Osso VR raises $14 million to bring virtual reality to surgical and medical device training

It seems that distance learning is even coming for the healthcare industry.

As remote work becomes the order of the day in the COVID-19 era, any tool that can bring training and education services to folks across industries is gaining a huge amount of investor interest — and that includes healthcare.

Virtual reality tools like those on offer from Osso VR have been raising investor dollars at a rapid clip, and now the Palo Alto, California-based virtual reality distribution platform joins their ranks with a $ 14 million round of financing.

The money came from a clutch of investors led by the investment arm of Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare giant whose network of managed care facilities and services spans the country. Previous backers and new investors like SignalFire, GSR, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures and OCA Ventures also participated in the funding. 

Osso has seen its adoption skyrocket during the pandemic as medical device manufacturers and healthcare networks turn to training tools that don’t require a technician to be physically present.

According to company founder Dr. Justin Barad, the market for medical device education services alone is currently around $ 3 billion to $ 5 billion and growing rapidly.

Staffed by a team that comes from Industrial Light and Magic, Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Apple, Osso VR makes generic educational content for training purposes and then produces company specific virtual reality educational videos for companies like Johnson & Johnson. Those productions can run the gamut from instructional videos on vascular surgery to robotic surgery training tips and tricks.

While Kaiser Permanente Ventures’ Amy Belt Raimundo said that the strategic investors’ decisions to commit capital aren’t based on what Kaiser Permanente uses, necessarily, the organization does take its cues from what employees want.

“We don’t tie our investment to a deployment or customer contract, but we look for the same signals within Kaiser Permanente,” said Belt Raimundo. But the organization did have employees interested in using the Osso technology. “We made the announcement that we are looking at [Osso VR] technology for use. And that’s where the investment and commercial decision was signaling off of each other, because the response showed that there was an unmet need there,” she said.

Osso VR currently has around 30 customers, 12 of which are in the medical device space. The company uses Oculus Quest headsets and is deployed in 20 teaching hospitals across 20 different countries. In a recent validation study, surgeons training with Osso VR showed a 230% improvement in overall surgical performance, the company said in a statement.

The goal, according to Barad, a lifelong coder with a game development credit from Activision/Blizzard, is to democratize healthcare. “This is about improving patient outcomes, democratizing access and improving education,” said Barad. “Now that the technology is growing and maturing and VR is growing as a platform, we can attack the broader problems in healthcare,” he said.


Startups – TechCrunch

Zwift, maker of a popular indoor training app, just landed a whopping $450 million in funding led by KKR

Zwift, a 350-person, Long Beach, Calif.-based online fitness platform that immerses cyclists and runners in 3D generated worlds, just raised a hefty $ 450 million in funding led by the investment firm KKR in exchange for a minority stake in its business.

Permira and Specialized Bicycle’s venture capital fund, Zone 5 Ventures, also joined the round alongside earlier backers True, Highland Europe, Novator and Causeway Media.

Zwift has now raised $ 620 million altogether and is valued at north of $ 1 billion.

Why such a big round? Right now, the company just makes an app, albeit a popular one.

Since its 2015 founding, 2.5 million people have signed up to enter a world that, as Outside magazine once described it, is “part social-media platform, part personal trainer, part computer game.” That particular combination makes Zwift’s app appealing to both recreational riders and pros looking to train no matter the conditions outside.

The company declined to share its active subscriber numbers with us — Zwift charges $ 15 per month for its service — but it seemingly has a loyal base of users. For example, 117,000 of them competed in a virtual version of the Tour de France that Zwift hosted in July after it was chosen by the official race organizer of the real tour as its partner on the event.

Which leads us back to this giant round and what it will be used for. Today, in order to use the app, Zwift’s biking adherents need to buy their own smart trainers, which can cost anywhere from $ 300 to $ 700 and are made by brands like Elite and Wahoo. Meanwhile, runners use Zwift’s app with their own treadmills.

Now, Zwift is jumping headfirst into the hardware business itself. Though a spokesman for the company said it can’t discuss any particulars — “It takes time to develop hardware properly, and COVID has placed increased pressure on production” — it is hoping to bring its first product to market “as soon as possible.”

He added that the hardware will make Zwift a “more immersive and seamless experience for users.”

Either way, the direction isn’t a surprising one for the company, and we don’t say that merely because Specialized participated in this round as a strategic backer. Cofounder and CEO Eric Min has told us in the past that the company hoped to produce its own trainers some day.

Given the runaway success of the in-home fitness company Peloton, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a treadmill follow, or even a different product entirely. Said the Zwift spokesman, “In the future, it’s possible that we could bring in other disciplines or a more gamified experience.” (It will have expert advice in this area if it does, given that Swift just brought aboard Ilkka Paananen, the co-founder and CEO of Finnish gaming company Supercell, as an investor and board member.)

