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We all know the benefits of increased public transportation usage: lower traffic congestion, lower pollution, and lower overall living costs. However, as Matthew Yglesias points out in a recent article at Vox, sometimes politicians choose really stupid public transportation projects. While his proposed solution of better lobbying against those projects will yield long term results, I think he overlooks some shorter-term and easier-to-implement ideas, such as using technology to increase usage.Even technologies that are purely information in context can have a huge impact. As anyone who’s looked at the side of a bus stop to decipher routes in a new city knows, it basically looks like a spaghetti monster. Having tools like Google Maps on our smartphone with the “public transit” option are key to easily understanding how to get around. Couple that with the ability to set “time of arrival”, and I have everything I need to know.Adding the power of social networks only makes my transit time shorter. Companies like Moovit are the Waze of public transit: combining traditional navigation software with real time “on the ground actuals” provided by their user base sharing their experiences. Big data is another area, where companies like Rome2Rio and Wanderu find options on how to get you anywhere, regardless of whether or not you have a car.Other startups are focused on education and exposure, with Transit & Trails being one of my favorites. This company allows people to share tips on how to use public transit to easily get to nature trails. They told me how, for the same price as using a car, to leave San Francisco’s center, arrive at a Marin trailhead in about 15 minutes, hike all morning, enjoy a lunch in Sausalito, and then take a ferry around Alcatraz to get home. Startups like this put to serious question the absolute need for personal cars to easily enjoy nature.Politicians will always look to make big splashes with “sexy” projects, and thus we’ll need lobbying efforts. But, it’s important to remember that implementing simple technology on top of existing infrastructure can be the easiest way to boost public transit usage.If you’re interesting in learning more about the 400+ startups working on stuff like this, from telematics to infotainment to smart public transit, check out our Connected Transportation scan!Read More
Recently there has been a lot of media attention around the newest class of startups picked to participate in the New York Digital Health Accelerator’s (NYDHA) second class (announced July 22 2014). Before unraveling this, let’s first set the scene. 1) Digital Health is off to a record breaking start in 2014 with VC investment pouring in at a breakneck pace – $2.3B through June 30th – and 2) additionally, there has been a proliferation of Digital Health specific accelerator and incubator programs over the past few years – the stars being Rock Health and Blueprint Health (see expanded list of accelerators @ VentureScanner). It is safe to say there are A LOT of eyes on Digital Health and the ground for health tech entrepreneurs is the more fertile than ever. Resources are abundant.
Last week, Funding Circle announced that it had raised $65M in venture capital, only nine months after its last $37M round. Funding Circle is a British peer-to-peer (P2P) lending site that allows individuals to lend money directly to UK small and medium businesses. A key benefit of Funding Circle loans is in their fast approvals (“a few days”, compared to a 15-20 week process at traditional banks) at similar interest rates. The company recently expanded into the US by merging with US-based Endurance Lending Network in October 2013. In the US, the peer-to-peer lending space is dominated by two companies — Lending Club and Prosper — given the regulatory complexity in the US. These two companies corner 98% of a fast growing multi-billion dollar market (source). Just last week, market-leader Lending Club announced that it had crossed the $5B mark in total loans issued, with $1B of it issued in the past quarter alone (source). Last month, Lending Club was also reported to be planning a $500M IPO in the second-half of 2014; the company was valued at $3.8B in April this year, a 63% jump from November 2013(source). In the area of P2P loans specifically for businesses, Lending Club is the only one out of the two that offers business loans.
In the time that I have been tracking the retail online to offline space at Venture Scanner, I am even more convinced that startups in this sector are among the most exciting and innovative. With the most up-to-date one-pager below, it is easy to see the breadth of categories covered as well as the investor interest.
When I launched the IoT landscape two months ago, I had 391 companies in the system. Today I scanned my 500th company into Venture Scanner so I decided to update the category map. I also added a new category called "Tags and Trackers" as we're seeing a growing number of startups making little devices that help people find smartphones, items, and kids.
The past few weeks have seen several launch and funding announcements in the consumer banking space. Recently, German-based NUMBER26 raised a $2M seed round from investors including Axel Springer Plug and Play (more here), while another German-based startup, Avuba, just graduated from TechStars London (more here). Across the channel, UK-based Osper raised $10M from investors including Index Ventures and Horizons Ventures (Li Ka-Shing’s venture capital arm) to target the youth market (more here). UK-based Atom Bank, also raised ‘a six-figure investment’ with the aim of launching in 2015 (more here). Closer to home, Moven just raised $8M from investors including Sberbank’s SBT Venture Capital, Anthemis Group, and Standard Bank to expand overseas starting with Canada and New Zealand (more here). Other notable US-based companies include Simple, which was recently acquired by BBVA in February this year for $117M; and GoBank, part of Green Dot Bank which has specializes in re-loadable pre-paid cards targeted at the unbanked). Click here to see other similar companies tackling the Consumer Banking space.
The marketing automation industry has seen significant growth over the last 3 years. The industry covers a broad range of companies, software, and tools that allow marketers to automate the process of inbound and outbound marketing to increase the efficiency of generating and converting leads. Being the sector analyst of marketing automation, I have examined the industry in depth to cover the established giants and the up-and-coming stars. The Marketing Automation scan is divided into the following categories:
A short post today on a few interesting articles I came across on IoT chip businesses over the past few weeks. 1) IoT business small but growing fast and profitable This article talks about Intel's IoT group (used to be called the Intelligent Systems Group) and its profitability. The group's revenue grew from $1.6B in 2012 to $1.8B in 2013, and is expected to surpass $2B in 2014. While this is small compared with Intel's total revenue of $53B (2013), the group's operating income was a very impressive 31% (Intel's total operating income was 23% in the same year). The author says this high profitability is due to the company's ability to leverage existing technology and high margin on related software sales. 2) New chips that serve the needs of IoT Some IoT devices need to operate in a very different environment from PCs and smartphones. Many of them have limited access to power (ie. iBeacons) and some need to operate in harsh environments. Adesto Technologies announced a new memory chip called CBRAM that consumes 1/100 less energy and can withstand high levels of gamma rays and electron beam sterilization treatments, meaning "it can be used in a surgery room, even after sterilizing". A new line of sensors from Spansion can harvest its own energy from the sun, vibration, or heat. Company spokesman says that the chips could operate "for a decade to 30 years, perhaps even more". Chip makers have been eager to find future applications beyond PCs and smartphones to drive their next growth. Will IoT fill that role? The industry sure hopes so as we're seeing forecasts that say IoT will surpass PCs, smartphones, and tablets around 2020. Check out our full scan of IoT on the Venture Scanner website!Read More
Last week, Google held their annual conference and made some major announcements including the Android TV software platform. As some of you may recall, this isn’t the company’s first foray into online TV. Back in 2010 the company launched its first initiative with the unsuccessful Google TV, a software platform that worked on top of Logitech and Sony devices. After the V1 showed lackluster sales, the company launched a V2 that gave users a better interface and access to Android apps, which still wasn't enough. Then in 2012, the company unveiled the Nexus Q, a decent looking set-top box that was so poorly received that it never made it to production. Not to be discouraged, the company released the Chromecast in 2013, a streaming HDMI stick that broadcasts content directly from your mobile device or computer.
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