While you can expect to meet over 300 exhibitors on February 11–12 at our 2020 Global Conference in Silicon Valley, we thought we’d give you a closer look into some of this year’s Accelerate cohort. Below we highlight 7 fantastic startups whose groundbreaking solutions are already disrupting their respective industries.
Micromobility is booming: since 2017 last mile solutions have been disrupting urban life. According to McKinsey, in 2030 it will become a $400 billion industry with 30 million new vehicles looking for charging and parking solutions. DUCKT is a micromobility solutions company dedicated to building the largest network of electric charging, storage, and service stations for EVERY e-bike and e-scooter. The company’s docking stations will be installed in dedicated micromobility areas, parking spaces, and privately held businesses throughout major cities and markets around the world.
DUCKT’s solution consists of a patented plug and play docking device and connecting adapter that fits almost all e-scooter models in the market today with charging stations. This enables smart cities and businesses to better connect with the on-demand micromobility economy. They’re also developing a proprietary mobile application that will interface with docking stations and provide available locations as well as real-time e-vehicle availability of not only partnered rideshare, but all platforms. DUCKT provides: dashboard & reporting UI, MDS compliant data, seamless cloud platform with API connectivity.
Gimi is a neo-bank for children, teens, and their parents (imagine Snapchat of finance, but with a financial literacy twist). It’s fintech with a mix of gamification, social and education, aiming to equip children with financial literacy. Gimi wants to equip the next generation with financial superskills. Gimi’s vision is widespread financial wellbeing, thriving individuals, and prospering societies.
Gimi has one app for children and one for their supporters. Both come in either a free version or a premium version. The free app is not connected to real money (it’s a digital piggy bank that cannot be used to pay with), and the premium app has real money. Gimi Premium also comes with the Gimi Card, a prepaid Mastercard, designed for children.
70% of their card users are children under the age of 11! In the app, children can also chat with Piggy, their pixel mascot, the smart financial advisor. Every month, Piggy does more than 30,000 chat sessions with children. Today, Gimi has been downloaded more than 1.2M times all over the world and is visited by more than 120,000 users every month.
MY PERSONAL THERAPEUTICS — Grind Accelerate Biotech London, United Kingdom mypersonaltherapeutics.com
At least one out of three people reading this summary have or will have cancer. Current treatments will help only 50% of them to reach ten years survival after diagnosis. Every tumour has unique genetic origins, ergo, to develop efficient cancer treatments for every person is crucial to look at them as individual cases. My Personal Therapeutics designs a personalized solution for each patient by analyzing their tumours and creating an analogous genetic copy of them inside fruit flies. These flies, which develop the patient’s tumour and serve as their avatars, are then used to explore therapeutic options.
To accomplish this, they first employ up-to-date deep DNA sequencing technology to identify all the oncogenic mutations driving the individual cancer. Next, they use unique genetic tools to engineer in the fly’s genomes the same mutations leading to tumor formation. Finally, they create an army of 400K avatars for every patient and using robotic platforms they treat them with thousands of drugs and drug combinations until they find the most effective treatment targeting each specific tumour.
Their Personal Discovery Process identifies highly precise combinations of FDA-approved drugs to target an individual patient’s tumour. All recommended treatment combinations will include a cancer drug and one or more non cancer drugs, making treatments less toxic and more affordable. They are integrating AI and predictive modeling to enable rapid personalized drug treatment recommendations.
ClimateTrade is a Blockchain platform for carbon footprint offset, green financing, and sustainable investment and has been created to disrupt the traditional carbon markets.
Thanks to the blockchain technology, their platform allows them to eliminate intermediaries and therefore save up to 30% of the offsetting costs. It has fully automated performance permits to reduce the transaction process time by more than 300%. As these are peer-to-peer transactions, they ensure that the original developer of the mitigation project receives the money directly, tracing the entire process and making transparency one of our most distinctive features.
They aim to create an ecosystem where all people and companies can easily and safely offset their carbon footprint by investing in sustainable projects with the highest certified quality standards.
Indorse is a skills validation platform which helps candidates validate their tech skills and helps companies match with better candidates. They’ve built, from the ground up, a distributed community of expert software developers who conduct code review on candidates’ code. This is done in an anonymous and randomized fashion, which reduces the unconscious bias associated with hiring and recruiting processes. Each of these experts gets rewarded for their activity on the platform.
As of Jan 2020, more than 5,500 candidates have been evaluated on Indorse, and the expert community has finished ~25,000 code reviews in total. In return, they have disbursed more than USD 100k in rewards to these experts.
Evolve Energy uses AI and ML to enable their customers to actively reduce their carbon footprint while also saving up to 40% off of their electricity costs.
They monitor the type of electricity (wind, solar, gas, coal, diesel) that powers the grid in real time and know the emissions intensity of the grid as it changes. Through their app, they’re able to connect the grid to their customer’s smart devices (such as smart thermostats) and simply shift their customers use to cleaner times of the day, enabling true carbon reduction. Because renewable energy bids into wholesale markets at low prices, this also means that the cheapest hours of the day are now also the cleanest. They help their customers automatically use less electricity when “dirty” fuels are powering the grid and consequently help them save money!
The insurance industry has spent decades and billions of dollars focused on policy and claims administration transformation. However, these investments have merely automated process and not optimized outcomes or better engaged customers (e.g. agents, policyholders). Early applications of machine learning were initially focused in the Property and Casualty space, but Spraoi’s focus has been on the Life and Annuities and Voluntary Benefits providers.
