‘Everything Borrowed’ Podcast Ep. 9: A Conversation with Adam Mark Smith

Adam Mark Smith went from being a CFO to being on food stamps after protesting at a Chick-fil-A. The viral video cost him his career, reputation and sense of self.

Author of “Million Dollar Cup of Water,” Smith shares his personal journey from rags to riches, back to rags, and eventually to true wealth. Smith is an executive, author, motivational speaker, corporate workshop facilitator, and mindfulness-based coach. He is also a husband and father of four boys. Adam and Andrew discuss cancel culture, redemption and mindful entrepreneurship.

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To learn more about “Everything Borrowed,” visit Andrew Blake’s expert profile on StartupNation.

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London-based global communications company OneWeb raises funding from SoftBank and Hughes to fund its satellite fleet


In a recent move, Japan’s SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems LLC have invested $ 400M (approx €331M) in OneWeb, a London-based global communications company. This brings OneWeb’s total funding to $ 1.4B (approx €1.1B).

It’s worth mentioning that Hughes is an investor through its parent company EchoStar, and also an ecosystem partner, developing essential ground network technology for the OneWeb system.

Neil Masterson, CEO of OneWeb, adds, “We have made rapid progress to re-start the business since emerging from Chapter 11 in November. We welcome the investments by SoftBank and Hughes as further proof of progress towards delivering our goal.”

Fully funded for its first-gen satellite fleet

The capital raised to date positions the Company to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022. With this funding, SoftBank will gain a seat on the OneWeb Board of Directors.

Founded by Greg Wyler, OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide by offering everyone, everywhere access including to the Internet of Things (IoT) future and a pathway to 5G.

The company’s LEO (Low Earth Orbit ) satellite system includes a network of global gateway stations and a range of user terminals for different customer markets capable of delivering affordable, fast, high-bandwidth, and low-latency communications services. 

Launched 36 satellites

Back in December 2020, OneWeb launched 36 new satellites, built at its Airbus Joint Venture assembly plant in Florida, USA, bringing the Company’s total fleet to 110 satellites, all fully-functioning and benefitting from the International Telecommunication Union spectrum priority.

Filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Back in March 2020, the UK company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after failing to secure $ 2B (approx €1.65B) financing from SoftBank. However, a consortium of the UK Government (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global invested $ 1B (approx €828M) of new equity as a part of the resurrecting process. 

Pradman Kaul, President of Hughes, remarked, “OneWeb continues to inspire the industry and attract the best players in the business to come together to bring its LEO constellation to fruition. The investments made today by Hughes and SoftBank will help realise the full potential of OneWeb in connecting enterprise, government, and mobility customers, especially with multi-transport services that complement our own geostationary offerings in meeting and accelerating demand for broadband around the world.”

Startups – Silicon Canals

EU-Startups Podcast / Episode 13: Interview with Tugce Bulut – Founder and CEO of Streetbees

For episode 13 of the EU-Startups Podcast we interviewed an inspiring female founder and CEO – Tugce Bulut of Streetbees. Founded in 2015 and headquartered in London, Streetbees lets real people record the real-time emotion and context behind their purchasing decisions, to bring rich insights for companies. There is already a community of over 4 million ‘bees’ recording…

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Swedish edtech startup Sana Labs raises €14.9M to upskill professionals remotely with the help of AI; here’s how

Sana Labs

To minimise the spread of COVID-19, many schools, across the world, have shut down and remote learning has become the only solution to move forward. Many edtech startups have stepped up their game to help teachers, students, and parents to navigate the “new normal” of teaching. The same is just as true in the corporate world, with companies not only having to transition to remote work, but also to figure out how to coach and upskill their workforce. This is where Sweden-based Sana Labs wants to make the difference.

Sana Labs raises €14.9M

In a recent development, the Stockholm-based Sana Labs, a startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to personalise training courses for professionals, has raised $ 18M (approx €14.9M) in its series A round of funding.

With this round, the startup has raised a total of $ 23M (approx €19M) in funding, to date.

Investors in this round

The round was led by EQT Ventures. Joel Hellermark, founder of Sana Labs says, “I first met EQT Venture partner Ted Persson when I was interning at Great Works back in 2010. A pioneer in technology, product design, and branding, Ted has been a hero ever since. Thus, I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Ted, former Spotify VP of Analytics Henrik Landgren, former founder Sandra Malmberg, and the rest of the EQT team.”

Use of the raised capital

The Sweden-based company says it will use the funds to boost headcount and sales-focused marketing. In addition, the funds will also be invested in R&D for its platform, which uses machine learning to personalise programmes to a person’s individual learning style and ability.

About Sana Labs

Founded in 2016 by Joel Hellermark, Sana Labs have developed a personalised, adaptive learning platform that enables organisations to accelerate training across the workplace. 

