Bristol-based OurPeople secures €1.7 million to grow its team communications app

Today British HRtech startup OurPeople, a team communication and engagement platform, has received around €1.7 million in series A funding, taking its total amount raised to €2.6 million.

The Bristol-based company, founded by Ross McCaw in 2015, provides a secure platform to help businesses communicate with their employees, ensuring teams are connected instantly. OurPeople primarily works in industries with large numbers of desk-less workers, including high profile clients West Ham United Foundation, Virgin Active UK, Paulton’s Park and Serco Leisure.

During the global COVID-19 pandemic OurPeople has seen record usage of its platform with more businesses than ever using it to communicate critical information to colleagues. At the start of the crisis, OurPeople launched OurPeople NOW, a free version of its software specifically for the British health service (the NHS), which is currently in use at local authority and NHS-funded residential care provider Sirona Care and Health.

The two lead investors in this round are Alpine Meridian, an investment firm that specialises in digital media, e-commerce and healthcare, and entrepreneur Robert Neveu, who also joins OurPeople as Managing Partner.

Ross McCaw, CEO and founder, said: “I used to work in the fitness industry, where everyday I could see there was an issue around communications with remote workforces, which stretched across many different sectors with desk-less workers. We know that an engaged and informed employee is essential, regardless where they are based. To address this disconnect, we built a powerful yet simple to use tool that allows employers to engage and communicate securely with their targeted workforce.”

Robert Neveu said: “Before this crisis there was already a desperate need for a tool allowing managers to communicate directly with their remote team members. What Ross and the entire OurPeople team has developed is a fantastic platform to help business owners stay connected to, and engaged with, their employees. The recent pandemic has amplified the requirement to get critical, up-to-the-minute information to people who may not have access to standard communication platforms during their daily work, as well as underlined the crucial role OurPeople has in addressing that concern.”


How to Grow Your Business Podcast: Episode 8

Join DBusiness editor, RJ King, each week as he explores the top Detroit business stories of the week, dives deep into business topics, and interviews influential newsmakers in the “How to Grow Your Business” podcast.

Finance Tips With Key Bank and Selling Capital Equipment With Dynamic Machines

This week’s guests are David Mannarino, president of the Michigan Market at Key Bank in Southfield, and Greg Sandler, co-owner of Dynamic Machines in Troy.

© 2020 Hour Media Group. Originally published at

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How Startups and Entrepreneurs Can Use TikTok to Grow Their Businesses

TikTok’s slogan reads “make your day,” but what about “make your business”? The social media platform has risen to new heights in recent years with its short-form videos. TikTok is now available in over 150 markets across the globe, in 39 languages, and has over 500 million active monthly users.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, internet usage has spiked, and TikTok’s app has consistently been in the top five most-downloaded apps in the world. As people seek online entertainment as a way to stay productive, healthy and aware in quarantine, brands are considering ways to harness their reach and shape new conversations on platforms like TikTok. Even news outlets have joined the TikTok trend! The Washington Post uploads exclusive breaking stories and videos, and now has more than 550,000 followers.

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Prior to the pandemic, TikTok was already helping businesses achieve real growth. Now, the platform’s potential to facilitate scaling up is even bigger. One of the most significant advantages of TikTok is that its primary demographic is people aged between 16 and 24, so businesses that target these younger users have greater potential to garner long-term customers.

Here’s how startups and entrepreneurs can use TikTok to grow their businesses

Build stronger relationships

Studies show that 64 percent of consumers want brands to connect with them. Gone are the days where businesses operate in a separate silo from their customers.

In 2020, consumers care about culture, communication and ethics. As a result, audiences want authentic interactions from real people with real experiences. They want to know that companies are owned and run by people just like them, and that they can relate no matter the industry.

Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, brands that convey empathy and practical ways to stay healthy and positive are proving to get the most traction. In these current circumstances, TikTok offers a space to be creative and fun, to use video as a way to bridge the gap between people who are physically separated. Entrepreneurs have had to stay at home for months just like everyday consumers, so why not seize the opportunity to empathize?

