Battlefield winner Forethought adds tool to automate support ticket routing – gpgmail


Last year at this time, Forethought won the gpgmail Disrupt Battlefield competition. A  $9 million Series A investment followed last December. Today at gpgmail Sessions: Enterprise in San Francisco, the company introduced the latest addition to its platform called Agatha Predictions.

Forethought CEO and co-founder, Deon Nicholas, said that after launching its original product, Agatha Answers to provide suggested answers to customer queries, customers were asking for help with the routing part of the process, as well. “We learned that there’s a there’s a whole front end of that problem before the ticket even gets to the agent,” he said. Forethought developed Agatha Predictions to help sort the tickets and get them to the most qualified agent to solve the problem.

“It’s effectively an entire tool that helps triage and route tickets. So when a ticket is coming in, it can predict whether it’s a high priority or low priority ticket and which agent is best qualified to handle this question. And this all happens before the agent even touches the ticket. This really helps drive efficiencies across the organization by helping to reduce triage time,” Nicholas explained.

The original product Agatha Answers is designed to help agents get answers more quickly and reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve an issue. “It’s a tool that integrates into your Help Desk software, indexes your past support tickets, knowledge base articles and other [related content]. Then we give agents suggested answers to help them close questions with reduced handle time,” Nicholas said.

He says that Agatha Predictions is based on the same underlying AI engine as Agatha Answers. Both use Natural Language Understanding (NLU) developed by the company. “We’ve been building out our product, and the Natural Language Understanding engine, the engine behind the system, works in a very similar manner [across our products]. So as a ticket comes in the AI reads it, understands what the customer is asking about, and understands the semantics, the words being used,” he explained. This enables them to automate the routing and supply a likely answer for the issue involved.

Nicholas maintains that winning Battlefield gave his company a jump start and a certain legitimacy it lacked as an early-stage startup. Lots of customers came knocking after the event, as did investors. The company has grown from 5 employees when it launched last year at gpgmail Disrupt to 20 today.


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N26 launches Shared Spaces and is now fully available in the U.S. – gpgmail


Challenger bank N26 is announcing two things this week. First, the company lets you share sub-accounts with other N26 users in just a few taps. Second, after a limited beta test, the company is officially launching in the U.S. with open registration.

Shared Spaces could be seen as an alternative to joint accounts. The feature could be particularly useful for groups with more than 2 persons and situations that temporarily require a shared account. For instance, you could use Shared Spaces for a vacation, to split bills with your roommates, etc.

Only a small subset of the company’s user base can access the feature for now. N26 plans to gradually roll out Shared Spaces to all users.

The company is building this feature on top of Spaces. This feature has been around for a while. It lets you create a sub-account and set aside some money in that separate sub-account. You can set savings goal and transfer money on a regular basis.

Shares Spaces is basically a multiplayer version of Spaces. When a user creates a Space, they can invite up to 10 other N26 users to that Space. While the original user remains the owner of the Space, other users can freely deposit and withdraw money from the shared account.

Sending an invite is the equivalent of granting a power of attorney on a Space. The admin of the Shared Space is the only person who can add and remove participant to the Shared Space. So it’s not technically a joint account as joint accounts have multiple owners.

Interestingly, N26 is launching this as a premium feature. You need a premium N26 account in order to create a Shared Space, such as an N26 You subscription (€9.90 per month) or an N26 Metal subscription (€16.90 per month). You can invite free users, but free users are limited to two active Spaces. Those limitations will most certainly foster premium subscriptions.

Unfortunately, you can’t spend money from a Shared Space directly for now. Your card and bank transfers remain tied to your main N26 account. You have to tap on a transaction and tap on “Pay back from a space” to get your money back from a Shared Space.

N26 co-founder and CEO Valentin Stalf told me that there could be a feature that lets you attach different cards to different Spaces in the future.

1907 Shared spaces PR 3 EN

When it comes to the U.S., N26 started accepting customers in the U.S. in early July. And it looks like it’s been working well as anyone in the U.S. can now download the app and open a bank account. N26 is also launching MoneyBeam in the U.S., a Venmo-like feature that lets you instantly send money to other N26 users.

N26 is also launching perks in the U.S. You’ll get small discounts on some monthly subscriptions if you pay with your N26 card. Current partners include Aaptiv, Blinkist, Luminary and Tidal.

I already coved the U.S. launch back in July, so head over to my previous article to learn more.

N26 US App and Card


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Only 24 hours left to apply to Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen – gpgmail


Holy hardware, startup founders! You have only 24 hours left to apply to the Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen on November 11-12. This hardware-only pitch competition, cousin to gpgmail’s world-renown Startup Battlefield, is a real game-changer. Got hardware? Want to launch on a world stage? Do. Not. Delay. Apply to compete in TC Hardware Battlefield 2019 before 11:59pm on August 14th.

What’s in it for you? Excellent question. If you’re selected to compete, you’ll join a cadre of outstanding early-stage hardware startup to vie for a $25,000 prize along with global media and investor exposure. Come to Shenzhen, show the world your innovative hardware and take your startup to the next level.

