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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider
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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    leonandgeorge magenta triostar

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

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

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

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

    leon and george plant care

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

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

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

    my leon and george plant

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

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

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

    Shop plants at Léon & George here

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    ashton kutcher

    • Electric scooter companies like Lime, Bird, and Spin faced regulatory issues after introducing their pay-as-you-go scooter services to the streets of San Francisco earlier this year. 
    • Ashton Kutcher, who invested in Bird through his venture firm Sound Ventures, says that the regulatory issues facing the electric scooter companies is 'absurd.'
    • During an onstage conversation at TechCrunch Disrupt, Kutcher described these issues as "an aversion to change."

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA — The first on-demand startups tended to follow a strategy of asking forgiveness, rather than permission, when it came to entering new markets. 

    As an early investor in both Uber and Airbnb, actor-turned-venture capitalist Ashton Kutcher is familiar with this particular playbook. Now, Bird — a red-hot scooter startup in which Kutcher's Sound Ventures is an investor — is facing problems of its own. In the wake of a backlash from the residents of San Francisco, Bird and other startups have been barred from operating in the city; only rivals Skip and Scoot were granted the permits necessary to return.

    Kutcher, for one, thinks that people who take issue with the scooters. During an onstage chat at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Kutcher described the steep regulation facing Bird as "absurd." 

    "Fundamentally...the Uber thing was very frustrating the whole way through," said Kutcher. "The Airbnb thing— regulatory-wise — has been incredibly frustrating. To me, [the scooter issue] is the simplest of them all."bird scooter raising

    He continued: "Nobody wakes up in the morning, opens their front door, looks outside and says, 'God look how many cars there are parked everywhere. They're f--king parked everywhere! ... It's ridiculous! And they're clogging up the roads...' But boy, we open up the door and go, 'Man! There are just scooters all over the place. And it's like hold on...wait a second. This is just aversion to change.'"

    "If you think about it  from a pure square footage perspective — how much space a scooter takes up relative to a car, this is absurd, right? And fine, I understand, maybe we need to find appropriate parking places for these and everything else, but the regulatory function on this [is] just something you're not used to. It's just a better world if this takes off and works."

    Bird, the fledgling Santa Monica-based electric scooter startup, has taken in a whopping $415 million since it was founded less than one year ago.

    Earlier this year, competing electric scooter startups Bird, Spin, and Lime introduced their dockless scooters on the sidewalks of San Francisco.  While many praised the new form of transportation for its ease and efficiency, others took issue with the number of scooters littering the city's sidewalks.

    Regulation was swift: In April, San Francisco's city attorney issued a cease-and-desist order, effectively shutting down the companies' free range use of the city's sidewalks. Currently, the startups are embattled in a long-running permitting issue with San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency, with Skip and Scoot being granted the permits necessary to return starting in October.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How movie theaters are ruining your movie

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    30 under 40 biotech 2x1

    Putting millions of dollars into bold new technologies can be a delicate business when lives hang in the balance. But every day some of the sharpest minds in Silicon Valley make big bets on tools and techniques that promise to cure disease, help fix the food system, and even prolong life.

    Biotech is one of the hottest sectors for venture-capital funds right now.

    In January, startup accelerator Y Combinator announced details of its plan to launch a new biotech track focused on advances in the life sciences. Some of the biggest recent buzz in the sector has centered on new ways of tackling cancer using patients' own immune systems, fresh therapies built on gene-editing tools like CRISPR, and potentially revolutionary techniques for making meat without factory farming.

    "We like to back things that are unlike anything we've ever seen before," said Mohammad Islam, a principal at VC firm DFJ, which recently invested in Memphis Meats — one of the startups aiming to make real meat from animal cells.

    In addition to the venture capitalists on this list, Business Insider spoke with entrepreneurs and CEOs to gauge the top young biotech stars. These are the most interesting and ambitious biotech investors, age 40 and under, on the West Coast:

    SEE ALSO: DNA-testing company 23andMe has signed a $300 million deal with a drug giant. Here's how to delete your data if that freaks you out.

    DON'T MISS: A top Silicon Valley startup founder got interrupted when he showed a slide of new female hires, and it's a lesson to other companies

    Laura Deming, one of the youngest fund managers in the US, wants to create an antidote to aging.

    Title: Founder, Longevity Fund

    Age: 24

    Laura Deming has defied the limits of age from the time she was 12. That's when she moved halfway around the world to study under Cynthia Kenyon, a renowned molecular biologist who specializes in the genetics of aging.

    Deming began her college education at MIT at age 14. The prodigy dropped out to pursue a career developing antiaging technology through Peter Thiel's fellowship program.

    Now, Deming has founded her own $22 million venture firm, the Longevity Fund, as well as a startup accelerator in an effort to spur entrepreneurs hunting down treatments for aging-related diseases. Among the fund's investments are Alexo Therapeutics, a startup developing cancer therapies, and Unity Biotechnology, an antiaging drug company.

    An engineer by training, Mohammad Islam left a job with the CIA to fund big ideas "unlike anything we've seen before."

    Title: Principal, DFJ

    Age: 28

    Before becoming a principal at the Silicon Valley venture-capital firm DFJ, Mohammad Islam used his background in engineering to work on the technical team of In-Q-Tel, the CIA's VC arm.

    At DFJ, Islam focuses on "frontier technologies" like machine intelligence and biotechnology — arenas where startups would essentially be creating brand-new markets for their goods.

    He's especially excited about companies like Memphis Meats, which aims to get its first cell-based duck and chicken products in restaurants by year's end, and Zymergen, a robot-powered factory that turns bacteria into new materials.

    Blake Byers is an engineer, scientist, and entrepreneur who has been leading investments at Alphabet's venture arm GV since 2010.

    Title: General partner, GV

    Age: 33

    Blake Byers, the son of famed venture capitalist Brook Byers, started doing biomedical research as a high-school student at Stanford University. His research spanned biomedical engineering, stem cells, Parkinson's disease modeling, and more, resulting in multiple journal papers and patents.

    Byers continued running research projects throughout his academic training and his early years working at GV (formerly Google Ventures).

    As an investor, Byers partners with founders of life science and digital health companies — such as Collective Health, a startup offering tech-savvy tools for managing health benefits, and genetics-testing company 23andMe — to create a global health impact.

    He also helped incubate a new cell-therapy company, Pact Pharma, which is working on technology that reprograms a cancer patient's immune system cells to attack the disease. Byers has raised over $125 million for the company while serving as interim CEO. Pact will announce a new CEO later this year.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Theranos Elizabeth Holmes lessons learned from failure failed company tips

    • Theranos, a blood-testing startup that claimed it would revolutionize healthcare by doing away with "big bad needles," crashed and burned after it was revealed that it lacked concrete science.
    • But biotech startups remain hot in Silicon Valley, with nearly a third of the companies from startup hub Y Combinator's latest class falling into the category.
    • So we asked the top investors in the space to tell us what can be done to avoid the pitfalls of Theranos.
    • Their answers contain some key lessons.

