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- 07/19/16--03:00: _UK tech startups sa...
- 07/19/16--07:43: _These are the 15 mo...
- 07/19/16--20:33: _Unilever buys on-de...
- 07/20/16--07:10: _Go inside the chic ...
- 07/20/16--10:15: _The war for your fa...
- 07/21/16--13:22: _This tech entrepren...
- 07/23/16--14:52: _A car startup in Lo...
- 07/24/16--05:36: _The Oxford grad who...
- 07/25/16--01:33: _Deliveroo has built...
- 07/26/16--04:48: _Take Eat Easy is sh...
- 07/27/16--04:30: _A startup with an a...
- 07/27/16--08:34: _The tech industry's...
- 07/28/16--03:07: _Andy Murray helped ...
- 07/28/16--08:12: _The CEO and cofound...
- 07/29/16--08:17: _$16 billion WeWork'...
- 07/29/16--08:31: _These are the tech ...
- 07/31/16--00:45: _Tech investors are ...
- 08/01/16--03:57: _Uber just suffered ...
- 08/01/16--14:40: _The unwritten rules...
- 08/04/16--01:52: _Germany is writing ...
- 07/20/16--10:15: The war for your face is heating up like never before
- Senior Designer — 81%
- Founders/CEO — 77%
- Product Manager — 76%
- Developer — 73%
- Customer Service Manager — 67%
- Marketing Manager — 65%
- Creative Director — 61%
- Sales Manager — 46%
- Uber is selling its Uber China unit to Didi Chuxing.
- Uber's app will continue to exist in China (for now) while the two teams are folded together.
- The combined company will be worth $35 billion.
- Per a press release, "Uber will receive 5.89% of the combined company with preferred equity interest which is equal to a 17.7% economic interest in Didi Chuxing."
- Didi Chuxing will also invest $1 billion in Uber, at a $68 billion valuation.
Investment into UK tech companies fell by more than 40% in the second quarter of the year as the UK voted to leave the European Union, according to venture capital research firm CB Insights.
VC-backed UK tech startups raised just $729 million (£549 million) in Q2 2016 across 104 deals, according to the CB Insights "Pulse" report, with both the amount raised and the quantity of deals experiencing a back-to-back quarterly decline.
Kerry Wu, tech industry analyst at CB Insights, told Business Insider: "Not only is there less deal activity for the quarter than in the previous 3 months, but the deals being done are also smaller. There was a paucity of deals larger than $40 million (£30 million), which shows the extent to which investor appetite dried up."
Investors were put off UK deals because of uncertainty caused by Brexit, according to the report, with many taking a "wait and see" approach prior to the vote. "Uncertainty is rarely good for a market, but the actual impacts of Brexit will not be known for a while," said Wu.
Harry Briggs, an investor at BGF Ventures, said he noticed some of the major VC funds in the UK were been doing fewer deals around the time of Brexit but admitted he wasn't sure that the two were linked.
Despite obvious investor concerns, a number of UK fintech companies, such as TransferWise and LendInvest, still managed to sign off late stage deals, as did life science companies like F2G and fashion startups like Farfetch. There were also a number of large exits, with the likes of Magic Pony Technologies selling to Twitter for a reported $150 million (£112 million) last month.
There are further positive signs for the UK tech sector, according to Wu. "Our data shows UK investment activity starting on a strong note thus far in Q3 2016," he said. "In just under three weeks, we've seen at least $230 million (£174 million) invested to VC-backed companies over more than 25 deals, headlined by a $65 million (£49 million) Series C to the cybersecurity outfit Darktrace."
Worldwide, venture capital-backed firms raised $27.4 billion (£20 billion) in Q2 2016, up 3% on the previous quarter, thanks in part to large funding rounds of more than $1 billion (£750 million) raised by companies like Uber, Snapchat, and Didi. While the overall amount raised by venture capital-backed companies was up, deal volume was down 6% to 1886 deals.
Funding into European businesses over the same time frame came in at $2.8 billion (£2.1 billion) — a decline of 20% on the first quarter of 2016. While overall investment was down for European startups, the number of deals increased 5% to 385.
Briggs said quarterly reports should be "taken with a pinch of salt" as a few big deals in any given quarter can skew them significantly.
Sneakers have some of the most passionate collectors, and a vibrant $1+ billion resale market.
That market is so good that when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wanted to create a stock market for physical goods, he chose sneakers as a starting point. The result is StockX, which Gilbert cofounded with CEO Josh Luber.
The Detroit-based startup tries to bring stock-market style pricing to sneakers. (You can read our full profile of StockX here).
But one thing we were really curious about was simply which sneakers fetched the highest prices, on average. So we asked StockX. The startup provided Business Insider with a list of the 15 sneakers with the highest average sale price on StockX. They range from Yeezys to "Back to the Future" replicas to Jordans.
Here they are:
No. 15: Lebron 10 Celebration Pack — $3,550
No. 14: Nike Air Yeezy 2 Pure Platinum — $3,552
No. 13: Jordan 5 Tokyo T23 — $3,791
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Unilever is making an investment in the on-demand space, announcing Wednesday that it had agreed to buy Dollar Shave Club. While specific financial terms were not disclosed, Fortune, which first reported the deal, put the sales figure at $1 billion, and it has been said that Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin will remain in his position.
Fortune said the new relationship with Unilever was expected to bring a "unique male grooming perspective" into a company that perhaps longs for a bit of innovation. Dollar Shave Club has 3.2 million members and in 2015 counted a turnover of $152 million and expects this year to close at $200 million.
Launched in March 2012, Dollar Shave Club emerged on the scene with a simple proposition and a very viral video on YouTube. The company specializes in providing high-quality razors for just a few dollars a month. Eventually the company branched out into other areas relating to the bathroom including body wash, skin protection, lip balm, shave butter, and durable butt wipes.
As Dubin once told me, "We want to service the face, ass, and everything in-between."
