BeeHero smartens up hives to provide ‘pollination as a service’ with $4M seed round

Vast monoculture farms outstripped the ability of bee populations to pollinate them naturally long ago, but the techniques that have arisen to fill that gap are neither precise nor modern. Israeli startup BeeHero aims to change that by treating hives both as living things and IoT devices, tracking health and pollination progress practically in real time. It just raised a $ 4 million seed round that should help expand its operations into U.S. agriculture.

Honeybees are used around the world to pollinate crops, and there has been growing demand for beekeepers who can provide lots of hives on short notice and move them wherever they need to be. But the process has been hamstrung by the threat of colony collapse, an increasingly common end to hives, often as the result of mite infestation.

Hives must be deployed and checked manually and regularly, entailing a great deal of labor by the beekeepers — it’s not something just anyone can do. They can only cover so much land over a given period, meaning a hive may go weeks between inspections — during which time it could have succumbed to colony collapse, perhaps dooming the acres it was intended to pollinate to a poor yield. It’s costly, time-consuming, and decidedly last-century.

So what’s the solution? As in so many other industries, it’s the so-called Internet of Things. But the way CEO and founder Omer Davidi explains it, it makes a lot of sense.

“This is a math game, a probabilistic game,” he said. “We’ve modeled the problem, and the main factors that affect it are, one, how do you get more efficient bees into the field, and two, what is the most efficient way to deploy them? ”

Normally this would be determined ahead of time and monitored with the aforementioned manual checks. But off-the-shelf sensors can provide a window into the behavior and condition of a hive, monitoring both health and efficiency. You might say it puts the API in apiculture.

“We collect temperature, humidity, sound, there’s an accelerometer. For pollination, we use pollen traps and computer vision to check the amount of pollen brought to the colony,” he said. “We combine this with microclimate stuff and other info, and the behaviors and patterns we see inside the hives correlate with other things. The stress level of the queen, for instance. We’ve tested this on thousands of hives; it’s almost like the bees are telling us, ‘we have a queen problem.’ ”

All this information goes straight to an online dashboard where trends can be assessed, dangerous conditions identified early, and plans made for things like replacing or shifting less or more efficient hives.

The company claims that its readings are within a few percentage points of ground truth measurements made by beekeepers, but of course it can be done instantly and from home, saving everyone a lot of time, hassle, and cost.

The results of better hive deployment and monitoring can be quite remarkable, though Davidi was quick to add that his company is building on a growing foundation of work in this increasingly important domain.

“We didn’t invent this process, it’s been researched for years by people much smarter than us. But we’ve seen increases in yield of 30-35 percent in soybeans, 70-100 percent in apples and cashews in South America,” he said. It may boggle the mind that such immense improvements can come from just better bee management, but the case studies they’ve run have borne it out. Even “self-pollinating” (i.e. by the wind or other measures) crops that don’t need pollinators show serious improvements.

The platform is more than a growth aid and labor saver. Colony collapse is killing honeybees at enormous rates, but if it can be detected early, it can be mitigated and the hive potentially saved. That’s hard to do when time from infection to collapse is a matter of days and you’re inspecting biweekly. BeeHero’s metrics can give early warning of mite infestations, giving beekeepers a head start on keeping their hives alive.

“We’ve seen cases where you can lower mortality by 20-25 percent,” said Davidi. “It’s good for the farmer to improve pollination, and it’s good for the beekeeper to lose less hives.”

That’s part of the company’s aim to provide value up and down the chain, not just a tool for beekeepers to check the temperatures of their hives. “Helping the bees is good, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem. You want to help whole operations,” Davidi said. The aim is “to provide insights rather than raw data: whether the queen is in danger, if the quality of the pollination is different.”

Other startups have similar ideas, but Davidi noted that they’re generally working on a smaller scale, some focused on hobbyists who want to monitor honey production, or small businesses looking to monitor a few dozen hives versus his company’s nearly twenty thousand. BeeHero aims for scale both with robust but off-the-shelf hardware to keep costs low, and by focusing on an increasingly tech-savvy agriculture sector here in the States.

“The reason we’re focused on the U.S. is the adoption of precision agriculture is very high in this market, and I must say it’s a huge market,” Davidi said. “80 percent of the world’s almonds are grown in California, so you have a small area where you can have a big impact.”

