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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.

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    • In the last couple of years, several startups have entered the dog food meal delivery space to offer healthier alternatives for our four-legged friends.
    • PetPlate and Ollie, two of the biggest players in this industry, offer a variety of recipes delivered frozen to your door.
    • Both are excellent solutions with Ollie at a lower price point and PetPlate providing more user-friendly packaging.
    • A couple other worthwhile fresh dog food options to consider are The Farmer's Dog, which we reviewed here, and NomNomNow, which also caters to cats

    Getting dog food delivered to your door is not a new thing. I've ordered dry food from Amazon for years. But, today's dog food meal delivery services are less like buying kibble online and more like the popular meal delivery services for humans — like Plated — only you don't have to do any cooking to provide your pup with a healthy, nutrient-rich meal.

    PetPlate and Ollie recently sent my 14-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Ned, a month's supply of their healthy meals for free.

    PetPlate was founded by Renaldo Webb and his dog Winston. Renaldo was looking for healthy solutions for his furry companion and was unhappy with what he was finding in the pet food aisle. With a background as a consultant, he moved into a commercial kitchen space and consulted with veterinarian Dr. Renee Streeter to formulate recipes made with high-quality ingredients and the right vitamins and minerals. Renaldo appeared on Shark Tank in late 2016 but didn't secure funding. But, PetPlate has prospered regardless.

    Ollie also got its start around the same time in October 2016. Cofounders Gabby Slome, Randy Jimenez, and Alex Douzet assembled a team of tech specialists, trained nutritionists, and manufacturers to challenge the small conglomerate of companies controlling the dog food industry.

    Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the review, it's important to mention that you should introduce your pup to new foods slowly. And, if they have health problems, consult with your vet before starting a new meal plan. With Ned, we gave him a quarter meal of the new food and three-quarters of his old stuff. After monitoring him for a few meals, we progressively gave him more of the new food and weened him off of the kibble.

    Below, we will compare the prices, recipe options, delivery options, packaging, and quality of PetPlate and Ollie.

    Keep scrolling to see which dog food meal delivery service wins each category and read our final verdict on which one you should buy.

    Subscribe to PetPlate or subscribe to Ollie here.

    SEE ALSO: The best dog food you can buy

    DON'T MISS: I tested The Farmer’s Dog, a meal plan service that sends your dog fresh food for as little as $3 a day — here's what it's like

    Price

    Winner: Ollie is currently less expensive than PetPlate for my 55-pound dog, but the prices vary based on your pet.

    For a fair comparison of the prices of PetPlate and Ollie, I looked at the costs of 28 meals (about two weeks of full meals) of the lamb recipe for Ned. The amount of food a dog eats depends on how much they weigh. So, a bigger dog will need more food, and thus, the cost to feed them will be higher.

    The prices I quote here are based on Ned's weight of 55 pounds. PetPlate costs $134.28, or approximately $9.59 per day. Ollie is $112.60, or around $8.04. Additionally, Ollie offers a 50% discount on your first order. PetPlate will give you 25% off.



    Recipe options

    Winner: Both companies offer recipes with chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb as the main ingredient, but Ollie's recipes appear to offer more variety.

    PetPlate offers chicken, turkey, beef, and lamb recipes. The secondary ingredients for each include sweet potatoes, apples, broccoli, and a host of vitamins and nutrients. Ned tried all four of these recipes and seemed to show the same amount of pizzazz for each.

    Ollie offers the same protein options as PetPlate but gives them fancier names: Healthy Turkey Feast, Hearty Beef Eats, Chicken Goodness, and Tasty Lamb Fare. More importantly, the secondary ingredients appear to be more varied. For example, the turkey recipe also features pumpkin, carrot, lentils, kale, blueberries, and more. While, the lamb has butternut squash, rutabaga, chickpeas, cranberries, and more. All of the options are packed full of vitamins and nutrients. Ned only tried the lamb.



    Delivery options

    Winner: This is a draw since both companies offer similar delivery options.

    Ollie has two main delivery plans. There is the full meal plan with which you receive a box with 14 trays delivered every two weeks. You feed your woofer half the tray in the morning and half at night. The second plan is meant to supplement your dog's regular food with seven trays delivered every four weeks.

    With PetPlate's full meal plan, you get 14 20-ounce containers every two weeks. You feed your pup half the container twice a day. With the topper plan, you get 14 containers delivered every 4 weeks.

    Both services allow you to cancel, skip, pause, and make changes at any time.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    42723005_10155322992525904_8371517418891116544_n

    • Naked Wines is a 10-year-old company that invests directly into independent winemakers to bring unique, high-end wine to consumers for cheap prices.
    • You can use it as a traditional wine store and buy by the bottle, or you can become an "Angel" member and invest $40 every month into a wine bank account — which is always available for you to spend — and get perks like 40 - 60% off listed prices.
    • Naked Wines is not a subscription, but its reimagining of the wine industry makes it easier to support indie winemakers across the globe.
    • I tried it and was impressed by the quality of "easy drinking" wines and their 100% satisfaction guarantee.
    • Get a $100 voucher by taking a 30-second quiz here

    If buying unique wines at wholesale prices and having them delivered to your doorstep sounds too good to be true, you should check out Naked Wines. The 10-year-old company invests in 159 indie winemakers around the world and uses a lean business model to bring unique, high-end wines to market for cheap.

    For you, Naked Wines is a relatively inexpensive way to get good, unique wines sent to your door. For winemakers, it's kind of like a “Shark Tank” for their product: they propose a wine, it gets approved, and Naked Wines gives them an advance to make it happen. Part of how the company has the funds to operate this way is through over 100,000 voluntary "Angel" customers who act like investors.

    Once accepted into the program, Angel members invest $40 every month into their Naked piggy bank. This pool of crowdfunded money helps Naked Wines invest in its winemakers, but it's not lost to Angel members; the $40 in their piggy bank can be used on their individual wine orders whenever they like — in other words, it's pretty much like a wine bank account.

    If all goes to plan, it's good for the company, the consumers, and the winemakers — like Carmen Stevens, South Africa’s first black woman to graduate in wine-making (funded by 2,000 Angels in 5 hours).

    You can also just buy wine directly from the site as you would anywhere else, but it’s worth noting that Angel members get special perks. They save 40-60% on all their orders; get samples of other wines included in their deliveries; get a gift bottle of Angel-funded wine worth $20 or more each month they order a case of wine; get access to Angel-only wines; receive invites to Angel-only wine tastings to meet the winemakers; and get access to an Angel-only priority hotline for any needed support.

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    I'd wager most people wind up on the site thanks to a suspiciously good $100 voucher for new customers (I received one inside the box of a Bloomingdales purchase). Using the voucher, I got the Discovery Case which had 12 bottles of wine across a wide spectrum of offerings from the site. With the $100 voucher — which you can also get by taking a 30-second quiz on the site — the case was $79.99, instead of its current sale price of $179.99 (it usually costs $264).

    In person, the wines are good. I was satisfied and even a little surprised by their quality given the fact that my introduction was just $100 off lots of wine. The affordable bottles were what you'd call "easy drinking" wines — none that were bold and weird and revelatory — but perfect for casual drinking. Naked wines hit the "weekday wine" niche perfectly.

    Shipping is also inexpensive. For orders under $100, Naked charges $10. For orders $100 and more, delivery is free — except for NJ, HI, and AK, (you can find rates for these states here). Wines will be delivered in 2-6 business days (Monday-Friday or Tuesday-Saturday) during regular working hours, but make sure that there is someone over 21 years old who can sign for the package.

    One thing I would stress is that if you have any difficulty with your shipment (carriers try three times to deliver it), or you don't like a wine, you should contact Naked Wines for help. My experiences with them were as a consumer rather than a reporter, and I was impressed by their easygoing willingness to make sure I had a positive experience, even when it wasn't to their immediate advantage. This means that if you really hated a wine you were sent, they'll refund you. The site has a "cast-iron, no questions asked, 100% guarantee."

    Screen Shot 2018 10 31 at 1.19.12 PM

    But one thing that makes Naked Wines even more appealing is that it's also pretty social. Winemakers and members interact. Winemakers get feedback directly from customers, and customers can ask them questions. Indirectly, members can rate and recommend wines to each other. 

    This communication creates a whirlpool of discovery and self-improvement, which is baked into the business from the top down to the granular level of your account; if you don't like a wine, give it a thumbs down in your Naked Me account. From then on, they'll help steer you away from wines that taste similar to the one you didn't enjoy. Naked Wines also uses this as an indirect polling system, helping them determine which winemakers are doing the best job of making wines people really love.

    All in all, it's good wine for an accessible price, with the opportunity to be as involved as you want to be. It's also easy to cancel right in your online account if you change your mind. If you just use Naked as a traditional consumer, it's still a cool system and prices aren't exorbitant without the discount.

    Shop Naked Wines or take a 30-second quiz to get $100 off

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    justin mcleod hinge

    • Hinge founder and CEO Justin McLeod tells new entrepreneurs to be both naive and flexible.
    • It's important to stay true to your vision, while also taking into account criticisms of your business and changes in the market.
    • McLeod learned this lesson firsthand: He believed in Hinge when no one else did, but he also had to make significant changes to the product years later.

