All posts by Richy George

Abbyy looks to RPA to breathe new life in to scanning and workflow

Posted by on 8 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Abbyy has been around for a long time helping companies with scanning and workflow tools, but like many older vendors it has been looking for ways to extend its traditional business model. One way to do that is by teaming up with robotics process automation companies like UIPath. Today, the company announced it has launched the Abbyy FlexiCapture Connector in the UiPath Go! App store.

Bruce Orcutt, senior vice president for product marketing at Abbyy says the connector provides the ability to pull content into UIPath or to take Abbyy content and push it to another part of the automated workflow in UIPath.

UIPath is on a tear these days. Just two months ago, it scored a $225 million Series C investment on a $3 billion valuation. It was able to grow from $1 million to $100 million in annual recurring revenue in just 21 months. As I wrote at the time of the funding, “[UIPath] allows companies to bring a level of automation to legacy processes like accounts payable, employee onboarding, procurement and reconciliation without actually having to replace legacy systems.”

Orcutt sees a natural connection to his company’s workflow roots, bringing it into a more modern context. “RPA simplifies the user experience. Abbyy brings content and context,” he told TechCrunch. He says that while they are still doing OCR to scrape unstructured content, it can do this in fully automated digital process and UIPath can take that content and move it through other parts of an automated workflow.

For Abbyy, UIPath is a big partner, but it’s part of a broader strategy to expand the company’s capabilities to RPA. He says they are working with a variety of RPA vendors beyond UIPath and also with systems integrators as they look to breathe new life into the company’s brand and products.

Orcutt says this is part of significant focus and investment on the part of the company. RPA is clearly a natural fit for Abbyy, but he wasn’t willing to speculate on any deeper partnership. “We’re focusing on what we can do the best we can, and they can focus on merits of their platform. Abbyy can compliment those capabilities.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Datacoral raises $10M Series A for its data infrastructure service

Posted by on 8 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Datacoral aims to make it easier for enterprises to build data products by abstracting away all of the complex infrastructure to organize and process data. The company today announced that it has raised a $10 million Series A financing round led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Social Capital, which also led its $4 million seed round in 2017.

Datacoral CEO Raghu Murthy tells me that the company plans to use the new funding to grow its business team in order to be able to reach more potential customers and to expand its engineering team.

The promise of Datacoral is to offer enterprises an end-to-end data infrastructure that will allow businesses and their data scientists to focus on generating insights over having to manage and integrate their data sources. Because nobody wants to move large amounts of data between clouds — and take the performance hit that comes with that — Datacoral sits right inside a company’s AWS systems. It’s still a fully managed service, though, but the data is encrypted and never leaves a customer’s virtual private cloud.

“As companies look to their data to deliver value – data practitioners are finding that configuring and managing their own data infrastructure is a time-consuming job that is expensive and fraught with errors,” said Murthy. “We have built a platform that easily and automatically brings together data from different applications and databases, organizes that data in any query engine and acts on insights that are critical to running their business. A crucial component is that it works securely and privately within the customer’s cloud, instead of us ingesting data from their systems.”

Murthy was an early engineer at Facebook and part of the team that was in charge of scaling that company’s data infrastructure and ran a part of the engineering team at Bebop, Diane Greene’s startup that was later acquired by Google.

To scale Datacoral, the team is betting on a serverless platform itself. It’s making extensive use of AWS Lambda and other PaaS solutions on Amazon’s cloud computing platform. That doesn’t mean Datacoral plans to only support AWS, though. Murthy tells me that Azure support is next. “We plan to work across all of the top cloud providers by leveraging their unique services and provide a consistent ‘data-centric interface’ to our customers — essentially be ‘cloud best’ instead of ‘cloud agnostic.’”

Current Datacoral users include Greenhouse, Front, Ezetap, Swing Education, mPharma and Mason Finance.

Posted Under: Tech News
Google Cloud wants to make it easier for data scientists to share models

Posted by on 8 November, 2018

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Today, Google Cloud announced Kubeflow pipelines and AI Hub, two tools designed to help data scientists put to work across their organizations the models they create.

Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Google Cloud’s AI and ML products, says that the company recognized that data scientists too often build models that never get used. He says that if machine learning is really a team sport, as Google believes, models must get passed from data scientists to data engineers and developers who can build applications based on them.

