EventsStartups

Five Blockchain Startups To Watch

London’s blockchain scene is burgeoning as the technology ventures into diverse sectors: Big Pharma, philanthropy, smart homes and, of course, FinTech.

If Blockchain is analogous to the internet’s rapid development, we are currently in the mid nineties, around the halcyon days of early-Amazon and Hotmail. At present, it’s unimaginable as to which brands and businesses will become the cultural cornerstones of this era. But that’s what makes Silicon Roundtable’s blockchain startup pitch event all the more exciting.

These are the brave new worlders effectively converting blockchain’s abstract potential into real world solutions. Of the five pitchers, an altruistic algorithm, really-smart real estate, and transparent Big Pharma supply chains are using blockchain to develop products driven by sound-ethics. While two new ICO’s continue to position City of London as the home of fintech.

Give Bytes

#GiveALittleByteOfLove is definitely the cutest hashtag of the night.

It’s also the philanthropic message behind one of the most profound platforms pitching. GiveBytes.com harnesses the same process as mining bitcoin to exchange crypto rewards in return for your computer’s processing power. Except, explained co-founder Jacob Piotrowski, with Give Byte, instead of harvesting coin for your own wallet, you are donating your rewards to crowdfunding campaigns of your choice.

And Piotrowski has a compelling case for 99.99% of the population on-boarding:

“Unless you use your computer for heavy computing operations like 3D rendering, you probably only utilize 10–30% of your Central Processing Unit (CPU)”.

Give Bytes’ platform goes live at 00.00 on Saturday 1st September 2018. No download is required: just visit the website, find a campaign you are interested in supporting, and click ‘SMART MINING’.

What are you waiting for?

ehab

In London, we have an empty home epidemic with 20,000 unlived properties, while house prices continue to rise exponentially.

Go to any city in the world and housing is a key issue, says twenty-something CEO Josh Graham. His startup ehab is aiming to disrupt this flailing market with affordable, smart housing solutions.

Their MVP is an interactive instrument for the beginning of any conversation about sustainable development: allowing for fundraising, community-consultancy collaboration, and smart contracts. ehab’s flagship pilot project in the Cambridge-to-Norwich corridor has the potential to build 26,000 new homes in the next ten years. And with a projected £78–231 million in revenue the future looks, well, sustainable.

Given the negative press on the imminent arrival of smart cities — especially around Big Data and Big Brother— ehab certainly buck the trend and appear to be a values-driven organization.

Very refreshing, indeed.

Veratrak

Veratrak position Big Pharma as the next global industry that is about to be revolutionized by blockchain.

Led by two Oxford University alumni, co-founder and tonight’s pitcher, Matthew Wilson, is confident “there aren’t many pharmaceutical supply chain experts in the room” and proceeds to give the crowd a quick crash course…

Essentially, in the global medical-system legal regulatory documentation needs to accompany all biomedical products as they travel from manufacturer-to-supplier-to-administrator-to-patient. However, there is no auditable track for these products so when things get lost as they invariably do, certain agents get into a lot trouble. Veratrak brings together the disparate pharmaceutical players onto one customisable workflow communications platform.

Veratrak also operate a think tank, EPOCH (or The European Platform on Changing Healthcare: a forum where supply chain experts and blockchain leaders can examine the future of the pharmaceutical supply chain, and “begin to disseminate the hype from the reality”.

DIGAX

If 2018 is the Year of the Security Token, then a digital asset exchange platform like DIGAX, is one of the calendars that records this important moment in the history of finance.

Founded only eighteen months ago and originally bootstrapped, CEO, Ben Morley’s background in bitcoin broking and asset trading has helped them achieve quick growth, with a two seed rounds behind them and a team of ten in place already.

They are currently at private beta level and looking to roll out to the public soon. According to Morley, “anecdotal evidence suggests the world trusts the UK for FinTech.”

It’s innovative startups like DIGAX that keep that faith alive!

