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Truepic raises $8M to expose Deepfakes, verify photos for Reddit

Startup News - 1 hour 4 min ago

How can you be sure an image wasn’t Photoshopped? Make sure it was shot with Truepic. This startup makes a camera feature that shoots photos and adds a watermark URL leading to a copy of the image it saves, so viewers can compare them to ensure the version they’re seeing hasn’t been altered.

Now Truepic’s technology is getting its most important deployment yet as the way Reddit will verify that Ask Me Anything Q&As are being conducted live by the actual person advertised — oftentimes a celebrity.

But beyond its utility for verifying AMAs, dating profiles and peer-to-peer e-commerce listings, Truepic is tackling its biggest challenge yet: identifying artificial intelligence-generated Deepfakes. These are where AI convincingly replaces the face of a person in a video with someone else’s. Right now the technology is being used to create fake pornography combining an adult film star’s body with an innocent celebrity’s face without their consent. But the big concern is that it could be used to impersonate politicians and make them appear to say or do things they haven’t.

The need for ways to weed out Deepfakes has attracted a new $8 million round for Truepic. The cash comes from untraditional startup investors, including Dowling Capital Partners, former Thomson Financial (which become Reuters) CEO Jeffrey Parker, Harvard Business school professor William Sahlman and more. The Series A brings Truepic to $10.5 million in funding.

Truepic fights photo fraud on apps like Tinder and Airbnb

“We started Truepic long before manipulated images impacted democratic elections across the globe, digital evidence of atrocities and human rights abuses were regularly undermined, or online identities were fabricated to advance political agendas — but now we fully recognize its impact on society,” says Truepic founder and COO Craig Stack. “The world needs the Truepic technology to help right the wrongs that have been created by the abuse of digital imagery.”

Here’s how Truepic works:

  1. Snap a photo in Truepic’s iOS and Android app, or an app that’s paid to embed its SDK in their own app
  2. Truepic verifies the image hasn’t been altered already, and watermarks it with a time stamp, geocode, URL and other metadata
  3. Truepic’s secure servers store a version of the photo, assigned with a six-digit code and its URL, plus a spot on an immutable blockchain
  4. Users can post their Truepic in apps to prove they’re not catfishing someone on a dating site, selling something broken on an e-commerce site, or elsewhere
  5. Viewers can visit the URL watermarked onto the photo to compare it to the vault-saved version to ensure it hasn’t been modified after the fact

For example, Reddit’s own Wiki recommends that AMA creators use the Truepic app to snap a photo of them holding a handwritten sign with their name and the date on it. “Truepic’s technology allows us to quickly and safely verify the identity and claims for some of our most eccentric guests,” says Reddit AMA moderator and Lynch LLP intellectual property attorney Brian Lynch. “Truepic is a perfect tool for the ever-evolving geography of privacy laws and social constructs across the internet.”

The abuses of image manipulation are evolving, too. Deepfakes could embarrass celebrities… or start a war. “We will be investing in offline image and video analysis and already have identified some subtle forensic techniques we can use to detect forgeries like deepfakes,” Truepic CEO Jeff McGregor tells me. “In particular, one can analyze hair, ears, reflectivity of eyes and other details that are nearly impossible to render true-to-life across the thousands of frames of a typical video. Identifying even a few frames that are fake is enough to declare a video fake.”

This will always be a cat and mouse game, but from newsrooms to video platforms, Truepic’s technology could keep content creators honest. The startup has also begun partnering with NGOs like the Syrian American Medical Society to help it deliver verified documentation of atrocities in the country’s conflict zone. The Human Rights Foundation also trained humanitarian leaders on how to use Truepic at the 2018 Freedom Forum in Oslo.

Throwing shade at Facebook, McGregor concludes that “The internet has quickly become a dumpster fire of disinformation. Fraudsters have taken full advantage of unsuspecting consumers and social platforms facilitate the swift spread of false narratives, leaving over 3.2 billion people on the internet to make self-determinations over what’s trustworthy vs. fake online… we intend to fix that by bringing a layer of trust back to the internet.”

