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- 08/04/16--07:04: _A tech CEO explains...
- 08/05/16--06:38: _Airbnb really, real...
- 08/08/16--01:29: _A Shoreditch softwa...
- 08/08/16--16:42: _Lawsuit claims star...
- 08/09/16--02:06: _Brexit threatens to...
- 08/09/16--07:11: _A UK startup factor...
- 08/10/16--09:34: _An elite dating app...
- 08/10/16--11:44: _VCs have a new term...
- 08/10/16--12:00: _Startups are relyin...
- 08/11/16--07:15: _Thousands of Premie...
- 08/11/16--09:51: _Deliveroo couriers ...
- 08/12/16--08:04: _Deliveroo's UK MD c...
- 08/13/16--04:11: _This map shows what...
- 08/15/16--06:49: _These 3 Oxford grad...
- 08/15/16--06:51: _Deliveroo's CEO say...
- 08/16/16--01:09: _Deliveroo could soo...
- 08/16/16--06:29: _How a 34-year-old f...
- 08/16/16--09:00: _The app that colleg...
- 08/16/16--11:02: _Deliveroo's UK MD: ...
- 08/16/16--12:54: _Mark Zuckerberg: Th...
- Rent for a personal apartment in the Marina district of San Francisco, then the subsequent moving and painting expenses when they moved to the Dogpatch
- Restaurant meals and personal groceries charged to the company AMEX card
- A payout of $80,000 to an unnamed cofounder, which was recorded as a trip to China
- A $13,000 Mai Tai and Extreme Tech Challenge in Las Vegas
- A Lamborghini rental during a personal vacation
- A "world tour" trip that included $2,000 for limos in Florida, $2,000 for a strip club, and $2,345 worth of paintings from Hawaii.
- 08/10/16--09:34: An elite dating app is trying its luck in edgy Berlin
- 08/10/16--12:00: Startups are relying more and more on big companies to fund them
- 08/11/16--09:51: Deliveroo couriers are protesting in London over pay
- 08/13/16--04:11: This map shows what startups in Europe have the most funding
- 08/15/16--06:49: These 3 Oxford grads just got over £1 million from VCs
- 08/15/16--06:51: Deliveroo's CEO says couriers can choose how they want to be paid
- 08/16/16--01:09: Deliveroo could soon start delivering more than just food
- 08/16/16--11:02: Deliveroo's UK MD: 'We communicated really badly to the drivers'
I was born in Sweden, moved to Silicon Valley and then New York, but I founded a tech startup in Beijing and chances are I'll stay there. Why?
Because in many ways, Beijing has been a better breeding ground for my startup and for my own personal growth than I think Silicon Valley could be today.
With the perspective of having lived in three markedly different cultures, I have come to the conclusion that Beijing might be of historical importance for the creative forces often associated with Silicon Valley — a place that seemingly lost its way.
I pulled two amazing privilege cards from the deck of life straight from the get-go: I was born in Sweden in 1986, a country that enjoyed early market adoption of personal computers, and I was raised by software entrepreneurs.
I had a Macintosh in my room before I even started school. Computers were always a part of my life, and I got to have a computer—literate childhood. I had already been using computers for a decade when I got to high school, and had all the confidence in the world.
Nothing about computers scared me, and teaching myself how to pirate and use complicated software was just par for the course. Long before helpful Youtube tutorials (or even realistically watching video online) I had the good fortune of teaching myself how to use software like Photoshop, video editing software, music studio software, hex editors, IDEs, you name it. In the years before high school I carried networking equipment in my backpack, and my mom would drive me over to friends' with my desktop computer in the back of car so we could have overnight LAN parties.
All of this gave me a front row seat to one of the most interesting periods of Internet history and culture, an Internet that seems entirely foreign to my 15 year younger brother: after the Golden Age of PC RPGs in the late 90s came the dawn of online gaming, and it changed my life.
I sometimes say I grew up on the Internet, because by the time I was 14 I spoke better English than my native Swedish and I had more friends that knew me by my online alter ego than friends I had in the meat world. I got to spend my teens in an Internet subculture surrounded by some of the most interesting people I've ever met, because the Internet was not some playground where just anyone gathered — we were still discouraged from spending so much time on our computers, and there was no one around to teach us how to get online and find each other.
To find my friends I had to learn how to use a computer, master a new language, get online, pirate computer games and find people to play with, and the people I found had gone through the same experience. To play games online in the year 2000 was to be surrounded by those that had a real drive, that would not be deterred — they were entrepreneurial. I don't think it is a coincidence that my generation, that got to explore computers as children playing games in the dawn of online gaming, have done exceptionally well for themselves in tech since they entered the workforce.
For some kids of my generation the Internet was a frontier, a wild and untamed landscaped where, if you could put down the hard work and weather an unknown and sometimes hostile environment, one could forge a new life and identity, and live life by your own rules.
Almost inevitably, I ended up working in software. I dropped out after my first year of college to join a software company, and eventually founded my own tech startup. I'm the kind of guy that should love Silicon Valley; I should find myself feeling right at home with that crowd.
Full of youthful political vigor, I finally agreed to be relocated to Silicon Valley when Obama became the President Elect. I believed that change was coming, that the time had come for my generation to inherit the world, and that I needed to be close to what I had been told was the uncontested epicenter of innovation.
It didn't last.
Moving to the States
My first experience of the States and of Silicon Valley was absolutely soul — crushingly disappointing. I landed in San Francisco and felt like I had traveled back in time. Far from the expected glass towers of a technological utopia, what I found was a surprisingly run down city that reminded me of traveling in Eastern Europe.
It seemed to be all pot and potholes, and the culture was difficult to navigate. I was told not to discuss religion and politics, which is really all we talk about in Sweden, and I was confused by the sheer amount of narcissistic Ayn Rand followers.
What's the point of innovation if you're not building a better society?
I encountered levels of homelessness and mental illness that I was entirely unprepared for, but was repeatedly discouraged from donating any spare change by my new American community.
It's not your problem, that was the mantra that unironically flowed from the lips of entrepreneurs that otherwise convinced themselves that they were making the world a better place, presumably for themselves and the people who were their problem. There was something absurd and almost obscene about watching the technocrats step over and around the homeless to get to jobs where they're given free food and drink.