This acquisition is also a big win for Science, an incubator firm based in Los Angeles that was an early investor. The company has now scored several exits; it played a part in HelloSociety, which was picked up by The New York Times, and also Playhaven, which was bought by RockYou.
While $1 billion is impressive, it's well short of the record for an e-commerce company. The most expensive acquisition in the space went to the QVC parent company Liberty, which spent $2.4 billion for the discount online seller Zulily in 2015.
Other investors in Dollar Shave Club include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Felicis Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Airbnb, Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures, and Venrock. David Pakman from Venrock shared that this acquisition represented a 10X return on his firm’s investment in Dollar Shave Club.
As a board member, Pakman recounted the ups and downs Dollar Shave Club faced, including the launch of a creative marketing campaign that enabled the company to rival Gillette and others in the razor business, eventually capturing 15% of the men's razor cartridge market share in the US last year.
Dubin's company raised more than $163 million in venture funding.
The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
Tze Chun is making it easier to buy art. Her company, Uprise Art, is an online gallery that features the work of emerging contemporary artists, matching customers with a personal art advisor who can help them find the perfect match for their blank walls.
According to Chun, there's no such thing as too much art on a wall — and her new Brooklyn loft, designed by the interiors startup Homepolish, is proof of that.
"My rule of thumb for curating is to only buy pieces you love," Chun recently told Business Insider. Ahead, see her new loft space and learn the thought process behind the design by Homepolish's Casey DeBois.
This wasn't Chun's first collaboration with DeBois. "I've had the pleasure of working with [Chun] and Uprise Art on many client projects, and I was super excited when she reached out for her new place," DeBois told Business Insider.
"[Chun's] existing collection of accessories and art were on point, and her openness to vintage and one-of-a-kind items helped create her own kind of flawless living space," DeBois said.
"I envisioned a retro tropical style, like 1960s Hong Kong and Singapore, the two places where my family is from," Chun said.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The "shaving wars" between traditional cartridge slingers like Gillette and online startups who offer subscription models at lower prices is heating up.
With the news that European consumer goods giant Unilever intends to purchase shaving start-up Dollar Shave Club, best known for its creative advertising and cheap razor cartridges, for $1 billion (according to Fortune) comes final definitive proof — shaving and personal grooming has successfully been disrupted.
The deal signals a dramatic shift for established companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble (owner of Gillette). The companies are finally recognizing that more and more men are buying their shaving and grooming products online, and that this trend only increasing in pace, doubling to $263 million year over year in May of 2015 and surprising market experts, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Unilever gets more than just an entry into the shaving market for the first time with DSC, the WSJ notes. The unprofitable DSC does not make its own blades like competitors do, and in fact sources them from a company called Dorco, according to Lifehacker. It does, however, boast 3.2 million members and is on track to reach $200 million in revenue by the end of 2016, according to the press release on the acquisition. DSC will benefit from Unilever's global reach to bring its service to new markets as it continues to operate as an independent entity with CEO Michael Dubin at the head.
This puts pressure on Gillette, which is still the market leader with about 60% market share. P&G executives said privately to the WSJ that DSC's success caught the consumer goods giant off-guard.
Gillette started its own shaving subscription business in 2014 called The Gillette Shave Club to compete with DSC and fellow grooming startup Harry's. In the third quarter of 2015, it was reported by Fortune that Gillette's online business had grown to take up 21% of the ecommerce razor market, still paling to DSC's reported 54% share. Harry's makes up the lion's share of the remaining 25%.
In further evidence of the stakes at play and how seriously Gillette is taking its new competitors, in December of 2015 the company even sued DSC alleging patent infringement on the way certain materials coat and lubricate the razors
Though DSC wins in ecommerce market share, it's likely that Harry's is still the winner when it comes to net revenue. Its vertically integrated pipeline including a wholly-owned razor factory in Germany means it can manufacture better quality razors for cheaper for its more than 2 million customers and subscribers.
Prior to the sale, DSC and Harry's have both raised venture capital at $163 million and $287 million respectively, according to Crunchbase, with Harry's commanding a slightly higher valuation from investors at $750 million compared to DSC's $613 million.
For Harry's part in keeping up with the shaving wars, it launched on Tuesday its second generation razor blades with numerous improvements, as well as updated handles, for the same price as its old models. The DSC-Unilever deal will likely mean increased investor interest in the shaving brand.
With an aggressive Gillette, a Unilever-backed DSC, and Harry's vertical integration and design, the fight for which company gets the privilege to shave your beard as they fall out of fashion is on.
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When Armir Harris was 16, his family immigrated from Albania to the Atlanta, Georgia metro area as polticial refugees seeking asylum.
Having no other options, and "out of necessity," his parents ended up getting into the transportation business — Harris' uncle, who had immigrated some years before, had ended up in command of a modest bus company, and offered his family jobs. As a teenager, Harris himself learned the rudiments of web page design, building the company's website.
In 2012, when the Democratic National Convention took place in North Carolina, Harris' uncle was asked by organizers to help get 60 buses to ferry attendees from Atlanta to the convention. That's way more buses than Harris' uncle, or any single other bus company in the area, could offer.
So Harris had a flash of inspiration and made a "split-second decision." He called up every other bus company in the area and basically negotiated a deal where he subcontracted the work to everyone. The DNC didn't care who provided the 60 buses, just that they showed up on time and went where they were supposed to. And Harris' uncle's company made $800,000 in one fell swoop.
Sensing opportunity, Harris realized that there was a lot of money to be made in the practice of "aggregating" buses on demand, just like he did for the DNC. But Harris' family was unreceptive to the idea and told him that if he wanted to turn this into a business, he'd be on his own.
Which is what he did: In 2013, with only his $800 in savings in his pocket, he built Shofur — a bus "aggregation" business used nationwide today by companies like Facebook, Google, CBS, the NFL, and Bank of America to get people where they need to go. Harris tells Business Insider Shofur did "eight digits" of revenue last year. And by and large, he did it himself.
"I started this business with $800," Harris says. "I never took any [venture capital] money, I never took out a loan."