    Few tech companies have crashed and burned in recent years like Theranos, a blood-testing startup that claimed it would revolutionize healthcare by doing away with "big bad needles."

    But money moves fast in Silicon Valley, where the company began — and sometimes it moves too quickly for the ideas behind it to keep pace.

    In the case of Theranos, launched over a decade ago by Stanford drop-out Elizabeth Holmes, investors put hundreds of millions in a concept with little-to-no published science to support it. When it was gradually revealed that the advanced technology required for such an idea did not yet exist, the company — and Holmes, who'd amassed a net worth of $4.5 billion after the company was valued at $9 billion — toppled. This week, the company announced in an email to shareholders that it would formally dissolve, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    Biotech remains a growing sector for venture capital. Nearly a third of the companies in the latest class of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's biggest startup accelerator, are in the biotech sector. Last year, just 8% of startups were biotech-focused. In January, the incubator announced it would be offering a separate track called YC Bio specifically for healthcare and biotech startups.

    We asked the leading VCs at some of Silicon Valley's top venture firms what investors and startups can do to avoid the pitfalls of Theranos. Their answers contain some powerful lessons.

    Reality-check the science behind a big idea.

    A handful of biotech investors who watched from the sidelines as their peers inked deals with Theranos told Business Insider that the biggest mistake was a failure to vet the science behind the concept.

    That doesn't necessarily mean those firms needed to have scientists or diagnostics experts within their ranks, biotech investors said, but if they didn't have an internal person to reality-check the science, they should have consulted with outside experts who could do it for them.

    "You need to know what you’re investing in," Dylan Morris, the bioengineering lead at VC firm CRV, said. "Do you need a tech or engineering background? No, but if you don’t have it you’d better find somebody you trust who does and take their perspective seriously."

    All of that due diligence is essential in biotech investing, Benjamin Tseng, a principal at venture firm 1955 Capital, said.

    "When you’re looking at these areas where real technology is essential, you have to do your homework," Tseng said. "You can’t just count on a charismatic CEO who will cobble together some people and say, 'OK this is going to work.'"

    Remember that when it comes to healthcare, lives are at stake.

    finger prickCertain aspects of venture capital are inherently appealing to biotech startups, like breaking free of the slow pace of academic research. But not everything that applies in tech venture carries over to biotech, some investors warned.

    "The framework of 'move fast and break things' is not acceptable when we’re thinking about human health," Francisco Gimenez, the resident data scientist at venture firm 8VC, said.

    "You can be Uber and flout the law of taxis because people want what you have so bad that the world will find a way to accommodate you," he said. "With human health, you can hurt people."

    Racquel Bracken, a vice president at VC firm Venrock, agrees. For her, it was Theranos' repeated promises of a breakthrough with no concrete follow-up that raised the biggest red flag.

    "The sustained promise and no delivery — how that played out with putting patients at risk — that’s a cautionary tale with going too far in applying tech principles to healthcare," Bracken said.

    "There are lives at stake," she added. 

    Beware the cult of personality.

    With her characteristic black turtleneck — reminiscent of Steve Jobs, who she idolized— and magnetic personality, Elizabeth Holmes managed to secure funding not only from big VC firms but also from established companies like Walgreen’s and respected officials like current Secretary of Defense James Mattis. But none of them ever saw the company's product. That should be a big warning for biotech investors today, given how much emphasis is still placed on team and personality.

    "It's about being smart as you’re thinking about investing," CRV's Morris said, adding that that means "doing a clear-eyed risk assessment — even if you like the team."

    Julie Grant, a partner with venture firm Canaan who leads many biotech and healthcare investments, pointed out that persuasion is a powerful drug, especially when it comes from the founder of an up-and-coming startup that promises to shake up an engrained part of the healthcare system. But that means doing even more due diligence to validate that startup's claims, she said.

    "Even exceptional people can be duped and drawn in by brand," Grant said.

    SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley startup founder got interrupted during a board meeting while showing a slide of 5 new female hires, and it offers a lesson to other companies

    DON'T MISS: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, fix the food system, and prolong life

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why the moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse

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    bombas founders shark tank

    • The founders of sock company Bombas appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2014.
    • They landed a deal with Daymond John and, in 2017, Bombas brought in nearly $50 million in revenue.
    • To prepare, the founders rehearsed their answers to all potential questions — and follow-up questions — that the Sharks might ask.

    "If you over-prepare, you're going to do fine."

    So said Randy Goldberg, cofounder of sock company Bombas.

    In 2014, Goldberg and his cofounder, David Heath, appeared on "Shark Tank," ultimately landing a deal with Daymond John: $200,000 in exchange for 17.5% of their company, plus the financing of the inventory.

    Goldberg and Heath told Business Insider that they prepared for their appearance by compiling a spreadsheet with close to 300 questions that the Sharks had asked entrepreneurs on previous episodes. Over and over again, Goldberg and Heath rehearsed their answers to these questions.

    But they didn't stop there — they also figured out which follow-up questions the Sharks might ask, and simulated how those conversations would play out.

    "We would say, 'Well, OK. This response leaves this question open,'" Heath said. "So you want to then be on the defensive if they come back and ask it this way."

    Heath added that "a big part of our strategy was trying to control the narrative, and control which line and direction the questioning would take based on our responses."

    To ensure that their time in the tank went smoothly, the founders also broke down exactly which types of questions each person would answer.

    All that preparation helped them stay calm when Kevin O'Leary (a.k.a. "Mr. Wonderful") called them "sock cockroaches," when Lori Greiner said she didn't like that they planned to use their investment money to hire more people, and when Mark Cuban said their sales shouldn't be plateauing.

    Today, Bombas is one of the biggest "Shark Tank" successes: Heath told Business Insider's Richard Feloni that the company had been profitable since 2016 and brought in "just under $50 million" in revenue in 2017.

    John told Feloni that Bombas was his best investment, largely because the company's social mission — donating socks to homeless shelters — is also good for business.

    Bombas might not have landed the deal with John in the first place if they hadn't been so well-rehearsed.

    "Even if you're talking about questions that you didn't specifically work on," Goldberg said, "the fact that you prepared so many other things gives you the confidence to feel like you can answer anything."

    SEE ALSO: The 'Shark Tank' founders who were called 'sock cockroaches' on national TV before landing a $200,000 deal have become one of the show's biggest success stories

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Marty Chavez

    • Goldman Sachs is the most active tech startup investor that's not a tech company itself —with venture capital investments in around 640 different tech startups. The investment bank saw big returns on Spotify, and was an early investor in companies like Uber and Dropbox. 
    • Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt on Thursday, Goldman Sach's Chief Financial Officer Marty Chavez shared what the bank looks for when investing in startups. 
    • In short, it wants companies that are young, inexpensive, and moving the world of finance forward. 