Capexmove

The Debt Securities industry topped more than $100 trillion in 2017: 36% larger than the market capitalisation of all listed companies globally. But, questions, Capexmove CEO, Dario Scarcella, why has it become so expensive to borrow?

The answer is in the inefficiencies of the manual intermediaries in the dealing of bonds. And it is these inefficiencies — read, middle men — that Capexmove’s can supplant by leveraging the Ethereum blockchain and smart contracts. This disruption will reduce the cost of borrowing, and may, in time, provide a massive headache for the traditional bond market.

Situated in Level 39— Canary Wharf’s new fast growing tech community in cybersecurity and fintech — Capexmove are in the right place to launch their funding round.


If it really is the mid-nineties of the blockchain life-cycle, let’s hope we are a long way away from the inevitable bubble burst.

Let’s see if these five — among hundreds of other blockchain startups — can deliver with the revolutionary new tech at their fingertips. And witness if decentralization will make for a better new world.

 

InterviewsStartups

Is The Fast Food Industry Too Bloated To Disrupt?

It’s the age of disruption. Fintech and cryptocurrencies are equally galvanising and polarising the financial sector, while Netflix has made it almost impossible to not binge through dramas in a way that can only be described as “unsociable”.

So, what about the food industry? Where is the disruption there?

“Deliveroo” and “Just Eat” are the obvious answers, but while they have clearly exploded, they haven’t changed one integral element:

THE FOOD.

I interviewed Dhiren Master, Founder and CEO fast food startup, Firebrand Fresh. We talked about his healthy, ethical and sustainable concept, his hard fought battle, and the sad truth that the fast food industry is simply too bloated to disrupt.

First up, what is your new fast food concept.

I love food over charcoal: it’s super tasty, healthy and quick. The trick of bringing those three USPs to market was to make cooking over charcoal idiot-proof. Obviously there’s a health hazard with flames and smoke. So I opened a development kitchen in North West London, and used my degree in engineering to build a fully automated charcoal oven.

Hold On, fully automated?

Yep — just flick a switch and an automated arm pours fresh charcoal into a completely sealed enclosure. The fire lights up and the temperature gets very hot, very quickly—but safely—and the spear of chicken or whatever else slides inside. The oven’s patent is still pending.

And what is it about your chicken (or whatever else) that makes it so “revolutionary” in the fast-food arena?

Many things:

First, this chicken takes 6 minutes to cook. Not only is it fast, it’s nutritious too. The two methods employed by traditional fast food chains to get their “food” out so quick is by deep frying it — meaning lots of rank oil — or by using processed foods: packed with preservatives, salt and E numbers. Both methods are extremely unhealthy.

Second, our food is fresh. We achieve that by implementing tech into the customer experience. So when you decide that your going to eat with us, you tap our app and order. We can see from the integrated maps how far away you are and your estimated time of arrival. We start the cooking when you’re 6 minutes away, meaning you get freshly cooked, healthy food on arrival. In the same 6 minutes we prepare the sides and salad.

It begs the question, how do Maccy D’s and KFC getaway with burgers and fries sitting for ages on a hot plate?

Indeed, the traditional fast food industry has been remarkably robust in it’s decisions not to change its processes. In truth, it hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

OK your food philosophy sounds genuine, what else is going on there?

Well, my intention was for Firebrand Fresh to be a social movement: a movement for change.

I have developed a business model that gives shares to managers and makes working in a fast food joint actually worthwhile and exciting.

I educate people through my marketing. Nutritional content of every dish is clearly viewable and when multiple items are combined (say, main, side and drink) the carbs, fats and calories were calculated, so people can make a more informed decision about their food choices.

I use packaging that was completed sustainable, including compostable cutlery.

Wow, this is an impressive project. So what happened?

We were unlucky. Despite being a finalist for the London food and drink business of year (Jan 2018), and receiving 100% (90/90) 5 star reviews on our social media pages, the bottom fell out of the UK restaurant industry.

