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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.


    • FoundersCard is an exclusive membership for startup founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone with that "innovator" mindset.
    • In addition to getting access to private networking events, FoundersCard members get VIP perks, discounts, and extras from retailers and services ranging from airlines and hotels, clothing brands, and gyms to office services.
    • Until December 31, 2018, FoundersCard is offering a discounted rate exclusively for Business Insider readers, and a waived initiation fee. To get the discount, you'll have to apply through this page.

    If you're an entrepreneur, an innovator, a startup creator — in other words, a founder — there's a unique and exclusive program that you might be interested in joining. Beyond personal benefits, it can provide direct, tangible benefits to the business or project that you're trying to grow.

    FoundersCard is a private membership club for — well, founders — designed to provide members with various elite statuses, VIP treatment, and top benefits. In addition, FoundersCard fosters an ambitious, social community of similarly driven people from different industries, helping to facilitate networking opportunities, connections, and more.

    Despite its name, the FoundersCard isn't a credit card and doesn't involve transactions, which means that anyone can apply, regardless of what country they're from.

    FoundersCard was founded in 2009 by Eric Kuhn, a new Austin-based venture for a veteran entrepreneur of the 1990s and early-2000s. While the card initially grew its network and offerings slowly — and had a few early bumps in the road — it's made leaps and bounds over the past few years as an organization. Since running into a few issues in its early years, it has bolstered its membership, and made connections with a lot of travel, lifestyle, and business services companies.

    If FoundersCard sounds like something that could be useful to you, read on to learn more about how it works — and to take advantage of a discounted rate of $395 per year (compared to the normal $595) with a waived initiation fee (usually $95). This rate is a special exclusive for Business Insider readers who apply through this page.

    FoundersCard Rolex

    How it works

    To join FoundersCard, you have to complete an application — because the organization is designed to be exclusive and especially curated to be useful and enjoyable for members, everyone isn't always accepted. The process is fairly subjective, 

    You can apply for a preview membership to get a better sense of which benefits are currently active. From there (or right away, if you don't care about the preview), you can fill out the complete application. You have to enter your personal details, including your company name and your title — FoundersCard is open to people other than strictly company founders — as well as your contact and billing information. If you're approved, your payment method will be charged the first year's annual dues — $395, with FoundersCard's exclusive offer for Business Insider readers, or $595 without — and a one-time $95 initiation fee — waived for Business Insider readers. 

    Benefits of FoundersCard membership

    FoundersCard offers a wide range of benefits that can be loosely broken into three categories: savings and discounts, VIP treatment and perks, and exclusive events.

    FoundersCard hosts an ongoing series of networking events in cities with high concentrations of members — thanks to business travel, though, there are often different people and new faces at these mixers, even if you go to two in a row in the same city. Usually with 100–200 members, the networking events offer attendees an opportunity to mingle, make connections, and share experience with members from a wide spectrum of industries.

    Other benefits tend to change as promotions become active, things become available, or FoundersCard negotiates a new partnership or improvement to an existing one, so it's difficult to share a comprehensive picture of what membership entails. There are also a ton of different benefits — this is a deliberate move to appeal to the widest possible cross-section of member, so that there are appealing things to many different people.

    The following are examples of some perks available at the time of publication. FoundersCard provided Business Insider with a temporary active account in order to access the full benefits portal.

    JetBlue Mint

    Airline discounts and elite/VIP perks, including:

    • Cathay Pacific offers 5-25% off flights, as well as a complimentary upgrade to Silver elite status. That status includes priority check-in, complimentary advance seat reservations, access to business class lounges while traveling on the airline in any class, and an extra baggage allowance. The status is valid for a year, after which you'll need to re-qualify through normal methods.
    • British Airways offers FoundersCard members up to 10% off most round-trip fares between the US or Canada and the UK.
    • Alaska Airlines offers 5% off fares within the Continental US, Hawaii, and Canada.
    • JetBlue features preferred flat fares for Mint (business class) transcontinental flights, plus up to 5% off coach and business class tickets. Mint fares are as low as $800.
    • American Airlines offers a changing list of benefits, including extra frequent flyer miles, elite qualifying points, or the opportunity to receive complimentary Platinum status for three months, with the chance to keep it by flying a certain required amount within three months.
    • Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, offers a whopping 10–25% off flights from the US to Australia or New Zealand.
    • Emirates offers 5–10% off US originating fares. The airline serves more than 125 destinations around the world, and offers particularly useful routing for those traveling from the US to the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
    • Singapore Airlines discounts US originating flights up to 5%.
    • JetSmarter, a service that helps members find available seats on private and chartered flights as an alternative to flying commercial — but for a much cheaper price tag than flying private normally carries — offers FoundersCard members a free three-month trial.

    Rental car and chauffeur service discounts and elite statuses, including:

    • Complimentary Preferred Plus membership at Avis, and up to 25% off rentals.
    • Platinum membership at 15% off rentals at Sixt Rent a Car.
    • 20% off all Silvercar reservations — the founder of Silvercar is a FoundersCard member.
    • Credits and discounts with major car services including GroundLink, EmpireCLS, Carey, and Getaround.

    Exclusive FoundersCard rates, elite statuses, and perks at various hotels brands, including:

    • Starwood
    • Marriott
    • Kimpton
    • Hilton
    • Park Hyatt
    • The Standard
    • Mandarin Oriental
    • Omni Hotels & Resorts, and more.

    Lifestyle and retail discounts, including:

    • Discounts when you buy or lease a new Audi.
    • 20% off at John Varvatos.
    • Up to $10,000 off when you buy or lease a new BMW.
    • A complimentary $100 credit at Trunk Club— the founder and CEO of the company is a FoundersCard member.
    • Complimentary Diamond Total Rewards status at Caesars resorts and casinos, plus 20% off most rooms.
    • 20% off at 1-800-Flowers.
    • 15% off headphones, speakers, and more from Bang & Olufsen.
    • Discounts at other retailers including Adidas, Reebok, Indochino, Rent The Runway, Cole Haan, Tommy John, Todd Snyder, and Jonathan Adler, and more.
    • Discounts or credits at gyms, fitness studios, and wellness centers, including Equinox, Crunch, SoulCycle, Bliss Spa, Peloton, CorePower Yoga, and more.

    Business discounts, including:

    • 15% off voice and data plans with AT&T Wireless.
    • Up to 47% off UPS.
    • Up to 50% off Dell computers.
    • 20% off business card and stationary orders from MOO — the company's CEO is a FoundersCard member.
    • A free year of service from the virtual office service.
    • A flat 20% discount off products and services from LegalZoom.
    • Loyalty pricing at Apple.
    • 40% off Lenovo computers.
    • 25% off classes at General Assembly — one of the co-founders is a FoundersCard member.

    This is far from a conclusive list. FoundersCard has hundreds of benefits, discounts, and offers available, and can offer enough value to outweigh the annual fee even if you're a sole proprietor just getting your idea off the ground, or even an individual who can take advantage of the retail and gym discounts.

    If your small business has grown a bit, though, you can get tremendous value from discounts on shipping, IT services and gear, travel, and more.

    Between that, and the opportunity to network with like-minded and similarly focused entrepreneurs, FoundersCard presents a unique and potentially valuable opportunity — whether it's worth the $395 annual fee (with the Business Insider discount) depends on you. 

    Click here to learn more about FoundersCard's offer exclusively for Business Insider readers.

    SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and perks

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    cousins maine lobster founders with barbara corcoran

    • Successful "Shark Tank" alumni — the founders of Lollacup and Cousins Maine Lobster— say it's important to tell your story when you're pitching investors.
    • That way, you can show them why you're the perfect people to sell this product.
    • The founders say too many entrepreneurs overlook this element of their pitch, both to investors and to customers.
    • But customers today want more information than ever about the companies they support.

    When Hanna and Mark Lim appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2012, they knew that the product they were pitching could seem pretty generic.

    The Lims' company, Lollacup, produced safer sippy cups for kids, made in the US to ensure safety. And while they understood why that concept was revolutionary, they also understood that other people might not see it that way at first.

    "We were launching a sippy cup, which is sort of ubiquitous for parents," Hanna said.

    So to gain an edge in front of the investors, the Lims made it a priority to tell their story.

    When one of the sharks, Lori Greiner, asked to hear about the Lims' background, Hanna explained that she and Mark were middle-school sweethearts, and that they'd been dating since 1992. Since then, they'd married and had two daughters.

    The Lims also shared the inspiration behind Lollacup: their frustration finding a safe and hassle-free sippy cup for their daughter. In other words: why the two of them were perfectly positioned to sell the best sippy cup out there.

    Ultimately, the Lims landed a deal with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec: $100,000 for 40% of their company. Lollacup is now called Lollaland, and has since expanded into more products for infants and toddlers.

