Feed aggregator

What are the Best Business Phone Services?

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 29 - 3:33am
These services are actually Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone services, which are usually subscription-based. VoIP is a technology that ...
Categories: VoIP News

Why I make everyone in my company be the CEO for a day

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 3:11am
Ville Houttu Contributor Share on Twitter Ville Houttu is the founder and CEO of Vincit USA.

Leaders become great not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.

It’s no secret that most tech companies tout their culture as “unique” or “open,” but when you take a closer look, it’s often merely surface level. Yes, you may be dog-friendly or offer unlimited beer on tap, but how are you helping your employees become the best versions of themselves? We’re at our best when our employees are at their best, so we do everything in our power to make that a reality.

We’re at our best when our employees are at their best, so we do everything in our power to make that a reality.

After successfully running Vincit in Finland and Switzerland, in 2016 we made the jump to the United States, setting up an office in California. Although we had moved over 5,000 miles to a new country, it was important that our two main KPIs remain the same: Employee happiness and customer satisfaction. We believe that happy employees make clients happy, and happy clients refer you to others. Therefore, it was essential that this positive and prosperous workplace environment followed us to the United States.

So beyond traditional benefits, like full medical coverage, 401k matching and standard office amenities, we tapped into our Finnish roots to build and provide our employees with an uninhibited, supportive workplace. We keep our company culture as transparent as possible and fully believe in the power of empowering our employees. We have no managers and no real role hierarchy. Employees do not have to go through an approval process on anything they are working on.

We encourage our employees to make a trip to Finland to visit our headquarters. Instead of “Lunch & Learn” meetings, we host “Fail & Learn” meetings where employees get to share something that didn’t work and what they learned from it. And once a month, we let an employee become the CEO for a day.

Unsurprisingly, the “CEO of the Day” program is one of our most popular initiatives. The program gives our employee the reins for 24 hours with an unlimited budget. The only requirement? The CEO must make one lasting decision that will help improve the working experience of Vincit employees. Whatever the CEO of the Day decides, the company sticks with. They can purchase something for the company, change a policy, update a tool we use … Really, anything that they come up with can be done.

Categories: Business News

Squire, a barbershop tech platform, triples its valuation (again) with Tiger Global

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 2:47am

When co-founders Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant first began barbershop tech platform Squire in 2016, they leaned in: The duo bought a barbershop in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood to see firsthand how the business worked. For one year, the co-founders religiously worked at the shop, now owned by a larger barbershop chain, handling every bit of the business (except cutting hair).

Five years later, the co-founders view that experience as a key moment in the history of Squire, now a 175-person company with a tech platform used by over 2,000 shops across three continents. After last raising a Series C in December and tripling its valuation, Squire announced today that it has raised a $60 million round led by Tiger Global.

Squire balances clean fades with the coronavirus

And, it tripled its valuation, again. Off of 300% year-over-year revenue growth, the New York startup is now valued at $750 million. It’s a massive uptick: A little over a year ago, Squire was valued at $75 million.

Like many startups these days, Squire wasn’t searching for capital when Tiger Global, which participated in its Series B and C rounds, offered to lead its next financing. The startup has only spent 10% of its previous round, a $45 million equity round, and now has tens of millions more in the bank. Ultimately, its decision to bring on more capital is so it can expand in the U.K. and Canada more aggressively — even in the wake of early-stage competitors like Boulevard. Squire’s dry powder also puts the co-founders in a position to acquire companies, a strategy that Salvant is into and plans to be “aggressive about.”

Squire also announced today the official launch of a product that has been in the roadmap since inception: Squire Capital, a money management platform with tools tailored to the needs of barbershop operations, such as instant payments. Squire’s core business has been more around appointments, loyalty programs and the installment of contactless payment. Now, a fintech layer aims to offer a more niche service than current financial services heavyweights like Square or Paypal.

Fintech is a “natural next frontier” for Squire, Salvant said, because the startup already has deep insights into how its businesses operate and how they process sales; now, it wants to add another service so it can offer a more holistic experience to them.

Squire Capital was built with Bond, a venture-backed fintech infrastructure startup that aims to help enterprise operations launch their own banking products. After experimenting with a $15 million debt financing arm around the time of its Series C, Squire isn’t offering loans at this time, hoping to find a better way to scale offerings in the future.

Squire is en route to becoming a historical and unfortunately still rare Black-led unicorn. Salvant talked about the significance of that feat, noting that this was “the optimal outcome” when founding the company. He hopes that VCs and investors will start to invest more in Black founders with Squire as a data point of a success story.

