French HRtech startup Neobrain, which uses AI to support organisations and people during times of change and crisis, has secured €3 million of investment from French venture capital firm Breega. The startup will use the funds to expand internationally, grow its team and conduct more research on the job market.
At a time when many organisations are restructuring due to coronavirus, employees may experience changing job roles and team structures. Using artificial intelligence, Neobrain (2014) has developed technology that anticipates and facilitates strategic HR decisions. The startup can respond, effectively and relevantly, to three key needs within organizations: employee engagement and loyalty; simplification and flow of internal mobility; alignment of employee skills with company strategy. Thanks to its new technology and its team’s expertise, Neobrain limits the impact of job transformation on employees.
So far NeoBrain has grown its team to 24 people, and has opened offices in its native Paris and abroad in Lisbon. It’s nabbed nearly 60,000 monthly active users, and since the start of the COVID-19 crisis has increased its monthly growth by 50%.
With the fresh funds, the startup intends to triple its workforce by recruiting around 40 people by the end of the year, and intends to broaden its activity internationally. The HRtech startup will also widen its analysis of the job market from 50 countries (representing 54 million job offers), to 100 countries, in order to strengthen its predictions on the evolution of jobs and skills.
Paul Courtaud, CEO of Neobrain, commented: “Mobility is a major issue to guarantee the sustainability of jobs and organizations. We see that competence and motivation become the link between employment and training.”
Unless your job is considered “essential,” you’ve been parked at home throughout the pandemic. You’re not alone, as approximately 29 percent of the U.S. workforce have jobs that allow them to work from home. And recently, this means home life and work life are coexisting in new ways.
Many entrepreneurs are finding working from home to be quite stressful. Luckily, there are a few technologies that exist just to help make the experience of working from home a lot easier.
StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here
In fact, here are five of the best remote workplace technologies that will help improve the survival rate of startups during the COVID-19 pandemic:
When you need to video chat with your clients or staff, basic video meeting apps are the standard choice (such as the wildly popular Zoom), but there are other options, as well. Rather than having your living room as the background, remote networking platforms like SuperViz can render a 360-degree VR office video meeting environment.
You can also create a very life-like virtual environment that can be altered by overlaying images, videos, notes, audio clips, website links, or changing entire floor plans. It’s free and runs solely via your web browser, so there is no software that needs to be downloaded first.
Online identity verification
When you can talk with your employees at the office, it’s obviously easy to confirm their identity face-to-face. However, this is not nearly as easy when talking online. As such, you need a way to confirm the identity of the person you are talking to in order to ensure your startup is secure.
This is made easy by using online identity verification platforms, such as Ipsidy. This service uses a login portal to request that each person in the call use his or her mobile device to take a selfie, as well as take a picture of their government ID to confirm their identity.
Using this handy plugin, you can effortlessly build a contract, electronically sign the documents with a UETA and ESIGN compliant program, store an unlimited number of files, receive carbon copy receipts, protect files with two-factor verification, and so much more. This is a very user-friendly program that will remove any insufficiencies you may be experiencing when it comes to documents.
Employee management tools
As always, the happiness of your team is crucial to the success of your business. With your team now working from home, their satisfaction levels may have declined. The sooner that you know this, the sooner that you can plan some possible solutions. But getting accurate feedback from your team when they can’t be asked in person can be tough. This is where the Glint employee pulse surveys come in handy.
The program sends out surveys to remote workers on a frequent basis, then looks at the responses and creates engagement dashboards filled with analytics.These reports show you, as the company leader, the answers given and highlights any problem areas your team may be experiencing. This lets you know how your remote employees are doing at any given time, and how you can restructure any of your current workflow.
When your team is physically in the same space, quick communication just requires walking over to someone’s desk. But when your staff is at home, this suddenly changes. All these small, easy questions are no longer so simple to get answers to. A much more helpful method for you and your team is to embrace a real-time communication app like Slack.
You can create an account for your team, then even create smaller group chats with certain members of your team. This is a great way to improve your communications without overbearing your employees in countless emails.
If you are one of the many entrepreneurs who are still running your businesses remotely, then you’re likely going to need some help coping. By using these five technologies in your daily work routine, it will help to make running your business from home much more productive during this pandemic.
I work full time outside my home country. I am setting up my Gsuite right now and I see it requires a lot of personal information like home address, kind of business etc which can be troublesome for mine employment.
Should I register via my spouse's account? or it doesn't matter right now? any other tips?
