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Furniture startups skip the showroom and go straight to your door

Startup News - 2018, July 15 - 3:00am
Holden Page Contributor Share on Twitter Holden Page is an editor and journalist at Crunchbase News.

Startups making delivery and transport easier than ever are a hit with venture capitalists, so it’s not a surprise that young tech companies delivering home staples — living room sets, dining room tables, couches and more — are raising big dollars.

From 2010 through 2017, venture investors have outfitted U.S.-based furniture startups with a little over $1.1 billion in funding across 96 known rounds. But that funding has not been spread equally over time, as the following chart shows:

Total dollars funneled into U.S.-based furniture startups, according to Crunchbase, hit an all-time high of $432.7 million across 12 rounds in 2011. Wayfair, an e-commerce site dedicated to selling furniture, raised a significant $165 million Series A that year, accounting for more than a third of the total deal volume.

But while funding hasn’t surpassed 2011 levels, from that year through 2015, round counts steadily climbed. During this period, investments into seed and early-stage startups made up more than 70 percent of known deals.

Whether or not this cohort of seed and early-stage startups will act as fodder for late-stage investors is not yet clear. Before that happens, Stephen Kuhl thinks that there’s more work to be done.

Kuhl, the CEO of Burrow, a company that sells furniture over the internet, told Crunchbase News that “selling traditional furniture made in China or Mexico isn’t innovative, and as such we wouldn’t expect to see a lot of venture funding.” But that doesn’t mean that venture interest in the sector is doomed. Kuhl added that “a new company has to offer a unique product, experience and brand that is altogether [10 times] better than traditional offerings. Expect the money to follow the new brands that truly shake up the status quo.”

That may bear out. The funding data we examined tells one particular story: venture money has shown a preference for delivery and a consumer that doesn’t easily call the place they live in “home.”

Deliver, don’t move, furniture

For city dwellers, modular, utilitarian couches are taking hold. And it’s increasingly clear you don’t have to leave your couch to purchase one.

Let’s return to Burrow, which has raised a total of $19.2 million, according to Crunchbase. The startup has created a modular couch built for those who live in dense urban environments and may move often.

“Our customers are reflective of larger trends in the market. They’re more likely to be renters rather than homeowners,” Kuhl explained. “They’re likely to move multiple times over the course of a few years, and they crave thoughtful, high-quality goods.”

To account for this new type of customer, Burrow delivers each section of the couch in distinct packages. Burrow claims on its website that its direct to consumer business model and its ability to ship parts of couches, rather than one whole couch, removes “over 70 [percent] of standard shipping costs.” The couch also includes modern amenities such as a USB charger, and Burrow has also “launched an AR app that helps customers visualize a Burrow in their home,” according to Kuhl.

However, Burrow isn’t completely eschewing the showroom as part of its selling strategy. In a podcast interview with TotalRetail, Kuhl noted that the startup has “partner showrooms” in co-working spaces and other retail locations in more than 20 cities.

Of course, while modular design is helpful for city dwellers, there are those who enjoy a bit more of a personal twist. Interior Define, a Chicago-based startup, has raised $27.2 million to offer direct to consumer couches and dining room sets. And, according to Interior Define’s founder Rob Royer, its appeal is being driven by a new breed of consumers who are interested in brands that have “an authentic mission, deliver on a promised experience, and offer a real value proposition (not just a lower price).”

That said, both of these options still require that the furniture be owned — an unnecessary burden if you move often or just like fresh looks without the commitment. Through Feather, customers can subscribe to a whole living room, bedroom or dining room for as low as $35 a month. According to Crunchbase, the New York-based startup has raised $3.5 million from established venture firms such as Y Combinator and Kleiner Perkins.

There are also startups looking to simply help brands sell more furniture by using artificial intelligence and augmented reality. One such startup, Grokstyle, has raised $2.5 million for an app that identifies furniture by image as well as style and pricing preferences.

In general, streets, kitchens and even front doors are being claimed by venture-backed startups. What you sit on might as well be paid for, in part, by venture capitalists, too.