    Today, the Lims make it a priority to share the same story they told on the "Shark Tank" stage with a wider audience. "Our customers want to know that it's two parents that were the brainchild behind this and that we put everything we have into it," Hanna said.

    Customers today want more information about the companies they support

    Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac have a similar philosophy. The founders of Cousins Maine Lobster also appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2012, and they made sure to paint a picture for the sharks of what it was like growing up eating lobster with their family in Maine. ("You're standing alongside the Atlantic Ocean, smelling that salty air," Tselikis said during their pitch.)

    Tselikis and Lomac wound up winning $55,000 from Barbara Corcoran, in exchange for 15% of their company.

    They've continued to make it a priority to tell their company's origin story. The Cousins Maine Lobster website features a photo of the founders as kids, in Maine with their grandfather, holding a lobster.

    For Tselikis and Lomac, their story is a way to not only win over investors, but also to make sure their franchisees run the business just like they would. All their franchisees are sent to Maine, where they spend time on lobster boats and hold live lobsters in their hands.

    "With our lobster, it's not just having the best product in the world," Tselikis said. "It's telling them our story, because our customers, just like our franchisees, want to get on board with something they have an emotional connection to; they want to get behind a movement."

    The founders of Lollaland and Cousins Maine Lobster agree that sharing your company's story is more important than ever these days — and that too many entrepreneurs overlook that piece of running a business.

    "Now more than ever," Mark Lim said, "especially with information on the Internet being so accessible, down to the point where you can actually look up the founder and CEO of every product that you buy, I think it's a huge part of being able to connect with consumers to just be yourself and be authentic."

    Tselikis agreed: "People care about what's going into their body, where it comes from and why, the story behind the business," he said. "That stuff matters more and more."

    Still, he said, "Young entrepreneurs sometimes miss their story, who they are and they don't develop it well enough."

    Whether it's a lobster shack or a local coffee shop, "it's nice when you go into a business and you do get a really clean snapshot of who the person is and what they stand for," Tselikis added. "It makes it a lot easier and more fun to support."

    SEE ALSO: 'Shark Tank' entrepreneurs who won $100,000 decided to audition the night before casting, waited 7 hours in line, and typed out their answers to every question ever asked on the show

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what Daymond John has learned from 8 years of investing on 'Shark Tank'

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    bird scooters santa monica california.JPG

    • In an effort to curb the onslaught of electric scooters, Santa Monica, California, is moving to limit the number of companies that can operate dockless vehicles there.
    • An internal memo reveals that a City Council committee endorsed Lyft and Uber for permits — handing a crushing defeat for dedicated scooter operators Bird and Lime.
    • Santa Monica was the ground zero for electric scooters, because $2 billion startup Bird rolled out the first scooter-share program nationwide in the coastal city last fall.


    In the south Californian city of Santa Monica, the electric scooters that cover the city's streets and sidewalks disappeared on Tuesday in protest of the city's move to block two venture-backed startups from operating.

    The shutdown, called "A Day Without a Scooter," as well as a protest outside City Hall, was part of a joint campaign from scooter startups Bird and Lime condemning a decision from the Santa Monica City Council to limit the number of companies that can operate dockless vehicles there.

    Bird and Lime are fearful they won't be picked for permits.

    In an effort to curb the onslaught of scooters, the city of Santa Monica recently announced a "shared mobility" pilot program that will award four contracts — two scooter and two e-bike operators — with the goal of deploying vehicles in the coastal city this fall.

    A special committee started accepting applications last month, then scored the companies across seven categories, including experience, operations, compliance, and parking and safety. While the contracts haven't been awarded yet, an internal memo from the city's planning director, released to the public, reveals which companies sit at the top of the heap.

    Lyft placed first, with the Uber-owned Jump coming in second, in the committee's scoring of scooter and e-bike operators. They effectively won the city's endorsement for contracts to operate, leaving their upstart competition in the dust. 

    Bird invented the scooter-sharing market

    The results were perceived as a major blow to Bird, which began its very existence in Santa Monica. 

    Tech investors credit Bird with inventing the scooter-sharing market. When the company launched the first scooters in its hometown last fall, its competitors — namely LimeBike, Spin, and Ofo — were still focused on bike-sharing. They added scooters to their inventory in 2018, and LimeBike later rebranded as Lime.

    Read more: Top Silicon Valley investors explain why an electric scooter startup raising $400 million in 4 months is 'genius' and worth every penny

    Lyft doesn't have scooters or e-bikes in any city, though it bought Motivate, the country's largest bike-sharing operator, in July. Similarly, Uber got into bike-sharing with its $100 million acquisition of Jump, which has e-bikes in major US cities, including Austin, Chicago, New York City, and San Francisco.

    It's been less than a year since Bird launched, and already the startup was rumored to be seeking a $2 billion valuation in the last funding round. Bird raised $400 in four months from Sequoia Capital, Greycroft, Tusk Ventures, and Upfront Ventures.

    Roelof Botha, a partner at Sequoia who sits on Bird's board, told Business Insider in June that being first to market places Bird one step ahead of the competition, including giants Uber and Lyft. 

    "If you're the one who invented it, you've probably thought about the problem many layers deep," Botha said of Bird.

    "That's the thing with people who copycat — they copy what the see today," he went on. "But they don't know what you've been thinking. They don't know the next move that you intend. How you've already mapped out the next several months or the next several quarters of product innovations and nuances."

    Birds flock to City Hall in protest

    Bird sent an email to its riders in Santa Monica on Tuesday night, saying that a "small city-appointed selection committee" is moving to ban Bird in September, Curbed Los Angeles reported.

    It encouraged supporters to gather outside City Hall to voice their support for Bird. The flock responded to the call.

    On Tuesday, a crowd of about 200 scooter startup employees, "chargers" (gig-economy workers who scrounge for scooters and charge their batteries to make a quick buck), and supporters swarmed City Hall in black and green Bird and Lime shirts.

    A city spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that nothing has been done to "stop or suspend operations of shared mobility vendors." Santa Monica will reach a decision in the coming weeks.

    Bird did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    See also:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Lyft's president went from taking no salary for 3 years to running a giant startup worth $11 billion

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    nurx truvada prep pill bottle

    • Nurx, a Silicon Valley prescription drug delivery startup that once solely dispensed birth control, is launching a new service that allows patients who want HIV-prevention drug Truvada to do the required testing at home.
    • It's a big move for the company, which recently raised $36 million and added Chelsea Clinton to its board of advisers.
    • It's also a big deal for people seeking HIV-prevention drugs, who currently battle stigma and potentially wait months to get the medication.

    In a move that could hint at bigger plans for prescription drug delivery, Silicon Valley startup Nurx on Wednesday launched the first at-home test of its kind for HIV-prevention drug Truvada.

    Getting the daily pill, which is estimated to reduce infection among high-risk people by more than 90%, is no easy task. It can take several months for someone who wants PrEP to actually receive the drug. Nurx's new service is designed to shrink that waiting period to just a few days.

    After starting as a birth control-only delivery service in 2015, the California-based startup added a second medication, Truvada (also known as PrEP), to its list of available medications last year.

    Last month, Nurx raised $36 million with help from top Silicon Valley venture capital firms. It also added Chelsea Clinton to its board of advisers.

    There are a handful of startups offering quick on-demand delivery of prescription medications. But this is the first time one of these companies has tackled at-home lab testing — the hardest part of getting access to PrEP.

    “This is a game-changing step towards preventing the spread of HIV,” Hans Gangeskar, co-founder and CEO of Nurx, told Business Insider. “It takes away a key barrier to treatment, and so we really hope to reach the folks that great places like community clinics are still missing."

    Currently, access to PrEP is limited. Beyond simply requiring access to a health care provider, getting a prescription also requires patients visit a clinic, ask about PrEP (which can be a scary conversation for many), and hope the provider can prescribe the drug. Oftentimes, patients are referred to infectious disease specialists who require several visits and extensive testing.

    “There's a big drop off in potential PrEP users at the stage when they need to physically show up for lab testing,” Jessica Horwitz, Nurx’s head of clinical development, said. “Getting in the door in the first place is often the hardest part. We're missing whole swaths of people who need access."

    How to get PrEP with Nurx

    To get PrEP, patients first visit the Nurx website and fill out an assessment with a healthcare provider in the startup's network to figure out if the drug is a good idea.

    Over 1.2 million people in the US have HIV, and men who have sex with men are at the highest risk. Heterosexual men and women who have unprotected sex or use injectable drugs are also at risk.

    Then, patients get a testing kit from Nurx in the mail. In a process that's somewhat similar to at-home genetics testing services like Ancestry or 23andMe, patients collect personal samples and mail them back to Nurx’s certified lab partner for processing. Instead of simply taking a spit sample, the Nurx kit requires patients to also send along small samples of blood and urine. This is done to make sure patients aren't HIV positive and to ensure their kidneys are functioning properly, both of which are requirements for the drug.

