Has anyone ever heard of a social media, social network, or patronage service, where people had to pay to ‘like’ something, as a more robust social signal of support

I know there are many things similar to this idea, such as Super Chats on YouTube, Twitch subs, Patreon, etc…

But I was thinking that we have experienced, to the end of generating data and user engagement (screen addiction) a massive about of inflation in the value of 'likes' in social media.

I was wondering if there has been any robust or critical discussion on the idea of "put your money where your like is". The idea would be that you must buy "packs" of likes (similar to the revenue model of istockphoto.com pricing), which get used when you like some content. The 'like' revenue goes to the content owner minus transaction fees. The more likes you buy per "pack" the cheaper they are.

I'm specifically talking about higher quality content, such as classes, or events, or others, as a more robust social signal of support.

Likes could also be earned, as in you could gain credits that allow you to like more content by doing various actions on the site, such as inviting new members to the platform, or inviting people directly to events, or sharing content if we can figure out how to track that. Also, if you receive a like that was paid for you get to like a piece of content as well.

This all produces "like scarcity", making them more valuable on this platform.

What do people think, have you ever seen any article discussing an idea like this?

One example of something similar is this distributed clone of Reddit: notabug.io, where you have to "pay" to vote by using computing power. Its a basic "proof of work" concept to reduce bot activity.

I would love to find some articles but haven't found any discussion on the subject with Google search, or Quora, Reddit or Medium.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

AI is more data-hungry than ever, and DefinedCrowd raises $50M B round to feed it

As AI has grown from niche to mission-critical technology, the companies that enable it have multiplied and in many cases prospered. A good example of that success is DefinedCrowd, which has gone from the Disrupt stage to globe-spanning AI toolkit to the Fortune 500 in just a couple years. The company just raised a new $ 50.5M B round to further fuel its expansion.

DefinedCrowd doesn’t make AI, but rather supplies data used to create it, specializing in natural language processing. After all, someone has to vet the 500 different ways you could ask for the weather — otherwise it would be much more difficult for machine learning systems to tell what users mean. The same goes for computer vision, sentiment recognition, and other domains for which the company creates and sorts data. DefinedCrowd has a paid community hundreds of thousands strong doing this highly necessary but voluminous work.

As AI has worked its way into everything from creating and editing media to enterprise software, there’s been no shortage of companies in search of training data.

“The demand for data has consistently been growing over the last couple years — companies are more and more aware of the impact that data has on their systems, and have been looking for more languages and domains that weren’t considered 5 years ago,” co-founder and CEO Daniela Braga told TechCrunch.

She emphasized inclusivity, the potential for bias, and more multilingual deployments as drivers of that demand. New markets and applications are opening up constantly and entrants need high quality data to develop consumer-ready products.

“This puts us in a very good position, as our data is agnostic and we can work pretty much across all verticals,” Braga said.

As evidence this is not simply wishful thinking, the company reported a tremendous 656 percent increase in revenue year-over-year. They’ve also nearly tripled the size of their workforce in that time to more than 250 people.

It’s towards hiring that Braga expects a great deal of the $ 50M round to go: Got to have the developers to make the products to follow the roadmap. That means doubling the employee count — again.

I asked whether the present pandemic has had a major effect on DefinedCrowd’s operations or business. Braga noted that she hasn’t “noticed a significant downturn in the industry,” presumably because product development has continued in anticipation of consumer and enterprise needs returning to normal.

We decided to make our business fully remote before lockdown measures were implemented,” she explained. “Transferring every employee to remote working in a short space of time was challenging, however, considering we were already a global company with four offices in three different countries, the adaptation phase was fairly smooth, and we were able to maintain full speed during the process.”

Semapa Next and Hermes GPE were added this round to the increasingly long list of investors, which now includes Evolution Equity Partners, Kibo Ventures, Portugal Ventures, Bynd Venture Capital, EDP Ventures, IronFire Ventures, Amazon Alexa Fund, Sony Innovation Fund, and Mastercard.

