Berlin-based auto offering stage Citeecar has raised a $10 million Series A round headed by Mangrove Capital Partners. Citeecar offers imparted access to private autos as a reasonable and changeless elective to auto possession in congested urban areas. Propelled 16 months back, Citeecar at present has an armada of 500 autos in four German urban areas and will utilize the new trade to grow both in for cold hard currency Germany and abroad.
Brain Tech – Part 3
Adapted from the Journal of the MIT Enterprise Forum – Chicago
“I must’ve walked down that alley 100 times, but for some reason something told me I shouldn’t go down there.” But the Marine dismisses the thought and carries on with his mission. Next, he gets blown up.
The soldier’s intuition tells him to avoid the alley but his observation and cognition do not. Something is happening that he cannot account for. How can we fix this picture? Continue reading
Something that has always fascinated me about startup life has been the view that startups are marriages between co-founders. It makes sense. If you decide to go full-time on your startup idea, you’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time with that person; you might even be living together. Unlike romantic relationships, you can’t run away from your problems — your personal livelihood via your career is at stake.
Romantic relationships, unlike most other relationships, aren’t governed by logic — they are driven by passion and commitment. They can be roller coasters with blissful highs and heart-wrenching lows.
So what is love? One of my favorite representations of love is “The Triangular Theory of Love” developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg. He theorizes that love is made up of three components:
1. Intimacy (attachment, closeness, connectedness)
2. Passion (sexual attraction, limerence)
3. Commitment (short-term: the decision to stay together; long-term: plans made with each other)
With all three components, you have love; any other mixture is a subset of love — like infatuation.
The Triangular Theory of Startups
Given the relationship between startups and marriages, the Triangular Theory of Love can be applied to startup co-founders with a few adjustments to the definitions:
1. Intimacy (attachment and closeness with your co-founders)
2. Passion (for the idea and the startup itself)
3. Commitment (short-term: to stay together as a team; long-term: incorporating the startup into your personal future)
A) Non-startup (N/A)
You don’t have intimacy, passion, or commitment. Non-startups make up most of our relationships; they are simply casual encounters. This could be anyone you met at a networking event, cold emailed, or went to a conference with.
At this stage, it’s important to not write people off. This person can potentially turn into a friend, mentor, or co-founder; you just don’t know yet!
B) Friendship (Intimacy)
You have intimacy. You act warmly towards the person and there’s a bond, but you don’t share an intense passion or any long-term commitment. This might be a fellow founder you openly discuss your problems with over the occasional coffee. Maybe it’s “that person” you always run into at events and can always count on to fill awkward voids. Regardless, you genuinely enjoy talking to them and seeing them and have a relationship, but you’re passionate about different topics and there are no expectations of staying in touch.
At this stage, it’s important not force your startup idea down someone’s throat. Too often, I see enthusiastic entrepreneur hopefuls try to “sell” friends on ideas and bring them on as co-founders.
C) Infatuated startup (Passion)
You are both super passionate about a particular idea, space, or product — and you just met! You don’t have intimacy or commitment but who cares, you’ve been dying to do this idea since forever, and so are they! You’re still learning about the person but isn’t it amazing to meet someone who “gets it” and understands why you’re so excited about the space? It feels awesome talking to them and you can’t wait for the next time you chat. Infatuated startups often turn into romantic startups over time if intimacy develops, so try working with them — this can be the beginning of a beautiful thing!
At this stage, it’s important not to jump into any long-term commitments without better understanding each other. Here, it’s key to build intimacy to determine whether there’s a long-term fit going forward.
D) Empty startup (Commitment)
You are committed to each other but there isn’t any intimacy or passion. In marriages, this is typically the stage where, “even though we hate each other, we better stay together for the kids.” But how did you get here? Maybe you had a falling out with your co-founders, lost passion for the idea, or the startup pivoted to a new vision. Either way, you feel the need to stay with your startup because it’s turning revenue, for equity cliff/vesting purposes, or the fear that you’ll destroy your reputation with the community or investors.
Worse, you might be motivated to stay due to the sunk cost fallacy. Entrepreneurs, unlike most other occupations, require a certain irrational. Some founders don’t know when to walk away, especially if they’ve spent a lot of time on their startup, and would rather go down with the ship.
At this stage, it might be a good idea to consider whether your startup makes you happier or makes you a better person. A lot of first-time entrepreneurs get stuck in this trap, especially if their startup is doing well.