    Once those steps are complete, patients get PrEP delivered straight to their door — all without ever stepping foot in a physical clinic.

    The 'GrubHub for prescriptions' model is gaining steam

    The no-visit-required model for prescription drug delivery is a big trend across the US right now.

    In June, Amazon inaugurated its latest push into the healthcare industry by buying online pharmacy PillPack.

    Just days earlier, pharmacy giant CVS Health announced a plan to deliver prescriptions from nearly 10,000 of its retail stores to customer homes by contracting with the US Postal Service. And a handful of startups like Nimble and Capsule currently provide similar services with independent pharmacies using courier delivery services.

    Although Nurx currently dispenses only birth control and PrEP, Horwitz told Business Insider there are plans to expand to other medications.

    nurx PrEP Truvada testing kit

    "PrEP was the next logical step for us because it can be done seamlessly through telemedicine, but our balance in terms of growth is finding clinical areas where there's need and where access is an issue," Horwitz said.

    The new at-home testing kits for PrEP will be available in 19 states and Washington, DC as of Thursday; Nurx's birth control delivery service is currently available in 20 states and is covered by most forms of health insurance — meaning that for most of its customers, the service is free.

    The Nurx team is currently looking at adding sexual health screenings, something it plans to do by the end of the year. Horowitz said next year will be dedicated to thinking more about avenues for growth in primary care.

    "We're always thinking about new avenues where we can disrupt things," she said.

    SEE ALSO: I tried an app that lets you order birth control pills online for free — and it's a game-changer

    DON'T MISS: Startups that work like GrubHub for prescriptions say CVS' move into drug delivery is missing something big

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Astronomers just discovered 12 new moons around Jupiter

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    Carta, Henry Ward

    • Henry Ward, cofounder and CEO of Carta, says tech workers make a common mistake in evaluating job offers from startups.
    • Those offers are typically heavy weighted toward stock options or other kinds of ownership stakes, rather than cash salaries.
    • Job candidates tend to focus too much on how much those grants are worth in the near term and not enough on what they could be worth in the future, he says.
    • Options can offer a huge payoff if a startup is successful — but they can also be worth nothing if its fizzles out.

    Getting a job offer at a startup is exciting. But making sense of the pay package startups offer can be daunting and confusing.

    Big, established tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google often have the resources to pay new hires ridiculous sums of money. But startups usually don't. Instead, in lieu of high salaries, they typically offer candidates equity in the company in the form of stock options or other kinds of ownership stakes.

    Options give employees get the right to buy stock in a company at a set price. If and as the company grows and becomes more valuable, the value of employees' options can increase.

    Understanding how much an offer of options or other equity is worth starts with asking the right questions, said Henry Ward, cofounder and CEO of Carta, a $516 million startup whose service helps companies manage their equity awards to employees.

    Workers considering an offer letter from a startup often make the mistake of calculating what their stock options or equity grant is worth today, he said. But that math really doesn't tell you much.

    "What matters far more than this math is what do you think this is going to be worth in the future," Ward told Business Insider.

    How to value your options package

    To understand what Ward means, consider this scenario: You're a tech worker who's applied for a job at a made-up company we'll call Nextably. Nextably offers to match your current salary and give you some stock options on top of that.

    The value of the salary is self-evident. But not necessarily the options.

    When trying to figure out how much an options grant is worth, three numbers matter, Ward said. They are:

    • The last preferred price: This is the amount investors paid per share in the company's last round of financing; it's essentially what the company is worth per share. In Nextably's case, we'll say it's $10.
    • The strike price: This the amount per share at which you can exercise your options and what you'll pay for the underlying shares. In this case, we'll say it's $2.
    • Stock options granted: This is the number of options the company is giving you, which is equal to the number of underlying shares you can purchase at the strike price. Let's say, in this case, Nextably offers you 100,000 options.

    Options usually have what's known as a "vesting" requirement. Typically, employees can't exercise any options in a grant until at least a year has passed and usually only if they've remained at the company throughout that period. Frequently, option grants vest over a period of four years, with a quarter of the grant vesting each year.

    Let's say your grant from Nextably has that same vesting schedule.

    silicon valley HBO show

    Here's where many tech workers would fire up the calculator app on their phones and make a quick calculation about the value of their grant:

    • The options allow you to buy Nextably's stock at $2 per share when it's already worth $10 per share to outside investors.
    • That means each option is worth $8 per share.
    • Because you get 100,000 options in your grant, that grant is worth $800,000.
    • However, since you're limited to exercising those options over four years, the options grant is worth $200,000 a year.

    That may sound good or it may not, depending on how things are going in your current job. If you're doing well at your gig at Facebook, Apple, Netflix, or Google, you may believe your current employer will give you a raise — or even an options grant — that's comparable in value to the options Nextably is offering. So you may figure the extra $200,000 a year from Nextably isn't worth the job change.

    The importance of looking ahead

    But there's a problem with that calculation, Ward said. It focuses on the present value of the options, not what they might be worth in the future. 

    Nextably may have been valued at only $10 a share in its last financing round of financing, but let's say the CEO says she's already planning on raising money again a year from now at $40 a share.

    Let's do the math on what that would mean for your grant:

    • You can exercises your options at $2 per share, but the stock will be worth $40 per share.
    • Your options would be worth the difference — $38 per share.
    • With 100,000 options, your grant would be worth $3.8 million, or nearly $1 million a year over four years.

    When seen from that perspective, that option grant starts to look a lot more valuable and changing jobs much more worth the effort.

    And it could be worth even more than that.

    Let's say the CEO says she expects Nextably to raise funds again the following year at a price of $120 per share. At that price, your stock options grant — assuming you hadn't sold any of your shares — would be worth nearly $12 million total. That'd be enough to buy a mega-home even in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Unicorn, Silicon Valley, startups, hoodie

    How to determine if the offer is a good one

    Of course, these back-of-the-envelope calculations makes the assumption that Nextably's growth and fundraising will follow the path the CEO is laying out. But that may be a big assumption, because most startups fail.

    In an analysis of 1,098 tech companies from CB Insights, more than 70% of startups that raised their initial seed funding between 2008 and 2010 fizzled out, because they didn't raise any additional funds and weren't acquired. The chances of any startup becoming a so-called "unicorn" with a valuation of $1 billion or more is less than one in 100, CB Insights reported.

    "When you pick the wrong startup, your stock is worthless," Ward said.

    So, why should you believe the CEO's optimistic forecast?

    Read more:A founder-turned-venture capitalist reveals the questions you should ask before joining a 'unicorn' startup

    Ward said he spends more than half of his time meeting with potential new hires for Carta. Of the time he spends recruiting, 90% is dedicated to "helping [job candidates] understand what the value of stock could be and what it could mean to them financially," he said.

    He typically gives them the same presentation, or pitch deck, he shows Carta's investors. Ward runs them through the company's metrics, the investment thesis of the venture capitalists that back Carta, and his justification for the company's next round of financing. He explains why he thinks Carta will be assigned a particular — generally much higher — valuation when it next raises funds.

    Ward encourages anyone considering an offer letter from a startup to ask for the company's last preferred price, strike price, and the trajectory of the business. He says job candidates should do their own independent research, too.

    "Not all stock is created equal," Ward said. "What matters far more than how much you get is the quality of that stock. And most people treat it like dollars, like it's a commodity. They're trying to get a larger slice of the pie [rather] than the right pie."

    See also:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 80% of startup money goes to 3 states — here's what one visionary is doing to help spread the wealth

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    Evernote founder Phil Libin sitting on a couch on August 1, 2018 in the San Francisco headquarters of All Turtles, a startup incubator where he serves as CEO.

    • Phil Libin, the founder of Evernote, thinks Silicon Valley could learn a lot from Hollywood when it comes to fostering innovation.
    • He thinks Netflix in particular offers an ideal model.
    • His new company, All Turtles, is intentionally trying to follow the blueprint Netflix uses for making shows and movies and bring it to the tech industry.
    • Libin thinks the model will help encourage the development of products and ideas that don't have the potential to be billion dollar companies and allow tech to better tap the talents of people around the world.

    Silicon Valley has a reputation for being the most innovative place in the country, if not the world.

    But if you ask Phil Libin, ground zero for innovation these days is located several hundred miles to the south — in Hollywood.

    Libin is the founder of several successful startups, including Evernote, and a former venture capitalist. So he's well acquainted with the way the tech industry funds and fosters innovation.

    He think the system's broken, and that the tech industry could learn a lot from show business, particularly Netflix. In fact, Libin's got a new startup incubator called All Turtles that he's intentionally modeled after the streaming video giant.

    "We don't make TV shows, we make tech products," he said in a recent interview with Business Insider. "But in most other ways — make and distribute — we're trying to be Netflix."

    Libin thinks tech has a 'startup fetish'

    As Libin sees it, innovation in the tech industry is thwarted by the industry's "startup fetish"— its fixation on relying on new companies to promote new ideas and technological developments.

