Clever Level Up board game accessory has raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter – Blog – 10 minute

In brief: The best ideas in life aren’t necessarily the most complex. The Level Up, a simple yet clever solution to a common problem facing board game players, has proven that with more than $1 million in pledges on Kickstarter.
The Level Up is little more than a raised platform for your board games – or as creator Spidermind Games calls it, a “tabletop extension” that elevates the playing surface by six inches. The idea is to free up valuable real estate on your table for things like character sheets, game pieces, tokens, drinks, snacks and so on.
The platform is lightweight and portable, comprised of interlocking tiles that assemble in seconds and metal legs for added durability. Level Up is customizable, too, so you can scale the surface to your needs.

Those interested in backing the campaign should act quick as there are less than 20 hours to go as of this writing. A pledge of £48, or around $62, will get your name in the hat for a Level Up and a canvas carrying bag at a 40 percent discount (sorry, all of the early bird slots with an even greater discount have been spoken for). That could be a little more than the casual board game player might want to invest but for enthusiasts, it’s far cheaper than a custom table, that’s for sure.
The first units are expected to be delivered in September.

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Unacademy Raises New Funds; Valuation Raised To $510 Million- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Edtech startup Unacademy has raised $110 million from Facebook, and US private equity firm General Atlantic. This places Unacademy’s valuation to $510 million. 
Investors like Sequoia Capital, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital, and Blume Ventures also participated in the round. This was apart from investments by Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and Udaan co-founder Sujeet Kumar.
Edtech startup Unacademy usually focusses on preparing students for competitive exams. They are likely to utilise the money to increase the number of competitive exams, and also bring top educators onto its platform, by improving the quality of content.
Reports say that Unacademy has over 90,000 active subscribers, who log in to be tutored through livestream by 10,000 educators on its platform. Unacademy also hosts video tutorials on YouTube, where as per them, it receives more than 150 million monthly views, and also acts as a funnel in bringing learners onto its platform.
Experts have said that around 70 percent traffic comes from tier 2 and tier 3 cities, especially because there is a lack of access of top educators. As of now, Unacademy has its content catering to 32 competitive exams. 
With this investment, Unacademy becomes one of the most highly valued ed-tech startups in India. This was especially after ed-tech giant Byju’s was valued at $8.2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation has also invested in Byju’s. 

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Chaayos’ Tea Steam Rises, The Company Raised $21 Million Funding- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Multi-city beverage franchise Chaayos raised series B funding with an amount of $21.5 million. The funding is a mix of equity and debt brought in by parent company Sunshine Teahouse which raised $18.5 million in equity from Think Investments, a Silicon Valley-based company, and a few other investors. Venture debt of $3 million was received from InnoVen Capital. 
The tea cafe chain has existing funding from investors such as Tiger Global Management, SAIF Partners, Integrated Capital, and also from Neeraj Arora, who was earlier the business head for WhatsApp. 
The founder of Chaayos, Nitin Saluja, said that this capital will be used for 3 things- opening new stores, building technology and hiring more staff. He also added that the company makes a profit in stores, so picking up debt makes sense. 
Tea happens to be a very important beverage for the Indian market which proved beneficial for the tea cafe to have stores in the capital Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. They are planning to grow further into their current market instead of testing new market waters. 
Read: Tech Failures: What Can Brands Learn From Chaos At Chaayos
They have an 80 store strong presence at the moment with 72 stores in Delhi and Mumbai and 8 stores in Bengaluru. A plan of scaling to 300 stores in the next 3 years is one of Chaayos’ targets. By the end of 2020, the company plans to have 100 stores set up. 
The founder has said that the use of technology has boosted the bottom line by 5% as they were able to work efficiently with low wastage and better stock keeping. He also mentioned that they have managed profits in every store after 3-5 months which is powering their move to set up 300 stores now. 

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The direct to consumer department store Neighborhood Goods has raised $11 million – gpgmail


Neighborhood Goods, the direct to consumer department store hawking brands like Rothy’s, Dollar Shave Club, Buck Mason, Draper James and Stadium Goods, has new cash to expand its storefront for e-commerce juggernauts.

The company has raised $11 million in a new round of financing led by Global Founders Capital, with participation from previous investors Forerunner Ventures, Serena Ventures, NextGen Venture Partners, Allen Exploration, Capital Factory and others.

The Dallas-based startup has raised $25.5 million to date and is expanding into a new location in Austin to complement its stores in Plano, Texas and a location in New York, opening soon, according to the company’s chief executive and co-founder Matt Alexander.