In the meantime, the company tells us not to expect the kind of classes that have proven so successful for Peloton, tempting as it may be to draw parallels.

While Zwift prides itself on users’ ability to organize group rides and runs and workouts, classes, says its spokesman, are “not in the offing.”

Startups – TechCrunch

500 women, youths to receive N10m each as Ayade partners CBN for development training in C’River – Vanguard

500 women, youths to receive N10m each as Ayade partners CBN for development training in C’River  Vanguard
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Personal training sessions come to ClassPass

As the coronavirus hampers the fitness industry, leading to a rapid evolution toward digital classes, ClassPass is pressing onward with its product roadmap, albeit a bit ahead of schedule.

The company, which has raised more than $ 500 million from investors such as General Catalyst, Thrive, GV, Temasek, Apax Digital and L Catterton, is introducing personal training sessions via a partnership with Fyt.

“We’ve been thinking about adding personal training to the platform for quite a while now, and this seems like an excellent time to do so to really diversify our options to our members and give them a wider set of opportunities to work out and keep their workouts,” said Kinsey Livingston, ClassPass VP of Partnerships. “Especially during quarantine, training sessions can be really interesting and motivating and give them that extra accountability that only comes with a personal trainer.”

Of course, these personal training sessions will be virtual and follow the same UX flow as ClassPass’s recently introduced virtual classes. Users can find a trainer on the ClassPass app, use credits to book it and receive a unique Zoom link for their session.

To start, the personal training program will have 10 trainers, who can manage several hundred sessions per week, and will scale up as needed. The trainers, who are employed as 1099 contractors, are 50/50 gender balanced with 20% Black trainers. Fyt has 7,000 trainers total on its platform, and the technical side of deployment is relatively easy and straightforward should ClassPass want to scale up the program.

Each training session lasts one hour and comes with a free 15-minute video chat consultation to go over goals, etc. These sessions are all billed through ClassPass using credits — each session costs 23 credits. Depending on geography, that can range from $ 35 to $ 55.

ClassPass introduced virtual credits several years ago to have a way to regulate various factors of the business model, such as dynamic pricing for in-demand trainers, the pricing differences between different geographies and the actual usage volume of customers.

In the future, ClassPass sees the potential to do in-person training sessions where the trainer would come to the customer’s house or meet up in a park. Of course, that would require a much larger number of trainers on the platform across a wide variety of geographies. For now, however, distance isn’t a factor with virtual sessions, giving the company more flexibility on meeting demand.

I asked David Hung, Fyt co-founder and CEO, about the logistical challenges of virtual personal training. For example, free Zoom sessions cut out after 40 minutes, while these sessions are billed for an hour.

“We’re going to start with 10 paid accounts,” said Hung. “We’ll scale it up. I don’t think we’re necessarily going to give each trainer their paid account. We might do a pool of Zoom accounts to use in facilitated sessions. We’ll play that by ear, based on how we scale up.”

Personal training sessions are available now to ClassPass users on the app.

Startups – TechCrunch

Digital Startup Alley exhibitors: Tune in tomorrow for free media training

Tomorrow’s a big day for early-stage startup founders preparing to exhibit in Digital Startup Alley at Disrupt 2020. We’re kicking off the first of three exclusive, interactive webinars to help exhibitors make the most of their Startup Alley experience.

Tune in tomorrow, August 12 at 1pm PT/ 4pm ET for The Dos and Don’ts of Working with the Press. Presenting your company to the media is both a skill and an art form. It takes thought and practice — and media training can help you craft a compelling story. Hundreds of journalists from around the world will be on the lookout for compelling stories at Disrupt 2020, and this workshop can help you catch their eye.

Positive media exposure is essential for early-stage startups. It can drop a spotlight on your business, help attract potential customers and jumpstart your funding. Or, as Luke Heron, CEO of TestCard and veteran Startup Alley exhibitor puts it:

“Coverage is the life blood of a startup. Cash at the beginning of the start-up journey is difficult to come by, and an article from a credible organization can help push things in the right direction.”

During tomorrow’s media training, TechCrunch writers and editors Greg KumparakAnthony Ha and Ingrid Lunden — experts at interviewing startup founders — will discuss best practices when it comes to talking with the press. You’ll learn what journalists look for and how to avoid pitfalls that could tank an interview.

If you’re still on the fence about exhibiting in Startup Alley, consider this. Disrupt 2020 spans five days and it’s the biggest, longest Disrupt ever. You’ll be able to network with thousands of attendees from around the world. And if you purchase your Disrupt Digital Startup Alley Package today, you can attend tomorrow’s media training.

