Amazon founder launches $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change – Blog – 10 minute

The big picture: Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos this week announced the launch of a global initiative to help fight the devastating impact of climate change on Earth. The Bezos Earth Fund will empower scientists, activists and non-governmental organizations to both amplify know methods and explore new ways to combat what is described by some as the biggest threat to our planet.
Bezos in announcing the initiative on Instagram said he is contributing $10 billion to start with and will begin issuing grants this summer.
Climate change aside, the size of the gift and the fact that it is coming from Bezos is noteworthy in itself. According to Vox, the only other larger pledge of the 21st century came when Warren Buffett pledged to give the bulk of his net worth to the Gates Foundation back in 2006.

Critics for years have said Bezos hasn’t done enough charitable work with the wealth he has amassed. Donating what roughly amounts to 7.5 percent of his net worth to a charitable cause should certainly hush the critics.
Last year, Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie signed the Giving Pledge, vowing to donate at least half of her net worth to charity. As part of their divorce agreement, MacKenzie received roughly 19.7 million shares of Amazon stock that’s worth north of $42 billion today.
Masthead credit: Jeff Bezos sketch by Marina Linchevska. Climate change by Nicole Glass Photography.

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10 questions with… Peter Dolukhanov, founder and CEO of Decoded Consulting- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

To showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, Tempemail speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week’s 10 Questions are put to Peter Dolukhanov, founder and chief executive officer of Decoded Consulting.
What was your first ever job?
I had a couple of paper rounds when I was growing up. However, I consider my first proper job DJing – I started out in a few bars, progressing to radio and clubs before organising and promoting my own club nights. Newcastle has always had a fantastic music scene and I always look back fondly at my years there.
Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Disruption. Our industry loves to transform, disrupt and innovate – especially on a lot of pitch decks that I read. There has certainly been a fair share of disruptive businesses – think Uber, Netflix, and Deliveroo, but a lot of businesses are very successful without necessarily being disruptive.
I believe in a relentless focus on creating the best user-centred digital products and services that deliver value, as opposed to chasing disruption.
Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
I have always enjoyed reading and listening to Scott Galloway @profgalloway. His Twitter account and blog posts are a refreshing, humorous and intelligent view on technology, business & politics.
Highlight of your career (so far?)
My career has spanned over 20 years and I have been fortunate to work with amazingly talented individuals, high-performing teams, innovative technology and ambitious clients.
A few high-points include breaking new ground on the web and mobile in the early days, my start-up being acquired by Karmarama, and delivering the world’s first AI-moderated debate at SXSW.
However, working with Channel4 and launching 4oD on iPad and iPhone in 2011 was a memorable and generally amazing experience. Channel4 was an absolute pleasure to work with and our team created a beautiful user experience and a well-engineered application given the limitations of mobile video at that time. Watching the fast adoption and seeing people use and talk about the application was incredibly rewarding.
What piece of tech can you not live without?
I am very firmly within the Apple ecosystem – across my laptop, tablet, phone and watch. I will single out the AirPods Pro are a firm staple in my day – from listening to podcasts, making calls and superb noise-cancelling capabilities, for such a small form factor – this is invaluable for focused working. Combined with just the cellular Apple Watch – I’m still amazed at how I can stay so connected with just a watch and tiny earphones.
Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
I wasn’t a particularly big fan of music or film posters hanging up – I remember my mum buying me a collection of M.C. Escher mini-posters, which I loved. Perhaps, this was the beginning of my passion for the combination of technology and design.
In advertising, what needs to change soon?
As a technologist through and through, being acquired by an incredible, creative agency gave me exposure to the world of brand advertising and marketing. Seeing the effectiveness of creativity on business performance compared to generally quite poorly executed targeted digital advertising demonstrates how just data alone is never enough. However, the power of creativity and brand building combined with a data-driven marketing approach can deliver incredible results.
What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
Masters at Work’s Nuyorican Soul is a timeless album, which I played during my DJ years and now I still listen to regularly – it defined a wonderful era of soulful house.
Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
SxSW is one that I make the effort to attend, due to the quality and differentiation of the content; and genuinely interesting characters I meet every year. In the UK, Phil Jones’ Digital Podge is the highlight of the event calendar and a great way to round off a year and catch up with industry peers.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I’m a firm believer in Steve Jobs’ quote: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. In my experience, the combination of talent, flat organisation structures and agile teams lead to greater collaboration and business performance.