Spraoi’s insurance specific machine learning platform, Barrel, incorporates model building, ETL and data pipeline capabilities to enable carriers to automate the handling of the data issues confronting them in building and managing models (e.g. missing, erroneously entered data) to generate insights in a scalable fashion. Spraoi offers a growing catalogue of machine learning solutions across the value chain. For example, Kwikcover is Spraoi’s customer experience portal platform. It offers a plug and play digital experience with microservices integration architecture that enables interoperability to legacy infrastructure and delivery speed.
We’re super proud to have these types of companies exhibiting at Global 2020 and honored to see them disrupting impactful industries like sustainable energy, carbon offsetting, and cancer treatment. Be sure to check them all out, along with the other 46 amazing Accelerate companies you can meet at Global 2020 on February 11–12 in Redwood City.
Two experienced entrepreneurs share how to overcome the feeling of isolation that comes with launching a startup.
Ask Pramod Raheja, founder of Airgility, what the most significant oversight of his startup days was, and his answer might surprise you. Making a wrong hire? No. Mismanaging cashflow? No.
Raheja considers his biggest startup mistake to be not joining a peer group sooner.
“I didn’t understand the value I could have gained if I had joined a network of entrepreneurs early on. Had I tapped into the right network, I would’ve grown and scaled faster. I would have become a better CEO faster.”
A member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) since 2011, Pramod says, “my network of peers has been key to my success.”
“Many times,” he adds, “I might’ve given up or gone in a different direction without trustworthy peers to bounce ideas off of and to share my sadness, frustration and even happiness with.”
Adrienne Palmer, founder of Insite and an EO member since 2000, agrees. She describes the loneliness that many entrepreneurs can relate to. “As a founder, there was no one I could really talk to about the challenges and fears that emerged. Friends often questioned why I was so obsessed with my business — why I had nothing else to talk about! Even family couldn’t truly relate. Many of them thought I was being irresponsible by not accepting offers for stable jobs.
“As an entrepreneur, you worry about your business all the time because it boils down to this: Clients (no matter how great the relationship) must always feel like the business is solid and everything is thriving. Likewise, with vendors and suppliers. And employees. And the bank. And the landlord.”
However, Palmer says, “When I could share with other entrepreneurs, without judgment, the walls came down. I was able to get perspective and insight from their experiences, knowing that they were sharing freely, with no agenda or vested interest. I was able to feel heard and understood. It gave me strength and confidence, knowing that I wasn’t the first to go through this, nor would I be the last.”
Raheja and Palmer agree that emotional support is an important reason to join a network of entrepreneurs. What other benefits can you expect from joining a peer group?
Most peer groups provide executive education that’s tailored to founders across a variety of industries.
“At my very first EO event, I was blown away,” Pramod says. “Warren Rustand put on an all-day workshop. I showed up at noon because — well, I’m a busy entrepreneur and had things to do. I spent the afternoon thinking, ‘What could have been more important than this? I should’ve made the time to be here all day.’ I still reference takeaways from that one lecture nearly ten years ago.”
Beyond structured learning events, peer-based entrepreneurial organizations offer a built-in network of mentors and advisers. Pramod explains, “Issues crop up that you can’t necessarily talk to your executive team about because it may have to do with them. Having other CEOs that I can call, confidentially, and say, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on with my company. Any thoughts or suggestions? Do you know anyone who can help me?’ More than likely, they’ve been through a similar situation and can share experiences that may benefit me.”
Interested in hearing more from Raheja and Palmer? They’ll be participating in the panel, “Benefits for Business: Build a Diverse Network of Entrepreneurs,” during Startup Grind on Feb. 11 at 1:30 pm on the Community Stage in Cinema 2.
Palmer appreciates the leadership opportunities provided by her peer group.
“EO gives me an opportunity to develop my leadership skills through volunteer leadership positions. Depending on your background, these opportunities might hone your ability to lead others, allow you to gain a more global perspective, or challenge you to think completely differently.”
Raheja is part of EO’s United Nations team working to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. He recently had the opportunity to participate in a focus group around gender inequality at the UN. “It was life-changing,” he shares. “Being on the floor of the UN and knowing that the actions of this group you’re a part of could be the spark that significantly transforms the lives of others? That’s the entrepreneurial mindset in action.”
As part of a global network of entrepreneurs, you’ll meet business owners at every stage of growth. For many individuals — particularly more established entrepreneurs — interacting with that fresh, unbridled energy can be exhilarating and provide them with new ideas for their own organizations.
“I enjoy being inspired by the startup entrepreneurs and their exciting new ideas and businesses,” says Palmer. “It gives me a spark of energy and new perspectives. Also, learning about many new social impact businesses being formed feeds my optimism about the future.”
Pramod concurs. “I get energy from other people — from helping other people, specifically. When I walk into a room of people, I want to impart my energetic passion and have them walk out of the room psyched up and inspired to make something of their business or connect with other peers! That’s why I coach people and mentor them.
“There’s so much value in this community — we need as many people as possible to develop and share the entrepreneurial mindset. It can help make us all better versions of ourselves.”
Startup Grind’s Alex Gordon-Furse, Director of the Startup Program, recently caught up with Leitha Matz, Founder and COO of Zuper, the winner of “Best Grind Startup” at Startup Grind’s 2019 Europe Conference. Together they dig into what Zuper’s been up to since their big win (hint: a lot!), new goals and challenges ahead, and the Fintech trends to watch out for in 2020.
– It’s been almost 8 months since the Europe Conference, where you won our Grind Startup Program! I’m excited to hear where life has taken you and Zuper during that time. For the benefit of our readers, let’s start with this: In a few sentences, what does Zuper do?
Zuper helps people do more with their money, leveraging machine learning to give them control and insights across bank accounts, and helping them to save so they can improve their finances and build a stronger future.
We believe that saving is critical to both financial security and goal achievement. So our mission is to focus on innovative ways we can make it faster, easier, and more effective for people to save.
