- RSS Channel Showcase 7411773
- RSS Channel Showcase 6657815
- RSS Channel Showcase 3437521
- RSS Channel Showcase 4198753
Articles on this Page
- 03/11/16--14:41: _The sale of Intel's...
- 03/13/16--04:14: _An Oxford grad and ...
- 03/14/16--03:29: _Some of Britain's s...
- 03/14/16--09:28: _How the founder of ...
- 03/14/16--13:53: _Under Armour CEO do...
- 03/15/16--11:47: _All those startups ...
- 03/16/16--01:55: _Funding Circle is d...
- 03/16/16--06:48: _Right cofounder — w...
- 03/16/16--12:15: _7 online courses th...
- 03/18/16--08:31: _A woman who's been ...
- 03/19/16--02:08: _Talent spotters are...
- 03/20/16--12:19: _'Is this your hobby...
- 03/21/16--09:52: _Raising money is di...
- 03/21/16--15:03: _Facebook cofounder ...
- 03/22/16--14:57: _Evernote founder sa...
- 03/22/16--18:05: _Making money is coo...
- 03/23/16--01:19: _London fintech star...
- 03/23/16--17:32: _The chat bots are c...
- 03/24/16--14:13: _What listening to 1...
- 03/27/16--06:25: _I moved to San Fran...
- 03/16/16--06:48: Right cofounder — wrong CEO
- Who can best raise capital (if you need any)? Investors care most about the CEO. Who can best raise the money? If one of you has raised capital successfully before and the other hasn’t, that may tell you who should be the CEO. If you don’t know … ask your angel investors and advisors. They’ll know …
- Who can best recruit a management team? This won’t matter in the super-early days. But one of you will be much better, or at least, much more interested in recruiting a VP of Sales, Marketing, Product, Customer Success, Engineering, etc. Sometimes you’ll know this based on who on the team is the more seasoned manager. But even more often, it’s probably not that clear from prior experience. But who can find, recruit, and somehow convince an A+ team to join you?
- Who can best inspire and “recruit” customers? It turns out, this is often almost the exact same skill set as the prior two points. Raising capital, and recruiting great team members … is a sales job. Customers really care about who the CEO is. The best Customer Officer, ideally, is also the CEO.
- 03/22/16--18:05: Making money is cool again for young Silicon Valley startups
- 03/23/16--17:32: The chat bots are coming, and they will take your jobs
- Disease detection and cures will be easier: Medicine is a big frontier for companies, and we're not just talking about slapping on a Fitbit and calling it a day. Startups are coming up with new ways to make the lab process faster, the detection in the field easier, and identifying things like cancer even earlier. One startup, X-Zell, eliminates the healthy blood cells in a sample to try to find the tumor cells. "This is the ultimate needle-in-the-haystack problem. Others have tried to find the needle, we remove the haystack," its founder exclaimed. More startups tried reducing friction in the lab. One has a machine that will handle routine tasks, like using a pipette to transfer liquids. Another, described as "Histology-as-a-Service," cuts and logs tissue samples and sends them digitally to doctors.
- Managing diseases and medical conditions will also be easier: I had never seen a "connected catheter" before, but products like these, created by seemingly small companies, could lead to a big change in quality of life for some individuals. DoseDr makes an app for diabetics to track their blood-sugar levels and know how much insulin to take. There was even a home breast-cancer screener. The phone and other connected devices will help us do more than just track our steps and can truly change the quality of life for someone suffering from an ongoing medical condition.
- Businesses will be made more efficient and automated: From AI that can write a sales email for you to a system of freelancers at your fingertips to create PowerPoints in a jiffy, there's still a lot of room for companies to make running a business better. Upstarts want to challenge LinkedIn in the way people connect and find jobs. There's plenty of opportunity in sales for more streamlined processes, judging by the number of startups that want to tackle just that.
- That includes robots to do everything from inspecting buildings to growing your food: The robot revolution is arriving and taking many forms. One company, Iron Ox, wants to have robots grow food in a warehouse and then package and ship it. In the future, this could mean food is grown closer to cities, is cheaper, and tastes better as a result. Gecko Robotics wants to eliminate humans from dangerous jobs like boiler inspections by letting a robot crawl up a wall instead of an employee.
- India and Africa are still waiting to be disrupted: With more people coming online in third-world countries, startups are finding technical solutions for anything, from an online crop market to getting farmers a better price to payments processing for Nigerians. While many seem iterative — "Stripe for Africa" or "Uber for trucking in India" were tag lines used by companies — those markets can combine local knowledge and a first-on-the-ground advantage to beat the companies they are modeling themselves after. With more people getting online every day, companies addressing foreign markets not already saturated by smartphones are poised to explode in the next few years.
- The chat bot revolution is here, or at the least, hyped: Everyone is talking about chat bots. Evernote's cofounder, Phil Libin, called them the best thing he's seen since the iPhone, and startups are also noticing the potential. Several presented over the past two days to make it easy for companies to create their own chat figures and reach customers where they are. One day everyone, brands included, will probably have their own bot, and these companies are just at the beginning.
Intel is shopping around its in-house venture-capital business, according to a Bloomberg report.
The move to sell part of Intel Capital, which comes two months after the retirement of the group's president, is an abrupt change of plans at the world's largest chip maker. Intel has been one of the most aggressive corporate investors in up-and-coming startups for the past 25 years.
The move could cause reverberations across the tech landscape that extend far beyond Intel.
It would be selling its investments in startup companies. In 2015 alone, Intel Capital invested $514 million in 143 companies focused on everything from security software to wearable devices.
Intel is obviously aware of the markdowns in valuations that Fidelity and other big mutual funds have recently made to their tech-startup holdings. Those markdowns may have convinced Intel that now is a good time to cash out some of its own tech-startup investments.
Mark to market
By selling its portfolio, Intel will essentially be giving the market an opportunity to affix a new, and very public, price onto dozens of startups in its portfolio.
