Outrider raises $65 million to bring its autonomous tech to distribution yards

Outrider, a startup aiming to bring its autonomous technology to the nerve center of the supply chain, has raised $ 65 million in funding just eight months after coming out of stealth. The Series B round was led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and brings its total funding raised to $ 118 million.

Other existing investors increased their investments, including NEA, 8VC and Prologis Ventures, according to the company. New investors included Henry Crown and Company and Evolv Ventures.

The company’s aim to automate distribution yards doesn’t get the same kind of attention as the more public-facing robotaxis that other companies are pursuing. But it could be as impactful and potentially lucrative to the company that pulls it off. Distribution yards are where goods make the transition from long-haul trucks to warehouses, and eventually the consumer. These hubs of economic activity rely on humans to make repetitive, manual tasks using diesel-powered yard trucks. There are some 400,000 distribution yards located in the United States, a number that provides an idea of the potential size of the opportunity.

Outrider electric autonomous yard truck

Image Credits: Outrider

The Golden, Colorado startup previously known as Azevtec developed a three-part system that includes an autonomous electric yard truck, software to manage the operations and site infrastructure. The total system automates the manual aspect of yard operations, including moving trailers around the yard as well as to and from loading docks. The system can also hitch and unhitch trailers, connect and disconnect trailer brake lines and monitor trailer locations.

Outrider touts the dual benefits of its electric and autonomous system. The company notes that its electric yard trucks are ideal for autonomy due to their reduced maintenance, lower operating costs and reliable clean power. Andrew Smith, the company’s founder and CEO, says disruptions caused by COVID-19 has highlighted the need for this kind of automated distribution yard technology.

Outrider, which now employs 110 employees, has completed “multiple” pilot programs, including one with Georgia-Pacific, and expanded its customer base since coming out of stealth in February.

Startups – TechCrunch

Only 10% of female-founded startups in West Africa have raised up to $1 million since 2010 – Techpoint Africa

Only 10% of female-founded startups in West Africa have raised up to $ 1 million since 2010  Techpoint Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

App management startup AppFollow raises $5M Series A round led by Nauta Capital

AppFollow, an app management startup, has raised a $ 5 million Series A round led by Barcelona’s Nauta Capital, alongside existing investors Vendep Capital and RTP Global participating.

The Helsinki-headquartered company says it benefitted during the pandemic and even in April 2020 as the desire for automation and apps exploded. It says it now has 70,000 clients on its platform globally, including McDonald’s, Disney, Expedia, PicsArt, Flo, Jam City and Discord.

CEO Anatoly Sharifulin said in a statement: “AppFollow helps teams understand sentiment, both for your users and competitor’s, figure out how your potential customers search for apps and use this knowledge to make your app more visible and, of course, follow on your KPIs like downloads and revenues to be sure that all is under control.”

Eugene Kruglov of Nauta Capital said: “We are extremely delighted to partner with Nauta Capital on this round. And having both of current investors and as well some of our customers to participate in the round proves that we are on the right direction to become the market standard for effective app management.”

The company, which employs 65 people across nine countries, all working remotely, will use the investment to strengthen its presence in the U.S. and Europe, hire VP-level executives in sales and marketing, and diversify their platform.

Startups – TechCrunch

The Real Reasons Quibi Failed

This post is based on a YouTube video I did on Quibi. If you prefer to see it as a video instead it is available here.

This is a look at the real reasons Quibi failed. From a Startup’s perspective, how could they raise almost 2 billion and then shut down less than a year after they launched? This is one of the biggest startup failures of all time.

Quibi raised 1.75 billion and looking at my list of biggest startup failures of ALL time Quibi is the second largest startup failure of all time.

What is Quibi?

Quibi is short for quick bites. It means they do short-form content – 10 minutes or less for your mobile device and they may just be key it is mobile ONLY – no tv or any other device. On October 21st Quibi announced that they were shutting down after only 6 months.

Here is what Quibi said in a Medium post about why they failed:

Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.

I don’t agree, so here are is why I think Quibi failed.

#1 Big Company People Playing Startup Founders

Let’s take a look at the two founders. Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg. They are not exactly the traditional hungry startup founders that want to change the world.

Meg has an incredible career behind her. There is no doubt that she played a big role in making eBay really big. Later she was also the CEO of Hewlett Packard. She also made an unsuccessful run for Governor in California and famously ended up spending so much money that she paid $ 43 per vote that she got.