Europe is bouncing back to normalcy as the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 is gradually easing a bit. In an attempt to revive the lost economy, the tech startups and other businesses are kicking back to normal and are striving hard to go back to the pre-COVID era. As a result, several tech startups in Europe have made headlines in recent times. Some have launched new products and services and some others have received funding to expand their business and take the same to the next level. Here is a roundup of what happened this week in the European tech startup arena brought to you by Silicon Canals, your most authentic source of European tech news with an edge.
Dutch leading fintech gets funding from prominent Dutch VC
Dutch fintech startup Floryn, formerly known as InvoiceFinance, got €9 million from Endeit Capital recently, also supported by existing shareholders Peak Capital. The Dutch startup, based in Den Bosch, finances loans of up to €2 million for small and medium-sized companies. Floryn will use part of the investment to recruit additional staff for product development. The rest of the amount will be used to fuel its national, and international expansion as demand for business loans in Europe has witnessed a surge of 98%.
Founded in 2016 by Sven van der Biezen (CEO), Marijn van Aerle (CTO) and Gion van den Bogaert (CFRO), the Netherlands-based company has raised €6 million in equity in 2017 from Peak Capital (known for Catawiki and OneFit) and Kalo Bagijn, co-founder of BinckBank and Brand New Day. In 2019, €60 million in financing was provided by NIBC and private investors, and currently, the company employs around 50 people.
London-based AI startup secures funding to tackle growing waste crisis
London-based Greyparrot that uses computer vision AI to scale efficient processing of recycling has secured £1.825 million (nearly €2.03 million) seed funding led by early-stage industrial tech investor Speedinvest along with participation from UK-based early-stage B2B investor, Force Over Mass.
The UK startup has trained a slew of machine learning models to identify various types of waste including glass, paper, newspaper, cardboard, cans and several types of plastic. This makes sorting recycling process more efficient and it applies automation and digitisation to the waste management industry. Greyparrot will use the fresh investment to further develop its product and expand into the global markets.
Claris launches its first open platform for developers
SumUp expands e-commerce product lineup to support businesses
UK-based payments service SumUp has launched an online payment tool to help businesses adapt to the social distancing norms. The latest solution of SumUp is a part of the company’s ongoing push into the online retail industry as a part of its drive to provide a complete toolkit for merchants. With this new addition lets merchants showcase their products remotely enabling the making of taking of all payments for their businesses. The SumUp online store is a SaaS product and comes with a subscription pricing and multi-tiered model. It also lets SMEs quickly set up and design their own online stores sans any previous knowledge of web design or technology.
Cloud-based voice platform gets funded
Paris-based Aircall, a cloud-based voice platform that helps businesses and teams to connect globally recently secured $ 65 million (nearly €58.6 million) Series C funding led by DTCP along with participation from new investors Adam Street and Swisscom along with existing UK-based existing investors Draper Esprit, Balderton Capital, eFounders, and NextWorld. This is the largest funding round secured by the French company till date taking its overall funding amount to $ 100 million (nearly €90.1 million). Aircall will use this investment to expand into new markets across the world, double its customer base in Europe, enhance its leading tech capabilities and hire 100 new staff by the end of this year.
Former Bird UK chief joins Voi
The UK government is all set to accelerate trials of e-scooter rentals to reduce crowding on public modes of transportation and adhere to social distancing norms. In this attempt, Sweden-based Voi Technology has hired Richard Corbett, the former head of e-scooter giant Bird UK to head its Ireland, Benelux, and UK operations. Corbett has helped the rival brand launch e-scooter rentals in the Netherlands. At Voi, Corbett will be responsible for leading the push into the UK market, where it expects to witness at least 50,000 rides per day in 2020 in London.
Stripe expands to five European countries
Europe has some of the largest and fastest-growing online economies in the world. This growth has been driven further by the accelerated shift towards online during the COVID-19 crisis. Adyen’s arch rival lets more European entrepreneurs and businesses accept payments online from anywhere in the world within a few minutes. Already, Stripe exists in 39 countries, of which 29 are in Europe. Now, the US fintech is coming to more European countries to make payment acceptance and money movement faster and simpler for everyone. With this expansion, online companies in Czech Republic, Romania, Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria can gain access to Stripe’s product stack to launch, operate and scale their business globally.
SaaS/enterprise tech VC firm increases investment
European SaaS/enterprise tech VC firm, Notion VC, has increased investment in new companies by 89% in the last 12 months. This way, it increases assets under management to $ 0.5 billion. Besides this, the VC firm also promoted Itxaso del Palacio to Partner. And, she will be responsible for B2B SaaS investments across Europe. Palacio is a part of Notion since 2018 and has led investments into Yulife, Mya, and Forest Admin. This promotion comes at a time when Notion secured £125 million fourth venture fund in October last year and its recent hires roping in industry veteran Andy Leaver joining the firm. Notion has invested in more than 60 B2B tech startups since its debut in 2009 including companies such as GoCardless, Dixa, Paddle, Mews, CurrencyCloud, Unbabel, and Tradeshift.