Unlike the Fidelity write-downs, which are calculated through a process that's as much art as it is science, a sale of assets on the open market leaves no room for debate. The price paid is the price paid.
If the Intel Capital assets sell at a discount to what Intel paid for them, that resets the value of the equity that other investors have in those same startups. And that price reset could extend beyond just Intel's portfolio companies, if investors decide to apply the same multiples to other startups that are in similar businesses or have similar products.
Sure, sales of private-company investments happen quietly all the time in the secondary markets, as limited partners in venture funds look to get liquidity. But typically these sales are much smaller, and are not nearly as public as the Intel Capital assets on the auction block, which Bloomberg pegged at $1 billion.
It's also possible that Intel Capital has some winning investments in its portfolio, and that it will sell the overall portfolio at a premium. In that case, the sale could help buoy the startup market, at least for some companies.
But would Intel be so eager to part with its startup investments if it were doing so well? The answer to that question will have big implications across Silicon Valley's tech startups over the coming months.
This week, 25 startups pitched their businesses to some of Europe's biggest investors after completing Entrepreneur First's latest six-month company building programme.
Venture capitalists from Google Ventures, Index Ventures, Balderton Capital, and LocalGlobe were in the 200-strong audience to try and spot the next big thing, as were a number of angel investors.
The startups, built by carefully selected deeply technical founders, included everything from AI companies to robotics companies and drone companies.
Investors told Business Insider that the calibre was high all round but it was a children's app called Lingumi that appeared to be the talk of the town.
Cofounded by Oxford languages graduate Toby Mather and UCL computer science graduate Adit Trivedi, Lingumi has built a platform that helps pre-school children to learn English in countries where English is not the first language. In its investor pitch, Lingumi highlights how pre-school children are the world's best language learners. Mather and Trivedi want to capitalise on this.
The company’s first product is a set of "Learning Cubes" that interact with a tablet or smartphone to teach sounds, words, and phrases.
Speaking to Business Insider at the demo day, which Entrepreneur First cofounder Alice Bentinck believes to be the biggest in Europe now, CEO Mather said: "If you’re a mum in China, you really want your kid to learn English. The current solutions are either to hire a tutor, which is very expensive and unaffordable for the massive majority, or to wait until they get primary school, where they’ll start learning English at six from a teacher who almost certainly isn’t native English speaking. So you’re missing the best neurological stage to be learning English. We’re fixing that."
Trivedi, who left his internship at J.P. Morgan to build Lingumi, added: "There’s no other company out there that I’d like to work for. What we can build is phenomenal. I want to potentially stay in this for 10, 20, 30, 40 years. I love what I do, I don’t want to do anything else."
Some of the most talented people in Britain are leaving top jobs at big firms for the chance to build their own tech startup on a company building programme that is now firmly on the radar of Europe's best-known investors.
Deeply technical people working at Silicon Valley giants like Google or investment banks like Goldman are handing in their notice and signing up to Entrepreneur First, a year long programme that helps people find a cofounder and provides them wi tht the support they need to build a business.
Entrepreneur First — founded in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck — began by accepting less than 20 people a year from the best universities when it launched in London in 2013. Today, it accepts over 200 people a year from universities, big name firms, and other areas.
"If we take a moment to reflect on what we’ve been doing over the last five years, probably the bit we’re proudest of is the people who are now joining," Clifford told Business Insider at the company's Demo Day last week. "In year one, we would have been like: 'Oh can you imagine if so and so joined?' Now they're lining up to join.
"The list of companies people have dropped out of to join EF is like Google, Palantir, Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, McKinsey, Bain, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs."
Rory Greig, for example, left his job as a software developer analyst at Goldman Sachs in June 2014 to join Entrepreneur First. Meanwhile, George Thomas interned at Google in 2014 before joining Entrepreneur First in 2015.
At the Demo Day, one company that caught the eye of investors was a startup called Lingumi, which helps pre-school children to learn English in countries where English is not the first language. Lingumi has been founded by Oxford languages graduate Toby Mather and former J.P. Morgan intern Adit Trivedi.
Entrepreneur First provides those on its cohort with £17,000 in pre-seed funding so they can build a technology startup. In return, it takes an 8% equity stake in the company that is created.
The 50 startups that have previously graduated from the programme have raised over $60 million (£42 million) in venture capital from investors, according to Entrepreneur First. Collectively, these startups are now worth more than $250 million (£176 million). The portfolio includes deep tech firms (Magic Pony Technology, Adbrain, and Tractable), marketplaces (Hubble, ClickMechanic), consumer products (Prizeo, Code Kingdoms), and hardware (Blaze, Pi-Top, Speakset).
Earlier in March, Entrepreneur First announced that it plans to raise £40 million to invest in the companies that come out of its programme. It also appointed two new general partners: Wendy Tan White and Joe White. The duo, previously venture partners at Entrepreneur First, are the cofounders of website building software provider Moonfruit, which was acquired by Yell for $37 million (£25.7 million) in 2012.
Payal Kadakia was ready to move on from her beginner's ballet courses and take things to the next level. As she did her research, she ended up with a browser full of potential classes that she didn't know what to make of.
Kadakia knew there had to be a less stressful way to find the right class — but unfortunately, at that time, there simply wasn't.
"I didn't know if the classes I was finding online were the right level for me, if they had the right teachers, or if I had even brought the right clothes with me — and all that intimidation sort of made me not go," she told Business Insider.
Her experience that day helped spur the idea that ultimately resulted in ClassPass, a subscription-based search engine for fitness classes. The monthly membership allows users to take their pick of classes at various gyms and studios, exploring a variety of workout options throughout their city. The membership varies by city, but ranges from $79 to $125 a month for unlimited classes users can book directly on the app.
"We wanted people to walk into a studio with no prior experience and feel like they can do it — taking all the friction of picking and choosing a fitness program away," she said.