The Neighborhood Goods concept, providing a brick and mortar outlet for online brands, is one that dovetails nicely with backers like Global Founders Capital and Forerunner Ventures, which are both longtime investors in direct to consumer startups.

“As we expand our network of brands, we’re so thrilled to have Neighborhood Goods as a core element of our portfolio for them to test, assess, explore and learn about the impact of physical retail as they grow,” said Global Founders Capital investor Don Stalter.

As the company expands its geographic footprint, it’s also experimenting with different online features, like online browsing of in-store collections and the option for physical, in-store pickup of digital orders. Neighborhood Goods also said it will begin offering an analytics back-end for brand partners to provide data on activations and branded events at the company’s stores.


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These brothers just raised $15 million for their startup, Dutchie, a kind of Shopify for cannabis dispensaries – gpgmail


Ross Lipson comes from an entrepreneurial family, so perhaps it’s no wonder that as a college student, he dropped out of school to jump into the online food space, including cofounding, then selling, one of Canada’s first online food ordering service startups.

It’s even less surprising that having gone through that experience, Lipson would use what he learned in the service of another startup: Dutchie, a two-year-old, 36-person, Bend, Ore.-based startup whose software is used by a growing number of cannabis dispensaries that pay the startup a monthly subscription fee to create and maintain their websites, as well as to accept orders and track what needs to be ready for pickup.

The decision is looking like a smart one right now. Dutchie says it’s now being used by 450 dispensaries across 18 states and that it’s seeing $140 million in gross merchandise volume. The company also just locked down $15 million in Series A funding led by Gron Ventures, a new cannabis-focused venture fund with at least $117 million to invest. Other participants in the round include earlier backers Casa Verde Capital, Thirty Five Ventures (founded by NBA star Kevin Durant and sports agent Rich Kleiman), Sinai Ventures and individual investors, including Shutterstock founder and CEO Jon Oringer.

Altogether, Dutchie (named after the song), has now raised $18 million. We talked earlier today with Lipson about the company, its challenges, and working with his big brother Zach, himself a serial entrepreneur who cofounded Dutchie and today serves as its chief product officer while Ross serves as CEO.

TC: It’s always interesting when siblings team up. Did you always get along with your brother?

RL: We complement each other strongly. I’m energy, I’m sales and business development. I’m fast-moving by nature and the guy who wants to drive the car as fast as possible. Zach is the one who wants to make sure that we’re doing everything right. He’s the methodical one. We really do understand each other quite well and appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which enables us to meet in the middle on a lot of things.

TC: It’s also interesting that you’ve both been founders beginning around the time you were in college. Were your parents entrepreneurs?

RL: Our father is a founder and has run his own business for the last 35 years. Our parents also always pitched us that anything is possible and encouraged us to go for it. He was the dreamer and our mom was the cheerleader, which is a pretty nice combination.

TC: You started Dutchie a couple of years ago. Is running this startup more or less challenging than your experience in the food delivery business?

RL:  It’s our second year in business, and we’ve seen some explosive, unprecedented growth. As for whether it’s harder or easier than food, we’re very product and user centric, and by that we mean consumers but also dispensaries. We’re focused on the customer all day, every day, with a team that ensures that they have support, that they receive their orders, that the orders are out the door quickly or at least, ready for pickup. We make sure the photos work, that different potencies are marked. Our system is kind of like a Shopify of the cannabis space maybe meets DoorDash.

TC: You don’t deliver, though.

RL: No. We don’t do delivery for legal reasons; the dispensaries [handle this piece].

TC: You’re charging like other software-as-service businesses. Do you also take a cut of each sale?

RL: We don’t charge on transaction volume.

TC: You’re working with 450 dispensaries. Is there any way to know what percentage of the overall market that is, and how much is left for you to chase after?

RL: First, there are more than 30 states where cannabis is either medically legal or that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and we operate in both types of markets. It’s hard to know the actual count [of dispensaries], because they are always being formed, getting acquired, or going out of business, but counting registered dispensaries, we work with more than 15 percent of them right now.

TC: Who are you biggest competitors? Eaze? Leafly? They also help consumers find cannabis and, in Eaze’s case, deliver it, too.

RL: Eaze is more focused on delivery where we’re more focused on pickup. It’s also only avaiable in California and Oregon, whereas we’re in 18 states. They educate the consumer about online ordering, which is great, but they also own the consumer experience, where we’re really powering the dispensary.

Leafly and Weedmaps are really different types of platforms; they’re mostly known for their dispensary and strain reviews, where we’re strictly an online ordering service.

