HowGood launches Latis, a sustainability assessment tool for consumer product ingredients

The New York-based startup HowGood, which provides a sustainability database for consumer product ingredients, is publicly launching its product Latis and has already signed an initial customer with Danone North America, the company said.

The company said that its Latis tool can be used to determine the impact of any ingredient or product against environmental and social metrics, like biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, labor risk and animal welfare.

“Consumers no longer just want the best product at the best price,” said Alexander Gillett, CEO and founder of HowGood, in a statement. “Today’s shoppers place value on protecting the environment and ensuring that the brands they support align with their personal values.”

Aggregating information from academic papers, industry findings, research from non-governmental organizations and other sources, Latis can be used by product development groups inside corporations to assess the implications of using certain ingredients.

Because the information is only used by the company to inform product development, there are no guarantees that product developers won’t use toxic or environmentally damaging products — they’ll just have the opportunity to be aware of how those products effect biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, labor risk, and animal welfare.

The company currently has data on more than 33,000 ingredients, chemicals and materials, according to a statement. HowGood is backed by investors including FirstMark, Great Oaks Venture Capital, High Line Venture Partners, Joanne Wilson and Contour Venture Partners.

“Having an impact assessment tool for our product portfolio is raising the sustainability awareness of our product developers and brand teams,” said Takoua Debeche, SVP of Research and Innovation at Danone, in a statement. “This holistic tool is critical to improving the sustainability impact of our brands.”

 

Startups – TechCrunch

[Varo Money in Business Insider] Varo, First Consumer Fintech Granted National Bank Charter in the US, goes live with Temenos Cloud Technology

“Varo was founded with a clear vision to deploy a more efficient business model and cutting-edge technology in order to create a new kind of bank – one that is wholly designed around the financial health and wellbeing of the everyday American consumer. From the start, we knew this vision needed to be supported by having a national bank charter and an innovative technology partner like Temenos. After a three and a half year journey, I’m thrilled that Varo has made history as the first US consumer fintech to receive a national bank charter. Varo Bank is now live using our new industry-leading technology stack, developed in partnership with Temenos. Varo now has a historic opportunity to deliver the tech-driven banking products and services that will help millions of Americans make progress in their financial lives.”

Read more here.

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How Africa Can Tap Into The $5trn Halal Consumer Market – Tausif Malik – Proshare Nigeria Limited

How Africa Can Tap Into The $ 5trn Halal Consumer Market – Tausif Malik  Proshare Nigeria Limited
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

How Africa Can Tap Into The $5trn Halal Consumer Market – Tausif Malik – Proshare Nigeria Limited

How Africa Can Tap Into The $ 5trn Halal Consumer Market – Tausif Malik  Proshare Nigeria Limited
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Despite booming consumer demand, VC interest in e-commerce startups falls in 2020

Walmart reported earnings this morning. Most of the numbers are immaterial to you and I, having little to nothing to do with the world of private capital and startups, but one metric did leap out: In its quarter ending July 31, Walmart’s U.S. “e-commerce sales” grew by 97% compared to the year-ago quarter, with what the company called “strong results across all channels.”


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Walmart’s total revenue grew 5.6%, so you can see the discrepancy between the company’s physical business and its e-commerce efforts, with one managing single-digit gains and the other nearly hitting triple digits. For reference, in its fiscal ending May 1, 2020, Walmart’s e-commerce sales grew by 74%. In the quarter ending January 31, 2020 that figure was a far-slimmer 35%.

The e-commerce acceleration is real, as shown through a host of numbers you can parse, including Walmart’s own. Heck, when The Exchange was digging through recent fintech venture capital results, we noted that rising e-commerce spend was perhaps part of the reason why late-stage fintech shops had such strong results.

So when I was reading Q2 venture capital data on the state of retail tech broadly, and e-commerce tech more specifically, I was expecting a stellar quarter with lots of dollars invested into a great many deals.

And yet, while Q2 2020 was a bit better than Q1 2020 for e-commerce VC results, it wasn’t much of a comeback. And the first half of this year is pretty damn slow overall, when compared to prior results for e-commerce-focused venture capital deals.