You’ll also be able to attend two more webinars exclusively for Startup Alley exhibitors later this month. Check ‘em out and mark your calendar now!

  • August 19 — COVID-19’s Impact on the Startup World with panelists Nicola Corzine, executive director of the Nasdaq Entrepreneurship Center, and Cameron Stanfill, a VC analyst at PitchBook.
  • August 26 — Fundraising and Hiring Best Practices with panelists Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital and Brett Berson of First Round Capital.

Got your Digital Startup Alley Package? Then tune in tomorrow for The Dos and Don’ts of Working with the Press and get ready to make your best possible impression with the press at Disrupt 2020.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt 2020? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Startups – TechCrunch

Lagos State SDG/Beyond Perception Free Digital Training Programme for 10000 SME Businesses – Ventures Africa

Lagos State SDG/Beyond Perception Free Digital Training Programme for 10000 SME Businesses  Ventures Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Cologne-based how.fm raises €2.47 million to accelerate the growth of its digital training platform for manual workers

how.fm has closed its first seed funding round of €2.47 million, led by Kindred Capital and Capnamic Ventures. Philipp Moehring’s tiny.vc and angel investors like Trivago founder Rolf Schrömgens and the founders of Blinkist and Just Spices also participated in the round.

The Cologne-based startup, which was founded in 2019 by serial entrepreneur Andreas Kwiatkowski and Farhoud Cheraghi, is aiming to transform manual labour, powering and disseminating knowledge across enterprises with its human process automation platform.

The how.fm digital coach for worker onboarding, training, and performance support can cover off everything from health and safety, and compliance training, to actual work procedures such as packing processes. Its product allows customers to easily create step-by-step videos for their workers, who can then learn on the job.

Most occupational knowledge is highly dynamic, and policies and procedures have to be continuously updated, which is what how.fm’s “sequences” enable quick assembly and instant changes.

This enables how.fm customers – often large logistics, manufacturing as well as retail companies – to do a wide range of things, like standardise returns procedures. Very quickly, any worker can be virtually and interactively trained to remove goods from the package, check the order, inspect the goods and their quality, and, in the majority of cases, process them, fold and bag them for resale – via a “sequence”.

Any content on the how.fm platform also gets automatically translated into every worker’s native language, and workers can interact with it hands-free using a voice interface, making it particularly useful for migrant, elderly and illiterate workers. The how.fm team is particularly excited to be building out their digital coach at a time when smart assistant adoption is happening at a rate faster than any other technology.

Supply chain services provider Ingram Micro handles fulfillment and returns for Asos and Zalando in Europe, under its Docdata brand. As a third-party logistics provider, it uses how.fm to train warehouse staff. The platform is used in Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, and other languages – all of which are out of the box.

Fashion retailer Tommy Hilfiger has rolled out how.fm to support its German retail staff in fulfillment tasks during peak seasons, and Duisport, the world’s largest inland port, is also leveraging the platform to help with training and performance support for warehousing and e-commerce logistics tasks in its contract logistics division.

Other customers include a German car manufacturer, a cosmetics company, a restaurant chain, a physical rehabilitation clinic chain, as well as the European Space Agency.

Despite much talk of automation at scale, many sectors and roles have not been innovated as extensively as many might assume. how.fm is addressing an underserved, multi-billion-dollar market: 2.7 billion employees worldwide – 80% of the global workforce – do not use a desk, yet only an estimated 1 percent of enterprise software funding has gone towards hourly work. Blue-collar worker productivity software is increasingly in demand.

In addition to this, the need for more enhanced health and safety policies training at scale, self-onboarding and developing skills virtually or at distance is growing, as businesses adapt to new ways of doing things, while trying to keep workers and customers safe and satisfied.

Andreas Kwiatkowski, co-founder and CEO of how.fm, commented: “We have a unique opportunity to revolutionise work and productivity for those in manual roles, and for the companies that employ them. We believe in a future where any worker can get the best training, tailored to their individual needs, anywhere and anytime – delivered by a superhuman digital coach. This funding will enable us to continue to improve our product and grow our team – both in Germany, and remotely. We are super happy and excited to have found such amazing partners that believe in us as a team and our vision to democratise practical expertise.”

Chrys Chrysanthou, partner at Kindred, adds: “There is an overestimation on the state and speed of automation across industries. We are passionate about the team at how.fm and their vision of the long-term demand in human hard skills training and performance optimization, from doing the job in the next 10-20 years and maintaining the machines that do the job in the next 20-50 years. We want to support them to position their platform for the evolution of industries during this journey.”