TC: You’ve raised a big Series A for a company in the cannabis space. Do you have concerns about there being later-stage funding available when you need it?

RL: It’s true the most investors still haven’t touched cannabis, though you are seeing bigger deals. Thrive Capital led that [$35 million] round in [the online cannabis inventory and ordering platform] LeafLink [last month]. You saw Tiger Global [lead a $17 million round ] in [the software platform for cannabis dispensaries] Green Bits last summer. It’s a big advantage to the funds that can right now invest because there are these barriers to entry; they’re finding deals that are promising and they can get in early and without competition.

Pictured, left to right, above: Ross and Zach Lipson


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Mythic Markets just raised $2 million in seed to build a fractional ownership market for rare collectibles – gpgmail


Mythic Markets, a young, San Francisco-based fractional investing platform for fans, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures, with participation from Third Kind Venture Capital, Global Founders Capital, and others.

The company is being led by cofounder and CEO Joseph Mahavuthivanij, who previously spent a couple of years as an associate with the seed- and early-stage fund Social Leverage.

We can see why it piqued the interest of investors. Mythic is capitalizing on the broader trend of fractional ownership that gives numerous investors a piece of the same — hopefully appreciating — asset. The idea dates back fifty years or so to vacation time-shares, but it has picked up momentum of late, with startups asking potential customers to buy parts of new cars, homes, art, sneakers, and even virtual items.

For its part, Mythic is focusing on pop culture collectibles, starting with an Alpha Black Lotus, a trading card that only fanatics of the game “Magic the Gathering” might recognize but that’s apparently worth $90,000 right now. (Mythic, which opened up the card to investors last week, has broken its ownership into 2,000 shares, 663 of which have been purchased.)

Mahavuthivanij says Mythic will next offer a collection of five “Magic the Gathering” booster boxes circa 1994 and that it has other assets that it plans to acquire shortly off its balance sheet. “There’s just a huge secondary market for this stuff,” he says enthusiastically. “It trades like stock. You can watch the daily moving average of any moving card.”

To be on the safe side, Mythic only offers securities that are regulated by the U.S Securities & Exchange Commission, which not only includes rare and appreciating collectibles, similar to stocks, but also other things that Mythic plans to start selling next year, including vintage comic books, sci-fi memorabilia and, a little further afield, esports team equity. Investors needn’t be accredited but neither can they invest more than 10 percent of their income or net worth in an offering.

It’s little wonder that Mahavuthivanij cofounded the company. He’d earlier become tangentially familiar with Rally Road, a Social Leverage portfolio company sells stakes in classic cars to investors, and wondered if he couldn’t apply a similar idea to one of his great personal passions: card collecting.

In a way, it’s payback to an unfair universe. As a kid, Mahavuthivanij collected limited edition “Magic the Gathering” cards, assembling a collection that he thinks would have been worth $1 million today — but that was stolen from a car in 2002. As he began trying to reassemble his collection, he came to appreciate how much the market had changed and how richly priced some of the cards had grown, including those that weren’t reprinted outside of English.

As he saw investment grade cards soar further in value and out of his own reach, he couldn’t help but notice that on the secondary markets, the same trends were quickly elevating the prices of other industries like comic books, where one Wonder Woman comic book produced in 1941 sold for $1 million in 2017, a record amount. (The buyer was presumably inspired in part by “Wonder Woman,” the movie starring Gal Gadot, which had come out just three months earlier.)

Whether Mythic can start throwing off real money is a giant question mark, as it is with most two-year-old companies.

It does have additional revenue streams in mind. Namely, the company also expects to generate revenue eventually by offering a premium subscription model that offers early access to collectibles on its platform, opportunities to attend fan club appearances, and  opportunities to see special assets made available to the company at shows like Comic-Con and elsewhere.

It’s also chasing a growing market, one where there isn’t much hard data to quantify its size but that’s known to be more profitable than the traditional toy market because there aren’t manufacturing costs and prices are typically higher, sometimes by a shocking amount.

On the other hand, the collectibles market is highly sensitive to the disposable income of its investors, which may well shrink if a recession begins to take shape, even if they are buying bite-size stakes.

It’s also the case that a growing number of younger collectors are satisfied with digital images of what they like, rather than the actual items, a kind of sub trend that’s largely driving crypto collectibles — unique digital assets that can bought and sold and sometimes swapped between players in gaming environments.

Naturally, Mahavuthivanij — who is running Mythic with three other cofounders plus several other part-time contractors — thinks Mythic can change the market and grow it exponentially by divvying it up. If enough potential investors gravitate toward the idea, he might be right, too. We’ll stay tuned to see what happens.