The $ 4M seed round’s investors include Rabo Food and Agri Innovation Fund, UpWest, iAngels, Plug and Play, and J-Ventures.

BeeHero is still very much also working on R&D, exploring other crops, improved metrics, and partnerships with universities to use the hive data in academic studies. Expect to hear more as the market grows and the need for smart bee management starts sounding a little less weird and a lot more like a necessity for modern agriculture.

Startups – TechCrunch

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!

Post COVID-19 updates: BlaBlaCar and Voi join forces for BlaBla Ride scooter service

As France is recovering from the COVID-19 outbreak and is returning the normalcy, there is a need for sustainable and safe modes of transportation. To make this possible, BlaBlaCar and Voi Technology make this possible by joining hands to provide commuters with BlaBla Ride scooters. This will enable the two mobility players to build a seamless and integrated experience.

With their expertise, both Voi Technology and BlaBlaCar will help make scooters reliable and available across large cities in France and provide a responsible service adhering to local guidelines and regulations.

How is it beneficial?

The 18 million members of BlaBlaCar in France will be able to access the services of BlaBla Ride scooter via the app using their BlaBlaCar account. Members can choose a scooter to rider on the last mile of a longer carpool or bus trip. This way, BlaBla Ride scooter service provides a convenient and environmentally efficient door-to-door trip.

On June 5, the first step of the partnership will take place with the co-branding of Voi app and scooters as BlaBla Ride. There won’t be any major changes for the existing in France other than the re-branding on the Voi app and scooters.

“I am very pleased with this partnership. We are both leaders in our field and share the passion of reducing car emissions and fostering shared mobility. By working together, we will create the best of both worlds and at the same time both companies can focus on their respective strengths – so it’s a win-win all around”, said Fredrik Hjelm, CEO of Voi Technology.

“Voi and BlaBlaCar have a common enemy: inefficient car usage and CO2 emissions. By joining forces, we can go one step further in making mobility smarter and more efficient in cities. This cooperation has been a long time in the making, but now it seems more than ever relevant to our members in the wake of Covid-19, and as regulation creates a clearer playing field for micro-mobility. Scooters and micro-mobility can transform the way that people live, work and move through cities just as carpooling has transformed long-distance travel”, said Nicolas Brusson, co-founder and CEO of BlaBlaCar.

Main image picture credits: BlaBla Ride

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news.

The post Post COVID-19 updates: BlaBlaCar and Voi join forces for BlaBla Ride scooter service appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Amid pandemic, London-based Thriva secures €4.5M funding to offer at-home health service

Once you get to know what’s going on inside your body, you can understand the impact of your lifestyle on your health and start to make small changes that add up to a healthier you. While there was no simple and convenient method to track it, Thriva, a London-based startup changed it through personalised home-kit. 

Raised €4.5 million!

In the latest development, the UK company has secured a £4 million (approx €4.5 million) extension to its Series A funding round from Berlin-based VC Target Global. The investment comes from Target Global’s new Early Stage Fund II. 

To date, the company has raised £11 million (approx €12.2 million). Existing investors include Guinness Asset Management and Pembroke VCT.

With this funding, the company intends to expand its at-home health service designed to help people stay on the front foot with their health and to continue putting better health in your hands. 

Hamish Grierson, co-founder, and CEO of Thriva 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.”

Processed over 115,000 tests! 

Thriva has processed over 115,000 test at-home blood tests since 2016 which have helped people keep track of what’s happening inside their bodies with 76% of Thriva users achieving an improvement in at least one of their biomarkers between tests.

Its at-home testing kits are processed by UKAS accredited laboratories and can analyse anything from indicators of heart disease and diabetes to vitamins and minerals and hormone function.

Hamish Grierson added: 

“We believe that now and in the near future, people will be taking a more proactive approach to their own health and wellbeing. Whilst we cannot protect ourselves entirely from the tragic effects of a global pandemic like COVID-19, this period may inspire people to invest in their general health for the long-term.”

100% year-on-year growth!

The company has now launched personalised health plans and high-quality supplements as well. As per the company claims, the business is scaling up its partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare provider looking to provide at-home testing to their patients and clients.