“Let’s face it, we’re not typical founders, we don’t look the same and we don’t act the same,” Salvant said. “I just want to serve as a lighthouse and this is validation for myself, my co-founder, but more importantly, what’s coming after us.”

Categories: Business News

Nextiva Named Mid-Market Leader for <b>VoIP</b> in G2 Summer 2021 Report for Third Consecutive ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 29 - 2:37am
Customer reviews rank Nextiva among leading UCaaS, VoIP, telecom services for call centers and survey solutions. SCOTTSDALE, AZ – July 28, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Nextiva Named Mid-Market Leader for <b>VoIP</b> in G2 Summer 2021 Report for Third Consecutive ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 29 - 2:37am
VoIP for Mid-Market; UCaaS; Telecom Services for Call Centers; Survey Software. In addition, Nextiva ranked No. 1 in G2's Mid-Market Relationship ...
Categories: VoIP News

Nextiva Named Mid-Market Leader for <b>VoIP</b> in G2 Summer 2021 Report for Third Consecutive ...

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 29 - 2:37am
Customer reviews rank Nextiva among leading UCaaS, VoIP, telecom services for call centers and survey solutions. SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., July 28, ...
Categories: VoIP News

Financial firms should leverage machine learning to make anomaly detection easier

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 1:12am
Bikram Singh Contributor Share on Twitter Bikram Singh is the CEO and co-founder of EZOPS. He has built and managed operational services and technology solutions for banks, hedge funds, asset managers, fund administrators and custodians.

Anomaly detection is one of the more difficult and underserved operational areas in the asset-servicing sector of financial institutions. Broadly speaking, a true anomaly is one that deviates from the norm of the expected or the familiar. Anomalies can be the result of incompetence, maliciousness, system errors, accidents or the product of shifts in the underlying structure of day-to-day processes.

For the financial services industry, detecting anomalies is critical, as they may be indicative of illegal activities such as fraud, identity theft, network intrusion, account takeover or money laundering, which may result in undesired outcomes for both the institution and the individual.

There are different ways to address the challenge of anomaly detection, including supervised and unsupervised learning.

Detecting outlier data, or anomalies according to historic data patterns and trends can enrich a financial institution’s operational team by increasing their understanding and preparedness.

The challenge of detecting anomalies

Anomaly detection presents a unique challenge for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the financial services industry has seen an increase in the volume and complexity of data in recent years. In addition, a large emphasis has been placed on the quality of data, turning it into a way to measure the health of an institution.

To make matters more complicated, anomaly detection requires the prediction of something that has not been seen before or prepared for. The increase in data and the fact that it is constantly changing exacerbates the challenge further.

Leveraging machine learning

There are different ways to address the challenge of anomaly detection, including supervised and unsupervised learning.

Categories: Business News

Hear Startup Alley companies pitch expert VC judges in upcoming episodes of Extra Crunch Live

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 1:00am

We know how much you love a good startup pitch-off. Who doesn’t? It combines the thrill of live, high-stakes entertainment with learning about the hottest new thing. Plus, you get to hear feedback from some of the smartest folks in the industry, thus learning how to absolutely crush it at your next pitch meeting with a VC.

With all that in mind, we’re introducing a special summer edition of Extra Crunch Live that’s all pitch-off, all the time.

On July 21 and July 28, Extra Crunch Live will feature startups exhibiting in the Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 in September. Those startups will pitch their products/businesses to a pair of expert VC judges, who will then give their live feedback.

Extra Crunch Live is usually a combination of an interview with a founder/investor duo and an audience pitch-off. But as it’s summer, and Disrupt is right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to bring you even more pitches and even more feedback.

On July 21, our expert VC judges will be Alexa von Tobel of Inspired Capital and Anis Uzzaman from Pegasus Tech Ventures. As a special thank you, all attendees of this episode of Extra Crunch Live will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win one of three free tickets to TechCrunch Disrupt 2021. Following the event, we’ll randomly select 3 winners and send details on how to redeem their passes. Do you need to submit any additional information to enter the drawing? Nope. All you need to do is register for Extra Crunch Live by clicking the link below and attend the event on July 21st.



Alexa von Tobel founded LearnVest, which sold for hundreds of millions of dollars. She then went on to found and serve as general partner at Inspired Capital. She’s been to plenty of TechCrunch events, and has even been a guest on Extra Crunch Live earlier this year. Long story short: She’s a smarty pants and an all-around fun person to hang out with.