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Reliability concerns raised over pi-top’s STEM learning laptop – gpgmail


gpgmail has learned of a safety issue and a number of product reliability questions being raised about a modular computer made by a London edtech startup that’s intended for children to learn coding and electronics.

The product, called the pi-top 3, is a Raspberry Pi-powered laptop with a keyboard that slides out to access a rail for breadboarding electronics.

A student at a US school had to be attended by a nurse after touching a component in the device which had overheated, leaving them with redness to their finger.

A spokesperson for Cornell Tech confirmed the incident to us — which they said had happened in June. We’ve withheld the name of the school at their request.

In an internal pi-top email regarding this incident, which we’ve also reviewed, it describes the student being left with “a very nasty finger burn”.

Cornell Tech’s spokesperson told us it has stopped using the pi-top 3 — partly in response to this incident but also because of wider reliability issues with the device. They said some of their grad students will be working on a project with the K-12 team next semester with the aim of creating an alternative that’s more reliable, affordable and safe.

We have also been told of concerns about wider reliability issues with the pi-top 3 by a number of other sources.

We asked pi-top for comment on the safety incident at Cornell Tech and for details of how it responded. The company provided us with a statement in which it claims: “pitop incorporates all possible safeguards into our products to ensure they are safe.”

“As soon as we became aware of this incident we immediately investigated what had happened,” it went on. “We discovered that the incident was a one-in-a-million occurrence. The user dropped a piece of metal, with a specific size and shape, under the unit. This fell in such a way that it touched a particular pin and caused a linear regulator to heat up. They received a small minor burn to the tip of one finger when they tried to recover that piece of metal.”

“This is the only reported incident where a user has been hurt whilst using one of our products,” pi-top added.

It is not clear how many pi-top 3 laptops have been sold to schools at this stage because pi-top does not break out sales per product. Instead it provided us with a figure for the total number of devices sold since it was founded in 2014 — saying this amounts to “more than 200,000 devices in 4 years which have been used by more than half a million people”.

pi-top also says it has sold products to schools in 70 countries, saying “thousands” of schools have engaged with its products. (The bright green color of the laptop is easy to spot in promotional photos for school STEM programs and summer camps.)

The London-based DIY hardware startup began life around five years ago offering a ‘3D-print it yourself‘ laptop for makers via the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform before shifting its focus to the educational market — tapping into the momentum around STEM education that’s seen a plethora of ‘learn to code’ toys unboxed in recent years.

pi-top has raised more than $20M in VC funding to date and now sells a number of learning devices and plug-in components intended for schools to teach STEM — all of which build on the Raspberry Pi microprocessor.

pi-top adds its own layer of software to the Pi as well as hardware additions intended to expand the learning utility (such as a speaker for the pi-top 3 and an “inventors kit” with several electronics projects, including one that lets kids build and program a robot).

The pi-top 3 — its third device — was launched in October 2017, priced between $285-$320 per laptop (without or with a Raspberry Pi 3).

The distinctively bright green laptop is intended for use by students as young as eight years old.

Unusual failure mode

In the internal email discussing the “Cornell failure diagnosis” — which is dated July 16 — pi-top’s head of support and customer success, Preya Wylie, conveys the assessment of its VP of technology, Wil Bennett, that the “unusual failure mode was likely caused by an electrical short on the male 34-pin connector on the underside of the protoboard”.

She goes on to specify that the short would have been caused by the metal SD-card removal tool that’s bundled with the product — noting this was “reported to have been somewhere underneath the protoboard at the time”.

“[Bennett] has recreated the same conditions on his bench in China and has seen the pi-top enter similar failure modes, with an electrical short and subsequent overheating,” she writes.

An additional complication discussed in the email is that the component is designed to stay on at all times in order that the pi-top can respond to the power button being pressed when the unit is off. Wylie writes that this means, if shorted, the component remains “very hot” even when the pi-top has been shut down and unplugged — as heat is generated by the pi-top continuing to draw power from the battery.

Only once the battery has fully depleted will the component be able to cool down.

In the email — which was sent to pi-top’s founder and CEO Jesse Lozano and COO Paul Callaghan — she goes on to include a list of four “initial recommendations to ensure this does not happen again”, including that the company should inform teachers to remove the SD-card removal tool from all pi-top 3 laptops and to remove the SD card themselves rather than letting students do it; as well as advising teachers/users to turn the device off if they suspect something has got lost under the protoboard.