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Microsoft debuts a new version of its To Do app as Wunderlist founder expresses remorse – gpgmail


Microsoft several years ago acquired the popular iOS app Wunderlist with the intention of building out its own list-making productivity app that brings the best of Wunderlist’s feature set to a larger group of mobile consumers. This is a similar path as Microsoft took with email app Accompli, which later became Microsoft Outlook for mobile devices. In the case of Wunderlist, Microsoft didn’t just rebrand the app — it built a new one called Microsoft To Do. With Wunderlist up and running for years alongside To Do, its founder wants to know if he can just have it back.

The founder of Wunderlist maker 6 Wunderkinder, Christian Reber, recently tweeted a desire to buy his app back from Microsoft just as the company is launching a new version of To Do. 

According to the tweets, Reber says he’s serious about reacquiring Wunderlist and wants to make it open-source and free. He even tweeted a list of upgrades he’d like to build, including features like shared folders and cross-team collaboration, among other things.

The founder doesn’t come across as having sour grapes exactly. He just says he’s sad that his plans for Wunderlist didn’t work out, but he’s grateful for the Microsoft exit.

If anything, it seems to be just remorse over the fact that Wunderlist itself will be shut down.

Microsoft had said years ago this was its intention, but also that it would hold off until it felt it has a competitive product that Wunderlist’s users would love.

On Monday, Microsoft unveiled another upgrade for Microsoft To Do, which hints that the Wunderlist shut down could be nearing.

The upgrade delivers a more polished look-and-feel with a wider range of backgrounds, including the Berlin TV tower theme that was popular in Wunderlist.

The app also includes smart lists and a personalized daily planner that offers smart suggestions of tasks that need to be accomplished, Microsoft reminded its users, and it’s supported across a variety of platforms including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

The app is now also integrated with other Microsoft apps like Outlook, Microsoft Planner, Cortana, and Microsoft Launcher on Android, among others. And it works with Alexa, if you prefer.

With the release, Microsoft is again pushing users to migrate from Wunderlist to To Do to gain access to these features.

It did not, however, give an end-of-life date for Wunderlist, which is remarkably still a top 100 Productivity app in the U.S. App Store, according to data from App Annie, over four years after its acquisition.

We’ve asked Microsoft if it will share more details around its plans for Wunderlist and if it has any response to Reber’s request.

“Once we have incorporated the best of Wunderlist into Microsoft To Do, we will retire Wunderlist. We look forward to making Microsoft To Do even more useful, intuitive and personal,” a Microsoft spokesperson replied. The company declined to comment on Reber’s tweets.

Microsoft To Do has been installed approximately 5.8 million times worldwide since launch, according to dat from Sensor Tower. During that same timeframe, Wunderlist was installed about 10 million times.

As for Reber, he says he’s written to Microsoft many times before and now tried to make it more official via Twitter. The offer, he tells gpgmail, is indeed serious, and the price would be based on the negotiation. “Chances are low, but I’m trying,” he says.

 




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Glovo founder Oscar Pierre comes to Disrupt Berlin – gpgmail


Originally from Barcelona, Glovo has become a major player in the on-demand delivery app space. And Glovo isn’t just about ordering food from your favorite restaurants. You can also order groceries, pharmacy items and more from the app. That’s why I’m excited to announce that Glovo founder Oscar Pierre is joining us at gpgmail Disrupt Berlin.

Glovo has experienced exploding growth over the past couple of years. When the company announced its most recent round of funding, its service was live in 124 cities across 21 countries. Most of them are currently in EMEA, Latin America and some Sub-Saharian countries. Some of the most important markets include Spain, Argentina, Peru and Italy.

While restaurants still represent the majority of orders on Glovo, the company isn’t giving up on other verticals. For instance, it has signed a deal with supermarket chain Carrefour to deliver thousands of products in less than 30 minutes.

