Startup Roundup March 23, 2016


Hope For Startups: US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Design Patent Dispute – Forbes

he annual tech startup and innovation festival held annually in Austin, Texas known as South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) has recently ended. While all the big tech companies were there strutting their stuff along with all the companies that are trying to reimagine themselves as tech companies, the real stars of the show are the start-ups. Tens of thousands of people attend annually to find or become the next big thing, which his why I applaud the US Supreme Court for giving those strivers and innovators a win this week by deciding to hear the design patent appeal in the five year old battle between Apple and Samsung. 


These Startups Want To Bring Surplus Food To Those In Need | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Semantics aside, mountains of food go to waste each year because it’s a bit lumpy or misshapen. Meanwhile, public health officials have found that more than 14% of American households are food insecure, meaning they lack access to adequate, nutritious foods. A new batch of startups aims to bridge that divide, bringing non-Instagrammable but perfectly nutritious food to hungry people at affordable prices.

“We buy the produce from farmers that would have gone to waste,” says Simon, who is working with both large commercial and tiny organic farms. “We sell it at much cheaper rates than a grocery store to those who need it.” 


Y Combinator Startup TRAC Aims to Improve on the Stopwatch – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ

In a sparsely furnished apartment in Mountain View, Calif., Griffin Kelly and Elliot Hevel, both 24 and shoeless, are working on their first startup–Timing and Racing Around the Clock Inc., which makes a timing device, TRAC, that measures runners’ speed.

Both are runners who graduated from Northwestern University in 2013 with masters’ degrees in engineering. They have made a software-powered device that can be mounted on a tripod and operated by a smartphone, remotely if necessary, reading runners’ RFID chips as they cross the finish line and at various points along a race to calculate their times.

On Tuesday, the founders plan to present TRAC at Demo Day for Y Combinator, one of Silicon Valley’s best known startup funds, and ask investors for money along with 126 other Y Combinator startups. The startups represent 19 countries, Y Combinator says. 


‘Sleep faster’ startup culture puts mental health at risk | Media Network | The Guardian

Many people dream of being an entrepreneur, being their own boss and doing what they love every day, even becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Yet look past the business cards, conferences and company T-shirts, and the startup world can be brutal and harsh: 90% of startups fail.

We don’t consider the maxed out credit cards, the strained relationships and the sleepless nights many fledgling entrepreneurs experience. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that I’ve been on for the last three years and when I divulged my story in a blog post, I touched a nerve. I’d said something many had been struggling to say: that mental health issues in startups are prevalent, taboo, and need to be addressed. In fact, in startups there’s a concoction of stress, depression, anxiety and burnout that just isn’t talked about. 


The major pitfall for digital health startups | TechCrunch

While 2015 was a solid year for digital health, with $4.5 billion in total venture funding, healthcare startups also made headlines for other reasons when reports emerged that much-hyped companies like blood-testing startup Theranosand brain-training app Lumosity were unable to prove the accuracy and effectiveness of their products.

Like Beth Seidenberg from KPCB states, digital health startups are increasingly seen as a vehicle to help reduce costs, increase revenues and cut red tape for consumers, healthcare practitioners or service providers. With the laser focus on KPIs and growth, digital health startups often overlook an important factor: Trust. 


The Increasingly Spiky Geography of High-Quality U.S. Startups: MIT Report – CityLab

Although the Silicon Valley remains the epicenter of global innovation and entrepreneurship, there’s no shortage of concerned voices arguing that America’s innovative engine has run out of steam. In his new book The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the economist Robert J. Gordon argues that America’s great glory days of innovation are behind it. Others such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers agree that the U.S. has entered a prolonged phase of low innovation, low productivity, low growth, and “secular stagnation.”

A new report by MIT economists Jorge Guzman and Scott Stern generates relevant and important data on the increasingly concentrated geography of American innovation and entrepreneurship. The report develops several key measures of quality and quantity of entrepreneurship in the U.S., covering the period from 1988-2014. 


Israeli investors’ enthusiasm for start-ups bucks global trend – FT.com

Investors around the world are growing wary of backing the tech sector, but there is little sign of any slow down in Israel.

According to Israel Venture Capital Research, which tracks the country’s high-tech scene, Israeli tech start-ups raised a record $1.2bn in the fourth quarter of 2015 — a ten per cent increase year-on-year. In all, Israeli tech start-ups raised $4.43bn in 2015.

In the rest of the world, meanwhile, venture capital investments fell 30 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015, falling to $27.3bn globally, according to CB Insights, a research group.

Arnon Dinur, a partner at 83 North, one of Israel’s most prominent venture groups, says that the global slowdown will reach Israel eventually, but it may prove to be less painful as the country’s tech scene has not had the same level of hype as California’s Bay Area. 


Angel Investors: The Ultimate Guide To Invest In Startups – Forbes

Venture investing can be an exciting and challenging game to play. Some startups that show incredible promise go bust while others prove to be real money makers. Take instagram for instance, it’s early investors got 312 times their initial investment in less than 18 months. Not a bad return on investment (ROI), but of course, this is one of the mega home runs.  Lots of capital has been lost as well, which is important to note. 


Startup Weekend Brisbane: Young creative tech entrepreneurs face off against judges in bid for success – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

It was a tough room at times for the 14 teams that gathered at QUT’s Creative Enterprise Australia last Sunday night for the first Startup Weekend in Australia focusing solely on creative tech.

The teams presented their ideas after 54 hours of crunching over the weekend with little sleep and some last-minute changes when business ideas fell apart.

Entrepreneurs pitched a wide gamut of projects that blended creative industries with technology, such as: 


Ed-tech startup BYJU raises $75M from Sequoia India and Sofina | TechCrunch

BYJU, an educational app for Indian schoolkids, plans to create new learning formats and products after raising $75 million from Sequoia India and Sofina.

The company, which has now raised a total of $90 million, was founded as an online education platform in 2011 and launched its app six months ago. BYJU claims it has already been downloaded 2.5 million times so far and now has more than 120,000 paid annual subscribers. Courses are aimed at students in grades six to 12, supplementing their regular classwork and preparing them for major exams. 


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