Notably, the company, which was founded by Hamish Grierson, Eliot Brooks, and Tom Livesey sees 100% year-on-year growth and has expanded its team significantly to 50 team members in the company’s London Headquarters.

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. Thriva has all the right ingredients to become one of those transforming category leaders we are seeking to back at Target Global.”

“We are witnessing a shift in consumer behavior towards an increasingly a proactive approach to health: people want to know what’s going on inside their bodies. Covid-19 is further accelerating this trend, which requires remote blood testing. Thriva is playing an essential role in providing a solution for increasing the test volume. We are excited to partner with Hamish, Eliot, and Tom at this pivotal point in time for the company.”

Main image credits: Thriva

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news

The post Amid pandemic, London-based Thriva secures €4.5M funding to offer at-home health service appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

CRM Service / Software

I have a question for the startup owners. Which CRM software / service do you use and why?

Please also list which other CRMs you have used in the past and reasons to stop using them.

I have seen bunch open source CRMs but I am not sure if they are good for small / medium businesses.

Thank you

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

[yulife in PR Urgent] YuLife Wins The Financial Services Forum 2020 Award for Product Service and Innovation in Insurance

Incentive-based life insurance platform YuLife recognized as insurance industry leader in the prestigious Financial Services Forum’s annual awards

Read more here.

The post [yulife in PR Urgent] YuLife Wins The Financial Services Forum 2020 Award for Product Service and Innovation in Insurance appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

I’m afraid that if I make my service subscription based, customers won’t come

So, I'm planning to build this website which provides a certain service to the users. I initially wanted to make it only add based but soon realized that this won't provide me with enough revenue. Now I'm thinking about charging each customer $ 5/month, but I'm afraid that if I do so, they won't be willing to pay. When I for example see a paid service I often choose not to use it not because of the fact that the price is too high but because of the fact that I have to pay (idk if this makes sense). How would you deal with that?

Thanks

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

With an ex-Uber exec as its new CEO, digital mental health service Mindstrong raises $100 million

Daniel Graf has had a long career in the tech industry. From founding his own startup in the mid-2000s to working at Google, then Twitter, and finally Uber, the tech business has made him extremely wealthy.

But after leaving Uber, he wasn’t necessarily interested in working at another business… at least, not until he spent an afternoon in the spring of 2019 with an old friend, General Catalyst managing director Hemant Taneja, walking in San Francisco’s South Park neighborhood and hearing Taneja talk about a new startup called Mindstrong Health.

Taneja told Graf that by the fall of that year, he’d be working at Mindstrong… and Taneja was right.

“I was intrigued by healthtech previously,” said Graf. “The problem always was… and it sounds a little too money-oriented… but if there’s no clear visibility around who pays who in a startup, the startup isn’t going to work,” and that was always his issue with healthcare businesses. 

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 21: Daniel Graf accepts a Webby award for Google Maps for iPhone at the 17th Annual Webby Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on May 21, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Webby Awards)

With Mindstrong, which announced today that it has raised $ 100 million in new financing, the issue of who pays is clear.

So Graf joined the company in November as chief executive, taking over from Paul Dagum, who remains with Mindstrong as its chief scientific officer.

“Daniel joined the company as it was moving from pure R&D into being something commercially available,” said Taneja, in an email. “In healthcare, it’s increasingly important to understand how to build for the consumer and that’s where Daniel’s experience and background comes in. Paul remains a core part of the team because none of this happens without the science.”

The company, which has developed a digital platform for providing therapy to patients with severe mental illnesses ranging from schizophrenia to obsessive compulsive disorders, is looking to tackle a problem that costs the American healthcare system $ 20 billion per month, Graf said.

Unlike companies like Headspace and Calm, which have focused on the mental wellness market for the mass consumer, Mindstrong is focused on people with severe mental health conditions, said Graf. That means people who are either bipolar, schizophrenic or have major depressive disorder.

It’s a much larger population than most Americans think, and they face a critical problem in their ability to receive adequate care, Graf said.

“1 in 5 adults experience mental illness, 1 in 25 experience serious mental illness, and the pandemic is making these numbers worse. Meanwhile, more than 60% of US counties don’t have a single practicing psychiatrist,” said Joe Lonsdale, the founder of 8VC, and an investor in the latest Mindstrong Health round, in a statement.  