    When Justin McLeod was first pitching his idea for dating app Hinge, few people believed he'd be successful.

    Instead, McLeod told Business Insider, they'd say to him, "This is never going to be a thing. Match.com owns the market. No one's ever going to be able to break into it."

    This was more than seven years ago, back before dating apps had taken off (Tinder launched in 2012). But McLeod, Hinge's CEO, was relatively certain that the app — which initially matched users with people they were connected to through mutual Facebook friends — would be a hit.

    Today, Hinge has raised more than $20 million, according to Crunchbase, and is one of the most popular dating apps in the US.

    Related:An entrepreneur who dropped out of Harvard Business School to launch his startup made a key hiring mistake that stalled the company's progress for years

    When McLeod advises early stage entrepreneurs, he mentions his own determination to make Hinge work, even in the face of resistance. But he also cautions those founders to listen to their critics and to be willing to change course if necessary.

    As an entrepreneur, McLeod said, you must have "this naiveté and belief that you're going to make this succeed no matter what. But, on the other hand, if you hold too closely to your vision, and you're not flexible, and you're not willing to change it, and you're not willing to evolve over time, then you can just hold onto some vision that's not working."

    McLeod knows firsthand about the importance of flexibility. In 2016, he made the decision to "reboot" Hinge, most notably removing the swiping feature so the app could appeal more to users interested in serious relationships.

    This decision, McLeod said, was based partly on the publication of a Vanity Fair article about the dating "apocalypse," and partly on McLeod's observation that Hinge had become too similar to other dating apps on the market.

    "If you always listen to every else, then you'll never do anything new," McLeod said. "And if you never listen to anyone else, then you'll get to the point where you might do something crazy, or you're just banging your head against the wall."

    He added that at Hinge, "Doing things the same way we've always done as the company continues to grow and the market continues to change is just a recipe for disaster."

    SEE ALSO: The CEO of a startup that's raised $20 million deleted email from his phone and sometimes goes 2 weeks without checking on his team

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why most people refuse to sell their lottery tickets for twice what they paid


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    The Nudge

    • The Nudge is an text messaging service that sends messages to its community of subscribers, trying to get people off their phones and off on adventures in the San Francisco Bay Area. 
    • The company was co-founded by the brother and sister team of John and Sarah Peterson. 
    • The company raised $540,000 in "pre-seed" round in July and will be expanding to Seattle in the coming months, after some early success in San Francisco. 
    • When asked about starting a company as siblings, John told us: "It's kind of intense sometimes, to be honest."

    Sarah Peterson was working for Apple in Munich, Germany when she found out that her older brother John was starting his own company.

    That company, called Livday, created daily itineraries for people exploring new cities. The plans told users not only where to hike and which museums to explore, but also where to get a coffee beforehand, and where to grab a post-adventure meal.

    Sarah was obsessed. She created over 50 Livday plans while living overseas, trying to convince John to expand his operations to Munich. 

    Instead, the siblings decided to team up for a grander plan, and Sarah moved back to San Francisco. She quit her job at Apple and, together with her brother, rebranded the company as The Nudge, with John as CEO and Sarah as chief marketing officer.

    In a recent interview with the family duo, John told me that most people are pretty bad with their free time and often rely on that one "planner friend" to create an exciting, weekend itinerary. 

    "The Nudge is that planner friend in your pocket," he explains. 

    Available only in San Francisco for now, The Nudge sends text messages, usually close to the weekend, to its users, giving them ideas of fun things to do in and out of the city. 

    Some of the most successful "nudges," Sarah tells me, were a hike to the Tourist Club (a beer garden atop the San Francisco Bay Area's Mt. Tamalpais, only open to guests on certain days of the year) and a run with the Electric Flight Club (an "exclusive fitness and social club" with a chapter in the Bay Area).

    The idea, the duo says, is to help encourage people to stop checking their phone and start having real-life experiences. 

    Get up and go

    The Nudge's primary goal is to get people to get off their rear ends and go have adventures, but John tells me that's not an easy task. 

    "There's a reason why technology has not really figured this space out yet for people because it's just hard," he explains. "People are lazy. Psychology is complicated. You're trying to compete with something that is very similar to an actual cocaine addiction and checking of Instagram." 

    To help them with this undertaking, the Peterson's raised a $540,000 "pre-seed" round in July with NextView Ventures as its lead investor. To date, The Nudge says it has over 10,000 subscribers in San Francisco.

    The Nudge is free to download for now, but the team is considering making it a subscription service, so as to avoid having to rely on advertising.  The company has also tested paid products that "nudge" its users in other parts of their lives — like fitness. 

    One recent pilot program, called The Fit 30 Nudge was launched nationally and texted people daily workout routines. To keep users accountable, the team created a "sweaty selfie-tracker" that prompted users to take a selfie after each workout. Around 2,000 people participated in the Fit 30 Nudge, which cost $19 to sign up. 

    The Nudge app's user base is 70% female and Sarah — the company's CMO — tells me that 1 in 10 millennial women in San Francisco is subscribed to the Nudge. 

    The team believes that the personal touch of SMS texting has been a key to their success thus far. They experimented with other mediums — like newsletters, calendar integrations, and Slack bots — but found those to be much less effective when it came to helping people find their initiative. 

    Those receiving SMS messages had a different perception of the interaction as well."The text people would be like, 'Oh, you're one of my friends who texts me what to do in my free time,'" John explains. "Texting is a sacred thing."

    How to make a Nudge

    For the 34-year-old former consultant, The Nudge has been four long years in the making.

    Like many Silicon Valley startups of legend, John worked out of his garage. This time, though, the garage was also his roommate's woodworking studio. He spent months covered in dust and wearing a construction mask to help him breathe. 

    Today, the future is looking brighter for The Nudge. The team has grown to five employees and will be expanding to Seattle in the next few months — its first market outside of the Bay Area. 

    As for a brother-sister duo leading the way, John and Sarah say it's been mostly positive thus far. 

    "You don't waste any time," John says. "But it's kind intense sometimes, to be honest. We're siblings. We have a lifetime of experience together, so things can get intense. But it's good. It's productive." 

    "You do need to unlearn some habits with the person," Sarah explains. "You might have a more fiery opinion on something, and I think that can be good and bad. We moved really quickly in the beginning because we didn't have to spend time building respect or trust with each other. We could just have a healthy debate and move on." 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 11 Apple Watch tips and tricks


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    Space Saver 2

    Over the past two years, Johnathan Webster has taken nearly 60 flights and successfully avoided one bane of airline travel: checking his luggage.

    Webster and his wife, Gizem Mut-Webster, have evaded checking luggage on flights since they backpacked through Europe in college. As students traveling on a restricted budget, they took issue with the stringent bag policies and punishing luggage fees enforced by many airlines.

    They began to brainstorm a clever solution: What if they created a luggage brand that not only looked sleek but could defy those policies?

    The result is Wool & Oak, a two-year-old company that creates stylish, modular luggage designed to get around airline bag policies. The brand's most recent product, which debuted Tuesday, is a two-part duffel backpack that can neatly be disguised as a single carry-on item.

    Here's what it looks like and how it works.

    SEE ALSO: 30 women in venture capital to watch in 2018

    Looks pretty much like a regular backpack, right?



    But once you're on a flight, Wool & Oak's bag handily unzips into two parts.



    Each bag has a set of zippers so the two can attach to each other. Here, Wool & Oak's slim work backpack is paired with the larger day bag.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Founders

    • Pramod Sharma worked at Google in Mountain View, California and noticed when he dropped off his daughter at the company's daycare facility, there were no tech products allowed. 
    • Sharma and his co-founder Jerome Scholler created Osmo in 2013 to create a positive and educational screen time experience for kids. 
    • Osmo's magic lies in its proprietary hardware piece that snaps onto a tablet, using mirrors to connect the movements a child makes on a physical game board with animations on the screen.
    • Osmo has raised over $38 million, has more than 60 employees, and can be found in a half-million households worldwide. 

    Circa 2012, Pramod Sharma was working on a Google project to scan physical books and put them on the internet.

    Like many at Google, Sharma would drop off his daughter each morning at the company's on-campus daycare facilities. Over time, he recognized something both ironic and worrisome.

    There were no tech products in the room. 

    "They were very proud of their wooden blocks from Germany," Sharma told Business Insider in a recent interview. 

    However, he knew how much his daughter loved any screen that was put in front of her, and thought there had to be room for a positive piece of technology in her life. With his experience combining the analog and digital worlds for Google Books, ideas started to bubble up. And so, in 2013, Osmo was born— with the help of his co-founder and fellow Googler, Jerome Scholler.

    The big idea: A proprietary hardware accessory that snaps onto any iPad, using mirrors to connect the movements a child makes on a physical game board with animations on the tablet's screen. Osmo recently added certain games to be compatible with Android and Amazon Fire tablets as well. 