The company applies machine-learning to tailor reskilling and upskilling, with the aim of accelerating time to mastery, improving engagement, and delivering rich learning analytics.

It claims to partner with Fortune 500 organisations to bring the benefits of AI to millions of learners. Its team consists of researchers and engineers with backgrounds ranging from Google AI and Spotify to BCG Gamma and Imperial College.

“We believe in educational empowerment”

According to the company, the global learning industry is vast, valued at over $ 6T in 2018, and is undergoing a sea-change with the move to digital and online instruction, materials, and modalities. The shift to digital and online resources is enabling what many educators consider to be the holy grail of learning  –  personalised, adaptive instruction and assessment. 

With the Sana platform, the company aims to be the engine that drives this change forward –  fundamentally improving the entire industry’s capability to educate and directly impacting millions of peoples’ lives every day.

The company also mentioned in its website that about 2,000 hospitals have adopted the Sana platform to provide efficient skill development to more than 80,000 healthcare professionals in the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. This was done by analysing each nurse’s knowledge gap and personalised the learning path accordingly.

Besides, the platform is also used by some of the world’s major companies including Novartis, Amgen, Mount Sinai and PepsiCo for upskilling and reskilling.

Startups – Silicon Canals

6 Sources of Help For Early Stage Concept Exploration

US CapitolAngel investors and venture capitalists are looking for startups with real products and a proven business model, ready to scale. Yet I still get too many business plans that clearly are looking for money to do research and development (R&D) on a new and unproven technology. If you need funding for these early stage activities, I have some suggestions on better strategies to follow.

The first is to be more precise in your definition and understanding of where you are, and how the money will be spent. If this is your first foray into the entrepreneurial arena, with no track record in business or technology, your best and perhaps only supporters will be that class of investors known in the trade as friends, family and fools (FFF). They believe in you above all else.

Beyond these believers, you need to match your credentials and interests with the multitude of public, academic and government organizations that proclaim to foster research and early development, to satisfy the long-term needs of the people or organizations they support. In this context, there are at least six stages often included in the scope of R&D to narrow your focus:

  1. Search for new technologies. This early stage is often called basic research, well before any specific commercially viable products might be envisioned. Here your options are limited primarily to large organizations with deep pockets, including government grants, universities and large enterprise sponsors searching for disruptive technologies.
  1. Technology pilots. This is the transition stage from basic research to applied research. Applied research is still primarily scientific study, seeking to solve practical problems, but doesn’t yet focus on a commercial product. Funding sources for this stage extend from grants to large private fund incubators, such as the IBM Watson initiative a while back.
  1. Commercial product prototypes. Funding for commercial product prototypes is still R&D in the eyes of venture capital investors, but in business areas with large opportunities, this activity will catch the eyes of specialized angel investors. It’s still considered high risk for investment, since manufacturing and quality issues are likely.
  1. Product verification and clinical trials. These days, almost every new product is not deemed scalable until it has been certified as meeting a multitude of quality and agency standards, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Underwriters Lab (UL). Specialized VCs start to jump in at this stage.
  1. Business commercialization. Product development at this stage is the process of scaling up for manufacturing and marketing rollout. The technology is now embodied in a solution that can be replicated to reliably solve a real customer problem. Your fundability with investors now depends primarily on the execution capability of your team.
  1. Expanding the product line. Even for mature startups, there is always a need for further product development and research to compete and diversify the business, and investors understand this. But to prevent confusion with basic R&D, these costs should never be called out the major category in your use of funds statement to investors.

While all forms of technology research and development will always be required, entrepreneurs need to understand that the funding for these efforts comes from many different sources, depending on the stage. Business equity investors are buying a portion of your business, so they are looking to fund a specific business with a specific offering, not a generic technology.

Don’t waste your time and energy talking to angels and VCs about technology funding when you could be focused more productively on grants, private funds and future business partners. Business investors and customers want to hear about solutions, and tend to back away from technology, until it is proven.

Fortunately, in many attractive business domains, including mobile software, Internet apps and ecommerce, the cost of product development is at an all-time low. Developers are using powerful technology tools to build mobile apps and websites for a few thousand, rather than millions of dollars. Thus the best entrepreneur strategy for funding is to build solutions, not technology.

Marty Zwilling

Startup Professionals Musings

[Hailo in HPC Wire] Arteris IP FlexNoc Interconnect and Resilience Package Licensed by Hailo for AI Chip

CAMPBELL, Calif., Jan. 15, 2021 — Arteris IP, a leading supplier of innovative, silicon-proven network-on-chip (NoC) interconnect intellectual property, has announced that Hailo has licensed FlexNoC Interconnect IP and the accompanying Resilience Package for use in Hailo’s AI processor targeting automotive, smart cities, smart retail, Industry 4.0 and other markets.

