Verification needs to be required on all offers not just auction bids

So earlier in the week we saw the 2 million pound bid on Lifestyle.com cancelled. Some wondered how could this happen? Sedo makes people submit to greater verification to bid 10,000 or more. Additional Certification may be required: Please note that in order to place bids above 10,000.00 EUR, an additional certification is required and […]

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

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

BetterCloud scores $75M Series F as SaaS management needs grow

BetterCloud gives IT visibility into its SaaS tools providing the means to discover, manage and secure those tools. In the middle of a crisis that has forced most companies to move workers home, being able to manage SaaS usage in this way is growing increasingly significant.

Today the company announced a $ 75 million Series F. Warburg Pincus led the way with participation from existing investors Bain Capital Ventures, Accel, Greycroft Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, New Amsterdam Growth Capital and e.ventures. Today’s round brings the total raised to $ 182 million, according to the company.

While CEO David Politis acknowledges the gravity of the current situation, he also recognizes that giving companies a way to manage their SaaS usage is more pertinent than ever. “What has happened in the last two months has been terrible for the world, but in some crazy way it has just made what we do a lot more relevant,” Politis told TechCrunch.

He says the pandemic has really accelerated the market opportunity because of the reliance on cloud services and the services his company provides.

Those services began as an operational layer on top of G Suite. Later it added support for Office 365 and in 2016 it moved to more general SaaS management. It now offers direct integrations into multiple SaaS apps including Box, Dropbox, Salesforce, Zendesk and more. The set of tools in Bettercloud gives IT control over security, configuration, spend optimization and auditability across SaaS applications.

In normal times after a large Series F round, we might be talking about this being the last round before an IPO, but Politis isn’t ready to commit to that just yet, especially in this economy. He does say, however, that he’s in it for the long haul and sees an opportunity to build a long-term, sustainable company.

“The last couple of months I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and when you take a $ 75 million round at the stage you’re not doing that because you want to sell the business. You’re doing that because you want to build something and build something really special,” he said.

Startups – TechCrunch

Building and investing in the ‘human needs economy’

The entrepreneurial and investor focus of the last decade has largely been centered on increased convenience and consumerism, and has encouraged companies to prioritize scaling, with little care for how it affects stakeholders, employees, consumers and even the environment. We have been talking about a shift for some time, but now more than ever, it has become obvious that companies have to take humanity into account as they build and scale in this new paradigm.

The last 10 years of startup growth have been about building and investing in these “nice to haves.” We believe the next 10 years will be focused on building and investing in “need to haves,” and the greatest business opportunities will be found in what we at Human Ventures call The Human Needs Economy — products and services that have material impact on basic needs and livelihoods and address a core draw on a consumer’s time, money or energy. For 2020, we are focusing on solving problems within three categories that we believe will have a huge impact on the Human Needs Economy: health and wellness, the future of work and community.

As the first category of the Human Needs Economy, we outline the opportunity within health and wellness and specific areas in which we are excited to build and invest.

Health and wellness

Looking back at a decade focused on scaling nice to haves, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are living with unaddressed health and wellness issues. And the statistics are staggering. In 2019, an estimated 47.6 million adults (19% of the country) had a mental illness, but only 43% received any kind of mental health care. When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, whole populations of minorities and underrepresented groups receive subpar care and face stigma around health issues. And we’re on track for a shortage of 120,000 doctors in the U.S. by 2030, a signal that these issues are set to get worse. (The United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how dangerous this is in a crisis.)

These challenges and others represent what we call the wellness deficit — the sum of human needs that have gone unmet in the areas of health and wellness. And even though it may seem that every block has a new boutique fitness studio popping up or everyone you know has the latest wearable to measure their sleep, we believe we are just at the starting line when it comes to making up ground and building great businesses that tackle these issues.

Below are 10 areas that are poised to make up this wellness deficit:

Startups – TechCrunch

“It almost needs to be both your work and hobby at the same time”: Interview with Funnel’s CEO Fredrik Skantze

We recently had the chance to speak with Fredrik Skantze co-founder and CEO of Funnel, a Stockholm-based marketing startup that harmonises data from 500 platforms and helps companies make better decisions. Their team recently closed a Series B round which has come handy in handling the current crisis. 