Anis Uzzaman is founder and partner at Pegasus Tech Ventures, whose portfolio includes SpaceX, 23andme, Airbnb, Sofi, Coinbase, Robinhood, DoorDash and many more. Before Pegasus, he was at IBM and Cadence, where he drove strategic investments in software development, microelectronics and e-commerce. And if that weren’t enough, he’s founded several companies.

On July 28, our VC judges include Nicole Johnson from Forerunner and Mor Assia from iAngels.



Nicole Johnson has a background in psychology and brings that experience into the world of consumer tech, focusing on the consumer psyche to both evaluate and help grow startups in which she is investing. Her portfolio includes Calibrate, Neighborhood Goods, Nécessaire, Heroes, Thingtesting, Prose, Stadium Goods and others.

Mor Assia is founding partner and co-CEO of iAngels. Hailing from Israel, and part of the IDF’s elite intelligence unit 8200, Assia leads the iAngel’s investment committee, deal screening, due diligence and portfolio management. She has a background with SAP, IBM and Amdocs, and specializes in the areas of fintech, AI and automotive technology.

These upcoming episodes are sure to be as exciting as they are informative, and we’ll be hitting you with more special edition Startup Alley pitch-off episodes of ECL throughout the rest of the summer.

Also, buy a ticket to Disrupt. Trust me. The agenda is lit. Along with the heavy hitters on the Disrupt Stage, you can get your founder how-to knowledge at sessions on the Extra Crunch Stage, breakout sessions and intimate roundtable discussions. You’ll be able to find and engage with people from all around the world through world-class networking on CrunchMatch and our virtual platform — all for under $100 for a limited time with even deeper discounts for nonprofit/government agencies, students and up-and-coming founders!

( function() { var func = function() { var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-e40f4ccc5c48774160e5fa75bd20a4dd') if ( iframe ) { iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-e40f4ccc5c48774160e5fa75bd20a4dd' }, "https:\/\/tcprotectedembed.com" ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( 'tcprotectedembed.com' !== origin.host ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof e.data || undefined === e.data.msg_type ) return; switch ( e.data.msg_type ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( e.data._request.frame_id ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( e.data.height ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

Categories: Business News

Duolingo’s IPO pricing is great news for edtech startups

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 12:08am

While the Chinese technology market digests a new regulatory landscape impacting the country’s edtech market in a sharply negative manner, U.S. education technology companies have something to cheer about: Duolingo’s IPO priced very well.

The language-learning unicorn initially targeted an $85 to $95 per share IPO price range. That interval was later raised to $95 to $100 per share. And then, last night, Duolingo priced at $102 per share, just over its raised range.

That’s the sort of IPO pricing run that we tend to see from hot enterprise software companies (SaaS) that investors have favored heavily in recent quarters. But the stock market has also provided nigh-indulgent valuations to consumer-facing tech companies with strong brands, like Airbnb. So, the Duolingo IPO’s pricing strength should not be an utter surprise.

But it is a welcome result for U.S. edtech, regardless. When the company set its first IPO price range, TechCrunch noted that it was on track to earn a new, higher valuation. This led us to the following set of conclusions:

If Duolingo poses a strong debut, consumer edtech startups will be able to add a golden data point to their pitch decks. A strong Duolingo listing could also signal that mission-driven startups can have impressive turns.

And now Duolingo has managed to price above its raised range. Yeehaw, as they say.

In more prosaic terms, Duolingo has set a higher multiple for edtech revenue than we expected it to, implying that the exit value of edtech top line could be greater than private-market investors anticipated. After all, Duolingo was valued at around $2.4 billion last November. At its IPO price, the company’s nondiluted valuation is now $3.66 billion, not counting 765,916 shares that its underwriters may purchase at the $102-per-share price if they so choose.

Categories: Business News

QuotaPath raises $21.3M in Insight Partners-led round to help sales teams better track commissions

Startup News - 2021, July 29 - 12:00am

QuotaPath, which has developed a commission-tracking solution for sales and revenue teams, has raised $21.3 million in a Series A funding round led by Insight Partners.

Existing backers ATX Ventures, Integr8d Capital, Stage 2 Capital and HubSpot Ventures also participated in the financing, which brings the startup’s total funding to $26.3 million since its 2018 inception.

The funding comes amid a year of growth for the startup, which has dual headquarters in Austin and Philadelphia. Specifically, QuotaPath has seen 600% revenue growth since January 2021. It has over 5,000 users on the platform, 40% of which are paid. Customers include Guru, Contractbook, Mailgun, Cloud Academy, SaaSOptics and OSG.

AJ Bruno, Cole Evetts and Eric Heydenberk founded QuotaPath with the mission of helping “companies build and scale high-performing, motivated growth teams.” The startup said it gives teams a way to streamline the commission process and avoid inaccurate budgets, incorrect payouts, and “unhappy sales reps due to poor sales commission planning, reporting and administration.”