For example, TikTok influencers have been posting photos of themselves wearing masks, completing online workouts and offering tips to keep occupied during lockdown. Not only do these videos increase their popularity, but also conveys that they are responsible and grounded.

It’s important to note, however, that startups shouldn’t compromise their style or messaging to fit in with the wackier videos on TikTok. It’s better to stay true to company values and be transparent with audiences to build trust faster.

For instance, rather than chasing trends, the World Health Organization has been using TikTok to post informative videos about how to wear masks and recognize symptoms of COVID-19.

Related: The 3 Major Changes You Need to Make to Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Increase user engagement

Part of building stronger relationships is actively engaging users. TikTok offers a variety of ways to not only reach but also spark dialogues with people. For one, hashtag challenges are where brands ask followers to recreate content and share it with a specific hashtag. The challenge boosts brand awareness and designates brand ambassadors who promote products or services on behalf of a company.

For example, Chipotle recently asked followers to record themselves dancing on National Avocado Day with the hashtag #GuacDance. The campaign ended up being the highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S., earning over 250,000 video submissions and 430 million video starts across six days. A host of influencers also joined the craze, fueling its international momentum.

In fact, influencers are ideal for startups looking to leverage large followings and target customer groups. Influencer marketing is often cheaper than traditional forms of advertising, as well as more effective. A reported 63 percent of consumers admit that they trust what influencers say about brands more than they trust brand advertisements. For early-stage companies (those that don’t yet have a solidified reputation, nor a disposable income), influencers can use their position as mediators to spread the word about emerging startups.

Scale faster

One of the most notable perks of TikTok is not needing to spend money on specialist videographers or editors. You can simply pull out your phone and start recording, because on this platform, the more “real” a video is, the better. Whether a tour of the (home) office or a tutorial on how to use your product, content that gives viewers an insight into the general day-to-day of the company performs best – and is free to make!

Additionally, startups with offices in multiple locations can create localized marketing campaigns, where they upload content in different languages, featuring places from the local area. They can also develop promotions based on local holidays, sentiments or customs, therefore building strong ties with small communities around the world.

Alternatively, micro influencers are useful for startups with only one location. Micro influencers have a deep understanding of where they’re based, as well as credibility among those populations. These types of influencers don’t have the same mass followings that influencers have, but they speak to more niche groups.

Interestingly, TikTok only introduced advertising capabilities on the platform in 2019. Running ads is a big part of many startups’ growth strategy, and on TikTok, ads can support metrics like website clicks, app downloads or improved online visibility. There is even the option for brand takeovers, where businesses design images, videos, GIFs and embed links to landing pages across the platform. Another plus is that TikTok advertising can be filtered by age, gender and location, giving startups a more direct pathway to communicate with the customers they want.

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Connect, engage, grow

In the digital age, TikTok is a powerful resource to better connect, engage and grow users among startups. Companies can target specific segments, extend their reach overseas, and present their brand in a modern light.

Particularly for startups, TikTok is a medium to experiment with and apply inventive ways to scale without spending large amounts of money. No doubt, TikTok will be an essential social media and business tool in the “new normal.”

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London-based Tempo secures €5.5 million to grow its recruitment platform

Recruitment platform Tempo has secured €5.5 million in a Series A funding round led by the Adecco Group, a Fortune Global 500 company and leading HR solutions partner.

Tempo’s end-to-end platform uses technology to simplify the recruitment process, with machine learning used to match job seekers to potential employers and video interviews used for screening. Businesses using Tempo are able to cut their recruitment costs by 65%, while reducing the hiring process to a matter of days rather than weeks. 

In recent weeks, video interviews have become essential for businesses and Tempo predicts that the virtual recruitment trend is here to stay. The company has also seen signs that firms are beginning to revive pre-COVID recruitment plans, with a 33% increase in interview activity in June vs May.

Tempo has offices in London and Manchester and has raised more than €8.8 million in investment since it was launched in 2017, with other backers including venture capital firm Hambro Perks, and Chris Bruce and Michael Whitfield, founders of Thomsons Online Benefits. The latest funding round, secured in difficult market conditions, will be used to invest in technology and to expand further in the UK, with plans to increase the headcount from 35 to 50 in 2020.