Categories: Business News

StreetCred is building a blockchain-based marketplace for location data

Startup News - 1 hour 19 min ago

While applications like Google Maps and Yelp seem to provide an inexhaustible source of information about local restaurants, stores and other points of interest, they also can come up short — moments when you arrive somewhere only to discover that the hours you had were wrong, or the store is closed for a holiday, or it’s just shut down altogether.

The team at StreetCred is trying to build a better system for gathering and selling that data. And it’s raised $1 million in seed funding from Bowery Capital and Notation Capital.

CEO Randy Meech explained that if someone wanted to build the next Uber or the next Pokémon GO, they’d need location data to make it work. And while they could buy that data now, it’s “very difficult, very expensive.”

Plus, he sees room for lots more data — while Foursquare has data about 105 million points of interest and Google has 100 million, Meech estimates that there are more than 1 billion POIs across the world, many of them in developing nations where the data is more spotty.

So StreetCred is building a marketplace where users should be rewarded for collecting this data, while interested companies should be able to buy the data more easily.

Meech has been working on mapping for years, serving as the CTO at MapQuest (which, like TechCrunch, is owned by Verizon/Oath) and then as CEO at Mapzen, an open-source mapping subsidiary of Samsung. That’s where Meech met his StreetCred co-founder Diana Shkolnikov — he said StreetCred was created partly in response to the disappointment of shutting down Mapzen earlier this year.

“If we can get this protocol and data economy right, it can’t be shut down,” Meech said. That means leveraging blockchain technology: “It’s a very natural way to open up and decentralize the data and also to build a payment mechanism around that.”

StreetCred is just starting to test the system out around New York City. The idea is that users can download an app and then collect location data around the city, earning crypto tokens as they do. (They take photos to validate their location, and the data is also verified by other users.) Then companies that want to buy the data can do so by purchasing tokens.

Meech drew parallels to Foursquare, which started as a location-sharing app before building a business around its data. StreetCred, on the other hand, won’t have any social component — Meech said the app will be “completely anonymous” and focus entirely on the collection of location data.

The team is still experimenting with the specific details of how contributions are incentivized and compensated, but Meech said users will be paid through an “anonymized wallet mechanism.” And while it’s important to make sure StreetCred’s tokens can be converted into “fiat currency” (i.e. regular money), Meech said this approach should also mean users are more invested in StreetCred’s success: “We want to build an asset where the value of the currency is tied to the value of the data,” Meech emphasized.

“Our thesis is that if you make the data much more accessible, much cheaper to buy … you’re going to make things a lot easier and enable things that don’t exist today,” he said.

Categories: Business News

Tiller raises $13.9 million for its modern cash register

Startup News - 4 hours 9 min ago

French startup Tiller has raised a $13.9 million Series B round (€12 million) from Ring Capital. Omnes Capital and existing investors 360 Capital Partners also participated in today’s funding round. The company has been working on a cash register that works better than your clunky touchscreen from ten years ago.

Tiller is working on a software solution for restaurants. It works with a good old iPad and connects with multiple payment solutions.

You can customize the menu and restaurant layout in the app to make it as easy as possible to enter an order. And at the end of the meal, you can make your customers pay using multiple payment methods and keep track of what’s left to pay.

This sounds like basic features, but Tiller’s secret sauce is that you can configure your app and integrate with many third-party services. For instance, you can manage your inventory and your staff directly from Tiller with third-party services.

You can receive orders from UberEats or Lunchr on your Tiller tablet. You can manage bookings from TheFork and other services.

When it comes to payment, you can pair Tiller with a Sumup or Ingenico card reader and accept all sorts of cards and contactless payments. You can also add Lydia, Lyf Pay and other mobile payment apps. Finally, Tiller tries to automate your accounting reports as much as possible.

If you want to use Tiller even more than that, you can give an iPhone to your waiters so that they can use the Tiller mobile app to write down orders. You can also get reports and track your revenue depending on the time of the day or the product category.