    Goldman Sachs has emerged in recent years as one of Silicon Valley's most unlikely power investors. The New York City-based investment bank has beeen the most active tech investor that isn't itself a tech company for the past few years, according to CB Insights. Nowadays, Goldman Sachs has stakes in around 640 different tech startups. 

    In April, the bank made $350 million on a 2012 investment in Spotify — a sevenfold return its investment, according to the Wall Street Journal. The investment team — which, unlike other divisions of the bank, invests Goldman Sach's own money for its own gain, not that of its clients — also invested in Uber and Dropbox. 

    But those deals weren't typical to Goldman Sachs' overall venture capital strategy, according to chief financial officer Marty Chavez: They only got to those companies late in their existence, when their valuations were already high. And they weren't strictly in the world of finance, which is where Goldman Sachs usually likes to invest. It has some successes there, too — Goldman Sachs was an investor in Square, in its pre-IPO days. 

    Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco on Thursday, Chavez shared the key things Goldman Sachs looks for when investing in a tech startup.

    Early, cheap, and moving finance forward

    Goldman likes early stage companies. Chavez said that Goldman Sachs prefers to invest in the early stages "because we like the valuation. We want to pay an appropriate price." That said, the company has investments in companies "at many stages of the evolution." 

    The bank prefers to lead rounds. Out of its 643 investments, Goldman Sachs has  led 260, according to Crunchbase, including Spotify's $100 million Series E. Most recently, the bank led a $450 million Series D investment in the Chinese fresh produce e-commerce company MissFresh. That round was announced Thursday, separately from Chavez's apearance at Disrupt. 

    It only wants to own 10% of a company. As a regulated bank, Chavez said, Goldman Sachs faces a lot of regulation that venture capital firms don't have to deal with. For that reason, the bank prefers to own smaller chunks of the startups it invests in. The team looks for 10% ownership, rather than the larger stakes that dedicated venture firms might try to take. 

    Finance startups have priority. While some of Goldman Sach's most recognizable investments are in the consumer space, Chavez said its investors prioritize companies that are "aligned with the rest of our businesses," in the sense that it has to do with money and the movement therein. "It needs to be part of our world. It needs to have something to do with finance," he said.

    SEE ALSO: Investors used to balk at startups for software developers — but after Microsoft bought GitHub for $7.5 billion, they’re all in

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How movie theaters are ruining your movie

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    bezos white house

    • Amazon is close to announcing the location of its second North American headquarters, and many suspect that DC will be the winner.
    • We asked Washington, DC startups whether they were fearful or enthusiastic about Amazon's possible arrival.
    • While many of them value the company's ability to attract talent, they shared a few concerns.

    In September 2017, Amazon revealed its plan to build a second North American headquarters. The new location, known as HQ2, is expected to bring 50,000 new jobs and $50 billion in economic impact to its host city. But urban economists have pointed to problems in its current home, Seattle, as an indication of what's to come. 

    With Amazon on the brink of announcing HQ2's location, many have speculated about which city is equipped to handle an influx of tech workers and new development.

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

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

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

    Amazon's previous urban takeover 

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

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

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

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

    Why some startups aren't concerned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Amazon could increase pressure on local transit 

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

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

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

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

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

    Not all startups are optimistic

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

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • Some startups aiming to create real meat from animal cells are abandoning the term "clean meat."
    • In a meeting following a conference on alternatives to traditional meat, CEOs and representatives from those companies decided the term "clean" comes with too much baggage.
    • The startups are also working to create an industry trade organization focused on working more closely with traditional meat companies.

    CEOs from a handful of startups working to create meat from animal cells have decided there’s one thing they don’t want their product to be called: clean. 

    Some startups had been using the term "clean meat" as a moniker for real meat grown in a lab from animal cells. But following a spirited discussion behind closed doors on Friday, the leaders of at least five startups decided that the name comes with too much negative baggage. 

    Clean implies superiority, or that one method is better than another, Uma Valeti, the founder and CEO of a startup called Memphis Meats, which aims to make duck, chicken, and beef without slaughter, told Business Insider.

    His comments came at the end of a panel on the future of meat at a conference organized by the non-profit Good Food Institute but before the closed-door meeting, which was held later that day.

    Instead of calling their products “clean,” a term the startups had used to distinguish themselves from factory-farmed meat and plant-based meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger, the companies plan to use the phrase “cell-based," Brian Spears, the founder of New Age Meat, another startup aiming to make meat from animal cells, told Business Insider.

    It's a big move for the industry, which has grown from a few small ventures to a significant and organized group of nearly a dozen startups and established companies.

    At their meeting, the representatives of these cultured-meat startups also agreed to form an industry trade organization to represent themselves. They hope the move will allow for better collaboration with traditional meat companies, but have not released any further details on that work. 

    'We want to make winners instead of losers'

    Deciding what to call meat that doesn't come from a farm has become tricky business in recent months.

    In the past, cultured-meat companies floated the idea of labels emphasizing that their products come from labs instead of slaughterhouses. That's where the word “clean” originated.

    Other startups have said their products should simply be called "meat," because at their core, they are the same as traditional meat.

    But traditional meat producers are not fans of those options. 

    The US Cattlemen's Association recently filed a petition to the US Department of Agriculture that would limit using the terms "beef" and "meat" to products "born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner." In Missouri, that language just became law, meaning that any product made without slaughter couldn't be called meat.

    That underscores the need for a separate label for animal products coming out of startups that don't rely on farms.

    Still, alternatives like “farm-free” don’t work either, some of the CEOs said. That's because not all traditional meat is produced in factory farms, and because it emphasizes what the startups are seeking to avoid, rather than what they aim to represent.

    “We’d rather define ourselves by what we are, as opposed to what we are not,” Niya Gupta, the co-founder and CEO of Fork & Goode, a startup aiming to make pork from animal cells, told Business Insider before the closed-door meeting on Friday.

    Spears said the term "cell based" also will make it easier for companies like his to collaborate with traditional meat companies, who may have felt antagonized by the term "clean." 

    "Cell-based meat is a better label to bring them on board," Spears said. "We want to make winners instead of losers. Losers will fight you, winners will fight with you."

    SEE ALSO: The controversial Silicon Valley startup behind ‘Just Mayo’ has finally released what was supposed to be its signature product, after 6 years of development

    DON'T MISS: The startup behind Silicon Valley’s favorite ‘bleeding’ veggie burger has scored a major victory in its battle for legitimacy

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    amazon launchpad main

    Amazon is where you can usually find the best prices on the brands you already know and love, from electronics giants like HP and Panasonic to kitchen legacies like KitchenAid and Le Creuset. But it's not only a place for the big companies to dominate. 