Tempo has developed a reputation for its ability to support some of the most exciting scale-up companies in the world – including Monzo, Starling Bank and Bulb – as they make a huge number of hires in a short space of time. To date, the company has partnered with 2,700 employers across a broad range of sectors including financial services, software, property and e-commerce, and it currently has more than 75,000 candidates on the platform, which offers both permanent and temporary roles.

Ben Chatfield, CEO and co-founder of Tempo, said: “We started Tempo because we wanted to transform the recruitment process, from what can sometimes feel like a slow trudge, into an exciting and enjoyable journey. Today we have a platform that’s helping tens of thousands of businesses and job seekers through the hiring process, and with the backing of the Adecco Group, we are ready to deliver our vision across the UK and internationally.

“The UK job market has faced a hugely challenging few months, yet in this time we’ve seen a lot of companies adapt brilliantly by digitising their recruitment processes and introducing video interviews. We’re delighted to have a product which can help businesses to keep moving forward in a post-Covid world, while providing people with much-needed access to work.” 

Teppo Paavola, Chief Digital Officer at the Adecco Group, said: “In a short space of time, Tempo is already making a real impact on the recruitment sector with their technology-based approach. We have been impressed not only by the Tempo team and product, but especially by the feedback from employers and job seekers. This investment is consistent with our own focus on digitisation and enhancing our client and candidate experience through leading-edge technology. We are very excited to become part of Tempo’s story and we’re looking forward to adding the experience, expertise and ecosystem we bring as the world’s leading HR solutions partner.”


Belgium-based ethical hacking platform Intigriti raises €4 million to grow internationally

Europe’s leading crowdsourced cybersecurity firm Intigriti has announced that it has raised €4.1 million in their Series A round, led by European based venture capital firm ETF partners. ETF partner Remy de Tonnac (previously CEO Gemalto/INSIDE secure) will join the board of directors. The investment will be used to strengthen the hacker-powered security platform’s key position in Europe and internationally, as well as to develop specific programmes for companies delivering sustainable solutions.

By harnessing the ‘wisdom of the crowd’, Intigriti connects over 15,000 ethical hackers from 130 different countries with organizations to test and improve their security. Intigriti transforms traditional testing techniques to a more dynamic and data-driven approach through continuous pentesting, bug bounty and asset monitoring solutions. This approach is the evolution of security testing and is more suitable for today’s dynamic environment. 

Intigriti was founded in 2016 by its CEO, Stijn Jans, then an experienced cyber security consultant and entrepreneur who saw the need for a company like Intigriti in the market. Together with his strong team in Belgium, Stijn has developed one of the market-leading ethical hacking security companies with over 75 customers and the most engaged ethical hacking community in Europe.

Stijn Jans, CEO: “In the past, companies’ security was tested once a year, but today’s companies are agile and fast moving and so should the solutions protecting them be. A company can easily have 20 software releases per day – meaning that they should also be tested every day! Collaborating with a community is the new normal and by working with the ethical hacking community companies can develop and innovate at a faster speed, knowing that their assets are continuously being tested.”

“Intigriti is directing significant resources to grow its support for organisations working to deliver sustainable technologies. Sustainable solutions based on the introduction of new technologies such as sensors, cloud computing, AI, or automation are being developed and implemented at an unprecedented pace for people, cities and industries – allowing them to thrive whilst reducing the environmental impact. But a lot of these digital and decentralized systems are vulnerable to malicious hackers, as they hold lots of personal data, with backdoor access points to critical infrastructure,” said Remy de Tonnac, Partner at ETF. “But, hackers are not all bad, far from it! Intigriti’s “crowd” of ethical hackers are perfectly positioned to address the needs of the sustainable economy, securing vital sectors such as smart cities, IoT systems, smart grids, connected cars and the sharing economy.”