Most of Tiller’s clients are based in France and Spain, and the startup has attracted 5,000 clients so far. With today’s funding round, the company plans to attract more customers in other European countries.

It’s also worth noting that Tiller has the option to raise an additional $9.3 million (€8 million) to finance acquisitions. It could be a good way to get started in new markets.

Categories: Business News

TelcoBridges FreeSBC Wins 2018 Cloud Computing Product-of-the-Year…

Google News - VoIP - 4 hours 54 min ago
TelcoBridges, the leading designer and manufacturer of carrier-grade Tmedia VoIP gateways and the FreeSBC, today announced that TMC's Cloud ...
Categories: VoIP News

Stensul raises $7M to make email creation easier for marketers

Startup News - 6 hours 39 sec ago

Email marketing startup Stensul is announcing that it has raised $7 million.

Stensul spun out of founder and CEO Noah Dinkin’s previous company FanBridge. Dinkin explained via email that the startup isn’t competing with the big email service providers — in fact, it integrates with ESPs including Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Oracle Marketing Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud and Marketo.

Dinkin said that while ESPs include email creation tools, most companies ignore them. Instead, the marketer has to work with specialists like designers, developers and agencies: “That process often takes weeks, everyone hates it, and it is SUPER expensive.”

Stensul, meanwhile, is focused exclusively on the email creation process. Marketers at large enterprises can build the email themselves, without having to rely on anyone else, in less than 20 minutes.

“They don’t need to know how to code, they don’t need to know how to use Photoshop or have memorized the 100 page pdf of brand guidelines,” Dinkin said. “The platform controls for brand governance and rules, and also guarantees that the output will be technically perfect.”

Javelin Venture Partners led the Series A, with participation from Arthur Ventures, First Round Capital, Uncork Capital, Lowercase Capital and former ExactTarget President Scott McCorkle.

“Stensul has zeroed in on a massive problem space hiding in plain sight,” said Javelin’s Alex Gurevich in the funding announcement. “Email Marketing is used by every large company in the world, and the amount of time and money spent on email creation is far more than most people realize. The quality of top-tier customers that stensul has been able to bring on made it clear to us that they have a solution that really delivers value on day 1.”

Companies that have used Stensul include YouTube, Grubhub, BMW, Lyft and Box. Dinkin said he will continue to invest in product, but the big goal with the new funding is to grow sales and marketing.

Categories: Business News

Hired raises $30M to build an easy subscription pipeline for company hiring

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 10:00pm

Recruiting is one of the latest industries to get a data science makeover through companies like Hired and Triplebyte, but the former hopes to turn it into a subscription business just like other enterprise software companies — and has raised a new pile of funding to do that.

Hired looks to serve as a one-stop recruiting point for both companies and potential candidates. The startup collects information like a basic profile, some thoughts on what those candidates are looking for, and your resume information, and then crunches that through a series of back-end algorithms and processes in order to figure out the best match for that candidate. It then points those candidates to hiring managers at companies that are looking for a strong pipeline of candidates, though the company now hopes that they will be able to build a kind of recurring revenue model for those companies with its subscription business. Hired today also said it has raised $30 million in new financing led by the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario.

“Outside of your choice of life partner your choice of where to work is the second most important decision to make,” CEO Mehul Patel said. “You spend most of your time at work, and any misery or joy you take back to your life partner. When you look at recruiting, it’s a massive industry, and to companies it’s existential to find great talent — but it’s massively broken. Ask anyone who searches for a job whether it works great, and you are going to get a unanimous answer that it doesn’t.”

Chances are you’ve gotten a few pitches on LinkedIn to go throw your information on Hired, but that’s all part of the performance marketing that the company hopes to use to get a robust set of candidates onto the platform. By doing that, it can continue to not only have a steady stream of candidates, but also collect more and more information on what candidates might be the best fit. For example, a school might not be the best indicator of future success, while the number of followers on a Github account could be a better barometer for the performance of the candidate. It’s a pretty intuitive result, but not one that hiring managers are likely actively tracking unless they already know that’s the best protocol.