Through real-time CRM integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot and Close.com, sales reps are able to glean more insight into earnings and quota attainment, the company said.

6 VCs talk the future of Austin’s exploding startup ecosystem

Bruno is no stranger to startups, having co-founded Austin-based PR analytics company TrendKite, which sold to rival Cision in 2019 for $225 million. It was there that Bruno ran the sales and management teams, and about “30 folks into it,” was having some issues with compensation and commission. It took a month and getting several people involved to get the situation sorted. After trying to onboard a sales and commission tool for eight months and “failing miserably,” Bruno saw an opportunity.

“The reps needed to understand what their comp plans were and they didn’t have real-time visibility into the earnings and forecasting of their compensation,” he said. So he and Evetts (who was director of revenue and sales operations at TrendKite) ultimately set about creating a workflow to solve the problem. Heydenberk joined as a technical co-founder and the company went on to raise about $5 million in pre-seed and seed funding.

“What we ultimately said was going to be our north star is that we want the sales team and the sales reps to easily understand the compensation plans, and to do that, we had to build an onboarding setup where it didn’t look like a spreadsheet that was in Excel because most sales reps don’t understand Excel,” Bruno recalled. The team then spent a year working with end users and sales reps to build the back-end infrastructure of the platform so that sales teams could “interpret what was actually happening and all the mechanisms behind it.”

Requirements were that it was fast to onboard (less than one week) and easily adjustable so that customers could make changes in real-time themselves and not have to wait on a company to make them.

“With QuotaPath, a sales team can forecast more earnings and create more goals around what they want to do,” Bruno said, “and connect those goals to the bottom line of the company.”

Image Credits: QuotaPath

The startup launched its paid platform in June 2020 and works with companies with as few as three reps to as many as a few hundred that range from SaaS to commerce shops to low-tech businesses such as wedding venues and funeral homes.

“With 10.5 million salespeople in the U.S., this is a very large market,” Bruno said. Indeed, there are a number of other startups addressing the space. Earlier this year, CaptivateIQ, which has developed a no-code platform to help companies design customized sales commission plans, announced it had raised $46 million in a Series B round led by Accel.

CaptivateIQ raises $46M for its no-code sales commissions platform

QuotaPath currently has 28 employees and plans to use its new capital to double its headcount by year’s end. It also plans to work on scaling partnerships and expanding product offerings to finance and HR functions.

Rachel Geller, managing director at Insight Partners, is taking a seat on the company’s board as part of the financing. She said that a priority of Insight Onsite, the firm’s ScaleUp engine, is to help its portfolio “build high-performing and scalable sales and marketing functions.”

“Our sales experts are in the trenches understanding the challenges sales teams face, and tracking sales commissions is top of mind,” she said. “Organizations need a formula-free solution to their current pain of spreadsheets and legacy solutions, and QuotaPath presents a clear alternative.”

In particular, Geller said Insight was impressed by QuotaPath’s “ease of use and fast time to deploy” compared to other solutions.

“QuotaPath customers can be up and running in days,” she said.

Categories: Business News

China’s regulatory crackdown is good news for startups aligned with CCP goals

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 11:09pm

Watching the Chinese technology sector over the last week has been a fascinating exercise. The Chinese government took on entire industries like edtech while also coming down on individual companies (Tencent, Meituan) in a broad effort to change the country’s technology landscape.

The sum of the financial damage is easy to understand. The NASDAQ Golden Dragon China Index, for example, which tracks U.S.-listed companies that do their business in China, fell from a 52-week high set earlier this year of 20,893.02 to 10,672.37 yesterday. You can also track the decline in value of various Chinese technology companies both on shore and on foreign exchanges if you want to get an even fuller picture of the financial carnage.

It’s common among commentators and analysts to draw a direct line between the blocked Ant Group IPO last year, the ensuing fall from grace of Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma and the latest news out of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) regulatory bodies. That’s reasonable. Things are changing in China, and the regulatory landscape of tech work in the country won’t be the same from here on out.

The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on Extra Crunch or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


We’ve explored the moment a little, noting last week that edtech investment could slow in the country provided that the government went through with its plan to force tutoring companies to go nonprofit. The government then did so, and more, also blocking tutoring companies from being formed, going public, raising external capital from foreign sources and more. It was comprehensive. Natasha Mascarenhas has a great read on the matter here.

So, bad news for startups? After all, if edtech investment could slow in the face of regulatory changes, what about other technology-influenced areas of business?