As a Swede coming to the States, I was disillusioned. I had, as I think many young entrepreneurs have, idolized Silicon Valley as a utopian vision of an idealistic but well — meaning band of technocrats building the foundations for a just and democratic society, but in its place I found vanity, pettiness and greed.
Not only did the emperor have no clothes, but the naked corpus revealed was unappetizing to my Swedish quasi-socialist ideals. Ultimately, I felt alone in Silicon Valley ... I left.
Moving to Beijing
Through a weird string of disastrous circumstances I found myself on a flight to Beijing in 2009. I was leaving everything behind, wanting to cleanse my palate, and it was the bravest, or most reckless, thing I think I've ever done.
I had a thousand dollars in my savings account, and what I hoped was 15k USD worth of shares in the private company I dropped out of college for. The plan was to sell my shares back to former colleagues, but I had no guarantees.
In fact, I had been told I shouldn't go. I should get a new job, take my time selling the shares, find my footing... But I rarely listen to helpful advice, so off I went, confident that I'd work it out somehow. I would find a place to stay, a way to feed myself, and I'd build a business from scratch, one without the moral shortcomings that had driven me out of my previous workplace.
I fell in love with Beijing before I had even stepped out of the taxi from the airport. Beijing was an insane mix of history and futurism. Construction was everywhere, 20 million people desperately cramming together into ever taller buildings to be part of China's brave new future — here were the glass towers, growing out of a landscape of poverty and the weight of millennia of history. Beijing was dirty, gritty, and wild — but it was changing so incredibly fast. It was absolutely intoxicating.
Before you object, I am by no means saying that China is a more just society than the States, or more technologically advanced — it was just clearly moving faster — and you immediately got the impression that Beijing was a city concerned with statecraft and the future of its people, rather than the latest hot gadget. For all its warts (and there are many), Beijing is a city with its eye on the future and a place that you can help shape.
Beijing turned out to be a great place for a startup, and I have often argued that the city was the best incubator we could have asked for — it offered us cheap housing and food, a network of experienced mentors that were happy to take the time to help, steady access to some of the world's greatest engineering talent at a sixth of the cost of a junior engineer in Silicon Valley, and access to a vast market of clients. In my company's field especially, Beijing provides fertile soil for innovation and steady access to problem's worth solving.
What really captured my heart, though, was the people that move to Beijing. Just like the Internet of the early 2000s was a fantastic meeting place for entrepreneurial and eccentric people, Beijing seems to attract large numbers of truly driven, creative and interesting people. No matter if you move to Beijing from a smaller city in China, or from across the world, you're making a decision that many will question.
What about the pollution? The poverty? The corruption? Almost invariably the motivation of these pioneers echoes the desire to be part of something great — an unknown but exciting future. Beijing today feels like the Internet felt in my teens — a place where eccentric, talented and driven people congregate to make their own rules.
I've now lived here for 6 years. I never planned to stay, I just couldn't leave. There was too much going on, too many opportunities to see history unfold in front of me, and now I have to admit that I'm addicted to its pace and vision, and the feeling of helping move the needle at civilization scale.
Returning to Silicon Valley
I still spend at least a month a year in the Valley, and I'd like to think that my perspective has changed over time, made richer by experiencing China for more than half a decade. Just last week I returned from my latest three—week visit, and I'm still digesting the experience.
Don't get me wrong — there are many things that I truly love about Silicon Valley. Even though I mourn a missing moral compass, I profoundly love that Silicon Valley is a place where geeks can be geeks and intellectualism is not frowned upon. I admire and love the drive to create, and I am grateful for all the hard work and loving attention that people put into creating great products.
But let's be honest — Silicon Valley is often a parody of itself, and it has lost some of the things that made it great. Where Silicon Valley was once heavily subsidized to be a place of technical innovation, it is now an expensive but well-funded hub focused on business execution.
There's nothing inherently wrong with that — good technology deserves good execution, and investors deserve to make money — but it is hard not to wonder what could have been. What if Silicon Valley stopped employing some of the world's greatest minds to make us click ads, and instead served a higher calling?
When an established and well-known company like Häagen-Dazs believes that the inhabitants of the Valley can be pandered to with pseudo-code and proclamations of being a "56-year-old" startup, we can certainly laugh at their attempts to be hip, but it might serve us well to ask what it says about us, and how the world perceives us. Also, it wouldn't hurt the technocrats to once a decade or so look themselves in the mirror and question common sense — why are we really here, in Silicon Valley, and not somewhere else?
When I founded my startup I arguably had the wrong (or right?) motivation. I wasn't thinking about huge markets, and how to make enormous amounts of money for myself and my investors — but simply wanted to solve some painful data related problems that had been haunting me through my professional career.
My cofounders and I, having already built deep tech like intra-cortical neural interfaces, wanted to build challenging technology we could take pride in having built. It has often lead us down contrarian paths, and we've often confused and frustrated investors with long-term road maps that seemingly pass up immediate opportunities at hand right now for some potential greater opportunity in the future.
Time will tell if we've made the right decision, but I know that we could never have built what we ended up building if we were in Silicon Valley.
It took two years of hard work and late nights at the whiteboard to build a prototype of something we knew we could be proud of — and what Silicon Valley investor would agree to fund something that would take two years to release?
Not only that, but it would have cost us roughly 6 times as much money to develop it in Silicon Valley — for no immediate benefit. Here in Beijing we still have access to world class talent, as Silicon Valley already knows — they're importing tons of engineering talent from China, and we're happy importing talent to China as well.
I could certainly be wrong, but from where I'm standing now it is hard not to see reason to have an immense debt of gratitude to the culture of Beijing. Our backers here saw our passion, and were not afraid to make a long term investment, and the community here has supported us in more ways we ever thought possible.
More than anything, I take immense pride in being part of a community (what up, #BeiArea?) that truly cares about great culture — not just company culture, but how to build great culture at civilization scale. I want to dream big, and Beijing is for dreamers.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Airbnb has built a hotel.
Of course, the company isn't calling it anything as crude as that. The startup has announced the formation of a new design studio, Samara, that has a mission of "exploring new attitudes towards sharing and trust."