    Amazon Launchpad is a part of the site where some of the world's most interesting and innovative small startups can shine alongside industry veterans. 

    Here, you can shop the smart gadgets, home goods, gourmet snacks, kitchen tools, and other innovative products that have the potential to become household names — all in one place. 

    Every week, Amazon adds five new products worth noting to its Launchpad collection and we'll be giving you the breakdown on why each one earns its place. 

    The themes of this week's Launchpad additions: health, wellness, and security. 

    Shop the 5 unique products from Amazon Launchpad below. 

    SmartyPants vitamins

    Shop SmartyPants adult and children's vitamins at Amazon here

    SmartyPants' delicious gummy vitamins are made with organic, non-GMO, and eco-friendly ingredients. They're also free from gluten, allergens, synthetic colors, and artificial flavors and preservatives, so they're truly good for your body. You'll find vitamins for the whole family here, including men's, women's, and children's multivitamins, prenatal vitamins, and probiotics. Your purchase doesn't only benefit your own body — through its partnership with Vitamin Angels, the company has made more than 4.7 million nutrition grants to moms and children in need. 

    AYO light therapy glasses

    AYO Premium Light Therapy Glasses, $249, available at Amazon

    These glasses provide safe blue light therapy exposure to re-energize and refresh your body in under half an hour. You put them on like any pair of glasses and control the smart programs (Sleep, Travel, Energy) through the corresponding app. Frequent travelers will appreciate its jet lag solution, which can speed up the process of adapting to a new time zone and make travel less tiring. Meanwhile, AYO claims its sleeping aid light noticeably improves sleep quality in less than five days. 

    EZVIZ Wi-Fi security camera

    EZVIZ ez360 Pano TripleHD 360 Degree Panoramic Wireless Wi-Fi Security Camera, $149.99, available at Amazon

    Keep tabs on your home at all times with this smart security camera, which is Wi-Fi- and Alexa-compatible. Its dynamic fisheye lens gives you a high-definition 360° view of the room, and through the app, you can divide your video feed into two 180° sections or four 90° sections, then pan, tilt, and zoom independently on each section. The camera is easy to set up, and works most effectively when mounted to the ceiling. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Shark Tank vibes jack mann

    • On an episode of "Shark Tank," Vibes founder Jack Mann received a $100,000 offer from Kevin O'Leary. He turned it down.
    • Mann was initially nervous about messing up his pitch, so he hired a speech coach, who taught him an unusual memory technique.
    • The memory technique involved associating keywords from each paragraph with a different image. Mann delivered his pitch seamlessly.

    Between the day Jack Mann was approved to appear on "Shark Tank" and the day the episode was filmed, there were about five weeks.

    "It was a stressful time that month; I'll tell you that," Mann told Business Insider. Mann is the founder of Vibes, a company that makes reusable earplugs designed to preserve sound quality. Vibes was just three months old when the episode was filmed.

    Mann told Business Insider that, going into the show, he was less nervous about preparing answers to the Sharks' questions and more so about delivering his opening pitch. Specifically, he was worrying about his mind going blank in the middle.

    "I hadn't done much public speaking previously, and definitely hadn't done anything to that magnitude on television," he said.

    So he hired a speech coach, who guided him in using a specific memory technique.

    As Mann explained it, you simply associate a keyword in each paragraph of your speech with a different image. Then you work your way clockwise through the group of images, "rather than think through what's the next thing you were trying to say."

    For example, Mann said, you might use an image of a house to remember to talk about your background and where you're from.

    "Things really go wrong when you forget what you're trying to say and you slip up," Mann said — something that's happened before on the "Shark Tank" stage. "So I found that [technique] helpful."

    Mann delivered his pitch seamlessly and received a $100,000 offer

    Mann's memory technique is similar to another, research-backed strategy, called the "method of loci" or the "memory palace."

    Using that strategy, you associate each item you're trying to remember with a specific image and place. As you walk through the different places in your mind, you're reminded of the items they're linked to.

    Ron White, a two-time national memory champion, previously told Business Insider that he taught a six-year-old girl to memorize the names of all 44 US presidents using much the same technique.

    Ultimately, Mann delivered his pitch seamlessly and went on to receive an offer from Kevin O'Leary (a.k.a. "Mr. Wonderful"): $100,000 for 35% of the company, with a royalty of $2 for every pair of earplugs sold until O'Leary got his money back. Mann turned down the offer, and has "zero regrets" about it.

    As of 2017, Vibes had grown from an initial $33,000 investment to $2 million in sales.

    "I'm happy with where we are today, where we've grown, and where we're going to continue to grow," Mann said.

    SEE ALSO: 'Shark Tank' founders who were called 'sock cockroaches' on national TV prepared answers to about 300 questions before they even appeared on the show — and they landed a $200,000 deal

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    crispr cover

    • FoodShot Global is a new fund for researchers and startups who are solving problems in food and agriculture that stem from soil degradation.
    • Venture capitalist Victor Friedberg, former Obama-administration USDA official Sara Eckhouse, and former Rabobank North America CEO Rajiv Singh will lead the fund.
    • FoodShot Global partners include the new entrepreneurial division of M&M manufacturer Mars along with the Rockefeller Foundation and the nonprofit environmental group The Nature Conservancy.

    Chicago venture capitalist Victor Friedberg’s "aha" moment came as he was biting into a peach.

    This particular piece of fruit had been purchased from a local market in Valencia, Spain. It was remarkably delicious — so delicious that it made Friedberg question the identity of all the other fuzzy, brightly-colored orbs he’d eaten before.

    “I realized the peaches I’d been eating up until that point were shadows of the real thing,” Friedberg told Business Insider.

    An investor in startups like Beyond Meat (which makes a plant-based burger that "bleeds" like the real thing) and Apeel Science (which makes an edible coating that keeps fruits and veggies fresh for longer), Friedberg started to think about why America’s food system spawned such inferior produce. It wasn’t one problem, he realized, but many — warmer weather, chemical-heavy farming techniques, deforestation.

    All of those issues contribute to another, more central problem: the planet’s soil — upon which 95% of our food relies — is disappearing. The problem is so dire that, if it continues at its current rate, farming as we know it will cease within 60 years, according to a recent Reuters report.

    “The deterioration of soil is one of the most pressing global crises facing humanity," Friedman said.

    This week, he's launching a new fund dedicated to protecting the dirt. Called FoodShot Global, the fund, which launched officially on Thursday, features major partners in the food and agriculture spaces like multinational bank Rabobank, the new entrepreneurial division of M&M manufacturer Mars, the Rockefeller Foundation, and nonprofit environmental group The Nature Conservancy.