Categories: Business News

<b>VoIP</b> Equipments Market: Industry Analysis, Geographical Segmentation, Drivers, Challenges ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 14 - 6:00pm
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Global <b>VoIP</b> Phone Market 2022 Growth Trends by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 14 - 4:30pm
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Lakeport Police logs: Sunday, July 1

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 14 - 2:26pm
ASKING ABOUT THE FIRE. Service Class: VOIP. Disposition: GENERAL SERVICES RENDERED. 19:31 LAKE COUNTY ORDINANCE 1807010174
Categories: VoIP News

Cisco patches denial of service flaw affecting <b>VoIP</b> Phones

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 14 - 4:30am
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Chowly is raising $5.8 million to help restaurants manage on-demand delivery orders

Startup News - 2018, July 14 - 4:24am

Chowly, a point-of-sale system for restaurants, has raised nearly $4.7 million, according to an SEC filing. The company is targeting a total raise of $5.8 million.

The round is led by MATH Venture Partners with participation from Valor Equity, Chicago Ventures, Hyde Park Venture Partners and others. Chowly had previously raised just $700,000 from MATH Venture Partners, Domenick Montanile and others.

Chowly aims to help restaurants better manage the influx of delivery orders they receive from a variety of services, such as Grubhub, Delivery.com and Chownow.

In May, Square launched a point-of-sale system for restaurants that integrates on-demand delivery platform Caviar. Down the road, Square said it envisions third-party applications from companies like Postmates, UberEats and DoorDash.

Categories: Business News

Chad Rigetti to talk quantum computing at Disrupt SF

Startup News - 2018, July 14 - 1:41am

Even for the long-standing giants of the tech industry, quantum computing is one of the most complicated subjects to tackle. So how does a five-year old startup compete?

Chad Rigetti, the namesake founder of Rigetti Computing, will join us at Disrupt SF 2018 to help us break it all down.

Rigetti’s approach to quantum computing is two-fold: on one front, the company is working on the design and fabrication of its own quantum chips; on the other, the company is opening up access to its early quantum computers for researchers and developers by way of its cloud computing platform, Forest.

Rigetti Computing has raised nearly $70 million to date according to Crunchbase, with investment from some of the biggest names around. Meanwhile, labs around the country are already using Forest to explore the possibilities ahead.

What’s the current state of quantum computing? How do we separate hype from reality? Which fields might quantum computing impact first — and how can those interested in quantum technology make an impact? We’ll talk all this and more at Disrupt SF 2018.

Passes to Disrupt SF are available at the Early Bird rate until July 25 here.

Categories: Business News

Emptor looks to help companies more easily find contractors in the area

Startup News - 2018, July 14 - 12:00am

For any company looking to spin up some kind of operation in a new region, one of the first steps may be finding contractors in the area that can actually get the work started — but, especially as companies drift farther from cities, that can increasingly become a nightmare that’s quite familiar to Matt Velker.

That led to he and his co-founder Vignesh Venkataraman starting Emptor, a network to connect companies with local contractors in order to get those local projects off the ground effectively. That can range from actual construction to janitorial work or landscaping. A platform like Emptor seeks to take a lot of the ambiguity or guesswork out of finding a set of local companies to work with in order to get construction projects off the ground. It also adds a robust audit trail — ratings or otherwise — to ensure that the best contractors surface and that everyone knows which ones they should skip. The company is coming out of Y Combinator.

“Every time you’re building [projects in new regions you have to find an entirely new set of suppliers,” Velker said. “Often in rural areas when there isn’t a saturation of contractors like there is in a large metro, that discovery process within a reasonable time frame was the biggest challenge. Especially within the construction industry, there’s a huge deviation in terms of the quality of the companies you work with. We definitely had a lot of pains with unreliable contractors who weren’t getting the job done to spec or on time, or things that came close to fraud. It comes with the territory when you work with that volume of companies in a short period of time.”

Companies first go to Emptor and describe the projects they want and what kinds of pricing structure they are offering. Then, kind of like Thumbtack or other marketplaces, Emptor matches those projects with qualified contractors and then compares those bids in order to select the best offer. It aims to be a replacement for the time spent searching around Yelp or Google, where there may be listings and pages but not a high volume of ratings — or ones that are even accurate to begin. Even after the search, getting the whole process started can take weeks, another period Emptor hopes to shrink by streamlining that process.