The company currently has over 1,000 employees and works with tens of thousands of independent partners for deliveries. It’s a classic structure for on-demand companies, but it’s going to be interesting to hear Oscar Pierre’s take on the relationship between Glovo and its partners.

Glovo doesn’t want to limit itself to delivering products from A to B. The company has been building darkstores, the equivalent of dark kitchens for groceries. Those micro-fulfillment centers open up a ton of possibilities, such as deliveries in less than 20 minutes and the ability to operate 24/7.

Oscar Pierre also has an unusual background as he started his career as an aerodynamics engineer for Airbus. I personally can’t wait to hear how he made the switch from Airbus to Glovo.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Aerospace engineer and entrepreneur, ​O​scar ​Pierre, is CEO and co-founder of Glovo. He ​began his studies at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. After two years, he moved to Georgia Tech, in United States, to explore better opportunities.

After graduating, he began his professional career as aerodynamics engineer at Airbus, at his base in Toulouse. After 6 months he decided to look for new challenges and dedicate to creating a new business. Glovo began in early 2015. Previously, while studying, Pierre had already founded Zikkomo.com, a solidarity platform with 30 children sponsored in Malawi, and LoveItLocal.es in 2014, a market destined to boost local craft businesses. In January 2017 he was on Forbes magazine’s 30under30 annual list of most influential young people.


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Graphcore founder Nigel Toon to talk about AI chips at Disrupt Berlin – gpgmail


It’s easy to forget that Silicon Valley starts with ‘silicon’, and that there would be no technology innovation without innovation at the silicon level. And Graphcore is well aware of that as the Bristol-based company is designing its own dedicated AI chipset. That’s why I’m glad to announce that Graphcore co-founder and CEO Nigel Toon is joining us at gpgmail Disrupt Berlin.

Graphcore has managed to attract a ton of attention from day one. Originally founded in 2016, the startup has raised more than $300 million from top investors, such as Sequoia Capital, BMW, Microsoft, Samsung and a ton of others.

The company last raised a $200 million Series D round led by Atomico and Sofina. It values the company at $1.7 billion.

So what is the magic product behind Graphcore? The startup’s flagship product is an Intelligence Processor Unit (IPU) PCIe processor card combined with a software framework. Essentially, it lets you build your own AI applications more efficiently. Those dedidacted AI chips should perform better than repurposed GPUs.

Tobias Jahn, principal at BMW i Ventures, summed it up pretty well in a statement for the Series D round: “The versatility of Graphcore’s IPU – which supports multiple machine learning techniques with high efficiency – is well-suited for a wide variety of applications from intelligent voice assistants to self-driving vehicles. With the flexibility to use the same processor in both a data centre and a vehicle, Graphcore’s IPU also presents the possibility of reduction in development times and complexity.”

It seems crazy that a tiny startup is competing directly with giant chip companies, such as Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Qualcomm, etc. But this isn’t Nigel Toon’s first company. He has been the CEO of Picochip and Icera, two companies that have been sold to Intel and Nvidia.

Graphcore believes that there’s an underserved niche with a lot of potential. And it feels like there’s a race to create the most efficient AI chip. So I can’t wait to hear Nigel Toon’s take on that race.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion and many others. The conference will take place on December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.


Graphcore (graphcore.ai) is a new silicon and systems company based in Bristol, UK and Palo Alto, USA that has developed a new type of processor, the Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU), to accelerate machine learning and AI applications. Since its founding in 2016, Nigel has secured over $300m in funding and support for the company from some of the world’s leading venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital, Foundation Capital and Atomico, from major corporations including BMW, Bosch, Dell, Microsoft and Samsung and from eminent Artificial Intelligence innovators.

Nigel has a background as a technology business leader, entrepreneur and engineer having been CEO at two successful VC-backed processor companies XMOS and Picochip (sold to Nasdaq:MSPD, now Intel), a founder at Icera (sold to Nasdaq: NVDA) and VP/GM at Altera (Nasdaq: ALTR, sold to Intel for $17Bn) where he spent over 13 years and was responsible for establishing and building the European business unit that he grew to over $400m in annual revenues. Nigel was a non-executive director at Imagination Technologies PLC until itsacquisition in 2017 and is the author on 3 patents.