    That fixation has gotten worse because of all the money flowing into the tech industry. The investors who have poured in massive amounts of money into startups are looking for big returns; increasingly, the industry is only interested in startups that have the potential to be billion-dollar companies.

    The problem with that focus is that it stymies the development of worthwhile ideas and innovations that don't have that potential, Libin said.

    What's more, the fixation with turning ideas into companies at an early stage of their development means that people who have few management skills are often forced to become executives. Conversely, it also means that the companies that end up succeeding are the ones with good managers, marketers, and fundraisers — not necessarily the ones that are developing interesting and innovative technologies.

    And the startup model is difficult to replicate in other areas of the country, much less the world, where the ecosystem for nurturing and funding startups just hasn't been developed, he said.

    Libin thinks there's a better way, and that Hollywood can serve as a guide.

    Hollywood offers a better way, he argues

    Hollywood used to be a lot like Silicon Valley, he said. There were basically two models for making films and TV shows.

    You had the big studios, which tended to make films designed to be blockbusters or shows intended for mass audiences. Thanks to the money the studios could invest in them, they tended to have great production values and widespread distribution.

    We're trying to be Netflix.

    But the shows and movies generally took few risks and were largely predictable and boring. And the distribution and production system meant that the big studios offered the same homogenized product around the world.

    And then, on the other end of the spectrum, you had amateur video productions that didn't look great and were seen by few people.

    Then, HBO, AMC, Netflix, and others started developing a whole new model. Like the traditional studios, they made shows and films with high production values and were able to distribute them so they could reach sizeable audiences. By not focusing on costly blockbusters, they were able to take more risks and be more innovative.

    For Libin, Netflix is the exemplar of this model. Reed Hastings' company brings together talented people to create filmed entertainment. It helps to shape their ideas, funds the development of those ideas, and then distributes the finished products once it's done. The filmmakers don't have to worry about setting up their own studios or establishing a business to make a film or show. Instead, Netflix handles those kinds of business matters, allowing filmmakers to just focus on developing their show or movie.

    Because Netflix has streamlined the idea development and removed some of the risk, the filmmakers don't have to worry about swinging for the fences.

    "They have relatively very few gigantic hits," Libin said. "It's just a lot of inherently profitable, well-made shows."

    Netflix has figured out how to tap global talent and audiences

    One area where the streaming media giant has had particular success is in figuring out how to make films and shows in lots of different countries around the world that are targeted at their specific audiences, Libin said. On a recent trip, he said he was struck by seeing big billboards for Netflix shows that were made in particular countries with local actors for local audiences. That's a big change from not so long ago, he said.

    Reed Hastings Netflix CES 2016"When I would travel internationally before, and I would see giant billboards for Hollywood things, it would be hilarious, because it would all be like some dumb Bruce Willis movie," he said. "They were all local translations of American movies."

    Libin thinks a model similar to Netflix's can work to spur innovation in the tech industry outside of streaming media. In fact, he built All Turtles with that model in mind. 

    Like Netflix, All Turtles works with creators — in its case, with technologists who specialize in artificial intelligence — to develop ideas. Like Netflix, All Turtles handles the business side of things, providing the corporate support structure so that the product developers can focus on turning their ideas into products. And, like Netflix, Libin hopes that by taking some of the risk out by providing that corporate structure, All Turtles will be able to spur the development of ideas and products that won't ever be blockbuster hits.

    "The whole point is that we're not trying to work on things that must be huge. We're not asking for this be a $10 billion outcome," he said. "We're just saying is it worthwhile, and can it be inherently self-sustaining."

    Much like Netflix, All Turtles hopes to take its model worldwide, tapping into the technology talent from areas far outside of Silicon Valley and giving them a way to develop their ideas. It's already opened offices in Paris and Tokyo and plans to open one in Mexico City next year.

    "We're basically just trying to follow in Reed's footsteps and make this for tech," he said.

    But All Turtles lacks two of Netflix's key advantages

    Not everyone is convinced the model will translate as well as Libin expects.

    Netflix has been able limit its risks in creating new shows in large part by being able to tap into the copious amounts of data it has on its customers' viewing habits, said Abhishek Nagaraj, an assistant professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, who focuses on entrepreneurship and innovation. When it considers new show ideas, it can predict fairly accurately whether its customers will tune in. It also has a lot of sway over its audience and can promote its new shows directly to them.

    All Turtles would seem to have neither of those advantages, Nagaraj said. It doesn't have the kind of audience data that Netflix has that will help ensure the products it develops will be hits. And it doesn't have the ability to market its products in the same way, because unlike Netflix, it doesn't have a captive audience or a similarly widely adopted service for distributing its products.

    "I expect those two [factors] to be roadblocks," he said.

    SEE ALSO: The founder of a beloved productivity app thinks the startup model is broken — here's how he's trying to keep the tech industry from 'making the same 10,000 mistakes over and over again'

    SEE ALSO: The CEO of 500 Startups says all successful founders have these 2 traits in common

    SEE ALSO: Netflix's 1 million subscriber miss is exactly why it’s time for the company to stop hiding a critical part of its business

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Everything Samsung just announced — the Galaxy Note 9, Fortnite, and more

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    Lucid Air

    • Saudi Arabia has been in talks with the electric-car maker Lucid Motors, Reuters reported Sunday.
    • Lucid was founded in 2007 under its former name, Atieva, and the Newark, California-based company began developing its first electric vehicle in 2014. The car, called Lucid Air, debuted in late 2016 as a 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan that Lucid said would rival Tesla's highly successful Model S.
    • Lucid invited Business Insider to check out a nearly finished representation of the car at its headquarters in 2017.

    Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), the fund Elon Musk has said could help take Tesla private, is considering an investment in a electric-car maker Lucid Motors, according to Reuters. 

    The report comes almost two full weeks after the Financial Times first reported the kingdom's sovereign-wealth fund had bought a 3% to 5% stake in TeslaElon Musk then tweeted that funding had been secured to take the electric-car maker private at $420 a share.

    Musk later said he used the phrase "funding secured" because he believed there was "no question" Saudi Arabia's PIF would provide funding to help take Tesla private. That's funding's since come in to question.

    Lucid was founded in 2007 under its former name, Atieva, and the Newark, California-based company began developing its first electric vehicle in 2014. The car, called Lucid Air, debuted in late 2016 as a 1,000-horsepower electric luxury sedan that Lucid said would rival Tesla's highly successful Model S.

    The Lucid Air will be the first vehicle out of the company's stable when it goes into production in 2019, the company said. Lucid invited Business Insider to check out a nearly finished representation of the car at its headquarters earlier this year.

    Scroll down to see how it went:

    SEE ALSO: Tesla's largest US Supercharger station has a plush, private customer lounge in the middle of a folksy California town — take a look inside

    DON'T MISS: We drove the all-new $644,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom to see the future of automotive opulence — here's what it was like

    The Lucid Air is almost surreal when seen outside in natural light. It's not a complete stretch to say it looks like a road-bound spacecraft.

    Everything from the windshield forward evokes a nearly seamless aesthetic. It has a quietly commanding presence.

    Quiet because it's electric, of course. The Air will be available with a battery pack that boasts about 240 miles of range on a full charge, or an optional pack that's expected to deliver up to 400 miles of range.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Demetri (L) _ Steven (R)

    • Keeps is a startup that connects men with preventative hair loss treatments like generic Rogaine and Propecia. 
    • So far, Keeps has raised $7.5 million from investors including Maveron, First Round Capital, Greycroft Partners and Imaginary Ventures.
    • It's part of a trend of connecting patients more directly to care and prescriptions. 

    Steven Gutentag didn't know where to turn when he started noticing his hairline wasn't where it once was. 

    Sure, he'd known it was coming — he had family members who had lost their hair early as well — but he hadn't expected it to happen in his 20s. Gutentag was working at Google at the time and didn't know how to fix what he was seeing.

    Searching the Internet was more confusing than helpful, but eventually he was connected to a hair loss dermatologist who recommended the two FDA-approved treatments for hair loss, known by their branded names as Rogaine and Propecia. 

    The experience sparked his interest in making that process smoother for others, especially for younger men just beginning to lose their hair.

    So in January 2018, Gutentag and his co-founder Demetri Karagas launched Keeps, a startup that connects men to doctors who specialize in treating hair loss and then ships medication to those men directly.

    The company has raised $7.5 million from investors including Maveron, First Round Capital, Greycroft Partners and Imaginary Ventures. 

    Here's how it works

    Working with dermatologists who specialize in hair loss, Gutentag and Karagas created a questionnaire that evaluates the hair loss a particular man is dealing with. The questionnaire, as well as photos, are used to evaluate the severity of the hair loss. Then, patients consult with one of the doctors in Keeps' network. The first visit's free, but subsequent visits cost $30 each, according to Keeps' website.