Through that, Hired tries to compress the amount of time it takes for a company to say it needs a candidate and then that candidate actually getting hired. The subscription idea is that hiring managers will be able to just post a position — whether it’s new or back-filling an existing role — and keep that steady stream of candidates coming. Patel said the company has been able to squish that threshold down to around 25 days, which was one data point they could flag investors on in order to convince them that the model was working. (The company, which did not disclose its bookings, also said its bookings grew 300% year-over-year, which is a big number but without a point of reference isn’t so useful.)

“We’re seeing the importance of data not just to drive the outcomes — that data lets you compare against other companies and makes sure you’re better hiring for any company,” Patel said. “We have data about which companies are successful, or why aren’t they successful, and we can share that and help companies figure out their best practices. That combination of helping companies hire predictably, or using high quality talent and doing that with great insight, is [where we think we’ll succeed].”

That subscription model is also going to be an important one as a hedge against a potential downturn, where hiring might slow. If the startup is able to convince companies that it is a viable pipeline that they should be paying a recurring fee, it might be able to absorb the shock of a recession and a slowdown in hiring and prove useful in cases like incremental hiring and back-filling old roles. The company also said that it has hired John Kelly to be its vice president of revenue, who previously worked at companies like SAP, Oracle, and FindView.

There’s going to be plenty of competition, especially as these companies are able to collect more and more data. There’s Recruit Holdings, the mega-Frankenstein of companies that include Indeed and GlassDoor (which the company acquired for $1.2 billion), that would likely provide the largest hurdle to cover. Patel said Hired should be able to close the time gap between finding the candidate and the hiring process, which would be the primary metric of success for the company, faster than other companies.

Categories: Business News

Nginx lands $43 million Series C to fuel expansion

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 10:00pm

Nginx, the commercial company behind the open source web server, announced a $43 million Series C investment today led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity.

NEA, which has been on board as an early investor is also participating As part of the deal, David Campbell, managing director at Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division will join the Nginx board. Today’s investment brings the total raised to $103 million, according to the company.

The company was not willing to discuss valuation for this round.

Nginx’s open source approach is already well established running 400 million websites including some of the biggest in the world. Meanwhile, the commercial side of the business has 1500 paying customers, giving those customers not just support, but additional functionality such as load balancing, an API gateway and analytics.

Nginx CEO Gus Robertson was pleased to get the backing of such prestigious investors. “NEA is one of the largest venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and Goldman Sachs is one of the largest investment banks in the world. And so to have both of those parceled together to lead this round is a great testament to the company and the technology and the team,” he said.

The company already has plans to expand its core commercial product, Nginx Plus in the coming weeks. “We need to continue to innovate and build products that help our customers alleviate the complexity of delivery of distributed or micro service based applications. So you’ll see us release a new product in the coming weeks called Controller. Controller is the control plane on top of Nginx Plus,” Robertson explained. (Controller was launched in Beta last fall.)

But with $43 million in the bank, they want to look to build out Nginx Plus even more in the next 12-18 months. They will also be opening new offices globally to add to its international presence, while expanding its partners ecosystem. All of this means an ambitious goal to increase the current staff of 220 to 300 by the end of the year.

The open source product was originally created by Igor Sysoev back in 2002. He introduced the commercial company on top of the open source project in 2011. Robertson came on board as CEO a year later. The company has been growing 100 percent year over year since 2013 and expects to continue that trajectory through 2019.

Categories: Business News

Taiwan-based media startup The News Lens raises Series C for its international growth plans

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 8:57pm

The News Lens launched in 2013 as an independent news site for Taiwanese readers disenchanted with the country’s tabloid-ridden media. Now it has 9 million monthly unique readers, offices in Taipei and Hong Kong and just announced it has raised a Series C. The Taipei-based startup did not disclose the exact amount of the round, but founder and CEO Joey Chung told TechCrunch it’s between $3 million to $4 million.

The round includes participation from Dorcas, Hazel Asset Management, Walden International and returning investor North Base Media. Individual investors in the round include Steve Chen, co-founder and former chief technology officer of YouTube, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and Charles Huang, the co-creator of Guitar Hero.

