Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech Insider

Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderFashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderPosted: 26 May 2020 03:30 AM PDT E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 million in venture funding, solely over Zoom, during the coronavirus pandemic. The try-before-you-buy fashion startup has fast-tracked its launch process with Covid-19 closing physical clothes stores across North America."We were going to keep the platform in beta for a few more months, but then Covid came along," Blackcart founder and CEO Donny Ouyang told Business Insider in an interview. "We messaged all potential investors to fast-track the fundraising process to launch, it was five weeks of back and forth, 100s of emails and five or six meetings every day." Click here for more BI Prime stories.E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 mil…

Fitness Is Important To Our Health, But It’s Critical For Your Business. This Founder Explains Why - Forbes

Fitness Is Important To Our Health, But It’s Critical For Your Business. This Founder Explains Why - Forbes

Fitness Is Important To Our Health, But It’s Critical For Your Business. This Founder Explains Why - Forbes

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 08:57 AM PST

For those of us who monetize our passion, the lifestyle of entrepreneurship can often take a mental and physical toll on our bodies. Managing your own time means working around the clock which makes it difficult for some entrepreneurs to fit a healthy amount of sleep and regular fitness training into their booked schedules. 

For Michelle August, founder of indoor cycling studio SPINCO, building a community, moving past fear and taking calculated risks are not only the foundations of her business but the keys to success for busy entrepreneurs.

Starting SPINCO just five years ago at the age of 22 years old, she cultivated a dedicated following and has grown the business with over 400,000 riders across Canada. However, this success started with uncertainty at the beginning of her journey. Moving back home to Kelowna, British Columbia after completing a basketball scholarship in California, she initially worked for her family's automotive business. She quickly recognized that selling cars was not her calling and the lack of community left her unmotivated and inactive. This is where the idea for creating SPINCO was born. Leaning into her core values of community and fitness, August created the type of environment for customers that she desired for herself. "I was not only working out for myself, but I was working out for my team and those around me and that was a huge motivator for me. That's what SPINCO has been built on," she recalls, "It is for pushing those people that are in your class, motivating and inspiring those around you as well. Feeding off their energy is a huge part of what SPINCO is today and the main reason why I originally started it in the first place." 

The lesson learned in this experience is that the work starts with you. We all know fitness is important to our health, but did you know it could also be critical for your business? Here, August shares three reasons why taking care of yourself and your teams means that your business will maintain an edge over the competition.

A Pivotal Role In Business Health

For every benefit of being your own boss, there is a cost. Weigh gain, high levels of unmanaged stress, and chronic fatigue, are just a few of the ways entrepreneurs may neglect their bodies in order to grow their business. According to August, this way of operating not only affects the well-being of entrepreneurs but will also ultimately trickle down into the health of the company. Incorporating a schedule of consistent physical activity that challenges you helps. She says, "It's kind of similar to what they say on airplanes, 'You need to put your oxygen mask on before supporting those around you'." Learning to fight through the doubts and obstacles in class or at the gym is the best training ground for building a resilient and determined mindset in your day-to-day lifestyle. Making yourself a priority will allow you to maximize your energy and increase your ability to care of your customers, clients and staff. 

Develop Laser-Like Focus

Mental acuity is sharpness of the mind. For sustainable entrepreneurship, being able to concentrate and understand the problem or task at hand, maintain focus and good memory are essential. All of these are driven and improved by stimulating different parts of the brain through exercise. Dr. Joe Kottoor, a chiropractor and rehab specialist who has worked with several Olympic athletes and Toronto Raptors players says exercise is one of the best, easiest and cheapest ways of doing it. "There's research studies that show that [exercise] increases the size of the hippocampus- that area of the brain which is involved in memory and learning. Another one is the pre-frontal cortex, which is the frontal lobe," he says, "It's apart of the brain which is highly involved in 'Executive function'.  Creativity, problem solving, comprehension and perseverance are important attributes to have as a leader."

Build A Strong Team

Working on tight deadlines or simply trying to manage a multitude of responsibilities each day is not only a challenge for owners but is tough on their teams as well. Research has found that exercise has tremendous benefits on people's overall mood and ability to tackle their daily to-do lists. Findings from a study showed that people who exercised during work hours reported that their concentration increased by 21% and furthermore, 41% felt more motivated on days they worked out. At SPINCO, August notices more companies such as start-ups and even large investment organizations have begun to bring their teams in for group workouts. She notes, "I think just getting to that first class and proving yourself wrong is a huge first step for employers and staff." Dr. Kottoor also recognizes this as an important element of creating a better work culture, "Employees that move are happier and more productive. Whether you're the CEO of a company or you're at the entry level, if you encourage people to move, then we see an improvement in individual happiness but also in work productivity."

