Hi everyone. I'm in the process of hiring our 4th team member and they are a jack-of-all-trades person, which is of course invaluable during the early phases of a company.
They have some basic coding skills, basic design skills, lots of project management and operational experience, and a strong administrative background. During our trial period, this person has been hopping in and making contributions to design, writing some code tools for us to get work done faster, helping manage projects/workflows, and also serving in an executive assistant role with scheduling and research assistance.
This kind of "get it done" attitude and willingness/ability to learn whatever is needed to knock something out is super valuable and I want to reward that with an appropriate title beyond "administrative assistant", especially since this person may be outward facing and their title should reflect their influence on all parts of the company. I'm familiar with the rule of thumb that one should avoid too-senior titles early on, as that makes it harder to hire in someone more experienced above the person later. But I also don't like when someone who is punching way above their weight is given an assistant title. Title should reflect someone's skills, experience, and contributions, and even if the person is fine with admin assistant I don't think it's fair or appropriate in this case.
Some obvious options are Operations Manager/Director, Project Manager, Director of Special Projects, etc. We've also considered Chief of Staff given the administrative support aspects.
But I wanted to see if anyone had other suggestions before discussing title with the hire, as well as any broader advice. I'm open to anything. Thanks in advance!
Fashion-tech startup Otrium announces it has raised €24 million in a Series B funding round. The round is led by global fund Eight Roads, early investor in e-commerce mogul Alibaba. How did two young guys from Amsterdam convince this renowned investor to back them with such an amount? We spoke with Otrium co-founder Milan Daniëls to find out.
Series B investment for Otrium
Fashion has fallen on hard times. Many brands are scrambling to adapt to an increasingly digital target audience. And then a global pandemic hit as well, leaving stores empty and warehouses full. In this disrupted market, Otrium seems to offer a solution that makes them thrive. Founded in Amsterdam by two young entrepreneurs, it has now closed another impressive funding round, making them ready to take on the world.
Otrium is an online fashion-outlet, founded in 2016 by Milan Daniëls and Max Klijnstra. They created a platform where brands have an opportunity to connect with fashionlovers to sell last seasons’ collections. The goal is to extend the life cycle of fashion, by preventing large quantities of perfectly fine, unsold clothing from gathering dust in warehouses. Fashionlovers can sign up for Otrium and bag some bargains, while fashion brands not only have the opportunity to sell their previous collection but also gather insights about their audience.
200 brands, a million users
Otrium, meanwhile, takes care of everything: from online sales, storing and shipping. They currently have partnerships with over 200 brands. Among them are big names as well as up and coming or local fashion designers. Currently, the platform has over a million members, ready to scoop up some of the not-so latest fashion, up from 600.000 just a year ago. A rapidly growing user base that clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed as the latest investment shows. The latest round brings the total of investments up to roughly €33 million. This series B is led by Eight Roads, the globally operating fund known for early investments in Alibaba, Made.com and Treatwell.
“We first spoke with Eight Roads about one and a half years ago, after they approached us,” says Daniëls. “Some companies just get approached by these kinds of funds. It was a very informal meeting, there was no mention of funding yet.” Eight Roads is a later stage fund, explains Daniëls. And with Otrium not yet having closed their Series A-round, the time wasn’t right for them yet. “But that’s what they do. They plant seeds.”
Easily duplicate the model in other countries
Just over a year ago, Otrium raised €7 million in funding from London-based Index Ventures, which previously invested in companies as Farfetch, Asos, Adyen and Net-a-Porter. Daniëls: “After this round we had a clear goal to mature our technology foundation. We also wanted to show that our model could easily be duplicated in other countries, once we had the right blueprint ready.” That blueprint formed the base for their rapid expansion. In less than a year Otrium rolled out in Germany and France. “We are about to open in the United Kingdom,” says Daniëls. “We’ve pinned down the model to roll out pretty rapidly now.”
For Daniëls, partnering up with Eight Roads was not just about the money, but also about big ambitions. “They have a lot of experience with calling up consumer brands, both internationally and intercontinentally. They have a strong presence in London, which is helpful for our near future. But they also have a strong base in the USA and Asia. We wanted to connect with partners that can help us during our entire journey.” To make sure this happens, Davor Hebel, general partner at Eight Roads and Danny Rimer, general partner at Index Ventures, have joined Otrium’s board of directors to bring more experience to the company, says Daniëls.