Another recommendation listed in the email is the possibility of creating a “simple plastic cover to go over the hub” to prevent the risk of users’ fingers coming into contact with hot components.

A final suggestion is a small modification to the board to cut off one of the pins to “greatly reduce the chance of this happening again”.

We asked pi-top to confirm what steps it has taken to mitigate the risk of pitop 3 components overheating and posing a safety risk via the same sort of shorting failure experienced by Cornell Tech — and to confirm whether it has informed existing users of the risk from this failure mode.

An internal pi-top sales document that we’ve also reviewed discusses a ‘back to school’ sales campaign — detailing a plan to use discounts to “dissolve as much pi-top [3] stock as we can over the next 8 weeks”.

This document says US schools will be targeted from mid August; UK schools/educators from early September; and International Schools Groups from early September. It also includes a strategy to go direct to US Private and Charter Schools — on account of “shorter decision making timelines and less seasonal budgets”.

It’s not clear if the document pre-dates the Cornell incident.

In response to our questions, pi-top told us it is now writing to pi-top 3 customers, suggesting it is acting on some of the initial recommendations set out in Wylie’s July 16 email after we raised concerns.

In a statement the company said: “Whilst it is highly unlikely that this would occur again, we are writing to customers to advise them to take a common-sense approach and switch off the unit if something has got lost inside it.  We are also advising customers to remove the SD card tool from the unit. These simple actions will make the remote possibility of a recurrence even less likely.”

In parallel, we have heard additional concerns about the wider reliability of the pi-top 3 product — in addition to the shorting incident experienced by Cornell.

One source, who identified themselves as a former pi-top employee, told us that a number of schools have experienced reliability issues with the device. One of the schools named, East Penn School District in the US, confirmed it had experienced problems with the model — telling us it had to return an entire order of 40 of the pi-top 3 laptops after experiencing “a large volume of issues”.

“We had initially purchased 40 pi-tops for middle level computers classes,” assistant superintendent Laura Witman told us. “I met one of the owners, Jesse, at a STEM conference. Conceptually the devices had promise, but functionally we experienced a large volume of issues. The company tried to remedy the situation and in the end refunded our monies. I would say it was learning experience for both our district and the company, but I appreciate how they handled things in the end.”

Witman did not recall any problems with pi-top 3 components overheating.

A US-based STEM summer camp provider that we also contacted to confirm whether it had experienced issues with the pi-top 3 — a device which features prominently in promotional materials for its program — declined to comment. A spokesman for iD Tech’s program told us he was not allowed to talk about the matter.

A separate source familiar with the pi-top 3 also told us the product has suffered from software reliability issues, including crashes and using a lot of processor power, as well as hardware problems related to its battery losing power quickly and/or not charging. This source, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were not aware of any issues related to overheating.

Asked to respond to wider concerns about the pi-top 3’s reliability, pi-top sent us this statement:

pitop is a growing and dynamic company developing DIY computing tools which we believe can change the world for the better. In the past four and a half years we have shipped hundreds of thousands of products across our entire product range, and pitop hardware and software have become trusted assets to teachers and students in classrooms from America to Zimbabwe. pitop products are hard at work even in challenging environments such as the UN’s Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

At the heart of our products is the idea that young makers can get inside our computers, learn how they work and build new and invaluable skills for the future. Part of what makes pitop special, and why kids who’ve never seen inside a computer before think it’s awesome, is that you have to build it yourself straight out of the box and then design, code and make electronic systems with it. We call this learning.

The nature of DIY computing and electronics means that, very occasionally, things can fail. If they do, pitop’s modular nature means they can be easily replaced. If customers encounter any issues with any of our products our excellent customer support team are always ready to help.

It is important to say that all electronic systems generate heat and Raspberry Pi is no exception. However, at pitop we do the very best to mitigate thanks to the cutting-edge design of our hardware. Faults on any of our products fall well below accepted thresholds. Although we are proud of this fact, this doesn’t make us complacent and we continually strive to do things better and provide our customers with world-class products that don’t compromise on safety.

Thousands of schools around the world recognise the fantastic benefits the pitop [3], pitop CEED, and pitop [1] brings as a Raspberry Pi-powered device. Our new flagship products, the pitop [4] and our learning platform, pitop Further, take coding education to the next level, as a programmable computing module for makers, creators and innovators everywhere. We are proud of our products and the enormous benefits they bring to schools, students and makers around the world.

Internal restructuring

We also recently broke the news that pi-top had laid off a number of staff after losing out on a large education contract. Our sources told us the company is restructuring to implement a new strategy. pi-top confirmed 12 job cuts at that stage. Our sources suggest more cuts are pending.