    From there, those doctors can suggest the two FDA-approved treatments for hair loss: Finasteride, known by its branded name Propecia, and Minoxidil, otherwise known as Rogaine. Taken as a pill, Finasteride comes with side effects including loss of interest in sex, impotence, swelling and dizziness. Minoxidil is available as over the counter, meaning you don't need a prescription to access it. According to the National Library of Medicine, results can take as much as four months to show up, and scalp irritation, itching, and dryness are common side effects to the medication. 

    Keeps, in partnership with a pharmacy, will then mail you private label versions of the medications tagged with the Keeps crown logo and prescription details. Keeps

    For $25 a month, Keeps will supply you with finasteride, and for $10 a month,  minoxidil. For comparison, a three-month supply for a topical solution of branded Rogaine costs about $42 via Amazon. 

    Marketing to consumers

    It’s an attempt to grow a hair-loss market that’s been in decline over the past decade.

    To reach these groups of men, Gutentag said the company has been advertising through TV and podcast ads. 

    It's part of a new business model that goes more directly to consumers. Instead of seeing a doctor who can then help you get a referral for a dermatologist who could prescribe treatments for male-pattern baldness, Keeps connects you directly to those doctors and in turn connects you to the prescriptions themselves.

    There seems to be interest in this kind of approach: Gutentag said the company is growing 50% month over month.

    Keeps has some competition. Other men's health companies that have direct relationships with patients have sprung up such as Hims, which addresses hair loss and erectile dysfunction among other areas, and Roman, which is focused on erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra. 

    See also:

    SEE ALSO: A startup aims to help the 18 million US men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction pay attention to their 'check-engine light'

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    jewelry startups main

    With its inaccessible prices, technical terminology, and nebulous production practices, the world of fine jewelry is intimidating to step into and, for a generation that cares simultaneously about value, style, sustainability, and ethics, a world to be altogether avoided. 

    Not too long ago, we wouldn't even have considered buying nice jewelry online, but then again, that's what we thought about mattresses, luxury watches, and wine. With direct-to-consumer jewelry companies taking center stage, no middlemen or mark-ups mean that you can pay a palatable price that's closer to the true cost of making that beautiful gold necklace, while high standards for sourcing and production quell any fears that your purchase sets other livelihoods or the environment back. 

    Whether it takes the form of a single, thin gold ring, a heavy statement necklace, or dangling earrings that sparkle with every subtle head movement, jewelry is a very personal purchase. These online jewelry companies will help you make the decision without overcharging you in the process. 


    Shop jewelry at Mejuri

    Toronto-based startup Mejuri, founded by a former art director and a former engineer and third-generation jeweler, drops new pieces every week of the year, and without fail, its largely female clientele return again and again to its 14-karat gold, gold vermeil, and sterling silver jewelry that's made for everyday wear. Mejuri's mission is to have women "embrace a daily dose of luxury." With plenty of under-$100 options, it makes fulfilling this mission very achievable.  

    What to buy:  



    Shop jewelry at AUrate

    AUrate offers both the solid foundation pieces and the unique statement pieces that you'll need for a jewelry refresh. Everything is crafted right in New York City, which also means that NYC dwellers can enjoy same day delivery of 14- and 18-karat gold, AAA pearls, and ethically sourced diamonds (the rest of the country gets free shipping). For indecisive shoppers, Curate is AUrate's personalized jewelry box delivery service that gives you a week to try on five pieces and decide which one(s) you want to keep.  

    What to buy: 


    Shop jewelry at Catbird

    Hip neighborhood boutique vibes meet the ease of browsing and speed of online shopping at Catbird, where you can find delicate $40 rings alongside sparkly $14,000 engagement rings. It's fully transparent about the source of its materials, and donates 1% of all sales to non-profits including the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. In addition to jewelry that's crafted in-house, Catbird is home to other designers and beauty and home goods. 

    What to buy: 

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    shark tank rejects main 2

    Throughout its nine seasons, the show "Shark Tank" has averaged four to nine million viewers. It's the biggest public platform that an entrepreneur could hope for, and just a 10-minute pitch on the show can translate to huge sales. Household names like the Scrub Daddy and Tipsy Elves all got their start after successfully striking deals on the show, but even companies that walked away without deals have done well, if not better than companies that did. 

    The founders of these companies took their "Shark Tank" rejections in stride, using them as learning lessons to nonetheless make millions in sales. Money from the judges would've been nice, but it turns out the national exposure can be just as valuable. 

    Check out the 8 companies that you'll be surprised didn't get deals on "Shark Tank" 

    The Bouqs Co.

    Online flower delivery service The Bouqs Co. left the Tank in 2014 without an investment, but Robert Herjavec kept them in mind three years later when he was planning the flowers for his wedding. Herjavec eventually ended up investing after getting a firsthand glimpse into the process behind creating the beautiful arrangements. Co-founder and CEO John Tabis said that there were several days in 2017 when the company sold $1 million in flowers in a day. It's now valued at $43.1 million. 

    Shop flower bouquets at The Bouqs Co.


    This smart video doorbell gives homeowners peace of mind about who's at their door, whether they're at home or not. When Ring founder Jamie Siminoff appeared on the show, he valued his company, then called DoorBot, at $7 million.

    Since then, it's counted prominent investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers,Qualcomm Ventures, Goldman Sachsand Richard Branson among its supporters. Most recently, Amazon bought Ring in a deal worth over $1 billion, a testament to its versatile capabilities beyond home security.

    Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Video Doorbell in Satin Nickel, $99.99, available at Amazon

    Kodiak Cakes

    The co-founder and COO of Kodiak Cakes, a natural food brand that makes whole grain, protein-rich breakfast options, went on the show seeking a $500,000 investment for 10% of their business. Though the Sharks all liked the taste and nutritional benefits of these pancake mixes, none of them agreed with the valuation. 

    Now, it's the fastest-growing pancake mix brand in the US, growing 80% year-on-year and approaching $100 million in revenue. 

    Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Pancake, Flapjack and Waffle Mix (3-Pack), $12.80, available at Amazon

    Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Unleashed Flapjack On the Go Baking Mix (12-Count), $16, available at Amazon


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    bii top 5 startups to watch in digital health

    The healthcare industry is facing disruption due to accelerating technological innovation and growing demand for improved delivery of healthcare and lower costs. Tech startups are leading the way by seizing opportunities in the areas of the industry that are most vulnerable to disruption, including genomics, pharmaceuticals, administration, clinical operations, and insurance.

    Venture funds and businesses are taking notice of these startups' potential. In the US, digital health funding reached $1.6 billion in Q1 2018, according to Rock Health — the largest first quarter on record, surpassing the $1.4 billion in venture funding seen in Q1 2016. These high-potential startups provide a glimpse into the future of the healthcare space and demonstrate how we’ll get there.

    In this report, a compilation of various notes, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the top startups disrupting US healthcare in four key areas: artificial intelligence (AI), digital therapeutics, health insurance, and genomics. Startups in this report were selected based on the funding they've received over the past year, notable investors, the products they offer, and leadership in their functional area.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Tech startups are entering the market by applying the “Silicon Valley” approach. They're targeting shortcomings and legacy systems that are no longer efficient.
    • AI is being applied across five areas of healthcare to improve clinical operation workflows, cut costs, and foster preventative medicine. These areas include administration, big data analysis, clinical decision support, remote patient monitoring, and care provision.
    • Health tech startups, insurers, and drug makers are rapidly exploring new ways to apply digital therapeutics to the broader healthcare market that replace or complement the existing treatment of a disease.
    • Health insurance startups are taking advantage of the consumerization of healthcare to threaten the status quo of legacy players. 
    • Genomics is becoming an increasingly common tool within the healthcare system as health organizations better understand how to extract the value from patients’ genetic data. 

     In full, the report:

    • Details the areas of the US health industry that show the greatest potential for disruption.
    • Forecasts the industry adoption of bleeding edge technology and how it will transform how healthcare organizations operate.
    • Unveils the top five startups in AI, digital therapeutics, health insurance, and genomics, and how they're positioned to solve big issues that key players in healthcare face. 
    • Explores what's next for the leading startups, providing a glimpse into the future of the healthcare space and demonstrating how we’ll get there.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
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    • If it looks like a cloud, feels like a cloud, and moves like a cloud, chances are it's a cloud— or in this case, a Buffy comforter.
    • Organic eucalyptus may just seem like a buzzword to help sell comforters, but in reality, it makes a huge difference in the comfort of your comforter, and consequently, the quality of your sleep.
    • Surprisingly breathable yet still thick enough to be warm, this is a perfect blanket to have on your bed as you begin to consider transitioning from the summer months to the fall.
    • Best of all, you get to try Buffy before you buy it, though chances are, once you take this comforter out of the box, you'll never want to send it back.

