily to bolster their AI capabilities. But an explosion of small startups are also racing to develop new products and services that leverage artificial intelligence capabilities.

    The AI startups come from Romania, China and Silicon Valley

    artificial intelligence robotUiPath is a Romania-grown and New York City-based "software robotics" company that uses AI to do digital busywork that humans don't necessarily want to do. UiPath's $153 million funding round, led by Accel Partners, capitalG and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, valued the startup at $1.1 billion, the company confirmed, a Fremont, California and China-based self-driving car startup, raised its $112 million from Comcast Ventures, Legend Capital and Sequoia Capital China. 

    C3 IoT, a Redwood City, California-based predictive analytics company, raised its $100 million from Sutter Hill Ventures, The Rise Fund and TPG Growth.

    Those three mega funding rounds were among the 34 rounds over $100 million in the US in Q1, which accounted for 34% of the total VC funding over the quarter.  

    Two of the three largest funding rounds in AI were early stage, following the trend of 10% deal growth for investments of that stage.

    Earlier seed stage investments in AI — used to get companies off the ground — accounted for just 26% of all funding rounds, down from 35% in the quarter before.

    Across industries, funding for all US-based, VC-backed startups increased 4%, up to $21.1 billion across 1,206 deals in Q1. But that number is supported by the larger deals, as the total number of investments actually declined by 2% over the quarter. 

    SEE ALSO: It's not just the IPO market that's booming — here's why this Silicon Valley VC says 2018 will also be the year of M&A

    Join the conversation about this story »

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