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The League founder and CEO Amanda Bradford on modern dating, and whether Bumble is a ‘real’ startup – gpgmail


Welcome to this week’s transcribed edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley. We’re running an experiment for Extra Crunch members that puts This is Your Life in Silicon Valley in words – so you can read from wherever you are.

This is your Life in Silicon Valley was originally started by Sunil Rajaraman and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff in 2018. Rajaraman is a serial entrepreneur and writer (Co-Founded Scripted.com, and is currently an EIR at Foundation Capital), Kaykas-Wolff is the current CMO at Mozilla and ran marketing at BitTorrent.

Rajaraman and Kaykas-Wolff started the podcast after a series of blog posts that Sunil wrote for The Bold Italic went viral. The goal of the podcast is to cover issues at the intersection of technology and culture – sharing a different perspective of life in the Bay Area. Their guests include entrepreneurs like Sam Lessin, journalists like Kara Swisher and Mike Isaac, politicians like Mayor Libby Schaaf and local business owners like David White of Flour + Water.

This week’s edition of This is Your Life in Silicon Valley features Amanda Bradford – Founder/CEO of The League. Amanda talks about modern dating, its limitations, its flaws, why ‘The League’ will win. Amanda provides her candid perspective on other dating startups in a can’t-miss portion of the podcast.

Amanda talks about her days at Salesforce and how it influenced her decision to build a dating tech product that focused on data, and funnels. Amanda walks through her own process of finding her current boyfriend on ‘The League’ and how it came down to meeting more people. And that the flaw with most online dating is that people do not meet enough people due to filter bubbles, and lack of open criteria.

Amanda goes in on all of the popular dating sites, including Bumble and others, providing her take on what’s wrong with them. She even dishes on Raya and Tinder – sharing what she believes are how they should be perceived by prospective daters. The fast-response portion of this podcast where we ask Amanda about the various dating sites really raised some eyebrows and got some attention.

We ask Amanda about the incentives of online dating sites, and how in a way they are created to keep members online as long as possible. Amanda provides her perspective on how she addresses this inherent conflict at The League, and how many marriages have been shared among League members to date.

We ask Amanda about AR/VR dating and what the future will look like. Will people actually meet in person in the future? Will it be more like online worlds where we wear headsets and don’t actually interact face to face anymore? The answers may surprise you. We learn how this influences The League’s product roadmap.

The podcast eventually goes into dating stories from audience members – including some pretty wild online dating stories from people who are not as they seem. We picked two audience members at random to talk about their entertaining online dating stories and where they led. The second story really raised eyebrows and got into the notion that people go at great lengths to hide their real identities.

Ultimately, we get at the heart of what online dating is, and what the future holds for it.   If you care about the future of relationships, online dating, data, and what it all means this episode is for you.

For access to the full transcription, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free. 

Sunil Rajaraman: I just want to check, are we recording? Because that’s the most important question. We’re recording, so this is actually a podcast and not just three people talking randomly into microphones.

I’m Sunil Rajaraman, I’m co-host of this podcast, This is Your Life in Silicon Valley, and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff is my co-host, we’ve been doing this for about a year now, we’ve done 30 shows, and we’re pleased today to welcome a very special guest, Jascha.

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff: Amanda.

Amanda Bradford: Hello everyone.

Amanda Bradford. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Kaykas-Wolff: We’re just going to stare at you and make it uncomfortable.

Bradford: Like Madonna.

Kaykas-Wolff: Yeah, so the kind of backstory and what’s important for everybody that’s in the audience to know is that this podcast is not a pitch for a product, it’s not about a company, it’s about the Bay Area. And the Bay Area is kind of special, but it’s also a little bit fucked up. I think we all kind of understand that, being here.

So what we want to do in the podcast is talk to people who have a very special, unique relationship with the Bay Area, no matter creators that are company builders, that are awesome entrepreneurs, that are just really cool and interesting people, and today we are really, really lucky to have an absolutely amazing entrepreneur, and also pretty heavy hitter in the technology scene. In a very specific and very special category of technology that Sunil really, really likes. The world of dating.

Rajaraman: Yeah, so it’s funny, the backstory to this is, Jascha have both been married, what, long time-

Kaykas-Wolff: Long time.