    Five years later, the Osmo device can be found in 30,000 schools and a half-million households worldwide. The company has raised over $38 million, has more than 60 employees, and last week announced the release of its 14th game, "Detective Agency" — inspired by the popular 90s board game, "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" 

    Osmo's games are geared towards children between the ages of three and nine and can range in price from $19 to $100. The hardware piece for tablets costs $29.  Osmo, the company, has raised over $38 million in venture capital financing, and has more than 60 employees

    Osmo

    Time well spent

    Osmo's magic lies in the strength of its games, says Sharma

    One game called "Monsters" prompts kids to draw objects (like a magic wand), and once their drawing is complete, a replica appears on the screen being used by the animated monster. Another, called "Coding Awbie"— which the company says is "easiest way to introduce coding to your child"— allows kids to create commands for their on-screen character by snapping different combinations of blocks together. 

    Sharma says he understands the hesitation of parents, especially parents in Silicon Valley, to expose their children to too much screen time. 

    "At a young age, you don't want to make them addicted to media," Sharma tells us. "If I'm a three-year-old and someone gives me a choice between Coke or milk, I'll drink Coke all day long. Children don't have that differentiation of what's good for them."

    Active screen time

    But Sharma argues that not all screen time is equal. He tells us there's a difference between passive screen time (where a child is merely sitting in front of a screen, watching) and active screen time (where a child is called to engage). 

    Omso prides itself on creating active screen time for children. 

    "At Osmo, everything has to be active. You have to engage, otherwise there's no experience," Sharma explains. "A screen doesn't change unless you do something — that's a very fundamental thing. By design, Osmo makes you do things." 

    Osmo — which Sharma describes as a "child's first console"— also considers the length of time children spend on a game in a single sitting. It tries to limits each session to around 30 minutes. Internally, he explains, the company is less concerned with "time spent" as a metric to determine a game's effectiveness and more interested in "puzzles solved."

    The future of Osmo

    In the future, Osmo wants to allow for a more personalized experience for children, recommending games for them based on areas of learning where they could use improvements. 

    "My daughter is in 4th grade, and I actually don't know what her weak points are," Sharma tells us. He imagines most parents feel the same way and believes Osmo is the perfect platform to help. 

    As a first-time CEO, Sharma tells us that the hardest and most exciting part of his job thus far has been learning how to be a leader. 

    "We are a very diverse team and leading them has been an interesting experience," he says. "You can lead engineers, you can lead designers, you can lead business people, but leading them all — it's always challenging for anyone starting a company." 

    Sharma says his favorite moment thus far leading Osmo came with the launch of its latest game. 

    "'[Detective Agency]' is the first product where I had zero contributions," Sharma told us. "That is the most rewarding part because you can build a system where people can innovate, and good ideas can come up. That to me is extremely fulfilling." 

    As for getting Osmo into Google's daycare center, Sharma says that may be possible now with the release of "Detective Agency"— the company's first game compatible with Android. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: There's going to be an 'enormous backlash' against Donald Trump's lies


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    most valuable failed vc backed startups 2x1

    Having millions of dollars in backing from venture capitalists doesn't guarantee the longevity of a startup.

    Even well-established private companies are at constant risk of failure, as evidenced by some of the startups that went out of business this year. PitchBook compiled data on the 25 most valuable startups that failed in 2018; three of these companies have been around for more than 20 years and were still forced to shutter.

    Startups in the healthcare industry took a big hit — seven companies on the list are in the medical sector.

    The list is headed by Theranos, the blood-testing company, whose $9 billion valuation was greater than those of all the other startups on the list combined.

    Here are the 25 most valuable VC-backed startups that failed in 2018:

    25. SDCmaterials — automobile nanotechnology

    Year founded: 2004

    Maximum valuation: $48 million

    Amount raised: $26 million

    Read more about SDCmaterials on PitchBook.



    24. Senzari — music and entertainment data intelligence

    Year founded: 2010

    Maximum valuation: $52 million

    Amount raised: $13 million

    Read more about Senzari on PitchBook.



    23. Industrial Origami — industrial material manufacturer

    Year founded: 2003

    Maximum valuation: $58 million

    Amount raised: $41 million

    Read more about Industrial Origami on PitchBook.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    bezos white house

    • Amazon is close to announcing the location of its second North American headquarters, or HQ2.
    • The tech giant could crown two winners from two separate locations, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
    • One of the frontrunners is Crystal City, Virginia, an urban neighborhood in the Washington, DC metro area where many DC residents live and work.
    • We asked DC startups what they thought about Amazon's possible arrival, and they shared a few concerns.

    Amazon is on the brink of announcing the location of HQ2, but there could be a catch: The company is planning to crown two winners, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

    When Amazon first revealed its plan in September 2017, it was expected to bring 50,000 new jobs and $50 billion in economic impact to its host city. Now, it could bring roughly 25,000 employees to two separate locations.

    This could lessen the burden on housing and infrastructure that many residents and urban economists have anticipated. But even 25,000 workers could place a strain on a city's resources.

    Before Monday, all signs pointed to the Washington, DC metro as Amazon's preferred choice. Not only does the metro represent three of the 20 locations on the company's shortlist — Montgomery County, Maryland; Northern Virginia; and DC proper — but Amazon has also begun to expand its presence in the area. The company recently located its cloud business, Amazon Web Services, in Northern Virginia — less than ten minutes away from a plot of land where it intends to build a 600,000-square-foot data-center campus.

    Now, insiders are speculating that Crystal City, Virginia — an urban neighborhood in the DC metro where many DC residents live and work — could be one of the two winners. The other contenders, according to The Wall Street Journal, include Dallas and New York. 

    While cities wait for an announcement, DC startups have already begun to brace for Amazon's arrival. For companies just starting out in the DC tech ecosystem, the presence of Amazon could disrupt many aspects of their business, including their ability to afford office space and ensure easy commutes and reasonably priced housing for their employees. Data from Zillow suggests that DC's median rents could rise by $138 per month over the next decade as a result of HQ2.

    To gauge the level of fear or excitement in the Washington, DC startup community, we asked a few budding tech companies: Will Amazon be a bully or a big brother?  

    Amazon's previous urban takeover 

    When Amazon relocated its headquarters to Seattle's South Lake Union in 2010, the company was far from the behemoth it is today. City planners estimated that the company's 1.6 million square feet of office space would bring around 6,000 new employees to the area  a number that has since risen to around 45,000.

    While the new location is located just 15 minutes away from the old one, the economic impact was almost immediate. Apartments began springing up in place of smaller buildings, low-rise offices gave way to towering skyscrapers, and crumbling roads transformed into pristine walkways and green spaces.

    These changes didn't just benefit Amazon workers. Seattle now exceeds every other US city in terms of wage increases over the last ten years. While this is partly due to the city's $15 minimum wage law, it's also the result of increased competition among local businesses. 

    But as Amazon began introducing a new pool of high-tech workers to South Lake Union, something else happened: Traffic increased, housing costs skyrocketed, and the number of homeless people on the streets reached crisis levels. Recent years have seen a string of cafés, bars, restaurants, and local retail shops shutter their doors amid rising rents. A sign outside Pike Place, a former antique shop that closed after 25 years of business, symbolized the downturn: "The rent is too high," it read. "It is time to say goodbye."

    Why some startups aren't concerned

    Amid changes in their neighborhoods, many Seattleites have taken to warning residents of the future HQ2 city. "The notion that Amazon is going to be your ticket to a glorious future, absent all the other things that a place like Seattle has to offer — that’s delusional," Ed Lazowska, a scientist at the University of Washington, told Politico in October.

    These warnings have generated some concern among DC natives and lawmakers. In a comment to The Washington Post, Washington, DC council member Robert White predicted"a lot of potential negatives" from Amazon's arrival, including a rise in already-troubling levels of gentrification and displacement.

    But local entrepreneurs aren't convinced that Amazon will do more harm than good. 

    Like many residents, Ajit Verghese was initially worried about the company locating in Washington, DC. "I pretty much thought, 'This is going to be bad,'" he said. Having witnessed the deleterious effects of the first internet wave on DC's congestion and infrastructure, Verghese feared that an Amazon headquarters would once again place a strain on local resources. 

    He has since changed his tune. As a general partner at humble ventures, a venture cooperative that connects startups to large companies, Verghese has found that many startups are optimistic about the arrival of Amazon. If the company does move to DC, he said, it could add a number of smart, driven employees to the tech ecosystem.

    He's also not particularly concerned about Amazon poaching local talent. "You'll have people cycling into Amazon and people cycling out," he said.

    Param Jaggi, the CEO of Hatch Apps — a platform that enables businesses to deploy apps without having to write code — thinks it will be tough for small companies to wrest employees from Amazon's grasp. Instead, he anticipates that Amazon will encourage an influx of tech workers who aren't affiliated with the corporate giant. In the short term, he said, the Amazon headquarters could establish the Washington, DC metro as a leading tech center, and bring further credibility to companies in the area.

    His opinion is shared by Scott Case, the president of Upside Business Travel, a booking and itinerary-tracking startup. As the head of a travel company, Case is enthusiastic about the potential increased traffic at Washington, DC's three major airports. "We see [the Amazon headquarters] as bringing more customers closer to us," he said. While the Dulles and Ronald Reagan airports already rank among the top 25 busiest airports in the US, their air traffic pales in comparison to that of Atlanta, LA, or Chicago.