Its first project was to build a community centre in the Japanese village Yoshino — and although it's never described as such, it sounds a lot like a traditional hotel.
Airbnb pretty strongly disagrees with calling its new hotel a hotel. It says this article is a "complete misrepresentation" of Samara. (You can read its complete statement below!)
Instead, the short-term rental company frames Samara's remit in vague, feel-good language. Here's what Airbnb said in a blog post (emphasis ours):
"We can’t really expect people to be empathetic in every scenario. Empathy typically comes naturally or it doesn’t come at all. So how do we design for something like that? It might seem impossible because there are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration — identity, political agency, socioeconomics, cultural values, family dynamics, relationships, etc. In the way that Airbnb’s design allows complete strangers to share experiences with one another, Samara seeks to design new kinds of experiences that address these factors in the hopes of fostering empathy… naturally."
It all certainly sounds positive — but doesn't explain very much.
Fast Company Design, which got an exclusive story on the launch, describes the "Yoshino Cedar House" (as Samara's first project is called) as follows (emphasis ours):
"[Airbnb founder Joe] Gebbia's team worked with architect Go Hasegawa to design a community center where travelers could also stay—thus providing the community with a central meeting point where they could also serve as hosts to tourists. "Hosts get an economic stimulus and something to get excited about," says Gebbia. "It’s a pathway to get the community to help each other, and it happens to be in the form of architecture."
Like Airbnb, Fast Company Design never uses the word "hotel" or "hostel" for the property. Instead, he describes it as a "novel" new kind of community centre.
It's a commercial property, staffed by locals, and tourists visiting the area pay to rent rooms. A hotel is exactly what it is.
Of course Airbnb doesn't want to call it that. Its whole appeal — and $30 billion valuation — is based on rejecting traditional, sterile hotels in favour of authentic local apartments and rentals. "Don't go there,"says the company. "Live there."
The Yoshino Cedar House's alternative image is carefully crafted. The building's timber has the craftsmen's names stamped into it. The land was actually donated by the town. "I picture Western guests walking up, stepping inside, and you’re interacting with the community from the minute you arrive. If you want to tour the sake factory, or the chopstick factory, or take a hike, the locals are right there," Gebbia says. Samara even has its own screenwriter," Fast Company Design writes, "to help storyboard the new experiences they're trying to create."
And Airbnb clearly has good intentions here. It's a non-profit. "The proceeds of each booking will go towards the community of Yoshino,"the company says, citing the problem of aging populations in Japanese villages.
"The Yoshino Cedar House aims to prove that the house is more than a physical space,"Airbnb declares. "It speaks a simple truth that we all understand: human beings seek community."
But ultimately this isn't just an isolated experiment, and Airbnb is a for-profit company. The startup told Fast Company that there are other properties in the pipeline: "After this project, Airbnb will look to scale it to other declining small towns across the world. The idea is that Airbnb could become a force not only in sharing homes, but in urban planning."
A "force in urban planning" is an awfully fancy way of saying "hotel chain."
Airbnb got in touch after we published this article, disagreeing with its premise. "This story is a complete misrepresentation and couldn't be more off the mark," spokesperson Nick Papas said in an emailed statement. "Samara is focused on exploring how people will live in communities and how our company and community can support new and innovative ideas. The Yoshino house is managed by and for the community and 97 percent of the price charged by the hosts goes directly to the community."
That all may be true, but it doesn't mean it's not a hotel.
UK software startup LoopUp announced on Monday that it intends to IPO on the London Stock Exchange.
LoopUp is hoping to raise £9 million on the AIM market for its conferencing software, giving the company a valuation of £40 million to £45 million, according to The Financial Times.
The stock market listing will mark one of the first UK tech IPOs since the UK voted to leave the European Union.
LoopUp's software allows conference call administrators to identify where background noise is coming from. It also automatically dials in all participants when they have registered to take part in a call.
The company, which states on its website that it makes conference calls less painful, said it would use the money raised through the listing to help it grow, improve its product, and invest more in sales and marketing.
Last year the company reported revenues of £10.1 million, up 36% from 2014.
The Shoreditch-based company, which has offices in San Francisco, New York, Boston, Hong Kong, and Barbados, said that it intends to appoint Lady Barbara Judge, chair of the Institute of Directors, as chairman on admission to the London Stock Exchange.
Judge was ranked as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4 and LoopUp's directors believe that the appointment will bring significant experience to the board. Earlier this month, UK HR startup Hibob also appointed Judge to its board.
Steve Flavell, co-CEO of LoopUp, said in a statement:
"Conference calls and remote meetings have become part of daily business life and yet users have come to expect their experience on these services to be incredibly frustrating and time consuming. LoopUp is designed to give users a streamlined and intuitive experience which addresses these frustrations in a simple and powerful way.
"Our differentiated product and proven new customer acquisition model have allowed us to secure over 1,850 customers and grow both consistently and capital-efficiently. The IPO will provide us with the right capital structure and funds to drive our business forward and introduce the benefits of LoopUp to new customers around the world."
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Two brothers used their company's money as a "personal piggy bank," a new lawsuit by their former bookkeeper claims, before the startup shut down suddenly last week.
Among the expenses attributed to the cofounders were thousands spent on vacations to Hawaii, personal rent for their apartments, trips to competitions in Las Vegas, and a visit to a strip club, the lawsuit states.
The brothers, Marcus and Mitch Weller, founded Skully, a motorcycle-helmet company, three years ago. After raising close to $2.5 million in an Indiegogo campaign, the company was supposed to be on track to produce an augmented-reality motorcycle helmet that had a rear-view camera — sort of like having eyes in the back of your head.
But the company disintegrated in the last month after the board forced the brothers out of the company in mid-July. On Friday, TechCrunch reported that the company they had built was shutting down altogether, despite having raised close to $15 million through a mix of crowdfunding and venture capital.
Marcus Weller could not be reached for comment.
The new lawsuit, reported earlier by BuzzFeed, may shed some light on where the money went.
According to the former bookkeeper, Isabelle Faithauer, the brothers treated the company's bank accounts as a "personal piggy bank" and "demanded that Plaintiff conceal the true nature of the expenses by entering them in Skully's books to make it appear that the expenses were incurred for legitimate business reasons, which in fact they were clearly not."
