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Social media marketing has become an increasingly important category within the marketing automation sector. I recently interviewed one of the innovators in the category, Pennsylvania-based social media management company Fity Social Media (fitysocialmedia.com).
News about bitcoin and other crypto-currencies is everywhere. But, as halfway decent MBA-student would say, you gotta worry about substitute solutions. In the case of crypto currencies like bitcoin, one such potential substitute would be a digital currency that is fully controlled by a central bank.
When I met Atif in the summer of 2013, he was still at his old job and looking to start his own hardware startup. He briefly joined us at Venture Scanner to look at the IoT space, came up with a bunch of ideas, and discussed them with us. A year later, he launched a smart lightbulb socket called emberlight on kickstarter and blew past his goal of $50K in five days (raised $78K with 34 days left at the time of writing this post).
There are a number articles that talk about the impending doom of retail stores often citing examples such as Best Buy and Sears. However, data actually show us that over 90% of retail sales still take place in-store. Don’t get me wrong, e-commerce is still growing at a significant rate, 15.5% in 2014 according to eMarketer, but it is clear that brick and mortar (BAM) stores aren’t going to become extinct anytime soon. What will happen, I believe, is that the fundamentals of the retail experience will shift drastically as the lines blur between offline and online commerce.
"Developing a deeper understanding of the IoT domain and ecosystem through Venture Scanner gave me a leg up when I started my company." Atif Noori, Founder & CEO, emberlight
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.