E) Romantic startup (Intimacy+Passion)
You’re passionate about the idea and you have intimacy with your co-founders. This is the startup ideal that’s romanticized by your corporate world friends. You’re living the life! The idea is awesome and you love your co-founders — hopefully you’ll get acquired within the year! You hope the startup does well but if it doesn’t, it’s ok since you’ll have a good story to tell and it’ll open a ton of other opportunities.
At this stage, I think it’s a good idea to make sure everyone’s on the same page. Are we sticking together through thick and thin? What happens if we pivot? What’s our runway? Having these conversations early on, especially when things are sunny, sets expectations and lowers the risk of co-founder meltdowns when you eventually run into speed bumps.
F) Companionate startup (Intimacy+Commitment)
You’re intimate and there’s commitment, but you’re not passionate about a shared idea or startup. This is either a close friend, an awesome co-founder, or likely both. How did you get here? You likely had a startup with co-founders you think are awesome, but ended up pivoting to an idea that you’re less passionate about, but that has better product/market fit. Alternatively, you applied to an accelerator with friends using an idea that had huge potential, but you didn’t really care for. You get in, so you feel committed to the idea despite not being overly passionate about it.
Here, it might be good to figure out whether there is a different startup idea that really ignites your fervor. You love your co-founders because they’re awesome and you want to stick together because you’re a great team, so why not build something you love? Life is short. As Alexis Ohanian says, “[your] resources are best used to help projects that make the world suck less.”
G) Fatuous startup (Passion+Commitment)
You’re passionate and committed, but lack intimacy; it’s a “whirlwind marriage” where your commitment is based of your passion. You just met but you’re willing to commit to them as co-founders because you think the idea is just that awesome. With each other, you have to be unstoppable, right? Maybe your enthusiasm for the idea gets you into an accelerator, funding, or some other traction figure, either way, you’re committed to making this work — despite only recently meeting each other.
At this stage, you should try to build intimacy. Do you actually like being with each other? Does every word that comes out of their mouth piss you off? This might turn into your dream, or your nightmare.
H) Consummate startup (Intimacy+Passion+Commitment)
This is the ideal startup. You have intimacy, passion, and commitment. This is the true ideal that entrepreneurs should strive towards. These are the startups where you can tell the founders are as passionate about the idea on Day 900 as they were on Day 1. They love their co-founders and can’t imagine themselves happier over the long-term working with anyone else. They’ve been able to overcome their few difficulties gracefully, and enjoy being together as a team. This makes me think of Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi (Dropbox); Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google); or Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah (HubSpot).
If you’re lucky enough to have this type of startup relationship, keep note that it’s harder maintaining it than achieving it. You have to continually strive to translate these components — intimacy, passion, and commitment — into actions. Consummate startup love isn’t permanent; as originally theorized by Sternberg’s Triangular theory of love, “without expression, even the greatest of loves can die.”
I loved the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. Those five events and the people caught up in them were artfully used to convey a spectrum of human emotion, to evoke a panoply of empathies, and to do what good art does-imitate life and help us understand ourselves better.
I doubt I can match that standard, but I, too, would like to help us understand ourselves better, and my list requires 6 entries rather than 5. I need: three names, one place, a company, and a substance.
The three names on my list are Michael Moss, William Davis, and David Perlmutter. There could easily be more names, or just other names- but these will do nicely.
Michael Moss is an investigative journalist and author who has told us that much of our food supply is willfully engineered to be all but addictive. He is not the first to do so. So here we are, mired in chronic disease and rampant obesity, inclined to wring our hands- yet willing to learn that much of the cause is willfully concocted for profit, and respond with a yawn and a ‘ho, hum.’
Folks, where is the outrage? There are PhDs being paid huge salaries to turn your children into type 2 diabetics! Where are the maddened crowds of pitchfork wielding parents and grandparents? There are companies splitting their stocks as surgeons split open the bellies of adolescents and even children to perform bariatric surgery. Where is the righteous indignation?
Let’s move on. Dr. William Davis is the author of Wheat Belly, and Dr. David Perlmutter of Grain Brain. Both are massive best-sellers. And both do what a long parade of previous best-sellers have done. The formula for a best-seller in the realm of health and weight control is to promise the moon and stars, sprinkle pixie dust, refute everything everybody thought they knew before, invoke a scapegoat, or offer a savior. The formula has worked for decades, and been applied to just cutting fat; just adding oat bran; just cutting carbs; just adding protein; just combining this with that; just combining that with this; just cutting sugar; just cutting fructose; just eating grapefruit; just eating cabbage soup; just getting HCG injections; just cutting out gluten; just cutting out wheat; just cutting out all grains; just cutting out meat and dairy; and so on.