Startups – TechCrunch

Thriva raises £4M from Target in an era when at-home blood testing is more crucial than ever

Thriva emerged in 2016 as an at-home blood-testing startup allowing people to check, for instance, cholesterol levels. In the era of a pandemic, however, at-home blood testing is about to become quite a big deal, alongside the general trend toward people proactively taking control of their health.

It has secured a £4 million extension to its Series A funding round from Berlin-based VC Target Global . The investment takes Thriva’s total funding to £11 million. The investment comes from Target Global’s new Early Stage Fund II and will top up the £6 million Series A raised in 2019. Existing investors include Guinness Asset Management and Pembroke VCT.

Thriva has processed more than 115,000 at-home blood tests since 2016. Interestingly, these customers actually use the information to improve their health, with 76% of Thriva users achieving an improvement in at least one of their biomarkers between tests.

The startup has also launched personalized health plans and high-quality supplements, scaling up its partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Founded by Hamish Grierson, Eliot Brooks and Tom Livesey, it claims to be growing 100% year-on-year and has expanded its team to 50 members in the company’s London headquarters.

In a statement Grierson said: “As the world faces unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, we have all been forced to view our health, and our mortality, in a new light.”

Speaking to TechCrunch he added: “While there are other at-home testing companies, we don’t see them as directly competitive. Thriva isn’t a testing company. Our at-home blood tests are an important data point but they’re just the beginning of the long-term relationships we’re creating with our customers. To deliver on our mission of putting better health in your hands, we not only help people to keep track of what’s really happening inside their bodies, we actually help them to make positive changes that they can see the effects of over time.”

Dr. Ricardo Schäfer, partner at Target Global said: “When we first met the team behind Thriva, we were immediately hooked by their mission to allow people to take health into their own hands.”

Startups – TechCrunch

African countries need ‘startup acts’ more than ever to support innovation

As the fallout from COVID-19 continues to grip Africa’s major economies, the tech ventures in those countries need state support.

National legislation that creates clear frameworks and operational support for startups are one of the best ways to help Africa’s digital companies survive and thrive through the coronavirus crisis — and improve their environment over the long term.

Africa has dozens of thriving startup ecosystems that are persevering through this crisis, but now more than ever, they need a boost. The gains made by founders thus far are in danger due to the ongoing economic slowdown. The World Bank estimates that economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa alone will decline from 2.4% last year to -2.1 to -5.1% this year. If correct, the region will experience its first recession in a quarter of a century.

Now is the time for something that was already long-overdue in many African countries: political leaders should support startups through national startup acts.

Village Capital’s Adedana Ashebir, Image Credits: Village Capital

Last December, Senegal became the second African nation to enact a national Startup Act, following Tunisia’s landmark bill that passed in April 2018. Other countries may follow soon: startup legislation was being discussed in Ghana and Mali before the novel coronavirus monopolized headlines.

The rest of the continent can learn a lot from Tunisia, which passed its Startup Act in 2018 after receiving input from entrepreneurs and economists. In addition to clarifying rules surrounding angel, seed and venture capital funding, the act bestows benefits on companies designated as startups. This includes alleviating their tax and social security contribution burdens, providing access to forex bank accounts and offering subsidized salaries for founders. More than 50 startups have taken advantage of the “startup” label. A number of Tunisian entrepreneurs have told me that thanks to the new legislation, they are able reinvest savings from these incentives back into their businesses.

Startups – TechCrunch

Everything you have ever wanted to know about Crowdfunding

So, you have an idea for a product that could potentially leave a notable impact on society and its constituents. You start thinking about it and finally decide to convert this glamorous idea of yours into a business. You start doing extensive market research and take up the task of validating your business idea. Then, you jump giving your idea a brand, you design a logo, think of a tagline and set up all your fancy social media channels. But amidst all this, one thing, and indeed the most crucial one that most entrepreneurs fail to pay much heed to-Funding.