– The Fintech market is pretty hot right now. So what makes Zuper different?
There are a few other companies that focus on either personal financial management (PFMs) or moving banking into the digital space (the neobanks), but we see Zuper as a holistic project.
When you need to address your finances, it should be a seamless digital experience that serves you end-to-end and allows you to focus on improving your broader financial health.
A lot of people are still using notebooks or Excel spreadsheets to manage their finances, but these days, we live in an era of data management algorithms that can categorize your transactions, predict your income and expenditure patterns, warn you about upcoming bills or unused subscriptions, and pre-approve you for a loan. So we emphasize the efficiency digitization brings, and that means our users can then focus on the bigger decisions in their lives.
– I’d love to know how Zuper came to be. What was the problem you saw and what led you to your ‘aha’ moment?
Interestingly, our founding team came together as a group of people with non-financial backgrounds. Our team’s experience ranges from ecommerce to real estate, natural language processing and IOT.
But consumer finance is a topic we were all excited about. At the time, we saw the EU’s regulatory requirement for financial institutions to give consumers access to their financial data (PSD2). That was such a great opportunity to rethink the experience and rebuild finance management from the ground up.
And of course, these days, we’ve also recruited a bunch of very experienced financial professionals to work with us on the banking operations. But I believe consumer focus really drives the company.
I also think we’re all passionate about this idea that applying machine learning to financial data can help people to make better decisions. So creating usable, enjoyable tools that help everyday people to thrive and make the most of their money rather than upselling or overselling them on products they don’t need… that’s what’s really satisfying for us.
– What milestone are you most proud of so far?
Of course there’s always a big thrill when we solidify a great corporate partnership, open a new office, or win an award, like the one from Startup Grind — and thank you so much for that! But for me, seeing our product/market fit click into place has been the biggest validation of all.
Germany is a notoriously tough market for new product adoption, specifically when it comes to something as sensitive as financial management. So when we logged our first 100,000 users and tripled our user base, I think we all felt a sigh of relief as well as real pride that everything we’ve been working so hard to build is actually making a difference in people’s lives.
– And what have been the biggest challenges of your journey?
There’s no end to new challenges! That makes every day an adventure. But interestingly, the resolution to one of our big challenges actually turned into one of our greatest strengths.
When we envisioned the company, we thought we’d all be co-located in Munich. But as we started looking for talent, we found wonderful people everywhere in the world. We’ve hired across Europe and from the Philippines to Brazil, so we’ve actually been international from the start. This has been inspiring and perspective-broadening and a great way to bring lively conversations to the table.
These days, we have a team of 42 people who speak 18 different languages. And although we have three offices, we work from all over the world. This also means product internationalization is a very natural process for us. We’re excited to open Zuper in five new countries this year.
– Zuper won “Best Grind Startup” at Startup Grind’s 2019 Europe Conference. What are some big things that have happened since?
The win at Startup Grind Europe was an incredible moment and it landed in the middle of an extremely busy year for us.
After the European conference:
We completed work on the back-end systems to launch our banking operations in 2020.
Our monthly retention after two months increased to 80% (so we’re doing quite well in keeping long-term users!).
We won a startup video competition with HYGH that gave us outdoor video display ads across Berlin.
We launched our AI/ML lab and met with the VISA Data Science team in London to begin working on collaborations.
The Google for Startups program selected Zuper for acceleration, networking, and mentorship.
We also secured API partnership that will help facilitate our 2020 European/US expansion.
We’re in the middle of our Series A raise right now and Startup Grind has been so supportive in making VC introductions and connecting us to the right resources. Our CTO, Marko, and our CPO, Jelena, will also join me in exhibiting at the Startup Grind Global Conference. We’re hoping to make some great connections there as well.
– What are the biggest trends you’re seeing in your industry right now?
To be fair, a lot of people haven’t been following European finance trends. I might just be a real geek for this stuff, but I think this is an extremely interesting time for banking and payments.
There were a lot of reactions to the last global financial crisis, particularly in the preparations made to prevent or minimize future damage. But I believe it also spurred regulators to think about what else could (or should) change to strengthen the financial system.
As a comparison to the US, Europe has a similar GDP: $18.8 trillion, about 22% of the global economy. And if you read the media, you’ll see an alphabet soup of European regulatory acronyms like GDPR, which was the General Data Protection Regulation, PSD2, the exciting second episode of the European Payment Services Directive, and the recent deadline for updates to SCA (Secure Customer Authentication). But ultimately, what I’m seeing is that for new financial products like Zuper that want to gain proper licensing, Europe actually has a much smoother regulatory environment than the US.
The Asia-Pacific Region is on a whole different level, but you can see Europe pushing forward in payments innovation and neobanking. Whereas in the US, Square, Robinhood, etc. have had a lot of trouble receiving licensing and that has real consequences in both profitability and the customer experience.
I think we all saw that on a large scale with last year’s outage at Galileo, the payments processor that serves some of the US neobanks. That was awkward for a lot of people.
– Given everything you’ve been going through, what advice would you give to other founders?
Sometimes startup founders are paranoid that someone is going to steal their idea or their pitch or their staff. And I have to tell you that yes, that will happen.
But the thing to remember is that a great idea, positioning, or slide deck is not the same as the enormous effort of gathering and nurturing a great team, crafting a culture, producing a product that people love, and breaking through the tough times into real growth.
I really believe persistence and luck are just as critical to success as ideas and talent. So yeah, there are people who will copy you. But they’re not you, and if you’re constantly growing, innovating, building, and listening to your customers, they’ll always be behind you.
– Finally, I’d love to hear about the next big goal you’d like to accomplish on your journey?
Most importantly, we need to find a great partner for our Series A. That’s going to set us up for a really exciting year of growth. We’re working on that right now, as well as expansion into France and the US later this spring.