Right now Emptor mainly focuses on facilities and maintenance, though should something like this take off it could add other elements of contract work that companies need. The approach also aims to be more granular, giving companies more ways to identify the needs of the project that might not necessarily just be quantitative. After all, better data about a company’s actual needs that flows into some algorithm can produce better matching, and that can also go down to the actual way compensation would work on that project.

“Having just one number for what a project will cost is convenient from the supplier and buyer perspective, but it’s missing out on the ability to build structured data that you can analyze,” Velker said. “The companies are deciding, ‘what do I need to know, how many years have you done in business.’ You want to be explicit about how are we going to make this decision. If price is a factor, how much of a factor is it, so they can spec things out and there’s transparency to the buyers.”

But while it’s an attempt to try to bridge that gap between the company and a service provider, it’s one that many companies have tried to fill before. There are tools like Angie’s List and others for finding contractors, though Velker says those are primarily geared toward consumers — and some end up bending the apps in order to fill the needs they have for contractors without some kind of formal platform to use. Velker acknowledges the theory behind all these tools is pretty similar, though he hopes Emptor will be able to tackle the specific needs companies might have that he’s experienced himself.

Categories: Business News

Instacart taps Postmates to help with deliveries in SF during peak demand

Startup News - 2018, July 13 - 11:41pm

Instacart has tapped Postmates to offer better delivery services during peak hours in a San Francisco pilot.

While Instacart will still handle all the shopping for its customers, it will hand off some deliveries to Postmates at times when there is high demand on the Instacart platform.

Postmates, obviously, has offered delivery-as-a-service for merchants and brands since its inception, and some of those brands, such as Walmart, offer their own delivery services. But this marks the first time that Postmates has offered delivery-as-a-service to a business that itself is already a delivery service.

This comes at a time when the grocery space is at an inflection point. Amazon’s nearly $14 billion acquisition of Whole Foods has spurred a race to offer quick and convenient grocery delivery from a number of the bigger players, such as Target and Walmart. On top of that, the grocery industry is highly fragmented, offering a huge opportunity for the catch-all of Instacart’s service.

But quantity means almost nothing without quality, and Instacart’s pilot with Postmates is meant to ensure that delivery times don’t lag in the late morning and early afternoon, when most Instacart orders are set to be delivered.

Instacart’s Northwest General Manager Michelle McRae explained that there is a load balance involved in the partnership with Postmates.

“Like many on-demand services, Instacart sees demand peaks on certain days and at certain times,” said McRae. “The pilot is a way to offer delivery during peak hours and utilize Postmates delivery staff at times where Postmates would be most underutilized. Instacart users overwhelmingly prefer mid-morning and mid-afternoon, where is different from when people want hot, prepared food.”

McRae also stressed that the pilot would not affect current Instacart shoppers or delivery contractors, as Postmates is simply offering delivery capacity during peak demand times.

Perhaps more interesting, Postmates sees a big opportunity to work with on-demand services in offering extra delivery either at or below the cost of hiring more delivery people.

“We definitely see this as a bigger part of Postmates’ future,” said Postmates SVP Dan Mosher. “Most brands are moving toward a world where they want to provide quick convenient delivery but they don’t have the capabilities. As we scale, we have the delivery density to drive economics in a really cost-effective way, not only to restaurants and retailers but to other on-demand services as well.”

He added that enterprise delivery services will never eclipse Postmates’ direct-to-consumer business.

The pilot is currently only going down in San Francsico, but Instacart said that it is considering expanding it to other geographies and other delivery services as the pilot continues. The deal is not exclusive, as Postmates is currently working with Walmart to help deliver their groceries to customers.

Categories: Business News

BSNL launches first internet telephony service in India

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 10:30pm
With `Wings,' BSNL is planning to incorporate apps like WhatsApp to its much awaited disruptive Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offering.
Categories: VoIP News

Guru announces new AI and Sync features for knowledge sharing platform

Startup News - 2018, July 13 - 9:00pm

It’s one thing to have a great business idea, but connecting all of the disparate pieces of information and people needed to build it can be a frustrating growing pain — and one that the internal knowledge sharing company Guru is trying to fix.