Rajaraman: And we have this weird fascination with online dating because we see a lot of people going through it, and it’s a baffling world, and so I want to demystify it a bit with Amanda Bradford today, the founder CEO of The League.

Bradford: You guys are like all of the married people looking at the single people in the petri dishes.

Rajaraman: So, I’ve done the thing where we went through it with the single friends who have the app, swiping through on their behalf, so it’s sort of like a weird thing.

Bradford: I know, we’re like a different species, aren’t we?


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Torch CEO and Well Clinic founder Cameron Yarbrough on mental health & coaching – gpgmail


There has long been a stigma associated with therapy and mental health coaching, a stigma that is even more pronounced in the business world, despite considerable evidence of the efficacy of these services. One of the organizations that has set out to change this negative association is Torch, a startup that combines the therapeutic benefits of executive coaching with data-driven analytics to track outcomes.

Yet, as Torch co-founder and CEO Cameron Yarbrough explains in this Breaking Into Startups episode, the startup wasn’t initially a tech-oriented enterprise. At first, Yarbrough drew on his years of experience as a marriage and family counselor as he made the transition into executive coaching, even referring to the early iterations of Torch as little more than “a matchmaking service between coaches and professionals.”

In time, Yarbrough identified a virtually untapped market for executive coaching — one that, by his estimate, could amount to a $15 billion industry. To demonstrate to investors the great potential of this growing market, he first built up a clientele that provided Torch with sufficient recurring revenue and low churn rate.

Only then was Yarbrough able to raise a $2.4 million seed round from Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and other investors, convincing them that data analytics software could enhance the coaching process — as well as coach recruitment — enough to effectively “productize feedback,” as he puts it.

For Yarbrough and Torch, “productizing feedback” involves certain well-known business strategies that complement traditional coaching methods. For instance, Torch’s coaching procedure includes a “360 review,” a performance review system that incorporates feedback from all angles, including an employee’s manager, peers, and other people within an organization who have knowledge of the employee’s work.

The 360 review is coupled with an OKR platform, which provides HR departments and other interested parties with the metrics and analytics to track employee progress through the program. This combination is designed to promote the development of soft skills, which in turn drive leadership.

Torch has achieved considerable success, landing several influential clients in the tech sector through its B2B approach. But Yarbrough is clear that his goal with the company is to “democratize” access to professional coaching, in hopes of providing the same kind of mental health counseling and support to employees in all levels of an organization.

In this episode, Yarbrough discusses the history and trajectory of Torch, his experience scaling a company many considered unscalable, and the methods he uses to manage his own emotional and mental health as the CEO of an expanding startup. Yarbrough offers insights into the feelings of anxiety and dread common among entrepreneurs and provides a close look at how he has found business and personal success with Torch.


Breaking Into Startups: There’s a difference between a mentor and a coach. Today, I want to talk about that difference and in addition to the intersection between business and psychology, What Cameron Yarbrough, CEO of Torch and Founder of Well Clinic.

If you’re someone that is looking for a mentor or a coach as you break into tech, or if you just want to be surrounded by peers, make sure you download the Career Karma app by going to www.breakingintostartups.com/download.

On today’s episode, you’re going to understand the importance of therapy, mental health and coaches, as well as how historically, it has been inaccessible to people and how Cameron is using his background to democratize this for the world.

If this is your first time listening to the Breaking Startups Podcast, make sure you leave a review on iTunes and tell your friends. Listen to it on Soundcloud and talk about it on Spotify. If you have any feedback for us, positive or negative, please let us know. Without further ado, let’s break-in.

Cameron Yarbrough is the CEO of Torch. He’s one of the best executive coaches in the world. Not only are we going to be talking about coaching and mentoring for executives, but we’ll also be talking about coaching in general for everyone. We’re going to go into how he created his company.


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Ex-NSA chief Mike Rogers and Team8 founder Nadav Zafrir will be at Disrupt SF – gpgmail


What happens when two former spies meet the startup world? We’re about to find out.