The lawsuit goes on to list 19 examples of the reportedly false expenses, including:
A notice on the company's Indiegogo page now alerts those customers who preordered the $1,450 helmet that they'll have to go through bankruptcy court to try to reclaim any money.
"Our team is devastated and deeply saddened that our valued partners, vendors, employees and customers have been negatively affected by what has transpired," the company said in its closing notice. "We realize there are many unanswered questions and that this is a very upsetting situation. We are truly sorry."
The future of a crucial source of UK startup money hangs in the balance following the nation's decision to leave the European Union.
That source is the relatively unknown European Investment Fund (EIF), which is an institution that was created by the EU in 1994 and operates out of Luxembourg with a team of around 400 people.
The EIF, which has commercial banks and other financial entities among its shareholders, invested over €2.3 billion (£2 billion) in UK startups between 2011 and 2015, according to industry data cited by The Financial Times on Tuesday. That reportedly accounts for over a third of all such investment.
EIF capital finds its way to UK startups via a network of venture capital institutions that back fledgling technology companies that they think are destined for success with billions of pounds.
The Financial Times reported that the EIF gave money to 144 UK-based venture capital companies or similar entities between 2011 and 2015. That makes it one of the largest, if not the biggest, investor in UK venture capital funds and growth-capital funds, according to Michael Collins, deputy chief executive of Invest Europe.
Venture capital companies also receive funding from pension funds, insurance companies, and other institutional investors but these sources are less reliable and prone to shying away from startup investments during times of economic uncertainty, such as the 2008 financial crisis.
The EIF has made at least one investment into a UK-based fund following the EU referendum but it's unknown whether these kinds of deals will continue given that it's only allowed to fund EU nations, members of the European Free Trade Association, and countries that could potentially join the EU.
The closest thing to the EIF in the UK is the British Business Bank, which was formed by the coalition government in 2014.
Alex Depledge, an entrepreneur-in-residence at Mayfair venture capital firm Index Ventures told Business Insider last month: "Given EIF funds 85% of funds in London, the British Business Bank must step in or we will see a big decline in funding."
Entrepreneur First, a London-founded technology incubator that helps technical individuals to build a startup, is hoping to tap into the deep pockets of US investors.
The startup builder announced on Tuesday that it is setting up a new investment team in a bid to help the founders on its programme to reach more investors and access more early-stage capital.
The investment team, led by Matt Wichrowski, will be spread across the US, the UK, and Singapore — where Entrepreneur First also runs its company building programme.
Wichrowski will be moving to Boston to drum up investor support in the US, while Entrepreneur First partner Wendy Tan White and Entrepreneur First head of programme Jade Read, will liase with investors in the UK and Europe. Alex Crompton, the director Entrepreneur First's Singapore operation, will look to build investor support in Singapore.
Entrepreneur First cofounder Matt Clifford told Business Insider on Tuesday that 50 startups are coming out of Entrepreneur First a year now compared to 10 when the organisation started out. "We need to make sure they all get the capital they need," he said.
Wichrowski wrote in a Medium blog post titled "EF's coming to America" on Tuesday that Europe continues to trail the US in both deal count and aggregate investment.
Wichrowski referred readers to the latest CB Insights Venture Pulse Report, which found that US startups raised $53.9 billion (£42 billion) in the second quarter of 2016 while European startups raised just $6.3 billion (£4.9 billion) over the same time frame.
"We must recognise that European capital has not effectively kept up with European talent, and rather than wait for others to come to us, we’re taking action," he wrote.
"My primary task will be to build an EF investor network composed of the best VCs, syndicates and angels across the States." Wichrowski added: "My mission will be to provide our teams a highly curated view of the most relevant investors and tailored guidance for their unique fundraising needs. And my hope is that this upfront effort will significantly reduce the time and energy drain for our founders."
Founded by Clifford and Alice Bentinck in 2011, Entrepreneur First provides deeply technical people 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 75 startups that have previously graduated from the programme have been backed by the likes of Index Ventures and Y Combinator. Collectively, these startups are now worth more than $500 million (£385 million), according to Entrepreneur First's website.
The Entrepreneur First portfolio includes deep tech firms like AI startup Magic Pony Technology, which was sold to Twitter for a reported $150 million (£115 million), as well as hardware startups like laser bike light Blaze and Raspberry Pi laptop kit Pi-Top.
Interestingly, Entrepreneur First announced in March that it was aiming to raise a £40 million investment fund of its own to back the companies that graduate from its programme. The "Next Stage Fund" is designed to allow Entrepreneur First to provide its startups "with an immediate injection of capital" when they reach the end of the programme. Entrepreneur First is yet to announce the closing of this fund.
Edgy Berlin might not seem like the most obvious city for an elite dating app to launch in but that's exactly where The Inner Circle expanded to last last month as it looks to appeal to an increasing number of Europeans.
Shortly after the launch, one tech worker in Berlin told Business Insider that they couldn't see the app taking off in the city.
But The Inner Circle, which vets people's LinkedIn profiles before letting them onto its app, already boasts several thousand users in the city, according to cofounder Michael Krayenhoff.
"We have 6,000 members in Berlin and are on track to have 20,000 members by the end of October," said Krayenhoff, who launched the dating platform in London in 2013."Berlin has been going exceptionally well, especially in the tech startup scene."
In contrast to more established dating apps like Tinder and Happn, where it's all about speed and getting through profiles, The Inner Circle allows people to share considerably more information about themselves beyond a short bio. People arrange meetups at high-end venues and they can let overseas members know if they're planning to visit a particular city in the near future.
In Berlin, The Inner Circle is proving popular with Berlin-based male designers, architects, and startup founders, according to Krayenhoff. Berlin-based females in marketing, architecture, and environmental roles are also using the app in abundance, he said. "Our Berlin market consists of people in more creative industries," explained Krayenhoff.
For every person that’s accepted onto (or into) The Inner Circle, another is turned away. The platform has 125,000 users in total with an additional 110,000 on the waiting list, according to Krayenhoff.