We spoke about how Fredrik believes founders should take their time and do things more sustainably, making sure you’re going to be around for the long term, as well as the value he places on building a company culture (which is sometimes neglected). In addition, we talked about how corporate teams can benefit from agile processes to reach goals efficiently. 

To start off, though, Fredrik answered some questions about his story and experience of entrepreneurship.

Hello Fredrik, thanks for joining us! What first got you into entrepreneurship? Have you always been a ‘creator’? What is your story?

I did my Masters in engineering at MIT, where there was a strong culture of innovation and technology. After university, I worked with software development and R&D in the field of robotics. After a couple of years, I went back to university to do my MBA at Stanford in 1998. 

I had a growing sense of wanting to start a company. I thought, let’s apply AI and robotics to the toy industry to develop a new line of toys. I went to LA to work in the high tech group of Mattel, the world’s largest toy manufacturer. I had an amazing time there and worked on commercializing some of the technologies coming out of the MIT Media Lab. But I learned that it was too early for AI in toys. At that time it was so clear that the internet was going to change things forever so I joined a mobile internet startup in product management which was a great learning experience. 

After five years, I left to start my first company in 2005, which was an eCommerce company selling used cars in London. My parents thought I was crazy to leave the high tech world of software in Silicon Valley to become a glorified used car salesman. We raised more than €27 million in venture capital from top tier firms and built a relatively large company and at some point, I think they understood. That really got me interested in company building. Creating a company is one step bigger than creating a product for some company you work for and after that, there was no looking back.  

What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago, if you could?

I’m 48 and this is my second startup. So 10 years ago I was already way into my first startup. Interestingly, the learning curve around company building has not flattened. I feel like I’m learning as much every day now as back then, so there are certainly a lot of things I would share. 

I think the two most important pieces of advice are to spend a lot of time finding great people to work with and creating a good culture in the company. Initially, it is easy to put all focus on building the next feature of the product and finding the next prospective customer. But if you don’t get the team and culture right it is really hard to scale and build a great company.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs on maintaining a life-work balance?

A startup is going to take a lot of your time. I have two thoughts on this. First, it really helps if you are interested in and enjoy both what you are building and the whole process of learning how to grow, finance and evolve a business. It almost needs to be both your work and hobby at the same time. 

Second, for most of us, it takes a really long time to build a successful business. This may include both some early pivots and phases of growth and stalled growth. Early on, everything is about survival and it is probably the right decision to trade off life-work balance for more hours to spend on the business to ensure it survives. But at some point, you need to switch to a sustainable model where you balance time spent on work with time with family and friends and on taking care of yourself. It really helps if you can build a strong team around you that can take some of the burdens off you. One of the things I am most proud of at Funnel is the team I have brought together from early on and the teams that they, in turn, have built in their areas. This has helped us all scale and keep a better balance.

Given the current events, how has the experience of entrepreneurship helped you navigate the new challenges? How do you believe that experience could help other founders facing similar challenges?

This is my third downturn in my career. This previous experience helped with two things. One, we quickly realized this would be a dramatic slowdown and acted very fast to stop all hiring and freeze new expenditures. We had doubled the team size from 70 to 140 in 2019, so this was a big change for the company. Second, we built a new plan with a number of scenarios for how events would affect our revenue. In our case, we could show that we would be fine in every scenario and that helped create stability for the team.

If one is used to years and years of growth and good times, it is really hard to change that perspective and understand that things can be very different. You really need to go through one or more events like this to grasp that and understand the true impact they can have on your business and the surroundings.

What do you believe will be the medium-long term impact from the current situation on new or experienced founders?

We will have to see how this plays out and how long it will take. Nobody can really know. It may well be harder to find capital for some time going forward. But over time things will go back more to normal. Access to capital is probably the biggest impact on founders. If you have capital, it is actually easier to hire people in a downturn and a lot of company building is building a team, product, and processes that you can do as well in a downturn. It may be a bit harder to find customers, but most startups have very large markets and there may be fewer or less active competitors as a result of these events.

Funnel was founded in 2014. How have your objectives and goals changed since the company has grown?