Now live in 39 cities globally, the $400 million dollar startup has changed the way people are choosing to work out.
We met up with Kadakia at one of her favorite studios in New York City, exhale, to take her class of choice: barre.
Kadakia grew up fitness- and dance-focused. She participated in dance competitions from a young age, and was the captain of her varsity cheerleading squad in high school.
"My parents came [to the US] from India, and I started learning Indian folk dance when I was three years old, competing on the weekends," she said. She still dances and works as the artistic director for The Sa Dance Company, an Indian dance collective she founded.
Although she was always extremely active, Kadakia definitely understands that certain fitness classes can be intimidating even to a motivated, regular gym-goer.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has one piece of advice for young entrepreneurs: Go make the sale.
For many young companies, especially in Silicon Valley, being unprofitable is considered a right of passage. Companies can burn through cash as they build a great product, and making money comes only after testing for a good fit. Twitter, one of the best examples, has been public for more than two years and has never been profitable.
Speaking at the festival South by Southwest (SXSW), Plank argued that profitability is one of the most undersold things in tech. At a tech conference the previous week, the Under Armour CEO watched as startup CEOs joked about the lack of profitability, and the crowd chuckled at it.
Plank, though, was shocked.
"And I'm going, what are you doing? Winning is cultural. Losing money is cultural. If you get used to losing money, it's really hard to stop," Plank said. "Go let the other guy lose money and fail off."
Instead, Plank says that entrepreneurs need to push themselves out of the safe testing mode while burning through money and prove that they have businesses.
"Get out of the hypothesis mode, and go find out if your product will sell. Is someone willing to take good, cold, hard cash out of their pocket and exchange it for what you have?" Plank said. "Go make the sale."
The on-demand economy is starting to show its cracks, and companies are falling apart in an environment where funding is suddenly hard to find and low-to-no margin businesses are facing tighter scrutiny.
On Tuesday, Bay Area food-delivery business SpoonRocket closed its doors after it was unable to raise money after more than a week of rumors that the company was looking for a last-minute buyer. TechCrunch previously reported the shutdown.
Rival Sprig took a hard look at the company, but decided to pass on buying it, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation. The intellectual property and other company assets didn't justify an acquisition, one person involved said. SpoonRocket didn't employ its delivery drivers, who worked as independent contractors, so they could not be acquired as part of a deal.
Sprig did formalize a partnership and money changed hands amid the shutdown, but that was more of a marketing play to attract SpoonRocket's customers, the person added. A memo to SpoonRocket drivers also pointed them to join Sprig, although Sprig's structure of employing drivers means that they will have to interview.
A Sprig spokeswoman would not comment or acknowledge any acquisition talks, but did confirm the partnership between the two. SpoonRocket did not return multiple requests for comment in the last week.
Sprig's spokeswoman said:
We are partnering with SpoonRocket to invite all of their current servers and delivery staff to interview to become Sprig employees in San Francisco. Our server employees are core to our mission as we continue to grow at a rapid pace in our home city, where we currently serve thousands of meals per day.
New customers coming from SpoonRocket also get a discount as part of the transition.
SpoonRocket's shutdown comes at a time when the once-hailed on-demand economy is starting to see pivots.
Valet company Zirx moved entirely away from parking consumer cars at a push of a button. Its rival, Luxe, is also starting to ask to schedule car returns instead of making it as easy as hailing an Uber, according to a report in Bloomberg.
In the food space, which has been overrun with companies for years, more startups are turning away or shutting down. Uber rival Ola closed its food-delivery arm. Startup Good Eggs closed in several cities. Meanwhile, Uber is entering into the competition, adding another well-funded player in an already way too crowded space.
SpoonRocket founder Steven Hsiao wrote in the company's goodbye note that the competition among startups combined with a bad funding environment led to the sudden shutdown.
"We explored all strategic options till the very last minute but unfortunately, they all fell through," he wrote.
Funding Circle, a UK fintech company worth over £1 billion, is dedicating an entire floor of its new headquarters in London to younger startups.
The peer-to-peer lending company moved into 71 Queen Victoria Street in Mansion House last September on a 10-year lease, having outgrown three previous offices at Oxford Circus, Southwark, and Blackfriars over the last five years.
The company secured two former trading floors in the Royal Bank of Canada building but it only requires one for its 280 staff right now. As a result, it is making 400 desks available on the floor it isn't using to small businesses and freelancers. The desks can be booked through this page on property marketplace Hubble.
Pam Burton, Funding Circle's chief operating officer in the UK, told Business Insider: "We took more space than we needed so that we could grow into it over the next few years, but in the meantime, we're really excited to offer desks to startups and small businesses at a reduced market rate.
"We know what it's like to be small and entrepreneurial, and we hope that access to central London and the city will mean other firms have the opportunity to flourish."
Funding Circle will charge around £499 per desk a month, which is slightly less than the going rate for a desk in the city, according to a Funding Circle spokeswoman, who said the average is closer to £600-£650 per desk per month.
Startups that move into the office will get access to Wi-Fi, bike storage, ping pong, and showers.
Hubble said there is an increasing trend towards large, well-established companies wanting to share their own space to give newer startups a boost in London. Of 500 workspaces on the Hubble website, 29% are SMEs offering out spare space; 5% of which are businesses worth over £100 million.
A Hubble spokesman told Business Insider: "They [Funding Circle] just raised a Series E funding round and have taken on a large headquarters. They plan to use the space in the next two years as they expand."
On the investing side of life, the toughest meeting of all for me at least is probably the "right cofounder, wrong CEO" start-up. Great product, driven team, good early product-market fit, great vision. Check, check, check, and check. But clearly — the other cofounder should be CEO.
I always have to pass.
And I think this is also one of the toughest companies to think about joining — or not — as a VP as well.
It’s all looking strong, and yet … it’s really the other cofounder that should be CEO.
