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Showing posts from March, 2016

eGym raises $45M Series C for cloud-connected gym equipment and fitness software

eGym, the Munich-based startup that offers cloud-connected gym equipment and supporting cloud software and app for the fitness training floor, has closed $45 million in Series C funding. The round was led by new investor HPE Growth Capital, while existing investors, including Highland Europe, also participated. The problem that eGym is looking to solve is that, whilst gyms have moved from a bodybuilder market to a mass market in the last 20 years, the technology in gyms lags behind. That’s despite the fact that better use of technology can help to reduce customer churn, the biggest pain-point of both gym operator and gym users. Comprising of an app for both gym user and trainer, combined with the company’s connected strength machines, the eGym Cloud makes it possible for gym members to receive better fitness instruction and an evolving and personalised fitness plan based on data collected as they workout. And by providing a better workout feedback loop, gym goers can get an immediate …

Israel’s desert city of Beersheba is turning into a cybertech oasis

Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion famously said that the future of Israel lies in the Negev, a desert located in southern Israel. Ben Gurion’s prophetic words ring true today as Beersheba, Israel’s southern capital, is morphing into a tech oasis. The military’s massive relocation of its prestigious technology units, the presence of multinational and local companies, a close proximity to Ben Gurion University and generous government subsidies are turning Beersheba into a major global cybertech hub. Beersheba has all of the ingredients of a vibrant security technology ecosystem, including Ben-Gurion University with its graduate program in cybersecurity and Cyber Security Research Center, and the presence of companies such as EMC, Deutsche Telekom, Paypal, Oracle, IBM, and Lockheed Martin. It’s also the future home of the INCB (Israeli National Cyber Bureau); offers a special income tax incentive for cyber security companies, and was the site for the relocation of the army…

What will a driverless future actually look like?

There is a growing consensus that autonomous vehicles (AVs) will soon be a reality. The debate today centers not on whether, but how soon, AVs will be commonplace on our roads. But for all the buzz surrounding AVs, many details about what a driverless future will look like remain unclear. Which business models will work best for the commercialization of AVs? Which AV usage models will be most appealing for consumers? Which companies are best positioned to win in this new market? These are big questions, and no certain answers can be given at this stage. Nonetheless, it is valuable to reflect, in a concrete way, on how this transformative technology might develop. This article will present some conjectures. The end of private car ownership? At a high level, two possible paradigms seem most likely for how society will use AVs. The first is private AV ownership. Under this model, individuals or families would continue to own their own vehicles and use them to get around. As the cars wou…

Airbnb will open its Cuba listings to users outside the United States

Airbnb will now let travelers from outside the U.S. to book properties in Cuba after receiving authorization from the U.S. government, reports the Associated Press. Previously, only Americans were allowed to reserve the site’s Cuban listings. They will open to international users on April 2. Airbnb launched its Cuban operations in April 2014, four months after the Obama administration revealed that it will begin to restore diplomatic relations with the Communist country. The historic policy change means that travel and trade sanctions will be lifted, which is expected to boost tourism to Cuba dramatically because Americans no longer need licenses to visit. In fact, President Obama is currently on an official visit to Cuba, the first president since Calvin Coolidge to do so. According to the AP, Cuba is currently Airbnb’s fastest-growing market, with about 4,000 homes added since it opened listings. Other travel businesses taking advantage of the U.S.-Cuba thaw include Starwood Hotels,…

Google Capital invests in Girnar Software, owner of Indian auto portal CarDekho.com

Girnar Software, which runs several auto portals in India including CarDekho.com, has raised an undisclosed amount of new funding from Google Capital, with participation from returning investor Hillhouse Capital. This is the fourth Indian startup Google Capital has invested in (its portfolio also includes FreshdeskCommonfloor, and Practo). Before this round, Girnar Software had already raised at least $80 million. In addition to CarDekho.com, Girnar Software runs car classifieds sites Gaadi.com and Zigwheels.com, former competitors which it acquired in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and motorbike marketplace BikeDekho.com. Girnar Software expanded its auto portal business internationally last March with the launch of CarBay.com, which operates in 25 countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South America. The company plans to continue growing overseas with its latest funding by making acquisitions, founder and CEO Amit Jain tells TechCrunch. In its home ma…

Building a smarter home

The Jetsons presented a highly entertaining vision of what homes of the future would looklike. The animated television show anticipated a world where humans would be able to do everything with just the push of a button. In many ways, the show turned out to be prophetic; today we have printable food, video chats, smartwatches and robots that help with housework — and flying cars may even be on the way. The challenge for companies is to integrate digital technologies in meaningful ways that enhance people’s homes and improve their lives. Many of the innovations to emerge over the past few years have been geared toward this kind of “push-button living.” Thanks to the rise of smartphones and the proliferation of cheap sensors, it is possible to make just about any household appliance “smart” and “connected.” By 2019, companies are expected to ship 1.9 billion connected home devices, bringing in about $490 billion in revenue. However, we are already seeing that many of these connected home…