And today, Shofur is announcing a change to its platform that lets anybody book a ride on one of its network of buses, putting it into direct competition with the likes of Greyhound and Megabus. Here's how he built the business to this point, and here's why he thinks he can shake up the bus industry.
Eight hundred big ones
Harris, who went to UCLA before dropping out, is largely self-taught when it comes to his technical skills. Designing the website for his uncle's business taught him some fundamentals of coding, and he took some classes in college that furthered his skills. But he's not exactly your typical Stanford- or MIT-educated Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur.
"I didn't know how to code that well," Harris says. "I picked it up as I went along."
The goal with Shofur was to build a simple platform where bus companies could list their fleets for on-demand jobs, kind of the same way that Uber or Lyft keep databases of the drivers available for on-demand rides. Most buses sit empty 60 or 70% of the time, Harris says, so they're eager to use Shofur as a way to pick up more work.
But he had trouble finding support for his big concept from friends and colleagues, even as he was striking deals with his first bus companies.
"I shared this idea with a lot of people, and a lot of people talked me out of it," Harris says.
Meanwhile, that $800 didn't take him very far. Before he learned discipline, "I personally wasn't financially savvy," Harris says. At first, until Shofur started to come together, he moved to North Carolina and slept on friends' couches while he scraped together what he could to pay freelancers to help assemble the software.
Even when Shofur started to get off the ground and he was able to move into a small apartment, he kept on his hustle, he says, at one point literally going a week without leaving home.
The first major use of Shofur was exactly like the DNC mass migration to Charlotte. If a company or organization needs a lot of buses, Shofur can deliver a lot of buses.
The new version, launching this week in Texas, is more for consumers. If you want to go from Houston to Dallas, it's a $29 trip, booked on one of the buses that Shofur "aggregates." That means that rather than riding a bus from a mega-fleet like Greyhound, you're probably riding a bus from a mom-and-pop operator that would otherwise sit unused that day.
There are a bunch of advantages to booking your ride on Shofur, versus a Greyhound or a Megabus or the like. For starters, you can actually pick your seat ahead of time, and you can view ratings for each individual driver. Because of those reviews, Harris says, it incentivizes operators to keep their Shofur-listed vehicles clean and well-maintained.
Meanwhile, for established bus fleets, Harris says, there's no reason why they shouldn't maximize the $400,000 or more investment they made buying each bus by driving them until they literally can't be driven any more.
Plus, a Shofur app displays relevant information, including a map that shows you the progress of your bus trip and an ETA, kind of like taking an Uber, but for inter-city travel. It's a big tech upgrade to the bus industry.
"The bus industry is a very antiquated industry," Harris says.
Given that he built Shofur with a lot of personal labor, he says he sometimes watches the rise and sometimes-catastrophic fall of well-funded Silicon Valley tech companies with a mixture of amusement and wonder.
"It amazes me how you can fail with millions of dollars," Harris says. "I think this funding actually hurts businesses."
Startups typically employ some unconventional methods to get the word out about their products and services.
At best, these companies can hope to stir up conversation around the brand. At worst, it could all backfire and cast a shadow over an as-yet-unknown business. In either case, the ensuing publicity is bound to turn a fledgling business into a trending topic.
Such is apparently the case for Skurt, a Los Angeles-based startup that allows people to summon a car on demand via a mobile app.
The company is not unlike others in the on-demand-transportation space, but, according to its billboard ads that have gone up around the city, it appears to have a cheeky sense of humor.
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Vana Koutsomitis, a runner-up on TV show "The Apprentice," is looking to raise £120,000 for the dating app that she pitched to Lord Sugar in the final of the BBC show.
DatePlay, as the app is known, will use interactive games to try and understand your personality before recommending possible matches for singletons to swipe left or right on.
The app is currently under development and the money will be used predominantly for marketing purposes.
Oxford University graduate Koutsomitis is hoping to raise the capital on equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, where investors can pledge anything from £10 to more than £10,000.
Koutsomitis is kicking off the crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday and she will have to hit her funding target within a month if she wants to see any of the money. Interestingly, she's already raised £75,090 of the £120,000 target from a number of private investors and that's reflected on DatePlay's Seedrs page, meaning she's only got to raise another £45,000.
The American-born businesswoman claims her dating app, which she's cofounded with university friend Joris Magenti, is unlike Tinder, Happn, Match.com, and any other dating platform that's currently on the market for that matter.
"The difference between DatePlay and the others is that we add an element of fun to the dating experience by integrating games into the interface," she told Business Insider at the Ham Yard Hotel in London earlier this month. "Tinder can engage you for short periods of time but once you have enough matches and once you’ve swiped left and right enough times, you start to get a little bit crazy. You’re just like, over it."
Koutsomitis left her job at Japanese investment bank Namora in order to pursue her dream of becoming an entrepreneur and launch DatePlay, which is targeted at 18-24 year olds.
Some 20,000 people have already pre-registered for DatePlay, which is yet to be fully developed and therefore isn't available in the App Store or the Google Play store.
The app will eventually be free to download but users will have to pay £4.99 a month if they want to access premium features like event invitations, blocked ads, increased messages and being shown at the top of the match list.
Before any matching takes place, DatePlay will get users to play a quick game, which Koutsomitis describes as a "Buzzfeed-style quiz," in order to determine some of their personality traits.
"You log in and the app takes you directly to the game," Koutsomitis explained. "So you start playing immediately. Through the game we’re going to determine your personality, who you are, and what you want. And then we’re going to match you. We’ll show you your first match and your compatibility. It’s up to you to then swipe left or right if you like the person or not. We believe that you need to see the person’s photo in order to determine if you’re attracted to them or not so we have the second step."
Initially there will be just one game in DatePlay but Koutsomitis said more will be introduced in the coming months.
When asked how the game is able to determine a user's personality traits, Koutsomitis said: "We’re using a PhD to develop the games. It’s based on scientific research. I’m not the scientific expert so it’s hard for me to tell you in an educated way the exact personality matches."
