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

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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…

Chinese Startup Rokid Sees Opportunity With COVID-Fighting Smart Glasses - The New York Times

Chinese Startup Rokid Sees Opportunity With COVID-Fighting Smart Glasses - The New York Times


Chinese Startup Rokid Sees Opportunity With COVID-Fighting Smart Glasses - The New York Times

Posted: 01 May 2020 01:19 AM PDT

HANGZHOU, China — A Chinese startup that develops augmented-reality products for use in manufacturing and gaming has found a promising growth area in the midst of a global pandemic - wearable glasses that measure temperatures on the move.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019, Hangzhou-based startup Rokid developed a pair of glasses to help screen for symptoms. Rokid Vice President Xiang Wenjie says demand has risen for the company's T1 glasses, developed in only two weeks, after it sold roughly 1,000 pairs to governments, industrial parks and schools.

"Apart from fixed temperature measurement, T1 can provide portable, distant and prompt temperature checking, which would be a great help," Xiang said.

Equipped with an infrared sensor and a camera, the glasses allow the wearer to "see" peoples' temperatures.

Rokid says on its website that it completed a round of "billion-dollar" financing in 2018, led by Singapore state investor Temasek [TEM.UL], Swiss bank Credit Suisse and others.

The company said it is now is upgrading the T1 to take multiple temperature readings simultaneously for use in places like malls and airports.

One office park in Hangzhou is replacing fixed thermometer stands with glasses after a flood of employees returning to work made temperature checks a headache for property management.

"With more new products coming out, especially these glasses, we think we can use them to conduct contactless temperature measurement, they are very efficient when faced with a big crowd of people," said Jin Keli, president of Greentown Property Management.

Rokid is not the only Chinese tech startup involved in the fight against COVID-19. Thermal imaging systems made by face recognition giant SenseTime have been installed in railway stations across China.

The new coronavirus, first detected in Wuhan, the capital city of China's central Hubei province, has so far killed more than 4,600 people and infected nearly 83,000 in mainland China.

(Reporting by Xihao Jiang and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Need Help Telling Your Startup Story? This Illustration Kit Is on Sale for $100 Off. - Entrepreneur

Posted: 29 Apr 2020 05:23 AM PDT

Make your web content pop with beautiful illustrations.

2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you'll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Roughly 70 percent to 96 percent of people who leave your website never return. That's a huge lost opportunity that many entrepreneurs simply can't afford. Considering people generally spend less than 20 seconds on a web page, it's imperative that you tell your story the best way you can. But that can be easier said than done, and sometimes illustrations are the quickest and most engaging way to do it. After all, they say a picture's worth a thousand words. 

You may not have the time or resources to give your website a complete, professional overhaul or add professional illustrations. But that's where Growww Kit comes in.

Growww Kit lets you give your website a full makeover on a budget. Whether you have a store, a blog or something else entirely, Growww Kit provides everything you need to keep visitors' interest. This bundle of website illustrations includes more than 300 high-quality, editable illustrations that will make your content pop. All assets are fully compatible with Illustrator, Photoshop, CorelDraw and Figma, and come with commercial use licenses, meaning you can use them to sell products.

The illustrations are broken down by category, from isometric assets to designs specifically created to help kick-start a business. Even if you do have a designer on staff, access to a library of quality illustrations can save them valuable time so they can get more done faster. Everyone wins. 

Telling your brand's story can be hard, so why not try showing it instead? Give your site a beautiful, action-oriented makeover with help from Growww Kit. Normally $138, new users can get unlimited access for just $29.99.

New Richmond pharma startup aims to shore up US generic drug supply - RichmondBizSense

Posted: 01 May 2020 03:14 AM PDT

Phlow was created in recent months to produce generic drugs in medicines. (Photos courtesy Phlow, VCU and Creative Commons)

A VCU professor and local pharmaceutical entrepreneur are kicking off a new company, armed in part with an initial $6 million in government funding and a goal to help secure the nation's domestic-made drug supply following the pandemic.

Downtown-based Phlow Corp. last week was awarded a $6.02 million contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to "secure a supply of medicines and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) at risk of shortage during the current Coronavirus Pandemic," the contract summary states.

Eric Edwards

Frank Gupton

Behind Phlow are Eric Edwards, who with his twin brother co-founded Shockoe Bottom-based pharma company Kaleo, as well as Frank Gupton, chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Sciences at VCU's College of Engineering who is a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant recipient.

The duo founded Phlow earlier this year and the company is now based in the former Health Diagnostic Laboratory building in the BioTech park in downtown Richmond, per its LinkedIn.