    The eucalyptus revolution has finally made it into your bed. You're not only finding traces of that Australian tree in your favorite ointments, lip balms, perfumes, and medicines, but also in yet another product meant to make you feel like the most pampered version of yourself. Meet Buffy— not the vampire slayer (a joke I'm sure the company is tired of hearing), but rather a new line of comforters that may just be one of the best things I've ever had in or on my bed.

    At its core, the Buffy is a down-alternative comforter constructed with a mix of microfiber and eucalyptus fiber.

    The eucalyptus isn't just for show, but rather lends its naturally soothing and anti-inflammatory effects to your nightly skin regimen — all without your having to lift a finger. While I was a bit skeptical about just how useful a eucalyptus comforter could be, I will say that this is one blanket that you'll want to have touching your face.

    It's incredibly soft and silky, and while I can't say that I've ever had inflammatory issues with other comforters, Buffy somehow feels slicker (in the best of ways) when compared to other comforters I've tried out. That said, keep in mind that you'll have to sleep with the Buffy sans duvet cover if you want to reap the full eucalyptus benefits — that may be a little iffy, even if you can wash the Buffy in your laundry machine. In any case, here's hoping that the company will soon release a companion cover that still leverages the health benefits of our favorite Australian plant.

    buffy comforter review

    The interior of the comforter is filled with no fewer than 50 recycled bottles.That isn't to say that they've just crushed up your empty Dasanis and Aquafinas and placed them within a eucalyptus cover, but rather that Buffy's sustainable practices are actively rescuing used plastic bottles and giving them new life as part of your bedtime. Somehow, these bottles are spun into polyester and then "crimped for fluffiness." And fluffy this comforter most certainly is.

    Part of this may be attributed to the lyocell found in the comforter — this cellulose fiber is a form of rayon, made by dissolving wood pulp using a jet-wet spinning method. It also turns out to be hypoallergenic, naturally repelling mold, mildew, dust mites, and other microbes or pathogens. The result is a comforter that feels light and airy, and won't get musty over time, and is substantial enough to keep you warm on a chilly evening.

    And as for keeping you warm, I'm always a bit concerned about overheating during the night. But the Buffy does a surprisingly effective job at regulating temperature. By leveraging 37.5 technology, this comforter is able to keep you cooler than a similar product of comparable thickness, but is also breathable enough to let warm, sticky air escape during the night. That is to say, I've never woken up in a pool of my own sweat when sleeping with Buffy. Come fall, I'm quite confident that I'll be able to wrap myself in my comforter and face down even the chilliest of evenings without a snuggle partner.

    Sustainability has clearly taken a forefront in all that Buffy does, which means that you can sleep comfortably and with a clear conscience, knowing that Buffy has reclaimed over 750,000 plastic bottles from entering the oceans and landfills, and saved over 15 million gallons of water by using eucalyptus rather than cotton.

    buffy comforter review

    Oh, and because Buffy isn't worried about filling its comforters with down feathers from the birds of the world, you'll also be investing in a cruelty-free product.

    As for pricing, the Buffy isn't necessarily the cheapest option on the market, but when compared to similar products, it's still extremely affordable at $120 for Twin size. I should also point out that you don't initially buy the Buffy — instead, you take it out for a 30-day test period, totally risk-free. In fact, you're not even charged for the comforter until you're convinced you've fallen in love with it. That said, if you do decide to return it, the comforter goes to a good cause — the company notes that it generally donates returned products to homeless shelters in the local community.

    All in all, if you're looking to give your nightly repose a major upgrade, you may want to take a closer look at what's on top of your bed, and replace it with a Buffy comforter.

    Buy a Buffy comforter in the following sizes: Twin ($120), Full/Queen ($150), and King/Cali King ($190).

    SEE ALSO: Not all beds in boxes were created equal, and here to prove that is the DreamCloud — I slept on the mattress and loved it

    DON'T MISS: The best adjustable bed frames you can buy

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    leonandgeorge magenta triostar

    • What sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster — an indoor house plant you never see in person that is packed into a cardboard box and shipped across the country to your door — is something online startup Léon & George pulls off surprisingly well. 
    • Its collection is full of indoor house plants ($139+) that are easy to care for and each order comes potted in a stylish ceramic planter. 
    • I tried the service with some initial hesitance, but found it lived up to its mission of making shopping for beautiful plants convenient and enjoyable.

    Home and interior design magazines frequently espouse this simple trick for refreshing your space: add a house plant. It's not only a strategic aesthetic move — research has found exposure to nature improves emotional well-being, making you happier and even more creative.

    I'm no scientist, but plenty of anecdotal evidence has also confirmed that shopping for and taking care of these beneficial house plants isn't as easy as the magazines make it out to be. After hearing similar feedback from friends, plant enthusiasts Ron Radu and Nico Bartoli wanted to show people that owning plants can actually be hassle-free and thus created Léon & George, a full-service online startup that delivers potted, responsibly sourced plants right to your door.

    Radu and Bartoli started in 2016 by partnering with local growers who were looking for a change from big box stores and nurseries, which often placed unrealistic demands on crop growth or didn't store plants in optimal growing environments. Though the company has now scaled to a point where the founders don't need to turn their own homes into mini greenhouses, the level of care and attention remains: they source the highest-quality greenery from US growers, and all plants are stored under conditions that imitate their native climates. 

    leon and george plant care

    Customers can choose from a collection of attractive plants, like the dense Little Hope philodendron or the summery Parlor Palm, then pair their selection with a simple and stylish ceramic planter. You can also shop by "Benefits" (easy care, air purifiers, safe for pets) and "Light" (medium-to-bright, low). Everything is included in the $139 price: the plant, pot, wood stand, care instructions, and shipping. 

    I ordered the Zanzibar Gem, namely because the website told me it's "near indestructible" and can "handle long periods of neglect"  — music to the ears of traditionally terrible plant owners like myself. It can also handle low-light environments, so I could plan to keep it right at my office desk instead of a distant window sill. 

    The potted plant arrived upright in a box, and thanks to layers of cardboard support and bubble wrap, it emerged from the shipping journey fresh and unscathed. 

    my leon and george plant

    Caring for my Zanzibar Gem has been a breeze. I basically water it whenever I think to (which is really not often) and it's still thriving a couple weeks after it first arrived. If you're worried about plant care falling by the wayside, Léon & George sends Weekly Plant Care Reminder emails to nudge you to pay a little more attention to your plant. 

    My experience with the service couldn't have been easier. Since I live in a big city, it's inconvenient and tiring to visit a nursery and haul a large plant onto the subway, so having it delivered (the company delivers nationwide) instead was a major boon. The potting was already done for me, and the site offers a lot of support if you run into any trouble while caring for your plant. Buying greenery from Léon & George is also an investment back into the Earth because the company plants one tree in a US National Forest through the National Forest Foundation for every plant sold. 

    Léon & George's selection of high-quality plants will appease plant parents of all types. If you're new to plant care, the site offers guidance and low-maintenance options, and if your room is already filled with greenery, Léon & George's all-in-one service makes it that much more convenient to add to your collection. 

    Shop plants at Léon & George here

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    space rocket launch

    Next-generation environmental monitoring. Neural interface technology. Space catapults. 

    These are some of the far-out visions being pursued by a promising bunch of startups that might just be the business titans of tomorrow.

    In a recent research note circulated to clients, Goldman Sachs highlighted the ten "software and internet" startups that had raised the most Series A investment in the second quarter of 2018, based on data collected by venture capital monitoring firm CB Insights.

    Series A funding is some of the very first investment companies will receive in their life-cycle — right after seed or angel funding — indicating that it's still early days for these firms. But these young firms still collectively raised more than $400 million in the last three months, in industries ranging from healthcare to real estate to aeronautics.

    There's no telling yet whether they will all be able to achieve their heady dreams — but together they offer a glimpse at what the world's top investors are betting will be the technologies and products that will transform our world in the years to come.

    Here they all are...

    SEE ALSO: Meet 16 of Facebook's most important engineers, working on its biggest products and guiding its future

    10. Caresyntax ($20 million) is providing clinicians with more data.

    Caresyntax is focused in the medical space, and provides clinicians with data analytics to "identify deviations from benchmarks in processes and outcomes, "address workflow efficiency bottlenecks," and more. 

    It was founded in 2013 in Germany by Dennis Kogan and Björn von Siemens before expanding to the US in 2017. In June 2018 it got a $20 million cash injection from healthcare AI investment fund Surgical.AI. 

    9. Redaptive ($20 million) is improving customers' energy efficiency.

    San Francisco startup Redaptive snagged $20 million in venture capital funding in April 2018 from real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group, as well as ENGIE New Ventures and GXP Investments.

    So what does it do? Redaptive helps make corporate clients' facilities more energy efficient, billing itself as a "leading provider of commercial Efficiency-as-a-Service." 