What gives? I have an idea or two, but first, let’s parse the data that business market data provider CB Insights compiled, as we extend our apparently never-quite-ending look at the ridiculously interesting first-half of 2020 for startups and VCs.

VCs fall out of love with e-commerce startups?

In 2019, e-commerce saw an average of 314 deals per quarter and just under $ 5 billion in invested capital, with the four-quarter pace for the year coming in at $ 4.97 billion per.

Startups – TechCrunch

Thirty Madison raises $47 million for its direct to consumer treatments of hair loss, migraines and indigestion

Thirty Madison, the New York-based startup developing a range of direct to consumer treatments for hair loss, migraines and chronic indigestion, has raised $ 47 million in new financing.

After last week’s nearly $ 19 billion merger between Teladoc and Livongo, remote therapies and virtual care companies are all the rage among the healthcare industry, and Thirty Madison’s business is no exception. 

An indicator of just how important these companies are to the future of the healthcare business can be seen in the presence of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) in the latest round for Thirty Madison. 

Existing investors Maveron and Northzone also returned to back the company in a deal led by Polaris Partners. Thirty Madison has raised a total of $ 70 million so far. 

Founded just three years ago by Steven Gutentag and Demetri Karagas, Thirty Madison expanded from treating hair loss with its Keeps brand in 2018 to migraine treatments in early 2019 with Cove, and launched Evens (the company’s acid reflux treatment service) later that year. 

Thirty Madison has just begun offering urgent care consultations for users on a pay-what-you-will model.

And the company’s founders differentiate Thirty Madison’s business from their better-funded competitors like Hims and Ro by emphasizing that their company provides continuing care after a diagnosis and offers a range of treatment options for the conditions that the company treats. That, coupled with the more narrow focus on a few specific conditions, distinguish Thirty Madison from its peers in the industry.

“Over 59% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic condition, but few resources exist to help them connect the dots of their care,” said Amy Schulman, a partner with Polaris Partners and new director on the Thirty Madison board. 

 

Startups – TechCrunch

LA’s consumer goods rental service, Joymode, sells to the NYC retail investment firm, XRC Labs

After raising $ 15 million in financing from one of technology’s most successful global investment firms, the Los Angeles-based consumer goods rental company Joymode is selling itself to an early-stage retail investment firm out of New York, XRC Labs.

Joymode’s founder Joe Fernandez will continue on as an advisor to Joymode as the company moves to pivot its business to focus on retail partnerships.

The relationship with XRC Labs’ Pano Anthos began after a small pilot integration between Joymode and Walmart launched in late 2019. “[It] became obvious that we should go all in on retail partnerships,” according to Fernandez. And as the company cast about for partners to pursue the strategy, Anthos and his firm, XRC, kept being mentioned, Fernandez said.

The precise terms of the deal with XRC Labs were undisclosed, but Joymode will become a wholly owned business of XRC and could potentially return to market to raise additional funds from additional investors, according to Fernandez.

“We could never crack growth at the scale we needed,” said Fernandez of the company’s initial business. “From day one, my belief was Joymode was going to be huge or dead. We grew, but given the cost structure of our business it put a lot of pressure on the business to grow exponentially fast. Everyone loved the idea but the actual growth was slower than we needed it to be.”

Though Joymode wasn’t a success, Fernandez said he can’t fault his investors or his team. “We got to iterate through every possible idea we had. Literally every idea we had was exhausted… We failed and that’s a bummer, but we got a fair shot,” he said.

What remains of the company is an inventory management system on the back end and a service that will allow any retailer to get involved in the rental business going forward.

“Part of the thesis was that by making things available for rental, people would want to do more stuff,” said Fernandez, but what happened was that consumers needed additional reasons to use the company’s service, and there weren’t enough events to drive demand.

“I believe that the inventory management system we made was incredible and it will be a standard for retailers doing rentals going forward,” he said. 