Harry Briggs, a startup investor that studied psychology at the University of Oxford, told Business Insider that games can be used to identify what kind of personality and behavioural characteristics someone has, such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, resilience, neuroticism, etc.
"The big question, though, is whether DatePlay's 'compatibility score' is a valid measure of actual dating compatibility," said Briggs. "The limited research I've read suggests that dating outcomes still appear to be most correlated with similar levels of physical attractiveness, societal status and educational background, obvious and unromantic though those sound. It's no good knowing someone's personality type if you don't know what personality types they click best with."
Briggs added: "If DatePlay can use simple machine learning from the "successful" matches to retrofit matching algorithms onto the personality scores, then they could ultimately create something that gives people a better chance of finding a good match."
Deliveroo is building clauses into the contracts of its couriers that prevent them from taking the food delivery startup to court to try to be recognised as staff members, The Guardian reports.
The clause reportedly states that Deliveroo couriers — who pick up food from city restaurants and deliver it via bicycle or moped to Deliveroo customers at their homes and offices — cannot go to an employment tribunal.
Those that choose to take the company to court in a bid to be recognised as a staff member will be contractually obliged to pay Deliveroo's legal fees, the contract reportedly states.
However, a lawyer told The Guardian that the clause is unenforceable, adding that it could have been added as a means of deterring Deliveroo couriers from going down this route.
Like Uber drivers, Deliveroo couriers are technically self-employed, meaning they have fewer rights than those who are employed directly by the company.
The clause in the Deliveroo courier contract reportedly reads:
"You further warrant that neither you nor anyone acting on your behalf will present any claim in the employment tribunal or any civil court in which it is contended that you are either an employee or a worker."
An additional clause reportedly adds that anyone taking legal action must "indemnify and keep indemnified Deliveroo against costs (including legal costs) and expenses that it incurs."
Michael Newman, partner at law firm Leigh Day, told The Guardian that Deliveroo probably wouldn't be able to enforce the clauses because they go against established employment rights.
"Penalty clauses in contracts are unenforceable and it is likely that any clause attempting to bar access to an employment tribunal would be seen as without commercial justification and unconscionable, and therefore a penalty," he said.
"If it was two sophisticated parties with legal advisers, for example two big businesses, it might be decided that they had equal bargaining power, making it less likely to be a penalty clause. With Deliveroo there is no such equality – they are using a standard contract on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, and the worker couldn’t bargain with them. They either just sign the contract or walk away."
Newman added that the clauses are put there to "scare the worker."
Deliveroo said in a statement: "We provide a platform for people to work with us on a freelance basis. This allows riders to work flexibly around another commitment, like studying or other work. We’ve worked with legal experts to design our contracts to reflect that and we’re proud to be creating opportunities for over 5,000 riders across the UK."
In the UK, Deliveroo riders are paid £7 per hour with £1 commission for each delivery. However, the company has been trialling payment model, where riders are paid £4.25 per delivery.
Several Deliveroo riders told the BBC that this meant they were earning less than minimum wage (£7.20 per hour). Deliveroo said drivers tend to make two drops an hour on average, earning £8.50 an hour, while some "efficient drivers" can earn more than £12 an hour.
The food delivery startup has raised $200 million (£158 million) from investors since it was founded by Will Shu and Greg Orlowski in 2012
Take Eat Easy, the Belgium-founded food delivery startup, is shutting down after running out of money to sustain itself.
Founded in 2013, Take Eat Easy struggled to raise a new round of funding in recent weeks and is going into administration as a result.
The company will cease trading from July 26 2016.
Take Eat Easy raised €16 million (£13 million) last year but it needed more in order to compete with the huge marketing budgets of companies like Uber and Deliveroo, who have raised $12.5 billion (£10 billion) and $200 million (£152 million) respectively.
The Brussels-headquartered company, which employs 160 people (including 20 in London), reached a significant landmark in its history last week, achieving 1 million deliveries across the four markets it operates in (France, Belgium, Spain, and the UK) but it was still operating at a loss.
"We haven’t been able to raise additional capital to fuel the company until break-even," wrote Take Eat Easy CEO and cofounder Adrien Roose in a blog post on Medium on Tuesday. "We’ve started working on our Series C in October 2015. We knew we had to gear up as one of our own investor [Rocket Internet] acquired and invested aggressively in a direct competitor, now Foodora, and Deliveroo had just raised a massive round of funding. Unfortunately for us, they raised and announced an even bigger round a couple of weeks later. That didn’t help."
Roose said that after being rejected by 114 VC funds he finally landed a €30 million (£25 million) Series C funding round with a French, state-owned logistics group in March. However, this funding was recently pulled.
"Unfortunately, after 3 months of intensive due diligence, their board rejected the deal and they ended up withdrawing their offer," said Roose. "We were negotiating with them under an exclusivity agreement, didn’t have a plan B, and only had a couple of weeks of run-way left.
"For the last 8 weeks, we’ve desperately tried to find solutions to keep the business alive. We’ve worked on both financing and acquisitions deals in parallel, unfortunately none of them materialised. We have now ran out of time to keep operating business as usual, and are filing for judicial restructuring."
Take Eat Easy allowed people to get food from popular restaurants delivered to their homes and offices via an iOS app, an Android app, and Take Eat Easy's website. Like Deliveroo, the company would use an army of cyclists and moped drivers to deliver the food. Also like Deliveroo, the company would charge restaurants around 30% of the overall bill and customers €2.50/£2.50 per delivery.
It began in Brussels before expanding to a total of 20 cities including the likes of Paris, Madrid, and London. On the day it shut down, Roose said Take Eat Easy had 3,200 restaurants on the platform and 350,000 customers.
Speaking to Business Insider at the time of the Take Eat Easy London launch, Roose said he thought there was room for Deliveroo and Take Eat Easy to coexist, adding that there was no shortage of cyclists and moped riders. It's possible that the expansion of UberEATS into Europe has changed all that. Indeed, Uber was even trying to poach Take Eat Easy's couriers ahead of its launch in London last month.