    Sara Eckhouse, a former Obama-administration official with the US Department of Agriculture, and Rajiv Singh, the former CEO of Rabobank North America, are leading the new fund alongside Friedberg. You can apply here.

    A hub for startups and researchers who aim to restore soil health

    peachesUnlike a traditional VC, which generally funds for-profit startups using equity, the new fund will give support using a blend of debt, equity, and cash. That means there's a place for both for-profit startups and non-profit advocates and entrepreneurs in the new initiative, Friedberg said — as long as they're working on how to solve problems centered around Earth's disappearing soil.

    "I think it'll be different from any VC working in the food and agriculture space," Friedberg said.

    The members of FoodShot Global plan to analyze the companies and projects in their portfolio over a longer timeline than traditional venture capital, which works on a fast-paced quarter system. Startups can expect to recieve up to $10 million in equity and up to $20 million in debt funding for a total of $30 million.

    "We can take a step back and think about moonshots — projects with higher risk and higher reward," Friedberg said.

    The fund will also feature an annual challenge for researchers, advocates, and non-profit entrepreneurs to win $500,000 for a prize called the Groundbreaker Prize.

    Although Friedberg wouldn't share details on what startups might be considered for inclusion in FoodShot's initiative, he did give some ideas of the kinds of questions he's hoping they'll be able to answer:

    "Who are the companies who are going to give us a deeper understanding of what’s going on in the soil? What are the roots doing in relationship to all of the other system down there? How can the genetics of that plant be bred in a way to deal with what the number one issue facing the planet is at this point?" said Friedberg.

    Some of the startups currently doing work in that space include Ginkgo Bioworks, which recently received $100 million as part of a joint venture with chemical giant Bayer to study how naturally-existing microbes could cut down on polluting fertilizer; and Indigo, a Boston-based company using microbial seed coatings to slash the amount of water needed by cotton crops.

    Friedberg hopes the companies and researchers that join FoodShot Global will not only be able to identify soil problems, but also help solve them. And perhaps even make America's peaches delicious again.

    SEE ALSO: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    DON'T MISS: A new Monsanto-backed company is on the verge of producing the first fruit made with a blockbuster gene-editing tool that could revolutionize agriculture

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Paul Graham is a prolific investor and entrepreneur who cofounded the world’s most influential startup accelerator, Y Combinator. Since its launch in 2005, the accelerator has invested in more than 1,300 startups.

    One such startup that has benefited from Y Combinator’s incubator programming is Dropbox, a business collaboration platform helmed by Drew Houston with over 500 million users across the globe.

    Dropbox became the first Y Combinator company to go public when it filed for an IPO in February.

    Hear from Graham and Houston as they take the stage together at IGNITION 2018. Learn how Graham vets startups that pass through Y Combinator and how Houston grew Dropbox into a $12 billion enterprise.

    Take a look at the full lineup of IGNITION 2018 speakers confirmed so far. Get your tickets now to ensure you don’t miss a thing at the media and tech event of the season.

    REGISTER now.

    To keep up with IGNITION news, join our mailing list and you'll be the first to get updates on our speakers and agenda.

    SEE ALSO: Announcing IGNITION 2018 speakers: Don't miss Scott Galloway, Janice Min, Steve Case, and more!

    DON'T MISS: Sir Martin Sorrell, Danica Patrick, Troy Carter: Meet the newest additions to the IGNITION lineup

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    • Few of us have the time or the will to research, prep, buy, measure, and blend healthy foods into delicious smoothies, chia parfaits, or soups.
    • Daily Harvest is a subscription service that sends healthy, pre-portioned superfood eats to your home either weekly or monthly.
    • I tried Daily Harvest's smoothies and was pleasantly surprised. All of the smoothies, while healthy, tasted extremely good. 
    • In terms of prep, everything could not have been easier to make. Daily Harvest smoothies solved virtually all of my healthy food obstacles.

    Ever wished you could have those delicious, super healthy smoothies you see on Instagram without the nutrition degree or piles of perishable ingredients? So did Rachel Drori, a busy mom living in New York.

    So she founded Daily Harvest — a subscription service that will send healthy, pre-portioned superfood eats to your home either weekly or monthly. The food combinations are developed by a nutritionist and a chef, and the company is backed by big names like Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams.

    It's not hard to see why it's so popular: Few of us have the time or the will to research, prep, buy, measure, and blend healthy foods together habitually. Daily Harvest gets those super smart, balanced foods into your freezer and requires zero thought beforehand and almost zero prep (about 30 seconds' worth).

    Extra bonus: According to the company, apples you buy in the grocery store are picked over a year before you get to them. They lose much of their nutritional value along the way. Daily Harvest ingredients are "always picked at peak maturity, then flash frozen to maintain farm-fresh nutrient density and flavor, without using preservatives or added sugar." Frozen foods can be delicious and healthy, even if the word makes you first think about the soft beans in your "vegetable medley" bag.

    Right now, Daily Harvest delivers to 95% of the US, though they're not currently shipping outside the continental states.

    Here's how it works:

    1. Build your box: Choose any combination of superfood eats (smoothies, overnight oats, chia parfaits, soups, and sundaes) to be delivered to you. You can even choose foods based on dietary needs, key benefits, and your likes and dislikes via options found in the top-most bar.Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.54.27 PM
    2. Check your doorstep: The pre-portioned cups will arrive at your doorstep ready to be popped in the freezer/blended/heated up — whatever the minimal instructions or your schedule demand.
    3. Make it: Just open the lid, add the recommended liquid base and blend, soak, or heat. The cups are meant to be their own carrier, so you can drop the ingredients into a blender or pan, heat or blend them, and then drop them right back into the same container. Minimal cooking and minimal cleanup.

    Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.52.38 PM


    You can opt for weekly or monthly deliveries.

    If you choose weekly, you can get 6, 9, 12, or 24 cups per week. The price per cup decreases the more you order. For 6 cups a week, it’ll be $7.99 per cup (about $48 total, or $7.99 a day) and for 12 it'll be $7.49 per cup (about $90 total, or $13 a day). See more prices here.

    If you choose monthly, you’ll be sent 24 cups per month ($6.99 per cup, $167.76 total before taxes), which works out to about $6 a day.

    Use the promo code "businessinsider" and get 3 free smoothies in your first order.

    Screen Shot 2017 10 09 at 2.50.05 PM

    Why I liked it:

    Daily Harvest solved some common problems for me. I want to eat healthily and smoothies are one solid way to make "healthy" taste good, as well as being travel-friendly. However, I have to buy single-person groceries, and it doesn’t make sense to buy the volume of veggies and perishable produce it takes to make even two different superfood smoothies — and having the same one every day because I need to use up groceries before they go bad is a fast way to kill a good habit.