We’re pleased to announce former National Security Agency director Adm. Mike Rogers will be at Disrupt SF on October 2-4. The former U.S. intelligence head oversaw the shadowy agency during one of its most tumultuous times in its history in the aftermath of the massive leak of classified documents by whistleblower Edward Snowden. He also oversaw the Pentagon’s cyberwar-fighting division, U.S. Cyber Command, amid Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election.

Since leaving the world of intelligence, Rogers became a senior advisor at Team8, a leading cybersecurity think tank and company creation platform, which helps to build cybersecurity companies from the ground up.

We’re also thrilled to announce Team8 founder Nadav Zafrir will join Rogers onstage at Disrupt, where both will discuss what they can bring to the world of security startups from their extensive intelligence and cybersecurity backgrounds.

Zafrir served as the commander of the elite technology and intelligence division Unit 8200, Israel’s equivalent of the NSA. Since leaving the unit, Zafrir founded Team8 to help cybersecurity companies go from idea to execution.

Team8 recently opened a New York headquarters, with Rogers serving as a key part of the U.S. expansion. To date, the think tank has enlisted several major investors, including Microsoft, Walmart and SoftBank.

Rogers and Zafrir will discuss what they learned from their time working in the intelligence space and what they bring to the startup world, and they’ll look ahead at the cybersecurity landscape and discuss what comes next.

Disrupt SF runs October 2 – October 4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Tickets are available here!


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Actijoy founder talks up the benefits of gpgmail Disrupt – gpgmail


gpgmail’s flagship tech conference — Disrupt San Francisco 2019 — takes place on October 2-4. Disrupt is the OG of tech startup conferences, and it rolls old school in keeping with the feisty, do-what-it-takes spirit of Silicon Valley. Disrupt is the intersection of now and future tech. It’s where startuppers of every stripe gather to learn, share expertise and make connections to transform their business.

If you haven’t been to Disrupt, why not? The benefits are real, and they can change the trajectory of your business. Of course, we’re a tad biased. But your discerning startup peers aren’t. We asked Jana Rosenfelder, co-founder and COO of Actijoy — a TC Top Pick at Disrupt San Francisco 2018 — to share her gpgmail Disrupt experience.

Based in the Czech Republic and founded in 2016 by Jana Rosenfelder and Robert Hasek, Actijoy aims to help dog owners keep tabs on the health of their canine companions.

The system consists of three connected devices. An activity tracker (think FitBit for dogs) records activity, intensity levels and sleep quality. Smart Wi-Fi bowls look like standard pet dishes, but they contain scales that measure a dog’s food and water consumption in real-time. The third component — an app — logs the data from the tracker and the smart bowls and reports any abnormalities.

Rosenfelder and Hasek attended both Disrupt San Francisco and Disrupt New York in 2017. Actijoy exhibited in one of Startup Alley’s many country pavilions as part of a contingent sponsored by Czech Invest — a governmental agency that supports startups by defraying conference costs.

Their positive experiences made the decision to go to Disrupt San Francisco 2018 an easy one. For their third Disrupt, Actijoy applied to be a TC Top Pick, which involves a highly competitive curation process. Roughly 40 exceptional startups — including Actijoy — won the coveted designation.

In addition to exhibiting for free in Startup Alley, TC Top Picks spend the entire Disrupt conference on the receiving end of intense investor interest and media exposure — including a live video interview with a gpgmail editor on the Showcase Stage in Startup Alley.

“It was a real door-opener because the media paid so much attention,” said Rosenfelder. “Being a TC Top Pick made a big impression with people who visited our booth. It gave us more credibility, and everyone listened to us.”

Exhibiting in Startup Alley is networking on steroids and a phenomenal opportunity to make those critical connections. Rosenfelder noted that most startups on the expo floor focus on software or mobile apps. Exhibiting a hardware product helped Actijoy stand out and drew a lot of traffic to its table.

“Startup Alley was a great experience because we talked to people non-stop and collected so many potential customer contacts,” said Rosenfelder.

Networking happens everywhere at Disrupt, and Rosenfelder made the most of that opportunity by using CrunchMatch — the free business-matching service that investors and founders with similar funding interests use to vet, meet and greet at Disrupt.

“CrunchMatch is a great tool. The application made it simple to organize a meeting. We arranged about 10 meetings — mainly with investors and potential partners.”