The trouble with this is- it’s nonsense. You can cut fat and eat well, or badly. You can be vegan, and eat well or badly. You can cut carbs and eat well or badly. You can cut out grains and eat well or badly. The influence of diet on weight and health is dependent on the overall pattern of the diet- period. All the endless barking up a sequence of trees does is obscure our collective view of the forest. Alas, there are many more ways to eat badly than well, and we seem committed to exploring every one of them. As we do so, we are paying with our lives.
Instead of the unending beauty pageant, my colleagues could all rally around the fundamentals of healthful eating, which are in fact well established. But I guess the allure of fame and fortune is just too great. Besides, offer sensible advice and fail to include scapegoat, savior, conspiracy theory, or pixie dust, and nobody is apt to pay attention to you anyway.
Again, let’s move on. The place is Sochi, Russia. If you have been watching the Olympics on NBC, you have seen, as I have, the continuous juxtaposition of elite athleticism with the crassest of commercial adulterations. Olympic gold medals are featured alongside Chicken McNuggets. The two premier sponsors of the Olympics are McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. We are presumably supposed to get the impression that a diet of soda and fries is the fast track to…fast track, or downhill, or figure skating greatness. The official medal count is brought to us each night by McDonald’s. Olympic rings? Right this way, under the golden arches…
I rather doubt the problem with this needs much elaboration, but let me hit a couple of highlights. For the most part, elite athletes fuel up very well; they do not run on fries and soda. And to whatever extent our Olympic athletes do indulge in fries and soda, they are apparently unharmed for only the obvious reasons: they are athletic, and young. The athleticism burns through calories, whatever their source- preventing obesity. The youth temporarily forestalls the harms of running the human machine on junk.
But those defense fail in time. You have doubtless heard about the traumatic brain injury that plagues retired NFL and hockey players. You may not know that they -along with retirees from other professional sports- are plagued even more often by obesity and diabetes. Football players who withstood the pounding of their fellow modern day gladiators for years are no match for a willfully addictive food supply, and quite a few of them wind up needing bariatric surgery. Limbs that withstood body slams and tackles are amputated due to the ravages of diabetes. No, a healthy body cannot run on fries and soda- but we seem not to mind that Madison Avenue is telling our starry-eyed sons and daughters it can. Again, where is the outrage?
As for the company, it could be McDonald’s or Coca-Cola, but let’s have it be Dunkin’ Donuts. At least they are honest in telling us what we’re made of: America runs on Dunkin’.
Which brings us to the substance. Frankly, it’s only on a good day America runs on Dunkin’. On an average day, we seem to run principally on BS.
Otherwise, we’re fine.
Dr. Katz was recently named one of the most influential people in Health and Fitness (#13) by Greatist.com. He and his wife, Catherine, have 5 children.
Author, Disease Proof
Photo: A half-eaten McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger and fries (AFP via Getty Images).
Taking care of delivery also means sellers can get to sell their couch or bed without having to expose themselves to the risk and inconvenience of random strangers coming inside their home to check the furniture out and carry it away. And of course AptDeco takes care of the payment, with transactions processed via its website, so there’s no cash changing hands at the pick up point, and no risk of any last minute haggling over the price-tag.
Buyers browse AptDeco’s website, where curated seller listings are displayed, and submit a purchase request to buy an item. Once the seller confirms a sale, the buyer’s credit card is authorized, and the card is charged when the item is delivered. AptDeco’s business model involves taking a cut of the item’s selling price — which it says is less than the cut taken by rival furniture marketplaces such as Charish and Viyet.
AptDeco is able to keep its overheads low (so it can take a smaller fee off sellers) by not holding any stock itself. Unlike rivals which store secondhand furniture themselves so have to operate warehouses, it’s a fully p2p marketplace. AptDeco takes a cut of between 14% and 19% of an item’s final sale price — just below the Charish fee of 20%. And unlike Charish it does not have a minimum selling price for items.
AptDeco is currently operating in the New York Tri-State area — although it tells TechCrunch it plans to expand to other areas of the U.S. this year — focused on the kind of dense and affluent urban area where people are frequently swapping apartments. Co-founders Kalam Dennis and Reham Fagiri say their service is generally targeting circa 25 to early 40s working professionals “who care about design and aesthetics”.