"At the end of the day we are looking to create a close network of like-minded, inspiring singles who are kicking ass in their profession," he said. "Whether they are from the creative or corporate world, it's about having that ambition and zest for life. And it's these qualities that makes The Inner Circle work for our members around the world."
Currently The Inner Circle is active in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan, Paris and Stockholm, as well as London and Berlin. The app is due to launch in the US on October 12 when it goes live in New York City.
The company makes money through a premium version of its app and a number of events that it puts on throughout the year including a polo event in Richmond, South West London, which is taking place this Saturday, with tickets costing £25 each.
Krayenhoff said the company doesn't need to take any investment at this stage as it's cash flow positive and growing.
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It's one thing to be a startup founder with a great idea. It's another thing entirely to know how to carry a conversation on cap tables, liquidation preferences, and building out a company's org chart.
Normally this would mean someone who is building something off-the-grid, i.e. without internet, but this is the tech industry so that's obviously not the case.
Instead, as Joanne Wilson of Gotham Gal Ventures first described in a blog post, the off-the-grid entrepreneur is someone "not familiar with the verbiage that gets tossed around in the start-up world":
"The entrepreneurs who walk into your office with a company that is gaining traction and gets their audience (business to business or even business to consumer) and gets the void they have filled but doesn’t really understand where to go to raise capital. Doesn’t really get what a cap table entails, doesn’t really understand how to build out a work org chart, doesn’t really have the greatest grasp of their financials, doesn’t really get all the nuances in a legal document, doesn’t fully understand what kind of equity they should give away. Enough said. Red flags? Perhaps or perhaps not."
As Wilson goes on to point out, she's afraid that in today's funding environment many investors will pass on these sorts of deals because the company will require more help navigating the venture world than others. If investors are over-extended, then they may not have the time to give the assistance an off-the-grid founder needs to catch up to speed — and more importantly, to be able to raise that next funding round.
"The environment in Silicon Valley is far different from the other hubs such as NYC, Berlin, Chicago and others. You need to speak the language and it is scary for an investor if you don’t," Wilson states.
Thankfully, the knowledge gap between those inside Silicon Valley and those outside is shrinking. There are books (like Brad Feld's "Venture Deals" that Wilson recommends), and incubators like Y Combinator have started fellowships so non-Bay Area types can still learn how to build a business and their network.
And if Wilson does meet an "off-the-grid" entrepreneur, she says she'll make sure there's another engaged investor in the round if she can't be that person herself.
Startup funding has slowed quite a bit in 2016, with many venture capitalists and late-stage financers taking a much closer look at company fundamentals before plunking millions of dollars into companies at multibillion-dollar valuations. But corporate investment is partly picking up the slack.
Research database CB Insights released its latest Corporate Venture Capital Report on Wednesday, and as the dark blue bars below show, corporations have directly invested $11.5 billion into startups over the last two quarters. That's on the same pace as it's been since early 2015.
The light blue bar shows investment by corporate VC arms — firms like Alphabet's GV (formerly Google Ventures), which usually operate on an arm's length basis and make investments more like a typical VC, looking for growth rather than strategic fit with the parent company. These investments track more closely with the overall up-and-down of VC investment.
US startup Play Togga is tempting players away from the Official Barclays Premier League Fantasy Football platform and other popular sites by offering a different squad-picking format.
Launched in 2014, Play Togga uses a draft system in place of the traditional salary-cap system. It claims to be the first Premier League fantasy football platform to adopt a draft, adding that the format is objectively preferred by 90% of fantasy sports players.
The draft system essentially means that fantasy football fans can't pick the same player as other people in their league, meaning you don't end up with a league full of copycat teams that all include Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, Kevin De Bruyne, and all the other top players.
The scoring system is also different on Play Togga, with players earning more points for more things, including successful dribbles and shots on target.
Scott Faust, the cofounder and CEO of Play Togga, told Business Insider: "We're starting to see thousands of users sign up a day. The response for our new mobile draft app has been overwhelming."
The free-to-play platform now has users in 125 countries and well over 10,000 active users in the UK, according to Faust, who is gearing up to raise a seed round for his startup.
I've been playing Play Togga alongside the Official Barclays Premier League site for the last two seasons and it's safe to say that I've found myself becoming more deeply immersed in the former.
How Play Togga works
Each Play Togga league can have up to 12 people in it, with one commissioner at the head of each league.
Before the season starts, the Play Togga league commissioners must set a time and date for the draft to take place. During the draft, each user is given 1 minute 30 seconds to find and pick a player to add to their squad. The draft can take over two hours and everyone needs to do it at the same time so this might put some people off if they and their friends have busy schedules.
After they've made their pick, the next person in the league picks a player, and so on and so forth until every user has a squad of 16 players. Each user must manage their squad across the full 38-game season by dropping players, making transfers, and reviewing player news if they want to be in with a shot of winning their league, or leagues, as it's possible to be in more than one.
Deliveroo's food delivery couriers have been protesting in London after the company told them it is introducing changes to the way in which they are paid.
Deliveroo has traditionally paid cyclists and moped riders by the hour but now it wants to pay them per delivery. Deliveroo riders claim this will result in many of them earning less than minimum wage.
The startup, which has raised $475 million (£366 million) from investors, saw more than 40 riders protest outside its headquarters just off Tottenham Court Road on Thursday.
Deliveroo UK managing director Dan Warne addressed the protestors on the street, saying: "We're happy to speak with each and every one of you. We have a team upstairs that do that."
He spoke to drivers for less than five minutes before stepping back inside Deliveroo's office after being heckled by a number of the company's couriers.
Under the changes, set to be rolled out next week, Deliveroo riders will be paid £3.75 per delivery instead of the £7 an hour plus £1 per delivery that they have received up until now in London (they're paid less outside the capital).
The wider roll out of the new payment structure comes after a number of trials, which Deliveroo claims were successful.
"What we have seen from previous trials that we have been running in other parts of London is that riders have reacted positively to the trial, and fees rise to more than twice what they were over a lunch or dinner, compared to the old payment model," the company told The Guardian.
Deliveroo on strike! No pizza for you! pic.twitter.com/6cvMtixkA8— simon barfoot (@barfman1980) August 10, 2016
Delivery couriers sign up to work for Deliveroo on a "self-employed" basis which means that Deliveroo is under no obligation to pay them the "national living wage," which stands at £7.20 per hour.