This happens with some regularity in SaaS, I’ve learned (and to be clear: I’m not talking about any
company I’ve invested in, am an advisor to, board member of, etc.
Because when it’s still a very small team, with no true management team, cofounders can kind of hack it to $1m-$2m in ARR together. And both really can be co-CEOs, no matter what the titles are, up to that point. But after that, it starts to break down when you have to recruit a true management team, and in many cases, additional capital.
So … first off, Who Should Be CEO? The most important factors probably are:
If one of you is clearly the best at all 3, she should be CEO.
OK, now let’s assume you didn’t know at the time when you started. Or more often, one of the cofounders sort of made himself CEO from Day 1. It was his idea. Or she recruited the other co-founders. Or she was more senior at the last company. Anyhow, “Ellen” sort of became CEO by default on Day 1.
Here is where you can get yourself into a pickle. Because often, if all you care about as a cofounder is success, you may let your colleague start off as CEO. Even if it turns out that was the wrong choice later (or even, really, not even the best choice even in the beginning). But if you are a great team and committed and appreciative cofounders, again, the cracks won’t show up for a while. You’ll still get to Initial Traction.
So here’s my simple suggestion: As you cross $1m in ARR, and perhaps a second time at $2m ARR, have an honest, quiet conversation with your cofounder. Maybe bring in your #1 most trusted advisor to help guide the discussion and ask … "Are we 100% sure the right cofounder is CEO?" If not, make a change now. Make a change before you recruit a sub-optimal management team. This will really, really drag you down just as you start to scale. Make a change before fundraising gets harder, when it shouldn’t. Make a change before your attitude toward customers is too affected by who the customers most want to work with.
And then do it again once you cross $2m or $2.5m or so. Because you’ll have learned so much more, again.
In 8/10 companies, this will be a 5 minute exercise. It would be silly to consider a change. But I’m going to suggest in > 10% of the cases, great co-founders, totally committed ones, that haven’t done real SaaS before, that haven’t recruiting a cross-functional team before, get this wrong.
Fix it. It’s fast, “cheap,” and is one of the top 5 things you can do to make your founders’ stock more valuable.
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Getting involved in the world of startups is an exciting, if somewhat risky proposal.
If you’re an undergraduate student, finding a hot startup to intern with is a great opportunity; instead of going into a regulated space with an official “internship program” where most of your day is spent answering phones or getting coffee, working with startups allows you to become much more involved in the action. If you work hard and your startup is expanding, chances are you could have a full-time position locked up by the end of your trial period.
It takes a wide array of skills to work at most startups — with limited staffs, it’s important that everyone is able to do a little bit of everything. For any students looking to jump into the next Snapchat or Slack, we’ve collected a set of classes that we believe could help prepare you for a gig at the Internet’s next big thing.
By using the promo code "MARCHINSIDER" at checkout, you can get access to each class for just $19.
There is nothing more important to the process of getting an internship than getting an interview. Once you’re in the door, you can feel as sure of your abilities as anyone; you actually have the chance to present yourself as an asset to the company. But in order to get there you need to impress them on paper first with a killer résumé.
Most startups these days, if not app centric, at least have an app component that is vital to their growth and presence. If you want to land a job at an up-and-coming company, very few skills will be seen as more impressive that the ability to build apps. Even if you aren’t as skilled as the engineers hired to build the final version, having the necessary knowledge to be able to provide intelligent feedback is a huge service to the company.
Through lessons, they'll espouse the secrets of the trade that helped their companies rise above the competition and continue growth past the "start-up" stage. Knowing the path that successful startups followed while they were starting out will leave you with great advice on how you can best help at your new gig.
With over 16,000 students enrolled, this is one of the more successful classes available on Udemy. Through the course, students will learn all the basics of turning the lofty goals of your startup’s initial plan into a reality, with lessons on everything from securing funding to developing a business strategy.
Other than funding from venture capitalists, there is probably nothing more important to the survival of a startup than the free press available through a vibrant social media presence. With some practice and tips, you could turn your personal Instagram prowess into a working brand and maybe even run a Kickstarter campaign, if you need to stay afloat.
For anyone in the startup world, a basic knowledge of coding is close to essential. Even if you don’t get too far into the weeds of learning to program, the perspective gained from taking a few classes in HTML5 will help you be involved in the development of new projects. The class is aimed at total beginners, so don't fret if you have no experience.
Google analytics is an extremely useful tool to any company looking to expand its web presence. Through the service, you can begin to examine your most reliable customers and investigate how they found your site, what they tend to focus on, and the rate at which they come back to visit the site again. This information is vital to growing companies because it gives you the necessary information to pivot into whichever strategy is the most successful.
For THINX cofounder and CEO Miki Agrawal, success is hard-won. And it's a journey.
The former investment banker, athlete, filmmaker, restaurateur, and current entrepreneur has spent the last 15 years learning from a wide array of jobs and industries.
She's come away from her experiences with a distinct perspective on leadership, the importance of hard work, and making sure you're surrounded by the right people.
Here are five of the best bits of advice we picked up from her on how to set yourself up for success.
DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!
"You are the average of the five closest friends you keep."
In Agrawal's opinion, it's the people you surround yourself with who will exert the most influence over your life, so it's important to create a core group who you can trust.
Agrawal's twin, Radha, is another entrepreneur. She founded the popular alcohol-free morning dance series Daybreaker in 2014. And her partner, Andrew Horn, is a social entrepreneur too, having founded companies dedicated to communications and advocacy.
Miki even lives in a building with a half-dozen close friends, many of them in the entrepreneurial world as well.
"Eliminate the depleters — the people who complain or hold you back."
"Don't let other people dim your flame," says Agrawal. Instead, take a good, hard look at those around you — and make sure they're contributing positively to your sense of self and your ability to achieve.
If someone is holding you back, or their attitude is having a negative impact your own outlook, don't be afraid to move forward without them.
