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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.

    everlane renew womens

    • Everlane's new line, the ReNew Collection, is outerwear that's made with recycled plastic bottles as an eco-friendly alternative.
    • It's part of the company's ambitious 2021 goals to eliminate all virgin plastics from its supply chain.
    • We tested a reversible puffer, parka, and fleece from the line to give you an idea of what they're like in person.
    • Everlane is one of multiple companies using recycled water bottles as an eco-friendly material. 

    On October 24, 2018, cult-favorite startup Everlane has announced ambitious environmental goals and a new collection built to spearhead the company-wide shift. 

    The ReNew Collection is a line of outerwear (fleeces, parkas, puffers, and sweaters) made out of recycled water bottles. Altogether, the collection is "renewing" a whopping 3 million of them. We tested out some of the new products to give you a sense of what they're like in real life, and you can find our thoughts below before shopping. 

    Everlane's logic is simple. We've created eight billion pounds of a toxic material that stays on the planet forever — so why don't we stop making more, and reuse what's already in our backyards?

    ReNew will not be a shock to Everlane shoppers. The startup has built its reputation and success on its transparency — integrating video footage of its factories, hosting Transparency Tuesday Q & As on Instagram once a week, offering pricing breakdowns on product pages, instituting "Choose What You Pay" sales, and debuting a sustainable denim collection made in the "world's cleanest denim factory." 

    Using recycled materials — especially water bottles— is not a new endeavor. Patagonia has been making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles since 1993. Labels like Reformation use mostly deadstock fabrics and repurposed vintage clothing. Girlfriend Collective makes chic, affordable activewear from recycled water bottles and fishing nets. Outdoors gear startup Cotopaxi creates limited edition collections from its leftover fabrics. The list goes on

    However, recycling is still in the vast minority of retail companies, and the industry itself is one of the worst for the environment. Even post-production, only about 15.3% of all textiles are recycled according to the EPA (2015 estimates). 

    We aren't doing any better where plastics are concerned. In just 60 years, we've created eight billion tons of the material. It's so inseparable to our lives that plastic has even started showing up in human feces (that's right, you may be unintentionally eating it). Yet companies are using more virgin plastic today than ever before, and some of the most polluting industrial sectors include packaging (149 million tons per year), textiles (59 million tons), and consumer or institutional products like pens, gum, and keyboards (42 million tons).

    everlane fleece sweatshirt

    ReNew is the first act of a more ambitious, lengthier strategy. By 2021, Everlane will eliminate all virgin plastic from their supply chain. Smaller steps will be implemented much sooner, like reducing single-use plastic in offices and stores by 50% (March 2019), use renewed alternatives to polyester in production (2018), and starting to ship orders in 100% post-consumer recycled poly bags (2019). The startup is also forming an internal sustainability committee to educate their team on waste reduction and conduct progress audits to see how well waste diversion is going. By the time 2021 rolls around, the company plans to have redeveloped all existing yarns, fabrics, and raw materials containing virgin plastic with renewed equivalents. 

    Everlane makes great clothes; it's why people buy them. It helps that they also try to make them in a better, more honest way than a lot of the other options people have. ReNew is no different — the outerwear is comfortable, stylish, made to last, and moderately priced. It has helpful upgrades, comes in cool colors, and feels good to wear. The fact that it's ushering in a much-needed commitment to better, smarter supply chains is just an added incentive.

    We tried a few standout pieces from the Everlane ReNew Collection. Here's what we thought:

    The ReNew Lightweight Hooded Puffer

    Men's Puffer, $98

    For the past 10 years, my go-to winter coat has been a bulky (but warm) peacoat. I was recently able to try Everlane's ReNew puffer, and it's the winter essential I didn't realize I needed. The first thing I noticed when I put the jacket on was its light weight. How could something that's supposed to keep me warm in the cold feel this light? I didn't have to wonder long — I wore the jacket outside and immediately appreciated its insulation. For the past two weeks the coat kept wind, rain, and general cold weather from making me chilly. In fact, I actually felt warmer than I did with my peacoat on. The jacket's extra features, like being reversible and made from recycled bottles, are just icing on the cake. — Brandt Ranj, Insider Picks associate editor