We built another product before Funnel. It was a Facebook Advertising Tool for the SME market called Qwaya. It was relatively successful and did about $ 100 million of advertising spend on Facebook, which was about 1% of their revenue at the time and was the first SME tool in that market. But it never felt like we could build a really large company with that product as it was so tied to Facebook and there were many companies building the same technology stack. 

When we thought about our long term plans we decided to focus on a big problem for our customers that nobody was solving for them. When we interviewed our customers we kept hearing that there were a lot of companies that could help them make and optimize their ads, but when it came to the question of how things are going for all their marketing they were all using a spreadsheet. So we decided to focus on solving that problem in 2014 and that became Funnel. So Funnel was a pivot from our original idea of a Facebook Advertising Tool and quite a late one given that we already had product market fit and substantial revenue. It was a really hard decision to make, but it relatively soon became clear that it was the right one and we have never looked back. 

Given your recent Series B funding for US market expansion, what will be your next move for unexplored international territories? 

Right now we are very focused on Europe and the US market as they are by far the largest markets for us. We do also serve customers in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, South African, and Australia but on a smaller scale. At some point, we will probably put more focus on those areas but we have not decided the right timing for that. 

What is your long term vision for Funnel?

Our fundamental belief is that while modern business intelligence tools and cloud data warehouses are fantastic tools for technical analysts and IT teams, they have let down marketers as they are not able to use them without a technical team supporting them. With Funnel we have set out to change this and empower marketers to directly get access to their data without having to work with a technical team. Funnel does this by automatically importing the data, making it business-ready, staging it, and sending it to the dashboard or BI tool of the choice of the marketer. This way marketers are empowered to put all their data to work by themselves. They can act with certainty and quickly iterate towards higher marketing performance, often with dramatically better results in a short period of time.

EU-Startups

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These include “home business, start a real estate business, just work at home opportunity, best business to begin from home, have home”, and so on. As simple, more become comfortable using the net and simple, more need come across ways different money, issue . will build up.

Self discipline is solution. If you can’t keep yourself on opportunities report without someone telling you what to do, work at home isn’t gonna be work out so well for the individual. It may not be impossible, but it’s not going to be easy either. As long as many work at home jobs pay on production and that all employers expect productive employees no matter how they’re paid, particularly slack off just because you’re not in place of work.

You have never heard the chestnut that makes a decision comes into lots of money, the friends and family start showing up of the wood work that they never knew they produced. Well its true. Could be astonished. This is a good reason to keep your new found riches to be able to whisper.

A great home business in order to offer training or experience to something you are an expert in. People often prefer to lessons written by a guy in order to organize their programs around them as opposed to having to comply with school daily. These lessons can learn in the coziness of personal home on a variety of topics.

Remember one thing, nothing works on its own, you be compelled to make it work. Operates applies for your personal home based work really. After all, how a lot know of your home based work? Is your customer advised? So you need to go out and inform associated with. Look at the right communication channels and work accordingly.

That person can an individual to much above you might think. Keep on good working terms with the boss and things is going great. Don’t step on toes. Specialists . be really own boss inside your own business so be wary not to get “new boss fever”.

Hence, 90% of society in this world needs start your own business, with a home based business enterprise. In this article, we is actually looking in the top great why everyone needs to work from home and generate residual income that will feed you and your family for functional life.

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Why You Need To Look Beyond Big Data For Future Needs

future-needs-big-dataWe are now solidly in the era of big data, where computers are capturing and processing the details of everything we do with all our interconnected devices in real time. Businesses see this as the Holy Grail for finally being able to predict who, where, and when customers will buy their existing solutions, and what their future solutions must look like to be attractive.

According to recent estimates, ninety percent of the data in the world today was captured in the last two years, at roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes a day. That’s a lot of data, but the jury is still out on whether technology can make any sense of the data, or derive new meaning from it in our rapidly changing world. So far, we haven’t been very good at predicting the future in life or in business.