"Do what you do best, and bring in other people to do what they do best."
For Agrawal, this means recognizing your strengths and weaknesses — and the strengths in others that might complement you best.
When she was running her restaurant business, she fortuitously met a business partner and relinquished day-to-day oversight to him, seeing that he was better suited for the operational role.
Similarly, at THINX she functions as CEO and creative director, but she makes sure to fill her team with operational and technical talent to support the brand's vision. There are now 25 people working for THINX.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Building technology companies worth tens of billions of pounds often requires one or two exceptionally talented individuals with strong computer science backgrounds and entrepreneurial spirits.
Finding these people can be time consuming and difficult, which is why a couple of UK organisations have turned to artificial intelligence and software.
In the last month, Founders Forum, a network of successful startup founders and business leaders, and company builder Entrepreneur First, have both revealed they are using artificial intelligence (AI) and custom-built software to identify the UK's most promising founders.
Finding the "Founders of the Future"
Founders Forum, set up by serial entrepreneur and lastminute.com cofounder Brent Hoberman, used artificial intelligence (AI) to help it select 100 future UK tech founders aged 16-35, or the "Founders of the Future."
"An AI simulates what a human might do but at scale; with more data and no bias," said Dr Tom Bowles, data scientist and founder in residence at Founders Factory, a startup accelerator launched by Brent Hoberman. "Our model continually learns, and as we get additional data on the career trajectories of the Founders of the Future community, we’ll be able to accurately predict who will start tech companies.
"By looking at each individual in the context of what they have achieved, within their relevant field, biases like gender or location can be minimised," added Bowles, who holds a PhD from Oxford University. "This means that AI can have a significant impact on diversity; it doesn’t care about someone’s background, it only sees the potential within them."
Before Founders Forum created its AI, which it describes as a "complex algorithm," profiles of successful entrepreneurs were evaluated to uncover overlapping characteristics. Recruiters and venture investors were also interviewed to uncover key characteristics they consider in evaluating top founders.
In addition to the AI, Founders Forum also asked universities, entrepreneurial organisations, and existing founders of successful technology companies for their recommendations on who should make the Founders of the Future list.
The full cohort met at a launch event at No. 10 Downing Street in March, which was attended by digital economy minister Ed Vaizey and successful entrepreneurs like Matt Miller, who cofounded design studio Ustwo.
Reformed hacker Mustafa Al-Bassam and Stanford dropout George Burgess were among those that were selected as "Founders of the Future."
Rikke Koblauch, 24, a UX/UI developer at Ustwo, was also identified as a Founder of the Future, via both the AI and peer review process. She said: "After working as a designer in the Ustwo Swedish studio I decided to join the London team. I’m Danish and came here with a one way ticket, a pet bunny and just bag of clothes.
"I’m not a typical cut-out of many entrepreneurs, but my ambition is to set up a company and build something that will make lives better — so it’s fascinating the AI found me. I’m very flattered to be also nominated by Mills, the founder of Ustwo and I'm sure the Founders of the Future community will give me an extra push towards achieving my dream."
Using software to put the Entrepreneur First
Entrepreneur First, a company building programme for deeply technical people, is also using software to help it find technically talented individuals at universities like Cambridge and companies like Google and Goldman Sachs.
Founded in 2011 by Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck, Entrepreneur First is a year-long programme that helps people find a cofounder and provides them with the support they need to build a tech startup. It began by accepting less than 20 people a year from top universities when it launched in London in 2013.
Today, Entrepreneur First accepts more than 200 people a year from universities, big name firms, and other areas. In the last year, Entrepreneur First has considered over 5,000 people, Clifford said.
"The secret weapon of scale is software," Clifford told Business Insider at the Entrepreneur First Demo Day earlier this month. "We now have a tech team in house and they build the software that allows us to find the best individuals. They pre-filter based on characteristics we know have worked in the past. Then when they’re in the programme, they use the software to manage the programme as well."
When asked about how Entrepreneur First's software finds people, Clifford said: "There are certain characteristics that are strongly associated with success at EF. Some of them are really basic like which companies did you work at, what did you study, where did you study, who do you know?
"We’re not in any way trying to imply that we use the software to make the decision. But there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who might be of interest to us. How do we focus our time on those who are the most suited? For us it’s mainly an optimisation problem. It’s who should we even spend the time getting to know."
The 50 startups that have previously graduated the programme have raised more than $60 million (£42 million) in venture capital from global investors, according to Entrepreneur First. Collectively, these startups are now worth more than $250 million (£176 million). The portfolio includes deep tech firms (Magic Pony Technology, Adbrain, and Tractable), marketplaces (Hubble, ClickMechanic), consumer products (Prizeo, Code Kingdoms), and hardware (Blaze, Pi-Top, Speakset).
Entrepreneur First itself is in the middle of raising a £40 million funding round, which it plans to invest into the companies coming out of its programme.
The fact that investors are lining up to back Entrepreneur First's model, which has been compared to Silicon Valley's Y-Combinator, suggests that using software to spot talent could be the way forward.
By now, most people in the media and fashion worlds have heard of Refinery29, a media startup valued at nearly $300 million.
But for a long time, the startup's struggle was very real.
The site was launched in 2005 by Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano. At that time, there was no Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter to flood websites with readers.
There was no Buzzfeed or even a notion of viral content. And there certainly were no investors looking to throw gobs of cash at media founders like von Borries.
Eleven years later, the state of digital media is very different. Refinery29 is one of a few leaders in the space that has tens of millions of readers and a sky-high valuation. On its site, Refinery29 attracts about 25 million monthly uniques. But across the web — like on Facebook and Snapchat — its content (mostly video) is seen by more than 175 million people each month. In 2015, Refinery29 say its audience grew more than 150% in terms of content views.
We sat down with von Borries at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, last weekend.
Here's a lightly edited Q&A on the state of digital media, from a man who helped launch the industry.