Some notable names departing pi-top’s payroll in recent weeks are its director of learning and research, William Rankin — formerly a director of learning at Apple — who writes on LinkedIn that he joined pi-top in March 2018 to “develop a constructionist learning framework to support pi-top’s maker computing platform”. Rankin left the business this month, per his LinkedIn profile.

pi-top’s chief education and product officer, Graham Brown-Martin — who joined the business in September 2017, with a remit to lead “learning, product design, brand development and communication strategy” to support growth of its “global education business, community and ecosystem” — also exited recently, leaving last month per his LinkedIn.

In another change this summer pi-top appointed a new executive chairman of its board: Stanley Buchesky, the founder of a US edtech seed fund who previously served in the Trump administration as an interim CFO for the US department for education under secretary of state, Betsy DeVos.

Buchesky’s fund, which is called The EdTech Fund, said it had made an investment in pi-top last month. The size of the investment has not been publicly disclosed.

Buchesky took over the chairman role from pi-top board member and investor Eric Wilkinson: A partner at its Series A investor, Hambro Perks. Wilkinson remains on the pi-top board but no longer as exec chairman.

The job cuts and restructuring could be intended to prepare pi-top for a trade sale to another STEM device maker, according to one of our sources.

Meanwhile pi-top’s latest device, the pi-top 4, represents something of a physical restructuring of its core edtech computing proposition which looks intended to expand the suggestive utility it offers teachers via multiple modular use-cases — from building drones and wheeled robots to enabling sensor-based IoT projects which could check science learning criteria, all powered by pi-top’s encased Raspberry Pi 4.

Out of the box, the pi-top 4 is a computer in a box, not a standalone laptop. (Though pi-top does plan to sell a range of accessories enabling it be plugged in to power a touchscreen tablet or a laptop, and more.)

pi top 4 4

pi-top is in the process of bringing the pi-top 4 to market after raising almost $200,000 on Kickstarter from more than 500 backers. Early backers have been told to expect it to ship in November.

While pi-top’s predecessor product is stuck with the compute power of the last-gen Raspberry Pi 3 (the pi-top 3 cannot be upgraded to the Raspberry Pi 4), the pi-top 4 will have the more powerful Pi 4 as its engine.

However the latter has encountered some heat management issues of its own.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation recently put out a firmware update that’s intended to reduce the microprocessor’s operating temperature after users had complained it ran hot.

Asked whether the Foundation has any advice on encasing the Raspberry Pi 4, in light of the heat issue, founder Eben Upton told us: “Putting the Pi in a case will tend to cause it to idle at a higher temperature than if it is left in the open. This means there’s less temperature ‘in reserve’, so the Pi will throttle more quickly during a period of sustained high-intensity operation.”

“In general, the advice is to choose a case which is appropriate to your use case, and to update firmware frequently to benefit from improvements to idle power consumption as they come through,” he added.

gpgmail’s Steve O’Hear contributed to this report


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ThredUp, whose second-hand goods will start appearing at Macy’s and JCPenney, just raised a bundle – gpgmail


ThredUp, the 10-year-old fashion resale marketplace, has a lot of big news to boast about lately. For starters, the company just closed on $100 million in fresh funding from an investor syndicate that includes Park West Asset Management, Irving Investors and earlier backers Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Upfront Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Redpoint Ventures.

The round brings ThredUP’s total capital raised to more than $300 million, including a previously undisclosed $75 million investment that it sewed up last year.

A potentially even bigger deal for the company is a new resale platform that both Macy’s and JCPenney are beginning to test out, wherein ThedUp will be sending the stores clothing that they will process through their own point-of-sale systems, while trying to up-sell customers on jewelry, shoes, and other accessories.

It says a lot that traditional retailers are coming to see gently used items as a potential revenue stream for themselves, and little wonder given the size of the resale market, estimated to be a $24 billion market currently and projected to become a $51 billion market by 2023.

We talked yesterday with ThredUp founder and CEO James Reinhart to learn more about its tie-up with the two brands and to find out what else the startup is stitching together.

TC: You’ve partnering with Macy’s and JCPenney. Did they approach you or is ThredUp out there pitching traditional retailers?

JR: I think [the two companies] have been thinking about resale for some time. They’re trying to figure out how to best serve their customers. Meanwhile, we’ve been thinking about how we power resale for a broader set of partners, and there was a meeting of the minds six months ago

We’re positioned now where we can do this really effectively in-store, so we’re starting with a pilot program in 30 to 40 stores, but we could scale to 300 or 400 stores if we wanted.