To help fix that, Google is announcing Kubeflow pipelines, which are an extension of Kubeflow, an open-source framework built on top of Kubernetes designed specifically for machine learning. Pipelines are essentially containerized building blocks that people in the machine learning ecosystem can string together to build and manage machine learning workflows.

By placing the model in a container, data scientists can simply adjust the underlying model as needed and relaunch in a continuous delivery kind of approach. Sheth says this opens up even more possibilities for model usage in a company.

“[Kubeflow pipelines] also give users a way to experiment with different pipeline variants to identify which ones produce the best outcomes in a reliable and reproducible environment,” Sheth wrote in a blog post announcing the new machine learning features.

The company is also announcing AI Hub, which, as the name implies, is a central place where data scientists can go to find different kinds of ML content, including Kubeflow pipelines, Jupyter notebooks, TensorFlow modules and so forth. This will be a public repository seeded with resources developed by Google Cloud AI, Google Research and other teams across Google, allowing data scientists to take advantage of Google’s own research and development expertise.

But Google wanted the hub to be more than a public library — it also sees it as a place where teams can share information privately inside their organizations, giving it a dual purpose. This should provide another way to extend model usage by making essential building blocks available in a central repository.

AI Hub will be available in Alpha starting today with some initial components from Google, as well as tools for sharing some internal resources, but the plan is to keep expanding the offerings and capabilities over time.

Google believes if it provides easier ways to share model building blocks across an organization, the more likely they will be put to work. These tools are a step toward achieving that.

Posted Under: Tech News
CircleCI launches Orbs, a package manager for software delivery automation

Posted by on 7 November, 2018

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DevOps platform CircleCI today announced a new partner program that will open up its platform and allow third-party tools to integrate with it. In addition, the company is launching Orbs, which it describes as “the world’s first package manager designed specifically for configuration of software delivery automation.”

Fresh off its $31 million funding round earlier this year, CircleCI is clearly on a mission to firmly plant its stake in the increasingly competitive continuous integration and delivery space. Its launch partners today include the likes of Cypress, JFrog, Pulumi, Sauce Labs, Sonatype and WhiteSource.

That partner program, though, mostly sets the stage for Orbs. The idea behind Orbs is to give the company’s users the ability to share their preferred CI/CD configuration across teams and projects by allowing them to package their commands, executors and jobs into a few lines of code. It’s basically a way to allow teams to automate more of their build/test/deploy workflow and share their best practices for configuring their software pipelines. For new users, these Orbs will also make it easier to get started without having to write a lot of boilerplate code.

CircleCI will offer its own set of certified Orbs, as well as those written by its partners. Currently, there are Orbs for working with Heroku and Amazon’s S3 and CodeDeploy, for example, as well as the obligatory Slack notification Orb. In total, CircleCI is launching 25 packages today.

“CircleCI Orbs are the most exciting thing in the CI world since Docker containers,” said Gleb Bahmutov, VP of Engineering at Cypress and an early-access orbs customer and contributor. “From a developer’s standpoint, orbs are a much-needed improvement from the regular ‘read the docs, copy/paste example, tweak for 30 minutes until CI passes’ — an outdated workflow. It’s an absolutely incredible experience.”

Posted Under: Tech News
Spotify Connect speakers will soon work with its free-tier

Posted by on 7 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Spotify’s ad-supported tier has long been one of the service’s differentiators. Naturally, the model’s not nearly as feature rich as its paid counterpart, though the company’s removing one of those key distinctions as this morning.

In a press release, the company notes that free users will soon be able to stream music through Spotify Connect-sporting speakers. The newfound integration will work with hardware companies that switch to the new SDK.

Here’s your standard game changer quote, this time from Senior Product Director, Michael Ericsson: “The release of our new eSDK will change the game for Spotify’s Free users who want to enjoy music on their connected speakers. We look forward to supporting our partners over the coming months as they update existing speakers and bring new products to market.”

Most (around 104 million) of Spotify’s 191 million subscribers are free users. The tier has been a tremendous part of the service’s global growth, and it continues to be a difference as Apple Music gains a foothold, particularly here in the U.S.

Earlier this year, Spotify fleshed out its free offering, but Premium continues to offer some marked advantages. Along with getting rid of ads, it includes higher quality streams and the ability to download offline tracks.

Posted Under: Tech News
RapidSOS, an emergency response data provider, raises $30M as it grows from 10K users to 250M

Posted by on 6 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Every day, there are around 650,000 emergency service callouts via 911 for medical, police and fire assistance in the US; and by their nature these are some of the most urgent communications that we will ever make.