Five years ago when the food industry was booming, every man and his dog was investing in new restaurants and food concepts: street food trucks etc. Many of those investors are now regretting those rash decisions. Smallish brands (eg: Byron Burger and Wahaca) expanded nationwide, while longer-established eateries such as Carluccio’s and Nando’s — who’s hot sauce is not fresh or healthy at all! — cannibalized the food market for the little guys.

Then came Deliveroo and Just Eat…

Exactly. And the whole foodworld rhetoric was that tech has reinvigorated the UK food scene. When in fact these app and delivery services have a stranglehold on independent businesses.

These apps simply eating up the profits of the actual kitchens who make the food we eat. They are wildly successful, yet they haven’t increased the size of the pie at all. Rather, they gobble up 16.5% of restaurants’ sales.

Additionally, they have made it very hard for small and new businesses to drive traffic to their own website. People search and order their food through the Deliveroo app, not a restaurant’s websites or social media.

Since, the market has bombed.

And the hope for a healthy revolution in fast food has gone?

Well, for now. There’s no investment in it at the moment. At least, not for startups who are concerned with the nations’ health, plastic straws clogging up our oceans, and corporations running the world.

Oh man, it’s a sad story.

It’s not over yet.

Opinion

Det senaste om GDPR

GDPR

Europeiska Unionens nya lag för datahantering av personuppgifter, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), ersatte den 25 maj 2018 Personuppgiftslagen (PUL). Detta innebär den största förändring inom datahantering sedan PUL trädde i kraft 1998, då PUL är en föråldrad lag i en tid med sociala medier och smartphones.
Dem största förändringarna innebär följande:

“Missbruksregeln” försvinner
Tidigare i Sverige har vi haft enklare regler för personuppgifter i ostrukturerat material, den så kallade missbruksregeln, men med dataskyddsförordningen gäller inte denna längre. Nu gäller samma regler för alla personuppgifter.

Hårdare straff
Under GDPR har straffen höjts betydligt jämfört med vad dem var under PUL. Straffet kan landa på upp till 20 miljoner euro eller fyra procent av företagets årsomsättning.

Nya rollen “dataskyddsombud” införs
Det har införts en ny roll, dataskyddsombud, som är ett krav inom myndigheter, stora organisationer samt mindre organisationer som hanterar särskilt känsliga personuppgifter.

Strängare regler om samtycke
Företag måste kunna framföra bevis för att samtycke har getts vid insamling för särskilda personuppgifter. Detta samtycke skall även kunna hävas när som helst.

Vad har hänt sedan GDPR?
Det har snart gått 3 månader sedan GDPR trädde i kraft. Sedan dess har det hänt en hel del, bland annat har flera amerikanska nyhetssajter valt att sluta publicera sina tidningar online för användare inom EU, däribland LA Times, Chicago Tribune och New York Daily News.
GDPR har också ökat medvetenheten hos konsumenter angående vad deras personuppgifter används till. Under månaderna maj och juni skickades det ut mer information angående dataskydd i Europa än vad det någonsin gjorts tidigare. Detta har lett till att många företag har rapporterat en förlust på cirka 25% till 40% av deras nåbara marknad. Det gäller kunder eller potentiella kunder som inte gett sitt samtycke till att delta i marknadsföringskommunikation eller att profileras och som därför har gått förlorade.

Inom Sverige påbörjade Datainspektionen sina första granskningar av ca 80 myndigheter, företag och organisationer redan efter två veckor. Denna granskning innebar att företag och myndigheter var skyldiga att bevisa att man tillsatt de dataskyddsombud som lagen kräver. Lagen säger även att det finns en skyldighet bland företag och organisationer att anmäla till Datainspektionen när det finns en risk att personuppgifter har hamnat i fel händer, och det tog inte mer än en vecka innan Datainspektionen började motta anmälningar kring detta.