One Deliveroo rider at the protest on Thursday said: "What they do is not fair because we have many spendings. We are paying for our insurance, we are paying for our [vehicle] service, we are paying for motorcycle oil. Many things.
"The average rider does 20 drops a day. That means the average rider goes home with 60-70 [pound] and maybe 50 clears after spendings," he added, pointing out that riders have to pay 26% tax on top of that.
Deliveroo couriers were also spotted in what appeared to be another protest in West Hampstead, North West London, on Thursday morning.
Business Insider contacted Deliveroo but did not immediately hear back.
Deliveroo's UK managing director stepped out of his office to address an angry mob of Deliveroo couriers on Thursday as they protested over the company's decision to change the way it pays its riders.
The startup, which has raised $475 million (£367 million) from investors, currently pays its fleet of cyclists and moped riders £7/hour + £1/delivery. But as of next week, Deliveroo plans to abandon the hourly rate and move to a per delivery payment structure, where drivers would earn £3.75/delivery.
Deliveroo couriers are unhappy about this move and some of them are claiming that they'll end up being paid less than minimum wage, which currently sits at £7.20 in the UK.
In an effort to get Deliveroo to rethink its new payment plan, around 50 uniformed riders gathered outside Deliveroo's head office near London's Tottenham Court Road on Thursday with megaphones and signs that read "Slaveroo."
Deliveroo UK MD Dan Warne came out to talk to them, saying he would speak with them all individually but he struggled to make his voice heard amongst the jeering of the riders. "We're happy to speak with each and every one of you," he said."We have a team upstairs that do that."
Unfortunately for Warne, the offer was loudly rejected by the workers who are demanding collective bargaining. They're planning to protest outside the company's headquarters again at 5pm on Friday.
A journalist at The Huffington Post caught the whole event on camera:
Europe is home to prominent startup and innovation hubs like Berlin, Stockholm, and London.
However, the tech boom is diffusing across continental Europe and startups are emerging outside of the established hotbeds for technology and innovation.
One of the least well-known but certainly notable startups in Europe is the Czech Republic’s cybersecurity player AVAST Software, which has raised $100M and is valued at $1B. Also, a payments company Adyen in the Netherlands has raised $266M and has a valuation of $2.3B.
Using CB Insights data, we analyzed the most well-funded tech startups by country based on disclosed equity funding. We excluded debt funding and only considered VC-backed companies that have raised at least $1M of equity funding to date. Companies that haven’t raised since 2014 were not considered.
With these criteria for selection, sixteen countries are excluded from the mapping — including Vatican City, Liechtenstein, and others.
The least well-funded startup in our infographic is in Slovakia: the online ID & password management company SaferPass, with $1M in equity funding. The most well-funded startup is Spotify in Sweden, with $2.3B of equity funding to date.
Tech unicorns, private tech companies valued at $1B+ or more, are represented among the 34 startups on the map.
Here's the full list of startups:
SEE ALSO: 166 startup failure post-mortems
London startup Onfido has raised new funding to help it scale its background checking technology.
The undisclosed funding — believed to be a seven figure sum — comes from Salesforce Ventures, Talis Capital, and a number of angel investors.
Founded in 2012, Onfido helps businesses like The Daily Mail and sharing economy startups like BlaBlaCar to verify that potential employees and customers are who they say they are.
The startup, which is aiming to attract more retail banks to its customer base, said the fresh injection of capital will be used specifically to expand its Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) products.
"Fintech innovation is disrupting and reshaping how financial companies operate," said Husayn Kassai, CEO and cofounder at Onfido, in a statement. "But traditional ID verification technology is not keeping up. On average, between 30-50%& of people going through in-person ID verification do not complete the manual onboarding process.
"Onfido automates KYC/AML to eliminate inefficiencies and improve the experience on both sides of the transaction."
Prior to the latest round of funding, Onfido had already raised $30.3 million (£23.5 million).
NOW WATCH: 5 wild uses for your old Android smartphone
Deliveroo is letting some of its riders choose how they want to be paid, according to the company's website.
The move — outlined in a blog post on Deliveroo's website — comes after couriers protested outside Deliveroo's London headquarters over a new payment structure.
Deliveroo CEO and cofounder Will Shu told the BBC Today programme that he was "very sorry things have got to this point".
The new payment system involves paying riders per delivery instead of per hour but riders are concerned that they'll end up earning less than the national minimum living wage of £7.20 an hour under the new payment method.
"Our riders are the life blood of our business and without them we are nothing," said Shu. "This [the new pay plan] is in response to our riders’ number one concern which is flexibility … This was a choice for them. If the riders choose to be on a new scheme that’s great … If riders feel like it’s not for them, they can choose to work on the old scheme as well."
However, the Independent Workers Union Couriers & Logistics Branch (CLB) states in a blog post that Deliveroo riders will have to move to another zone where the £7 per hour/+£1 per delivery scheme is still in place if they don't want to be paid per delivery.
"This means drivers will have to work in zones far away, adding extra costs and time to their day," writes the union. "This also means drivers will have to learn their new zone from scratch and spend time building up their knowledge, as it takes weeks and months to get enough knowledge to work efficiently. Drivers will have to learn a whole new group of restaurants and customers."
Deliveroo, which has raised $475 million (£366 million) from investors, said the new payment method is being trialled with 280 of Deliveroo's 3,000 plus London couriers.
UK startup Deliveroo has made a name for itself over the last three years by delivering restaurant food from A to B through its web and moble app.
The platform is simple. You open the app, put in your address, browse restaurants around you, and order some food from a restaurant, such as Pizza Express, Dishoom, or Byron. Within 30-40 minutes the food turns up on your doorstep (hopefully still warm).
But now people are starting to say that Deliveroo's platform has potential beyond food delivery.
Investors have given the UberEATS competitor a staggering $475 million (£368 million) in funding to help it scale its platform worldwide. The most recent round of funding (a Series E round worth $275 million) was raised earlier this month and it was led by UK private equity firm Bridgepoint, which owns Pret A Manger.