The negative case is somewhat easy to make. The positive case is more interesting. Some market watchers are making the argument that by taking on some of China’s largest technology companies, more room could be cleared in the country for smaller companies to snag a piece of business.

Categories: Business News

Windstream Enterprise Launches IP-based Solution to Address Critical Services

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 28 - 10:30pm
This VoIP service is available alongside SD-WAN from Windstream Enterprise for up to 100% uptime and resiliency, in addition to application visibility ...
Categories: VoIP News

Insurtech startup Spot brings in $17.5M equity, debt to fill insurance gaps for accidental injuries

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 10:00pm

Affordable healthcare continues to be a major problem in the U.S., with roughly 30 million people without comprehensive healthcare and high medical costs causing many to go into debt. Spot is tackling this issue with a digital, on-demand injury insurance product that can be as-is or as a complement to traditional health insurance.

Headquartered in Austin, the company raised $15 million in equity and $2.5 million in debt in a round of seed funding led by GreatPoint Ventures, with participation from Montage Ventures, Mutual of Omaha, MS&AD and Silverton Partners.

The idea for the company came from a conversation founder Maria Goy and Matt Randall had back in 2018. Randall is married to Goy’s best friend, and one night, they started talking about Goy’s job at the time, in insurance at New York Life, and how there needed to be a product that provided affordable insurance. That led to a discussion about how to also have healthcare that was accessible.

“Every major market was disrupted by some change of distribution, like Netflix and Airbnb,” Goy told TechCrunch. “We are setting the foundation to drive change and the distribution of insurance.”

Spot’s business model takes a holistic approach by providing customized injury insurance policies through both direct-to-consumer and strategic partnerships with companies and organizations. For example, one of the company’s first partners was the Austin Marathon, selling one-time injury policies to the participants. Randall wasn‘t sure if people would buy them, but they ended up selling over 1,100 policies.

That led to applying the same idea across youth sports, ski resorts and cycling organizations. It now has over a dozen partners, including USA Cycling, Powder Mountain, USA BMX, National Ski Patrol and athleteReg, and covers tens of thousands of people.

The policies start at $25 and work like a monthly subscription. Family plans are also available. Spot covers up to $20,000 each time the customer is injured. The company will also coordinate with any existing healthcare insurance. Customers can use any licensed physician, hospital or urgent care clinic.

Spot has grown 800% in policies from last year and 300% in partnerships, including bringing on Mutual of Omaha. Spot is the first startup the insurance giant has invested in, and “having them alongside Maria is beyond a powerhouse team to say the least,” Randall said.

The company’s policies are available in 42 states via the DTC model and nationwide on group coverage, Goy said. The new funding round will be used to triple Spot’s team of 25, go after new partnerships and develop a go-to-market strategy. Randall also plans to raise a Series A round in the next nine months.

“We are focusing on bringing additional products that fill in holes and gaps in insurance and provide more education to the market,” Goy added. “We are getting requests for alternative coverage. For example, people would rather have acupuncture instead of surgery, which is not easy for a typical policy. Ultimately, our big mission is how to create a community within our customers and drive engagement.”

As part of the investment, Mike McCormick, principal at GreatPoint Ventures, will join Spot’s board of directors. He said in an interview that his firm is on the lookout for things that make healthcare better, including companies rooted in rethinking how to keep people well.

Spending much of his time in both healthcare and insurtech, McCormick wanted to find an answer to the problem of how the U.S. is spending so much money, on a per capita basis, and getting what he called “meh results.”

There are also the issues of most care being fee-for-service, and insurance for most people being attached to employment, while high deductibles have become a big feature, he said. He likes Spot because it is offering a product, for example, to someone young who is unlikely to get diabetes or cancer soon, but could incur $10,000 in medical costs breaking a leg skiing.

“What Spot is doing for the underinsured and uninsured makes sense,” McCormick added. “Maria and Matt are incredible people building an incredible company with growth and product-market fit. In terms of the partnership and direct-to-consumer models, they could build either one into a $10 billion company and both will work.”

As Next Insurance makes its first acquisition, insurtech looks energetic


Categories: Business News

How can you unblock websites in UAE?

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 28 - 9:56pm
Unfortunately, VoIP is banned in the UAE under government rules for private reasons. To your surprise, UAE government officials can monitor your ...
Categories: VoIP News

<b>VoIP</b> Services Market Analysis, Leading Techniques for Accelerating Product Development

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 28 - 9:11pm
The global factors that govern the VoIP Services market, as well as the drivers, restraints, opportunities, trends, and forecasts, are detailed and ...
Categories: VoIP News

MedRhythms raises $25M to get patients back in tune after a stroke

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 9:00pm

MedRhythms secured $25 million in Series B funding to advance its digital therapy platform aimed at measuring and improving someone’s ability to walk after they have experienced a neurologic injury or disease.