But ironically in the age of smartphones, connected things and the internet, these 911 calls are also some of the most antiquated — with a typical emergency response centre still relying on the humans making the calls to tell them the most basic of information about their predicaments before anything can be actioned.

Now a new generation of startups has been emerging to tackle that gap to make emergency responses more accurate and faster; and one of them today is announcing a significant round of funding on the back of very strong growth. RapidSOS, a New York-based startup that helps increase the funnel of information that is transmitted to emergency services alongside a call for help, has raised another $30 million in funding — money that it’s going to use to continue enhancing its product, and also to start pushing into more international markets.

The opportunity internationally is greater than the US alone: while the US sees 240 million calls per year to 911, globally the figure is 2 billion.

The funding — which comes only about six months after its last round of $16 million — is being led by Playground Global, the VC firm and “startup studio” co-founded by Android co-creator Andy Rubin. Others in the round include a mix of previous and new investors (and a lot of illustrious names): Highland Capital Partners, M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Fund), Two Sigma Ventures, Forte Ventures, The Westly Group, CSAA IG, three former FCC Chairmen and Ralph de la Vega, the former AT&T Vice Chairman and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and International. It brings the total raised by the startup to $65 million.

Michael Martin, CEO and co-founder of RapidSOS, said the startup is not disclosing its valuation, but he did point me to the company’s stunning growth over the last year:

“We went from 10,000 users to 250 million,” he said, pointing to the number of agencies and other partners the startup is integrating with to provide more detailed information across the emergency services ecosystem.

Partners on the two sides of RapidSOS’s marketplace include on one side Apple, Google, Uber, car companies and others making connected devices and apps — which integrate RapidSOS’s technology to provide 911 response centres with more data such as a user’s location and diagnostic details that can help determine what kind of response is needed, where to go, and so on. And on the other you have the emergency services that need that information to do their work and provide assistance.

RapidSOS offers a few different products to the market. Its most popular, the RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse, works either with a response centre’s existing software, or by way of a web application. This product now covers some 180 million people in the US, the company says.

The RapidSOS API, meanwhile, is used by a number of device makers and apps to be able to channel that information into the RapidSOS system, so that when a response centre is using RapidSOS and a caller is using a device or app with the API integrated with it, that information gets conveyed.

The startup also offers a rescue and recovery app called Haven, and found its profile getting a huge boost after Haven went viral in the wake of a succession of natural disasters in the US.

Martin — who co-founded the company with now-CTO Nicholas Horelik (respectively Harvard and MIT grads) after Martin said he was mugged in New York City — said that he sees a big opportunity for RapidSOS, and indeed emergency services in general, once we start to join up the dots better between the trove of data that we can now pick up with connected objects, and conveying what’s important in that trove in order to make emergency calls more effective.

“Most emergency communication today uses infrastructure established between the 1960s and the 1980s, and it means that if you need 911 but can’t have a conversation you are in trouble. 911 doesn’t even know your name when you call,” he said in an interview. “But there is all this rich information today, and so our job is to help make that available when you really need it.”

(I should note he spoke to me while driving on a freeway, but he noted that the car he was in was part of a RapidSOS pilot, and so if he did have an accident, at least the responders would be more aware of what happened… Not a huge comfort but interesting.)

When you consider the number of connected wearables, connected cars and other inanimate objects that are now becoming “smart” through internet-based, wireless controls, sensors and operating systems, you can see the strong potential of harnessing that for this particular use case.

RapidSOS is not the only company that’s addressing this gap in the market. Carbyne out of Israel raised a growth round earlier this year led by Founders Fund in its first investment in an Israeli startup, also to build systems to provide more data for emergency services responders.

(I should also point out that Carbyne was also borne out of the CEO getting mugged: necessity really does become the mother of invention.)

“We are completely different from Carbyne,” Martin said of the other startup. “They are trying to provide more modern software to the industry” — where companies like Motorola have long dominated — “and it’s great to see new innovation on that front. But when we looked at industry, we found the challenge was not software but the data that was being provided. There is a lot of information out there, but no data flow, which is limited by the typical emergency response system to 512 bytes of data.”

He says that RapidSOS, in that regard, works with multiple vendors, including Carbyne, to transmit that data.