Jeffrey Katzenberg was a long term and very successful TV and Movie executive in Hollywood. Jeffrey did actually co-found Dreamworks, but Meg Whitman didn’t found eBay or HP.

These are big company people playing Startup. They are billionaires with very little at stake. I’m sure they invested a lot in Quibi and would argue they were the biggest losers in all of this, but really Meg Whitman how much is your lifestyle going to change with your net worth going from $ 5.1 billion to $ 5 billion. Probably not a lot.

I challenge you to please find one company that was started by billionaires and then later ended up really changing the world? Revolutionized some technology? Changing how we do something? I don’t know any? Let me know in the comments, I could be wrong.

#2 Horrible Timing

Quibi launched on April 6th 2020 just as we world was hit by a pandemic that left everyone at home. Yes, the coronavirus pandemic did play a role. It is not great when you launch a product for on-the-go viewing when people were largely stuck at home. Nobody is on-the-go.

The Pandemic hit a lot of companies in a very unfair way, but it also accelerated things for many companies. It accelerated some companies into profitability and others to shut down faster than they otherwise would. So yes it did contribute to the death of Quibi, but if this was a great product done in the right way Quibi would have survived the pandemic.

#3 No product-market fit

This is the obvious one no product-market fit and yes this was a major contributor. There is a lot to say about the product and it has been analyzed by others. Was the content any good? Why did the product fail? Here is a good article from the Verge that mostly is about the product.

I only want to look at one product decision that I think we can learn a lot from. A product decision that led to a lot of bad things down the line and probably killed the product.

Whenever we launch a new feature we always ask ourselves.

  • How much does it cost to build it?
  • How much will it cost to maintain it?
  • Ultimately are those costs worth it for the user?

The feature I’m talking about is turnstyle. What they claimed was the killer feature for Quibi. The feature is that you can watch a video in landscape and in portrait mode. Sounds cool, but how much does this cost to build, maintain and is it ultimately worth it?

This is where the trouble starts – the cost of this feature is infinitely high.

They had to spend hundreds of million making content before then launch. Everything made from scratch. On top of that, it is more cumbersome to make the content imagine the complexity while you’re recording and in the editing room.

It also means you can’t buy any less expensive older content. You need to pay others to build everything specifically for this platform. It is expensive and you never stop paying. Any content you make for all eternity is going to cost more than whatever Netflix or HBO make, that is a big problem.

So is it really worth it? Hell No! There is no chance this gimmick is worth it.

To make matters worse it also leads to another thing. It means the the killer feature turnstyle is only available on mobile and they decided the entire platform would ONLY be available on mobile. Let me repeat not mobile first, but mobile only. That was a horrible decision in my world.

Young people today do spend an insane amount of time on their mobile phones, but they also watch Game of Thrones on their laptop or even on good old television screens, it is a bad idea to take that away from them.

#4 Too much funding in the wrong order

Startups are built and funded in a specific way. You start small and as you get bigger, as you get more resources. You get to and prove certain milestones and you get more funding. Let me show you how traditional funding of a Startup works:

Typical Startup:

  • Angel Round $ 200k
  • Milestone: MVP release
  • Seed Round $ 1 million
  • Milestone: Full launch and product market fit
  • A-Round $ 10 million
  • B-Round $ 20 million
  • Milestone: Commercial Success

Quibi:

  • First round $ 1 billion
  • Milestone: Launch Full Product
  • Second Round $ 750 million
  • Milestone: Shut down

You see this is all wrong, you can’t do this in the wrong order, you can’t just skip steps, it isn’t healthy. You will build the wrong product and scale too early. You just end up making poor product decisions if you have too much money too early. Turnstyle is a good example of that.

#5 No MVP straight to full product launch

This is a tricky one, can you actually do a product like this one with a minimum viable product and then move from there. Some people would argue no, I say yes you can.

First, the problem with the approach Quibi picked is that you just burn through too much money before the product is ready. You spend hundreds of millions on content and marketing before the product is even ready. You do marketing for a product that doesn’t have a product-market fit, that is money wasted. This leads to the investors getting frustrated and ultimately getting impatient and backing out. The pandemic shortened that period down even further.

So how could you do an MVP here? Instead of raising almost 2 billion, you raise 50 million. Do a lot less content and keep testing. See if it works, do people engage, is it really worth it. You absolutely can’t skip these steps.