Morningside Ventures and Advantage Capital co-led the round, with participation from existing investor Werth Family Investment Associates, to give the Portland, Maine-based company $31 million in funding to date.

Company co-founder and CEO Brian Harris was a neurologic music fellow at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, treating people with stroke and brain deficits with music. He began getting questions from patients and families on how they could access similar care outside of the hospital. Not seeing a suitable alternative, he started MedRhythms with entrepreneur Owen McCarthy in 2016.

The company’s platform uses sensors, music and software, along with an evidence-based intervention called “rhythmic auditory stimulation,” to target the neural circuitry that controls movement. The technology taps into “entrainment,” a neurologic process in which the auditory and motor systems of the brain are coupled in synchrony with an external rhythmic cue, which over time, can lead to improved walking functionalities.

“There is no other stimulus that engages the brain like music does,” Harris said. “When someone is engaging in music, it aids in neuroplasticity to create new connections and strengthen old ones. Neuroplasticity is how we can learn new things or why people with brain deficits can improve.”

MedRhythms’ product cycle. Image Credits: MedRhythms

A year ago, MedRhythms’ digital therapeutic product received Breakthrough Device designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat chronic walking deficits resulting from a stroke. It is the first in the company’s pipeline, which is also looking at using music to treat neurological conditions like Parkinson’s, acute stroke and multiple sclerosis. To that effect, it is participating in a neuroimaging study with Massachusetts General Hospital.

Harris intends to use the proceeds from the Series B funding to get the product to market, expand the team and the treatment pipeline. The company is preparing for submission to the FDA so it can do a commercial launch of the technology and begin clinical trials.

Stephen Bruso, investment partner at Morningside, said he has known the team at MedRhythms for a year. The firm is active in the digital health space and has followed the company closely since then.

COVID served to fundamentally shift healthcare in how to deliver care. The hospital and clinic models were robust, but resistant to change until the pandemic forced care to telemedicine visits at home, he said. It also forced innovation on the industry, and at-home therapy is an area where Bruso expects to see improvement in both patient compliance and recovery, and MedRhythms is capitalizing on that trend of shifting care to the home.

What intrigued the firm for the last couple of months was the idea of affecting the brain via non-pharmaceutical needs.

“MedRhythms using musical intervention to drive changes and improvements in neurologics is compelling,” Bruso added. “Emotional memory is tied to music. Its use provides a richer experience than taking a drug, and the company exists to tap into that.”

Building and investing in the ‘human needs economy’


Categories: Business News

Search API startup Algolia raises $150 million at $2.25 billion valuation

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 9:00pm

Algolia has raised a $150 million Series D funding round at a post-money valuation of $2.25 billion. Compared to the Series C round from October 2019, the company’s valuation has more than quadrupled. It means that Algolia is now a unicorn with a valuation above $1 billion.

The company is best known for its search-as-a-service product. It lets you integrate real-time search in your app or website using a developer-friendly API. Using an Algolia-powered search feature feels like using Spotlight on a Mac. Results load with each keystroke and appear in just a few milliseconds.

The company now has over 10,000 customers, including some big names, such as Slack, Stripe, Medium, Zendesk and Lacoste. Right now, the company handles over 1.5 trillion search queries per year — that’s 1,500,000,000,000 if you want to see all the zeros.

Lone Pine Capital is leading today’s funding round. Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, STEADFAST Capital Ventures, Glynn Capital and Twilio also participated in the round. But that’s not all, some existing investors also put more money on the table, such as Accel, Salesforce Ventures, DAG, Owl Rock and World Innovation Lab.

While the company doesn’t share revenue numbers directly, Algolia says that its annual recurring revenue has increased by 180% year over year.

“The future is API-first — a reality underscored by the growth seen by Twilio, Stripe, Algolia and others in the API economy. A huge part of our success has, and will continue to be, our relentless focus on developers with our PLG strategy — enabling them to build search into their websites and apps, so they create the most relevant and dynamic digital experiences.” Algolia CEO Bernadette Nixon said in a statement. “And we’re excited to continue to solve customers’ problems as we continue to expand beyond search with Algolia Recommend and Predict.”

In addition to its search API, Algolia has expanded to other real-time APIs. For instance, you can provide real-time product recommendations on your e-commerce website with Algolia Recommend. This is part of a strategy to diversify the company’s product offering.