Alyson Shontell: You guys have been in media since before it was cool, and nobody would give media startups money.
Philippe von Borries: Nobody even looked at it as a space that mattered, where you could make money.
Shontell: “Advertising is a terrible business,” they’d say.
von Borries: Yeah it was like, “Where's this gonna go, is this your hobby?" People asked for the first few years, "So what do you do when you don't do this?”
It was like, 'Where's this gonna go, is this your hobby?'
Shontell: Before you were running a media company, what were you doing?
von Borries: Justin [my cofounder] was investigating cops for the city of New York. He was carrying a badge and driving into outer boroughs. And I was working in media, for a political startup in DC. But neither of us were properly in New York City media, and neither of us were in the world of style or fashion in any way.
Shontell: How has the perception of digital-media businesses changed since you launched Refinery?
von Borries: When we first launched, the media-startup space didn't even properly exist. Then, the things that we looked at were Gawker and Gothamist as being at the forefront of media. You didn't have any of the big audience aggregators, or platforms that actually let you build scale.
So we went around with clipboards to stores signing people up for our site. And we'd high-five each other when Cool Hunting would pick up a story that we had written. That was the moment, you know? And we would be collecting email addresses to get people back to the site.
Of course the VC industry was fairly nonexistent. Union Square Ventures had just recently launched, and they were one of the first in New York to give people money, but that was it.
Over time, stuff started to accelerate and the shapes started to emerge in and around the ecosystem with The Huffington Post probably being the first to build a huge audience.
Shontell: What was it like pitching investors back then?
von Borries: Oh my god, there were so many instances of us going to meetings where people just didn't get it. People were like, "Content? I'm out. I don't want to touch it."
People were like, 'Content? I'm out, I don't want to touch it.'
Everybody was obsessed with commerce, and it wasn't until 2010 or 2011 when you could start to build audiences up. Facebook gained traction. Twitter gained traction. The community started to sort of proliferate, and I think people started to see the contours of digital brands emerge.
Traditional media companies certainly didn't, but I think people in the VC space started to make some bets. And so around 2010 or 2011 was when things started to gain traction for us. That's when we got our first proper seed round, where we raised $500,000 from some really influential New York angels.
Shontell: And now?
von Borries: The competition has never been greater. There's a ton of noise, and there are new players entering the space at any given moment. My hypothesis is that we're living in an age where the future iconic digital brands are being formed.
Only a few will win in the space. Business Insider has, Vice obviously has broken out, and I would argue that we've absolutely broken out.
But there's a ton of competition right now and talent wars. Everybody is still sitting on a fair amount of cash from previous [funding] rounds. Nobody knows quite what's happening with the macro economy, but there's still a lot of money out there. So there's still a high degree of frenzy around media right now.
Shontell: I recently spoke with the founder of Bustle, who said he just raised "the most over-subscribed round of his career." Is that normal right now in media?
von Borries: I love [Bustle CEO] Bryan, but I don't think it's as easy to raise money anymore. I think the VCs have largely bowed out of the space.
What you do have is a lot of the strategic [investors and legacy media brands] putting their vote of confidence into digital, because they realize that they slept on it for 10 years and they need to make investments, acquisitions, and bring that knowledge, that culture in-house. So financial institutions are out. Traditional and strategics are leaning in. Consolidation is happening now.
Shontell: Define "strategics."
von Borries: Well, you see it with Time Inc. as an example. So they've made a bunch of acquisitions, and they've made investments. Hearst — a ton of acquisitions, a ton of investments. Conde even, right? Scripps [invested] in our case. So a lot of the traditional media companies began realizing they kind of slept on the opportunity. They don't have the digital culture internally, and they're finding out that the only way to really disrupt themselves is by either investing or by acquiring companies in the space.
A lot of the traditional media companies began realizing they kind of slept on the opportunity, and they don't have the digital culture internally.
Shontell: The media landscape is changing really quickly, between the push toward native content on platforms like Facebook and everyone focusing on video content. How do you keep up with the constantly changing environment?
von Borries: Facebook and Google are on their own paths of creating closed experiences where they give their users the best and fastest experiences. That's why Google Amp (Accelerated Mobile Pages) — which we have up and running, and it's amazing by the way — and Facebook Instant Articles are just the trends that no one's going to turn the tide back on.
They're here to stay and what's happening is all the channels through which most of your traffic is being delivered are going through large platforms.
But I will say this — I think Facebook and Google and all the other platforms need great partnerships with premium content providers. Just as much as we need great relationships with their platforms. And so I think there's a symbiotic relationship.
Facebook and Google need great partnerships with premium content providers. Just as much as we need great relationships with their platforms. I think there's a symbiotic relationship.
You can't get too caught up in thinking about, "What does it mean for Google now to be delivering the majority of my content through Amp?" It's faster, and it's a lot better for the consumer.
Shontell: How does Google Amp work?
von Borries: It gives you basically a parity experience. It's a cached version of a publisher's page and it's a lot faster.
Shontell: What results are you seeing from Google Amp so far?
von Borries: Google Amp was delivering a lot of traffic for the first two weeks we went live with it, because Google was also promoting it. It was driving a massive spike ... in terms our daily average Google traffic, it probably went up by 20%.
Shontell: How's Snapchat Discover going for you?
von Borries: Discover is going amazingly well. The audience is incredible in terms of size, and it forces you to innovate in ways that are very unique to the platform. We have a relatively large team that does nothing but content for Snapchat.
Shontell: What's Refinery's Snapchat strategy?
von Borries: The strategy is to do everything that we're doing on Refinery, but in more original ways. Taking what we're known for — which is style, beauty, pop culture, news, and important global issues — and wrapping it into an experience that is 10 stories long and developing it for a new audience.
Shontell: So which is the dominant platform, Facebook Instant, Google Amp or Snapchat Discover?
von Borries: All three of those are so huge. I think anyone who's in the space right now looks at five or six platforms that they develop teams around — Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, Google.