    In Case's mind, Amazon will most likely develop a symbiotic relationship with DC startups. "Businesses are already competing with Amazon for talent on a national, and even global, level," he said. "While they'll be recruiting in the same pools, I actually think they'll enhance the ability for some folks to take the leap into startup land."

    In the future, Case anticipates, new companies will form with the express purpose of supporting the Amazon ecosystem. For now, he thinks Washington, DC has both the commercial and residential capacity to support new workers. 

    Like Jaggi, Case also sees Amazon as way to augment Washington, DC's burgeoning reputation as a global tech hub. This will have positive repercussions for Upside, he said, since more people will be inclined to work there if there are backup options available. But Verghese worries it'll be tough to compete with DC's political renown. "People will always assume that, if you're in DC, you must be engaged in some type of political work," he said. 

    Amazon could increase pressure on local transit 

    One concern acknowledged by each of these entrepreneurs is the pressure on local transit.

    Even without the presence of Amazon, the Washington, DC subway system, or Metro, is notoriously lousy. From 2011 to 2016, its ridership fell by 19%, while cities like Boston, Chicago, New York, and San Francisco saw an increase in riders. Metro customers have become accustomed to long delays, fare hikes, system failures, and even the occasional death. 

    The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority estimates that upgrading and repairing the Metro system will require an annual sum of around $500 million.

    The district may need even more funding if Amazon arrives  though most local startups don't see the company as a drain on a broken system. The challenge of infrastructure repair exists whether Amazon comes or not, said Verghese. In fact, he predicts that HQ2 may shine a spotlight on infrastructure problems and motivate the WMTA to make necessary improvements. Already, lawmakers have cited the possible arrival of Amazon as a reason to secure more funding for Metro upgrades.

    Local startups may even be inspired to help out. "As an entrepreneur, you always see it as an opportunity for new companies to solve that problem," said Jaggi of the possibility of rising congestion and housing prices.

    Not all startups are optimistic

    Not all startups are unflinchingly optimistic about HQ2. According to Verghese, a number of the companies he's talked to are concerned about getting the same support from their local government that's already been given to Amazon. As part of the bidding process, Montgomery County, Maryland proposed $8.5 billion in tax breaks and infrastructure incentives for the tech company — the biggest publicly known incentives package of any HQ2 city. Though Washington, DC and Northern Virginia have yet to reveal their incentives packages, the sums are bound to be competitive with those offered up by other locations. 

    While many startups fear they won't receive the same preferential treatment, others feel it's a small price to pay to gain access to new pools of talent. 

    "It's like putting a large tree into a garden that's still trying to flower," said Verghese. "It sucks in a bunch of nutrients ... [but] good things can happen when that tree gets planted. Acorns fall and things take root. Different types of ecosystems will grow and build around it."

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    183 003 cover1 2

    • For the past three years, I've seen the same distinct, beautiful, oversized leather jacket on my Instagram feed. Everyone from prominent fashion editors to supermodels seemed to be in love with the same one.
    • I traced it back to the $1,095 wunderkind 'Moya III' by The Arrivals and have been pining after it ever since.
    • The Arrivals sent one to our office to test, and I finally got to answer if the jacket was really worth the price.
    • For its versatility, premium materials that age well, and unmatched "cool" factor, I found the Moya III to be worth the hype. If you love leather shearling jackets, you won't regret buying this one.

    It’s like one of the answers you’d find on a standardized test.

    Peanut butter is to jelly as The Arrivals Moya III oversized shearling is to… fashion editors, supermodels, and every girl you’ve considered asking "where did you get your leather jacket from?" on the street.

    You get the picture — and you’ve probably seen more than enough of them floating around Instagram to already know exactly which jacket I’m talking about. I thought my obsession was unique, actually, until I started mentioning that I was working on this article to coworkers and friends. Nine times out of 10, they stopped me before I began with — "I know which coat." Or, as an almost equal number told me, (including fellow Insider Picks editor Sally Kaplan), "I’ve had that on my wish list for years now."

    The obsession with the Moya III is not unique. But what is unique is that this exorbitant $1,095 coat is not just reserved for that "cool girl" supermodel girl gang you know from social media and incessant Gigi Hadid or Kourtney Kardashian paparazzi photos. It's not a $30,000 runway piece. It is — very obviously — not by any means a normal purchase for the average person, but it is the final candidate for a surprising amount of us for that one permitted splurge with our bonus or the single, much-labored over "yearly treat."

    There are even articles about editors who are budgeting the entire year to make the Moya III purchase work.

    And why? It's not like leather moto jackets in general — even oversized shearling ones — are in short supply. There are hundreds of them out there. Thanks to fast fashion, it’s possible to buy tiered-quality mimics of virtually any trend you like at a fraction of the cost for the "real" one. And if all you’re after is participating in said trend at the ideal moment, then that’s pretty great.

    But the Moya III isn’t something you should buy imitations of if you’re thinking of getting it at all. 

    183 003 cover0 2

    I feel confident saying that because I’ve been in the same spot — stalking it on Instagram and on The Arrivals site for the past three years, but ultimately unsure if I could justify the cost. A couple weeks ago, though, The Arrivals sent one to Insider Picks for testing. My time had come. I would finally get the low-risk opportunity to test drive the Moya III for myself to see if it was really "worth it".

    In my opinion, it is devastatingly worth the hype. 

    In person, the jacket looks much like it does online. The leather feels and looks expensive and the shearling is pleasantly thicker and cozier than I had expected. The oversized fit was chic, effortless, and undeniably "cool".

    For reference, since leather can be tricky, I'm 5'7" and typically wear a size small, and the Moya III in a small is a nice fit now, but as the leather stretches over time could become more oversized than I'd like. The Arrivals suggests sizing down for the Moya III, and, after testing, I would agree. Even if you typically have trouble with coats that fit through the sleeves but don't zip over your chest,  this will likely still apply to you, thanks to that intentionally oversized fit.

    My favorite part of the Moya III, aside from its exceptional execution of a biker jacket that feels high-fashion, luxurious, and easy-going at the same time, is its versatility.

    The whole point of the Moya is to "embrace the elements," so it’s made from innovative water-resistant nappa-back Italian Merino shearling, a 16mm wool interior, and insulating details, and it was comfortable even in only a T-shirt underneath at 30 degrees.

    I wore it to brunch with jeans and sneakers as well as to nice dinners at restaurants that wouldn’t have seated me in said jeans and sneakers. It looks at home in either scenario, and that means that it’s a real contender for replacing my winter puffer that has the same high functionality but low style points.

    moya III review

    In terms of buying cheaper imitations in order to just have a leather moto in your closet — something I’ve definitely fallen victim to in the last three years — I really wish that I hadn’t. I was never completely happy with those buys, and instead of putting the money I spent on them toward something timeless like the Moya, I wasted it on a rotation of clothes with a short lifespan that didn’t make me happy and likely ended up in a landfill. After trying the Moya, I’d be happy to splurge on this — and benefit from how much it elevates the rest of my closet — than have the spare change to participate in trends that are less enduring.

    The Moya III, as one co-worker who stopped by to try it on (after years of it sitting on her own wish list) put it, is the "perfect legacy piece." 

    Simply put, it's the one perfect prototype of the oversized leather shearling moto.

    It's the standard bearer. It's sort of like if Michelangelo was teaching a sculpting class, and at the end, he was selling his example statue for $1,100 and the students were offering theirs for $200. You'll probably want Michelangelo's. No matter how many $200 lumpy statues you buy, they will not summarily equal the effect of one great Michelangelo piece. More is not better.

    Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 12.32.56 PM

    As far as closet splurges go, it makes me feel better knowing that the Moya is not only a great classic piece because of its style, but because it’s made out of pretty much the ideal materials for legacy — leather and shearling. The leather will grow softer and more personalized with character as the years pass, and the shearling will continue to feel soft and lived-in. It’s not the same as investing $1,000+ in a white dress made from a delicate fabric that has an essay-long laundry instruction list.

    However, it's also worth noting that you shouldn't drop $1,095 if you think this will be a year-round coat. While you might be able to get by with a light leather jacket during the summer months for an evening out, the Moya is going to be your best friend during the fall and winter, and won't be in rotation during the summer months, which shouldn't come as a surprise but should also be stated. I happen to love the style enough for those colder months that its limited warm-weather wearability (especially as a cold baby who lives on the East Coast and sometimes Midwest) doesn't bother me as much as I would have expected before trying it on. 

    For better or worse, the Moya III — even amongst shearling moto jackets — is not just one fish amongst many in the sea. It sort of ruins you for the other fish. If you’ve been wavering on whether or not to get it, I can say from experience that I wish I had years ago. You won’t regret it. And if I’m wrong, they give you free returns, too, just in case.

    Buy the Moya III Oversized Shearling Leather Jacket by The Arrivals on the company's website for $1,095

    SEE ALSO: I found a gym bag that can keep up with my busy lifestyle — and it makes a perfect gift this holiday season

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    clean meat san francisco 20

    • Silicon Valley startup New Age Meats made history in September by letting journalists taste the first cell-based pork sausage made in a lab.
    • Making meat without slaughter has been the primary objective of several companies since Dutch scientist Mark Post made the first "lab-grown" hamburger in 2013.
    • This week, the company revealed a rough idea of how much the sausage costs to make and announced progress on nailing a formula that addresses one of the "holy grails" of clean meat.