    "What makes our program unlike any other is that Redaptive makes the investment in your facilities, takes on all project execution and technology performance risk and covers maintenance costs, it says on its website. "Once we have designed and installed efficiency upgrades, you only pay for actual metered savings at a level that ensures you see immediate operating savings on day one."

    It was cofounded in 2013 by Goldman Sachs veteran John Rhow, its co-CEO, and Ryan Martineau, SVP, Channel Sales.

    8. Medici Technologies ($22 million) is building what it calls the "WhatsApp of Healthcare."

    Medici Technologies is building an app that lets patients message their doctors from their smartphones — calling itself the "WhatsApp of Healthcare."

    Based in Austin, Texas and founded by medical industry exec Clinton Phillips in 2016, Medici raises $22 million from a suite of private investors in June 2018.

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    Tim Cook

    • Apple has purchased Akonia Holographics, a company making lenses for augmented reality goggles, the company confirms. 
    • Apple is said to be working on a pair of smart goggles of its own, for launch in 2020. 
    • Apple CEO Tim Cook has often said that he sees augmented reality — the technology for overlaying digital information over the real world — as the next big thing in computing.

    Apple has acquired a startup focused on making lenses for augmented reality glasses, the company confirmed on Wednesday, a signal Apple has ambitions to make a wearable device that would superimpose digital information on the real world.

    Apple confirmed it acquired Longmont, Colorado-based Akonia Holographics. "Apple buys smaller companies from time to time, and we generally don't discuss our purpose or plans," the iPhone maker said in a statement.

    Akonia could not immediately be reached for comment. The company was founded in 2012 by a group of holography scientists and had originally focused on holographic data storage before shifting its efforts to creating displays for augmented reality glasses, according to its website.

    In augmented reality, digital information is overlaid on the real world as in the popular game Pokemon Go. Mobile phones use their camera system to do this on the phone's screen, but major technology firms are racing to create glasses that will show digital information on transparent lenses.

    Akonia said its display technology allows for "thin, transparent smart glass lenses that display vibrant, full-color, wide field-of-view images." The firm has a portfolio of more than 200 patents related to holographic systems and materials, according to its website.

    Akonia also said it raised $11.6 million in seed funding in 2012 and was seeking additional funding. It was unclear whether that funding ever materialized or who the firm's investors were.

    The purchase price and date of the acquisition could not be learned, though one executive in the augmented reality industry said the Akonia team had become "very quiet" over the past six months, implying that the deal may have happened in the first half of 2018.

    Apple has a history of buying smaller companies whose technologies show up years later in its products. In 2013, Apple acquired a small Israeli firm called PrimeSense that made three-dimensional sensors. The iPhone X, launched last year, used a similar sensor to power facial recognition features.

    Bloomberg last year reported that Apple was developing augmented reality glasses that could ship as early as 2020. Apple declined to comment on its plans or products.

    But the company last year launched augmented reality applications for its iPhones and iPads, and CEO Tim Cook has called augmented reality a "big and profound" technology development.

    "This is one of those huge things that we'll look back at and marvel on the start of it," Cook said of augmented reality on a conference call with investors last year.

    The Akonia acquisition is the first clear indication of how Apple might handle one of the most daunting challenges in augmented reality hardware: Producing crystal clear optical displays thin and light enough to fit into glasses similar to everyday frames with images bright enough for outdoor use and suited to mass manufacturing at a relatively low price.

    Augmented reality headsets currently on the market such as Microsoft Corp's HoloLens and startup Magic Leap's Magic Leap One both use darkened lenses and are intended for indoor use. Both are also intended for software developers testing the technology and cost several thousand dollars.

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    electric scooter san francisco limebike

    • San Francisco has selected two companies — Scoot and Skip — to launch its dockless scooter-sharing pilot program.
    • The startups will begin rolling out a total of 1,250 scooters in October.
    • The decision from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was seen as a blow to Uber and Lyft, which also applied for permits to operate dockless scooters.


    In San Francisco, the dockless scooters that once covered the city's streets and sidewalks like bees on a hot dog stand are finally returning.

    The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which had banned the shared electric scooters a few months ago, announced the details of a one-year scooter pilot program on Thursday. 

    But while numerous startups and tech giants, including Uber and Lyft, were vying for the coveted permits to bring their two-wheelers back to San Francisco, only two scooter companies are getting the greenlight: Scoot and Spin.

    Starting in October, those startups will roll out a total of 1,250 electric scooters that San Franciscans can unlock with their smartphones and hop on to zip around the city. The companies may increase the number of scooters to 2,500 each after the first seven months of the pilot program, during which time the city will be watching closely to decide policies on the future of scooter-share.

    The SFMTA's decision comes as a major blow to Uber and Lyft, which both applied for permits to operate scooters in San Francisco, as well as Bird, the white-hot scooter startup that's raised funding at a whopping $2 billion valuation. Its investors often credit the Los Angeles-based Bird with inventing the scooter-share phenomenon last year.

    Read more: Top Silicon Valley investors explain why an electric scooter startup raising $400 million in 4 months is 'genius' and worth every penny

    The transit authority reviewed 12 applications and more than 800 pages of proposals before reaching a decision. According to a statement, the SFMTA prioritized concerns around safety, access for disabled and low-income residents, and accountability.

    That Uber and Lyft were passed over for permits isn't totally surprising, given the contentious history between them and the city. About six years ago, the car ride-hailing companies launched on the city's streets and sidewalks without clearance from local authorities — setting a precedent for scooter startups to do the same. 

    In March, three companies — Bird, Lime, and Spin — unloaded hundreds of scooters across San Francisco before permits for operating were available to them. According to the SFMTA, residents placed nearly 1,900 calls to the city's customer service center between April 11 and May 23, to complain about scooters blocking sidewalk access and users riding in the public's right-of-way.

    To address these issues, the city started impounding scooters, before the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a new law requiring that any scooter startup have a permit from the SFMTA to operate.

    It was not immediately clear on Thursday if the agency will issue more permits to companies like Uber, Lyft, and Bird, before the one-year scooter pilot program is up.

    The decision is a blow to Uber, whose CEO recently touted its nascent shared scooter and bike services as key to the company's future.

    "During rush hour, it is very inefficient for a one-tonne hulk of metal to take one person 10 blocks," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the Financial Times this month. "We're able to shape behaviour in a way that's a win for the user. It's a win for the city."

    "Short-term financially, maybe it's not a win for us, but strategically long term we think that is exactly where we want to head," he said.

    The other unsuccessful applicants include Hopr, Jump (which is owned by Uber), Lime, Ofo, Razor, Ridecell, Spin, and Uscooters.

    Skip was an underdog going into the permitting process. The startup launched its first scooters in Washington, DC, after working closely with lawmakers to craft regulation that would allow it to operate.

    According to the company, Skip was the first startup in the country with a shared, dockless scooter permit. Its careful launch paid off.

    Sanjay Dastoor, Skip's CEO, told Business Insider in May that he prefers working with cities, rather than asking for forgiveness.

    "We're the only company without a cease and desist order," Dastoor said, after the SFMTA gave scooters the boot in May. "So if you're trying to decide who to work with and you look at whose scooters are the right fit for the city and who is taking the right approach to working with regulators on it, I would say we're the best choice."

    SEE ALSO: A startup in the West Coast scooter sharing craze is already worth $1 billion — here's what it's like to ride a Bird scooter

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This tiny electric scooter will make your commute a lot more exciting

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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 three styles, the Runners, the Skippers, and the Loungers, and we tried them to see if they're just as comfortable as the originals.
    • Spoiler alert: They're amazing, and now they come in new fall colorways.

    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 wool 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 Joey 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.'"


    The new line, aptly named the "Tree collection," includes three styles — the Runners and Loungers 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 nine colors, and the men's styles come in seven.

    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."

    Allbirds_2057_Shot_2_RoseTreeSkipper_W_0289 (1)

    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.


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    ada health team

    • Started by a pediatrician, Ada Health is a tool that lets you type in your symptoms and learn what's ailing you. 
    • You can also track your symptoms over time and share them with a healthcare provider.
    • The company is backed by Google’s chief business officer and the entrepreneur behind Amazon's Alexa.

    To Google or not to Google — that's often the question when it comes to a troubling ailment like a cough or stomach pain.

    But researching your symptoms online can send you down a rabbit hole that leads you to think you have a life-threatening condition. The alternative is a trip to the doctor, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Given the shortage of healthcare providers in the US, doctor's visits can often feel hurried and unpleasant as well.

    Daniel Nathrath, the CEO of Berlin-based startup Ada Health, and his co-founder and chief medical officer, Claire Novorol, have created a tool that they hope will address this problem.

    The Ada Health app is designed to give better information than you'd get from Google results. Users open the free app, enter their age and gender, and type in a symptom like pain or a cough. Then a bot powered by machine learning asks several basic questions, such as how long the symptom has persisted, what makes it worse, and whether or not any related symptoms have popped up.