Kort sammanfattning om vad GDPR är
Företag förväntas implementera åtgärder för att skydda data samt ta tekniska och organisatoriska steg för att säkerställa individens integritet. GDPR gör företagen skyldiga att bevisa att de följer GDPR-överensstämmelser och att rimliga åtgärder har vidtagits för att skydda människors personuppgifter. Lagen kräver även att företag säkerställer att det finns system och processer som kan testa, övervaka och mäta datasäkerheten när det krävs.

Vad har Calcey gjort?
Som en extern utvecklare till klienter inom Europa gör vi på Calcey inget som  samlar in personuppgifter om europeiska medborgare, vilket gör att vi inte hamnar inom GDPRs räckvidd. Vi har även innan GDPR trädde i kraft minimerat åtkomsten till känsliga uppgifter angående våra kunder och samarbetspartners, vilket i sig gör att vi minimerat vår exponering. Med denna grund, att du inte kan gå miste om (och inte heller missbruka) något du inte har, är logiskt, men att faktiskt följa reglerna som GDPR innebär kräver mycket mer.

Eftersom Calcey är ett techserviceföretag som förser utvecklingsmöjligheter inom IT till snabbt växande företag faller vi inte inom ramarna för att bli en data controller. I och med våra nuvarande uppdrag tillsammans med Calceys europeiska kunder är vi istället data processors. Detta leder till att Calcey har genomfört åtgärder med fokus på följande:

  • Få dataskyddsavtal på plats med data controllers för att formalisera förvaltningen av data
  • Utbilda våra medarbetare om de krav, risker och ansvarsområden som GDPR skapar
  • Minimera tillgången till känslig data och använda anonymisering/ pseudonymisering för att minimera riskerna vid intrång
  • Genomföra en internrevision för att identifiera, bedöma, mildra och minimera risker, även om Calceys exponering för känsliga data minimeras av ovanstående.
  • Vi har skapat standarder för internetanvändning, hantering / hosting av klientdata, användning av hårdvara på kontoret etc för att minimera de identifierade riskerna

Hur vi behandlar personuppgifter kommer med all säkerhet vara något som, tack vare GDPR, alltid diskuteras in i minsta detalj vid starten av nya projekt. Den slappa inställningen till hur man hanterar data är något som numera tillhör det förflutna.

Referenser:
https://www.datainspektionen.se/lagar–regler/dataskyddsforordningen/samma-regler-for-alla/
https://chef.se/5-viktiga-skillnader-mellan-pul-och-gdpr/
https://www.resume.se/nyheter/artiklar/2018/08/08/efter-gdpr-amerikanska-medier-blockar-europeiska-besokare/
https://www.dagensmedia.se/marknadsforing/efter-gdpr-datainspektionen-inleder-sin-forsta-granskning-6918783
https://www.zdnet.com/article/gdpr-whats-really-changed-so-far/

EventsStartups

Why London’s Old Street is the hub of new ideas

The government might be off on their summer holidays but the London tech startup scene continues apace. Indeed, the August edition of the evergreen Tech Startups and New Ideas Night features six incredibly diverse and ambitious startups. Covering anything from short films to pollution to robotics, the entrepreneurs seen here reflect the rich variety of innovation happening around London’s Old Street today.

So without further ado, here’s a quick summary of those sixes pitches…


Qualis Flow

Qualis Flow is the B2B startup we should be grateful that they are in existence. QFlow use IoT technology to help the construction industry better manage their environmental impact. Sound boring? Not when they’re saving precious newts from extinction in major railway builds.

And given the amount of construction the average Londoner has to duck and cover on any given day, it’s not just the UK’s dwindling amphibian pollution that is at stake. Civil engineer and CEO/Co-Founder Brittany Harris explains that air quality and noise pollution, while currently monitored on construction site, is reported via a PDF, at the end each of month! Meaning the damage is already done before someone can react. QFlow, on the other hand, offer real time analytics.