At the very beginning, The News Lens was a Facebook page that shared news and analysis before launching its eponymous site with original content and videos. Now the startup envisions its future as a media group, with several brands. Earlier this year, The News Lens acquired two Taiwanese content producers, tech news site Inside and sports site Sports Vision, which still operate as separate brands. The News Lens’ two other verticals are its flagship news site, which now has Chinese-language editions for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, as well as an English version for international readers, and ELD, which covers lifestyle and fashion.

The News Lens will use some of its new capital to launch its in-house content management and data analytics platform and plans to gain more international readers through strategic partnerships or acquisitions of other Chinese-language online media companies.

Categories: Business News

Meditation app Calm hits a $250M valuation amid an explosion of interest in mindfulness apps

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 8:30pm

Just a few years ago, it might have been a bit of a challenge to convince investors that a mindfulness app would end up being a big business — but thanks to an increasing focus on mental health from both startups and larger companies, companies like Calm are now capturing the excitement of investors.

From meditation sessions like you might find on other apps to tracks called “sleep stories” designed to help people get control of their sleep, Calm serves as a suite of content for users focusing on mental wellness. It’s one of an increasingly hot space centered around mental wellness and maintaining a sort of mindfulness in the hope that it’ll convert into a daily habit and help people just generally feel, well, more calm. The company says it has raised $27 million in a new financing round that values it at a $250 million pre-money led by Insight Venture Partners with Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures also participating. Before this, Calm raised around $1.5 million in seed funding.

“There’s definitely a bias toward the physical body in fitness,” co-founder Michael Acton Smith said. “For a long time there’s been a certain amount of embarrassment and shame talking about our own feelings. A lot of people are realizing that we’re all, at different times, going through tough times. I think that’s part of the culture we’ve grown up in. Everything’s been about improving the efficiency and improving the effectiveness and the external circumstances. We haven’t considered the internal circumstances the same way. The same thing isn’t true of eastern philosophies. This crossover is just beginning to happen in a big way.”

Calm, at its core, is a hub of content centered around mindfulness ranging from in-the-moment sessions to tracks that are designed to soothing enough to help people get ready to go to sleep. Everything boils down to trying to help teach users mindfulness, which is in of itself a skill that requires training, co-founder Alex Tew said. This itself has morphed into a business in of itself, with the company generating $22 million in revenue in 2017 and reaching an annual revenue run rate of $75 million.

And the more content the company creates, and the more people come back, the more data it acquires on what’s working and what isn’t. Like any other tech tool or service, some of the content resonates with users and some doesn’t, and the startup looks to employ the same rigor that many other companies with a heavy testing culture to ensure that the experience is simple for users that will jump in and jump out. For example, it turns out a voice named Eric reading stories about being on a train struck a chord with users — so the company invested more in Eric.

“It’s a tricky balance,” Tew said. “Sometimes we’ll launch things that we think are popular but don’t end up being popular, but there’s never been any kind of dramatic errors. We try to create content that will appeal to the biggest range of users. We speak to our customers and find out what they would like.”

Calm’s focus is built off of an increasingly important topic the technology industry is grappling with — mental health. As more and more users pick up Calm and start listening to the tracks, the company can start to figure out what kinds of sessions or tools are helping people want to come back more often and, in theory, start feeling better with those kinds of practices. If you talk to investors in the valley, helping founders manage the highs and lows of starting a company is increasingly part of the discussion, with the refrain that ‘people are at least talking about it now’ showing up more and more often. That’s also helping companies like Calm and Headspace attract funding from the venture community.

“It does feel like a major societal shift,” Acton Smith said. “Just a few years ago no one talked about mental health, it was very much in the shadows. As more politicians talk about it, as the media treat it as something normal and healthy to do, more and more people step out of the shadows and into the light. We realize the brain is pretty much the most complex thing in the known universe, it’s not surprising it goes wrong every now and then. To be able to talk about that and understand it is a very healthy and positive thing. It just feels like we’re at the start, 50 years ago the wave began around physical fitness, jogging, aerobics, and now we’re at the start of this new wave.