And it’s that platform-agnostic approach that interestingly caught the eye of Playground.

“RapidSOS is on the forefront of emergency technology, working with companies like Apple, Google, Uber, and Microsoft to transform emergency communication,” said Bruce Leak, co-founder of Playground Global, in a statement. “We see endless opportunities for connected device data to enhance emergency response and are eager to work with RapidSOS to expand their life-saving platform.”

Posted Under: Tech News
VMware acquires Heptio, the startup founded by 2 co-founders of Kubernetes

Posted by on 6 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

During its big customer event in Europe, VMware announced another acquisition to step up its game in helping enterprises build and run containerised, Kubernetes-based architectures: it has acquired Heptio, a startup out of Seattle that was co-founded by Joe Beda and Craig McLuckie, who were two of the three people who co-created Kubernetes back at Google in 2014 (it has since been open sourced).

Beta and McLuckie and their team will all be joining VMware in the transaction.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed — VMware said in a release that they are not material to the company — but as a point of reference, when Heptio last raised money — a $25 million Series B in 2017, with investors including Lightspeed, Accel and Madrona — it was valued at $117 million post-money, according to data from PitchBook.

Given the pedigree of Heptio’s founders, this is a signal of the big bet that VMware is taking on Kubernetes, and the belief that it will become an increasing cornerstone in how enterprises run their businesses. The larger company already works with 500,000+ customers globally, and 75,000 partners. It’s not clear how many customers Heptio worked with but they included large, tech-forward businesses like Yahoo Japan.

It’s also another endorsement of the ongoing rise of open source and its role in cloud architectures, a paradigm that got its biggest boost at the end of October with IBM’s acquisition of RedHat, one of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time at $34 billion.

Heptio provides professional services for enterprises that are adopting or already use Kubernetes, providing training, support and building open-source projects for managing specific aspects of Kubernetes and related container clusters, and this deal is about VMware expanding the business funnel and margins for Kubernetes within it its wider cloud, on-premise and hybrid storage and computing services with that expertise.

“Kubernetes is emerging as an open framework for multi-cloud infrastructure that enables enterprise organizations to run modern applications,” said Paul Fazzone, senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Native Apps Business Unit, VMware, in a statement. “Heptio products and services will reinforce and extend VMware’s efforts with PKS to establish Kubernetes as the de facto standard for infrastructure across clouds upon closing. We are thrilled that the Heptio team led by Craig and Joe will be joining VMware to help us guide customers as they move to a multi-cloud world.”

VMware and its Pivotal business already offer Kubernetes-related services by way of PKS, which lets organizations run cloud-agnostic apps. Heptio will become a part of that wider portfolio.

“The team at Heptio has been focused on Kubernetes, creating products that make it easier to manage multiple clusters across multiple clouds,” said Craig McLuckie, CEO and co-founder of Heptio. “And now we will be tapping into VMware’s cloud native resources and proven ability to execute, amplifying our impact. VMware’s interest in Heptio is a recognition that there is so much innovation happening in open source. We are jointly committed to contribute even more to the community—resources, ideas and support.”

VMware has made some 33 acquisitions overall, according to Crunchbase, but this appears to have been the first specifically to boost its position in Kubernetes.

The deal is expected to close by fiscal Q4 2019, VMware said.

Posted Under: Tech News
Dynamic Yield, which builds Amazon-like personalisation for the rest of us, raises $38M

Posted by on 2 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Amazon, one of the world’s largest companies, has transformed the face of commerce in part because it has managed at once to be “The Everything Store” but still with a route into its sea of products that, for most users, surfaces what they might most want to see (and importantly buy or consume). That kind of personalisation has become a goal not just for e-commerce companies, but for any organization running a digital business: users are constantly distracted, and when their attention is caught, they do not want to spend time figuring out what they most want.

Not every business is Amazon, though, so we are seeing a crop of startups emerging that are working on ways to help the rest of the digital world be just as optimised and personalised as Amazon. Now one of them, an Israeli startup called Dynamic Yield, has raised more money as it continues to expand its business, both to more platforms and to more geographies.

The startup’s Series D has now closed off at $38 million, with the inclusion of a $5 million strategic investment from Naver, Korea’s “Google” (it’s the country’s top search portal) that is also behind messaging apps Line and Snow. The plan is for Naver to help bring Dynamic Yield to Korea and Japan, by incorporating its tech into its own services and those of others that work with Naver.