    On a crisp fall day in San Francisco, a startup called New Age Meats let people see how its sausage gets made — without butchering any animals.

    In September, the company let a handful of journalists and prospective investors taste its prototype pork sausages, which had been made from animal cells brewed up in a piece of machinery akin to a small brewer's vat. And now, the company says it's making progress on getting the meat to your table at an affordable price.

    Several other companies have been aiming to make a product like New Age Meats' sausage since the creation of the first burger made from cow cells in 2013. They hope to slash waste, curb pollution, and improve animal and human health.

    This week at an event organized by the Silicon Valley biotech funding hub IndieBio, Brian Spears, New Age Meats' founder, revealed roughly how much the sausage now costs to make and announced progress on nailing a formula that addresses one of the "holy grails" of clean meat.

    Sausage without slaughter

    Last month, Spears and co-founder Andra Necula served their freshly cooked pork-sausage links — which had been made using fat and muscle cells generated from a single sample of a live pig named Jessie — to 40 journalists and prospective investors.

    clean meat san francisco 14

    The company started just three months ago with $250,000 in seed funding from IndieBio, the accelerator that also gave cultured-meat startup Memphis Meats its start.

    "We really thought, 'Do we want to invest in another cultured-meat startup?'" Arvind Gupta, IndieBio's cofounder, told Business Insider in September. "But after we met the team and saw what they could do, we had to."

    "This is the most product and the fastest production from any cultured-meat startup we've seen so far," Gupta said.

    As Spears, a chemical engineer by training, and Necula, a cell biologist, watched, the sausage sizzled in a pan with a little grapeseed oil. Slowly, it began to brown on each side like conventional sausage. The room filled with the smell of breakfast meat. After a few minutes — just before the sausage casing began to blister — we dug into our bite-sized samples.

    It tasted like meat. Then again, it is meat.

    The texture was distinctly sausage-like. After I'd chewed my bite, I wasn't sure I would have been able to tell the difference between this pork sausage and any other. Perhaps it was a little drier, a little more crumbly? It was hard to tell from just one bite, but I was pretty sure there were no glaring differences.

    New Age Meats says its pork sausage is 12x cheaper to make today than it was a month ago

    new age meats cofounders brian spears and andra necula

    Despite their hard work, Spears and Necula face many obstacles on the road to producing cost-effective clean meat. The two biggest hurdles involve making enough of the product affordably and nailing the meat's recipe and texture.

    Back in 2013, when Dutch scientist Mark Post became the first person in the world to make a beef burger from cow cells, his patty cost $330,000 to produce.

    Read more: Silicon Valley VCs are betting lab-grown meat could be just as big a deal as Uber was for taxis and have 'huge disruptive abilities' to a $200 billion industry

    This week, Spears said the meat was inching closer to being made at a cost of about $5 per breakfast sausage link. That's about $23 per pound — still far pricier than than any other sausage or vegetarian sausage on the market but much closer to the goal that most of these companies are looking to hit.

    Right now, it costs New Age Meats about $216 to make each sausage. Still, that's down from about $2,500 in September, mean the meat has become about 12 times cheaper to produce in a month.

    Part of the reason the meat is so expensive has to do with the food these startups are feeding their farm-free animal cells. That's another hurdle that Spears announced that his company had made progress in clearing this week.

    clean meat san francisco 29

    Many companies still use something called fetal bovine serum (FBS), a standard and relatively inexpensive lab medium made from the blood of pregnant slaughtered cows. To live up to their goal of replacing animal slaughter, these startups will need to find something new and slaughter-free that costs the same or less.

    And while the prototype sausages that New Age Meats served at its September event were made using FBS, Spears said this week that the company planned to nail a serum-free recipe within two months.

    Another issue with cell-based meat is the products' texture.

    Making a sausage, patty, fish cake, or any other product that combines several ingredients with ground meat or seafood is nowhere near as difficult as mimicking the complex texture and flavor of a steak or a chicken breast. To do that, startups will likely need to take many of their cues from regenerative medicine, where scientists strive to heal or grow real human tissues and organs. Applying those tools to the world of cultured meat could result in the first farm-free products that chew, slice, and taste like a traditional steak or thigh.

    For this reason, Necula said she and Spears planned to continue working in the realm of sausage-like items, but they're exploring options that include products made with beef, pork, and crab.

    Several other startups appear to be making headway on their first cultured-meat products as well.

    The CEO of Just, a Silicon Valley startup formerly known as Hampton Creek, recently tweeted a photo that appeared to show a prototype of its first cultured-chicken nuggets; Memphis Meats, the Silicon Valley startup that claimed it made the first lab-grown chicken and duck products in 2017, invited me to a tasting of its products before the year's end. And New Age Meats made history with the first semi-public tasting of its sausage in September.

    “How did we move so quickly?" Spears, an engineer, asked this week. "Because we were designed to."

    This article is an updated version of a story that was originally published on Sept. 18, 2018. 

    SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley VCs are betting lab-grown meat could be just as big a deal as Uber was for taxis and have 'huge disruptive abilities' to a $200 billion industry

    DON'T MISS: We tried the first lab-grown sausage made without killing animals. It was smoky, savory, and tasted like breakfast

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    NOW WATCH: Scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid in the world — here's why it costs $39 million per gallon


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    Away $225

    Startups are often seen as incubators or think tanks making better, smarter, or cooler products faster than traditional companies can. And thanks to the lean businesses models made possible by the internet, those products don't have to cost more than the status quo they're replacing. 

    Their uniqueness, cool origin stories, and — on average — more sustainable and ethical business practices also make them particularly good gifts. Below are 75 up-and-coming startups we love to shop at, plus a cheat sheet for what to buy from each of them.

    Below, you'll find 75 of the best gifts you can buy from startups this year.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Allbirds

    What to buy:
    Women's Wool Loungers, $95
    Men's Wool Loungers, $95

    This is the footwear company responsible for the merino wool sneakers and loungers often called the "most comfortable shoes in the world"— a statement we agreed with after trying them. They're great for everyday use or for traveling, and you'll find them in high concentrations in hubs like Silicon Valley and New York City. 

    Allbirds are also a great gift for environmentally-conscious shoppers. The company is well-known for practicing "better business" and engineering its shoes from sustainable wool, eucalyptus leaves, or foam made from sugar cane.



    Brooklinen

    What to buy:
    Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, from $224.25

    Brooklinen is one of our favorite companies, point blank. We think they make the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Picks team uses Brooklinen on their own beds.

    The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 15 colors and patterns, and you can mix and match them to suit your taste. As part of the Bundle, you'll receive a core sheet set (fitted, flat, two pillowcases), duvet cover, and two extra pillowcases in soft, smooth 480-thread-count weave. Grab a gift card (delivered digitally or in a gift box) if you want them to have more freedom. 



    Atlas Coffee Club

    What to buy:
    Three-Month Subscription, $60

    Atlas Coffee Club is a monthly coffee subscription that curates freshly-roasted, micro-lot coffees from around the world and sends them to your door. Since the coffees span the globe, each shipment is meant to connect recipients with the culture that produced it. Shipments include a corresponding postcard (plus flavor notes and brewing tips), and the coffee bag designs are inspired by local landscapes and textiles. 



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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.Away for kids

    There's no denying that the low prices of the direct-to-consumer startup boom combined with the ultimate convenience of Amazon Prime have completely colored how millennials shop. Where malls with large department stores were once considered sacred ground, millennials now tend to prefer a more personalized online shopping experience — preferably one that also includes free and fast delivery.

    We've turned instead to smaller startups to satisfy our need for originality and discovery. Yet even when those startups get big enough to not feel like startups anymore, we're still continuing to shop from them — just not exclusively for ourselves. 

    As millennials age into parents, many of us are turning to those same startups we once "discovered" for ourselves to instead buy clothes, sheets, and even suitcases for our own kids. Brands like Brooklinen— whose most loyal fans tend to be young adults who just bought their first or second set of nice sheets— understand that as their customer base grows up, they need to find ways to keep them coming back, and in the process, are beginning to cultivate the next generation of customers. 

    Below, you'll find a list of some of our favorite startups that are now making (very cute) items for children and babies:

    1. Brooklinen

    Shop the Brooklittles Collection at Brooklinen, from $32

    It's no surprise that Brooklinen, arguably the internet's favorite bedding brand, is now making baby sheets and blankets in similar styles to their playfully patterned offerings for adults. Sweetly named "Brooklittles," the collection for tiny ones includes cozy blankets, quilts, crib sheets, toddler sheet sets, and swaddling blankets in ultra-soft materials like sateen and muslin cotton. 

    Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets.