Calm and other mindfulness apps are not the only companies at play here. Indeed, the two largest direct owners of smartphone platforms — Apple and Google — this year announced a suite of tools geared toward trying to manage the amount of time users end up glued to their screens. While those are centered around helping users manage their time on their phones, it does show that even the largest companies in the world are increasingly aware of the potential negative effects their devices may have spawned from people spending all their time on their phones.

But by extension, Calm is not the only app where people can throw on some headphones and listen to a soothing voice with a British accent. Headspace is another obvious player in the space, having also raised a substantial amount of funding. Tew said the goal is to remain focused on simplicity, which in the end will keep people coming back over and over — and then end up continuing to drive that business.

“There was a lot of skepticism around Calm and this category as recently as a year ago,” Acton Smith said.” People were concerned that there was a lot of competition, and wondered whether people would really pay for this. We’ve quite convincingly shown we’ve answered all those questions with the growth we’ve had in our user numbers and our revenue. This is a successful business with very high margins and a huge addressable market. If you think about Nike, and the physical exercise boom being worth tens of billions, there’s no reason why mental wellness won’t be.”

Categories: Business News

Telecoms 'monopolistic mentality' hindering Dubai's Smart City plans

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 8:08pm
VoIP services have been blocked for many years by Etisalat and du, who said that the free services did not meet the country's licensing requirements.
Categories: VoIP News

Pioneering Hosted Telecommunications Firm DigitalPhone.io Prepares to Celebrate 20 Years of ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 7:07pm
... ease of deployment, and many user-friendly packages – from a full turnkey set-up including dial tone and VoIP phones, to automated call answering ...
Categories: VoIP News

Voiptoners offer free speed and ping testing for your <b>VoIP</b>

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 6:22pm
There is a free comparison service online that will allow you to make free side by side compare from the best VoIP available in the market nowadays.
Categories: VoIP News

Italian grocery delivery service Supermercato24 picks up €13M Series B

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 5:00pm

Supermercato24, an Italian same-day grocery delivery service, has raised €13 million in Series B funding. Leading the round is FII Tech Growth, with participation from new investor Endeavor Catalyst, and current investors 360 Capital Partners, and Innogest.

Similar to Instacart in the U.S. and claiming to be the leader in Italy, Supermercato24 lets customers order from local supermarkets for delivery. The startup uses gig economy-styled personal shoppers who go into the store and ‘pick’ the products ordered and then deliver them same-day, or for an added cost within an hour.

The company charges a delivery fee to consumers, but also generates revenue from fees charged to partnering merchants, and, notably, through advertising. Supermercato24 says it has more than 15 partnerships with merchants, and has more than 50 consumer packaged goods customers (CPGs) advertising on its platform.

“Our customers represent that increasing share of the population that would love to spend their time differently rather than doing grocery shopping,” says Supermercato24 CEO Federico Sargenti, who was previously an Amazon Executive and launched the Amazon FMCG Business in Italy and Spain.

“Going to the store, pushing a cart through the alleys, queuing up, checking out and lifting heavy grocery shopping bags from the store’s register all the way up to your apartment can take lots of energy and up to 3 hours every week. Plenty of people would prefer to do all of that in a few minutes”.

Specifically, Sargenti says that Supermercato24’s customers span “hip youngsters to elderly people, single professionals to parents and working couples,” and that more than 65 percent of customers are women. “Customers have high expectations on their groceries, because they are used to choosing from a wide product range at supermarkets, with competitive prices and qualitative fresh products. Plus, they expect a comfortable, convenient and same-day delivery. And that’s what we offer them,” he adds.

The company’s grocery ordering and delivery service is active in more than 23 Italian cities, and Supermercato24 says a number of cities are already profitable at contribution margin level. That said, Sargenti concedes it is still early days in terms of the switch from offline grocery shopping to online. He also says that Southern Europe has been historically limited by a lack of supply and that the way to address this is a collaboration between traditional grocery retailers and tech companies like Supermercato24, a model that he insists can scale in both large and small cities.