“In the U.S., people move a lot,” says Fagiri. “The average person moves nine times after the age of 18 — so that’s a lot of moves, and whether they’re moving to a bigger place they’re going to need to buy furniture or update their furniture, or they’re consolidating and moving to a smaller space, getting married… they’re going to have to get rid of furniture, so there’s a need for this. Especially now [in the sharing economy age] — people are just more comfortable sharing their possessions with other folks.”
Overall, the secondhand furniture market is a billion dollar marketplace in the U.S. alone, says Dennis. Centralised U.S. cities he name checks for future possible AptDeco rollouts include Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco and DC — but it’s also thinking outside the States too. “There’s 20 cities in the U.S. that we think can benefit, and also internationally it’s obviously a big opportunity as well,” he adds.
For its current operational footprint, AptDeco has partnered with New York’s Dumbo Moving and Storage for the delivery service — which costs buyers a flat fee of $65 within New York’s five boroughs, and an average of $120 for the Tri-State area. Buyers can still opt to pick an item up themselves if they don’t want to pay the delivery fee. And sellers can offer to split delivery costs with buyers, if they choose. Item delivery can be as soon as 48 hours after the seller confirms with their schedule.
Despite not having a minimum item price, AptDeco says it is focusing on ensuring quality items of furniture are listed for sale on its marketplace. The marketplace itself is curated — with a look and feel that’s deliberately designed to resemble an ecommerce website — with every listing going through a review and checking process to ensure it has enough information and that the item itself fits with the marketplace’s look and feel.
Some less aesthetic categories of items aren’t allowed at all — mattresses, for instance, and no electronics either (so you can’t flog your room-sized flat-panel TV). And not all secondhand furniture will make the cut, either.
“We try to hold items to a particular quality standard — so it’s not a particular brand. We have items that are from Ikea, or from any other place, but it’s more just about is it a quality piece of furniture,” says Dennis, adding with a laugh: “We just don’t want to have crappy stuff.”
“Part of it is also making sure that our listings are held to a certain standard. So the way we set up our site is actually that it looks and feels like an ecommerce site but it is a marketplace,” adds Fagiri. “So if you’re shopping at another furniture store website you’ll have dimensions, you’ll have very specific requirements and information that you need to purchase furniture so we’re upholding our sellers to the same standard. And this is helping with the buying process, from the other side.”
While ratings systems work well and can be essential for other p2p services, such as Airbnb where a host is always going to have the same apartment to rent out, getting people to rate a couch seller isn’t such a worthwhile exchange, as they may never sell another stick of furniture (and certainly won’t be selling the same couch again) — so although AptDeco’s site does include ratings the pair say that feature is not much used.
Their focus is therefore on helping sellers make the best listings they can — working with them to flesh out listings when there isn’t enough information included in the initial submission, for instance, or getting them to improve the photography before the listing finally goes live.
The startup also offer buyers a verification service where its own staff will go out and check a piece of furniture really is what the seller says it is, brand and condition wise.
AptDeco soft launched its website back in May 2013 and it says growth has been ramping up. “We’re growing quite rapidly,” says Fagiri. “It’s actually been tremendous growth, especially after we started YC. The first six months of our service it’s been mostly word of mouth, really, really small marketing — without a marketing budget. It was really exciting, actually, the day we launched we had a sale. And since then it’s been growing quite exceptionally.”
The week-by-week growth rate it’s seeing now is around 30%, while the AptDeco website is getting between 1,300-1,400 unique visits per day.
What has the YC process contributed to the business’ development? “They teach you how to be physical,” says Dennis — so, in other words, not to just set up a technology process and, once it’s started working, walk away.
“It’s about getting your hands dirty,” adds Fagiri. “When we built our site and our system, it’s fully automated; we don’t have to even do any hand-holding — you can go places on our site and order automatically and it gets sent to our moving company, they book it in their system, then they show up. We actually don’t need to be part of the system or the process but what we’ve learned through YC… is in the beginning it’s important to be a part of every single part of the process.
“It’s time-consuming, sure, but it does make a difference — it makes a difference because we understand now what’s needed and what’s not needed, and what we can optimize for.”
Priorities for AptDeco from here on in are getting the word out about its service, and maintaining high quality levels of customer service. Currently most of the curation, listing review and customer service work is being done by Dennis and Fagiri themselves — and of course that’s not going to scale.
“I was reading a document from one of the VC firms that worked with YC, and the one thing that really resonated was pre-emptively building for the future. Pre-emptively,” stresses Dennis, discussing the startup’s priorities for the rest of the year. “If there’s anywhere where we need to build pre-emptively it’s going to be from a customer service standpoint.
