Porsche expands on-demand subscription plans to four more cities – gpgmail


Porsche is expanding two on-demand subscription programs to several more U.S. cities and into Canada.

The German automaker announced Thursday it will expand its monthly subscription program Porsche Passport and its shorter-term Porsche Drive plan to Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Toronto. Both programs will continue to be offered in Atlanta through local dealers.

The expansion suggests that Porsche’s experimentation with subscriptions has attracted enough new customers to warrant taking it on the road.

Porsche created the programs because consumers increasingly want more flexibility, more individual choice, and to have this on their mobile devices, Porsche North America President and CEO Klaus Zellmer said in the announcement.

The goal is to build a new customer base of Porsche owners. Zellmer’s comments suggest that the programs are having the desired effect.

“This innovative approach to the Porsche experience has already opened the door to an entirely new clientele,” Zellmer said. “In our first year and a half, more than 80% of Passport members in the Atlanta pilot were not previous Porsche owners.”

Both plans give customers access to up 20 current model variants in its portfolio. Porsche Passport is a monthly plan that gives its members unlimited swaps between models.

The cheapest version of the plan, which is a flat monthly fee of $2,100, gives members access to eight model variants. A more expensive $3,100 plan includes another 12 higher performing variants. Passport requires an activation fee of $595, and membership approval is dependent on a background and credit check.

Porsche Drive, which spun out of the Passport program, is designed for those who want occasional access — perhaps for a date or a weekend getaway — to its luxury SUVs and sports cars. Members can rent a Porsche for a minimum of four hours under Porsche Drive. Prices for Porsche Drive range from $269 for four hours in a Macan, 718 Cayman or Boxster all the way to $2,909 for weekly usage of a 911. The Porsche Drive prices do not include taxes or other fees.

Under both plans, the vehicles are ordered through the Passport app and then delivered and picked up by a concierge at the customer’s preferred location.

The Passport program was first launched in 2017 in Atlanta. During the pilot, the average subscription has been about four months. The most common reason customers suspended their membership was due extended travel plans, according to the company. This indicates that the month-to-month model provides the flexibility customers desire.

Passport users swap models on average 2.5 times per month, according to Porsche. The company also said that more than 50% of members flip their vehicles at home, close to 30% swap their vehicle at work, and the remaining exchanges occur in other locations, such as a coffee shop or restaurant.

The technology platform for the program will be managed by Clutch Technologies, a company that has been part of the pilot from the start. The expansion of Passport and Drive includes a new role for Porsche dealer partners in all five cities. Dealers will now oversee the customer experience and the fleet, including its concierge vehicle delivery and maintenance.


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Ready, Set, Raise — the Y Combinator for female founders — announces second cohort – gpgmail


About one-fourth of the startups in Y Combinator’s summer batch had a female founder. Not the most disappointing statistic if you consider this: Companies with at least one female founder have raised only about 11% of venture capital funding in the U.S. in 2019, according to PitchBook. Companies with female founders exclusively have raised just 3%.

There is so much room for improvement.

To close the funding gap, programs tailored to female entrepreneurs are working tirelessly to mentor and incubate upstarts in hopes of impressing venture capitalists. Ready, Set, Raise, an accelerator program built for women, by women, is amongst the new efforts to help female and non-binary founders raise more dollars, or, at the very least, build relationships with investors.

The accelerator program, created by the Seattle-based network of startup founders and investors called the Female Founders Alliance, is today announcing its second batch of companies, a group that includes a sextech business, an AI-powered tool for podcasters and a line of workwear created for women who work on farms, construction sites and factory floors.

Ready, Set, Raise has partnered with Microsoft for Startups to provide entrepreneurs $120,000 in Azure credits, as well as technical and business mentoring from executives of the Redmond-based software giant. Other new partners include Brex and Carta, two well-funded companies that plan to lend the support of their executives to teach entrepreneurs about startup finance, valuation and fundraising terms. 

