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Meet the 11 startups graduating from the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator



Disruption favors the small startup, and the pandemic has most certainly been disruptive. So it’s no surprise that accelerators and incubators are pumping out new startups who are ready to tackle the problems of 2020.

One such accelerator is the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, which is graduating 11 new startups out of the program today with its Summer 2020 Demo Day. Since inception, ERA has launched 215+ startups, which have raised more than $500 million in capital collectively.

So without any further ado, let’s meet the companies:

Aires Medical is a hardware company that has developed a handheld ventilator for COPD patients, who normally need cumbersome medical equipment to get around outside of the house. The company is currently seeking FDA 510(k) clearance and once cleared, will sell to medical equipment distributors.

Alaffia automates the process of auditing health insurance claims. The company’s machine learning dashboard is able to detect improper payments more quickly, conduct clinical claim reviews and generate reports, speeding up and cleaning up a process that’s been mostly manual and inefficient. The company will generate revenue by recovering health insurance companies’ overpayments.

Caire is a direct-to-consumer brand focused on skincare products for women over 40. The company has proprietary formulations for its products that are targeted specifically at what happens to the skin during menopause (and the natural hormone decline that comes with it). Caire uses a subscription model (the starter Defiance Science Duo is $80/month).

ChalkTalk is tackling the rapidly changing edtech ecosystem with a personalized curricula and lesson planning. The platform turns this information into personalized instructional materials, group. activities and practice exercises encompassing K-12 Math and English Language Arts. The mission is to give teachers the time to have meaningful connections with their students instead of spending that time building out lesson plans, creating assignments, etc.

Cquence is a SaaS platform looking to take a slice of the video creation pie. Cquence uses machine learning to review and organize footage at the onset of video editing, indexing and tagging across millions of metadata points to give editors a clean library of content from the start, letting them find a particular person, object or quote. Cquence charges based on the number of seats using the platform and minutes of footage ingested.

Flourish Savings works with banks, credit unions, lenders and other financial institutions to gamify good financial habits for end users. Flourish allows these partners to license its technology and takes a fee based on active users.

Masonry automates the process of managing multi-family property. The software optimizes the wide variety of tasks involved in maintaining these properties and offers a full data analytics and insights dashboard for property managers. Masonry charges based on a per unit/per month basis.

Mosaic is looking to optimize the most valuable resource that any individual or organization has: time. The company uses AI to update people’s work plans based on who is working on what and when, and gives feedback on the productivity and profitability of an org’s time management. Mosaic charges annually on a per-seat basis.

OLIMP is a platform that lets truck drivers find and book short-term warehousing whenever a truck is rejected at delivery, saving time and money for fleets. OLIMP also handles payments online, making the process as simple as possible after a long journey.

StartSure is tackling the ever-growing InsureTech space by offering insurance policies to startups in particular. The differentiator is a super simple five-question survey that leads into a policy that covers the most basic liability and property needs of the company. The company then offers an AI-based assistant to further address individual and unique needs of the company. StartSure policies start at $25/month.

Virtuleap is a diagnostics tool that uses VR to help pharmaceutical companies evaluate the outcome of drugs designed to treat cognitive illnesses. The startup has a library of VR games, designed in conjunction with neuroscientists, to evaluate a range of cognitive abilities, helping drugmakers understand the measurable effects of their drugs.

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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Pinterest tests online events with dedicated ‘class communities’



Pinterest is getting into online events. The company has been spotted testing a new feature that allows users to sign up for Zoom classes through Pinterest, while creators use Pinterest’s class boards to organize class materials, notes and other resources, or even connect with attendees through a group chat option. The company confirmed the test of online classes is an experiment now in development, but wouldn’t offer further details about its plans.

The feature itself was discovered on Tuesday by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong, who found details about the online classes by looking into the app’s code.

Currently, you can visit some of these “demo” profiles directly — like “@pinsmeditation” or “@pinzoom123,” for example — and view their listed Class Communities. However, these communities are empty when you click through. That’s because the feature is still unreleased, Wong says.

When and if the feature is later launched to the public, the communities would include dedicated sections where creators will be able to organize their class materials — like lists of what to bring to class, notes, photos and more. They could also use these communities to offer a class overview and description, connect users to a related shop, group chat feature and more.

Creators are also able to use the communities — which are basically enhanced Pinterest boards — to respond to questions from attendees, share photos from the class and otherwise interact with the participants.

When a user wants to join a class, they can click a “book” button to sign up, and are then emailed a confirmation with the meeting details. Other buttons direct attendees to download Zoom or copy the link to join the class.

It’s not surprising that Pinterest would expand into the online events space, given its platform has become a popular tool for organizing remote learning resources during the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers have turned to Pinterest to keep track of lesson plans, get inspiration, share educational activities and more. In the early days of the pandemic, Pinterest reported record usage when the company saw more searches and saves globally in a single March weekend than ever before in its history, as a result of its usefulness as a online organizational tool.