“Last year, our community successfully detected and resolved more than 10,000 vulnerabilities for our clients. We have already broken this record for 2020,” says ethical hacker Inti De Ceukelaire, who is responsible for the management and expansion of the hacker community. “Today, more and more cyber security professionals are looking for ways to do what they love to do, when they want and where they want. Our platform makes it possible to contribute to the cyber security of international organisations, and to win rewards of up to 50,000 without having to leave your home. This is a new, more sustainable way of working, which will change consultancy forever”.


How to Grow Your Business Podcast: Episode 7

Join DBusiness editor, RJ King, each week as he explores the top Detroit business stories of the week, dives deep into business topics, and interviews influential newsmakers in the “How to Grow Your Business” podcast.

Restaurant Comeback with Andiamo’s Joe Vicari and 40-Year Entrepreneur Frank Venegas Jr.

This week’s guests are Joe Vicari, president of Andiamo Restaurant Group in Warren, and Frank Venegas Jr., chairman of Ideal Group in Detroit.

© 2020 Hour Media Group. Originally published at

The post How to Grow Your Business Podcast: Episode 7 appeared first on StartupNation.


5 resources Black entrepreneurs can leverage to build and grow

Building a business is hard; about 50% of businesses fail in the first five years. The early years of an entrepreneur’s journey can be difficult and lonely. When starting my digital services firm Fearless, I convinced my wife to rent out our home and move in with my mother so we could have an extra income while I built Fearless in my mother’s basement.

That was 10 years ago — Fearless now has over 115 employees.

That story of struggling to build a tech company and working out of a basement or garage until you “make it” is pretty common, but the barriers facing Black entrepreneurs make it harder to find success and support.

Research by the University of California, Santa Cruz states that minority-owned startups have access to less capital than their white counterparts. The right investors can offer more than just funding to early-stage companies; the connections those in the venture capitalist world have can bring an entrepreneur the new business, mentorship and employees needed to grow.

Venture capital firms like Harlem Capital and Black Angel Tech Fund are focused on changing the faces of entrepreneurship by diversifying their portfolio, but traditional venture capitalist funding is not the only way to grow your business.

There are other avenues and opportunities to get the support, financial and otherwise, to help build a successful company:

Equity crowdfunding: Similar to crowdfunding campaigns like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, equity crowdfunding allows nontraditional investors to support businesses and receive equity. Enabled through Title III of the 2012 JOBS Act’s Regulation CF, equity crowdfunding allows all companies to sell securities, whether in the form of equity in the company, debt, revenue shares, convertible notes and more. Equity crowdfunding platforms include WeFunder and LocalStake.

Mentor programs: Fearless was lucky enough to be accepted into the DoD Mentor-Protégé program early in our growth. As the oldest continuously operating federal mentor-protégé program in existence, the DoD program helped us establish and expand our footprint in the federal government contracting space. NewMe and Black Girl Ventures are two programs that specialize in mentorship for early-stage companies.

Become 8(a) certified: The federal government has a goal of awarding at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to small, disadvantaged businesses each year. These businesses fall under the 8(a) classification. To qualify for the program, you must be a small business with 51% of ownership and control from U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged and the owner’s adjusted gross income for three years is $ 250,000 or less.

The full definition of what counts as being economically and socially disadvantaged can be found in Title 13 Part 124 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Fearless has been classified as an 8(a) company for several years and we have been able to secure several contracts through the certification.

Tap into Small Business Administration resources: More than a million users visit to utilize tools like the SBA Business Guide and Lender Match site. By using the SBA website and reaching out to your local SBA office, you can make full use of the programs available and connect with business owners who can offer advice and mentorship.

Identify supportive bankers: Your business is your top priority and the people you engage with should view your company as a priority too. You need someone vested in your success who will advocate for you when you need them. If you meet with a banker and get a sense that you would be an account number instead of a person, then find another one. If you don’t have your banker’s personal cell phone number, and they aren’t willing to visit you at your business, then take a pass and find a true partner who supports you.

A call to action for business owners

I am putting the call out to business owners and entrepreneurs who are further along in their journey to mentor and invest in Black-owned businesses. Think back on the support you received, and be that model for someone else. Or be the mentor that you wished you had when you were starting out. Take time to invest in other Black-owned tech companies or fund the programs that do. Share your knowledge and experience with Black tech leaders.