    After a brief chat with the Ada bot, you're brought to a screen that displays what's probably causing your issues. The results are based on a large and growing database of hundreds of thousands of people that match your age and gender.

    Nathrath and Novorol hope the tool can nip some health fears in the bud. It could also help people avoid unnecessary doctor's visits. There's no waiting room, no appointment, and no copay.

    "This is what seeing your doctor should be like," Nathrath told Business Insider.

    Ada compares you against others in your demographic

    woman, college student, phone, campus, working, texting

    Say you're a 31-year-old woman experiencing stomach pain, for example. Once you type in your symptoms and answer Ada's questions, it might tell you that, based on the other 31-year-old women in the database, the vast majority who reported your symptoms were diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Then Ada may advise visiting a healthcare provider. Or if the likely cause of your symptoms is not a serious issue, the service may suggest that you rest and keep an eye on your symptoms.

    "It's like a conversation with a physician," Nathrath said.

    Ada reminds you throughout this process that it cannot diagnose or treat an illness. All it does is give you the statistical likelihood that you have a certain condition, based on the information in the database.

    Still, Ada's results are more accurate than those of sites like WebMD, which merely tell you the most likely cause of a condition based on data from the entire population. 

    ada health symptom q

    Ada is currently the highest ranked medical app in more than 130 countries. Roughly 45,000 cases are entered into the app's algorithm every day, and so far, roughly 6 million patients have interacted with Ada.

    Nathrath believes Ada could eventually reduce healthcare spending by helping patients avoid unnecessary doctor's visits and saving their healthcare providers time. That's a possibility that needs to be tested with research, but investors seem to see the platform's potential.

    Ada Health received funding from William Tunstall-Pedoe, the AI entrepreneur behind Amazon's Alexa, as well as Google’s chief business officer Philipp Schindler. The company has raised $69.3 million since it was founded in 2011. At that time, it was aimed at helping doctors track patients' symptoms, but in 2016, the company pivoted to focus on patients and launched as an app in Europe. They expanded to the US last year.

    "Essentially, what we’ve done is developed a medical AI that you may have an easier time talking to than to your family doctor," Nathrath said.

    Symptom checkers: The next popular primary care tool

    Ada Health is not the only tool that lets users input and track their symptoms. Another so-called "symptom checker" is primary-care app K Health, which launched in New York in 2016 with funding from Box Group and Comcast Ventures.

    If these services can get the science and AI right, they offer a big list of potential benefits, including reducing healthcare costs, saving time for patients and doctors, and slashing unnecessary worry. But it's too early to say how beneficial these tools really are for doctors or patients, since the data we have on symptom checkers is quickly becoming outdated.

    For a study published in the journal BMJ in 2015, researchers from Harvard Medical School reviewed 23 symptom checkers to see if they provided the correct assessment of users' symptoms and accurate recommendations. (Neither Ada nor K Health were included since neither existed at the time.) The researchers found that the checkers were correct just over a third of the time; and their advice was determined to be the proper advice for a given condition roughly two thirds of the time.

    Importantly, however, the study did not compare those findings to statistics on human physicians.

    Until better data becomes available on the utility of apps like Ada Health and K Health, they can at least offer an educated assessment about what's causing a symptom like a sore throat. Ada Health recently launched its service in two additional languages — Portuguese and Spanish — to make it accessible to even more users.

    "Our biggest issue right now is serving the demand we have," Nathrath said. 

    SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley e-cig startup Juul 'threw a really great party' to launch its devices, which experts say deliberately targeted youth

    DON'T MISS: Stanford researchers are learning how ketamine fights depression — and why the drug's been called 'the most important discovery in half a century'

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    NOW WATCH: An ER doctor explains the most frequent injuries they see and how to prevent them

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    • Ginkgo Bioworks, a startup known for its work turning bacteria into consumer goods, is partnering with marijuana producer Cronos to make lab-grown cannabis.
    • The $122-million deal, announced this week, will allow Ginkgo to use Cronos' Canadian lab space to make several different marijuana compounds without a farm.
    • Ginkgo's CEO told Business Insider the deal could have big potential for the pharmaceutical industry, who's been hard at work turning marijuana compounds into medications.

    After months of searching, it was love at first sight for Jason Kelly, the CEO of a startup known for its work turning bacteria into consumer goods such as fragrances.

    Kelly's company, called Ginkgo Bioworks, had been looking for a marijuana production partner so it could apply its technology to cannabis. Using a process similar to that which it uses to make flavors and scents, the company aimed to make lab-grown marijuana strains with pharmaceutical potential.

    Then it discovered Cronos, a Toronto-based cannabis producer founded in 2013.

    "They had green rooms, automated tracks to move plants around, A to B testing on various light configurations — everything. It was exactly what we'd been looking for," Kelly told Business Insider.

    As part of a $122-million deal announced this week, Ginkgo will use Cronos' Canadian lab space to play with marijuana's DNA. Ginkgo aims to manufacture a handful of the plant's better-known compounds like CBD (the non-psychoactive compound that's not responsible for a high) and THC, as well as some of its lesser-known components, such as THCV, which staunches appetite but is only present in the plant in very low quantities.

    Using its technology, Ginkgo could make all of these ingredients at a lower cost and in desired quantities, Kelly said.

    If successful, the work would be of major interest to pharmaceutical companies, which have long been eyeing marijuana's compounds for use in medications and have recently begun turning them into federally-approved drugs.

    "There’ so much new discovery work on the pharmaceutical side that' possible using our approach," Kelly said. "That' definitely an area that we’re excited about."

    Kelly's company — which has also partnered with big names like Bayer AG and Cargill  — hopes to use the processes it has already perfected using yeast and fragrances to create eight marijuana compounds in Cronos' Canadian labs.

    Marijuana-based pharmaceuticals grown in labs instead of farms

    For years, pharmaceutical companies have been actively searching for ways to turn marijuana's compounds into medications. There's been a hint of progress in recent years.

    In June, the federal government approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based epilepsy drug; last year, it green-lit Marinol, a drug made with lab-grown THC that treats nausea and other side-effects of chemotherapy and AIDS.

    But drug makers continue to face high costs for conventionally-grown marijuana. In addition, they must navigate a confusing web of state and federal laws in order to get their products approved.

    The potential to solve these problems with marijuana that's grown in a lab rather than on a farm was a big impetus behind Ginkgo's deal with Cronos, said Kelly.

    "Beyond THC and CBD, there's a whole class of rare cannabinoids in [the plant], but accessing them at a remotely reasonable cost hasn’t been feasible," he said.

    Through the deal with Cronos, he aims to change that.

    "Cronos had a view that what matters is ingredients and cost — and the technology to prove it."

    DON'T MISS: A drug derived from marijuana has become the first to win federal approval, and experts predict an avalanche effect

    SEE ALSO: Pharmaceutical giants are sidestepping US marijuana restrictions to research cannabis-based drugs

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    NOW WATCH: NASA is flying a $1.5 billion spacecraft into the sun — here's why

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    While some startups are bootstrapped, many others seek external funding to help with operating costs and growth plans. Big venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz or Sequoia Capital and accelerators like Y Combinator dominate most people's conceptions of the "typical" investor. 

    A number of popular retail startups, however, have investors who you might recognize from ventures that couldn't be more different from the world of Silicon Valley: movies and TV, music, and sports.

    When they're not starring in your favorite shows, singing on stage, or winning championships, these celebrities are funneling their money into up-and-coming companies. They see potential in and care about the startups that are helping people live the lives they want to lead.

    Learn more about each startup, its total funding amount, and its celebrity investors below. 


    About the company: Casper is an undisputed leader in the online mattress world, with the sales, funding, and name recognition to prove it. Aside from making really comfortable mattresses, it also makes sheets, pillows, and even dog beds

    Total funding amount: $239.7 million 

    Celebrity investors: 50 Cent, Kevin Spacey, Kyrie Irving, Shaun White, Andre Iguodala, Tobey Maguire, Adam Levine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Scooter Braun 



    About the company:Stance was the NBA's official on-court sock for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 seasons, so it's not surprising it counts an NBA player among its investors. Its athletic socks are specially designed to help you perform your best, but it also has plenty of comfortable, stylish casual socks you can wear during everyday life. 

    Total funding amount: $116 million 

    Celebrity investors: Will Smith, Dwayne Wade, Nas, Jay-Z 



    Daily Harvest

    About the company: Daily Harvest makes sipping on delicious, healthy smoothies easy by sending you pre-portioned cups of ingredients that you can just throw in the blender. Unique flavor combos like Dragonfruit and Lychee, Acai and Cherry, and Pineapple and Matcha confirm these aren't just any smoothies you'd ordinarily put together yourself. 

    Total funding amount: $43 million 

    Celebrity investors: Bobby Flay, Haylie Duff, Shaun White 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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