    2. Allbirds

    Shop Smallbirds Wool Runners at Allbirds, $55

    Allbirds, the internet's favorite sneaker startup and maker of the comfiest pairs on earth, aptly named its kids' collection "Smallbirds" (we know — it gets us every time!). Toddlers and kids can run around comfortably in the company's original Wool Runners made from sustainable (and super soft) merino wool. Though the shoes have laces, there's also an elastic band underneath the tongue on kids' pairs so they slip on easily but won't slip off. Plus, parents can clean them up easily in the washing machine. 

    Read our full review of the Allbirds Wool Runners.



    3. Bombas

    Shop kids socks at Bombas, from $15

    Recognizing that socks are one of the most requested but least received items in homeless shelters, Bombas was founded with a mission to provide socks to those who need them while selling socks to those who want them. The company has now donated over a million pairs [fact check... think it's 10m]. Their kids' socks are designed with grippy bottoms so they can run freely around the house without slipping, sliding, or crashing into walls (as kids are wont to do). 

    Read our full review of Bombas.



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    st. petersburg russia

    Some Russian companies don’t want to be called “Russian companies,” and they take active steps to conceal their nationality.

    I’ve noticed a pattern after interviewing many Russian business leaders. One insisted that his Moscow-based business was Estonia-based for having a small office there. Another suggested that the location of one key employee — London — merits calling his a “London company.” Another took a direct approach, simply asking that the word “Russia” not appear in anything written about him.

    The obfuscation takes different forms, but it achieves the same end: Russian entrepreneurs are diluting their national identity to make their products and services more palatable to the world’s consumers. This doesn’t jibe with my perception of Russia as a generally proud nation. When I raised the issue in private with a Russian friend, he agreed that his country is prideful but suggested it can also be “quite shameful.”

    Russian entrepreneurs endeavoring to do meaningful business on the world’s stage face an uphill battle. Regardless of industry, publicly identifying as Russian opens the door to negative stereotypes about election-meddling hackers or fraudulent businesses operating in the same region. It’s an unenviable position: how do you represent yourself when the truth is a perceived liability?

    I found two young entrepreneurs willing to speak on the record about doing business while Russian.

    Viacheslav Kozikhin — creative director, founder at Dark Crystal Games

    Dark Crystal Games is a Russian company,” said Viacheslav Kozikhin, the 28-year-old creative director who started the studio last year. “Our core team is in St. Petersburg, but we cover every time zone in Russia. We have employees scattered from Moscow to Chelyabinsk to Vladivostok. We even have people in the US and Europe, but everyone knows we are Russian,” he said. “My accent is very thick.”

    Kozikhin agreed that Russian business identity can be a problem, especially if that business wants to raise money internationally. Dark Crystal has one institutional investor, a Russian, but the company just closed a successful Kickstarter campaign that generated 100,000 euro in pre-orders for its newest game, Encased.

    “Kickstarter doesn’t involve politics,” Kozikhin said. “You just need an audience that likes your idea, then you deliver it.” Encased certainly found its audience: some 3,000 individuals pledged their money to the game, which another publication describes as “Russian Fallout.”



    Liliana Pertenava — PR and marketing expert, director of "Crypto Rush"

    “It makes me sad to see nationality be a cause to divide people, because I’ve been working with technology for many years to unite people,” said Liliana Pertenava, a Moscow-based PR and marketing expert (and influential tech personality on Twitter) whose documentary film Crypto Rush comes out in early 2019.

    Shot in seven countries over more than a year, Pertenava doesn’t shy away from her film being labeled “Russian.” With respect to the funding that made it possible, she clarifies that her movie is “Russian-German-American.” “It’s a movie about blockchain technology,” she said, “but it’s also people from different cultures with different backgrounds working to solve global issues.”

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    Pertenava pointed to one standout example of Russian identity being a business liability: that of Kaspersky Lab. A 2015 Bloomberg story asserted deep connections between the international cybersecurity firm and the Russian intelligence service. Public hype and speculation got the water boiling quickly thereafter, and CEO Eugene Kaspersky soon found himself denying all kinds of things (to this reporter included) just to keep business running. It might be the inciting incident that made “Russian company” an undesirable pair of words to many of the country’s business leaders.

    If I could hope for a new pattern to emerge in my reporting, it would be one where Russian companies serve the world so well that their heritage is cause for celebration.



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    When Instagram sold to Facebook for $1 billion in 2013, it felt like a massive sum of money. 

    Five years later, we seem to be numb to the billion-dollar acquisitions and valuations around us. WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion. Uber is valued at $72 billion

    Yet, to build a billion-dollar company from scratch is still an incredibly difficult feat. Last year, CB Insights reported that the odds of becoming a unicorn — a company valued at $1 billion or more — was less than 1% for companies that had raised venture capital. 

    So far in 2018, there have been 35 tech companies in the US to reach this unicorn status, according to data provided by PitchBook

    Others were included in PitchBook's list, like the makeup company Pat McGrath Labs, the fancy healthcare provider One Medical, and the publicly traded weed dispensary company MedMen. There were also international companies. For our list, we selected US companies with technology at the core of their business.

    Here are the 35 US tech companies that have reached unicorn status in 2018: 

    SEE ALSO: America's highways and roads are crumbling — here are the 10 states that have it the worst

    35. ThoughtSpot

    What it does: Search and AI-based analytics

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2012



    34. WalkMe

    What it does: Guides users to navigate websites and apps more efficiently

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2011



    33. Tresata

    What it does: Analytics software company

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2011



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    FoundersCard

    • 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 Phone.com 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

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    Mathilde Collin

    • Front is a shared inbox product that works just like email and is used by companies like Stripe, Shopify, and Dropbox to manage conversations with customers. 
    • On Tuesday, Front announced it will further its mission to make work more enjoyable by acquiring the calendar software startup, Meetingbird. 
    • The acquisition is the company's first and represents a big milestone for first-time CEO Mathilde Collin who co-founded Front in Paris, France in 2013. 
    • Front has raised over $79 million in hopes of disrupting competitors in the space like Zendesk. 

    Mathilde Collin, the French CEO and co-founder of Front, got her inspiration from her first job.

    Collin was working at a software company that provided customers with tools for creating contracts. She realized that contracts, however useful, were not something that most employees use every day in their jobs.

    "I wasn't using contracts at work, I was using email," Collin told Business Insider in a recent interview. 

    So email was the first area where Front decided to make its mark with the launch of a shared inbox product in 2013.

    More than 3,500 businesses around the world now use Front's product to help streamline internal email and email communications with customers. The service has become especially  in-vogue among tech companies — with Stripe, Shopify, and Dropbox using its platform today — and presents a competitive threat to companies like Zendesk. 

    On Tuesday, Front added another piece to its goal of offering a tool that people use everyday at work with the acquisition of Meetingbird, a Khosla-backed calendar software company. 

    Collin says that deeper calendar integration was the top feature requests from customers, who waste time having to schedule events outside of their inbox. The acquisition also made sense from a cultural perspective, as both companies have been part of Y Combinator (Front in Spring 2014 and Meetingbird in Spring 2017). 

    "The thing I care the most about is that I want to have an impact on how people work because they spend so much time at work," Collin told us. "Email was the right place to start because it is so core to work. But email is very related to calendar." 

    Collin would not disclose the terms of the Meetingbird acquisition. 

    Front has raised over $79 million in funding. It's most recent round — a $66 million series B in January — was led by Sequoia Capital. 

    A new home for Front 

    The acquisition is the company's first and a significant milestone for the 29-year-old CEO and her co-founder/CTO Laurent Perrin after starting Front from Paris, France in 2013. 

    From the beginning, Front has focused on bringing more transparency to email within the workplace. Its product can be used by multiple teams within an organization — like customer service teams and operations teams — without messages getting siloed and forgotten. Front also allows for more personal interaction with customers (its messages read no different than standard emails), as opposed to other platforms that assign a ticket number to each response. 

    A lot of companies, Collin tells us, don't want to refer to customer interactions as "ticket number 12345." 

    The first-time CEO and her co-founder came to the San Francisco six months after starting Front from Paris because most of its customers were located in the US. Before that, Collin had never traveled outside of Europe.

    Front was accepted into the prestigious startup accelerator, Y Combinator, in Spring 2014 and upon graduation, Collin and team were able to raise a $3.1 million seed round. 

    She hasn't moved back since. 

    Becoming a leader

    Through YC, Collin was introduced to mentors that have helped her grow into her new role of leading a company that now has over 100 employees. Patrick Collison — the CEO of Stripe — has been one of her most important mentors. 

    "I met [Collison] four years ago, and he's believed in me and the company," she tells us. "Since then, it's been helpful to have someone that's much more successful than I am, always talking with him about what I'm doing well and not doing well."

    Part of that growth as a young CEO is continuing to focus on company culture.

    In Collin's first job out of college, she also tells us that the culture was not so good and that it was something she wanted to reimagine when starting Front. 

    With over 50 reviews on Glassdoor, 100% of people would recommend working at Front to a friend, and 100% approve of the CEO. 

    "My happiest moments at Front are when I'm doing a 1:1 with someone and they tell me that they're happy that they came back from vacation because they like working here or that it's the best working experience they've ever had," Collin says. "Nothing can make me happier than that." 