A select few are actually able to self-fund their startup, at least in the seed round. Most entrepreneurs are not able to do the extraordinary and often tend to stick to the traditional methods of raising funds i.e bank loans and venture capitalists. While loans and VC’s have had an undeniably brilliant track record, the rise of the concept of crowdfunding certainly opened up the scope of how startups can raise sufficient funds to give them a kickstart without any future obligation.

Crowdfunding has a long history with several roots. Books have been crowdfunded for centuries. Authors and publishers would advertise book projects in subscription schemes. The book would be written and published if enough subscribers signalled their readiness to buy the book once it was out. The list of subscribers has, though, the power to create the necessary confidence among investors that is needed to risk the publication.

Full article: Here

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

“Rural travel may actually exceed urban, for the first time ever”: Interview with Stasher’s CEO Jacob Wedderburn-Day

Have you ever landed in a city for a few hours, and wished you could dump your bag somewhere to explore? Well, then Stasher is around to come to the rescue.

London-based startup Stasher is a sharing economy solution to luggage storage. This means that it connects travelers with local shops and hotels who can securely store their luggage on a short-to-medium term basis. Having stored half a million bags in 1200+ locations, in 250 cities, across 6 continents, and raised money at the start of 2019, Stasher has been on a roll. However with the current pandemic, we wanted to catch up with their co-founder and CEO Jacob Wedderburn-Day to see how things are fairing in the travel industry, as well as get the chance to hear their tips on how they grew so fast, and what they have planned for the rest of the year.

Hello Jacob, thank you for joining us. To start off, could you tell us what inspired you to start Stasher?

Anthony and I both knew we wanted to become entrepreneurs. We used to talk about going into business together long before we had the idea for Stasher. The year we started it, we’d both just moved to London, and we said, “This is the best year to try and make something work.” Stasher itself came about because people were often asking to store stuff at Anthony’s flat, as it was so near the train station. The more we looked into the problem, we realised that storage in cities is a genuine issue, and the station lockers were not equipped to deal with the rising demand from tourism, especially from Airbnb.

There are a few luggage storage innovations in Europe at the moment but Stasher has already stored close to half a million bags in 1200+ locations. What is unique about Stasher and different to your competitors?

We’ve put trust at the heart of what we do. That means we vet locations and aim to have as many hotels as possible on the platform, whereas our competitors tend to operate with cornershops. We’ve been around the longest, which itself isn’t a USP, but it has meant we had first-mover advantage in a lot of territories and locked in some great relationships with big partners, such as Premier Inn, Hotels.com and most recently Marriott Homes and Villas.

We’re also the only platform to use a verified review system. We use it to make sure we are constantly monitoring the quality of our own network, so that we can put customer experience first. 

I also like to think we have the best tech, but I admit I’m biased when it comes to answering that!

Stasher has already partnered with the likes of Klook, Sonder, Marriott, and Hotels.com. Do you have any advice for startups creating and maintaining partnerships with large corporations?

Creating those sorts of relationships is tough, and sometimes it takes a bit of luck. With Hotels.com, we participated in one of their accelerator competitions and won it – and that has given us a host of great contacts! Other times, you get lucky by reaching the right person at the right time. So far, I have never regretted going to a travel conference, because networking in person with people is crucial to building relationships and laying a foundation to work together. It is certainly going to be a challenge if physical networking is limited for a while in the post-covid world!

Working with so many partners, how do you manage the security of travellers’ possessions?

We uphold strict standards, modelled on the way hotels check their guests in and out. We have an insurance deal in place to cover incidents, but the wonderful thing about this model is that there are very few. Everyone is incentivised to do the right thing. Our hosts are all operating businesses – they care about their reputations, getting good reviews and driving more business, so we have never had any trouble with them looking after things securely. 

You’ve expanded to 120+ cities in 6 continents! Could you give some behind-the-scenes knowledge on how you’ve achieved this so fast?