Bob Mooney, co-founder of local venture capital firm NRV, and Alan Taggart, managing director at D.C.-based life sciences consulting firm Dalya Partners, are also involved with Phlow. Mooney and Taggart both deferred comment to Edwards, who declined to comment.

Phlow is now based downtown at the former Health Diagnostic Laboratory building at 737 N. Fifth St. (BizSense file photo)

On its website, Phlow said it strives to secure the nation's supply of essential generic medicines by using different manufacturing methods that will allow the U.S. to not rely on importing foreign medicines.

The recently enacted federal CARES Act has outlines for mitigating emergency drug shortages, and the type of contract Phlow received is classified by the DHHS as necessary to "purchase critically needed supplies and services to respond to the COVID-19 global outbreak." DHHS estimates the value of those supplies and services is $30 billion.

While still a young company, Phlow already has the support of many state legislators.

Last month, a letter signed by nine of Virginia's federal legislators including Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin, was sent to the DHHS, asking the federal agency to "consider improving the access to essential generic medicines and the APIs used to manufacture them."

The letter, dated March 23, explains that Phlow Corp. focuses on pharmaceutical research, manufacturing and development with its partners VCU, AMPAC Fine Chemicals and generic drug manufacturing nonprofit Civica Rx. The representatives ask DHHS to "consider the potential consortium Phlow has to offer the federal government with production of essential generic medicines."

It's unclear whether Phlow has a larger contract pending with the government.

AMPAC owns a sizable manufacturing facility in Petersburg, which it bought in 2016 and relaunched last year after it was left idle in 2014 by German pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim, according to the Progress-Index. Gupton worked as an executive at Boehringer Ingelheim for nearly 14 years, per his LinkedIn.

It's unclear whether the partnership between Phlow and AMPAC includes any additional investments to be made at the Petersburg facility, which sits at 2820 N. Normandy Drive.

Edwards and Gupton have enlisted a group of healthcare veterans to fill out Phlow's board of directors, including Martin VanTrieste, a former Amgen executive and founder of Civica Rx; Rosemary Gibson, board chair of Altarum Institute, a government health consulting nonprofit; and Marshall Summar, a D.C.-based doctor at Children's National Medical Center who specializes in providing care to those with rare diseases.

Phlow earlier this year also hired two lobbying groups, Winning Strategies Washington and The Conafay Group LLC to help with drug manufacturing, according to ProPublica.

California Startup Helps Parents With Cleanups, Kids' Items During Shelter-In-Place Orders - waste360

Posted: 01 May 2020 12:08 AM PDT

While most of the U.S. is under "shelter-in-place" or "stay-at-home" orders due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), many have taken this extra time at home to clean out cluttered closets, organize cabinets and remove old items. One Oakland, Calif.-based startup is offering a way to help parents discard of gently-used children's items, while making money.

Toycycle, the local mission-centered startup that helps families save money and reduce environmental waste with a full-service consignment program, announced they are offering Cleanout Boxes during California's shelter-in-place order.

Toycycle's mission is to create a robust reuse market for babies and kids, with a focus on high-quality clothing, top-notch toys and gear, according to its website (www.toycycle.co). The company's Cleanout Boxes was an idea that stemmed from demand. 

"On March 17, our operations team, which is made up of moms with young kids, had to shelter in place and we had to temporarily suspend our curbside service. But because demand for our puzzles, games, building sets and STEM toys increased dramatically, we needed to find a way to keep that inventory coming in," says Rhonda Collins, co-founder and CEO of Toycycle.

Toycycle launched the Cleanout Boxes to allow Northern California families to ship these types of items while they are sheltered in place. Families sign up on the website and pack a medium size box with gently-used items. When it is ready to go, Toycycle emails them a shipping label and request a USPS or UPS pick-up. 

Toycycle then inspects, cleans, photographs and lists the items in its online store. When they sell, the consignor is paid. Toycycle takes measures to ensure the items are not carrying COVID-19.

"First, all the items we list in our store have been quarantined for 3-10 days in our warehouse before they are listed in our store," says Collins. "We also clean all hard-surface items with a hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution. And team members wear latex gloves when preparing orders for shipping."

The company accepts excellent-condition toys, games and baby gear – baby carriers, bottle warmers, like-new clothing -- anything that will fit into a medium size box that is approximately 24-by-15-by-12 inches. There is a list of items Toycycle accepts on its website.

"We don't accept excessively worn items or products with missing parts/pieces," says Collins. "Items that don't meet our resale standards are donated to local charities – though at the moment, those are all closed, so we're hanging on to them until we can donate them."