Guru launched in 2015 as a Chrome extension to help revenue and customer service teams have easy access to all of their company’s information the moment they needed it by congregating relevant “cards” of information written by different internal teams. Since its launch, Guru has extended its company to include a web app, and Slack bot. Today, Guru unveiled a new AI, and syncing and impact analytics features aimed to improve the overall experience of the platform.

“Customer facing teams want to be responsive to their customers and feel confident in knowing what they want to communicate to them,” Guru CEO and co-founder Rick Nucci told TechCrunch. “They want to respond quickly and they want to respond accurately. These features further reduce the time it takes for them to dig up information and by reducing that time they’re solving issues faster and helping the customer have a better experience with them.”

With the introduction of AI Suggest to its Chrome extension, users will be able to access relevant company information without needing to search for it first. And because the extension can work wherever they work, there’s no time wasted returning to a single site. In its announcement, Guru says that this AI will learn a user’s search patterns overtime and grow to better understand their needs and improve efficiency.

While AI Suggest is specific to Guru’s Chrome extension, its Sync feature is universal across the company’s several implementations. With Sync, users can easily congregate and access not only information created natively on Guru but also information stored in a wiki, intranet or web-based applications.

“Companies have knowledge everywhere, and it’s not necessarily realistic that they’ll be able to move all of that into Guru,” Nucci said. “[But this allows] the team using Guru to still have one place to search.”

To get a better picture of how companies are using their knowledge, Guru has also incorporated impact analytics into its web app to help companies see where knowledge is best being utilized and where any gaps might be.

Nucci told TechCrunch that these new features are part a scaling plan the company is implementing with the help of a $9.3 million Series A funding round last summer with new investor Emergence Capital (as well as previous backers FirstMark Capital and MSD Capital). In addition to the new features announced today, Guru also has plans to expand its product into other areas of company knowledge management including HR and IT.

 

Updated: 10:43 AM ET / July 13th

Categories: Business News

Headout lands $10M Series A to help tourists book last-minute outings

Startup News - 2018, July 13 - 8:53pm

Imagine being in a new city with a few hours to kill, but no idea what to do. Headout is a travel app that enables tourists to book outings at very short notice, in most cases on the same day. The startup announced today that it’s raised a $10 million Series A led by returning investors Nexus Venture Partners and Version One Ventures to support its ambitious growth targets.

Over the next 18 months, co-founder and CEO Varun Khona says the startup wants to expand from 20 cities to 100 cities in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific. The app recently added French, German and Spanish in select markets and aims to have all of its inventory available in 12 languages by the end of next year. Its bookings includes sightseeing tours, museum tickets and shows.

Headout’s Series A brings its total raised to $12 million. Its seed round was announced in 2015, when TechCrunch first profiled the company. The startup claims it has grown eight times over the past 12 months and is profitable.

As it enters new markets, however, Headout will be up against a roster of competitors that also offer experience bookings for tourists. These include Klook, TripAdvisor-owned Viator, Get Your Guide and Airbnb’s Experiences feature.

Khona says Headout’s main edge is tailoring its inventory and technology platform for “spontaneous last-minute mobile use cases.” It’s also a managed marketplace, meaning it standardizes pricing and quality, with the hope of creating a consistent experience across all outings. The startup says this focus on combining quality with unit economics means it’s enabled customers to save an average of 18% on last-minute bookings.

Categories: Business News

<b>VoIP</b> Software Market Report Presents an All-Inclusive Analysis, Driving Forces, Restraints ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 8:14pm
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Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 6:56pm
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BSNL&#39;s Wings app to integrate WhatsApp, will rival JioChat and Facebook Messenger

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 5:15pm
BSNL, the state-owned telecom player, is planning to include WhatsApp to Wings, its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offering. Wings was ...
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BSNL Unveils Wings: The First Disruptive <b>VoIP</b> Service in India To Take a Dig At Rival Networks

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 4:52pm
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Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 3:56pm
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Mobile <b>VoIP</b> Market 2018 Global Analysis By Key Players -Facebook, Inc., Apple. Inc., Google, Inc ...

Google News - VoIP - 2018, July 13 - 2:26pm
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