Success Insider: Business podcasts and Harvard negotiation strategies - INSIDER

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 11:55 AM PST

Welcome to an early November edition of Success Insider. 

Here are some of the most exciting stories we've told on BI Prime over the past week about how and why and who gets amazing things done. 

A legendary VC on building company cultures

Eventually, Ben Horowitz got to a point of "nobody can't tell me nothing." 

This, he explained to our correspondent Shana Lebowitz, was when he got to a place of no longer being managed. He had founded, lead, and sold a company, Opsware, and had been working as a VP at HP.

"I already felt like I knew too much, at least about running an organization," he explained. "And whether I did or not, it didn't matter, because that's how I felt. So I got myself to a point where I was unmanageable."

But enterprise tech would not be enough for Horowitz, and so soon he'd be founding a new kind of venture fund with Marc Andreessen, who'd gone through the Opsware adventure with him, which they together sold to HP for $1.6 billion in 2007. As of this writing, the firm has some $10 billion in assets and has invested in Facebook, Airbnb, and Lyft, among many others. 

His new book, "What You Do Is Who You Are," is about building company cultures, including how to interview for culture fit, and how his long tutelage in running companies has shaped the way he evaluates founders. 

Behold: The cofounder of legendary VC firm Andreessen Horowitz on what almost killed Uber, what really led to WeWork's downfall, and what happened after he passed on Airbnb 

Podcasts to expand your business knowledge

At Success Insider we love learning, we strive to be self-taught, and we do our best to not be pedantic autodidacts about the whole thing. 

Hence why we're so excited about a feast for the ears (how seasonal!) that writer Robin Madell put together. The reporter interviewed tons of leaders and academics about the podcasts that are equivalent to an MBA, and topics range from management to psychology to product management to case studies from Harvard Business School. 

Listen in: 24 podcasts picked by industry leaders, successful executives, and business school professors that are almost as good as getting an MBA

And a survey of other highlights

Some other awesome pieces include: 

That's it for this week. 

See you Monday.

How one man transformed South Korea's sordid 'love hotels' into a billion-dollar business - CNBC

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 08:14 PM PST

To be a successful entrepreneur, they say you've got to have passion.

That's something Su Jin Lee had in spades when he started his business. After all, he was going after an industry built on the stuff.

Lee is the founder of Yanolja, an online accommodation bookings platform that has reinvigorated South Korea's once dying love hotel industry and given birth to the country's latest billion-dollar start-up.

Love hotels are a type of short-term, pay-per-hour accommodation famed across the global for their exotic — and indeed erotic — stylings.

In the Korean language, Yanolja means "Hey, let's play." The Korean entrepreneur started the company in Seoul in 2007 in a bid to modernize what he saw as a misrepresented market. It has since grown it into a multifaceted hospitality business with 32 million downloads and a major millennial following.

Reinvigorating the love hotel

Originating in Japan, the amorous accommodations rose to prominence in South Korea in the late 1980s during an era of growing sexual liberalization. But in the decades since, they have marred the conservative country's hotel industry, due to their seedy associations as breeding grounds for illicit activities and extramarital affairs.

For Lee, however, love hotels had always been a source of sanctuary. Orphaned at a young age, he gained work as a janitor at a love hotel when he was 23, thankful for a place to stay and a steady wage.

"I think such kind of experience is very, very, very helpful to understand the nature of the industry," Yanolja's CEO Jong Yoon Kim told CNBC Make It in Seoul.

So, when an anti-prostitution law passed in 2004 threatened to kill the industry, he saw it as an opportunity.

Su Jin Lee, founder of South Korean accommodation platform Yanolja.


Lee started by creating an online advertising platform so hotel-owners could attract new guests, before he launched Yanolja as a full-fledged bookings site in 2007.

He also rolled out Yanolja renovation services to help love hotels clean up their image and target new customers. Chief among those were two major segments: Young couples and budget travelers seeking short-term accommodation.

In South Korea, it's typical for young people to live at home until marriage, making love hotels an appealing escape from the prying eyes of parents. Meanwhile, a booming travel industry had made the country one of Asia's largest tourism markets.

"(Lee) was thinking what are the pain points nobody understands or nobody finds out," Kim continued.

A South Korean 'unicorn'

Lee's observations appeared to be on the money.

After gaining traction as one of the country's leading hotel bookings sites, he expanded into regular hotels and guest houses, as well as Yanolja's own line of branded accommodation.

Today, the platform, which makes its money off commission, has an annual growth rate of 70% and hosts more than 20,000 partner accommodations across South Korea. That's almost half of the country's approximately 46,000 registered inns and guesthouses, with annual revenues that exceed $3.6 billion.

