Startup Roundup February 12, 2016


Tunisia Is Becoming MENA’s Next Startup Hub | TechCrunch

Since the Arab Spring in 2011, Tunisia’s new democracy has struggled to enact prudent economic policy to provide employment and opportunity for its young, growing population.

Unemployment is currently at 15 percent, with one-third of jobless youth being university graduates. Inequality is steep, while inflation continues to plague investment.

To overcome the education-employment gap, young Tunisians are taking matters into their own hands. Talented, young university graduates are launching myriad startup companies, creating an impressive wave of civic entrepreneurship throughout the tiny country.

Although there are no official figures available on the number of Tunisian startups, estimates suggest thousands of new companies have been formed over the last five years. 


Indian banks are finally wooing startups—but where’s the money? – Quartz

After years of thriving on private investments, the Indian startup ecosystem—one of the fastest growing in the world—has finally caught the attention of commercial banks.

This year, both public and private banks have announced several measures to help startups—from helping them set up companies to even branding and marketing. However, there is one key initiative that is missing: financing. 


Google X SVP Jeff Huber to Be CEO of Cancer Research Startup Grail | Re/code

Jeff Huber, a veteran Google executive instrumental in the formation of its Google X research lab, is leaving the company to become CEO of Grail, a biotech startup that develops blood tests to detect cancer.

It’s a deeply personal move. Huber’s wife, Laura, passed away from cancer last year. Huber posted about the move on his Google+ page


Delivery Start-Ups Face Road Bumps in Quest to Capture Untapped Market – The New York Times

DoorDash, one of a multitude of start-ups with a mobile app that lets people order and get food sent to their doorsteps, relies on contract drivers like Brian Navarro to make the deliveries. The problem is that workers like Mr. Navarro don’t always stick around.

Mr. Navarro began driving for DoorDash and another delivery start-up, Postmates, in Los Angeles about four months ago. Mr. Navarro, 40, who previously drove for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, said he had seen plenty of contractors quit DoorDash and other delivery companies during the time he has worked with them. 


Govt likely to tweak its tax holiday for start-ups | The Indian Express

With its proposal of a tax holiday for start-ups in their first three years drawing criticism, the government plans to fine-tune it by expanding the scope of the tax holiday from the first three years to three from a block of maximum 10 years.

In its package for start-ups unveiled on January 16, the government had announced an array of initiatives for start-ups, including a Rs 10,000-crore fund of funds, ease of closing companies, patents and exemption from income tax on their profits for the first three years. More benefits are expected in the Budget announcements for 2016-17.

And one important proposal is to expand the scope of the three-year holiday because there is broad consensus that start-ups usually do not make profits in the first three to five years — something which C A Gupta, partner with Deloitte Haskins & Sells, underlines. 


8 Big Business Tenets That Don’t Work for Startups

As an advisor to many startups, I often see business principles espoused that may make sense for a large and established business trying to foster innovation but won’t work for a new startup. I’m a strong proponent of new entrepreneurs starting with a big vision, and believing anything is possible — but I’m also a pragmatist who believes in factoring some realism into any plan. 


Mental Health Startup Lantern Raises $17 Million Series A Round | TechCrunch

Lantern, a mental health startup that offers tools to deal with stress, anxiety and body image has raised a $17 million Series A round led by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s venture arm with participation from previous investors such as Mayfield and SoftTechVC.

UPMC Enterprises, the hospital’s venture arm, has invested large sums of money in 12 other health startups to date, including health care software system dbMotion, which had a $235 million exit in 2013, and Evolent Health, a population health management services organization that went public last year. 


Silicon Valley start-ups rein in spending and prepare for layoffs

Silicon Valley is bracing for layoffs at some of its biggest venture-backed companies, according to recruiters and tech insiders.

“People are obviously very unsettled these days with the news,” said Greenhouse CEO Daniel Chait, whose company provides recruiting software. “I had a call with a handful of CEOs on another topic, but it quickly turned to the state of the markets.”

Recent turmoil in tech stocks, including LinkedIn and Tableau, is reverberating around the Valley. 


New Report Details Hurdles for Black Women Launching Tech Startups – Forbes

On paper, Asmau Ahmed could easily be typecast in the role of promising tech startup founder: honors degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, MBA from Columbia University, patent holder and co-developer of a visual search engine that could revolutionize the way shoppers make decisions about everything from a lipstick shade to decorating a living room.

This is why she insists investors read her resume before they meet her in person.

“They get to judge me based on my credentials, not on what I look like or my gender, and that helps get the conversation started and get past the initial reservation — and there is an initial reservation when you see a black woman running a tech company,” the 37-year-old CEO says of her experience raising money to fund the growth of her company, Plum Perfect, which she founded in 2010. 


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