Review: Nikon’s D5500 lacks charm, but shoots fair photos

The term “entry-level” DSLR is often an oxymoron. DSLRs tend to be full of enough features to frighten off newbies and, depending on price, enough bells and whistles to keep you busy for weeks. So is the new Nikon D5500 entry-level? After a few glances and general fooling around, I quickly realized the Nikon D5500 has many of the specs found in a better class of camera. Price as reviewed: $1,049 with 140mm kit lens, at Nikon USA After all, this is a DSLR originally released back in 2015, but image quality only gets marginally better year to year — it’s more about focus speeds, lens selections and color compositions that determine what’s worth your assortment of Benjamins. Speaking of which, it’s time to figure out what this camera really is: it’s specifications time. Basics24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor39 autofocus pointsISO 100-25,600/5 fps shooting1/4,000 to 30 seconds shutter in 1/3 or 1/2 stops, bulb1080p HD video shooting at 60 fps3.2″ 1,036,800 dot screen with 170º viewingBuilt-in …

Ticketfly builds concert app from the ashes of its WillCall acquisition

WillCall had great design and community, but didn’t have tickets to the best concerts.Ticketfly had deep relationships with music venues, but no one was using it to discover shows. Today, Ticketfly’s acquisition of WillCall comes full circle. The parent company is using what it learned about style and recommendations to launch its own native iOS concert discovery app. Meanwhile, Ticketfly will sunset WillCall, which let users browse and buy tickets to a curated set of shows in SF, NYC, or LA. The question is whether people will find Ticketfly’s app valuable given that it’s an incomplete list of nearby concerts. Unlike ticketing service-agnostic discovery apps like Songkick or BandsInTown, Ticketfly only highlights shows it sells tickets for directly. If a concert is sold through TicketMaster, EventBrite, or another service, it won’t show up in Ticketfly’s app. WillCall co-founder turned Ticketfly general manager Donnie Dinch says in the future the app could show inventory from other t…

Priority Cycles’ latest Kickstarter is the Coast, a rust-proof surf bike

This past week I made it my mission to see what was going on in downtown Manhattan. A well-timed email here, a hastily caught train there, and I found myself at the headquarters of Priority Cycles — a NYC-based bicycle startup that got its wheels on Kickstarter back in 2014. Raising over $565k for its original city bike, called the Classic, resulted in the birth of a niche category: bikes that you could throw around without much need of maintenance, if any. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted from a bicycle? But my visit to the new headquarters of Priority Cycles wasn’t to window shop or to look at the bikes of last year, but to speak to co-founder Dave Weiner, and see the next bike in the lineup. Turns out, it’s a surf bike: characterized by a relaxed riding stance, curved handlebars and mount accessories to accommodate things you’d use at a beach, like a surfboard. Weiner calls it the Priority Coast. While the model seen here is a prototype, the core materials and aesthetics will …

Ring’s new Video Doorbell Pro ditches the battery for more smarts in a smaller package

Ring, the folks behind the self-titled Ring video doorbell, have a two-punch combo’s worth of news this morning: they’re launching a new model called the Ring Pro, and have raised a $61.2 million Series C. The $249 Ring Pro bumps up the specs on the standard $199 model in just about every way that matters: the camera is 1080p vs 720p, it’s got 5Ghz WiFi in addition to 2.4Ghz, the faceplates (and thus the overall color of the bell) are swappable instead of locked for good out of the box, and it’s a good bit smaller than the original. Like its predecessor, of course, it still has a two-way speaker built-in that hooks into a companion smartphone app, allowing you to answer your door from your phone from anywhere you’ve got a data connection. Don’t feel like getting off the couch to see who’s at the door? Check Ring. Halfway around the world when someone shady rings the bell and want them to think you’re home to avoid break-ins? Answer through the Ring app, act like you’re home. Oh, and …

Smart savings app Clinc is a new fintech startup from ex-CEO and founder of Numbrs

Last April, Julien Arnold quietly left his role as CEO of Numbrs, the mobile-first banking app he co-founded with Swiss company builder Centralway. Now, almost a year on, he’s on the verge of launching his next project: Clinc, a mobile app to make it easier to save money for a future purchase or financial rainy day. Using what Arnold describes as a “dynamic intelligence algorithm,” Clinc promises to track your current account spending and analyse the results to find the optimum amount to save each month, which is then automatically deposited into your Clinc savings account underpinned by the startup’s partner bank. The secret sauce, which he won’t go much into detail on, is that the app is dynamic, able to make on-the-fly adjustments to how much you transfer to your savings account based on how your spending has changed or are predicted to change. In other words, Clinc’s central proposition is to help you achieve your financial goals faster. “This is the biggest challenge you can tac…