The news will also come as a blow to Take Eat Easy's existing investors, which includes Rocket Internet, DN Capital, Piton Capital, and Eight Road Ventures, among others.
Chloé Roose, Take Eat Easy cofounder, wrote her own heart-felt blog post on Medium where she says "it’s hard to find the right words to describe an ending that today still seems unreal."
Take Eat Easy UK MD Ed Barrow told Business Insider: "The staffs' tenure is being dealt with by the administers who will adhere to local legal obligations in each territory."
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Big Health, a UK digital health startup that's aiming to reduce worldwide consumption of pills and potions, has raised $12 million (£9.15 million) to grow its company and build new apps and products that improve people's mental health.
Founded in East London in 2010, Big Health is best known for its Sleepio app, which is designed to help people get to sleep using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques.
The company expanded to the US a year ago and Sleepio has now been deployed to over 750,000 employees at companies including LinkedIn and Comcast.
The latest funding round in Big Health was led by London-based venture capital firm Octopus Ventures, which has also invested in healthy snack startup Graze and gym chain GymBox. Other investors included Kaiser Permanente Ventures, returning investor Index Ventures, Sean Duffy (CEO of Omada Health), and JamJar Investments, the UK-based investment fund of the Innocent drinks founders. They join existing investors Esther Dyson and former Google Ventures partner Peter Read.
Peter Hames, cofounder and CEO of Big Health, said in a statement: "This new investment allows us to push on towards our goal of helping millions back to good mental health, by growing the number of companies we work with and evolving our products to help address an ever-wider range of mental health issues.
"But we’ll only achieve this goal — and firmly establish a new 'digital medicine' industry — by remaining committed to evidence-based solutions that deliver real outcomes for users."
The company has published 14 academic papers of its own and claims that its products are built off the back of "trailblazing" scientific research.
Professor Colin Espie, cofounder and chief medical officer of Big Health, said in a statement: "We openly encourage independent investigators to evaluate our products and publish their findings. We believe an ethical approach to creating health solutions should be a critical value, not an inconvenience."
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Top tech workers in San Francisco can add another perk to the free meals and massages: zero-down mortgages.
Housing prices in the San Francisco Bay Area have gone insane in the past few years, to put it mildly. San Francisco's median home value sits at $1.13 million, a 67% increase since 2011, according to Bloomberg. In 2015, San Francisco's median home price was six times the national average.
This upsurge is the result of a variety of factors, but it has been driven forward, hard, by the rise of the tech industry.
Yet there's a strange paradox for tech workers who are trying to buy homes. On one hand, their enormous salaries are pushing up home values. But on the other hand, a lot of their assets are in things like company equity, and aren't liquid.
This means it can get tricky when tech workers are trying to come up with a down payment. Bloomberg notes that some of these down payments can cost as much as the average US house ($187,000).
But companies like San Francisco Federal Credit Union are being proactive about this problem. In December, the company started offering zero-down mortgages on homes costing up to $2 million, according to Bloomberg. SFFCU defends its practices by pointing out that it rejects four in 10 applicants, and that approved people have an average household income of $219,000, and a 747 FICO score.
“We are vetting our borrowers to make sure they can afford it and have reserves," SFFCU chief lending officer, Rebecca Reynolds Lytle, told Bloomberg. But still: “It’s a loan — it’s not going to be risk free.”
Others are not so charitable about this type of lending practice.
“Given what we went through in 2008, zero-down financing is suicidal for our country,” Chuck Green, CEO of mortgage broker Bay Area Capital Funding Inc., told Bloomberg.
But zero-down mortgages aren't the only way banks are trying to attract tech workers.
First Republic Bank has even opened branches inside Facebook and Twitter's headquarters to try and snag them.
Food delivery service Mindful Chef has raised £1 million in crowdfunding on the Seedrs platform with help from sports stars including Wimbledon champion Andy Murray, Olympian gold medallist Victoria Pendleton, and rugby world cup winner Will Greenwood.
The company, which delivers food to the Beckham family and a number of sports stars, was initially looking to raise £400,000 but it was forced to end the one-month campaign after just 12 days due to overwhelming demand.
Launched in 2015, Mindful Chef delivers gluten-free, organic produce with no refined carbohydrates. Customers choose the recipes and Mindful Chef sources the ingredients before delivering them to people's homes for them to cook.
"We are delighted to have overfunded in such a short period of time," said Giles Humphries, cofounder at Mindful Chef, in a statement. "The demand has been phenomenal; this is huge validation of the business and has left the whole team energised about what the future holds. We are looking forward to bringing healthy eating to thousands more households across the UK."
Mindful Chef, which is competing with the likes of Hello Fresh, Gousto, and Amazon Fresh, said it plans to use the funding to increase marketing spend and build a mobile app.
The startup touted numbers from US analyst firm Technomic that suggest recipe boxes could eventually account for up to $5 billion (£3.7 billion) of the $1.2 trillion (£911 billion) grocery and restaurant market.
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Student media startup The Tab has lost its CEO and cofounder.
George Marangos-Gilks, who started The Tab at Cambridge University with editor-in-chief Jack Rivlin in 2012, confirmed his departure to Business Insider on Thursday. Rivlin will take over as CEO.
"I think there’s always a right time for a CEO and a founder to move on, and that time is now," said Marangos-Gilks during a phone call. "Personally I’m in a very good place. Structurally the team are extremely strong and I know they’re going to continue to go on and do great things.
"It was a very hard decision. Journalism is the most fun job in the world and running your own company is fantastic so to walk away from so many friends and that position of responsibility was a difficult thing but I think ultimately where I am in my life right now and where the team is, this is a positive thing."
His departure comes after The Tab let go of at least half a dozen employees in March.
It also comes less than a year after The Tab raised a $3 million (£2.2 million) funding round to help it expand into the US. The money came from a range of investors including venture capital firm Balderton, which has also backed social media site Bebo, urban navigation app Citymapper, and movie streaming site LoveFilm.