For me, the first step in understanding the potential is to better understand what human data really looks like as it comes in from all these sources. I found some help in this regard from a classic book, “Humanizing Big Data,” by leading consumer researcher Colin Strong. I will paraphrase here the keys ways he outlines that our lives are becoming increasingly datafied:

  1. Datafication of emotions and sentiment. The explosion of self-reporting on social media has led us to provide very intimate details of ourselves. Many market research companies now use this data by ‘scraping’ the web to obtain detailed examples of the sentiment relating to particular issues, brands, products, and services.
  1. Datafication of relationships and interactions. We are now not only able to see and track the ways in which people relate, but with whom they relate, how they do it, and when. Social media has the potential to transform our understanding of relationships by datafying professional and personal connections on a global scale.
  1. Datafication of speech. Speech analytics is becoming more common, particularly as conversations are increasingly recorded and stored as part of interactions with call centers, as well as with each other. As speech recognition improves, the range of voice-based data and meaning that can be captured in an intelligible format grows.
  1. Datafication of offline and back-office activities. Within many data-intensive domains such as finance, healthcare, and e-commerce, there is a huge amount of data stored on individual behaviors and outcomes. Add to that the emergence of image analysis and facial recognition systems processing in-store footage, traffic systems, and surveillance.
  1. Datafication of culture. There is a whole new discipline of ‘cultural analytics,’ which uses digital image processing and visualization for the analysis of image and video collections to explore cultural trends. For example, Google’s Ngram service has already datafied over 5.2 million books from 1800 to 2000 to let anyone analyze cultural trends.

Of course, there is a big jump needed from data to real insights, intelligent decisions, and future predictions. This book author also explores some of the major challenges associated with humans making sense of big data, and using it effectively, including the following:

  • The human psychology of cognitive inertia. Humans seem to be wired to resist change, with a set of cognitive ‘rules of thumb’ which focus us on short-term loss-averse behaviors. Human are inclined to rely on familiar assumptions and exhibit a reluctance to revise those assumptions, even when new evidence challenges their accuracy.
  • Cognitive ability to make sense of data. Even though computers can process and store large volumes of data, assessing the implications still falls primarily in the realm of humans. Sense-making is the process of deriving meaning from experience and situational awareness, which seems to be a struggle for both people and computers.
  • Information overload and data quality. In reality, more data does not necessarily lead to better decisions. More information usually means more time is required to make a decision, perhaps leading to inertia, or volumes of one type of data bias the decision in the wrong direction, since more data is not always better data.

As we continue to become more data connected online and offline, there is no question that our digital exhaust will tell more and more about us, allowing better short-term projections of our buying habits and interests. Yet, the challenge of really predicting future needs and behavior is much tougher. Thus, I predict that humans will be driving big data in business, rather than the other way around, for a long time to come.

Marty Zwilling
Startup Professionals Musings

“Our core focus has always been the needs of our consumers”: Interview with Instabox’s CEO Alexis Priftis

Swedish logistics tech startup Instabox has today announced launching in two new markets across Europe. Not bad considering the times that we are living in.

As the demand for online shopping continues to rise, it’s no surprise that merchants are increasingly expected to provide a fast and flexible delivery service to their customers. Coming to the rescue, the Instabox team has managed to successfully satisfy both consumer demands and retailers needs by offering a hassle-free, same-day delivery service through its smart parcel lockers.

Founded in 2015, in Stockholm, the company has been building its own systems and products from scratch, using modern technology to enable instant, 7-day-a-week smooth shipping service to more than six million Swedes. With the logistics industry rapidly digitizing, Instabox has gained momentum and recently secured a substantial funding round to further expand in their home country as well as internationally.

With all this in mind, we grabbed some time with the co-founder and CEO of Instabox, Alexis Priftis to deep dive into Instabox’s fast-growing innovative business idea and find out what differentiates them from their competition.

Hi Alexis, thank you for joining us and congratulations on launching in Norway and Denmark today! To begin with, could you briefly tell us what Instabox is and how you came up with this business idea?

Instabox is an e-commerce shipping service based on smart parcel lockers that combines low cost with great convenience and service for the consumers. We felt that a lot of the innovation in e-commerce shipping went into very high technical solutions (like drones for instance) that were not necessarily requested by the merchants or the consumers. Instead, we asked what people really wanted out of their delivery service. It turned out that they wanted cost-efficient, fast, care-free delivery, which is what we have created using smart parcel lockers.

