Startup Roundup March 29, 2016


Can a Startup Be Good? | New Republic

The sharing economy is predicated on the idea of worldwide adoption, leading to staggering profits and outrageous wealth for founders and early investors in just a few years. The idea is that by growing as fast as possible, and keeping overhead costs as low as possible, startups can one day become unassailable behemoths, dominating entire markets, and actually deliver the type of profits wildly optimistic investors dream about. Or at least that’s the hope. No one’s really pulled this off just yet—major companies like Uber and AirBnB have yet to go public and pay out big for their investors. In the lead-up to going public however, valuations and investment dictate almost all company policy, and startups often have to screw over their workers as much as possible to sustain growth. Just this week, grocery-delivery startup Instacartfired its drivers in Minneapolis. The reason? Declining profitability estimates for the much-hyped company, which currently has a $2 billion valuation. 


Opera Startups – The New Yorker

Last year, the British critic Philip Clark had a provocative response to the perennial question of how to save classical music from its so-called image problem—the perception that it is stuffy, élitist, and irrelevant. He declared, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with classical music. It cannot pretend to be anything other than it is. And perhaps it’s the wider cultural environment . . . that has a problem.” 


A Startup Environment’s Influence on Performance

No man is an island and in this age of the open workspace, we humans appear to be very much affected by our surroundings. Professionals sharing an interior landscape, show a consistent level of innovativeness and performance.

Recent studies at Yonsei Business School in Seoul, Korea and at Stanford University, point to this being a consequence of a collaborative environment. It is also supported by new data that was collected by ingomar & ingomar – consulting and Applied Design Science during a design-a-thon for early-stage entrepreneurs held in Pasadena, California and in Copenhagen, Denmark through a research partnership with Rainmaking Loft. 


Startup India initiative to get a rural avatar as Deen Dayal Upadhyay Swaniyojan Yojana – The Economic Times

The government’s Startup India campaign aimed at boosting entrepreneurship will get a rural avatar in the soon-to-be-launched Deen Dayal Upadhyay Swaniyojan Yojana.

The programme being designed by the rural development ministry will be backed by MUDRA Bank loans, innovative credit linkages and self-help groups.

The government will also hold discussions with private entities and individuals working in the startup space to map entrepreneurship opportunities.


Forbes Welcome

New restrictions on settlement in the UK could impact entrepreneurship in the country, according to experts.

From April 2016 non-EU migrants in the UK on a Tier 2 visa will need to earn at least £35,000 to qualify for settlement in the country. This means that anyone who has come in on a Tier 2 visa since April 2011 now faces deportation – with the first round set to start in September.

The changes mean it will be more difficult for startups to recruit essential personnel. There may well also be a drop in the number of non-EU entrepreneurs looking to start companies in the country. As a caveat all is not lost. There are other routes and exceptions remaining. But the overall picture remains one that worries many. 


Another batch of Silicon Valley startups takes on car retailing

With the rise of e-commerce, the Internet became a great place to shop for cars, but not a good place to buy them, despite the high hopes of a wave of startups that crashed on the rocks of the dot-com bust of late 2000.

Fast forward by 15 years, and Silicon Valley has come back to the dream of e-commerce for cars with a vengeance. According to CrunchBase, a website that tracks startup funding, four online marketplaces for used cars — Beepi, Carvana, Shift and Vroom — have raised $530 million since 2013, refining their technology to mount what could be the largest challenge to brick-and-mortar retailers. 


Why this Indian startup has saved all the millions it raised in a VC funding round – Quartz

Indian internet startups have been all about hypergrowth and rapid expansion. But NoBroker.com, a Bengaluru-based peer-to-peer online rental platform, has consciously decided to go slow.

The company has locked up the $10 million (Rs66.5 crore) it raised in a series B round in February 2016 in funds. The money is kept in debt funds of various maturities, giving an annual return of 7.5%. A part of its series A round of $3 million is also locked in debt funds.

There are no plans for another funding round for at least two years.

The Indian startup community has been on a spending spree, splurging on advertising, and expansion of businesses and teams. In 2015, Housing.com, another Indian online real estate startup, spent over Rs120 crore on a media blitzkrieg. NoBroker.com is a bit of an oddity in the ecosystem. 


Creating and sustaining a unique culture at a startup

A few months ago when we met the founders of a startup and observed them looking at predictive analytics solutions, we were pleasantly surprised to hear them talk about their startup’s culture (often considered a nebulous subject and low on the priority list for startup leaders) as one of their primary concerns. 


Canada needs to keep next billion-dollar startup at home: Geist | Toronto Star

From the moment the Liberal government took office last fall, it left no doubt that innovation was going to be a top priority.

Gone was Industry Canada, replaced by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, with Navdeep Bains, a close confidant of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, installed as the responsible minister.

Last week’s budget continued the emphasis on innovation, promising $150M in 2017-2018 for an innovation agenda. The full details have yet to be revealed, but the budget also added tax reforms to create investment incentives (and quietly dropped a tax change that would have hurt start-up companies), support for innovation clusters and increased dollars for scientific research.

The government says its goal is to make Canada a “centre of global innovation,” a significant challenge given that studies persistently point to Canada’s innovation gap.

Last year, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council (STIC), a government-backed group, concluded that Canada “was not globally competitive” and that “it is falling further behind global competitors and facing a widening gap with the world’s top five performing countries.” 


Google on the hunt for start-ups to ‘adopt’

Google is on the hunt for start-ups to take part in its “adopt a start-up” programme, with the deadline for applications this Friday.

The 12-week programme will see successful applicants matched with a dedicated Google support team, consisting of a senior Google manager and two Google strategists, to develop their digital strategies.

These Google experts will share their digital knowledge, business acumen and experience with successful start-ups through multiple one-to-one mentoring sessions and a lecture series.

The lecture series, which will take place in Google Ireland’s headquarters, will cover topics such as digital strategy, search quality, website and app usability, Google analytics and Adwords optimisation. 


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