Digital dentistry platform from Berlin secures funding
PlusDental, a Berlin-based digital dentistry platform has secured €32 million Series C funding from international investors. The investment was led by Hong Kong-based Ping An Global Voyager Fund, which joins it as a new investor. The others that have invested in the healthtech company include Christian Wegner, the founder of Re-commerce platform Momox, Lakestar, and HV Holtzbrinck.
Specialising in digital dentistry and aesthetic orthodontic treatments with clear aligners,. PlusDental will use this fresh Investment to develop its proprietary digital dentistry platform and continue expansion of business in Germany and Europe.
MaaS Global teams up with Finnish fintech startup
Maas Global, a leading Mobility as a Service provider has teamed up with Enfuce, the largest fintech startup in Finland to launch a card payment offering in the former’s all-inclusive mobility app, Whim. This partnership lets MaaS Global issue Mastercard prepaid cards securely and expand its offering to new markets. Notably, MaaS Global revolutionises urban mobility by gathering all public and private transport services in convenient, travelling subscriptions. In partnership with Enfuce, MaaS Global accessed a flexible and fully scalable payment infrastructure solution. Enfuce’s close guidance will let MaaS Global offer Whim customers a reliable, efficient and most of all easy payment experience.
EZ Factory secures growth boost
EZ Factory, a supplier of mobile apps used in production environments has secured €720k growth boost. With this investment, the company is expected to break even by the end of this year. Notably, the Eindhoven-based tech startup, develops innovative and user-friendly apps to support operational teams in factories. These tools let them work more efficiently and improve the process continuously. They developed EZ-GO, a digital application that facilitates autonomous maintenance, work instructions, inspections, and audits. This makes factories safer and more efficient, allows operators to suggest improvements, and makes results available in a real time dashboard.
Today UK challenger bank Starling Bank has raised approximately €44.3 million in a funding round led by JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited. The investment follows an approximate €66.5 million investment in February 2020, bringing the total raised by Starling in 2020 to around €110 million and making the total it has raised since its founding approximately €402 million.
Starling Bank, founded in 2014 by Welsh banking veteran Anne Boden, is taking its place as one of the top challenger banks. Voted the Best British Bank last year, it has opened 1.4 million accounts, including 155,000 business accounts, since launching its banking app in May 2017. Its deposit base has more than doubled in the last six months and it now holds more than €2.6 billion on deposit.
Starling is also the fastest-growing bank for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe and now holds a 2.6% share of the UK’s SME banking market. It has almost €554 million of SME lending on its balance sheet, with further commitments raising the total to almost €1.1 billion.
The new funding will enable the bank to continue its rapid growth and help it provide much-needed support to small business customers who have been hit by the coronavirus emergency.
The lockdown has accelerated the shift to digital channels. As an app-based bank, Starling has seen robust customer acquisition since the lockdown, especially in the business account channel, where daily sign-ups have accelerated from the start of the year.
Starling’s agile operating model also enabled it to step up its lending to SMEs in May, via a collaboration for around €323 million under the UK Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and direct to its customers under its own CBIL and Bounce Back Loan Schemes.
Anne Boden, founder and chief executive of Starling Bank, said: “This additional funding from our existing investors demonstrates their commitment both to Starling and to our small business and personal customers who need our support now more than ever.”
In the recent development, the UK digital Bank, Starling Bank has raised an additional £40 million (approx €44.5 million) in funding led by existing backers, Harry McPike’s JTC and Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited.
The company is planning to use the funding to continue its rapid expansion as it disrupts the banking industry and to provide support for small business customers, who have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
Founded by Anne Boden and John Humpish, the Starling Bank has opened 1.4 million accounts, including 155,00 business accounts since launching its banking app in May 2017. According to TechCrunch, the UK digital bank now holds somewhere around £2.4 billion (€2.67 billion) in deposits.
Anne Boden, founder, and chief executive of Starling Bank, said: “This additional funding from our existing investors demonstrates their commitment both to Starling and to our small business and personal customers who need our support now more than ever.”
A few days back, Starling Bank and Funding Circle, the UK’s largest small business loan platform, have entered a strategic partnership to provide £300 million (approx €334 million) of lending to small businesses under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
The London-headquartered mobile banking application offers personal, business, joint, and euro current accounts on Android and iOS. The Starling Marketplace offers customers in-app access to a selection of third-party financial services. On top of that, it has B2B banking and payment services as well. The UK digital bank has offices in Southampton, Cardiff, and Dublin.