You keep testing until you get it right and there is obviously a chance it won't work, that is fine too. The good thing is now you lost $ 50 million not 1.7 billion.

#6 Arrogance

In the 1950’s, the age of the Ad men or Mad Men big companies designed products and put big marketing budgets behind them. Then they would sell. People would buy what was advertised. That was the philosophy back then you just build a product, put lots of money behind the advertising and it takes off!

That is not how we build products in 2020.

This entire Quibi case just reeks of arrogance – we know what you want arrogance. We are smart and rich, we know what you want.

We have:

  • The best team
  • The biggest stars
  • ALL the money in the world!

Even Spielberg is making content for Quibi.

Meg and Jeffrey, nobody knows what the people want, it takes time and patience to figure that out. All the money in the world doesn’t guarantee success, you need amazing founders with everything at stake willing to invest blood sweat, and tears. That is how you build a startup in 2020.

Thank you for reading this, please give me a comment below if you agree or disagree.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Hebbia wants to make Ctrl-F (or Command-F) actually useful through better AI

Deep learning has made tremendous strides in recent years, with new systems and models like GPT-3 offering higher-quality interpretations of human language, empowering developers to use these concepts in more diverse applications. We can see these developments in our text-to-speech voice recorders and dual language translation apps, which have gotten shockingly good these days.

But what is the next wave of functionality that this AI infrastructure can empower? Hebbia wants to find out.

Hebbia today is a startup but really a product studio, a sort of sketchpad for AI ideas founded by George Sivulka (a PhD student from Stanford currently on leave) and a mélange of three other Stanford AI researchers and engineers. The group, using the new deep learning techniques and models available today, is trying to push the boundaries of what knowledge graphs, semantic analysis and AI can ultimately do for human productivity.

Sivulka was inspired to focus on this domain from witnessing his friends’ experiences working in the knowledge economy. “A lot of my peers … everyone goes into these white-collar jobs where they’re sitting down and just reading immense quantities of information all day,” Sivulka said. “People become banking analysts and dig through SEC forms for one or two lines of information, or go to law school or become legal analysts and do the same thing… [They’re] just bogged down by these walls of text, by this like avalanche of information that is impossible to make sense of.”

(Tell me about it).

What he and his team want to do is supercharge human productivity by building search, analysis and summarization tools that can help you make sense of your own, personal universe of knowledge. “The idea is that Hebbia is building these productivity tools for thought that augment the way you do work. They’re things that actually control the information input and outputs that you have to deal with every day,” Sivulka said.

It’s an ambitious vision, so they had to start somewhere. Their first product, which is what got me excited about the vision, is a Chrome plugin that’s been in private beta and is being released to the world more broadly today (note: it’s still unlisted in the Chrome Store for now). The plugin upgrades the search functionality in Chrome to go beyond mere text pattern matching to begin to comprehend what your query actually is and how it might be answered given the text on a page. Here’s a demo of the plugin on TechCrunch:

Hebbia’s Ctrl-F product on TechCrunch. Image via Hebbia.

So, for instance, you could Ctrl-F on a Wikipedia page and ask “Where did this person live?” and the plugin can determine that you are asking for locations and begin to highlight text on that page with relevant information. It’s AI, and pretty beta AI at that, so of course, your experience can and will be inconsistent right now. But as Hebbia tunes its models and improves its understanding of text, the hope is that browser search can be completely transformed and become a massive productivity boost.

Sivulka is something of an early wunderkind. He worked at NASA as a teenager, and graduated from his bachelor’s at Stanford in 2.5 years, finishing his master’s a bit more than a year later, and started a PhD before getting waylaid by Hebbia.

Hebbia’s vision has already attracted the notice of VCs in just its early months. Ann Miura-Ko at Floodgate led a $ 1.1 million pre-seed round that was joined by Naval Ravikant, Peter Thiel, Kevin Hartz, Michael Fertik and Cory Levy.