One source close to the latest funding round told The Financial Times that the company's "logistics platform" would be "strategically interesting" to corporates, who could use it to deliver items and services beyond food.
And an investor cited by The FT said they were betting on Deliveroo becoming "a next generation logistics company."
If true, all of this goes against the company's current messaging.
Deliveroo has been very vocal about the fact that it is purely a food delivery company whereas someone like, say, Uber, is spreading its bets across an increasing number of business opportunities, including UberEATS.
"We are focused on delivering the best food delivery experience for customers around the world," Deliveroo cofounder and CEO Will Shu said earlier this month, the FT reported.
He added: "You won’t see us start transporting people around. You won’t see us delivering iPads."
A Deliveroo spokesman told Business Insider: "As you know, last month we launched our alcohol delivery service across the country, and are seeing really good engagement on this service. Right now we're focused on being the best food delivery service in the world — as Will said we have no plans to start delivering iPads etc."
Deliveroo, which has expanded to 84 cities, has been under the spotlight over the last week as couriers protested outside its London office over proposed changes to how they are paid. Deliveroo wants to go from paying them an hourly rate and to paying them per delivery but some drivers are concerned they'll end up earning less than minimum wage.
Brian Chesky didn't know much about tech before starting Airbnb.
The 34-year-old CEO majored in industrial design in college and dabbled in hockey and bodybuilding in his 20s. But now, he's grown an idea that stemmed from overbooked hotels into a multibillion-dollar startup and become one of Silicon Valley's key players.
Here's how the upstate New York native became one of the richest young tech founders in America.
Chesky grew up in Niskayuna, N.Y., north of Albany. He was into hockey, and he also liked to draw and design new versions Nike sneakers, which turned into an interest in art.
In 1999, Chesky attended Rhode Island School of Design, where he served as captain of the hockey team and studied industrial design.
At RISD, Chesky met Joe Gebbia, who would eventually cofound Airbnb.
Gebbia told Fortune that after graduation, he pulled Chesky aside and said: "Before you get on the plane, there’s something I need to tell you. We’re going to start a company one day, and they’re going to write a book about it."
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
For awhile, Yik Yak was considered to be the go-to app for college gossip.
Its popularity ballooned and people latched onto the anonymous network. Its founders, Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington, made the typical appearances at SXSW, raised a ton of money, and even had the typical ex-founder lawsuit.
By all accounts Yik Yak was a rocket-ship of a startup — but then it started to peter out.
At its peak in September 2014, the app was number four in overall rankings for the Apple App Store, according to App Annie. Today it's not even on the list, although it's stayed in the top 200 social media lists.
Buffington and Droll don't seem deterred when it's pointed out that their app is no longer on top. Instead, they think they've found what's going to make Yik Yak truly valuable in the long-term, and that's local.
"We're super happy where we are right now," Droll told Business Insider. "No one else really has this."
Don't call it a pivot
It's safe to be skeptical that an app that once touted its anonymous background has switched to championing connecting locals. Both are areas where startups have tried and failed and failed again.
Buffington and Droll say the anonymity thing worked in the beginning because the sign-up was easy. You didn't have to build an audience, unlike Twitter, nor did you have to put your real name to it, like Facebook. Instead, people could sign up and say whatever they wanted (although that does come with some downsides).
However, as the company has grown and other purely anonymous apps died, the pair realized that it was the local part that kept people, especially college students, coming back to the app. They didn't want to just talk about their classes to the world, but talk about it with the people around them who are taking the same class.
"We've seen military bases pick it up, we've seen corporate campuses adopt it and use it," Droll said. "But the current model, we are still focused on the college market."
Going narrow on a market, at least for now, is where Yik Yak founders see an opportunity to restart growth. There isn't a great social network just for people around you, unless you count NextDoor's neighborhood-watch-in-an-app.
On Tuesday, the company is rolling out updates that will move its users further away from anonymous comments and closer to a local social network.
Yakkers, as they're called, will be required to have a handle and can fill out profile information, complete with a photo. It's a change that puts it closer in line with how Twitter handles profiles: You can still sign up and post anonymously, but you have to have a user name. However, if you do want people to follow you and know it's you, you can add your photo and a bio.
Then there's the new "Now" updates so people can post what they're doing in that moment, like whether you're at the football tailgate or studying on the fifth floor of the library. Yakkers can look at the explore tab to see who else is around them and what they're doing — and chat with them if they want to meet up.
While Yik Yak used to be big about keeping people tied to a place, the update means it's also dropping features like "My Herd," so you can't follow your college campus unless you're physically there. Instead, it's about being in the location where you are and discovering people and places around you.
Neither Buffington or Droll would go as far as to call the changes a pivot, but describe it as more of a slow evolution from the app's original and core ideas. It's always been about local networks on college campuses, and the emphasis is now more than ever about putting people in the same place in touch with each other. When Pokémon Go exploded, Buffington says people used the app to find the best Pokémon on campus or meet up as teams to take over gyms.
"Since day one, we were very focused on hyperlocal, and anonymity was just a mechanism we used to make the onboard easy," Droll said. "Right now we are focused on college campuses and really nailing what are these local interactions so we can power the best user experience."
Food delivery startup Deliveroo has just faced one of the toughest weeks of its history.
Several hundred of its couriers have been protesting outside the company's office in Central London over proposed changes to their pay that would see them paid £3.75 per delivery instead of £7 an hour, plus £1 for each delivery.
Some couriers, including those that are striking, claim that they'll earn less than the UK minimum wage (£7.20 an hour) if they're moved onto the new payment scheme.
Business Insider visited Deliveroo's head office on Tuesday to talk to UK managing director Dan Warne about the protests and the new payment system.
Here's what he had to say.
This interview has been lighted edited for length and clarity.
Sam Shead: Are the proposed changes in pay about cutting costs for Deliveroo or are they about improving driver flexibility?
Dan Warne: The first thing I should stress is that we’re pretty upset about this because we communicated really badly to the drivers on exactly what this means for them. Had we communicated better to them, they would see that they would be earning more on this new scheme and that it offers flexibility.