Brittney is a seriously impressive young CEO, and is currently a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering. Hat’s off to her important work.

Minuteapp

Paid Spotify and Netflix subscriptions aren’t so much a choice, they’re a necessity. Minuteapp is hoping to rival these cultural movements in the short doc space. Sounds ambitious, but founder and documentary filmmaker, Janvier Wete, is definitely onto something. That was evident from the volley of audience questions that followed his casual pitch: What’s your subscription model? Have you raised funds? Who’s accessing the quality of what’s uploaded? Why don’t we just use you tube instead?

And herein lies the crux. Every filmmaker starts out in short films, and every one of us has a silent ambition to watch better quality content (someone save us from the sneezing baby panda!). Minute app, or the “cinema in your pocket”, vows to only stream high quality short films — anything from 1 min long — to make make even your next wait for a cuppa-tea-to-brew, a novel, enlightening experience. It will probably improve our commutes too!

It’s super early days for the crew at Minuteapp. They launched a beta version only two weeks and received 250 downloads without any promotion. “At the moment”, Janvier said, “we’re hungry for information”.

friendrequest

The truth hurts, but London can be a lonely place. That’s what Italian Marco Gentili, experienced when he moved to the city. And that’s what makes friendrequest a potentially vital development in the social networking space.

For starters, Marco reminds us, this is not a dating app. And friendrequest are also acutely aware that meeting people online/offline can be dangerous. However, they believe that by deploying smart algorithms to make every user’s profile smart, their platform will help people meet other like minded people, safely, so they can enjoy the best the city has to offer, together. The smart profile means a user’s profile is in a constant state of flux–much like a real person — and appears slightly different to every user who views it.

friendrequest already has 2,000 users and hundreds activities and experiences. Proof of concept — check.

GIGSTR

GIGSTR is a startup’s dream: they fix up young startups with young upstarts, and take all the risk out of hiring by actually employing the young person on their own payroll, guaranteeing a workers’ minimum wage. They also handle the tax, insurance and leave entitlement that startups can’t always manage.

Pitcher, Head of Partnerships, Emma Blackmore, told the crowd, that GIGSTER is an ethical business model that boomed in its native Sweden, and moved to London nine months ago. Taking its name from the gig economy, GIGSTR allows young companies to not over-commit precious investment, and for young employees to see if there’s a good culture fit with their ambitions, before long term engagement.

Why wasn’t GIGSTR around when I graduated?

Metier Digital

Led by Ghanaian Londoner, Metier Digital is run by Nana Parry who previously raised over £150,000 in seed funding from angel investors for his music and social media analytics platform, Dubzoo. Metier Digital help entrepreneurs build their most viable product (MVP) and bring their ideas to market.

Perceptual Robots

Dr. Rupert Young from Perceptual Robots is on a mission to build “psychologically advanced robots”. Although this sounds rather, chilling, apparently, it’s not like Blade Runner at all. Instead, Rupert’s pitch is full of video clips, graphs and diagrams of how a human catches a baseball based on “the optimum velocity of the ball to the human retina”.

The ball, like robotics, goes way over my head.

All the same, best of luck, doc!


Clearly, it’s an incredibly potent mix of startups and London’s Old Street continues to be the hub of new ideas.

A special thanks should go to Irfan Khalil at Heptagon Events for organizing such a well drilled bunch.

I’m looking forward to next time already.

InterviewsStartups

A Tech Startup CEO: The Rulebook

Joel Burgess is the CEO and Founder of Nutrifix: the app that puts healthy on the map.

Since inception back in September 2016, Joel and Nutrifix had an initial twelve month rollercoaster which included a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign where they raised nearly £200,000 from 375 investors. In the same year, Joel entered the Just Eat Accelerator program, but he was “never really happy with the tech”.