This growth has continued throughout the year. In October, Pinterest’s stock jumped on strong earnings after the company beat on revenue and user growth metrics. The company brought in $443 million in revenue, versus $383.5 million expected, and grew its monthly active users to 442 million, versus the 436.4 million expected. Outside of the coronavirus impacts, much of this growth was due to strong international adoption, increased ad spend from advertisers boycotting Facebook and a surge of interest from users looking for iOS 14 home screen personalization ideas.

Given that the U.S. has failed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control, many classes, events and other activities will remain virtual even as we head into 2021. The online events market may continue to grow in the years that follow, too, thanks to the kickstart the pandemic provided the industry as a whole.

“We are experimenting with ways to help creators interact more closely with their audience,” a Pinterest spokesperson said, when asked for more information.

Pinterest wouldn’t confirm additional details about its plans for online events, but did say the feature was in development and the test would help to inform the product’s direction.

Pinterest often tries out new features before launching them to a wider audience. Earlier this summer, TechCrunch reported on a Story Pins feature the company had in the works. Pinterest then launched the feature in September. If the same time frame holds up for online events, we could potentially see the feature become more widely available sometime early next year.

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SpaceX targeting next week for Starship’s first high-altitude test flight



SpaceX looks ready to proceed to the next crucial phase of its Starship spacecraft development program: A 15km (50,000 feet) test flight. This would far exceed the max height that any prior Starship prototype has achieved so far, since the current record-setting hop test maxed out at around 500 feet. Elon Musk says that SpaceX will look to make its first high-altitude attempt sometime next week.

This tentative date (these are always subject to change) follows a successful static test fire of the current SN8 generation prototype — essentially just firing the test spacecraft’s Raptor engines while it remains stationary on the pad. That’s a crucial step that paves the way for any actual flight, since it proves that the spacecraft can essentially hold together and withstand the pressures of active engines before it leaves the ground.

SpaceX’s SN8 prototype is different from prior versions in a number of ways, most obviously because it has an actual nosecone, along with nose fins. The prototypes that did the short test hops, including SN6, had what’s known as a mass simulator up top, which weighs as much as an actual Starship nose section but looks very different.

Musk added that the chances of an SN8 high-altitude flight going to plan aren’t great, estimating that there’s “maybe a 1/3 chance” given how many things have to work correctly. He then noted that that’s the reason SpaceX has SN9 and SN10 ready to follow fast, which is a theme of Starship’s development program to date: building successive generations of prototypes rapidly in parallel in order to test and iterate quickly.

We’ll likely get a better idea of when the launch will take place due to alerts filed with local regulators, so watch this space next week as we await this major leap forward in SpaceX’s Starship program.

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Police case filed against Netflix executives in India over ‘A Suitable Boy’ kissing scene



Netflix, which has invested more than $500 million to gain a foothold in India in recent years, is slowly finding out just about what all could upset some people in the world’s second-largest internet market: Apparently everything.

A police case has been filed this week against two top executives of the American streaming service in India after a leader of the governing party objected to some scenes in a TV series.

The show, “A Suitable Boy,” is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Indian author Vikram Seth that follows the life of a young girl. It has a scene in which the protagonist is seeing kissing a Muslim boy at a Hindu temple.

Narottam Mishra, the interior minister of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, said a First Information Report (an official police complaint) had been filed against Monika Shergill, VP of Content at Netflix and Ambika Khurana, Director of Public Policies for the firm, over objectionable scenes in the show that hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.

“I had asked officials to examine the series ‘A Suitable Boy’ being streamed on Netflix to check if kissing scenes in it were filmed in a temple and if it hurt religious sentiments. The examination prima facie found that these scenes are hurting the sentiments of a particular religion,” he said.

Gaurav Tiwari, a BJP youth leader who filed the complaint, demanded an apology from Netflix and makers of the series (directed by award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair), and said the film promoted “love jihad,” an Islamophobic conspiracy theory that alleges that Muslim men entice Hindi women into converting their religion under the pretext of marriage.

Netflix declined to comment.

In recent days, a number of people have expressed on social media their anger at Netflix over these “objectionable” scenes. Though it is unclear if all of them — if any — are a Netflix subscriber.

The incident comes weeks after an ad from the luxury jewelry brand Tanishq — part of the 152-year-old salt-to-steel conglomerate — which celebrated interfaith marriage received intense backlash in the country.

For Netflix, the timing of this backlash isn’t great. The new incident comes days after the Indian government announced new rules for digital media, under which the nation’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be regulating online streaming services. Prior to this new rule, India’s IT ministry oversaw streaming services, and according to a top streaming service executive, online services enjoyed a great degree of freedom.

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