    The strong esprit de corps is the result of various workplace practices at Front. The most unusual but perhaps her favorite, Collin tells us, is that every six months employees will organize a musical inside the office. 

    "Everyone in the company is either singing or playing an instrument or playing a character," she explains. "It creates such an amazing culture because people are accepting to be very vulnerable in front of their colleagues." 

    Given the company's French roots, Collin says their rendition of Les Misérables was the most memorable so far. 

    In December, Front employees will perform a mash-up of Disney favorites. 

    SEE ALSO: These 12 apps and services can help you ditch Google completely

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 1.22.13 PM

    • Allbirds makes the "world's most comfortable shoes" out of soft, machine-washable merino wool.
    • The startup followed its cult-favorite Runner ($95) with two releases of equally "smart" and eco-friendly materials: sneakers made out of tree fiber, and flip-flops made from the world's first-ever sugarcane EVA foam. 
    • Allbirds just released Tree Toppers ($115) that combine all three Allbirds materials into one high-top sneaker. 
    • We tried them out, and the Tree Toppers are incredibly comfortable, stylish, and breathable. 

    If someone described their shoes — let's say, from across a dinner table — as "the most comfortable pair they've ever worn," you'd probably conjure up a homely but dependable pair of clogs hidden underneath the tablecloth. There's nothing wrong with them; they do one job, and they do it so well they can't do anything else — like look good.

    And yet, the merino wool sneakers that snagged the colloquial title of "the world's most comfortable shoes" also happened to be really cool looking. Where ergonomic clogs failed in Silicon Valley and New York City, Allbirds runners ($95) flourished with ease.

    The San Francisco-based startup knows how to make comfortable shoes that look good. And they opt to do so out of smart, eco-friendly materials: sneakers made from super-soft, merino wool, skippers made from eucalyptus pulp, and flip-flops made from the world's first-ever sugarcane EVA foam

    As of November 2018, Allbirds has combined all three of its cult-favorite materials into one shoe: the Tree Toppers ($115).

    The classic high-tops have a sugarcane EVA foam for the sole, super-soft merino wool on the inside, and eucalyptus tree fiber on the outside. You can pick a pair up in four colors at the moment: two core colors of Kauri Jo and Charcoal, or two limited edition colors of Zin (red) and Fiddle Leaf (green). 

    Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 2.17.42 PM

    $115 isn't cheap, but Allbirds are a particularly good place to invest that money if you're willing to buy fewer but better shoes. They're some of the most comfortable, low-maintenance pairs we've ever found, and you'll find at least one of our product viewers — people with more granular knowledge of products than is probably healthy — opting to wear one of its styles around the office every day. They travel well, feel good, and a purchase of one Allbirds pair also happens to support better, more sustainable business practices — as recently seen in the company's decision not to patent the world's first carbon-negative EVA foam so other companies could use it. It's also a bonus that you can throw them in the washing machine and they look like new again 30 minutes later.

    We tested the Tree Toppers ahead of their November 14 launch, and we found them to be pretty great overall. The tree fiber is breathable and flexible, the sugarcane foam responsive and plush, and the super-soft merino wool is warm and comfortable for the interior. All in all, it's a great shoe — if you like the look, you won't be disappointed by the feel. 

    Shop the Tree Toppers here, or continue to our reviews for the men's and women's versions below:

    Allbirds_Sept_Oct_ReFresh_PDP_TR_TPR_Kauri_Zin_PAIR

    Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter: Women's Tree Topper, $115 (4 colors)

    Allbirds' Tree Toppers are probably the most comfortable pair of Allbirds I've tested — probably because they're essentially flexible, secure gloves made from all the materials that have made Allbirds famous.

    I was concerned the high-top style may feel stiff or unnaturally thick, but the tree fiber is responsive and flexible throughout — fitting close around my ankle without any of the chafing that you might expect from wearing ankle socks with high-tops for the first time. It feels effortless. The Tree fiber is as breathable as it was in the Tree Runners, the interior merino wool is still surprisingly soft, and the carbon-negative foam soles as sturdy and bouncy as any other. It's a good mix of the warm and cozy properties of the wool shoe and the light breeziness of the Tree collection. All in all, I love them. I'll probably wear them frequently into work, on the weekends, and for traveling. 

    Allbirds_Sept_Oct_ReFresh_PDP_TR_TPR_Kauri_Jo_LAT

    David Slotnick, Insider Picks senior reporter: Men's Tree Topper, $115 (4 colors)

    I’ve been an Allbirds fan for a year or so. My Tree Runners were a summer staple, and I wear my Wool Runners pretty much any time I travel — they’re breathable but warm and comfy, and they’re just as well suited to a day walking around a city as they are to spending 10 hours in the air in an economy seat. They’re not the best rain shoe, but they compare reasonably well to any other pair of sneakers.

    The Tree Toppers feel like a comfortable middle ground, with the light airiness of the Tree Runners, but insulated enough to wear around on a drizzly November day in New York City. The high-top style lends well to jeans or even chinos, and they feel snug and supportive without sacrificing comfort. I suspect these will become my next staple.

    Buy a pair of Allbirds Tree Toppers for $115 on the company's website.

    SEE ALSO: Everlane has launched an outerwear collection made from recycled water bottles — here's what it's like in person

    DON'T MISS: This shoe company launched on Kickstarter and is making premium leather boots for under $200

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    man silhouette alone sunrise sunset

    • The Silicon Valley-based digital health venture firm Rock Health recently made its first forays into the addiction-treatment space, an estimated $35 billion industry.
    • Bill Evans, Rock Health's managing director, called addiction treatment"among the largest opportunities to deliver tremendous value to patients and the healthcare system."
    • In a new report, researchers at Evans' firm lay out what they look for in a startup that claims to help treat addiction — along with the red flags they avoid.

    With more than 20 million Americans living with addiction and a treatment market valued at an estimated $35 billion, it's clear to the folks at one venture-capital firm that the problem is an area ripe for new, tech-driven solutions.

    "We see this as an exciting space with significant potential to have a positive impact,"Bill Evans, the managing director of the firm — a Silicon Valley-based digital health fund called Rock Health — told Business Insider.

    In the past, Rock Health has backed buzzy startups like Virta Health, which boldly claims to reverse diabetes without drugs using Silicon Valley's favorite diet, as well as Sano, a startup that aims to make a noninvasive blood-sugar monitor.

    And recently, it funded some of its first addiction-therapeutics platforms, such as Marigold Health, a new tool that links people with addiction to text-based peer support.

    But choosing the right addiction-treatment startup to fund is hard work. Though thousands of apps claim to help treat everything from alcoholism to opioid addiction, few are truly equipped to help make a dent in the problem, according to Evans and his team.

    So in a recent report, the researchers at Rock Health outline what makes a startup in the addiction space worth backing. They also lay out several red flags they aim to avoid.

    One of the 'largest opportunities to deliver tremendous value to patients and the healthcare system'

    opioid pharma industry 2x1Among Rock Health's main criteria for backing an addiction-focused startup is ensuring that it's grounded in comprehensive research, Chipper Stotz, one of the report's authors, told Business Insider.

    That's not always an easy task. With thousands of apps claiming to treat some aspect of substance-use disorder — whether curbing alcohol cravings or working up the courage to attend a peer-support group meeting — it can be difficult to distinguish a legitimate tool from a scam.

    "As an industry there are hundreds if not thousands of apps that might 'help' with substance-use disorder, but whether they're actually collecting data on their efficacy and viability is another matter," Stotz said.

    Two startups in the report that Rock Health felt met these criteria were Marigold Health, the platform that links people with addiction to text-based peer support, and Chrono Therapeutics, which uses a combination of wearable patches and an app to help people quit smoking.

    Read more: A 22-year-old Johns Hopkins dropout is pioneering a new way to treat drug addiction using your phone, and health venture capitalists are lining up to invest

    Evans believes there will be a shift in addiction-treatment spending toward more services that take after the Marigold model, something he said made the industry "among the largest opportunities to deliver tremendous value to patients and the healthcare system."

    Something that 'works better than the current gold standard of treatment'

    tech addictionTo ensure that a startup is worthy of their investment dollars, Stotz and his peers at Rock Health look for at least two key things, he said:

    • Are they working with academic medical centers, such as the University of California, San Francisco's Headache Center, or the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Medicine?
    • Do they have a full-time staff dedicated to collecting that evidence-based data?

    "We're not looking at solutions that are pen-to-napkin scenarios," Stotz said. "We're really looking for evidence-based programs and solutions that have had some success in different trials."

    Those trials could be large peer-reviewed papers or smaller-scale clinical trials. The most important factor is that there's data behind the program. This isn't just important from a patient perspective, Stotz said. It's also vital to encourage buy-in from insurance providers who are considering whether to cover the cost of an intervention.

    "Providers," Stotz said, want to see that a tool "works better than the current gold standard of treatment."

    Areas ripe for a tech solution

    Though addiction-treatment models have been around for decades, many of them aren't well-regulated, and the quality and kind of care can differ immensely from place to place. Patients in one ZIP code, for example, may get one kind of treatment, while patients in another are offered an entirely different set of options.