That growth has proved appealing to investors, too.

So far, the company has raised close to $242 million from investors including Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and Booking Holdings, the U.S. firm behind travel sites like

Its latest funding round in June 2019 gave the company a valuation of $1 billion, making it South Korea's eighth "unicorn" and the latest travel tech platform to join the likes of Airbnb, OYO and Klook.

"I think the reason why we can be a unicorn is because Yanolja is (the) number one hotel in Korea. But it's just the beginning, I think. So we are trying to be a number one globally," said Kim.

That means expanding into other hospitality services, including leisure bookings and experiences. The business has also developed its own range of software services to help partner hotels automate their check-in processes and other services.

"The hotel is one of the items, but we are pursuing to realize a total package for the users," said Kim. "Yanolja is providing restaurant and activity, leisure tickets, transportation, and the others."

But, in its mission to reinvent the love hotel, there's one more goal Yanolja has its heart set on: An initial public offering. That public accolade, the company says, would mark the full transformation of an industry once shrouded in secrecy.

"I don't know what's the best timing, because we need to consider the market situation etc., but we need to be ready anytime for IPO," said Kim.

Don't miss: How 3 friends turned their unwanted items into a $550 million business

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

WeWork owned Meetup is cutting up to 25% of its staff - Business Insider

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 04:35 PM PST

  • WeWork subsidiary Meetup laid off up to 25% of its staff on Monday, according to TechCrunch.
  • The job cuts were mostly focused on its engineering department, according to the report.
  • WeWork purchased Meetup two years ago for a reported $200 million.
  • But it has been planning to downsize its business in the wake of its failed initial public offering.
  • Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.
    Please only use the sharing functionality at the top of the article. These stories are exclusive to our members. Email to buy additional rights. More information on BI Prime can be found here.

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    Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.

WeWork has laid off as much as 25% of the staff at its Meetup subsidiary, TechCrunch reported on Monday.

Most of the job cuts were in the company's engineering department, according to TechCrunch. Meetup announced the layoffs Monday morning, according to the report. It's unclear how many people were affected by the cuts.

Meetup spokeswoman Shari Soofian confirmed in an email that the company had laid off staff, but did not offer details.

"Today we made some organizational changes ... including restructuring across some of our departments," Soofian said in a statement.

A Meetup representative did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A WeWork representative directed inquiries to Meetup.

Meetup offers an online service that helps people find others with shared interests, organize groups, and schedule in-person events. WeWork purchased the company for a reported $200 million two years ago.

In the wake of its failed initial public offering, WeWork has been planning to downsize its business, including cutting thousands of jobs across its operations. It reportedly is trying to sell Meetup along with two other startups it purchased in 2017 — Managed by Q and Conductor.

Got a tip about WeWork? Contact this reporter via email at, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

Presidential Message on National Veterans Small Business Week, 2019 -

Posted: 04 Nov 2019 06:11 AM PST

In the United States, veterans own nearly 2.5 million small businesses.  After fighting for our country, these ambitious men and women have returned to civilian life to pursue the American Dream they have dutifully defended.  Throughout National Veterans Small Business Week, we celebrate the success of these hardworking service members and acknowledge their contributions to our Nation's robust and roaring economy.

Veteran-owned small businesses employ more than 5 million people and generate over $1 trillion in sales and receipts annually.  Entrepreneurial patriots boost our economy and strengthen their communities.  My Administration is tirelessly working to remove barriers that impede veterans from pursuing their professional goals after they return from their service to our country.  In August, I signed a Presidential Memorandum that ensures veterans who are totally and permanently disabled receive the Federal student loan forgiveness to which they are entitled.  These brave men and women have made remarkable sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and we must ensure they have every opportunity to live productive, fulfilling lives.

Since my election, the veteran's unemployment rate has reached its lowest rate ever recorded.  My Administration will continue working to create an economic environment that fosters growth and prosperity for veterans and all Americans.  No group better understands the values of hard work, determination, and courage than our Nation's veterans.  Initiatives offered through the Small Business Administration's Office of Veterans Business Development, such as Boots to Business, help our military personnel apply the skills and values they learned in the Armed Forces to their entrepreneurial endeavors.  This innovative program provides participants with access to resources and training that can help them successfully launch businesses, including information on how to secure capital and gain access to networks of professional business advisors.

This National Veterans Small Business Week, we recognize our country's veterans for their significant contributions to America's unparalleled prosperity and success.  These patriots help strengthen our economy, improve our communities, and enrich the character of our Nation.  As Americans, we are grateful for and inspired by their service and sacrifice.


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