TC: How is this going to work, exactly, with these partners?

JR: We have the [software and logistics] architecture and the selection to put together carefully curated selections of clothing for particular stores, including the right assortment of brands and sizes, depending on where a Macy’s is located, for example. Macy’s then wraps a high-quality experience around [those goods]. Maybe it’s a dress, but they wrap a handbag and scarves and jewelry around the dress purchase. We feel [certain] that future consumers will buy new and used at the same time.

TC: Who is your demographic, and please don’t say everyone.

JR: It is everyone. It’s not a satisfying answer, but we sell 30,000 brands. We serve lots of luxury customers with brands like Louis Vuitton, but we also sell Old Navy. What unites customers across all brands is they want to find brands that they couldn’t have afforded new; they’re trading up to brands that, full price, would have been too much, so Old Navy shoppers are [buying] Gap [whose shopper are buying] J. Crew and Theory and all the way up. Consistently, what we hear is [our marketplace] allows customers to swap out their wardrobes at higher rates than would be possible otherwise, and it feels to them like they’re doing in a more [environmentally] responsible way.

TC: What percentage of your shoppers are also consigning goods?

JR: We don’t track that closely, but it’s typically about a third.

TC: Do you think your customers are buying higher-end goods with a mind toward selling them, to defray their overall cost? I know that’s the thinking of CEO Julie Wainwright at [rival] The RealReal. It’s all supposed to be a kind of virtuous circle of shopping.

JR:  We like to talk about buying the handbag, then selling it, but plenty of people will also buy a second-hand Banana Republic sweater because it’s a value [and because] fashion is the second-most polluting industry on the planet.

TC: How far are you going to combat that pollution? I’m just curious if you’re in any way try to bolster the sale of hemp, versus maybe nylon, clothes for example.

JR: We aren’t driving material selection. Our thesis is: we want to stay out of the fashion business and instead ensure there’s a responsible way for people to buy second hand.

TC: For people who haven’t used ThredUp, walk through the economics. How much of each sale does someone keep?

JR: On ThredUp, it isn’t a uniform payment; it depends instead on the brand. On the luxury end, we pay [sellers] more than anyone else — we pay up to 80 percent when we resell it. If it’s Gap or Banana Republic, you get maybe 10 or 15 or 20 percent based on the original price of the item.

TC: How would you describe your standards? What goes into the reject pile?

JR: We have high standards. Items have to be in like-new or gently used condition, and we reject more than half of what people send us. But i think there’s probably more leeway for the Theory’s and J.Crew’s of the world than if you’re buying a Chanel dress.

TC: Unlike some of your rivals, you don’t sell to men. Why not?

JR: Men’s is a small market in secondhand. Men wear the same four colors — blue, black, gray and brown — so it’s not a big resale market. We do sell kids’ clothing, and that’s a big part of our market.

TC: When Macy’s now sells a dress from ThredUp, how much will you see from that transaction?

JR: We can’t share the details of the economics.

TC: How many people are now working for ThredUp?

JR: We have less than 200 in our corporate office in San Francisco, and 50 in Kiev, and then across four distribution centers — in Phoenix; Mechanicsburg [Pa.]; Atlanta; and Chicago — we have another 1,200 employees.

TC: You’ve now raised a lot of money in the last year. How will it be used?

JR: On our resale platform [used by retailers like Macy’s] and on building our tech and operations and building new distribution centers to process more clothing. We can’t get people to stop sending us stuff. [Laughs.]

TC: Before you go, what’s the most under-appreciated aspect of your business?

JR: The logistics behind the scenes. I think for every great e-commerce business, there are incredible logistics [challenges to overcome] behind the scenes. People don’t appreciate how hard that piece is, alongside the data. We’re going to process our 100 millionth item by the end of this year. That’s a lot of data.


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BlockFi, which lends money to cryptocurrency holders, just raised $18.3 million led by Valar Ventures – gpgmail


Last year, we told you about a New York-based startup that had begun lending cold, hard, cash to cryptocurrency holders who don’t want to offload their holdings but also don’t necessarily want so much of their assets tied up in cryptocurrencies.

Today, that two-year-old company, BlockFi, is announcing $18.3 million in Series A funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, with participation from Winklevoss Capital, Morgan Creek Digital, Akuna Capital and earlier backers Galaxy Digital Ventures and ConsenSys Ventures.

Apparently, BlockFi is gaining some traction.