Well, when you put it like that! We’ve run some great trips – last autumn, our growth team toured Australia and New Zealand, which made a lot of people (me included) very jealous.

Deals with big companies certainly help you expand fast – the depth of coverage we have in the UK is largely thanks to our deal with Premier Inn.

Each year, we’ve planned out dedicated trips to key cities that we model will work well on Stasher. The team have also done a great job of opportunistically signing up places on their own holidays, which is always great to see!

Being reliant on the travel industry, how have you been managing during the pandemic? Have you pivoted/adapted in any way?

Yeah, this has been a really tough period for us – being a travel tech company, we have seen revenues drop to zero and much of our network close down during lockdowns. We’ve taken a pragmatic approach. This year, our goal is survival rather than growth. We’ve cut costs ruthlessly, although so far we have avoided laying anyone off (the UK government’s furlough scheme has been a blessing in this regard). The only thing we are spending money on now is product development. We figure it’s actually a good time to get ahead of our plans in this department, as it’s a rare time to focus without distraction. 

We have not yet pivoted, but we are investigating new revenue streams, so we can diversify a bit in the future. It’s been quite fun going back to the beginning and brainstorming new ideas from scratch.

How do you think the tourism industry will move forward after the pandemic?

It will be badly scarred, for sure. Government bailouts will keep many companies afloat, but a lot are going to really suffer. Big layoffs across big companies are the start. 

I’m closest to the accommodation sector, so I can only really comment on that. Airbnb are really hard hit, there’s no getting around that fact. A lot of “rentrepreneurs” with many mortgaged properties are going to be flushed off the platform and will need to turn to longer-term lets. I love Airbnb and it’s been a major factor in Stasher’s success, but in view of the problems it has created around housing shortages, this could be a good thing. So Airbnb’s supply will drop.

However, vacation rentals should bounce back faster than hotels, because hotels will have to make a cost calculation about when to re-open. For example, how many rooms do they need to fill before it is cost-effective to open their doors? Vacation rentals and Airbnbs will not have this problem. 

Domestic travel will come back before international travel, because of the co-ordination required to re-open borders. Rural travel may actually exceed urban, for the first time ever. 

Cleanliness will be a big theme in accommodation and hotels and vacation rentals will need to make concerted efforts to demonstrate their commitment to sanitation. 

Outside of accommodation, my personal prediction is that cruises will suffer quite badly and airlines will be really set back by this, but that the assets won’t go to waste, so ultimately it won’t be the end of low-cost flights, but it will be a terrible year for them. 

You raised €2.25 million in January of this year. Why was this the right moment for you to raise funds and do you intend to raise more in the future?

Talk about timing! Looking back, this was incredibly lucky. It was the right moment to raise funds for two reasons: 1) we had hit all the milestones we had wanted to achieve before raising this round and 2) (as is most often the case with startups) we needed it for runway! I dread to think how unlucky it would have been if the raise had been a few months delayed. 

I would not rule out future fundraising – since travel may enjoy a great resurgence – but for now, our focus is on operating more profitably. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of burning money for growth, but with the risk that this pandemic may have future waves, I do not want to rely on venture funds being available to keep us afloat in the future. 

What cool plans does Stasher have for 2020 and beyond?

This would have been a more fun question to answer before the lockdowns! Our plans are significantly less cool in light of the pandemic! We’re hoping to be back to serving customers soon, and we’re very pleased that our tech is looking much better than it was. If you don’t have it already (and if I’m allowed to plug this), please check out our apps now that they’ve been given a makeover and I’d love to hear your feedback (email jacob@stasher.com). 

Rather than launching more new territories, we may look to consolidate the cities we are working in, and with luck we may have a new revenue stream to accompany our original one. Our hiring plans have slowed until the business proves it can sustain more people, but at the same time this is the sort of experience that can bring teams closer together. 