    The ReNew Oversized Parka

    Women's Oversized Parka, $165

    I have to admit that Everlane would not be the first place I'd go to shop for winter gear — that honor usually goes to outdoor brands that specialize in weather-proofing. That’s why I was especially impressed with the ReNew Oversized Parka. This slightly puffy parka is super warm and cozy, with all the right features to protect you on one of those days when it seems like the wind can penetrate right into your bones. It has deep pockets (with both top and side openings) to stuff your hands into, a drawstring hood, and both a zipper and buttons to block out the elements.

    The fact that the water-resistant shell and insulation are both made from recycled materials makes this parka all the more impressive. If you can buy clothing that’s better for the environment without sacrificing performance, why wouldn’t you go for it? Given the choice between Everlane’s parka and another one of comparable price, I would surely go for Everlane.

    I recommend sizing down for a closer fit. I’m normally a medium, but a small fit perfectly, with enough room to wear a form-fitting long-sleeved shirt or a thin sweater underneath. — Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter

    The ReNew Fleece Half-Zip

    Women's Half-Zip Fleece, $65

    Everlane's ReNew Half-Zip Fleece is a great cold weather essential — surprisingly warm, relatively inexpensive and compact, and cozy to wear. It's slightly rougher to the touch than I expected, which usually coincides with better experiences wearing it in damp or drizzly weather, and the ribbed cuffs and drawstring waist keep the cold out. I got it in this earthy, autumnal "brick" color and love how vivid it is in person. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    pitchbook startup graveyard

    Just because everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Kevin Durant are getting into startups doesn't mean they're all success stories.

    After all, nine out of 10 startups will end up failing, and that means the money that venture capitalists put into funding these ideas can disappear too. From analyzing just 12 startups that failed this year, PitchBook found that around $1.4 billion in VC funding wasn't enough to save these businesses.

    Theranos, a blood-testing startup, is one of 2018's most notable failures. The company racked up close to $1 billion in funding before questions about the technology and fraud charges against the CEO caused the Theranos to dissolve.

    Here are 12 startups that failed in 2018:

    Theranos — blood-testing technology

    Year founded: 2003

    Valuation: $9 billion

    Amount raised: $910 million

    Read more about Theranos on PitchBook.


    Rethink Robotics — robots for manufacturing industry

    Year founded: 2008

    Valuation: $291 million

    Amount VC raised: $150 million

    Read more about Rethink Robotics on PitchBook.

    Shyp — on-demand delivery platform

    Year founded: 2013

    Valuation: $275 million

    Amount raised: $62 million

    Read more about Shyp on PitchBook.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    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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    doctor physician medical office shutterstock_471876719

    • Large hospitals are starting to embrace technology in their operations. 
    • Adam Landman, CIO of Brigham Health, which is affiliated with Harvard, spoke about the health system's work with early-stage startups. 
    • One of the most successful projects they've had is a texting-based colonoscopy prep guide developed by early-stage company Medumo.

    Preparing for a colonoscopy isn't pleasant.

    In a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a scope to take a look at the inside of the colon, often to check for growths that could indicate cancer. So that the doctor can get a good look, you have to start eating a low fiber diet several days before the procedure, and then transition to a clear liquid diet the day before and take lots of laxatives —a regimen known as bowel prep.

    Sometimes, though, patients don't follow the instructions, and the doctor can't get a good look, leading to wasted time and money. Or they don't show up to their appointments at all.

    The Harvard-affiliated hospitals called Brigham Health and Massachusetts General Hospital have been experimenting with a startup that says it can help solve both problems. And the initial results exceeded expectations.  

    "Both saw decreases in no show rates of over 30%. That's a very significant ROI right then and there," said Adam Landman, the chief information officer of Brigham Health.