    It’s also hard to portion single-person smoothies. Unless you’re following a specific recipe and halving your celery stalks and using x amount of kale, which takes time, I always wind up with leftovers that don’t sit well in the fridge, but that I also really don’t want to throw out.

    And lastly, I always wanted to eat well, but I wasn’t sure which combinations got me the most health bang for my buck — and also tasted good. I lacked the advanced nutritional knowledge and didn’t want to spend the time figuring it out. For this reason, and not wanting to waste money on food that might not blend together well, I wasn’t exactly adventurous.

    These are the reasons why Daily Harvest initially appealed to me. I try to go to the gym in the mornings before work, and a tasty smoothie immediately after that is good for me, pre-portioned, and easy to carry (with an opening for a straw already in the lid) — and also doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to make — is ideal. It’s something I’d be willing to grudgingly commit to for the price simply because it does what I want to do better than I can on my own. If left to my own devices, I'd probably wind up never doing it. 

    In reality, Daily Harvest smoothies solved virtually all of my healthy food obstacles. 

    My experience:

    The company sent a box over and I committed to making one Daily Harvest smoothie every morning after the gym. An immediate upside was 30-second prep time and not having to clean up any dishes aside from the blender, since the container it comes in doubles as a cup post-blend. I loved being able to carry it out the door and drink it on the way to work. Since I know that Americans throw out 500 million straws every day, I ordered stainless steel ones to use with the Daily Harvest straw-enabled tops without extra waste.

    I purposefully picked smoothie combinations that I was unsure about — mixes with more leafy greens and unknown ingredients in them than I would comfortably make myself (like Apple + Greens and Pineapple + Matcha). When I put the ingredients into the blender, I expected the result to taste healthy, but not good.

    product shot ingredients@3x

    I was pleasantly surprised. All of the smoothies, while definitely healthy, tasted extremely good. I really liked all of them, particularly the "green and leafy" ones that initially seemed too healthy to be tasty, as well as the Cold Brew + Almond.

    In terms of prep, everything could not have been easier to make. The instructions never required more than throwing the ingredients into a blender and adding liquid before blending (a simplicity mirrored uniformly in all of their food options). 

    If you're looking for a way to eat healthy, balanced, and fresh foods without spending all the time yourself grocery shopping, researching, or doing the prep and cleanup, you might want to look into trying Daily Harvest yourself.

    It's possible that not all of their mixes will appeal to you equally, but the smoothies at least were a safe place to start. Depending on your budget, it might not be realistic to do it every month, but I can't imagine superfoods for the masses getting any easier than delicious, pre-portioned cups that get delivered to your freezer. 

    Try Daily Harvest and get three free smoothies in your first box with the promo code "businessinsider" here.

    SEE ALSO: 13 organizing ideas that'll help you make the most of your space

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    rapid ramen cooker $7.99

    Nine seasons in and hundreds of products later, the show "Shark Tank" continues to entertain us as well as the panel of celebrity investors with creative pitches. However, that doesn't always mean the products are actually good. Some end up being a little too creative or out-there and border on plain gimmicky or "Who would even use that?"

    We looked through all the "Shark Tank" products available for purchase and came away with a selection of star products for the home that made us curse and ask ourselves, "Why didn't we think of this earlier?"

    Many solve for the wasteful design of many common products you already use, while others address the annoying inconveniences that everyone experiences. 

    Check out the "Shark Tank" home products that are worth buying below.

    SEE ALSO: The 20 best gifts that got their start on ‘Shark Tank’

    A spring-loaded laundry hamper

    This hamper drops down as you add clothes and rises as you remove them, meaning doing laundry will no longer be that uncomfortable chore you never look forward to. It eases the strain on your lower back, so it's especially great for expecting mothers, people with bad backs, and the elderly. 

    Household Essentials Lifter Hamper, $29.99, available at Amazon

    A self-cleaning dog potty

    If you've already tried many indoor potty training systems, your search ends here with the world's first self-cleaning dog potty. You can adjust the timer to automatically change a dirty pad one, two, or three times a day, or manually change it with a push of a button. The machine will wrap and seal the waste, keeping your home clean and odor-free. It's best for dogs under 25 pounds. 

    BrilliantPad Self-Cleaning & Automatic Indoor Dog Potty + 1 Roll, $149.99, available at Amazon

    Note: Currently only available through third-party sellers

    A rapid ramen cooker

    Granted ramen is already a pretty convenient meal to make, this tool makes the process even easier. The water line stops you from overfilling the bowl, the bowl doesn't get overly hot, and you don't need to use a pot and stove. It's perfect for anyone who doesn't have access to a kitchen, including students living in dorms and office workers. 

    Rapid Ramen Cooker (Red), $6.99, available at Amazon


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    manager board meeting conference room speaking presentation

    • Biotech is one of the hottest sectors for venture-capital funds right now, but pitching a science-heavy startup to investors isn't always easy.
    • We asked the top investors in the space to tell us what startup leaders do wrong when they try to attract venture funding — and what they can do to avoid these pitfalls.
    • Their answers contain some key lessons for biotech startups.

    Biotech is one of the buzziest sectors for venture-capital funds right now.

    Across the globe, venture-capital investments in biotech startups last year topped more than $10 billion for the first time. Over the summer, dozens of American biotech companies went public. Nearly a third of the companies in the latest class of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's biggest startup accelerator, were in the biotech sector — up from just 8% the year before.

    Much of the recent excitement has centered on new ways of tackling cancer using patients' immune systems, fresh therapies built on gene-editing tools like Crispr, and potentially revolutionary techniques for making meat without factory farming.

    But if you're a science- or health-minded entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, cutting through the noise can be a challenge.

    We talked to investors who've backed some of the companies working in these areas to learn what startup leaders get wrong when they pitch their ideas.

    Emphasizing a tool's impact on the market over its impact on patients

    Helix DNA 6Cure disease. Fix the food system. Prolong life.

    These are just a few of the intrepid aims of today's leading biotech startups.

    But accomplishing these goals requires laying practical groundwork. In healthcare, that could mean painting a concrete picture of where and when your startup's technology will be used. Whether it's a new disease-detecting diagnostic or a new drug to treat an illness, investors want to know how a tool will fit into the current standard of care, Dan Estes, a partner with the venture-capital firm Frazier Healthcare Partners, told Business Insider.

    "The biggest mistake I see is when someone spends more time talking about how a product would affect the market than they do talking about how it would affect the disease it's designed to treat," said Estes, who serves on the boards of four pharmaceutical startups including Cirius Therapeutics, which is focused on tweaking the human metabolism to treat the liver disease NASH, and Sierra Oncology, a cancer therapeutics company.

    Rather than focusing exclusively on how a new technique or drug would affect the market, Estes said he preferred when startup founders also demonstrate how people would actually use it.

    "How will it help patients? What would that look like?" Estes said, adding, "The best investment is where you can very clearly see where a physician would use" a new piece of tech.