But it’s not all gloomy. Operating more profitably may seem less sexy than growing fast, but this pandemic has reasserted the fact that for all businesses, cash is king; so taking a more proactive approach to cash management as a result of this is no bad thing! And ultimately, I can’t help but think that this is a good experience for Anthony and I to have so young in our careers (aged 25 and 26 respectively) – if we can manage our way through this crisis, I’m confident we can manage our way through almost anything!

EU-Startups

The 6 Worst Home Business Opportunities Ever

Dream and Act. Dreaming is much less and functioning on that dream is yet another thing. Make sure that the working day to day to achieve your dream. If you dream and a person act then that would definitely be a wasted imagination.

A lot of people hope to work from home but they don’t know in order to start. Working form home is not everybody. There is a certain population of that prefer go to to work from job and find comfort for the reason boring but stable foundation. I could never work know-how . of schedule but keep in mind that working at home is not for your niche.

If you’re just staring out and hoping to manage your schedule, you do not have a need to fret. You can conveniently fit in several of training that help keep your heart pumping along energy driving. There are a lot of ways to exercise whilst keeping a stressful work-at-home business or job.

Like software or stock supplies and what I spent most of my money was finding out how to do goods. There are a lot of great classes on the web that have the freedom but direct training for the specific program or will be the best and although it quite cheap for which you actually get, it still seems exactly like a fortune indicates are tight on cash.

The regarding social interaction, sedentary lifestyle, lack of structure, and level of comfort can all pose tremendous disadvantages living outside corporate the environment. After years of learning the challenge way, I’ve managed to identify a some methods to beat the work at home doldrums.

Knowledgeable inside particular reduction supplement product which has worked for you, you can possibly promote that product because a person a living testimonial. Everyone loves seeing real results. As well as the cool part about moment has come that you’ve invested in that , product to dedicate yourself to you, and now you can offer it yourself come up with some you lots of bucks as your efforts for in someones spare time work from my home. AND you don’t need to have garage or spare room to boxes and boxes or products. All you do is promote the product, and the owner deals along with the shipping and customer agency. People all over the world are the process and cash from house hold.

Bake and Cook – Most moms know the best way to cook they usually cook wonderfully. If the foods you bake or cook are enjoyed just by loved ones but also other people, you surely earn a few bucks from your abilities. You can transform a small space your lawn in the food wait. You can also offer cooking and catering care. This will require in order to go out at times but 100 % possible stay home most in the time while waiting for calls from clients.

Founders out there, have you ever had doubts that your ideas/biz can work?

I'm starting out on my own entrepreneurial journey and am wondering if utter conviction is necessary or even, possible. I'm launching the product soon, but I've found myself doubting the idea or myself, sometimes thinking if it can work. Is it normal to do so?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

[Varo Money in LendIt Fintech News] Digital Banks Focusing More Than Ever on Serving New and Existing Customers

This webinar brought together two big names in digital banking, Colin Walsh from Varo Money and Brandon Krieg from Stash. Both Varo and Stash are tapping into the estimated 180 million that are underserved here in the US.

Read more here.

The post [Varo Money in LendIt Fintech News] Digital Banks Focusing More Than Ever on Serving New and Existing Customers appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

Why Investing in Female Founders Matters Now More Than Ever

Long before diversity and inclusion became buzzwords, we decided to make venture capital inclusive from day one at 500 Startups. They became our guiding principles, because we know that great talent exists in all forms, no matter your gender, race, nationality, age, or background. Since 2010, we have expressed our commitment to those values in multiple ways. 500 actively invested in founders who were diverse or were building for diverse customers; we shunned manels by making sure to feature female speakers at our events, so that it wasn’t predominantly men doing the talking.  This extended to policies 500 implemented. We offer 12 weeks of fully paid leave for all parents in the U.S., which, sadly, puts us in the minority …

The post Why Investing in Female Founders Matters Now More Than Ever appeared first on 500 Startups.

500 Startups