Rosenfelder scored one of her most valuable connections while attending Female Founder Office Hours, an “ask-me-anything” series of meetings sponsored by All Raise VC and founder mentors (be sure to apply to the All Raise AMA this year).

Rosenfelder had been trying to network to a specific contact for more than a year. Within five minutes of talking with an All Raise mentor, the woman offered to make the introduction.

Team Actijoy has traveled from the Czech Republic to the United States for three different Disrupt events, and they hope to compete in the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF 2019.

“gpgmail Disrupt is one of the best startup conferences, and it’s worth the money. The media exposure is much better than at other events. It’s a great place for startups to network for leads, investors, industry contacts and partnerships.”

Disrupt San Francisco 2019 takes place on October 2-4 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Come see for yourself what Disrupt can do for your business. Get your early bird tickets to the show today.


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MasterClass founder launches Outlier, offering online courses for college credit – gpgmail


Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder and former creative director of MasterClass, has a new startup called Outlier.org. Like MasterClass, Outlier is bringing education online, but with a key difference — these are college classes offering real college credit.

The startup is launching a pilot version of its first two courses, Calculus I and Introduction to Psychology, for the coming fall semester. Each course is available for $400. (That covers all costs, including textbooks.)

Despite the .org name and web address, Rasmussen said Outlier is very much a for-profit company, but he said, “We do want to make it clear that our goal is social impact. I believe in market solutions to problems. Coming up with a market solution to education, rather just relying on people’s charity, is far more durable.”

The problem in question is the cost of higher education. Rasmussen said that each year, 1 million students take a college-level Calculus I course in the United States, at an average cost of $2,500. And then 40% of them fail.

“That means we’re wasting $1 billion per year,” he said — and that’s just on a single class.

Rasmussen is hardly the first to point out this problem, which is one of the main factors in the growing push for online learning. But he also argued that there’s not “a great online college” yet, due to four main factors.

First, there’s the issue of prestige, which he’s trying to solve by partnering with the University of Pittsburgh — students who pass Outlier’s classes will receive transferable credits from the university (though you’ll want to check whether a specific institution will accept those credits).

Next, there’s the actual content and learning environment. Rather than simply filming classroom lectures (“which can be pretty tedious to watch”) and posting PDFs of the homework and tests, Outlier is shooting classes specifically for online presentation, with instructors speaking directly to the camera, and it’s also offering dynamically generating the problem sets and one-on-one tutoring.

In addition, students can choose from different instructors (the teachers for Calculus I, for example, include Hannah Fry of University College London, Tim Chartier of Davidson College and John Urschel of MIT), or even switch between them mid-semester. And there are smaller touches, like the fact that the website was created in dark mode, so Rasmussen said it doesn’t feel like you’re “staring into a lightbulb” as you’re learning.

Third, there’s the element of social interaction, which is why Outlier will break classes up into smaller study groups of four to five students who can connect over video chat. When I suggested that this may be the hardest part of the college experience to replicate online, Rasmussen said the startup will be trying out different approaches (which he wasn’t ready to specify), but he added, “Part of our approach to this is trying to stay nimble.”

Lastly, there’s the cost. Again, Outlier is charging an introductory price of $400, and while it sounds like the exact number could change, Rasmussen is committed to keeping the price tag at around this level.

He also said that the company is “flipping the philosophy of education” by offering refunds to any student who doesn’t pass. That means Outlier has an incentive to ensure its student’s success — but does it also create an incentive to simply pass every student?

“The real stopgap there is that we are overseen by the accrediting partner university,” Rasmussen said. “They literally have checked our midterms and finals and things like that … That puts a bit of a failsafe there.”

While Outlier is only offering two pilot courses this fall, the obvious goal is to add more classes over time. Students might take these classes during their summer break, or as a supplement to their in-person classes, or as a way to get college credit when life circumstances make it difficult for them to attend residential university.

Still, even as it grows, Rasmussen suggested that Outlier will remain focused on “the first 25 college-level courses,” rather than recreating an entire college curriculum.

“As far as the next couple years of college after that, there’s just a lot of benefit to going to a residential college for those upper-level courses,” he said. “We’re really focused on these first couple years [where we can] hack down a bunch of the student debt.”


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