The Italian grocery market is particularly fragmented, too, with the top 5 retailers owning less than 40 percent of the national grocery market, apparently. This arguably makes it more ripe for a marketplace rather than traditional e-grocery delivery model. One challenge is that the majority of people in Italy don’t live in large cities or other high population density areas of the country. It is Supermercato24’s ability to scale in low density areas — or so it claims — that gives it an edge.

Meanwhile, I’m told the new funding will be used to improve operations and product both for customers and for merchants, as well as to expand the service to new markets. “In Europe, Supermercato24 is already the biggest on-demand e-grocery marketplace in terms of revenues and it’s already in discussion with current and prospect retailers to expand the service across Europe to successfully replicate Instacart’s case,” says the company, unashamedly.

Categories: Business News

Global <b>VoIP</b> Software Market 2018: Research Analysis, Strategies, Business Plan, Revenue ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 4:18pm
The Research report published by QuestForesight Global VoIP Software Market 2018 provides global coverage of VoIP Software market data from ...
Categories: VoIP News

Feed raises $17.4 million for its Soylent-like food products

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 4:17pm

French startup Feed is raising a $17.4 million funding round (€15 million) from Alven and Otium Brands. Feed has been selling meal replacement products in Europe and now plans to expand to other countries.

There are multiple variations of Feed. The company started with a powder-based product that represents the equivalent of one meal. You add some water, shake it a bit and drink it. You can now also buy the equivalent of a cereal bar with everything you need to stay alive.

It sounds a bit like Soylent, which itself sounds a bit like SlimFast and all those products from the 1980s and 1990s. It’s worth noting that Soylent only sells in the U.S. and Canada. Feed products are vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, GMO-free and made in France.

A few months ago, I bought a bottle of Feed powder to give it a try — I wasn’t particularly convinced. But it sounds like many people like it — the company has sold 1 million kilograms of powder, which represents over 6.5 million bottles in total. In 2018, Feed plans to generate $11.6 million in revenue.

Feed doesn’t think you should replace all your meals with a Feed product. But if you’re in a rush or you want to lose some weight, you could swap your lunch for a Feed product every now and then. Feed competes with Huel, Jimmy Joy and another French startup selling meal replacement products, So Shape (only tangentially as So Shape is focused on losing weight).

Beyond the product itself, Feed is the perfect example of a strong online brand. The company has built an online community with hundreds of thousands of followers. There are dozens of videos of people testing Feed on YouTube. And the company knows how to target online customers using the right channel.

While you can find Feed products in many French supermarkets, the company also sells its products on its website and delivers in 30 countries. By building a strong brand and attracting online customers, the company can generate bigger margins than in selling through your local supermarket.

And the brand is the reason why Feed is valuable and can attract funding. Now, Feed can launch its product in new countries and could sign new partnerships with supermarkets across Europe.

Update: I added more competitors and more details about So Shape.

Categories: Business News

Telecoms &#39;monopolistic mentality&#39; hindering Dubai&#39;s attempt to become Smart City, says Dr Habib ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 3:45pm
VoIP services were blocked in the UAE in December 2017 by both Etisalat and du, who warned that the services, most of which are free of charge, did ...
Categories: VoIP News

D-Link Covr review: A mesh Wi-Fi system with snazzy looks but uneven results

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 12:33pm
While traditional home networking setups are far from extinct, there's a basket of very good reasons that mesh-based Wi-Fi is driving a new wave of ...
Categories: VoIP News

Siptel Pte Ltd bringing the future to the present with <b>VOIP</b> technology

Google News - VoIP - 2018, June 20 - 8:37am
Leading internet telephony services provider, Spitel, offers VOIP technology to businesses in and around Singapore. Siptel is a Singapore-based ...
Categories: VoIP News

Startup Grind founders raise $6.4M for community event platform Bevy

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 8:08am

The founders of entrepreneurial community Startup Grind have a startup of their own — Bevy, which announced today that it has raised $6.4 million in Series A funding.