In particular, the company is now trying to analyze the visitor’s intent to predict whether they’re likely to purchase something on not. Companies can then leverage that info to refresh content dynamically, send a push notification, display a special offer, etc.

Originally founded in France, the company has grown tremendously over the past few years. Algolia is now a big enterprise-focused company with a solid business. Last year, its co-founder and CEO Nicolas Dessaigne decided to transition to a non-operational role.

The company has recruited quite a few senior executives over the past 18 months — Michelle Adams (chief revenue officer, formerly of Dropbox), Carlton Baab (chief financial officer, formerly of Alfresco), Piyush Patel (chief business development officer, formerly of Capgemini), Jim Schattin (chief customer officer, formerly of Alteryx), Jason McClelland (chief marketing officer, formerly of Salesforce and Adobe) and Bharat Guruprakash (chief product officer, formerly of Twilio).

As you can see, it’s a long list of talented people, which means that Algolia is focused on building a long-term company instead of building cool technology and optimizing for an acquisition. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn about an IPO down the road.

The most important API metric is time to first call

Categories: Business News

Former Iora Health execs raise $13M to guide seniors through Medicare enrollment

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 9:00pm

Employers typically offer three options for healthcare insurance. When it’s time to switch to Medicare, particularly Medicare Advantage, there are over 3,500 plans available nationwide, and an average of 30 plans someone can choose from in their particular area. Connie Health is leading seniors through the Medicare maze, helping whittle down those 3,000 plans into a handful of best choices based on care requirements.

The company’s three co-founders, Oded Eran, CEO, David Luna, chief revenue officer, and Michael Scopa, chief growth officer, saw this problem firsthand as executives at primary care company Iora Health, which is being acquired by OneMedical for $2.1 billion.

They started their company in 2019 to develop a Medicare concierge service to assist seniors in easily navigating through those 30 plans to find the right one for them.

“We were coming from the provider side and understood that though healthcare is local, people don’t know the difference in hospitals or the ins and outs of local networks,” Eran told TechCrunch. “Seniors need trust there, and when there are local advisers to meet over the phone or at home, you gain that trust.”

The Boston-based company announced Wednesday it raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Khosla Ventures and Pitango Healthtech to give it a total of $16 million in funding. The company raised $3 million in a seed round back in January 2020, also led by Khosla. The seed and Series A rounds also saw participation by AbstractVentures, Dynamic Loop Capital, Arkitekt Ventures, as well as a group of angel investors, including Hippo Insurance CEO Assaf Wand and Flatiron Health founders Zach Weinberg and Nat Turner.

Image Credits: Connie Health

With 55 million Medicare consumers benefiting from major innovation in Medicare Advantage and value-based care, Samir Kaul, founding general partner at Khosla Ventures, saw a large market that was being disrupted by Connie Health. He was especially impressed with the team Eran built and how the company was able to launch during the pandemic and stay nimble.

“The Medicare Advantage space is rich and will continue to grow,” Kaul added. “Technology has not played a big role here, and Oded is going to bring technology in to make the market more efficient.”

Medicare Advantage is the private market part of the insurance program. Eran said the government is trying to drive competition and innovation, so there are a lot of new players coming in to create more plan options, more nuances and to help manage costs better. On the consumer level, this creates a lot of confusion, he added. Potential customers have a hard time making decisions on the latest and greatest options, so they tend to stick with the status quo.

That’s where Connie Health comes in. The company’s technology takes into account the providers someone sees, the medications they are on and the benefits they would like to have, feed those into its model, and based on that, sifts through the thousands of plans available and recommends the best fits.

In October 2020, Connie Health kicked off its consumer platform in Arizona, and with the new investment, also began operating in Texas. Over the next year, Eran expects to move into Illinois, where he is seeing big demographic changes as a lot of people are moving into Medicare and other states. The new funding will also enable the company to branch off to other insurance products.

Within those states, the company’s footprint grew to seven markets, and its local agent base grew 15 times.

“We are going to democratize access to the local agents to help people make these often tough decisions and find healthcare that they deserve and have paid for all of their working life,” Eran said. “We are taking this market-by-market approach because healthcare is in the community.”

Health clouds are set to play a key role in healthcare innovation


Categories: Business News

TECHNOBABBLE: A world without robocalls?