 As the company turned to retailers, the rental option became a way to generate revenue through additional products. “All the accessories that made the event even better,” said Fernandez. “Add-ons, try before you buy, experiential things that are just much more complete in a retail environment.”

At Joymode, the problem was that the company was owning the inventory, which created a high fixed cost. “We never felt confident with the growth in LA to justify the expense of opening in another city,” Fernandez said. “If we had cracked user acquisition in LA we would have rolled it out in a bunch of places.”

Ultimately, Joymode members saved $ 50 million by using Joymode to rent products rather than buying them. In all, the company acquired 2,000 unique products — from beach and camping equipment to video games, virtual reality headsets to cooking appliances. On a given weekend, roughly 30,000 products would ship from the company’s warehouse to locations across Southern California.

At XRC Labs, a firm launched in 2015 to support the consumer goods and brand space, Joymode will complement an accelerator that raises between $ 6 million and $ 9 million every two years and manages a growth fund that could reach $ 50 million in assets under management.

For Anthos, the best corollary to Joymode’s business could be the rental business at Home Depot. “Home Depot’s rental business is over $ 1 billion per year,” Anthos said. “There’s going to be this enormous component of our society and for them renting will be not just a more sustainable but reasonable option. They’re going to want to rent because they don’t want to own it.”

Joymode was backed by TenOneTen, Wonder, Struck Ventures, Homebrew and Naspers (now Prosus).

Startups – TechCrunch

[Consumer Physics in Successful Farming] ANALYZE DRY MATTER IN SECONDS WITH THE NEW SCIO CUP

Introduced by Consumer Physics, the SCiO Cup is a fast, portable, lab-grade forage dry matter analyzer. Operated through a smartphone, this device is transforming feed analysis by giving users the ability to frequently analyze dry matter. SCiO Cup enables on-farm decision making, which ensures consistent dry matter intake and reduces feed leftovers. In addition, the technology can be used in the field to plan the timing of silage harvest at optimal moisture levels.

Read more here.

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VCs and startups consider HaaS model for consumer devices

I’ve been following consumer audio electronics company Nura with great interest for a few years now — the Melbourne-based startup was one of the first companies I met with after starting with TechCrunch. At the time, its first prototype was a big mess of circuits and wires — the sort of thing you could never imagine shrunk down into a reasonably sized consumer device.

Nura managed, of course. And the final product looked and sounded great; hell, even the box was nice. If I’m lucky, I see a consumer hardware product once or twice a year that seems reasonably capable of disrupting an industry, and Nura’s custom sound profiles fit that bill. But the company was unique for another reason. A graduate of the HAX accelerator, the startup announced NuraNow roughly this time last year.

Hardware as a service (HaaS) has been a popular concept in the IT/enterprise space for some time, but it’s still fairly uncommon in the consumer category. For one thing: A hardware subscription presents a new paradigm for thinking about purchases. That is a big lift in a country like the U.S., which spent years weaning consumers off contract-based smartphones.

That Nura jumped at the chance shouldn’t be a big surprise. Backers HAX/SOSV have been proponents of the model for some time now. I’ve visited their Shenzhen offices a few times, and the topic of HaaS always seems to come up.

In a recent email exchange, General Partner Duncan Turner described HaaS as “a great way to keep in contact with your customers and up-sell them on new features. Most importantly, for startups, recurring revenue is critical for scaling a business with venture capital (and will help appeal to a broad set of investors). HaaS often has a low churn (as easier to put onto long-term contracts).”

Startups – TechCrunch

[Consumer Physics in No-Till Farmer] Consumer Physics Launches Portable Dry Matter Analyzer

Ag-tech company Consumer Physics, is introducing SCiO Cup – the world’s fastest, portable, lab-grade forage dry matter analyzer. The smartphone-operated device transforms feed analysis by enabling frequent dry matter analysis. SCiO Cup enables on-farm decision making ensuring consistent dry matter intake and reducing feed leftovers. In addition, SCiO Cup can be used on-field for planning silage harvest timing at optimal moisture levels.

Read more here.

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