    Medication-assisted treatment, for example, is largely regarded as the gold standard for treating opioid-use disorder, or addiction to painkillers like fentanyl or morphine. The treatment involves providing patients with access to medications such as buprenorphine and naltrexone, which have been shown to curb deaths from the disorder.

    But few rehabilitation facilities offer the treatment, instead pushing patients to abstain from all medications.

    Read more: Most rehabs don't offer a science-backed treatment for drug addiction. A new initiative aims to change that.

    "The great majority of people seeking treatment do not receive anything approximating evidence-based care," the report says.

    New digital solutions could help avoid this type of situation by capturing more data on a more consistent basis, allowing clinicians to see how well a program is working and tweak it accordingly.

    Digital tools could help in another way, too: They can help ensure that patients have more regular and consistent contact with the support systems they need to stay healthy.

    That continuous support might take one of many forms, whether texting with a therapist, video calling a peer group, or doing text-based cognitive behavioral therapy, a heavily researched clinical approach to mental illness that encourages people to examine how they react to challenging situations.

    "Ongoing support is really critical," Stotz said.

    SEE ALSO: A 22-year-old Johns Hopkins dropout is pioneering a new way to treat drug addiction using your phone, and health VCs are lining up to invest

    DON'T MISS: Most rehabs don't offer a science-backed treatment for drug addiction. A new initiative aims to change that.

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    facetune

    • Lightricks, the company behind photo editing apps Facetune and Enlight, says it has raised $60 million in its latest round of funding, VentureBeat reports.
    • The startup was launched by five co-founder friends in Israel, and has now raised $70 million to date with this funding.
    • The company's photo editng apps have reportedly been downloaded more than 100 million times. Facetune, which costs $3.99, is the most popular paid app on the Apple App Store. 

    The mobile app market is on the upswing, according to research firms like App Annie. Global downloads grew an estimated 15 percent and consumer spend 20 percent year-over-year in Q2 2018. And smartphone users spent more money on apps — $18.5 billion — than in any quarter in history. One of the most popular categories were video players and editors, which helped drive installs on Android to 20 billion in Q2. And five-year-old Jerusalem startup Lightricks—  the folks behind Facetune and Enlight— benefited firsthand.

    Lightricks today announced that it has secured $60 million in a funding round led by Insight Venture Partners with participation from Claltech, bringing its total raise to date to $70 million. It said that its apps have racked up more than 100 million downloads globally and that the most recent addition to its lineup — Enlight Pixaloop, which launched in September — attracted 6 million users and 200,000 subscribers in just two months.

    As part of deal, Insight Venture Partners principal Harley Miller will join the company’s board of directors.

    Read more: How the makers of Facetune raked in ~ $18 million in 2 years and caught Facebook's eye

    Lightricks cofounder and CEO Dr. Zeev Farbman said the capital will be put toward acquiring shares from founders, employees, and investors in a secondary transaction, and to double the size of the team to roughly 300 employees across offices in Jerusalem and London.

    “The mobile market is growing, and more and more people are turning to mobile devices over desktop software to create their content,” Farbman said. “Whether you’re an Instagrammer editing a photo, an artist designing a poster, or a small business owner creating a video, you can use one of our tools.”

    Lightricks — the brainchild of PhD students Nir Pochter, Yaron Inger, Zeev Farbman, and Amit Goldstein, and former Supreme Court of Israel clerk Itai Tsiddon — focuses the bulk of its research on the computational photography techniques that underlie its apps. But it has also developed an in-house mobile advertising platform that, using proprietary algorithms, predicts the ad spend required to secure spots on app stores’ best-seller lists.

    Facetune 2, which debuted in November 2016, taps artificial intelligence (AI) to let users fine-tune selfies by adjusting the proportions of their facial features and controlling the lighting. Its augmented reality component, meanwhile, allows them to preview and apply editing effects like teeth whitening, blemish removal, and skin smoothing.

    Lightricks’ Enlight suite of apps are a bit broader in scope. Photofox features a Photoshop-like layers system with blending modes, opacity controls, fills, transformations, fonts, graphic elements, brushes, tonal adjustments, and presets. Videoleap, a no-frills non-linear video editor, lets users composite two video streams together, layer them on top of one another, apply translucency and other effects, and add text. Quickshot boasts a collection of “handcrafted” filters, like HDR+ and color autocorrection tools. And Pixaloop allows users to animate parts of photos with customizable movement and overlay controls.

    All four of Lightricks’ apps are available for free, but the company also offers in-app paid subscription plans that include additional features. Enlight Photofox, for example, locks Darkroom — a premium editing mode with tonal controls and tuneable film filters — behind a $4-per-month paywall. (It’s $15 for six months or $20 twelve months.) Facetune makes available individual features for purchase, but additionally offers an all-you-can-eat subscription that guarantees access to future content.

    Lightricks made the leap from a one-time payment model to subscriptions in 2015, and it’s done wonders for business. The startup’s profitable, Farbman said, with nearly a million paying subscribers driving revenue growth of 270 percent year-on-year. And he expects revenue will exceed $50 million this year and $100 million in 2019.

    The accolades haven’t hurt, of course. Enlight was Apple’s App of the Year for 2015, the eleventh best-selling paid iOS app in 2016, and the recipient of an Apple Design Award in 2017.

    “This field of creativity lends itself well to the exciting, and in many ways new business model of consumer mobile subscription,” Farbman said. “We’ve seen early success with Facetune 2’s VIP access, with our advanced users finding great value in the advanced capabilities and continuous updates.”

    “The need to create, edit, and engage with content on a mobile device is greater than ever before,” Miller added. “Lightricks has met this growing customer need through its innovative apps. [The company] has been experiencing tremendous growth, and we’re thrilled to partner with the team to further strengthen their global leadership in the mobile content creation category.”

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    REI

    • A small handful of stores don't participate in Black Friday discounts, or they instead opt to donate part or all of their proceeds to charities.
    • Startups often cite prices that are already as low as possible, and big chains emphasize time with family or environmental values. 

    Black Friday— once known only as the day after Thanksgiving — is one of the biggest shopping holidays in the U.S.

    A vast majority of retailers, large and small, slash prices on commonly gifted or beloved products to what is often their lowest price of the year. These savings entice shoppers — most of whom are uncommonly home from work — to dust off the pie crumbs, leave their warm houses, and snag a flat-screen TV they may otherwise be unable or unwilling to afford. For many small businesses, like Brooklinen, Black Friday is the only shopping holiday they participate in

    However, there is a small handful of businesses that don't participate the way other stores do — either by shutting down completely or pledging to donate a portion of their proceeds to causes they — and presumably their customers — care about. Startups cite prices that are low enough to be considered a year-round sale, and larger companies use the shopping holiday as a way to draw greater attention to environmental values or the radical notion of spending time with family. Below, you'll find five stores doing Black Friday differently.

    Looking for deals from brands that are actually having sales? We've rounded up the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on the internet.

    Patagonia

    Shop Patagonia

    Patagonia made waves in 2016 for pledging to donate 100% of its Black Friday profits — what amounted to more than $10 million — to grassroots environmental groups fighting to protect vital natural resources like water, air, and soil. 

    The company also participates in 1% for the planet, meaning 1% of its annual sales are committed to nonprofit environmental groups. Since 1985, that has amounted to more than $74 million in cash donations fed directly into organizations working in local communities.

    If you're looking to shop at Patagonia and want some direction, the company's best-loved products may be their lightweight and super warm down Sweater Jacket ($229), Quarter Zip Better Sweater ($99), and Synchilla Snap-T Pullover ($119). We're also big fans of their Black Hole Duffel ($129) and Micro Puff jackets ($299), which are packable enough to fold up into their own front pocket. But, all in all, you really can't go wrong here. 



    Everlane

    Shop Everlane

    Everlane has made its name by being transparent, especially in its pricing. The hiccup — depending on how you look at it — is that if you're already selling products at the lowest possible price point, then sales like Black Friday don't really make sense. You're technically on sale all of the time.

    For this reason, Everlane does not participate in the typical price slashing of the shopping holiday. You may find some inordinately good deals in their Choose What You Pay section (their version of a sale section), but you won't find any new or popular mainstays down 60% of their original price. Everlane would probably say that's because it technically already is 60% off, all of the time.

    However, the company does have a Black Friday Fund that funds improvement projects at their factories all over the world, and this year they're partnering with the Surfrider Foundation to donate $250,000 to clean up 20,000 pounds of plastic off beaches. For every order made, Everlane will be donating $13 (which equals one less pound of plastic in the ocean).

    If you're planning to shop Everlane and are looking for some direction, we've compiled a list of Everlane essentials we use every day and ranked their best-selling shoes by comfort. We particularly love the Day Gloves ($115)— going so far as to rank them the best flats you can buy— as well as the $100 cashmere and $68 Authentic Stretch Denim, which never bags out

     



    REI

    Shop REI Co-Op

    For the last three years, REI has boycotted Black Friday, instead encouraging all people to delay their hectic holiday shopping and instead spend time outdoors, preferably with loved ones. Last year, the Co-op didn't process online orders on Friday but paid all 12,000 employees (even hourly workers) for their time. However, the company does offer Cyber Week deals that are still worth skimming.

     



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