Otrium and COVID-19
The funding comes at an interesting time for Otrium. The spread of COVID-19 has thrown a big wrench in the fashion machinery. “Brands are having a tough time now”, says Daniëls, referring to the world during the pandemic. The lack of sales from retailers has left fashion brands with an enormous surplus on inventory. At the same time, these companies are forced into a new way of working, so they have to speed up their digital transformation and facilitate the rise in online shopping. “That’s where we play a role. We want to help our current partners to sell this inventory. Since the outbreak of the virus, we’ve also changed our payment policy towards our partners. After a sale, we directly transfer the money to them. To keep a healthy cash flow is incredibly important for them during these times.”
No matter how tough the times for the traditional fashion industry are, Otrium is doing well for itself. Daniëls calls their planned growth ‘ambitious’. But the past couple of months, they’ve seen business accelerate beyond those ambitious goals. But even a company that is well positioned to thrive during these unprecedented times has its challenges says Daniëls. “We had to rapidly scale up our distribution. At the same time we had to make sure our order pickers in the warehouses could work safely and in compliance with the guidance of the National Institute for Public Health.”
“It is important to help brands through the crisis. Because the physical retail is currently knocked out, we can offer them a digital solution.” To do so, Otrium needs to surround itself with like-minded people. Which brings Daniëls back to Eight Roads. “You’re looking for a club that ‘really gets’ what you’re trying to build. That is as enthusiastic about it as you are. International expansion is not for free. We are a tech-fashion company that wants to continue growing on both the B2B and B2B side. This funding gives us a new horizon. With this €24 million and before that our Series A, we are going to last for a very long time.”
My team and I developed a therapy that helps people quit smoking cigarettes. we are using a combination of virtual reality (cardboard) + mindfulness + coaching. We run our clinical trials and we know that we have a 33% efficacy rate. Everything done in Latinamerica.
With that being said we are struggling to get traction in the US. We want to have our 100 users/user reviews/feedback.
Organic generation is been slow, we are running PPC in Google but still slow and expensive. Any ideas, strategies to get people to try new products in the US? We have a few kits that we can send/ship to smokers if they are willing to try it.
Hey all, a friend is working on an early fashion startup which provides a service to people selling their items and has a decent MVP. She found a few good communities to target, such as large fashion marketplace pages on facebook and various forums.
She’s been attempting organic growth by posting in a few of these places being very careful to not sound too “promotional” or “scammy”, but unfortunately most of her posts get banned or taken down. She got her account banned from the biggest purse resale forum, which really sucks. Additionally, most individual outreach to strangers on facebook go to their message requests which many folks don’t see. She doesn’t want to spend money on google ads this early and she feels these communities are the best for early growth. What approach can she take?
It sucks when the obvious avenues for marketing get you banned / kicked out of important communities for your startup. Would appreciate any tips!
Spurred on by the success of a college hackathon using a whole four Apple Watches in February, Mozilla decided to try a more structured program in the spring. The first test batch of companies is underway, having started in April an 8-week program offering $ 2,500 per team member and $ 40,000 in prizes to give away at the end. Developers in a variety of domains were invited to apply, as long as they fit the themes of empowerment, privacy, decentralization, community, and so on.
It drew the interest of some 1,500 people in 520 projects, and 25 were chosen to receive the full package and stipend during the development of their MVP. The rest were invited to an “Open Lab” with access to some of Mozilla’s resources.
One example of what they were looking for is Ameelio, a startup whose members are hoping to render paid video calls in prisons obsolete with a free system, and provide free letter delivery to inmates as well. I wrote about the company here.
“The mission of this incubator is to catalyze a new generation of internet products and services where the people are in control of how the internet is used to shape society,” said Bart Decrem, a Mozilla veteran (think Firefox 1.0) and one of the principals at the Builders Studio. “And where business models should be sustainable and valuable, but do not need to squeeze every last dollar (or ounce of attention) from the user.”
“We think we are tapping into the energy in the student and professional ‘builder communities’ around wanting to work on ideas that matter. That clarion call really resonates,” he said. Not only that, but students with canceled internships are showing up in droves, it seems — mostly computer science, but design and other disciplines as well. There are no restrictions on applicants, like country of origin, previous funding, or anything like that.
The new incubator will be divided into three tiers.
First is the “Startup Studio,” which involves a $ 75,000 investment, “a post-money SAFE for 3.5% of the company when the SAFE converts (or we will participate in an already active funding round),” Decrem clarified.
Below that, as far as pecuniary commitment goes, is the “MVP Lab,” similar to the spring program but offering a total of $ 16,000 per team. And below that is the Open Lab again, but with ten $ 10,000 prizes rather than a top 3.