"I’m not going to say we haven’t had a hard time in the last year," said Marangos-Gilks. "I think all startups do, right?" When asked about the challenges over the last year, Marangos-Gilks said: "It’s standard stuff that everybody goes through."
Marangos-Gilks denied that there has been any animosity between him and his employees, adding that he and Rivlin remain close friends. "Jack’s my best friend in the world," he said. "He’s been my best friend since university and we’ve just been on two holidays together in the last month."
Founded as a student news site, The Tab has evolved into a network of online student publications across the country, with 51 university-specific websites across the UK and around 69 in the US.
This time last year the company had 16 employees and that figure now stands at 32. The Tab also relies on an army of campus reporters, many of whom aren't paid for the work they do — something that led to criticism from the likes of The Guardian.
In terms of achievements, Marangos-Gilks pointed out that The Tab's journalists have broken hundreds of stories that have been picked up by the national press in the UK and the US, including one story about Barack Obama's daughter going to Harvard University.
Marangos-Gilks said he will continue to advise The Tab on a "weekly basis" and that he'll retain a position on the company's board.
He added that he plans to return to "the London startup scene" after he's been to visit his parents in Australia and perfected his Greek.
“Co-living,” the idea of young professionals living in dorm-like surroundings, has been billed as the hot new trend in housing.
WeWork, the $16 billion co-working startup, is reportedly betting that its co-living venture, WeLive, will provide the company with 21% of its revenue by 2018. Other startups like Common are trying to build an entire business out of the idea.
But today, co-living is far from revolutionary.
Business Insider interviewed residents, co-living startup founders, industry insiders, and lawyers.
The big revelation: co-living isn’t a bunch of people trying to recapture the magic of drunken college revelry. None of the WeLive or Common residents I interviewed described an experience even close to that, though there is a beer tap in the WeLive laundry room.
At the same time, co-living doesn’t seem to offer the major improvements to housing that its biggest boosters want it to.
Right now, co-living simply describes an apartment building where residents pay a premium for a ton of amenities, communal events, and the type of "on-demand" flexibility with living space we have come to expect from other kinds of startups like Uber. That’s it.
Dorms for adults
“Dorms for adults” certainly evokes an image.
But Brad Hargreaves, the CEO of co-living startup Common, hates that phrase. Hargreaves tells Business Insider "dorm" implies things like shared bedrooms, flimsy furniture, and epic levels of partying. That's not what Common is like, he says, though residents do share bathrooms and kitchens.
Different startups have different takes on co-living, but at its core, it's always about trying to design an easy way for you to live with people other than your family. You share some spaces, and have others to yourself. It’s not meant to be revolutionary, Hargreaves says.
The big selling point of co-living buildings are the amenities, and the friendship that can be formed through sharing them.
There are hot tubs, yoga rooms, laundry, beer taps, regular cleanings, and big communal kitchens — the amenities vary by location. You can use these things on your own, but the idea is that when everyone is using them together, you can meet people. WeLive and Common facilitate this by running a stream of events throughout the week, which one WeLive resident said were much more than she could ever hope to attend.
And it works.
All the residents I spoke to had made friends with other tenants — “I’m going on a coffee date with someone I met in the building right after this,” one said. I ducked into a well-attended communal dinner at WeLive when I visited the building, where most people seemed to know each other. It was lively and friendly, and seemed perfect for someone who has just moved to the city and wants to make friends.
On its website, WeLive claims it "challenges traditional apartment living through physical spaces that foster meaningful relationships." That is a bit overstated, as is the claim that in a WeLive you’ll be “psyched to be alive.” But from my conversations with residents, the “relationships” claim does ring true — though perhaps only to the level of joining a book club or a rec softball league.
Another big benefit co-living startups tout is the ability to stay for as long — or as short — as you like. You can sign leases as short as one month, so you don’t have to lock yourself into a huge financial commitment right off the bat. (WeLive even has rooms you can stay in for days or weeks at a time, but they are on separate floors zoned for hotel use).
A premium price, but is it worth it?
The amenities and flexibility of co-living spaces make for higher prices.
A room in Common’s new Williamsburg, Brooklyn, building costs around $1,800 to $2,300 per month, and the average size is a small 120 square feet — that's a 12-foot by 10-foot room. You're also sharing a bathroom and a kitchen.
Studios in WeLive’s Wall Street building start at $2,745, with bedrooms in suites coming in at roughly $2,000, though they vary.
These prices include furniture, which in one WeLive room I visited even meant a few rows of books with titles from Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Klosterman (what if you didn't like them?).
These prices are high, but not outrageous. New York is such a competitive rental market, you could definitely get ripped off and pay well above these rates for a horrible living situation. I also guarantee you could hunt around and get a much better deal.
But this brings us to the big problem with co-living startups. You pay them to facilitate all the little things you might want if you were busy and just moving to the city: social events, cleaning, furnishings, workout classes, and so on. But once you’ve established your bearings and made some friends, they're not as important.
The residents I spoke to acknowledged they were paying relatively high rents, and said that if you weren’t getting value from the amenities, it didn’t make sense. One former Common resident said one of the initial draws had been an easy way to make new friends, and once she’d done that, she couldn’t really justify continuing to pay.
For businesses, co-working spaces solve some real problems. A place like WeWork provides startups with a few things they desperately want: the flexibility to add office space as they grew and changed, and the ability to give their employees the type of amenities tech giants like Google or Facebook do.
And you could imagine WeLive being a welcome service for somebody had just moved to New York City and felt a bit adrift and insecure; or for someone whose job required them to move on short notice.
But for your average urban young professional with a fair amount of disposable income, it feels more like an incremental addition of value than a game-changer.
Legal issues complicate the dream
Perhaps the single biggest obstacle to a more radical reimagining of communal living in New York City are the strict laws governing SROs (Single Room Occupancy buildings).
Generally, in an SRO building, residents rent their own bedroom and then share kitchens and bathrooms with others. These kinds of buildings in New York City are often used to house low-income residents, but in the 1950s, a law was put on the books that forbid the creation of new SRO buildings.