Google News - VoIP - 2021, July 28 - 9:00pm
But VOIP has its downsides. It allows nefarious people to spoof the phone number that they're calling from to make spam calls. Most of us have caller ID ...
Categories: VoIP News

Contentful raises $175M at a $3B valuation from Tiger for its content delivery service

Startup News - 2021, July 28 - 8:00pm

Contentful this morning announced a $175 million Series F round of capital, led by Tiger Global, valuing the unicorn at around $3 billion. Contentful, formerly known as a UI-free content management system (headless CMS), now views itself in a broader light. More simply, Contentful provides customers with a service that will deliver images, words, and other content to their applications and websites around the world, quickly.

According to the company, Tidemark and Base10 Advancement Initiative were added to its cap table in the round, which also saw participation from previous investors. Prior to the round that Contentful announced today, its most recent fundraising event was an $80 million Series E led by Sapphire Ventures in June 2020.

PitchBook data indicates that that round was raised at a roughly $550 million valuation, while our reporting at the time of the company’s Series E includes the tidbit that “a Contentful spokesperson [told TechCrunch] that [the company was] approaching a $1 billion” valuation. Split the difference and it’s clear that Contentful’s new valuation is a multiple of what the company was worth a year ago.

But before we dig into metrics and results — or really a lack thereof — let’s take a minute to chat through Contenful’s business.

What does it do?

TechCrunch caught up with Contentful’s CEO, Steve Sloan (previously of Twilio and Bessemer), and its comms connect, Brian Spittler (previously of Podium), to dig more into its products.

Sloan explained Contentful by analogy, saying that as Twilio served the communications market and Stripe the payments space, Contentful wants to handle the world’s digital content. Yes, we’re talking APIs (application programming interface). Contentful has a handful of core APIs that allow for reading and writing content to its data buckets and making content available at the right time.

In more practical terms, Contentful doesn’t want to help companies build apps. Other companies are rather good at that. Instead, it wants to help customers’ apps load their in-app content very quickly, regardless of where their users are. You can now better understand the modestly aspirational Stripe and Twilio comparison; Contentful wants to take a piece of a developer’s workload, in this case delivering digital content to controlled applications, abstract it and deliver the functionality as an API. So as developers could simply use Twilio to make text messages appear around the world without coming to terms with global telephone providers, Contentful customers can avoid having to think about content delivery networks (CDNs) and global bandwidth for their content.

Now that we have a reasonable grasp of what Contentful does, let’s talk about growth:


No, that’s not an errant space. Contentful’s CEO declined to share essentially anything concerning its business growth, aside from that when Contentful raised its Series E it was around an “inflection point” for the company. This irked me a little; we know that the company had a good 2020 and likely a good 2021 thus far. Why? Because Tiger didn’t invest in a $175 million round at a new, higher price for Contentful on the back of mediocre results.

To his credit, Sloan was willing to explain why his company decided to avoid sharing growth information. Per the CEO, when a company discloses pieces of growth data over time, folks will go back when they go public and compare data to claims. And, he added, given that definitions can change, sharing can be more bother than it’s worth. There’s some truth to this: Some startups will claim profitability, for example, only to gently backpedal and explain that what they meant was really adjusted EBITDA, say, or positive operating cash flow.

The solution, of course, is for growth-stage startups to share GAAP-ready data with the media when they want our attention. After all, Contentful is aiming toward an IPO and is probably already learning to get its books in proper order. GAAP results are possible! And to be fair to Contentful, many startups decline to share useful data about their performance when courting media attention, often at the request of their investors; that we journalists of the world have to then deal with other investors complaining to us that the media is too fixated on funding rounds as progress points is a distinct, if closely related, matter.

Why do we think that Contentful is targeting an eventual public debut? Because companies tend not to raise nine figures at 10-figure valuations if they are hoping for a quick exit. The unicorn is now too expensive for anyone but the largest tech companies to buy; ergo it intends to go public. And, yes, we would go back and check claimed results against historical GAAP data in its S-1 if we were able to. That’s research! And fact-checking!

Gripes aside, Sloan shared employee growth expectations in a broad manner. Contentful is around 600 people today, split between its hubs in Denver, Berlin and San Francisco. Over the next two years, it intends to double (or a bit more than double) that headcount. Pull out your pencils and come up with your own revenue guesses based on that. The correct answer is present-day ARR somewhere between $75 and $75 million. Good luck.

Looking ahead, Contentful sells to three main customer buckets, per its CEO: midmarket customers, enterprise customers and venture-backed startups that intend to get big. Given that all of those are either pursuing digital transformation work or are digitally native, we presume that Contentful’s market will remain fertile for some time. That implies a winsome total addressable market for the company to sell into, implying ample future growth opportunities. Let’s see what it can get done with $175 million more.

Categories: Business News


Subscribe to Hardfocus International aggregator