There are no hard numbers on how many teams will make up the two subsidized tiers, but think 20-30 total as opposed to 50 or 100. Meanwhile, collaboration, cross-pollination, and open source code is encouraged, as you might expect in a Mozilla project. And the social good aspect is strong as well, as a sampling of the companies in the spring batch shows.
Neutral is a browser plugin that shows the carbon footprint of your Amazon purchases, adding some crucial guilt to transactions we forget are powered by footsore humans and gas-guzzling long-distance goods transport. Meething, Cabal, and Oasis are taking on video conferencing, team chat, and social feeds from a decentralized standpoint, using the miracles of modern internet architecture to accomplish with distributed systems what once took centralized servers.
This summer will see the program inaugurated, but it’s only “the beginning of a multiyear effort,” Decrem said.
So in terms of the technology adoption curve, I understand that Early Majority people won't adopt until the solution is full-featured, more mature, has testimonials, has a track record, etc.
And early adopters don't care as much about those aspects, they are down to try out an innovation that addresses their pain points.
However what I don't understand is — do they view the fundamental problem / pain point any differently?
Do Early Adopters necessarily "feel" the pain point more strongly than Early Majority people?
OR do they feel the pain point the same way but just won't accept a super new/innovative solution to that pain point until later?
Reason I'm asking this is because I want to better understand if I should expect to hear different answers when I ask early adopters vs early majority people questions about their pain points. (this is only asking about pain points – no mention of solution at all)
But this morning we were busy digging through what’s happened over the last few days, and what’s to come. Here’s the rundown:
Silver Lake is following Facebook into Jio, at a higher price. Facebook’s huge bet on the Indian mobile Internet giant raised eyebrows, especially as the deal could have some interesting net neutrality implications. Silver Lake’s follow-on deal only makes Facebook’s investment all the more fascinating.
It’s another huge week of earnings. We expect to see Shopify, Roku, Uber, Beyond Meat, PayPal, Pinterest, Dropbox, Square, Peloton and Lyft. Each company should provide us with notes on how a slice of the startup market is performing.
The wearable is designed to be worn on the throat, and it’s already in use by around 25 individuals, who are providing early data about its effectiveness via at-home and in-clinic monitoring. The hardware involved monitors coughs and respiratory activity, and then feeds that into a set of algorithms developed by the research team that can identify what might be early symptoms of COVID-19, and potential signs that the infection is progressing in a dangerous way that could require more advanced care.
The gadget is designed to be worn around the clock, and provides a continuous data stream. This has the advantage of providing insight as it becomes available, instantly, instead of relying on regular check-ins, or waiting for when symptoms are clearly bad enough that someone needs additional help, at which point it’s usually past the stage of early intervention. The wearable essentially looks like a thin bandage the size of a postage stamp, and it can monitor not only cough sounds and frequency, but also chest movements, heart rate, body temperature and respiratory rate.
It’s tuned specifically to what health experts have generally tagged as the most common early symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever, coughing and problem breathing. The “suprasternal notch,” which is the technical name for the site on the throat where the wearable rests, is “where airflow occurs near the surface of the skin” through the respiratory pathways of the body, according to Northwestern researcher John A. Rogers who led the device’s development team.
This hardware can potentially be useful in a number of ways: First, it’s a valuable tool for front-line healthcare workers, offering them what will hopefully be an early warning sign of any oncoming illness, so they can avoid infecting their colleagues and get the treatment they need as efficiently as possible. Second, it could be used by those already diagnosed with COVID-19, to potentially provide valuable insight into the course of the infection, and when it might be getting worse. Third, it could eventually also be used to tell scientists working on therapies what is working, how and how well, with live information from test subjects both in-clinic and at home.
The device is also relatively easy to produce, with the team saying they can do so at a rate of around hundreds per week, without even needing to lean very heavily on outside suppliers. That’s a considerable advantage for any hardware that might need to be leveraged in volume to address the crisis. Plus, people can wear it almost unnoticed, and it’s very easy to use both for clinicians and patients.
There are other projects in the works to see how devices that monitor biometrics, including the Oura ring, and the Kinsa thermometer, can help contain the epidemic. The researchers behind this wearable have spun up an engineering company called Sonica to manage their device’s development, and will now be working with various agencies (including through funding by BARDA) to deploy it in more places, and see about potentially productizing the wearable for wide-scale use.
In addition, the hospital is also partnering with New York-based TytoCare, a company that performs remote medical exams on demand. The company closed on a $ 50 million growth round at the beginning of April.