This means a few things for co-living ventures like Common and WeLive.
First, if the startup is renting out an apartment with two or more bedrooms, it can’t sign individual agreements with tenants. All the people living in the suite have to sign the lease, Hargreaves says, otherwise it’s likely illegal. Business Insider looked at both WeLive and Common’s housing documents, and they both require all roommates to sign.
There are a couple differences between the two, though.
In Common, you are living with roommates you likely don’t know when you move in. But even though you are all signing the same lease, Common has complicated terms that guarantee that if one of you drops out, Common will be responsible for filling the room. This means when you sign up to stay for 6 months, it's just between you and Common.
This actually touches on a possible minor legal risk for the startup, if Common is operating against the “spirit” of SRO laws, a real estate lawyer told Business Insider. However, although there have been several complaints made with the New York City Department of Buildings that Common is running an illegal SRO, they have all been resolved. The city doesn’t seem to feel that Common is operating SRO buildings.
Beyond the lease, there are other legal hoops c0-living startups have to jump through because of SRO rules as well, Hargreaves explains. For instance, Common can't have exterior locks on its bedroom doors (although suite doors and closets have exterior locks, and rooms have interior ones). That presents a concern when you are living with strangers.
WeLive sidesteps these issues by offering no roommate placement services. If you want to rent a four-bedroom apartment in WeLive, you have to bring three friends. That makes it more or less your typical apartment set-up.
WeLive residents sign a “residential membership agreement” and not a lease, but multiple real estate lawyers told Business Insider that if the terms resemble a lease, it doesn’t matter what you call it. You get the same rights as you would with a lease, and WeLive is subject to the same laws.
When Brad Hargreaves talks about the future of co-living, it can feel fresh and intriguing. He talks about someone being able to move easily from a Common building in San Francisco to New York, getting into the flow and meeting people wherever they go. And the idea of the globetrotting digital nomad has an element of romance in the tech community, and something that feels like a different mode of living.
But that's not what co-living is today. There are pieces of it, but the lifestyle hasn’t quite come together yet, and would not necessarily be of interest to the number of people that WeLive, let’s say, is looking for.
So we're left with something that’s not a dorm for adults, not a hippie commune, not a radical shift in living, and not that much different from a normal apartment building with some amenities and social events.
Now we’ll see if that’s enough to make a real business.
The tech industry, and the hectic startup life in particular, can do a number on work-life balance.
But some jobs within tech companies are easier than others, according to research by Comparably, a Glassdoor competitor.
In a survey of more than 6,000 tech workers, Comparably found that there were vast differences in the work-life balance of various positions. Senior designers came out on top, with 81% saying they were satisfied with their work-life balance. At the bottom were sales managers, who came in at a depressing 46%.
Here is the full list of how satisfied people are with their job's work-life balance:
Comparably also broke the data down by other factors like gender. You can see the whole report at Comparably's website.
Business Growth Fund (BGF) — a £2.5 billion investment company that backs businesses across the UK — decided to allocate £200 million to an early stage venture capital (VC) fund almost exactly a year ago to the day.
Twelve months down the line, and that VC pot (BGF Ventures) has been put to use on no less than nine occasions, backing the likes of food delivery startup Gousto, NHS doctor provider Network Locum, and children's craft supplier toucanBox along the way.
"I think we’re the second most active venture investor in the UK this year," said BGF Ventures partner Harry Briggs at Business Growth Fund's new London office.
BGF was set up in 2011 to provide British businesses with the capital that they need to grow. Its shareholders — who pledged £500 million each — are Britain's five biggest banks: Barclays, Lloyds, Standard Chartered, RBS, and HSBC. The organisation invests between £2 million and £10 million in businesses across Britain with annual revenues over £5 million operating across a variety of industries. It has backed the likes of fitness chain Gymbox and fashion retailer Oliver Sweeney.
The dedicated BGF Ventures fund, on the other hand, is purely for early stage tech companies that generally have smaller revenues than the average BGF-backed company. "Our investment range is £1 million to £6 million," said Rory Stirling, another one of the BGF Ventures partners. "Our average investment size over the last year has been £3 million, which is bang on what we thought it would be.
"We had a hypothesis when we started that there’d been a lot of change in innovation in new funds at seed and let’s be honest, the reality as to why it hasn’t changed at Series A is it’s really difficult to raise a decent sized fund to have an impact. That’s where partnering with BGF, and the significant resources they’ve got, is amazing for us because it allows us to shortcut that fundraising process. It gives us a decent amount."
Veteran VCs Briggs and Stirling launched the BGF Ventures fund with former LoveFilm CEO Simon Calver, who hadn't made any venture capital investments until almost a year ago when he backed Gousto in what was the first BGF Ventures investment.
"Part of the attraction of coming here, BGF, is this isn’t a fund where we have to raise the next one in four to five years or where we need to give money back to LPs (limited partners) in seven years or so," said Calver. "So therefore we call it 'patient capital'. It is in the sense that we’ll back people as long as they need to be backed to be a successful company."
Other UK tech startups backed by BGF Ventures include in-app ad platform Tapdaq, recruitment platform PeopleGraph, fashion startup Mastered, digital instrument manufacturer Roli, and call centre software provider New Voice Media.
Being a UK-focused venture capital fund, Briggs, Stirling, and Calver want to change the perception that it's hard to find good tech startups outside of London.
They plan to utilise BGF's other offices across the UK (Aberdeen, Reading, Bristol, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, and Edinburgh) to help them find companies beyond London that might fly under the radar of other international VC firms that are focused on Europe's capital cities.
"London is anything from 65% - 75% of all tech investments," said Calver. "But I’m speaking to some really interesting companies at the moment in Manchester. I would say the Manchesters and Edinburghs are probably four to five years behind where London would be at the moment in terms of developing their ecosystem."
The trio admitted that only 25% of its investments (roughly two companies) are based outside London but they expect this figure to change over the next year to reflect increasing number of investments outside London.