– Best of luck with everything. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with you and helping you where we can. Here’s to a successful decade!
Thank you! And please pass on my thanks to the whole Startup Grind team for everything they do to organize events, make connections, and promote great startups. They’ve all been so generous, and it’s such a pleasure to collaborate with your team.
Be sure to say “Hi!” to Zuper at Global 2020 on February 12th, where they’ll be exhibiting at booth #215 in the Google for Startups tent. They’ll also be pitching live on the Mainstage at 11:45am on Feb. 12th. Check them out and cheer them on!
With 2020 just getting started, isn’t it a good time for consumers to take control of their finances? A new year means people are in the perfect spot to transform the way they spend money.
Don’t you want to prevent or get out of debt? Most people typically do, and they have the power to do it. So, what’s stopping them from controlling their finances and staying out of debt?
Why do so many consumers struggle to control their spending habits?
These days, there is a focus on consuming more. Portion sizes are a great analogy.
According to a study published on Business Insider, the average portion size that restaurants, fast-food chains, and grocery stores offer has grown by 138% since the 1970s. As a result, people are consuming more food without even realizing it, and the same can be said for consumers’ spending habits.
With fewer barriers to prevent overconsumption, people can easily spend money, leading to mindless purchases instead of mindful ones that are necessary. This behavior, however, is not solely the consumers’ fault. There are economic incentives in place that actually entice people to spend more money than they probably should.
Economic incentives that encourage consumers to spend more
Companies know how consumers’ minds work, and they are excellent at figuring out the best ways to increase consumer spending. In fact, there are three main economic incentives that brands use to entice consumers to spend more money.
1. A rewards credit card
A rewards credit card is a great example of an economic incentive that encourages more — and often unnecessary — spending. For example, many credit card companies offer points that consumers can only earn by making purchases using their credit cards. Some brands even provide bonuses: spend a few thousand dollars by a specific time and receive tens of thousands of points in return!
It sounds like an incredible benefit, but in actuality, consumers should look deeper before obtaining a rewards credit card. For many people, the thousands of dollars they would spend for points could be budgeted for other things. But it’s hard for consumers to keep that in mind when there’s a prize at the end of their purchase. Haven’t you ever been excited to get a rewards card just to accrue more points?
Consumers use a rewards credit card for unnecessary items simply to meet the spending criteria that will unlock more points. This behavior doesn’t make a rewards credit card terrible. Points are a great perk, but many people put themselves under large amounts of financial stress and increase their debt at the same time.
2. Scarcity incentive
The scarcity incentive is a simple one: Humans place a higher value on products when the quantity or availability of those products appears limited. For humans’ prehistoric ancestors, this behavior referred to resources like food.
These days, however, brands use the scarcity incentive for non-essential items to help encourage consumer spending. For example, it’s not hard to find a website that shows consumers the number of products in stock, or how many other people have that same item in their cart, to increase urgency and motivate consumers to purchase. Even if someone prefers to wait to make a buying decision, the website nudges them to buy now. The only problem is if the consumer has not budgeted for that item, he or she will likely increase their debt with that purchase.
3. Instant gratification incentive
Consumers can access nearly anything from their phones or other electronic devices. The traditional “heading to the store” is becoming less and less common, with more consumers opting to shop online for everything from clothes, to books, to groceries, and more.
This instant gratification, while making consumers’ lives much more convenient, also has a downside: excessive spending. Because it is so easy to buy anything with a simple click, many consumers are starting to spend beyond their means.
This behavior leads to more consumers who need payday advances and payday loans, which then adds to their debt and financial burden. With so many different factors working against them, what can people do to decrease their debt and exercise control over their spending habits? Virtual cards may offer a vital solution.
How can virtual cards help individuals control their spending to decrease debt?
In a world where so many things can be done online, virtual cards can help those who want to control their spending. How do virtual cards achieve this? The answer is simple: spending limits.
With a virtual card like Privacy, consumers can set a limit on how much they spend with different retailers, streaming services, and online merchants. This feature can help prevent online shoppers from overconsuming because the limit forces them to stop after a certain point. This benefit also reduces unnecessary purchases and impulse buying because consumers know they only have a finite amount to spend with a particular merchant.
If consumers want to spend more, of course, Privacy allows them to increase their spending limit, but that adds another step for consumers, as they have to go into their account and raise it themselves. This small step slightly increases the friction throughout the buyer’s journey, which is often enough for an individual to second-guess their decision to spend more money and decide to stick to their budget.
How can spending limits help consumers control their finances?
Spending limits offer the obvious benefit: They limit how much a consumer can spend, thus preventing the consumer from spending more than they need. But spending limits can also provide other uses.
1. Subscription raises
Most consumers have one or more monthly subscription, which is typically set to auto-deduct payment from their accounts. Sometimes, when merchants increase the subscription’s costs, consumers don’t notice until the amount shows up on their statement.
By setting a spending limit, however, consumers can ensure a merchant doesn’t overcharge them if their increased price exceeds the limit they’ve set. This feature allows people to decide whether they want to continue with a subscription and pay the increased fee (which means they’ll need to increase their spending limit for that merchant) or cancel their subscription altogether.
2. Canceling subscriptions
Many consumers subscribe to various services and intend on canceling those services but forget to follow through. This behavior leads to unnecessary charges, which are usually non-refundable. But by setting a spending limit, the subscription fee is declined depending on the amount the consumer set. Even if a person forgets to cancel a subscription, they won’t be charged thanks to their spending limit.
3. Added protection from data breaches
Some Privacy users say their spending limits have saved them from data breaches. There have been times when Privacy users set a spending limit, reached that limit, then noticed many declined transactions from the retailer. Of course, Privacy users stopped the unapproved charges from going through because of their spend limits, but they also realized a critical insight as well: the merchant was hacked. In some cases, consumers alerted merchants about the breach before the retailer even knew.