Families can find items for babies or kids in Toycycle's e-commerce store. From toys to diaper bags, baby food makers to mini scooters, online store products are arranged by category and are searchable. While the company offers nationwide shipping, orders from the Bay Area are typically delivered. During shelter-in-place, the company is shipping local orders, too.

Toycycle's first product was a DIY P2P swap platform that connected families locally to swap free outgrown toys and gear. 

"Despite tremendous enthusiasm for the idea, we found that only about 20% of our members engaged in swaps," says Collins. "Customer surveys suggested that families with young kids have very little time to handle outgrown toys and gear and that they spend a lot of money gearing up and they'd like to get something back."

Toycycle pivoted last August to a full-service consignment model that makes the whole process of selling outgrown toys and gear convenient for sellers that also reduces risk for buyers with fully-vetted products and a customer satisfaction guarantee.

Code4covid Brings Together 1000 Startup Experts To Fight COVID-19 - Forbes

Posted: 30 Apr 2020 02:32 PM PDT

As the reality of COVID-19 started to become clear Jules Decol, Co-Founder & CTO at Chosen along with fellow tech colleagues, knew that tech would play an essential role in minimising the impact of COVID-19 and could ultimately save lives. They also knew that the effort would be stronger if it was coordinated. On March 16thcode4covid was formed to do just that, bringing together skills from across the startup world to find solutions to ease the impact of COVID-19.

Since kick-off, code4covid has grown to a network of over 1,000 experts, mainly coordinating through a lively slack community. These experts are working on projects which come from the community or through Covid Tech Support, which accepts requests from organisations tackling COVID-19 in different ways. The community is now working with 70 projects, which have emerged from over 220 requests. These projects are based mainly in the U.K. but can also be found in the U.S., Europe and Africa.

Tech Support for Organisations

Covid Tech Support was one of the first projects that came out of code4covid. Marc Sloan, also founder of Scout, set up Covid Tech Support who realised that the best way to capture society's needs would be organisations who had years of experience. It is now integral in supporting the demand side of code4covid.

Non-profit organisations and communities tackling COVID-19 can request tech support which is then fuelled by the 1000-strong community in the most practical and impactful way possible. Marc highlights that this has been a unique opportunity where so many talented people can't work and find themselves longing to contribute. In contrast, many established organisations were overwhelmed when they were forced to implement a digital strategy so rapidly. This is happening during a global pandemic, and code4covid has helped to make the most of this unique opportunity.

From helping set up systems, ID checks to getting events online

One particularly fruitful project has been with the U.K. charity Crisis which tackles homelessness. Due to lockdown, the charity was not able to distribute its warehouse full of goods to partners at homeless shelters. After a request to Covid Tech Support, Marc found a consultant from an e-commerce website in the code4covid community to take on the challenge. Within a week there was a prototype for a website to get the distribution network up and running again.

Mutual Aid, a network of hyper-local supportive communities, set up a website to gather information and point people in the right direction. Code4covid very quickly got a team together with a project manager, user experience specialist, web developer and SEO expert who redesigned and optimised the website within ten days.

The organisation April manages a network of volunteers who provide basic tech support specifically to older people who are struggling to keep connected. Volunteers from code4covid are helping them build an ID check system for April's own volunteers.

Not all tech support comes in the form of code, however. Cinzia Ricciardone, a co-founder of code4covid, said they are starting to get requests for advice on solutions and product. Marc also shares the story of when he helped Brighton-based Kennedy Street & Co, who support people recovering from addiction. As lockdown hit, they desperately needed to know how to get online and continue with an event with X-Factor winner Sam Bailey. Before he knew it, Marc was spending a Friday evening helping set up Zoom and Facebook live to help the organisation keep going.

Support for a growing organisation

As COVID-19 continues and life is drastically changed, code4covid know that the work is not over. They're continuing to grow, and new requests are coming in daily. Any non-profits or communities who need tech help should turn to Covid Tech Support.

Marc is keen to add that anyone with startup skills eager to get involved should join code4covid. Cinzia has also been most grateful for the support that code4covid have received from businesses such as Paiger, Slack and Airtable adding that they are actively looking for any other partnerships that could help increase their impact.

Navigating an uncertain future

There's much speculation about what the future will hold but no certainty. What is sure is that the networks being formed today will be a powerful resource in the future. Code4covid will surely find new ways to support life after this first wave of COVID-19 and continue to help the non-profit organisations working tirelessly to support communities. Ultimately, they'll work on solutions that will help our daily lives in ways we probably can't even imagine yet.

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