We partnered with China’s TechNode, to produce this Hardware Battlefield during the larger gpgmail Shenzhen show happening November 9-12. We’ll consider your startup if you meet these simple basic requirements.

  • Submit your application by on August 14
  • You must have a minimally viable product to demo onstage
  • Your product has received little if any, press coverage to date
  • Your product must be a hardware device or component

gpgmail editors will closely vet qualified applications and select approximately 15 startups to compete. If you make the cut, get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You’ll receive six weeks of free pitch coaching from our Battlefield editorial team. When it comes time to step onto the stage and deliver your pitch, you’ll be calm, cool and on point.

Every team gets six minutes to pitch in front of a panel of judges comprised of expert VCs, founders and technologists. They’ll hit you up with a tough Q&A and if you make the first cut, you’ll repeat the process all over again to a fresh set of judges.

Only one startup will be hailed the Hardware Battlefield champion, but the intense investor and media attention can change the lives of any or all competitors. Oh, and here’s another perk. All participants join the ranks of the Startup Battlefield elite. Our Battlefield alumni community currently numbers 857 companies that have accumulated $8.9 billion in funding and 110 exits. Just think of the potential networking opportunities.

Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen takes place on November 11-12, but the application window closes at on August 14. Join us in China’s hardware heartland and launch your startup to the world. Apply to compete right now.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Hardware Battlefield TC Shenzhen? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


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Calling all hardware startups! Apply to Hardware Battlefield @ TC Shenzhen – gpgmail


Got hardware? Well then, listen up, because our search continues for boundary-pushing, early-stage hardware startups to join us in Shenzhen, China for an epic opportunity; launch your startup on a global stage and compete in Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen on November 11-12.

Apply here to compete in TC Hardware Battlefield 2019. Why? It’s your chance to demo your product to the top investors and technologists in the world. Hardware Battlefield, cousin to Startup Battlefield, focuses exclusively on innovative hardware because, let’s face it, it’s the backbone of technology. From enterprise solutions to agtech advancements, medical devices to consumer product goods — hardware startups are in the international spotlight.

If you make the cut, you’ll compete against 15 of the world’s most innovative hardware makers for bragging rights, plenty of investor love, media exposure and $25,000 in equity-free cash. Just participating in a Battlefield can change the whole trajectory of your business in the best way possible.

We chose to bring our fifth Hardware Battlefield to Shenzhen because of its outstanding track record of supporting hardware startups. The city achieves this through a combination of accelerators, rapid prototyping and world-class manufacturing. What’s more, TC Hardware Battlefield 2019 takes place as part of the larger gpgmail Shenzhen that runs November 9-12.

Creativity and innovation no know boundaries, and that’s why we’re opening this competition to any early-stage hardware startup from any country. While we’ve seen amazing hardware in previous Battlefields — like robotic arms, food testing devices, malaria diagnostic tools, smart socks for diabetics and e-motorcycles, we can’t wait to see the next generation of hardware, so bring it on!

Meet the minimum requirements listed below, and we’ll consider your startup:

Here’s how Hardware Battlefield works. gpgmail editors vet every qualified application and pick 15 startups to compete. Those startups receive six rigorous weeks of free coaching. Forget stage fright. You’ll be prepped and ready to step into the spotlight.

Teams have six minutes to pitch and demo their products, which is immediately followed by an in-depth Q&A with the judges. If you make it to the final round, you’ll repeat the process in front of a new set of judges.

The judges will name one outstanding startup the Hardware Battlefield champion. Hoist the Battlefield Cup, claim those bragging rights and the $25,000. This nerve-wracking thrill-ride takes place in front of a live audience, and we capture the entire event on video and post it to our global audience on gpgmail.

Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen takes place on November 11-12. Don’t hide your hardware or miss your chance to show us — and the entire tech world — your startup magic. Apply to compete in TC Hardware Battlefield 2019, and join us in Shenzhen!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Hardware Battlefield at TC Shenzhen? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


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Sex tech startups band together to protest Facebook’s ad policies – gpgmail


There’s a double standard when it comes to the sexualities of men versus women, trans and gender non-conforming folks. Unbound and Dame Products, two sex tech startups, have teamed up to bring attention to the issue.

By launching a website, “Approved, Not Approved” and staging a protest outside Facebook’s NYC headquarters, the two startups hope to bring more awareness to the company’s advertising guidelines that seem to favor products that cater to cisgender men. The point of the digital campaign is to show how ads for sex toys and products geared toward men are more likely to be approved than those for women, trans or gender non-conforming people.

“For so long, advertisements have been how we continue to reinforce the status quo of what we view as societally desirable and validating,” Dame Products CEO Alexandra Fine told gpgmail. “Since we’re in a category that’s often denied, we wanted to create an experience that illuminates the disparity.”

On Facebook, for example, it’s prohibitive to promote the sale or use of adult products or services except for ads that pertain to family planning and contraception. The policy also requires that ads for contraceptives cannot focus on sexual pleasure or sexual enhancement, and have to be targeted to people 18 years or older.