(Personalisation and aggregators are strong magnets for users in Asia and thus big magnets for funding: ByteDance, which provides news aggregation among other services, was recently valued at $75 billion.)

Naver is not the only search engine that has caught sight of Dynamic Yield over the years. Previous investors include Baidu (“the Google of China”), and we’ve heard that when the startup was younger — it was founded in 2011 — Google had tried to acquire it (Dynamic Yield rejected the offer, and it’s been approached for acquisitions numerous times since then).

Other strategic investors include The New York Times and Deutsche Telekom, alongside other backers like Innovation Endeavors, Bessemer Venture Partners, Marker Capital and more.

Dynamic Yield has raised $85 million to date and is now valued at “hundreds of millions of dollars,” but less than $500 million, a source at the company said, after seeing a strong expansion of its services. 

Dynamic Yield says it works with more than 220 global brands, and its tech reaches 600 million unique users each month, across 10 billion page views and 600 billion “events” on those pages. It claims its AI-based personalisation technology can lift revenues (or other engagement metrics) by 10-15 percent. 

“It makes us an effective tool for surviving in a market where customer acquisition cost keeps getting more expensive,” co-founder and CEO Liad Agmon said in an interview.

Dynamic Yield doesn’t talk about many of its customers on the record — most don’t like to reveal to rivals who they work with, Agmon said.

But they include a number of big brands across e-commerce, travel, finance, media and other segments that use its tech not just to show more targeted products to prospective shoppers, but to help power advertising, recommend content and position the same information to different people in different ways depending on who is viewing it (for example with different headlines).

There are a lot of personalisation and A/B analytics companies in the market today — others include Adobe, Marketo (which is becoming a part of Adobe), Optimizely and many more. Indeed, I’d be very surprised if Amazon is not working on ways of productising its own personalisation tech in a way that is not intrinsically linked to its own marketplace (because some will never want to sell there, and because personalisation can be used for so much more than just e-commerce).

Dynamic Yield, however, claims that it has an edge over these because of how it works.

Agmon says that the tech sits on top of whichever CMS or other backend server that a site is using and is activated by way of a small amount of code. It uses machine learning to both “read” what is in a site, and matches that up against specific visitors and its own trove of experience.

Agmon added that when a business already has information about that visitor, that is the primary data that is used; otherwise it also incorporates other data sources like Acxiom and others — much the way that other marketing tech does — to form a stronger picture of your tastes.

It then runs this data through its own machine learning algorithms both to recommend content and to help a marketing manager figure out better customer segmentation overall. There is an “autopilot” version of the product where everything is automated based on Dynamic Yield’s algorithms; or options to use the data sources to set up specific marketing campaigns; or (as is common) a combination of the two.

Going forward, Agmon said the plan is to work across an increasing number of interfaces where customers are going today to discover and buy goods and services. Indeed, we’ve described how some of the newest e-commerce startups have eschewed any website or app of their own and work exclusively in third-party messaging apps to acquire customers and sell goods.

But it’s not just these new digital platforms that are becoming targets for personalisation startups like Dynamic Yield.

Agmon said that his company is also working with a major retailer that is using its tech at its in-person payment points. When — for example — a customer comes to order a latte, instead of generic upselling to the latest seasonal flavour, the person taking the order will now know if the customer ever orders a sweet injection, or if she/he is more of a savoury snack sort of person. The cashier will then know what to recommend to eat with that drink that is more likely to be purchased.

The mom-and-pop shop with its reputation for knowing the regulars and what they like might have found its dystopian (but useful) heir.

Posted Under: Tech News
Foursquare partners with TripAdvisor

Posted by on 1 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

Foursquare, the former location-based social network turned enterprise location data platform, has today announced a new partnership with TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor will be using Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK, launched in March 2017, to help the platform better serve users with contextually relevant, real-time information based on their location.

Alongside the 13 billion check-ins accumulated on Foursquare’s apps since inception, the company also has analytics based on a consumer panel of more than 70 million people in the U.S. — 10 million of whom that have opted into always-on location sharing. This data is the same data that powers Foursquare’s own apps, like, for example, when you get a push notification with a menu tip as you sit down for dinner at a restaurant.

Pilgrim SDK and Foursquare’s other enterprise products give other apps the ability to communicate with users with contextual relevance, and that’s what TripAdvisor is looking to do through this partnership.