Decrease debt by reducing overconsumption
It is all too easy for consumers to fall into the overspending trap. They can buy something with the click of a button, which can lead to unnecessary purchases and impulse buying.
But using virtual cards and setting spending limits can help consumers add another layer to their budget to encourage them to control their spending. With useful tools in place, individuals can start to decrease their debt and gain the financial freedom they seek, which will all help reduce the U.S. consumer debt.
What are your financial goals for 2020? Follow us on Twitter (@PrivacyHQ) and share them with us, and let us know what you’re doing to achieve them.
Molly O’Shea is an Associate at Trail Mix Ventures, an early-stage venture fund investing in The Future of Living Well across enterprise and consumer startups solving for Sustainability, Care and The Future of Work. She is an e-commerce founder and industry-agnostic technology investor, with experience in early and growth-stage funds and startups. She has had experience at Google’s 30 Weeks an incubator for designers, a family office venture fund in Miami and a APAC cross-border pre-IPO venture fund.
— What is your / your fund’s mission?
Trail Mix Ventures is a women-led and owned early-stage enterprise and consumer venture firm investing in the Future of Living Well across Sustainability, Care and the Future of Work. Areas we are actively researching include Sustainability & Climate, Opioid & Addiction Treatment, Personalized Health, Microbiome, Child & Elder Care, Smart Cities, Frontier Medicine, Supply Chain & Last Mile Logistics and AI/ML Platforms & Services.
— What is one thing you are excited about right now?
I’m excited about many things! But a couple of areas that have endured over time:
Solving for the unintended consequences and effects of the rapidly increasing climate crisis
Treating the root cause and/or prevention in healthcare
Empowering underrepresented individuals
Discovering whitespaces that increase efficiency in legacy systems
Improving the quality of life for generations to come
— Who is one founder you think we should watch?
While I may not be able to pick just one, all of our portfolio founders display tremendous examples of persistence, passion and the ability to rapidly problem-solve…. But I would be on the lookout for Dr. Robin Berzin of Parsley Health.
— What are the 3 top qualities of every great leader?
Integrity — strong principles, moral compass, honest excellence
Openness — humility, knowing what you don’t know, ability to learn & grow, coachability, flexibility, creativity, positivity
— What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?
Is this going to change people’s lives?
— What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?
Have I done my research on the investor?
— What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?
Product Market Fit — Who are the customers? What are the driving factors of the business? How can we optimize for that?
Culture — Building and retaining top-quality talent, continuously leveling up internal ecosystem and culture
Growth — Long term vision, with reasonable and measurable short term milestones
— Favorite business book, blog or podcast?
I’m a major podcast and audiobook addict, that I have running on a daily rotation.
Podcasts: Animal Spirits, Robinhood Snacks, Recode Decode, Goop, Goldman Sachs, MindBodyGreen, The Economist, WSJ’s Future of Everything, and How I Built This
Audiobooks: The Mind-Gut Connection, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World, What You Do is Who You Are, High Growth Handbook, Man’s Search For Meaning, Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos, and Who
— What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Mindful relaxation, either on a boat, at the beach, with friends, in an infrared sauna or at the gym (usually listening to a podcast or audiobook).
— Who is one leader you admire?
I’m not sure I can single out one leader, but a quality I’ve gathered over time in leaders I admire is their ability to structure out their goals, level up, level down and have a strong vision for the future. I really admire leaders who take upcoming talent under their wing to empower generations for future leadership. Of my mentors, I’m always so grateful and honestly sometimes surprised by the time and effort they take to answer my texts, calls or emails on the same day. More importantly, they challenge me. They ask me questions that lead me to my own discovery and conclusions, intellectually pushing my personal growth and standard.
— What is one interesting thing most people won’t know about you?
I grew up training as an artist, won a bunch of local + national awards and showed in Greenwich’s Bruce Museum. I thought I’d become a designer, sustainable architect or developer.
— What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?
Make meaningful relationships, level up, develop an obsessive growth mindset and write everything down.
Closing the collaboration gap — How can large organisations become better partners?
It’s no secret that established organisations are seeking out start-up partners — and the reasons why are manifold. Start-ups are often synonymous with speed and agility; they’re unencumbered with process and bring a fresh perspective to old problems.
Within the healthcare sector, start-ups are frequently driven by passion. Founders have often identified an unmet need and are completely committed to solving it. Marrying this with the expertise, connections and resources of a large organisation can be an incredibly productive combination.
And it’s not just corporates that value partnerships. According to research that RB conducted together with Startup Grind, over half (56%) of health/digital health start-up leaders would consider partnering with a corporate to develop their solution.
So why don’t we see more partnerships? One possible reason is that corporates don’t often ask start-up leaders what they want, and even if they do at the start of the relationship, this can get lost along the partnership journey. This isn’t necessarily driven by arrogance. I think large organisations are sometimes so eager to discuss how they can help, that they neglect to demonstrate one of the most desirable traits; the ability to listen.
Our partnership with Startup Grind has enabled us to do just this. We asked start-ups about their needs, wants and motivations so that we can understand how to be the best partner possible. In the spirit of collaboration, I’m sharing our key findings below:
Work to get to know your partner — really get to know them
The strongest relationships are built on mutual understanding, meaning that its worth getting to know each other’s motivations, concerns and goals fully before entering into a partnership.
Reassuringly, our research shows that health and digital health start-ups are highly motivated by the desire to improve lives. This is a top two motivation for 91% of those asked. While the majority of health organisations will share this, regardless of their size, it’s critical that corporates clearly communicate this to start-ups and all stakeholders.