“Both FFA and Microsoft recognize a major lapse in opportunities given to women and non-binary founders,” writes Ian Bergman, a managing director of Microsoft for Startups, in a statement. “We look forward to our continued work together to promote this necessary shift in the VC landscape.”

FFA’s founder and chief executive officer Leslie Feinzaig, who launched the organization in 2017, has been an outspoken advocate of diversity in entrepreneurship and venture capital, and well as providing awareness and resources for founders who are also parents.

“My experience fundraising was undeniably shaped by the fact that I am a woman, and at the time was a new mom,” Feinzaig, who previously founded an edtech startup, told Seattle Business Magazine earlier this year. “A year later, I was about to give up. Instead, I started a Facebook group, including all of the founders and tech startup leaders I knew. It was the group that I needed, made up of people who knew exactly what I was going through. That’s how the Female Founders Alliance was born.”

FFA’s Ready, Set, Raise provides its companies childcare throughout the six-week program, in which companies work one-on-one with experienced coaches ahead of a demo day that will take place on October 16th. 

Here’s a look at Ready, Set, Raise’s sophomore class of startups:

  • Echo Echo: AI-powered tools for podcasters.
  • Give InKind: Coordinates support through major life events.
  • Honistly: A provider of extended auto warranties to help with short-term cash needs.
  • Juicebox It: Modernizes erotica with a chatbot that is arousing and educational. 
  • Panty Drop: A personalized intimates shopping experience for women sizes XS-6XL.  
  • The Labz: A platform that protects and memorializes creative content development in real time.
  • Tougher: Functional, well-fitted workwear for women in the skilled trades. 


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Kobiton raises a $5.2M Series A round for its mobile testing platform – gpgmail


Kobiton, an Atlanta-based mobile testing platform that helps developers test their apps on real devices using the open-source Appium automation framework, today announced that it has raised a $5.2 million Series A round. The round was led by BIP Capital, with support from seed investors KMS Technology and Kinetic Ventures, as well as BetterCloud executive chairman Jon Hallett, former Infor COO Ken Walters and Kevin Lee, the CEO of Kobiton. Previously, the company raised $3 million in seed funding.

KMS Technology actually incubated Kobiton before it was spun out into its own company in 2016.

Current customers include Cap Gemini, Frontier Airlines, GreenSky, Office Depot and Q2.

One thing that sets Kobiton apart from other on-device testing services like Microsoft’s App Center Test Cloud, the AWS Device Farm and Google’s Firebase Test Lab is that it offers a cloud-based lab but also allows you to test set up your own private and local labs as needed. In total, Kobiton supports over 350 devices  and, of course, provides detailed logs for all tests, including full video, screenshots, system metrics and more.

“Our own survey of over 1500 organizations confirm the trends we’re seeing in the industry: First, companies have greatly advanced on the maturity testing model with more and more realization that extensive real-device testing is necessary to create flawless user experiences for all users on all devices,” Kobiton CEO Kevin Lee told me. “Second, organizations of all sizes have acknowledged that moving to automated testing is imperative to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced world. Time-to-market is becoming a critical measure of overall quality and the only way to get there is through extensive automated testing.”

Lee argues that until now, it too a lot of developer-level expertise to write the test scrips necessary to run automated tests. The Appium project has made this easier, but it’s not a trivial undertaking to set up tests with it either. He also argues that automated test scripts tend to be brittle. “They break when the underlying App changes, and worse, tend to break for the same App being tested on different device types,” he said.

Kobiton allows developers to create tests without having to write scripts by using tis “record and playback” feature. This still creates regular Appium code in the background, but developers don’t have to interact with it. Because that code is there, though, the company can then work its magic and add an abstraction layer (“Appium Anywhere”) that allows those tests to run on any device.

“What that means is that your test script will run the same on every device without requiring changes to your test script,” explains Lee. “Combined, these technologies will allow organizations to adopt mobile automation, at scale, in a cost effective and time efficient manner.”

Like most companies at this stage, Kobiton plans to use the new funding to expand its sales, marketing customer support and product development efforts. On the product side, a lot of that work will go into the “Record and Playback” tools.


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