The funding comes from Upfront Ventures, author Steve Blank, Qualtrics founders Ryan Smith and Jared Smith, and Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard.

CEO Derek Andersen (who founded and runs both Bevy and Startup Grind with CTO Joel Fernandes) said that the product was created to deal with Startup Grind’s challenges as the team tried to organize events using a mix of Eventbrite, Meetup and MailChimp,

“It worked fine at first, but a few years later, we looked up and we had hundreds of cities, and we had maybe 500 people that were working on it, and it was too much,” Andersen said. “For the first time in many years, we started to get smaller instead of bigger. We were spending all of this time just running triage and maintenance on the platform.”

So in early 2016, the team built its own event management software, with what Andersen said was “no intention of anyone else using it.” But eventually, he realized that other companies were facing similar problems, so he launched Bevy as a separate startup to further develop and commercialize the product.

“We really focus on the smaller, community events,” Andersen added. “If you just do a conference, Eventbrite is great — I’ve hosted thousands of events on Eventbrite. But if you want to host five or 10 events a month or jack that number up anywhere above that, and you don’t want to hire 10 people, then that’s really what we’re perfect to do.”

Usually, these are events where community members play a big role, or are even doing most of the organizing themselves. So beyond supporting tasks like creating event listings, sending out promotional emails and managing sponsorships, Andersen said one of Bevy’s big differentiators is the ability to precisely control which users are authorized to perform different roles at different events.

In addition, Andersen said that with Bevy, companies can create fully branded experiences and get full access to the customer data around their events. Customers include Atlassian, Duolingo, Docker, Evernote and Asana.

Andersen also suggested that the company is taking advantage of a broader shift in marketing, where companies are relying more on their own customers and communities.

“All the best companies do it today,” he said. He predicted that in the future, “Every company will have a customer-to-customer marketing strategy. Now we’ve made it affordable and turnkey.”

Categories: Business News

Keepsafe launches a privacy-focused mobile browser

Startup News - 2018, June 20 - 6:44am

Keepsafe, the company behind the private photo app of the same name, is expanding its product lineup today with the release of a mobile web browser.

Co-founder and CEO Zouhair Belkoura argued that all of Keepsafe’s products (which also include a VPN app and a private phone number generator) are united not just by a focus on privacy, but by a determination to make those features simple and easy-to-understand — in contrast to what Belkoura described as “how security is designed in techland,” with lots of jargon and complicated settings.

Plus, when it comes to your online activity, Belkoura said there are different levels of privacy. There’s the question of the government and large tech companies accessing our personal data, which he argued people care about intellectually, but “they don’t really care about it emotionally.”

Then there’s “the nosy neighbor problem,” which Belkoura suggested is something people feel more strongly about: “A billion people are using Gmail and it’s scanning all their email [for advertising], but if I were to walk up to you and say, ‘Hey, can I read your email?’ you’d be like, ‘No, that’s kind of weird, go away.’ ”

It looks like Keepsafe is trying to tackle both kinds of privacy with its browser. For one thing, you can lock the browser with a PIN (it also supports Touch ID, Face ID and Android Fingerprint).

Then once you’re actually browsing, you can either do it in normal tabs, where social, advertising and analytics trackers are blocked (you can toggle which kinds of trackers are affected), but cookies and caching are still allowed — so you stay logged in to websites, and other session data is retained. But if you want an additional layer of privacy, you can open a private tab, where everything gets forgotten as soon as you close it.

While you can get some of these protections just by turning on private/incognito mode in a regular browser, Belkoura said there’s a clarity for consumers when an app is designed specifically for privacy, and the app is part of a broader suite of privacy-focused products. In addition, he said he’s hoping to build meaningful integrations between the different Keepsafe products.

Keepsafe Browser is available for free on iOS and Android.

When asked about monetization, Belkoura said, “I don’t think that the private browser per se is a good place to directly monetize … I’m more interested in saying this is part of the Keepsafe suite and there are other parts of the Keepsafe Suite that we’ll charge you money for.”

Categories: Business News

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