Uber is throwing in the towel in China.
After a gruelling ground war, the California-based ride-hailing company is officially selling its Chinese unit to its rival in the country, Didi Chuxing.
Uber has suffered through extreme regulatory scrutiny, driver assaults, controversy over background checks and of digging up dirt on critics, and more. But this is something else. China is the world's most populous country, with a market consistently touted by Uber as a source of opportunity.
Uber's withdrawal is the greatest setback in the company's seven-year history — and a rude awakening for many in the venture-capital-funded startup ecosystem.
First, the facts
The details of the Didi Chuxing deal, which was first reported by Bloomberg, are as follows:
Venture capital isn't everything
Uber faced a litany of problems as it battled its Chinese homegrown rival, including crackdowns by the Chinese authorities as well as censorship in WeChat and allegations of driver fraud.
China was a puzzle that Uber just couldn't crack, no matter how much cash it threw at it. The $68 billion company, the most valuable private tech startup in the world, was burning a whopping $1 billion in China a year as it fought Didi. While it is apparently profitable in some developed markets, it is deep in the red in China.
This failure comes despite Uber's previous touting of China as a land of milk and honey. "To put it frankly,"CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a leaked letter to investors in 2015, "China represents one of the largest untapped opportunities for Uber, potentially larger than the US."
The company boasted of meteoric growth in the country: Nine months after launch, Uber enjoyed 479 times as many trips in Chengdu as it saw in New York after the same length of time, it said.
But metrics aren't everything. The most explosive growth in the world won't do a company any good if it can't turn a profit and build a viable business around its core product.
Uber's failure in China is a lesson that much of Silicon Valley and the tech industry would do well to heed. Many in the venture-capital business are happy to pump tens of millions into wildly unprofitable businesses off the back of hockey-stick growth graphs and vague promises of future returns.
It's a strategy that can work; just look at Facebook. But it's no guaranteed recipe for success, no matter how many billions you throw at it — as Uber has learned.
Counterintuitively, the Didi Chuxing deal may actually help Uber in the long term, as offloading its unprofitable Chinese segment should make it easier for the company to finally go public.
Ultimately, the deal is a repudiation of the notion that those with enough venture capital behind them can do anything.
When it comes to working at a startup, there are a lot of truths that people rarely talk about.
Startup life has become shrouded in myth. People think it's a shortcut to the American Dream, a get-rich-quick path.
But for a lot people, startup life is far harsher and more complicated.
What you've heard: You have to "win" an insanely difficult interview process.
What's really true: yes most startups will want you to prove competence for any technical job. But many hot startups do not put their interviews through the wringer.
What you've heard: To get a job at a cool startup, you have to be a "culture fit."
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
A German politician is writing to London startups in an attempt to persuade them to relocate to Berlin after the Brexit vote.
Berlin Senator for Economics, Technology and Research Cornelia Yzer is warning British companies that remaining in Britain after the country leaves the European Union will damage their businesses, and she says that Berlin will provide resources that will help them relocate.
"Britain's vote to leave the European Union will severely affect your operations in the United Kingdom," the letter reads. "Probably you will already check the feasibility to move your company right in the heart of the European Union."(Scroll down to see the full letter.)
Yzer's pitch continues: "Berlin is not only the capital of Europe's strongest national economy but also the fastest growing state in Germany ... Berlin is an international open-minded city attracting highly qualified talents from all over the world. The Startu-up community number one in Europe is based here."
Several hundred of these letters have been sent out, according to the Cornelia Yzer's office — and even before this, the German politician has been vocal in her attempts to attract British talent to Germany. "We will now take advantage [of Brexit]," she said in the aftermath of the referendum in June. "And this is more than fair." And at London Fintech week in July, she claimed that more than 100 British startups have contacted her office asking about relocation.
Surveys showed the British tech sector was overwhelmingly against the idea of Britain leaving the European Union, and uncertainty remains around what the contentious referendum will mean for the sector in the long-term. London is an epicentre of European tech, but restrictions on access to the Single Market, or difficulties in recruiting European talent could prompt some companies to relocate for better access to the continent.
Cornelia Yzer clearly sees an opportunity for her city, and she's trying to cash in. "We receive positive feedback everyday, not only by the companies I contacted but also from Start-ups, VC funds which are reacting to the several media statements I gave during the last weeks," she told Business Insider in an email. "With every interview I give, I receive new inquiries."
One recipient of the letter was Maz Nadjm, CEO of brand advocate platform SoAmpli. "The best word I can use to describe what I thought [upon receiving the letter] is 'cheeky'!" Nadjm told Business Insider. "Also, I admired how extremely efficient the service was, providing all relevant details about what to do as next steps. It clearly showed that the senders had done their homework about the audience they were trying to engage."
The London entrepreneur, whose company employs six people, says he was flattered by the invitation — but relocation probably isn't on the cards. "As tempting as moving to Berlin may be, Europe has never been our plan. We have been looking at the US as we believe it is a stronger market for us. Last but not least, London is our home and we will continue to have a key base here."
Nadjm recognises that Brexit will have an impact on the London tech scene in the short term — but he's optimistic. Via email, he told us (emphasis ours):
"For a long time, the UK economy has been able to attract start-ups from all over Europe, inspiring a lot of tech companies to establish their presence in London due to the openness and structure of the environment that helps them set up their business quickly and easily. At the same time, many American tech companies have established their presence in London (rather than, let’s say, Milan, Berlin or Paris) to go ahead and expand their business in Europe. No other European region has this advantage, as well as the maturity of the digital and social media market I’ve mentioned before. So, I believe that the tech sector in the UK will be able to manage Brexit - sure, there is going to be an impact at least on the short term, but you know what? If we, as a tech start-up, were able to sell more after Brexit than we ever did before, I see reasons to be optimistic. If you manage to plan your finances and survive the short term impact, you can function anywhere and ensure a better future for your company, regardless of Brexit."
Here's the full letter being sent to startups:
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