    Graham Walmsley, a principal at the San Francisco-based venture-capital firm Versant Ventures, agreed.

    "When I see too much about revenue and market front-loaded, it suggests some naivete," he said.

    Instead, he said, he'd like to see entrepreneurs "build out the entire clinical case" for their company or technology first.

    Clinging to your pitch deck

    If you're headed to a meeting with a venture-capital firm, chances are you've planned ahead. Whether you've brought index cards or a PowerPoint presentation, you most likely have a list of basic points about your company that you want to get across. But sticking too strongly to a list of prepared items can also turn off investors who want to ask questions.

    "There's a saying that I like which goes something like, 'You have to release your agenda,'" Estes of Frazier Healthcare Partners said. "I think sometimes companies stick to their pitch deck too closely."

    That means if you're pitching your company to a venture fund and someone on the fund's team wants to skip ahead to another part of your presentation or pause on a slide to further explore something you've mentioned, it's better to be flexible than to rigidly plow through your talking points.

    "It's better to let the questions guide the discussion rather than walking through every component dogmatically," Estes said.

    Similarly, Dylan Morris, a general partner at the venture firm CRV who focuses on bioengineering and recently led the firm's investment in a drug-development startup called System1, said startup leaders should focus less on the technical details or decades of science that went into their technology and more on keeping potential investors engaged.

    "Don't come into the meeting to teach," Morris said. "Come to sell."

    SEE ALSO: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    DON'T MISS: A venture capitalist and former Obama official are giving startups $30 million to fix a 'crisis' in our food system — and you can apply now

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FoundersCard Rolex

    How it works

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

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

    Benefits of FoundersCard membership

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

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

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

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

    JetBlue Mint

    Airline discounts and elite/VIP perks, including:

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

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

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

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

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

    Lifestyle and retail discounts, including:

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

    Business discounts, including:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    clean meat san francisco 29

    • Silicon Valley startup New Age Meats made history on Monday by letting journalists taste the first cultured pork sausage made in a lab.
    • Making meat without slaughter has been the primary objective of several companies since Dutch scientist Mark Post made the first "lab-grown" hamburger in 2013.
    • Here's how the farm-free pork sausage looked, cooked, smelled, and tasted.

    For the first time in the roughly five years since a smattering of researchers and companies began talking about making real meat without slaughtering animals, one startup is letting people see how its sausage gets made.

    Well, almost. On Monday evening, the startup, called New Age Meats, let a handful of journalists and prospective investors taste its prototype product — a pork sausage made from many of the same ingredients in the kind of breakfast sausage you'd buy at the store, such as pork muscle and fat, spices, sausage, casing, and vegetable stock.

    But unlike other breakfast sausages, this meat was made from animal cells — without killing any animals.

    Creating this kind of meat has been the primary objective of several startups ever since Dutch scientist Mark Post became the first person in the world to make a beef burger from cow cells in 2013. Since then, at least six companies have emerged with the aim of slashing food waste and emissions while reducing animal suffering and improving human health. All of them are working on transforming meat or fish cells into edible flesh.

    At a brewery in San Francisco, New Age Meat's team cooked and doled out the first samples of its farm-free (aka "cell-based" or "cultured") meat. Here's what it was like.

    Sausage without slaughter

    On Monday evening, New Age Meats cofounders Brian Spears and Andra Necula served three fresh cooked pork-sausage links made using fat and muscle cells generated from a single sample of a live pig named Jessie (after the street where their headquarters is located in San Francisco).

    clean meat san francisco 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

    An uphill battle for the future of meat

    new age meats cofounders brian spears and andra necula

    Despite their hard work, Spears and Necula face a long road ahead. Meat made in labs is coming, as most of the startups in the space continue to promise, but getting the products out of the lab and into restaurants will take time.

    Back in 2013, when Dutch scientist Mark Post became the first person in the world to make a beef burger from cow cells, the patty cost $330,000 to produce. Getting that down to a price consumers would be willing to pay at a restaurant is still at least five to 10 years away, according to several CEOs of the leading companies in the space.

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

    clean meat san francisco 27

    New Age Meats' sausages were made using FBS, but Spears told Business Insider he and Necula were working on going serum-free within the next couple of months.

    Another issue is texture.

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

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

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

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

    New Age Meats made history with the first semi-public tasting of its sausage on Monday.

    "We think we'll be ready to go to market in a couple years," Spears said.

    SEE ALSO: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    DON'T MISS: The startup behind Silicon Valley’s favorite ‘bleeding’ veggie burger has scored a major victory in its battle for legitimacy

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why horseshoe crab blood is so expensive

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    clean meat san francisco 29

    • Silicon Valley clean meat startup New Age Meats made history on Monday by letting journalists taste the first cultured pork sausage made in a lab.
    • New Age Meats' sausage is the first cell-based meat to be made using both fat and muscle cells, which could prove key to nailing the flavor of traditional meat.
    • Here's what the farm-free sausage was like.

    On a Monday night at a brewery in San Francisco's hipster Mission District, the co-founders of a startup called New Age Meats helped cook up samples of pork sausage made entirely out of cells grown from a live pig named Jessie.

    As scientists-turned-entrepreneurs Brian Spears and Andra Necula watched, the sausage they'd spent the past two months making at a nearby lab began to sizzle. Slowly, its sides turned brown and, as the aroma of breakfast meat filled the room, samples were doled out to taste.

    New Age Meats aims to make meat from animal cells without killing any actual animals. They are one of roughly half a dozen nascent companies aiming to create an alternative to factory farming. In so doing, they hope to reduce waste, improve health, and eliminate animal suffering.

    New Age Meats' sausage was the first in history to be made with fat and muscle cells — an important combination that could prove key for nailing the taste of "cell-based" or "cultured" (meaning simply: not from slaughter) meat. Here's what it was like.

    SEE ALSO: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    DON'T MISS: The startup behind Silicon Valley’s favorite ‘bleeding’ veggie burger has scored a major victory in its battle for legitimacy

    Around 5 PM on Monday evening, a group of journalists and potential investors gathered at Standard Deviant Brewery for a taste of the first pork sausage made in a lab from the cells of a live pig.

    After filling up on vegan appetizers and snacks, New Age Meats co-founder Brian Spears told us what to expect. He also shared a photo of Jessie, whose cells — taken from a small biopsy on her side — went into the meat we'd be eating.

    Spears and co-founder Andra Necula teamed up with Matt Murphy, a butcher and sausage chef, to get their recipe just right. Because the sausage casing they used was vegan, it was extra delicate — meaning Murphy had to be careful to avoid too much blistering, which could cause the links to break apart in the pan.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Nick Sky and Dan Stelmach, brothers and founders of the student-loan payment app ChangEd, say you need to "embrace the broom" to find success as an entrepreneur.
    • "Embracing the broom" means doing whatever job that needs to be done and not thinking the work is beneath you. The advice can be traced back to Andrew Carnegie.
    • Through hard work and persistence, the brothers scored an appearance on "Shark Tank" and a $250,000 deal with Mark Cuban.