Last year, after raising $1.5 million in seed funding from ConsenSys Ventures, SoFi and Kenetic Capital, it secured $50 million led by Galaxy Digital Ventures (the digital currency and blockchain tech firm founded by famed investor Mike Novogratz) that is used to loan out cash to customers who use their bitcoin and ethereum holdings as collateral.

The minimum deposit required: $20,000 worth of cryptocurrency.

According to founder Zac Prince, who talked with Bloomberg about BlockFi’s newest round, enough people are now using those loans that BlockFi has seen its monthly revenue grow more than 10 times since January.

No doubt the uptick in loans correlates with the rebound in Bitcoin’s value, which was priced as low as $3,400 earlier this year but is now valued at roughly $11,400.

Prince also told the outlet that he expects annual revenue to hit eight figures by the end of this year. In startup land, that means it’s time to roll out new money-making services. BlockFi already introduced a savings account product earlier this year that it says enables investors to earn interest on their assets. They are not backed by the FDIC, though the company says it “operates with a focus on compliance with U.S. laws and regulations.” And while it won’t say exactly what’s coming up next, it says in a statement about the new round more products are being added to its existing platform.

Prince previously spent roughly five years in consumer lending and began investing his own money in crypto in early 2016.

He told us last year that his “lightbulb moment” for the company came as he was in the process of getting a loan for an investment property. Instead of using a traditional bank, he decided to list his crypto holdings to see what would happen, and the response was overwhelming. “I realized that there was no debt or credit outside of [person-to-person] margin lending on a few exchanges, and I had the feeling that this was a big opportunity that I was well-suited to go after.”

Other companies providing crypto-backed loans that are issued in fiat currencies include CoinLoan, SALT Lending, Nexo.io and Celsius Network, among others.


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The “world’s largest internet restaurant company” quietly raised $125 million this month – gpgmail


In May, venture capitalist Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital warned in a Financial Times column that Amazon’s recent $575 million investment in the London-based delivery service Deliveroo could prove ominous for local restaurants. Wrote Moritz: “Amazon is now one step away from becoming a multi-brand restaurant company — and that could mean doomsday for many dining haunts.”

Moritz was right to attract more attention to the deal. Deliveroo has begun operating shared kitchens from which it will not simply transport food to customers but eventually prepare it, too. His warning may even have played a role in the recent decision of Britain’s competition regulator to halt work on Amazon’s investment so it can first investigate whether the deal poses competitive concerns.

Moritz knows the playbook because of Sequoia’s early investment in Rebel Foods, formerly known as Faasos, a once-small Pune, India-based company that now prepares a variety of foods in its cloud kitchens. As he says in the same column, Faasos largely pioneered the trend. Still, the growth of the nine-year-old company is a bit breathtaking.

According to Bloomberg, Rebel — which this month raised $125 million in fresh capital from the Indonesian delivery service Go-jek, Coatue Management, and Goldman Sachs — now operates 235 kitchens across 20 Indian cities. And it’s processing two million orders a month. (It calls itself the “world’s largest internet restaurant company.”)

While it began life as a chain of kebab restaurants, that original concept, Faasos, is now just one of eight other brands that Rebel operates, including a tea brand called Kettle & Kegs, a Chinese concept called Mandarin Oak; a pizza brand called Oven Story; and a brand called Behrouz through which Rebel makes and sells slow-cooked rice dishes known as biryani.

Rebel Foods isn’t the only fast-moving operator using cloud kitchens to offer every kind of cuisine imaginable under one roof. Competitors of the company — which tells Bloomberg it is now valued at $525 million — include UberEats and the food delivery company Zomato, which itself has plans to open more than 100 cloud kitchens by the end of this year.

Zomato says it isn’t getting into the food preparation business — yet — but rather renting out facilities, kitchen equipment, and software to restaurants.

Still, it’s little wonder that Rebel is racing headlong into new markets as fast as it can. According to Bloomberg, the company is currently planning to build 100 cloud kitchens in Indonesia over the next 18 months with Go-Jek’s help. It also expects to open 20 cloud kitchen facilities in the United Arab Emirates by December.

Rebel was founded by Jaydeep Barman, a native of Mumbai with an MBA from INSEAD who spent nearly four years with McKinsey before joining forces with business school classmate Kallol Banerjee to launch Faasos.

Despite raising money early on from Sequoia, the company was once at risk of going out of business, in part owing to high rents and employee turnover. As Moritz tells the story, things turned around dramatically when the duo closed their restaurants and opened their first centralized kitchen.

That decision would prove pivotal. Not did Rebel survive, but today, the company tells Bloomberg, the entire operation runs the equivalent of 1,600 restaurants.


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