Sivulka notes that their Ctrl-F product is the main focus for the company right now, and acts as a sort of gateway into the larger potential that knowledge graphs and personal productivity offer. “This is one of the final frontiers of what computers can do,” Sivulka said, noting that computation has already revolutionized many fields by digitizing data and making it easier to process. With Ctrl-F, “this is a baseline technology, [we’re] just scratching the surface of what we can do with this.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Tech startups are divided over the influence of politics on company policies – Silicon Valley – Silicon Valley Business Journal

Tech startups are divided over the influence of politics on company policies – Silicon Valley  Silicon Valley Business Journal
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

[Beyond Meat in NY Daily News] Beyond Meat now selling plant-based Golden Krust Jamaican-styled patties – and Lizzo is a big fan

Just when non-meat eaters thought Beyond Meat products couldn’t get any better – after recently introducing meatless meatballs and breakfast sausage links – the fast-growing plant-based manufacturer has partnered with the Golden Krust to launch vegan Jamaican patties.

Read more here.

The post [Beyond Meat in NY Daily News] Beyond Meat now selling plant-based Golden Krust Jamaican-styled patties – and Lizzo is a big fan appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Hebbia wants to make Ctrl-F (or Command-F) actually useful through better AI

Deep learning has made tremendous strides in recent years, with new systems and models like GPT-3 offering higher quality interpretations of human language, empowering developers to use these concepts in more diverse applications. We can see these developments in our text-to-speech voice recorders and dual language translation apps, which have gotten shockingly good these days.

But what is the next wave of functionality that this AI infrastructure can empower? Hebbia wants to find out.

Hebbia today is a startup but really a product studio, a sort of sketchpad for AI ideas founded by George Sivulka, a PhD student from Stanford (currently on leave) and a mélange of three other Stanford AI researchers and engineers. The group, using the new deep learning techniques and models available today, is trying to push the boundaries of what knowledge graphs, semantic analysis, and AI can ultimately do for human productivity.

Sivulka was inspired to focus on this domain from witnessing his friends’ experiences working in the knowledge economy. “A lot of my peers … everyone goes into these white-collar jobs where they’re sitting down and just reading immense quantities of information all day,” Sivulka said. “People become banking analysts and dig through SEC forms for one or two lines of information, or go to law school or become legal analysts and do the same thing… [They’re] just bogged down by these walls of text, by this like avalanche of information that is impossible to make sense of.”

(Tell me about it).

What he and his team want to do is supercharge human productivity by building search, analysis, and summarization tools that can help you make sense of your own, personal universe of knowledge. “The idea is that Hebbia is building these productivity tools for thought that augment the way that you do work. They’re things that actually control the information input and outputs that you have to deal with every day,” Sivulka said.

It’s an ambitious vision, so they had to start somewhere. Their first product, which is what got me excited about the vision, is a Chrome plugin that’s been in private beta and is being released to the world more broadly today (note: it’s still unlisted in the Chrome Store for now). The plugin upgrades the search functionality in Chrome to go beyond mere text pattern matching to begin to comprehend what your query actually is and how it might be answered given the text on a page. Here’s a demo of the plugin on TechCrunch:

Hebbia’s Ctrl-F product on TechCrunch. Photo via Hebbia.

So, for instance, you could Ctrl-F on a Wikipedia page and ask “Where did this person live?” and the plugin can determine that you are asking for locations and begin to highlight text on that page with relevant information. It’s AI, and pretty beta AI at that, so of course, your experience can and will be inconsistent right now. But as Hebbia tunes its models and improves its understanding of text, the hope is that browser search can be completely transformed and become a massive productivity boost.

Sivulka is something of an early wunderkind. He worked at NASA as a teenager, and graduated from his bachelor’s at Stanford in 2.5 years, finishing his master’s a bit more than a year later, and started a PhD before getting waylaid by Hebbia.

Hebbia’s vision has already attracted the notice of VCs in just its early months. Ann Miura-Ko at Floodgate led a $ 1.1 million pre-seed round that was joined by Naval Ravikant, Peter Thiel, Kevin Hartz, Michael Fertik and Cory Levy.

Sivulka notes that their Ctrl-F product is the main focus for the company right now, and acts as a sort of gateway into the larger potential that knowledge graphs and personal productivity offer. “This is one of the final frontiers of what computers can do,” Sivulka said, noting that computation has already revolutionized many fields by digitizing data and making it easier to process. With Ctrl-F, “this is a baseline technology, [we’re] just scratching the surface of what we can do with this.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Nigeria may never harness full development potentials in the Oil & Gas industry – Dr. Babajide Agunbiade – Nairametrics

Nigeria may never harness full development potentials in the Oil & Gas industry – Dr. Babajide Agunbiade  Nairametrics
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News