The desire to create something new and innovative is also a key (top two) motivator for 44% of start-ups. Large organisations may have hugely successful product lines, but if they want to be a good innovation partner, they need to demonstrate equal commitment to the R&D that will deliver the next big thing.
Don’t assume the corporate stereotype
One of the biggest concerns for start-up leaders is around corporate culture. One in two (56%) would not enter into a partnership for fear of process, bureaucracy and lengthy decision-making slowing down their plans. For start-ups’, whose primary motivation is to improve people’s lives (91%), it’s easy to see how disheartening this could be.
However, a balance must be struck between speed and credibility. Corporates, such as RB, have built their reputations over decades and are not going to risk these by taking a product to market before it is ready and without due diligence in areas such as safety, regulatory and compliance. We fully understand that the process can be frustrating at times, but it’s well worth it in the long-term.
Identify what both parties can contribute
One area where start-ups appear are in need of support is with PR and marketing (39%). To me, this indicates that business leaders are confident in their propositions but lack the expertise in non-technical disciplines to transform these into marketable consumer health solutions.
On the other hand, a very real fear for start-ups considering partnership is that the concept they’ve nurtured since birth could be taken up by someone else and end up beyond their control. Nearly half (44%), are prevented from partnering due to concerns over IP ownership, while one in three (33%) are worried that they’d lose power as a decision maker. It’s only by working with start-ups on a bespoke basis and setting out clear parameters for the type of partnership, that corporates will be able to alleviate these fears whilst working in a way that is beneficial for both parties.
A positive future for partnerships
I’ve no doubt in my mind that partnerships are integral to the future of consumer healthcare. As consumer requirements evolve and multiply, we need to collaborate on a multi-disciplinary level to identify unmet needs and access the expertise and resources necessary to meet them. Building trust and understanding between start-ups and corporate partners will be fundamental to our success moving forward, and to help foster this we’re hosting our annual RB Innovation Hack at the Global Start-Up Grind Conference next week. The hack will bring together healthcare/healthtech start-ups together with RB’s R&D and Marketing teams, to ideate potential solutions to a health challenge. This will give RB a great opportunity to connect with potential new partners and gain insights into how we can better work with start-ups. Likewise, it will provide start-ups with an opportunity to experience working with RB and connect with senior business leaders to explore potential partnership opportunities.
Only 1 week left until Startup Grind’s 10th Anniversary Global Conference! After months of anticipation, we are thrilled to finally announce to you this year’s Accelerate startups!
What does it mean for these startups to be on Accelerate?
Accelerate is Startup Grind’s invite-only community designed to give the most promising startups from our global network, the education, connections and exposure they need to accelerate their growth. Only startups already accepted to exhibit as part of the Startup Program at one of our flagship Conferences are able to apply. That means these startups are in the top 1.35% of 4,000 applications! So, what do they get…?
At Conference, in addition to curated partner, mentor & investor meetings, main stage pitches & panel slots, the startups are given access to the Accelerate Summit — an invite-only pre-Conference day of learning and networking for Accelerate founders. At this year’s Summit, they will be able to learn directly from hyper-growth CEO coaches from RHR International, investment partners from the likes of Shasta Ventures, Defy Ventures, Backstage Capital & Expa, top-level executives from corporates & unicorns such as Facebook, Oracle, Disney, Gainsight, SurveyMonkey, Branch Metrics and more…
Post-Conference, they are onboarded to our remote Accelerate Community, where our support continues. Read here for more information…
This year’s companies at a glance
These 54 companies are from 19 countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, Singapore & Ukraine. They were selected from 4,000 total applicants from 133 countries based on how they fared across a variety of criteria, including unique market insight, traction/product potential, market size/potential, founding team experience, competitive moats (e.g. network, patents, etc.), market timing and more.
Below are 2 charts that will also help you to get a feel for how the cohort looks as a whole.
Let’s see who made it…
Check out the 2020 Accelerate Startups to watch out for at the Conference here
The Startup Program Then… And Now!
Startup Grind is the world’s largest community of entrepreneurs, educating, inspiring and connecting each other across 130+ countries. The Startup Program is Startup Grind’s gateway to finding the most disruptive ideas and creative entrepreneurs from around the world. In the first six months of 2019 alone, we sourced, vetted and supported 309 startups from across 57 countries and 33 industries.
For last year’s 107 top-tier Accelerate startups, we ran dozens of webinars in 2019, organised over 500 investor & partner meetings and enabled coverage in some of the top online tech media outlets like Forbes, TNW & Yahoo as well as many regional offline media outlets.
Across the Grind and Growth Programs, our Accelerate Community is now 161 startups strong. We are constantly looking to grow our Startup Program and Accelerate members, so we encourage YOU to apply for an opportunity to join our next Conference in September 2020 in London.
As for now, we will leave you with a glimpse of some of the top startups that you will meet for yourself at Global 2020:
2020 marks the 10-year anniversary of Startup Grind and the 8th year of our annual Global Conference (Global 2020). Personally, this is my seventh year producing this show and the first year doing it with the most world-class team in the business. My first event had 1,000 people and this year nearly ten times that. The two things which always remain constant? 1) it’s a grind, but one that we love and 2) a good team is everything.
Each year we try to bring you something different, something special. We’ve designed this year’s event and program to bring endless opportunities for not just founders, butfor startup teams and those at the forefront of startup groups within their organizations. It’s an event for everyone involved to learn all things tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship and to connect with the best minds and brands in business right now. It’s also been recognized as one of the best in the world.
Alas, here’s a bit of what we have in store.
Diversity — it’s not just a word, it’s a way
45% of speakers and 43% of attendees identify as women
25% of speakers are people of color
30% of speakers started their companies outside of Silicon Valley
Startups from over 90 different countries will attend.