“They’re never going to view sexual pleasure as necessary — only functionality as necessary,” Fine said. “And since the functioning only matters for one sex, then we’re just encouraging shitty sex or at least one-sided sex. Healthy sex should be pleasurable sex. That’s really what I think is important.”

Facebook, however, clearly disagrees since it explicitly bans ads relating to sexual pleasure.

“We have had open lines of communication with both companies about our policies and are always taking feedback,” a Facebook spokesperson told gpgmail. “We are working to further clarify our policies in this space in the near future.”

Unfortunately, there is no telling if and when Facebook and other platforms will change their advertising policies to enable companies like Dame Products and Unbound to reach potential customers through ads.

“I think a lot of us feel like we’ve been silenced by these platforms and they control so much,” Unbound CEO Polly Rodriguez told gpgmail. “Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest — these are the channels startups live and die by. Not being able to advertise on them is a big deal because, in addition to the policies being biased and genders, it prevents those founders from being able to reach potential customers.”

Unbound CEO Polly Rodriguez. The startup was a finalist at TC Disrupt SF Startup Battlefield finalist in 2018.

In addition to missing out on potential customers, an inability to advertise can have a detrimental effect on a business in terms of raising venture funding.

“I think one of the most frustrating things is trying to raise a round and getting pushback around where you’ll spend the money,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just tough because it’s this vicious cycle where we could be growing at the same rate as a Him or a Roman. It’s definitely in the tens of millions of dollars in terms of foregone profits.”

In addition to the protest, Fine is suing New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority alleging it’s in violation of Dame’s First Amendment rights, the due process clause of the 14th Amendment and the state’s constitutional rights regarding freedom of speech. The lawsuit came in light of the MTA preventing Dame from running its ads on the subway.

Still, despite efforts to squash it, sex tech may finally be getting its moment in the sun. Earlier this month, the sex tech industry had a big win when the organizer of the Consumer Electronics Show finally decided to allow sex tech companies to exhibit and participate in its competition. That came after the Consumer Technology Association, the organizer of CES, royally messed up with sex tech company Lora DiCarlo last year. The CTA revoked an innovation award from the company, which is developing a hands-free device that uses biomimicry and robotics to help women achieve a blended orgasm by simultaneously stimulating the G-spot and the clitoris. In May, CTA re-awarded the company and apologized.

“It’s so rare you see a victory like that and it was because of the press,” Rodriguez said. “It was because it takes. It’s unfortunate these companies don’t do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They do the right thing when enough people speak out about it.”


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Applications are open for Startup Battlefield at gpgmail Disrupt Berlin 2019 – gpgmail


Listen up founders — gpgmail is on the lookout for game-changing, early-stage startups to feature at gpgmail Disrupt Berlin‘s Startup Battlefield. This is your chance to launch on the famous gpgmail stage and compete for the a $50,000 equity-free prize and the attention of top global investors and hundreds of media outlets from around the world. Apply here.

We’ve had some incredibly successful companies launch at our European-based event. N26, European fin-tech startup and Startup Battlefield EU 2016 alum, just raised a $170 million Series D round, bringing the company’s valuation up to a whopping $3.5 billion dollars. Startup Battlefield EU 2015 winner JukeDeck was just acquired by TikTok. The list of Startup Battlefield companies doesn’t stop there — Dropbox, GetAround, SirenCare, Fitbit, Mint.com, Vurb and more, and now is your chance to join this impressive group of companies. More than 857 participating companies have raised over $8.9 billion in funding, with 112 successful exits (IPOs or acquisitions). 

How does it work?

Apply. gpgmail charges zero fees and takes no equity. Fill out your app here. Early-stage startups from any country and any vertical are eligible — hardware, AI/ML, biotech, insurtech, to name a few. All companies must have an MVP to demo to the review committee. TC editors review applications and select 15-20 of the highest potential startups to pitch onstage at Disrupt Berlin (December 11-12).

Train. Selected founders will get intensive training from the Startup Battlefield team to refine pitches and demos, sharpen business models and prepare for this international launch.

Pitch. Trained Startup Battlefield founders will pitch on the live-streamed main stage at Disrupt Berlin for six minutes, including a live demo, followed by a six-minute Q&A with our esteemed judges. Past judges have included Jeff Clavier (Uncork Capital), Eileen Burbidge (Passion Capital), Sonali De Rycker (Accel) and Roelof Botha (Sequoia Capital). After the semi-final round, 4-6 companies will pitch again on day two — same pitch, but with a new panel of judges. The judges will select the winner, who will get the $50,000 check, a feature post on gpgmail, the Disrupt Cup and the attention of millions.

Disrupt. At the conference, participants get VIP treatment with access to private events, CrunchMatch: gpgmail’s Investor Startup Matching Program, backstage access, complimentary exhibition space for all days of the conference, free subscriptions to Extra Crunch and a ticket to all future gpgmail events.

Pitch on the most famous stage in tech. Apply now.


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