    If you want any chance at success as an entrepreneur, you're going to have to embrace the broom.

    That's what Dan Stelmach and Nick Sky learned from their mother, who immigrated to the US from Poland and worked three jobs to support the family as a single parent.

    "She was always doing the dirty work to get the job done," Sky told Business Insider.

    That willingness to grind out a living is what embracing the broom is all about. The idea comes from business magnate Andrew Carnegie, who once said that an aspiring business leader shouldn't be afraid "to try his hand at the broom" no matter their greater ambitions.

    Stelmach and Sky have taken that to heart as they work to get ChangEd, their student-loan payment app, off the ground. 

    The app, which the pair began working on in 2016, is simple enough: Users link their bank accounts, and every time they use their credit or debit card, ChangEd rounds the purchase up to the nearest dollar and collects the change. Whenever the pool of change reaches $100, the app automatically sends a payment to their student-loan servicer. The service can speed up users' payment timelines by a full six years, the creators said.

    The pair launched the app in April 2017, and have put countless hours into developing it. Both Sky and Stelmach worked on ChangEd at a full-time pace while holding down other jobs: Stelmach sold cars, while Sky woke up at 5 a.m. to drive for Uber. Stelmach has said he invested his life savings, about $30,000, into ChangEd.

    "If you're trying to build something from the ground up, a good work ethic, persistence and discomfort are all things that you need to be okay with," Sky told Business Insider. "You'll be introduced to the broom, and if you think you're too good for it or that the work is beneath you, you'll have problems. No work is beneath an entrepreneur."

    He continued: "Embracing the broom, to me, means being happy to do the dirty work. Understanding that you're not beneath the work just because you think you're more qualified."

    When the brothers pitched their app on an episode of "Shark Tank" that aired earlier this year, the panel of celebrity investors took note of the lengths they went to finance their dream.

    "That's the way you hustle. That's what I'm talking about," Mark Cuban said on the show.

    "Now THAT'S an entrepreneur that's Rising and Grinding," Daymond John tweeted.

    Cuban eventually offered the pair a $250,000 deal for a 25% stake in their company, which they accepted. The exposure they got from "Shark Tank" helped grow their business "tenfold," they said, and last month the company announced it had sent its millionth dollar to student-loan servicers since the app launched.

    "Not everything is all sunshine and rainbows every single day, but we love the roller-coaster ride that a startup is, and we're working hard every single day," Sky said.

    SEE ALSO: 4 years after 'Shark Tank' entrepreneurs gave a frenetic pitch at top volume that made Mark Cuban laugh, they aren't sorry they did it

    DON'T MISS: Jeff Bezos once said that in job interviews he told candidates of 3 ways to work — and that you have to do all 3 at Amazon

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    • With new cookware startup Milo, you get all the quality of a high-performance, premium Dutch oven at a fraction of the traditional cost of brands like Le Creuset and Staub. 
    • I tried the company's only product, its $95 Dutch oven, and after cooking a variety of dishes with it, I was very impressed. 
    • It's now my go-to vessel to cook with because of its versatility, even heat distribution, and durability.

    When you think about the building blocks that make up a well-stocked kitchen, knives, pots, and pans probably come to mind first. And you're right, those things are all important, if not necessary, for cooking just about anything. But when it comes to sheer versatility, no tool in the culinary world comes close to a Dutch oven. 

    Made out of thick cast iron and coated with enamel (powered glass that's been fused to the iron using extreme heat), a Dutch oven can be used to sauté or boil ingredients on a stovetop, braise or bake meals in an oven, or hold water for boiling or cooking sous vide. It's kind of like an analog Instant Pot.

    But if a Dutch oven is such a useful tool, why don't more people own one? The bottom line is its price.

    Companies like Le Creuset and Staub have well-deserved reputations for making great Dutch ovens, with the former basically inventing the modern, enamel-coated version. Both companies manufacture theirs in France, using high-quality iron that retains heat well and enamel that won't chip, crack, or scratch during regular use.

    Those manufacturing techniques and legacies are all well and good, but Le Creuset charges $339.95 for their 5.5 quart model and Staub charges $213 for theirs in the same size. Milo, a new direct-to-consumer cookware startup, wants to do for the Dutch oven what Misen has done for knives, Made In has done the frying pan, and Brigade has done for sauce pans: make a high-quality cooking tool that the average home cook can afford.

    I've put Milo's $95 Dutch oven through its paces, and I'm happy to say the new company nailed it.

    Milo Kale

    Milo makes the Dutch oven out of the same type of materials as its competitors: cast iron that's hand finished and two layers of enamel to improve its durability. The startup's manufacturing is based in China, not France, but I didn't notice any structural imperfections out of the box or after using it that would suggest that's a problem. In fact, the Milo Dutch oven is one of the most beautiful pieces in my growing cookware collection.

    One thing to note is it's heavy — it is a pot made out of iron after all — Milo's 5.5 quart model weighs in at 12 pounds, which is in between Le Creuset's (10.5 pounds) and Staub's (13.75 pounds).

    There are two primary ways to test a Dutch oven: see how well it retains heat in an oven, and how evenly food cooks inside of it on a stovetop. I preformed both tests.

    Every time I cooked with Milo's Dutch oven food came out tasty and consistent. Ingredients I sautéed on my range showed no signs of scorching (which is what happens when the bottom of a pot is uneven, leading fat to pool in one area while leaving other parts exposed).

    Baked Bread

    The bread pictured above was a particularly good test because it showed that the Dutch oven could retain heat in an oven. The resulting loaf was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You know, like bread should taste.

    Consistency is the word I come back to when describing this tool — everything I tasted just seemed right.

    Cleaning the Dutch oven was just as easy as cooking with it; whether I lined the bottom with parchment paper or cooked right on the enamel, all it took was little bit of soap water. Milo suggests letting the Dutch oven soak in soapy water if there are ever any food remnants really stuck to the bottom.

    Dutch ovens from Le Creuset and Staub have earned "legacy" cookware status, because they're so well made they're supposed to be passed down from one generation to the next. That idea can also help justify the high price you pay to get them into your family in the first place. 

    Based on the results of my tests, though, Milo has made a "legacy"-quality item that way more people can afford. It's easy to use, simple to clean, looks great on a countertop, and it helps me make food that is tasty every time I use it. This may be Milo's first piece of hardware, but the company is already well on its way to creating a legacy of its own.

    Milo Dutch Oven, $95, available from Milo

    SEE ALSO: 28 useful kitchen gadgets you can get under $25

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