    The startup is called Medumo, and the experiment is part of a strategic collaboration between PULSE@MassChallenge and the Brigham Innovation Hub, which the health system started in 2013 with the mission of testing new ideas in clinical settings. Brigham Health has tested out some early stage pilots and studies to see what parts of new technology does and doesn't work.

    The innovation hub also serves as a connection point between clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists. 

    "What we're trying to do is create a learning environment. We want to work with startups that have great ideas and great people. Because we don't have all the answers either," Landman said at the Financial Times Digital Health Summit in New York.

    From doing this, Landman said they hope to find 5 or 6 different programs that can be implemented. Moving forward, different elements from the different programs may be patched together into one seamless experience for the patient.

    "I think right now we're in the fertile field of innovation where lots of solutions are popping up, and pretty soon, I think we're going to see some consolidations, particularly focusing on the patient experience side, where we're seeing incredible solutions coming up," Landman said. 

    Success in poop texts

    Here's how the Medumo system works. It sends appointment reminders to patients as text messages, and gives them information on the bowel prep regimen. That can be pretty detailed. It tells them what their stools should look like, color and consistency-wise, and provides daily reminders and a list of tasks.

    It also provides patients with a phone number they can call to reach the endoscopy clinic for help if their stools don't look like what the texts say they should look like after trying a few things suggested by the program.

    On the morning of the procedure, the app sends directions from the patient's front door to the exact endoscopy clinic inside the hospital. After the procedure, the app sends a patients a survey about their experience. When the results are available, the app can tell patients how to view it in the patient portal, or send a sign-up link.

    The program has made a big difference for colonoscopy patients, according to the health system. The proportion of patients whose insides weren't prepared for the procedure dropped from 11.5% to 3.8%, while the number who didn't show up for their appointments fell to about 4% from 6%.

    "We have some very encouraging results and we've started to spread to other procedural areas and other use cases," said Landman.

    By keeping the form of delivery to something as simple as texting, Landman said they've been able to observe good results and high engagement.

    "Over time, as our population ages, I think this will be second nature to many. And I think there's services and opportunities to think about, as digital becomes more important, such as how do you support that in the home," said Landman.

    A possible solution, he mentions, is to have a 'Genius Bar' at the hospital, like the one created by the Ochsner Clinic in Louisiana to help patients and families troubleshoot technology problems. 

    One of the challenges for health systems is choosing between competing priorities, said Landman. That includes making a decision between building a billion-dollar patient tower with inpatient rooms, or investing money in digital technologies, telehealth and virtual health.

    And that's the crux of some of the key discussions coming up in the health system, according to Landman.

    "It's a very difficult decision, but I think we are going to be disrupted by Amazon and Apple and many of the companies here in this room if we don't change," he said. 

    SEE ALSO: Mount Sinai teamed up with the designers who created projects for Nike and Beyonce to build a futuristic, new clinic — and it's reimagining how healthcare is delivered

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    cesar carvalho gympass

    • One of the best pieces of entrepreneurship advice has to do with hiring top talent.
    • Instead of looking for people who can do the job today, look for people who will still be successful two or three years from now.
    • That's according to Cesar Carvalho, the cofounder and CEO of corporate fitness program Gympass.
    • When he first started Gympass, he hired people with the skills for a small startup, rather than for the large company it became.

    When he launched Gympass in summer 2012, Cesar Carvalho never imagined that the company would one day scale to include 38,000 fitness facilities across the globe.

    That was a problem.

    Gympass is a corporate fitness program similar to ClassPass. Once a company signs up, its employees have access to a range of gyms in different locations, at a discounted rate. Current global clients include Uber, PayPal, and Deloitte.

    When Carvalho, the company's cofounder and CEO, started building Gympass, he was a student at Harvard Business School; he dropped out soon after to work full-time on his business.

    Carvalho told Business Insider that his inability to envision a bigger future for the company — which currently employs about 800 people worldwide — negatively influenced his hiring strategy. Specifically, he made the mistake of looking for people who could do the job that day, as opposed to people who would still excel in their role years into the future.