TripAdvisor recently launched a new app and website that focuses on social sharing and personalized recommendations. Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK compliments TripAdvisor technology, ensuring that hyper-personalized recommendations are truly accurate.

TripAdvisor reaches more than half a billion users worldwide, which significantly increases the pool of user data Foursquare can potentially access.

This comes on the heels of Foursquare’s Series F financing round, which was announced last month.

Posted Under: Tech News
Retail-as-a-service provider Leap raises $3M and launches first store

Posted by on 1 November, 2018

This post was originally published on this site

The past decade in retail has been the golden age of direct-to-consumer (D2C) and digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) that use the internet to communicate with customers, execute transactions, handle distribution and offer better economics.

But as small independent startups have scaled into unicorn territory and as countless brands have saturated digital channels, customer acquisition has gotten harder and costlier.  Companies are now trying to meet customers with different purchase habits by developing physical stores. 

However, building an effective brick-and-mortar presence can be expensive and risky for DNVBs, requiring resources outside their core competencies.  Chicago-based startup, Leap, is hoping to make it easier for digital brands to grow physical retail footprints without the typical risks of store development by taking care of the entire process for them.

Leap offers a full-service platform covering the complete life cycle of a brand’s brick-and-mortar launch.  In addition to owning the lease and the financial commitments that come with it, Leap covers everything from staffing, experiential design, tech integration, and even day-to-day operations. 

(Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Getty Images)

Less than a year since its founding, Leap announced today the launch of its first store and the close of a $3 million seed round, led by Costanoa Ventures, with participation from Equal Ventures and Brand Foundry Ventures.

The debut store will act as the first Chicago location for Koio, the high-end D2C sneaker brand backed by headline-grabbing names like the Winklevoss twins, director Simon Kinberg and actor Miles Teller. 

Instead of paying a monthly lease fee, along with all the other variable costs associated with operating a physical store, companies like Koio pay Leap on a percent of sales basis, effectively minimizing risk and incentivizing performance. 

On top of minimizing development expense for brands, Leap believes its customer insights and intelligent logistics platform can help improve shopper engagement, increase customer traffic and drive brand lift.  If the startup’s thesis proves true, brands can improve both sides of their brick-and-mortar unit economics by reducing customer acquisition costs and amplifying customer value.

At its core, Leap simplifies a DNVB’s physical retail operations into a single line item on its P&L, allowing the company to focus on brand building and supply chain rather than retail strategy, while also allowing them to scale faster. 

With the latest fundraise, the company hopes to build out its team and continue new location expansion.  Longer-term, Leap’s co-founders hope to build a vast network of sites, that can help provide intelligence around new store development and shopper preference.

“We want to be the platform to help brands go to market in the offline space”, said co-founder Amish Tolia.  “We want to help brands build direct-to-consumer relationships in local neighborhoods across the country and enable them to focus on what they’re best at.  Enable them to focus on product innovation, supply chain management, great marketing and brand building.”

A glimpse into the future retail

While Leap’s value proposition is straightforward, its business model points to a bigger trend in the world of retail.  

By opting to sell its software and brick-and-mortar services rather than creating its own brands, Leap effectively acts as a “retail-as-a-service” platform.  The as-a-service strategy is already quietly growing in popularity in the retail space, with companies like b8ta, the Internet of Things gadget retailer, launching its hardware-oriented “Built by b8ta” platform earlier this year.

Though likely heavy in upfront capital costs, retail-as-a-service businesses don’t have the same constant concern around supply chain, manufacturing, consumer acquisition and marketing spend.  And in certain pricing models based on a monthly fee or percent of square footage basis, platforms can see more stable revenues relative to pure retail startups.

From a brand perspective, DNVBs have been looking for ways to extend growth runways while minimizing the cost and uncertainty that deterred them from physical stores in the first place.  The as-a-service model can make brick-and-mortar retail a much more scalable engine, possibly even cooling rising concern around bubbling consumer valuations.

As more of the young digitally-born D2C giants resort to as-a-service companies to find marginal customers, we may see the rise of a new set of startups fighting to establish themselves as the platform on which brands operate.

If the last decade was defined by retail online, it’s possible that the next decade will be defined by retail-as-a-service.

And if you find yourself in Chicago, feel free to check out the Leap-enabled Koio Store at 924 W Armitage in Lincoln Park.

Posted Under: Tech News
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