Read more here.

The post [Hailo in HPC Wire] Arteris IP FlexNoc Interconnect and Resilience Package Licensed by Hailo for AI Chip appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

7 books that took us to $150k in 45 days

Like most of you reading this, I’ve read too many terrible marketing & startup-related books.

Growth Hacker? I suppose it was okay, for it’s time.

This Is Marketing? Took nothing from it.

Traction? It could have been summed up in a blog post.

After searching for ‘Top 10 Marketing Books’ and reading everything I could find on those lists over the last few years, I’ve stopped buying marketing books because almost everyone was either aimed at beginners, were written as a lead-magnet with the aim of selling you consulting or a course, or they simply were written without anything actionable that I could actually ‘use’.

Like many during the last 9 months, my agency moved out of our office and we have worked entirely from home. A positive that came from that I started to read way more often, usually aiming for a book a week.

The first book I read was a gift that I received a couple of years back and had been on my shelf collecting dust ever since. It was the only book that I owned which I hadn’t already read, so to make things simple I started with that. It was The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier.

It absolutely blew me away.

I read it from cover to cover in one sitting and then read it again the following week. I told everyone that would listen: “The Brand Gap is the single most important book I’ve ever read”.

After this, I spoke to friends working in branding, design, copywriting, and project management and asked for book recommendations. I specified that I didn’t want books that only scratched the surface, I wanted to read the books that changed their entire mindset and way or working.

I ended up with a huge reading list (and a few shelves full of books) which I worked my way through over the last few months. There was no filler, and nothing I’d consider to be average — I gained something significant from every single book.

I’ve compiled a list of seven of the books which I’d consider to have had the biggest impact on me.

For each book mentioned I’ll include a link to Bookshop, along with a testimonial and some of the book description.

1. The Brand Gap — Marty Neumeier

“A well-managed brand is the lifeblood of any successful company. Read this book before your competitors do!” ―TOM KELLEY, GENERAL MANAGER, IDEO

THE BRAND GAP is the first book to present a unified theory of brand. The second edition features a 220-term brand glossary and a premium softcover binding. Whereas most books on branding are weighted toward either a strategic or creative approach, this book shows how both ways of thinking can unite to produce a “charismatic brand” — a brand that customers feel is essential to their lives.

2. Everybody Writes — Ann Handley

“All your shiny new channels, properties, and platforms are a waste of space without smart, useful content. Ann Handley’s new book helps make every bit of content count — for your customers and your bottom line.” — Kristina Halvorson, President, Brain Traffic

If you have a website, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. We are all writers.

Everybody Writes is your go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is a writer.

3. How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know — Byron Sharp

“…marketers need to move beyond the psycho-babble and read this book… or be left hopelessly behind.” — Joseph Tripodi, The Coca-Cola Company

Professor Byron Sharp is the Director of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia. The Institute’s fundamental research is used and financially supported by many of the world’s leading corporations including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Kellogg’s, British Airways, Procter & Gamble, Nielsen, TNS, Turner Broadcasting, Network Ten, Simplot, Mars and many others.

4. D&AD. The Copy Book

“The Copy Book convinced me that everyone in business should study the art of copywriting.” — Fortune.com

The book features a work selection and essays by 53 leading professionals in the world, including copywriting superstars such as David Abbott, Lionel Hunt, Steve Hayden, Dan Wieden, Neil French, Mike Lescarbeau, Adrian Holmes, and Barbara Nokes.

The lessons to be learned on these pages will help you create clearer and more persuasive arguments, whether you are writing an inspiring speech, an engaging web banner or a persuasive letter. This is not simply a “must-have” book for people in advertising and marketing, it is also a “should-have” for anyone who needs to involve or influence people, by webpage, on paper, or in person.

5. Junior: Writing Your Way Ahead in Advertising — Thomas Kemeny

“If my older and wiser brother were an ad book, these would be his exact words. If he’d ask me to wash his filthy car every Sunday in exchange for his wisdom, I’d say ‘No problem, ‘ knowing I got the better end of the deal.” — PAUL MALMSTROM, Creative Chairman and Co-Founder, Mother

There are a lot of great advertising books, but none that get down in the dirt with you quite like this one. Thomas Kemeny made a career at some of the best ad agencies in America. In this book he shows how he got in, how he’s stayed in, and how you can do it too. He breaks apart how to write fun, smart, and effective copy-everything from headlines to scripts to experiential activations-giving readers a lesson on a language we all thought we already knew.

6. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: The Classic Guide to Creating Great Ads — Luke Sullivan

“Classic must-read Sullivan mixed with innovation master Boches make the perfect duo. This is the book that will help guide new talent to great career starts. Required reading for a new era.” — Deborah Morrison**,** Distinguished Professor of Advertising, University of Oregon

Hey Whipple, Squeeze This has helped generations of young creatives make their mark in the field. From starting out and getting work, to building successful campaigns, you gain a real-world perspective on what it means to be great in a fast-moving, sometimes harsh industry. You’ll learn how to tell brand stories and create brand experiences online and in traditional media outlets, and you’ll learn more about the value of authenticity, simplicity, storytelling, and conflict.

7. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind — Al Ries, Jack Trout

The first book to deal with the problems of communicating to a skeptical, media-blitzed public, Positioning describes a revolutionary approach to creating a “position” in a prospective customer’s mind-one that reflects a company’s own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of its competitors.

“…Ries and Trout taught me everything I know about branding, marketing, and product management. When I had the idea of creating a very large thematic community on the Web, I first thought of Positioning….” — David Bohnett, Chairman and Founder of GeoCities

So, there you have it. It’s worth nothing, my list above is just that; my list. I’m sure there are plenty of people that read books from that list and for whatever reason, it just didn’t resonate with them in the same way that Growth Hackersdoesn’t do it for me, either. These are simply the books I’d consider to be game-changing, and now recommend them to anyone working in marketing & e-commerce.

Got a book recommendation? I’d love to hear! Share some recommendations below.

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

German AI scale-up Konux raises €66.3M to make railway the best mode of transportation; here’s how


A Munich-based startup, Konux, that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to operate railway networks and minimise train delays has raised $ 80M (approx €66.3M) in its Series C round of funding.

Investors in this round

This round was led by impact investor Sanno Capital. It also saw participation from Athos, the investment vehicle of billionaire brothers Andreas and Thomas Struengmann. Athos is the largest shareholder in Covid-19 vaccine maker BioNTech.

In addition, existing investors also invested in this round including DIVC, and leading Silicon Valley VC New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and NEA’s co-founder and former Chairman Dick Kramlich.

Use of the capital

Following this financing round, the company claims to be the largest AI scale-up in Europe in the field of sustainable transportation. Konux founder and CEO Andreas Kunze says, “Rail will play a major role in our long journey to lower CO2 emissions. To achieve this, rail infrastructure needs to be upgraded and digitised in order to become the mobility choice of tomorrow. Konux is perfectly positioned to become a global market leader in rail’s digital transformation.”

The raised capital will be used to hire 100 data scientists and software engineers to develop and expand Konux’s product portfolio, tripling its staff to 300. Andreas Kunze mentioned, “We will create more than a hundred new and super exciting jobs, especially in data science and software engineering to significantly expand our product portfolio and AI technological leadership. Additionally, we will boost our global market footprint.”

About Konux

The company was founded in 2014 by Andreas Kunze, Dennis Humhal, Maximilian Hasler, Michael Wax, and Vlad Lata. Konux is an AI scale-up, transforming railway operations for a sustainable future. 

It combines Machine Learning and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) to deliver Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for operation, monitoring, and maintenance process automation and in the process increase capacity, reliability, and cost-efficiency. The company claims, the clients today are reducing their maintenance expenses by +25%.

Currently, the company is active in ten countries, both in Europe and the most important rail markets in Asia.

Recent developments

In December 2020, the Munich-based AI start-up won the underlying DB tender for the condition monitoring of switches as critical elements of the rail infrastructure. Both companies concluded a long-term framework agreement. Initially, 1,300 switches will be digitised so that passengers can travel more reliably by train on heavily congested lines. DB invested €15M in this stage of the project.

In February 2019, Konux raised €11.5M in an extension of its Series B round, which brought the total amount raised to €29M. The round was led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Upbeat Ventures, MIG AG and new investor Alibaba Group. With the funds, the company wanted to expand internationally, especially in China.

Since its inception in 2014, Konux has raised more than $ 130M (approx €107.6M), expanded to ten countries in Europe and Asia, and was selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the world’s 30 most innovative start-ups and scale-ups worldwide.

Startups – Silicon Canals

British low-alcohol spirits startup CleanCo lands €7.8 million to promote ‘hangover-free drinking’ internationally

British premium low-alcohol spirits startup, CleanCo, has secured around €7.8 million in funding as investors and consumers reveal an insatiable thirst for hangover-free drinking. The latest investment takes the total now raised by the business to around €10.2 million. The company within the “nolo” (no- or low- alcohol) category received the cash injection from existing…

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International footballer Chris Smalling invests ‘six figure sum’ in Virtue Drinks, a global clean energy drink startup

ROMA AS and England National football star, Chris Smalling, has injected a six-figure sum into Virtue Drinks, a London-based brand that’s on a mission to clean up the energy drinks market. It’s the sixth ethical investment Smalling has made in the last year, demonstrating his determination to publicly support sustainable products. Established in 2016, the…

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