Before we make any change to any existing payment method, or anything else, we engage riders, we listen to what they want, and then we try and shape the model to reflect that. So in this particular case, we chatted to a number of riders across the fleet and we learned that 80% of the riders use Deliveroo as a supplementary income stream and that flexibility was super important to them.
We’ve got guys that in the daytime work as street stand vendors, they work as DJs, they’ll be students, they’ll have family commitments. The beauty of the model that we’re ultimately moving to in these trial areas is that you can plug in and work when you like, so a huge amount of flexibility there.
Shead: How much disruption has the protest caused for you? Have you had to tell restaurants to turn their tablets [which inform them of food orders] off?
Warne: The real world implication is minimal. It’s made a noise in the press and everything else, and obviously it’s been really important for us to talk to riders individually, but in terms of actual physical disruption it’s been very limited.
Shead: If you do move towards this pay per delivery model, could some riders potentially earn £0 an hour?
Warne: So the interesting facts behind where we’ve trialled this previously in areas, and there are a number of those, is that drivers on average are earning £2 per hour more. That averages out at £10.60 per hour, so significantly more than what they were earning previously. And that’s an average across all of the fleet. So substantially higher earning potential, alongside flexibility.
Not only are they per hour making more, but they’re netting more on average per week. So crucially, looking at all the hours, looking at the entire week, they end up making more money. The problem is — and I’ll go back to it again — that we haven’t communicated it as well as we might have done.
Over the last week or so, we’ve been speaking to drivers where we’re looking to roll out this trial to really understand where the concerns are. I think the concerns are often around the safety net that they currently have with the 7 + 1 model.
We’ve realised that we don't want to rush them to a decision so we’re giving them the option to either move to the fee per delivery model, which would be offset by a guarantee we’re putting in place. We guarantee two deliveries per hour during lunch throughout the week, and 2.5 at dinner throughout the wee,k and then three at dinner on the weekends. For those who are still not comfortable and still concerned they’ll make less money, we are giving them the option to stay on the £7 + £1.
Shead: The protestors want to see the new payment model as an opt-in thing rather than opt out. Are you aware of this?
Warne: That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re making it opt in. They don’t need to move to the new scheme.
Shead: But aren’t you automatically transferring certain couriers in certain areas onto the new model?
Warne: London is made up of about 50 different zones: very small areas that we operate the fleet in. Within one of those zones, you can’t operate two models. It just doesn’t work from a technical stand point.
So what we’re doing for those that wish to stay on the 7+1 is we’re asking them to move to an adjacent zone. When I say adjacent zone, I’m talking about moving from Camden to Islington. We’re never going to ask them to move further than two miles away from where they currently operate. If they’re concerned that by moving to a new zone they’ll have to relearn the area, and thus earn less, for the first two weeks we’ll guaranty that they will make at least £7 + £1 in the new zone.
We’re very confident that because they use our technology anyway — which clearly maps the fastest, safest routes — they’ll get up to speed immediately when they enter that new area.
Shead: So you’re transferring some riders automatically. It’s not a choice?
Warne: It absolutely is a choice. We will have a conversation with everyone where we will say would you rather stay where you’re currently operating and move to this per delivery model with the guarantee, or would you prefer to move to an adjacent area or anywhere else in London where you want to work ... and stay on the existing scheme.
Shead: How concerned are you about the wider impact of the strikes and this "drivers versus the company" thing?
Warne: I’ve got to stress that this is a very small and very vocal minority. The majority of the fleet are exceptionally happy with Deliveroo and the fee schemes that we have in place. If you speak to the fleet who’ve been on these trials in other areas, these are not the guys that are here protesting. The individuals that are protesting here are individuals not on the new scheme yet who are concerned because we haven’t done a good enough job of communicating to them.
So of course, it doesn’t look good as a company to have this happen and of course we’re upset when we value our drivers to the extent that we do.
Shead: A student pointed out that if he was to have an accident or was sick, he would be on his own. Do you think Deliveroo should do more or can do more to support riders in those areas?
Warne: We are very careful to ensure that any cyclist or rider that comes into the fleet is given strong training to ensure that they can uphold certain safety standards. We ensure that any motorcyclist has the right insurance, has the right license, has the right to work in the UK. We believe we give them a very good opportunity to earn good money but in the right way.
Shead: Have any of your staff had any issues with the protestors outside?
Warne: The staff are all very supportive of the driver fleet. We all believe they should have a voice and we should listen to that. That’s why we’ve developed it and put these guarantees in place and allowed this choice for the riders.
Shead: How do you think your pay compares to other people in the market?
Warne: I can’t comment on others in the market but what I can say is in the areas where we’re trying this, and have been for a while, the earnings are very high comparative to certain other areas where we’re operating the old scheme. So as I say, £10.60 per hour. That’s before petrol and tips. So up to you to assess whether you think that’s competitive or not.
Shead: The $275 million (£211 million) that Deliveroo recently raised, what’s that going towards?
Warne: A few things. One will be improvements in technology within the restaurant space and for our driver space. One will be further physical integration into the food delivery landscape, so things like RooBox. And then of course further expansion across the UK and internationally.
Shead: Anything else you’d like to add?
Warne: For those guys that do want to stay on the £7 plus £1, and are willing to move to a new area, we will ensure that they’re making the same money per hour that they did in their old zone for a two week period to give them the confidence to make that move.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a CEO who knows a thing or two about building a billion-dollar company. And he thinks that a lot of people in Silicon Valley are doing it backward by focusing on building a company before knowing what they want to do.
"So I always think that this is kind of a perverse thing about Silicon Valley in a way, which is that people decide often that they want to start a company before they even decide what they want to do, and that just feels really backwards to me," Zuckerberg said in an interview with Y Combinator president Sam Altman.
Zuckerberg says that he never set out to build a company. Even after he had raised venture capital and the idea was taking off, Zuckerberg was insisting that he was going to go back to Harvard.
That never happened, and Facebook is now used by more than a billion people every day. It took that belief, though, to get him through the tough times.
"I always think that you should start with the problem that you're trying to solve in the world and not start with deciding that you want to build a company," Zuckerberg said. "And the best companies that get built are things that are trying to drive some kind of social change, even if it's just local in one place, more than starting out because you want to make a bunch of money or have a lot of people working for you or build some company in some way."