Dagum, Mindstrong Health’s founder, has been working on the issue of how to provide better access and monitoring for indications of potential episodes of distress since 2013. The company’s technology provides a range of monitoring and measurement tools using digital biomarkers that are currently being validated through clinical trials, according to Graf.

“We’re passively measuring the usage of the phone and the timing of the keyboard strokes to measure how [a patient] is doing,” Graf said. These smartphone interactions can provide data around mental acuity and emotional valence, according to Graf — and can provide signs that someone might be having problems.

The company also provides access to therapists via phone and video consultations or text-based asynchronous communications, based on user preference.

“Think of us more as a virtual hospital… our care pathways are super complex for this population,” said Graf. “We’re not aware of other startups working with this population. These folks, the best you get right now is the county mental health.”

Mindstrong’s Series C raise included participation from new and existing investors, including General Catalyst, ARCH Ventures, Optum Ventures, Foresite Capital, 8VC, What If Ventures and Bezos Expeditions, along with other, undisclosed investors.  

And while mental health is the company’s current focus, the platform for care delivery that the company is building has broader implications for the industry, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, according to Taneja.

“I expect that we’ll see discoveries in biomarker tech like Mindstrong’s that could be applied horizontally across almost any area of healthcare,” Taneja said in an email. “Because healthcare is so broad and varied, going vertical like Mindstrong is makes a lot of sense. There’s opportunity to become a successful and very impactful company by staying narrowly focused and solving some really hard problems for even a smaller part of the overall population.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Pennylane is an accounting service that improves your financial visibility

Meet Pennylane, a new French startup that is a building a full-stack service to deal with your financial data. With Pennylane, you get a real-time view of your financial data and you don’t have to work with an accounting company — the startup hires accountants for you.

The startup just raised a $ 4.3 million (€4 million) seed round with Global Founders Capital, Partech and Kima Ventures. Pennylane’s founders previously worked on PriceMatch, a startup that was acquired by Booking.com in 2015.

“We invested in 25 to 30 startups — we went to see them and asked them what was missing,” Pennylane co-founder Arthur Waller told me. The team realized that there was a big discrepancy between accountants and CEOs.

Many companies work with third-party accounting companies but don’t see the direct benefits of that relationship beyond complying with the law. And yet, accountants have access to all the financial data of the company.

Usually, accountants receive data once a month in a very unstructured way. They waste a ton of time entering data in accounting software. As for companies, a CEO doesn’t know how to use accounting software and can’t take advantage of the accountant’s work to see if there’s any outstanding invoice, if clients haven’t been billed or how your company is doing financially.

That’s why many companies end up using Excel for financial projections and visibility. It’s a big waste of time as you need to connect to multiple services to download invoices, receipts, pay slips and more.

Pennylane aggregates all your financial information using APIs. You set it once and your data is automatically fetched in Pennylane. For instance, you can connect your Pennylane account with your bank account, Stripe, GoCardless, Revolut, PayFit, etc. And if you store your invoices on Google Drive, you can also connect Pennylane with your Google Drive account.

The service then tries to go through this data set on its own as much as much as possible. The company uses optical character recognition and pre-fills accounting information. The result is that companies get a clear overview of their financial data.

“Software alone isn’t going to solve that problem,” Waller said. So Pennylane has hired eight accountants who can check data, correct information if there’s anything wrong and make sure you comply with the law.

By saving time on data entry, accountants can focus on other tasks that they couldn’t handle in the past. “We want to provide a service at the same price as a traditional accounting service but that is ten times better,” Waller said.

The company started accepting customers in March and now has 117 customers, such as Luko, Liberkeys and Pricemoov. Pennylane targets medium companies, those that need to outsource their accounting because it is too complicated but don’t have an in-house accountant.

Startups – TechCrunch

Pitching my service to companies

Hey everyone!

I've recently taken the plunge and have been getting my company formed. I am currently waiting on my EIN, I have my website in development, my marketing materials are made, and the lawyers are drawing up the business contracts.

What, in your opinion, is the best approach to get businesses to sign up with your service? I was thinking of offering to take the decision maker to lunch, build a relationship, and show them my materials and how we can help their business. If anyone has had some success with how they've approached this I'd love to hear it. Thank you for your time!

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