If there isn’t a resource hub for Black entrepreneurs in your city, create one. Fearless is a small company and we have still managed to help 13 new companies get off the ground through our accelerator program, Hutch.

Hutch is an intensive 12-month program that gives entrepreneurs a blueprint for building successful digital service firms, by empowering them with the tools, mentorship and peer support they need to have a lasting impact. We think of this program kind of like a home base for our entrepreneurs, providing them with a foundation of support so they can grow without getting lost amongst bigger companies in the industry.

Help create the spaces in your community that will foster innovation and business growth.

Startups – TechCrunch

Nantes-based Boost My Mail lands €1 million to grow its email signature tech

French startup Boost My Mail, which is specialised in updating and optimizing email signatures, has raised €1 million, with the support of the BPI and Ouest Croissance.

Launched in 2018 by Arnaud Guillet, Boost My Mail wants to transform our email signatures into a marketing, communications and sales assets. The SaaS application allows companies and organisations to create a branded email signature model for all employees to use, and then helps to deploy it, being compatible with messaging services such as Outlook and G Suite. These non-intrusive, email signature banners can help with promoting events or special offers to a previously untapped audience. Users can also keep track of how well their banners are doing, by checking how many clicks they achieved.

Arnaud Guillet, president of Boost My Mail, explained further: “Boost My Mail is based on a simple and effective positioning: using emails to reinforce the brand image, and communicate company news. We want to support companies in the amplification and multiplication of their communications using email signatures.”

The startup has already nabbed more than 20,000 users, and plans to boost its marketing further with around 12 new team members in the commercial, marketing, development and support departments. Aiming high, Boost My Mail expects to have 100,000 users and 600 corporate customers by June 2022. “Today, we are able to open up internationally,” concludes Arnaud Guillet.


London-based Visionable raises €6.6 million to grow its telemedicine video collaboration platform

Today UK healthtech Visionable, a video collaboration platform designed especially for healthcare teams’ advanced clinical needs, has raised €6.6 million in an oversubscribed Series A1 funding round. The private placement, completed within 24 hours, was led by West Hill Capital. 

Founded in 2015, Visionable provides a universal video collaboration platform for clinicians to deliver better patient care. Health care professionals in the public and private sector are using Visionable for virtual consultations, multidisciplinary team meetings and to connect COVID-19 patients with their loved ones. This includes Visionable’s Connect App which, in collaboration with WIFI Sparks, allows hospitals to offer virtual visiting to patients whose families and friends might not be able to visit them.  

Visionable is also working with O2 on Connected Ambulances. This service equips standard ambulances with state-of-the-art devices and connectivity to create a “Smart Ambulance” that will simulate 5G connectivity, transforming the vehicle into a unique remote consultation room.

To meet unprecedented demand, Visionable is rapidly upscaling its operations by building up its team to be 60 strong by the end of June, from 14 employees in May 2019, accelerating technology research and development, and in international expansion. In the four weeks since lockdown was announced Visionable increased video conferencing hours by 1,607%, facilitated 4,200 hours of patient consultations and onboarded 16,000 NHS (British national health service) staff in using the video streaming technology. From Q4 2019 to Q1 2020, revenues at the company increased 6.5 times. 

Alan Lowe, CEO and co-founder of Visionable says: “At a time when the pandemic has significantly limited patients’ ability to see their doctors, we’ve experienced a surge in demand for our video collaboration platform which enables consultations to take place anywhere, at any time.  Healthcare systems globally are having to adapt to new ways of providing the quality care and services their patients need and in ensuring that access to medical care is equitable. Our technology saves clinician’s and patient’s time, while bridging skills gaps and distances by allowing consultations to take place on a secure online setting. Entire medical teams can review cases together via Visionable with native resolution and high-quality imaging, enabling faster and better outcomes for patients.

“We are experiencing significantly faster adoption of our technology with deal cycle time considerably reduced. This funding round will enable us to fast track our expansion plans and develop new functionality in order to meet growing demand.”