    "The hiring decisions that we made in the beginning were not optimal," Carvalho said. "We had to continuously bring more senior people to the company. And what I learned from it is that being able to plan for the next two to three years helps a lot on that."

    Today, he seeks candidates "who are going to be great [working on] not what has to be done today, but two to three years from now."

    You probably won't regret over-investing in hiring top talent

    Carvalho's observations about hiring recall those of Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix. McCord previously told Business Insider that managers should always be considering whether the team they have now will still be able to push the company forward in six months. If not, the manager may need to replace some people on their team.

    To be sure, a stellar candidate may not necessarily want to join your fledgling startup.

    "It's actually super challenging to make the decision to hire someone for what the company needs three years from now," Carvalho said. "At the point in time that you're making the decision, you might not have at the bank the cash that you need to support that person."

    That means "taking two leaps of faith on the future of the company," Carvalho said. Not only are you assuming that this person will still be a good fit in three years — you're also assuming that the business will still be successful in three years.

    That said, Carvalho wishes he'd invested more in the people running his company from the outset: "Had we done it, we would have been at a much better stage today than we currently are."

    SEE ALSO: A simple but ruthless exercise reveals who your star employees are — and who should be fired

    Join the conversation about this story »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Subscribe to PetPlate or subscribe to Ollie here.

    SEE ALSO: The best dog food you can buy

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


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

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

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

    Recipe options

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

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

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

    Delivery options

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

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

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

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

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

    Screen Shot 2018 10 31 at 1.19.12 PM

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

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

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    justin mcleod hinge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    The Nudge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Get up and go

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    How to make a Nudge

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 11 Apple Watch tips and tricks

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    Space Saver 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Looks pretty much like a regular backpack, right?

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

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

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

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

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

    There were no tech products in the room. 

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

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

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

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

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


    Time well spent

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

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

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

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

    Active screen time

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

    Omso prides itself on creating active screen time for children. 

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

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

    The future of Osmo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    most valuable failed vc backed startups 2x1

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

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

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

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

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

    25. SDCmaterials — automobile nanotechnology

    Year founded: 2004

    Maximum valuation: $48 million

    Amount raised: $26 million

    Read more about SDCmaterials on PitchBook.

    24. Senzari — music and entertainment data intelligence

    Year founded: 2010

    Maximum valuation: $52 million

    Amount raised: $13 million

    Read more about Senzari on PitchBook.

    23. Industrial Origami — industrial material manufacturer

    Year founded: 2003

    Maximum valuation: $58 million

    Amount raised: $41 million

    Read more about Industrial Origami on PitchBook.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    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.

    183 003 cover1 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    183 003 cover0 2

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

    In my opinion, it is devastatingly worth the hype. 

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

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

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

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

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

    moya III review

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

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

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

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

    Screen Shot 2018 03 01 at 12.32.56 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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    clean meat san francisco 20

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

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

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

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

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

    Sausage without slaughter

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

    clean meat san francisco 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    new age meats cofounders brian spears and andra necula

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

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

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

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

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

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

    clean meat san francisco 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join the conversation about this story »

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

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

    Away $225

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

    Atlas Coffee Club

    What to buy:
    Three-Month Subscription, $60

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

    See the rest of the story at 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.Away for kids

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

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

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

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

    1. Brooklinen

    Shop the Brooklittles Collection at Brooklinen, from $32

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

    Read our full review of Brooklinen sheets.

    2. Allbirds

    Shop Smallbirds Wool Runners at Allbirds, $55

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

    Read our full review of the Allbirds Wool Runners.

    3. Bombas

    Shop kids socks at Bombas, from $15

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

    Read our full review of Bombas.

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    st. petersburg russia

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

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

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

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

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

    Viacheslav Kozikhin — creative director, founder at Dark Crystal Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    35. ThoughtSpot

    What it does: Search and AI-based analytics

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2012

    34. WalkMe

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

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2011

    33. Tresata

    What it does: Analytics software company

    What it's worth now: $1 billion

    Year founded: 2011

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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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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    Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 1.22.13 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Screen Shot 2018 11 13 at 2.17.42 PM

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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