In year two, Joel raised a further £250k from a private US investor and Calcey Technologies were invited onboard to strengthen and amplify the tech. Now, armed with a handsome new app, a fresh deal with Deliveroo, and a growing customer base, Nutrifix are looking to go nationwide in UK and beyond.

Clearly, it is the perfect time to catch with Joel in his favourite London coffee shop and find out about his startup CEO rulebook.

Rule #1: Know Your Market
Joel’s love of all things healthy is born from his background in sport and competition. Back in the day, he was on track to be a professional rugby player before a serious injury—and two neck operations—sidelined his dreams of playing for England.
Regardless, his commitment to health and fitness didn’t stop. In the subsequent years, he becomes a personal trainer, competed in boxing competitions, and is now studying to be a nutritionist.

It is this constant self development in the industry that he is disrupting, that means Joel truly knows his market.
“In the beginning I just chatted to friends in the gym. I kept hearing that between working out and working full-time, eating healthy was a daily challenge for many people…”
“I realised that my mission is to take away the stress of healthy eating”

Rule #2: An Early MVP Is King
Amazingly, Nutrifix’s first MVP was a simple spreadsheet made for Joel’s personal consumption. His weekly eating plan outlined all the healthiest options out of London’s ubiquitous lunch scene: Pret, EAT, Wasabi etc. His gym buddies were so impressed with it they all wanted one too. He started selling spreadsheets for £75 each.

“From that moment I knew I was on to something. If people were buying my dog-eared Excel spreadsheets, I knew there was a bigger market to explore. I did a few tests on facebook: statuses questioning my active network what would make their life easier. An app that guides you around town to healthy eating options was the answer.”

Rule #3: You Don’t Have To Be A Techie
After completing an MSC in mechanical engineering which provided him with the ability to “problem solve”, Joel had stints in the Dubai, Jakarta and Singapore property markets, before returning to the London and the restaurant development scene. He categorically states, he is not a techie and cannot build software.

Regardless, he took plunge into the startup app space:
“In the beginning I made every mistake under the sun! I passed the app production to a UK developer and we just rushed it out. By time we won a place in the Just Eat Startup Accelerator I realised the tech was awful. But I knew we had a ‘half’ an app, a decent pitch and cool idea… I wasn’t going to give up.”

Rule #4 – Be Open To Change
The app-build continued with a different developer but this didn’t work out as planned either.

And that’s when a friend with solid business connections put the feelers out for high quality software engineers and introduced Joel to Calcey Technologies.

Calcey stepped in and pitched and from the first moment I knew I was in safe hands, despite them being based 4,000 miles away in Sri Lanka!”

Joel employed a consultant CTO to oversee Calcey’s early development projects and he was very impressed from the off set.
“What I liked from Calcey was that they asked the right questions. They were determined to completely understand my business and what drives me.”

That meant Nutrifix could suddenly grow from an app that helps users find healthy meals near their location, to something with much richer technical scope:

“This now applies an algorithm to score every meal according to a user’s fitness goals, dietary preferences and their physical information—height, weight, age etc. The algorithm then recommends meal plans that according to the user’s daily targets, considering numerous technical variables including sugar, fibre and saturated fat contents.”

At present, the Nutrifix is supplying meal recommendations for approximately 5,000 regular users and there are over 90 vendors in 9,000 locations. The recent Deliveroo add on however—which conveniently enables healthy eating to user’s door—should fast track Nutrifix user user base into the stratosphere.

Rule #5: No Regrets
“If I did all again, I’d have bought Calcey in from the start”.

But Joel also knows all too well that the ups and downs of Nutrifix’s first year—and it’s stuttering tech development—made them more robust for the challenges ahead. It all also granted them extra time to fundraise which was vital in not only raising financial investment, but also for realising that lots of people were really behind his idea.

Leading a startup business in the mobile age requires confidence, courage, patience, the ability to problem solve… and?
A great team of agile software engineers that buy into your idea”.