The age of this year’s speakers ranges from 14–61
The level of funding for companies’s represented is from bootstrapped (here, here!) to $24B.
With industry leaders and experts from Reddit, Slack, Refinery 29, VSCO, Rent the Runway, Zoom, Disney+, Adobe, Facebook, and more. Get insights on everything from creating an interesting pitch deck to storytelling for press; building an effective marketing campaign to understanding policy and privacy regulations, the list goes on. Here are just a few standout sessions:
Top 5 Qualities of Successful Early Stage Founders with General Catalyst
Data-Driven Business: Curating the Customer Experience with Hulu + Thirdlove
Maintaining Startup Velocity While Building Mature and Reliable Systems with Uber
Negotiating, Investing, and The New Era of Cultural Influencers with Seattle Seahawks Linebacker, Super Bowl Champion, and Six-time Pro Bowler Bobby Wagner
With over 4,000 applications from startups in 133 countries, 500+ hours of interviews and an insane amount of inspiration, we’ve narrowed the list down to just over 300 incredible, innovative, high-growth startups who will join us as Global 2020’s exhibiting startup batch.
323 startups from over 49 countries
35% have 10+ people on their team and are rapidly expanding
38% have raised more than $500k
37 industries represented including Software, Healthcare, Fintech, SaaS, AI, E-Commerce
Whether you wear one of many hats (as many of us in startups do) or are the sole leader in your role, we hope you’ll find great content catered to you and your journey. Here are a few sessions designed for teams. Take the “attendee journey” below to find even more.
Product: Go-to-Market Strategies, Machine Learning, Failing Fast, Scaling PM teams with VSCO, Amazon, SoFi
Growth: Disruption, Innovation, Scaling, Global Expansion, Sustainability with Adobe, Poshmark, Google
Marketing/PR: Pitching to Media, Storytelling, Influencers, Competition, Mobile Trends, Brand, Launch with Zoom, Andreessen Horowitz, Rent the Runway, Disney+
Data: ML for Data Scientists, Customer Experience, Maintaining Velocity, Building Reliable Systems with Uber, Hulu, Greylock
People + Ops: Future of Work, Wellness, Teams, Collaboration, Hiring withSequoia, IWG, monday.com
Community: Attracting, Building, Retaining a Strong Community + Network with Reddit, Slack, Airbnb, Patreon
Founders: Failures & Bounce-backs, Access to $$, Top Founder Qualities with Forerunner, Oracle for Startups, Scale Venture Partners, GV, Thumbtack
Want help tailoring sessions that are right for you? We’ve created an attendee journey that takes into consideration your goals and your purpose for joining us. PS — it includes a great template for a letter to your boss on why they should send you! Let us help guide you: take the attendee journey
Quality Connections — make friends!
As you may or may not know, Global 2020 takes over the streets of downtown Redwood City. This year we’ll have even more outdoor spaces and special events to help you stimulate some creativity and make new friends. The Community Canopy will be open to attendees who want to take a minute to enjoy an activity completely separate to the tech scene — meditate, taste some legit cookie dough with Doughp, demo a Boosted board, find a mentor, or a chapter director from your city. 230 Startup Grind Chapter Directors from 200 chapters & 61 countries around the world will be attending this year’s event (wearing a “Chapter Director” badge and likely some serious SG gear). They’re the best friends to make! We hope you’ll find at least one while you’re there.
Credits, Discounts, Giveaways — from our Sponsors
Our sponsor tent will host partners from a range of industries who are all here to support and offer resources to the Startup Grind community. Exclusive to SG attendees, stop by the main tent (and check your attendee emails) for discounts and giveaways from our partners including Plaid, AWS, Chase, Mailchimp, Oracle, Industrious, T-mobile, Segment, and more.
Just over a week left — on with the grind! We hope you’re excited. We can’t wait to see you there.
Paul Powers co-founded Physna in late 2015, unaware that this company would one day revolutionize 3D technology in CAD design, engineering design and quality control throughout manufacturing and procurement. Powers graduated from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany with his law degree, which he funded through several tech companies he founded. Paul also founded Zoozler, a tech innovation firm assisting startups with business development and fundraising. Paul launched Physna after returning to the US with the intention of addressing IP theft of physical goods. It would later become clear that the technology developed at Physna had far broader value than initially realized. Since creating Physna, Powers has worked to share Physna’s strategy and vision with customers, partners and investors. In 2019, Powers was recognized in the “Forbes 30 Under 30” awards.
Physna — short for Physical DNA — uses its proprietary technology centered around AI-enhanced 3D geometric analysis for applications in engineering, supply chain, manufacturing and inventory management such as 3D model search, comparison and AI predictions. Physna is highly flexible and can be used as a standalone or as a CAD or PLM plugin. With Physna, engineers and designers can instantly find, compare and analyze CAD models using any input such as parts within parts, components of parts, geometric measurements, a description interpreted by Physna’s AI, etc.
— In a sentence, what does your company do?
Physna gives mechanical engineers the same tools software engineers enjoy (autofill, machine learning predictions, comparisons, etc.) by codifying 3D models into a universally applicable, proprietary code — bridging the gap between the 2D digital world and our 3D physical world.
— What makes your company/product different in this market?
Physna is a fundamentally new approach to 3D data. Physna can make predictions using advanced machine learning, and automates various tasks throughout engineering, procurement, quality control, and inventory management. Our proprietary algorithms codify CAD data and analyze the internal and external makeup of a 3D model including parts within parts, components of parts and geometric data.
— Describe how and when your company came to be. In other words, what was the problem you found and the ‘aha’ moment?