If you’re interested in the future of edtech, disability tech, social enterprises or mental health care, then you might like Tiimo.
Tiimo is an app bringing structure and support to people with autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), so they can thrive in their daily life. The award-winning app can be downloaded to a smartphone or smart watch, and guides users through their schedule via visuals, notifications and vibration. So far the Danish app has thousands of users and closed an oversubscribed equity crowdfunding round on Seedrs 3 months ago.
We caught up with one of Tiimo’s co-founders Helene Lassen Nørlem to talk about creating an app based on scientific research and patient experience, analysing open-ended customer testing, creating University research partnerships, balancing impact objectives with monetary ones and raising equity crowdfunding.
Hello Helen, thank you for joining us! I’m a big fan of impact enterprises so am looking forward to diving into how Tiimo works. To start us off, how did you first get the idea and what inspired you to go for it?
The idea for Tiimo actually started when my co-founder Melissa and I were writing our master’s thesis at the IT University in Copenhagen. At that time in Denmark the government had just enacted a new school reform that meant that many children who would previously have been in a school or class with additional support were being ‘integrated’ into classrooms without additional support. The reform included a lot of talk about inclusion, but disability advocates were very critical of it, as it was unclear as to how the children would be able to thrive after the reform was implemented.
Melissa and I wondered if there was a way that technology could support them in this context. We focused our research on children with ADHD and took a very ethnographic approach to try and best understand the needs of children with ADHD and their families. We followed the daily lives of five families to try and better understand their everyday life, both from a child perspective and a parent perspective. The insights we got from that research were the foundation for Tiimo as a concept.
Shortly after we graduated we both got other jobs, but the idea to actually make Tiimo a reality was still in our thoughts. And then when some of the families who had been part of our research asked when they could download the app, we felt very sure that we had to try to make it a reality.
We read that Tiimo was created in collaboration with 50+ families and experts. Could you tell us more about how you gathered all this information and feedback and turned it into Tiimo?
Well as mentioned, we started out really trying to understand what everyday life for children with ADHD is like. Some of the methods we used were cultural probes, where we, for example, gave the children an iPad and had them blog and do small videos about their days. To follow up and get a deeper understanding we did semi- structured interviews. Then we analysed the data and found patterns across the families and used that in combination with knowledge from specialists in the field to form a design workshop. It was through this design workshop that the first concept was created.
In general we aim to have a very user-centered design approach and really do our best to always involve our users in the design and development process. So in the first phase of the product development we collaborated with these 50 families and experts to make sure the product met their needs. This was done in a combination of workshops and interviews. As the product evolved this process included more observations of user testing to understand the interaction with the product and UI specific needs. We also take customer feedback extremely seriously, it is basically users that determine the bones of our product roadmap, and we have a group of test users that we are in ongoing dialogue with. We also have an extremely hands-on customer service approach, so many people who end up calling or writing about a bug (yes, we have them sometimes) end up giving incredible insight and feedback, which is taken into account in future design decisions.
Now Tiimo is up and running you have a research collaboration with Aalborg University in Denmark on the effects of using Tiimo as a support-tool for children. How does this work, and how do you apply their feedback?
We have worked with the same researcher from AAU several times. She has both been involved in some preliminary workshops and also done qualitative research about the effect of Tiimo in families after the product was developed. After any research, she presents her findings to us so we can use that in our development. She has actually recently published a paper on the initial research of a new feature that we are working on regarding self-assessment of mood that will be a big part of the future product.
Do you have any advice for medtech, healthtech or wellbeing startups on how to create, manage and maintain research partnerships when creating or adapting a product?
Yes, I think the first would be: do your research and do it well. A good health/medtech startup needs to be aligned with up-to-date language and understandings within the scientific community. If it’s not, it will not be interesting for a research partnership. But if it is, then just reach out to people! Explain the problems your product tries to solve, questions you still have, and how diligent you’ve been in research (both in the broader scientific community and with users) and I think you’ll succeed. Often researchers build small apps to try and carry out projects, so it makes much more sense for them to collaborate with a product that’s already developed than do it alone.
As a social impact startup, how do you balance the societal impact objectives you have with monetary ones? Do you have any advice for similar budding startups?
This is a very good question. I think a lot of people in this space wish that they could just make their product free for their users, but the reality is often that if you want to continue to develop a good product and be able to both maintain it and make it better it is a necessity to also have revenue.