Smart parcel lockers are becoming an increasingly popular solution nowadays. What main features does Instabox offer to its customers and consumers? How does your company differentiate itself from other last-mile delivery providers?

Smart parcel lockers are great for end-consumers but at the same time they can pose logistics challenges. They are great because it’s a smooth solution that can produce large cost savings, but they are very challenging because they are unforgiving for the provider – if we arrive with a parcel that is 1 mm too large, or 1 parcel too many, our delivery is going to fail and the user is going to have a bad experience.

What we have managed to do is to solve a lot of the problems associated with parcel lockers, for instance,  we have a forecasting algorithm that calculates everything from how many parcels are going to arrive next Tuesday, to how big tomorrow’s parcels are going to be, to whether or not a single parcel will be picked up in the next couple of hours.

The result is that we can provide a better service at a lower cost. For example, we are able to promise an exact delivery time, like tonight at 20:15, already when you shop. We also transfer some of the cost savings to you as a user by investing in much faster deliveries, and also by investing a lot in customer service so that you can always reach us in 20 seconds when you need something.

What are the main advantages of smart parcel lockers compared to door-to-door shipment?

For the user, the main advantage is that you don’t have to plan your day around a parcel. Just do what you want – we’ll send you a text when your parcel is ready for pickup. No waiting, no hassle. We offer you flexibility and convenience in terms of time.

Then, of course, our service is much more friendly to the environment than home delivery. Imagine the difference if a car has to drive around to 50 addresses or if it just pulls up to our locker, makes the deliveries, and moves on.

Another advantage which might not be so obvious to the general user is that our service is less expensive to produce. This means that we can re-invest in added services such as same-day delivery or weekend deliveries, but also things like answering the phone immediately, or using fossil-free fuel instead of diesel.

Which sectors does Instabox currently serve?

We can handle parcels with maximum dimensions of 40x40x60 cm, which means basically all e-commerce categories except the obvious ones. Our best categories are beauty, pharma, fashion, and electronics. Overall, we have found that our best use case is for small parcels – it seems that the smaller the parcel is, the more likely a person is to prefer flexibility in terms of time rather than getting the parcel at the doorstep.

What are, in your opinion, the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the last mile sector?

I’m not sure, our core focus has always been and will continue to be centered around the needs of our consumers and our merchants. I think it is easy to lose track of yourself in industry predictions and large macro trends. We don’t do that, we just ask our users what they want from us and do everything we can to give it to them.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business? Can you share some tips on how your team is dealing with the current crisis?

In the early days of the crisis, there was frantic activity to figure out what would happen and how we could work through it. We have spent countless hours preparing for all kinds of eventualities, including making changes to our service like allowing users with symptoms to request a drop-off at home instead, new operative procedures around cleanliness and hygiene, preparing for different financial scenarios and much more. I’m proud of how we have managed the situation as a team.

Business, as usual, doesn’t require a lot of management time, but navigating through a crisis does. This is actually one of the huge advantages of a startup versus established players. We are built for innovating and adapting quickly. So this is really our home turf.

Having said that, business-wise we have mostly been impacted positively where customers now more than ever are demanding smart, sustainable, and safe parcel pickups with minimum human interaction, which has lead to an increase in sales, but at the same time, our production cost has increased as well as a consequence of very strict policies around sick leaves.

Personally, one of my biggest responsibilities is to keep our staff safe, and since we have drivers and other production staff who are not able to work from home as the office staff, this has been a key focus.

So far, we are on the good side of this one, but we are very humble and try to stay on our toes as the landscape shifts and changes.

You’ve recently locked down a new financing round of €36 million. Beyond the two new market launches today, what are your plans for international expansion?

The majority of the funding will be invested to expand further in our home market Sweden, but we are looking carefully at a couple of other European markets. Fundamentally, I believe that our service will be very attractive in other markets as well. Our strategy is to partner up with one or a couple of really strong merchants in the markets we enter so that we are able to ensure that enough people can use our service. This means that we prefer to find the right partner before deciding which market to enter next.

EU-Startups