When I met and spoke with business leaders in manufacturing companies, I discovered that many large manufacturing companies have challenges with managing CAD files. In fact, the average mechanical engineer works at only 20% the productivity of a software engineer due to a major disparity in organization and automation tools. The impact is not only on time. Incorrect or faulty designs can lead to machine breakage, safety issues, unplanned downtime and financial loss. I founded Physna to help engineers and designers to easily find, analyze and compare 3D models.
— What milestone are you most proud of so far?
Physna has achieved several major milestones with substantial strategic arrangements with government agencies and large enterprises. While these are confidential, we are also proud of our relationship with Drive Capital. Physna recently completed a $6.9 million Series A round of financing led by venture capital firm Drive Capital in Columbus, Ohio. This funding will further product development, increase adoption of the technology and expand the engineering and sales teams.
— What are people most excited by?
Engineers and designers are excited by our technology that bridges the gap between the physical and digital world. With Physna powering search and comparison of 3D data, engineers can focus their time innovating new products in aerospace, automotive, medical devices, and various other areas of manufacturing. Innovations that can improve economic efficiencies, lessen our impact on our environment, and cure illnesses. By empowering others, Physna helps improve work of innovators who in turn can better improve the lives of people around the world.
— Have you pursued funding and if so, what steps did you take?
We have raised $9 million to date starting with private, high net worth investors and recently a $6.9 million Series A round of investment by Drive Capital in Columbus, Ohio. We had several term sheets for our Series A round, and we chose Drive Capital because they understood our value proposition and our plan to scale the product.
— What KPIs are you tracking that you think will lead to revenue generation/growth?
We are carefully tracking our investment in sales and marketing to ensure that we have significant ROI. We are also looking at user growth and engagement to ensure that our target customers are adopting Physna as part of their every day work.
Before I go to a meeting, I ask “Why am I meeting this investor?” I look for long-term partners for our business who will provide more than capital.
— How do you build and develop talent?
We have a robust hiring process at all levels of our company. To stay as objective as possible, our developers enter their qualifications and complete a series of coding tests anonymously. During the interview process, we do a very detailed review of qualifications and ensure that we are asking questions to identify that candidates are a good fit for our culture, not just qualified for that particular role.
In developing talent, we encourage our team to seek out training and learning opportunities. Physna offers internal training tools and we also hire trainers and coaches to come in and spend time further training and developing our team.
— How do you manage growth vs sustainability?
Physna is growing very quickly, and at any company it’s always a challenge to fuel the growth while ensuring that the company can keep up. Careful planning and scalability reviews help to ensure that sustainability is not impacted by massive growth. If this is planned diligently, only rarely should growth be restricted for sustainability or vice versa. We hired a great sales team and ensured that our focus is on a strategic subset of our entire range of opportunities. This focus area is strategic in that the same customer base can benefit from additional tools as we scale and sales in one sector will promote sales in the other.
As a leader, I’m focused on making sure that we have a clear view of our current situation, knowing where our people are focused and how they are prioritizing their work. I also pre-plan for scenarios like signing a large customer or pursuing a partnership opportunity, and have a pre-built game plan to shift people and responsibilities to successfully manage through these periods of explosive growth.
— What are the biggest challenges for the team?
There are two types of challenges startups can face: Some are a solution in search of a problem, and others are solutions to many different problems. The former is a problem, the latter is a challenge with a major upside if handled appropriately. Physna is very much in the latter camp — i.e. we built something that can solve more problems than we anticipated. As such, the biggest challenge is staying focused on our priorities. We have to deliver a premium product experience to our customers every day. Everything else that doesn’t contribute to the customer experience is eliminated from our work.
Another challenge is that our company has legitimately developed fundamentally new technology. It’s not an application of already existing technology. That means there is no instruction manual for this, so we have to forge a new path more so than your average startup. This is a challenge but it is also an opportunity. We are more versatile and can deploy our technology for a very wide range of applications. This means that, as long as we plan appropriately, we are not limited by the depth of a vertical, since we have a lot of verticals we can later expand to.
— What’s been the biggest success for the team?
There is no way to isolate the biggest single success, but it is very likely a result of a failure. When we started Physna, we had no intention of creating fundamentally new technology; rather, we intended to license existing technology to solve a specific issue. That effort failed as literally every technology we tried out was unable to produce the results we needed. That nearly caused us to give up before we were even called “Physna”. But that is precisely what resulted in the development of our Physical DNA (Physna), which is now going through patenting in over 120 countries.
— What advice would you give to other founders?
Don’t choose a path. Choose a goal. Then make a path.
Be open and honest with yourself and your team.
Realize that success is overwhelmingly dependent on mindset. It’s not what you know, and it’s not even who you know — it’s how you think.
Use optimism as your fuel and realism as your steering wheel. Pessimism is a handbrake and that won’t get you anywhere.
Think about how nature works: Evolution is based not on strength or appearance, but rather on adaptability. To be adaptable, you have to be open to change and honest with yourself and others about results. That also means you have to experiment and track what is working and what isn’t. Nature in this sense is the market. Listen to the market and adapt accordingly. Otherwise you will go extinct.
— Have you been or are you part of a corporate startup program or accelerator? If so, which ones and what have been the benefits?
Physna has not been part of a corporate startup program or accelerator.
— Anything else you’d like to share?
Over 70% of our economy is comprised of physical goods, but less than 1% of software is designed to serve the physical goods industry. Technology innovation has been largely centered around software because engineers of physical goods lack fundamental tools taken for granted by software engineers. As a result, mechanical engineers are only 20% as productive as software engineers. There is a simple reason for this: Software is written in 2D (text) and built to understand 2D (text). But we live in a 3D physical world. Physna is dedicated to bridging this gap and democratizing 3D technology to enable not only the fourth industrial revolution, but the second digital revolution as well.