At Tiimo, we’re a small team of people who genuinely want to make the world a better, more inclusive place. So of course we wish Tiimo was free. We want everyone who could use Tiimo to be able to use it forever. The overarching goal of our work is to create more inclusive communities, so it’s frustrating to put up an economic barrier to the product, no matter what it is. But the reality is that eight of us (and probably a few more in the coming months) work on Tiimo – the technical aspects, product improvement, customer support, and getting the word out there – full-time. So we need to make enough money to pay our salaries, because if not, Tiimo will stop existing at some point.
We are currently doing a lot of testing of our pricing and revenue model in general to learn more about what works for our user group. I don’t know if I have any advice in particular regarding this, since I believe this balance is different from company to company, but being transparent to your users about prices and why you have to charge money is a good idea. That’s something we are really trying to do at the moment.
We saw you are a fan of visual information over written reminders. How do you think this could be applied further for the workplace and startup growth? Do you use this in your team?
We are huge fans of visuals, but mostly because we know that’s what works best for our user group. Our focus on visuals is a key aspect of what makes Tiimo so unique as a product. In terms of communication within the team, overall I think we’re good at remembering that people have different ways of working, so we try to be accommodating and attentive to that. That being said, I really experience that being very transparent (and using visuals can be a very good way to do this – on whiteboards around the office and in presentations, for example) is very important to make sure everyone in the team is aligned and working towards the same goal.
Tiimo raised funding in 2018 and 2020. What made you decide then was the right time, and do you have any tips for startups on the same path?
Early on we chose to have investors on board that would help grow the company – and this was definitely the right path for Tiimo. We have raised several funding rounds to get where we are at today, and I believe that having experienced investors onboard who also understand the mission you are on and the impact you’re trying to create can be worth much more than the money they invest. So my advice would be to make sure you’re aligned about the mission with the investors you bring onboard. The right investors will also help you with their experience and know-how (so that they almost become part of the team) and support your overall mission.
How has the current pandemic affected your team and have you had to pivot/adapt in any way?
I actually think we are in a very lucky situation since we had just closed a funding round before the pandemic, which means we have had money to continue the development as planned. Also the nature of our company and the way we normally work made it possible to continue our work remotely. I’m very proud of our entire team and the way that they all just stayed focused and delivered as planned even though the work situation suddenly changed.
I’m also really proud about how supportive we were of one another through the changes. A lot of us on the team have young kids, and it was of course a challenge to manage work responsibilities while daycares and schools were closed. I think we all adapted very well and were extremely understanding of one another and also very ready to help. The lockdown period presented other challenges for those of our teammates who live alone. I think we were also good at checking-in about how people were doing mental-health wise, not just in terms of productivity and work matters. I’m proud to lead such a human-centered team and I think the benefits of a compassionate approach to business really showed their value through the pandemic.
There was also actually quite a lot of interest generated around Tiimo because most people’s schooling moved online, so many families were looking for ways to structure the day. Actually it seemed like everyone was trying to figure out how to create healthy routines at home without external accountability. So we’ve really tried to get the word out during this period that our visual web calendar is totally free. We’ve also heard from users of both the calendar and the app that Tiimo has been especially valuable in terms of reducing stress through the quarantine – this is of course wonderful to hear.
Finally, what cool plans do you have coming up for 2020 and beyond?
I’m so excited about 2020. We have tons of cool developments in the works! In the next couple of months we will launch quite a few new features that will improve the overall experience of the apps. Some of these include a new recurrence system and pre-made templates for common daily activities, features that will make setting up a schedule much easier and faster, and then we are starting to develop the self-assessment feature I mentioned earlier. The self-assessment tool will be personalized to ask questions throughout the day regarding the user’s mood, feelings and symptoms, which can then provide insights to support decision making for the user. The self-assessment tool will also be helpful for the support-network of users – for parents, advocates, therapists, and doctors – who will have more insight on what might be supportive for the user. This feature will be launched in 2020.
We have also established a lot of new partnerships with key figures in the neurodiversity community. It’s extremely important for us that we work to support the neurodiverse community in every way possible, so building these partnerships is vital. Some of the creators, activists, and journalists we will be working with are Laura Zdan, Samantha Stein, Lydia Wilkins, among others. We’re also building a campaign (hopefully a viral one!) that encourages and inspires everyone to take concrete steps to building spaces that are more inclusive for neurodiverse people. But I can’t give away too much yet! You’ll have to keep your eye out for it.
I've worked on an Android application for the last 2 months and just finished it today. It requires somewhat close proximity with other people (about 20 metres?) and/or for people to sit in restaurants/coffee shops. Should I launch and market or wait for the pandemic to be over?