Shontell: How do you decide which platforms to focus on? There are new ones launching all the time.
von Borries: One thing we're really good at internally is handing the keys to people to try new platforms that may or may not get big. Peach, Periscope, YouNow. Facebook Live.
So we say to employees, "Hey, you're an up-and-comer in the company and you love this new platform. Why don't you try it out?" With Refinery29's YouNow [live-video channel], four of five kids in the company were excited about it, and they were shooting videos in the kitchen at 7:30 a.m. They just did it. We placed our vote of confidence in them and let them do it with the Refinery29 brand.
I think live video is going to be the next big thing. Facebook is going to push it even more crazily than it already is. With regards to how to you know what to pursue and what not to pursue, it's the cultural thing. When you see things breaking out, then you start to invest in it more, Live being a great example of that.
Shontell: Let's talk more about digital video. How do you see that whole trend shaking out?
von Borries: I think the world rewards risk-takers and early adopters, and that's been our motto with video.
The world rewards risk takers and early adopters, and that's been our motto with video.
We've been doing video for eight years, but we got into it super heavily about two years ago.
We're doing everything from 360 video — which we just did a whole thing around during fashion week — to VR, where we're placing a lot of bets and have been producing content from around the world, including partnerships with Samsung.
We're also doing the scale stuff, so short-form on Facebook and with YouTube. And then we're also focused on impact work. At Sundance we did two projects: One was Shatterbox Anthology, which was about increasing the number of female directors and we were releasing one short film every month. Two was The Skinny, which is an amazing short-form web series that we coproduced with Jill Soloway. And those were about impact and creating work that has a ripple effect.
I think right now is the time where we have to triply focus on the commercial side of digital video. But you also have to take bets. And there's so much momentum right now in the space that you can't sleep on opportunities.
Shontell: It has to be difficult to keep reinventing Refinery29 as all these new trends pop up. It seems like, as a media CEO, you can never just coast.
von Borries: If you look back a year ago, we weren't planning for Snapchat Discover because it hadn't launched yet. Facebook video wasn't really a thing yet.
When I think about where we were in 2011 when we raised our seed round, we were producing content for the web and for an email audience. And look at where we are now, it's totally profound!
It's exciting, and you just have to be all in it. It's actually never been as exciting as it is now.
There's an elephant in the room when it comes to race in Silicon Valley.
Venture capitalists are under pressure not to appear racist, so they claim to only invest on merit and the company, says Joseph.
As a result, venture capitalists are dodging the race issue entirely, to their own detriment. They don't get a full understanding of what it's taken entrepreneurs like Joseph to succeed in face of challenges they can't control, he says.
"I always put my business first. But let's stop pretending like race isn't an issue," Joseph says. "Subconscious bias is just as damaging as overt bias. And for tech to move forward, these issues need to come out into the open. Not just for founders, but for everyone in the ecosystem."
"So please, don't sweep race under the rug when you meet me. Talk to me about it. It'll help you understand why I'm going to succeed."
Here's the full tweetstorm:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Jumio, an online identification verification company whose clients include United Airlines and Airbnb, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its U.S. business and initiated the sale of assets, according to court documents.
The company, based in Palo Alto, California, said in a court filing on Monday that it has struggled to raise funding for its operations following government investigations into financial irregularities and stock sales by its former management team.
"This has left Jumio with few alternatives," Jumio Chief Executive Stephen Stuut said in the court filing in Delaware. As a result, he said Jumio had decided to sell most of its assets under a Chapter 11 restructuring process.
"Despite some of the challenges Jumio's leadership team inherited, our underlying business remains exceptionally strong," Stuut said.
The company said it has received a stalking-horse bid from Jumio Acquisition LLC, a new entity formed by Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin. The bid was valued at about $22.6 million, Jumio said.
The stalking-horse agreement opens the door for other interested parties to make a bid. Jumio said it had received initial interest from 32 potential bidders.
Saverin has also offered $3.7 million in financing to provide liquidity needed to see the company through its bankruptcy proceedings.
Jumio listed assets of between $1 million and $10 million and liabilities of up to $50 million in its court filing.
The case is in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 16-10682.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Evernote founder Phil Libin has been a venture capitalist for about six months now since leaving Evernote, and he told Business Insider he's found the most exciting thing he's seen since the iPhone emerged: bots.
Specifically, chat bots that interact intelligently with people as they use apps, providing useful information before they even know they want it.
"In 2007, I had this vision when I first touched my very first iPhone where I kind of understood what the next five years would bring, and I haven't had that kind of clarity since," he told us in a conversation at Y Combinator's demo day on Tuesday. "And now, I have the same kind of feeling about bots, about conversational UIs."
Bots are at the heart of how Facebook, Apple, Google, and smaller companies like Atlassian and Slack are transforming how messaging works. These leaders are beyond sending simple text messages, and evolving chat into a whole tech platform almost like an operating system, where others can plug their own apps in and create entirely new functions.
But Libin thinks that chat apps like Facebook M, its virtual assistant, are just the beginning.
"It really feels like apps felt to me in '08. Back when we started Evernote, all the apps were like fart apps and flashlights and kind of stupid crap like that, but you could see the potential if you squinted," Libin said. "I think it's like that right now. It's super early days, but the world is going to get rewritten based on bots and conversational UIs soon."
Libin also told us he's already invested in one bot maker — he wouldn't spill the name as they're still "under the radar," and he's building a lab within General Catalyst, the venture capital firm where he's now a partner, to explore the idea.
"Just a lab for now," he says. He'll "hack around with a few people, get smart around the space and then see what's investable, what's buildable, and so on."
Investors packed Y Combinator's prestigious Demo Day on Tuesday to listen to startups pitch their business. But those pitches had a different tone than they did six months ago.