“Those are the measures that we’re literally putting in place right now. As soon as we get off the phone right now we’re going to be interviewing a couple of people from a customer service standpoint. So that is something that really rang through.”
For the first time in its history, Berkeley saw an introductory computer science course with predominantly female students – 106 women vs. 104 men. This slight turnaround signals a promising trend in the male-dominated STEM world.
To be sure, Berkeley is an exception: according to the National Science Foundation, just 18.4% of computer science degrees were given to women (as of 2010), a trend that has been steadily decreasing since 1991, when it was a more impressive 29.6%.
In an email, Professor Dan Garcia, who taught the Berkeley course last spring, tells us that he attributes the gender flip to a drastic transformation in the curriculum, including team-based project learning, opened-sourced materials, and opportunities to become teaching assistants. “The course & curriculum really does capture the “Beauty and Joy” of computing; learning can be a lot of fun,” he writes.
There is still a long way to go. Worldwide trends in the gender balance aren’t any better than the U.S. Recent data from UK universities, shows that while women do earn a majority of the degrees (60% vs. 40%), they vastly underperform their male counterparts in computer science (82% vs. 17%).
The gap has its origins going back at least as early as high school. Statistics, biology, and calculus courses all have roughly equal gender balance, but in computer science, the pie chart skews heavily male. (chart by Exploring Computer Science, with data from the College Board).
Garcia says there are still barriers to keeping women interested throughout their entire tenure, such as “the lack of female role models in our industry, in our faculty, and in the graduate student population.” Even if they go on to advanced courses, there’s no guarantee they’ll get a job in the cut-throat tech industry.
Indeed, last fall, men slightly outnumbered women (53% men), but the spring enrollment is up again (50.6% women).
As one of the important feeder schools to Silicon Valley’s top companies, Berkeley is not a passive player. If it can succeed in dramatically increasing female enrollment, it could set a chain reaction that breaks down norms for future generations to come.
“I am looking forward to the next generation of writers and leaders to help Gigaom continue and improve on what we did together. I will still write occasionally for Gigaom and will be at all our events,” he said of the move in an email.
Malik founded Gigaom in 2006 during a time of great upheaval in business journalism. Blogs were rising in prominence – including TechCrunch – and business journalism was quickly moving from print to online. His site began focusing on events and paid research in 2008 and it currently employs 70. Tom Krazit is executive editor.
He has been a long time “venture partner” at True and will remain on Gigaom’s board. He will also headline Gigaom events and write the occasional column.
Om has long been a personal inspiration and his impact on blogging has been immense. I’m glad to count him as a friend. I look forward to seeing where he’s headed. Thankfully, he leaves us with a bit of advice:
Take less, give more
Others don’t have to lose for us to win.
Better, not more.
Keep it simple, keep it honest.
You can read a bit more about his transition on his personal site.
Even 10 Instagrams from Google wasn’t enough for WhatsApp.
At least not according to a report from Fortune, which cites two sources who claim Google offered the mobile messaging company $10 billion for an acquisition, only to be turned down.
WhatsApp, of course, ended up going to Facebook for a deal worth around $19 billion (including restricted stock). Google reportedly didn’t offer WhatsApp a board seat — whereas Facebook gave up a seat to WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum.
When Facebook plunked down $1 billion for Instagram in 2012, it completely shifted the landscape for app acquisitions. That purchase ended up being what every subsequent acquisition was measured by (don’t forget Facebook also offered $3 billion for Snapchat, which was actually turned down).
By offering $10 billion, Google showed that it wasn’t afraid to outspend Facebook’s previously mammoth (and potentially overvalued) purchases. But Google likely couldn’t have guessed that Facebook would offer almost twice as much.
Here are the do’s and don’ts of wearing Google Glass. Right from Google.
Apparently — and I know this might be a shocker — you’re not supposed to stand in the corner of the room and record people with Google Glass. That would make you a glasshole, according to this list.
At this point, Google’s challenge is not building the Glass platform, but training the general public to welcome Glass wearers into society. Glass’s future rests largely on the public’s acceptance of the technology. If, like Bluetooth headsets, it’s deemed nerdy or, worse, if Glass is lumped in with the NSA privacy scandle, the technology will be an also-ran. A lot is riding on Google Glass Explorers.
Google introduced Glass with a bang, but the company has not advertised the technology to the general public. For most people, their only interaction with the device is with a random person wearing Google Glass. These so-called Explorers, for better or worse, are Glass advocates. The “no glass allowed” campaigns clearly state that these advocates are not putting Glass in the best light.
As the last point in this do’s and don’ts list states:
Don’t Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.