Suddenly startups are talking about profitability and highlighting the gross margins on their business from the beginning. There's no more talk of "still being in growth mode" or jokes about burning through cash.
Take Rappi, a Latin-American focused startup that describes itself as a cross between delivery services like Instacart and Postmates.
Investors used to be excited about startups that wanted to deliver anything at the touch of a button, but recent high-profile flameout of SpoonRocket and whispers of troubles at other similar companies like Instacart have investors more skeptical.
Rather than touting its technical advantage over either company, Rappi turned to flouting its gross margins. It can pay workers $2 an hour (above the minimum wage) instead of the $15 the typical Silicon Valley company has to pay. The increased density of the cities also means it can get delivery charges down to 70 cents instead of the $3 many US customers have to pay. That gives the company 15% gross margins. (Postmates, in comparison, claims to have 20% gross margins after several years.)
"The great thing about Latin America is that's where we actually can be profitable," Rappi's founder Simon Borrero said to the laughter of investors.
Deako, a light switch company, makes 75% margins on its "dumb" light switches that it sells to homebuyers. Even when people upgrade to the "smart" version, the startup is still making 68% margins.
There was still a lot of cherry-picking of random metrics like "letters of intent"— which are nothing more than a "hey I like you" letter — to show growth. But startups both highlighting and emphasizing the margins on their consumer business is a palpable shift in a time when making money is suddenly popular again.
London fintech startup GoCardless has raised $13 million (£9.1 million) in new funding in a round led by Notion Capital. Previous investors including Balderton Capital, Accel Partners, and Passion Capital also invested in this round.
GoCardless lets businesses easily process direct debit payments online. Companies can use GoCardless' technology to aggregate payments, which makes accepting direct debits much more affordable.
The company said that it's going to use the money to meet demand from new customers and expand around the world. It claims that over 16,000 companies use its technology, and that it's now processing over £1 billion of payments a year.
Business Insider reported in October that GoCardless was in talks to raise a new round of funding. We said at the time that it was looking to raise "tens of millions" in funding.
The last time GoCardless raised money was back in January 2014, when it brought in $7 million (£4.5 million) from Balderton Capital, Accel, and Passion Capital.
GoCardless CEO Hiroki Takeuchi sent the following statement about the new round of funding:
Our vision is to create the first global bank-to-bank payment network and we are really excited to have hit £1 billion in annual payments for our merchants. While our early years focused on helping UK SMEs get access to Direct Debit, our recent growth has been driven by increasing demand from larger corporates and new markets like France and Germany.
This investment from Notion puts us in a great position to build on our traction across Europe to create an increasingly global footprint. We will use this scale to bring further benefits to our UK merchants and to continue to ramp up in continental Europe.
A lot of people in Silicon Valley think that chat bots are going to be the next big change in how we use our phones. These simple programs will live inside chat apps like Facebook Messenger and send messages to you as if they were human.
Think Siri but embedded everywhere — and not just using your voice, but also text and other ways of communicating.
But these chat bots are also job killers.
Msg.ai is a young startup that's working to connect big brands like Sony with customers through messaging. Presenting at Y Combinator's Demo Day, its founder, Puneet Mehta, touted that Sony Pictures replaced 70 human operators with one AI chat bot.
And that's just one company.
Technologist: "We just replaced 70 agents with one AI-powered chatbot." Politician: "We just created 100 new jobs at this new gov agency."— Niko Bonatsos (@bonatsos) March 23, 2016
That doesn't mean customer-service jobs will be totally obliterated, though. Msg.ai does hand off customer-support requests if they get too tricky for the AI, and a human agent can step in to answer the question. But the number of those is already diminishing — 70 humans to one AI bot in Sony's case — and won't slow down from here.
The tech industry is sometimes lambasted for making frivolous apps — do we really need a dating app for bacon lovers? But that's not all the next crop of entrepreneurs is working on.
In fact, during a marathon two-day session of startup pitches in Silicon Valley, I got a first-hand look at how ambitious, potentially impactful and "serious" the next batch of tech startups are.
"Food, housing, healthcare, transportation. Life essentials made better and more affordable," said Y Combinator partner Paul Buchheit to kick off the second day of presentations at the firm's semi-annual event showcasing its latest batch of startups.
From new ways to detect cancer to a new method of communication that could change everything, here are some of the big ideas the next generation of startups wants to tackle:
But that doesn't mean all startups have stopped creating fun, consumer products. One of the most-loved demonstrations during Demo Day came from Tovala, which promises to replace all your kitchen appliances with a small convection oven and steamer that delivers delicious food.
And while others have declared the death of the on-demand economy, there's still companies giving a go at making babysitters and stylists available at the push of the button.
Still, for those who think Silicon Valley makes only chewable caffeine and silly social apps, there's proof that companies are still working on solving some of life's fundamental problems.
This week, I'm celebrating my five-year anniversary of living in San Francisco.
It's been a weird half-decade around these parts: When I arrived in 2011, Facebook's IPO wasn't even a rumor, Uber was a hot young startup with an unproven business model, and people were really upset about "New Twitter."
In other words, it was the early days of what we now recognize as the current Silicon Valley startup craze.
Since then, I've gone to some amazing parties (and even more terrible ones), met lots of interesting people, and witnessed massive changes throughout the city. My girlfriend and I even bought a house.
And while people smarter than I ruminate over whether this is a bubble now deflating, all I can do is tell you what it's been like living in San Francisco during this time of huge transition.
I grew up in the suburbs of New York City, went to college in another suburb of New York City, and then moved to Queens in New York City. By early 2011, my apartment's lease was up, and I was itching for a change.
I drastically underestimated how hard it is to get an apartment in San Francisco: A few weeks before I officially moved, I flew in just to go to open houses. Over a dozen apartment viewings later, I had been rejected every time.
I finally found a place, sight unseen, on Craigslist. Turns out it was in San Francisco's upscale-ish Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood, with all utilities included for a very reasonable rate.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider