Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative allocates first round funding; Expected to mobilize twice the original target

Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative allocates first round funding; Expected to mobilize twice the original target

WASHINGTON, APRIL 19, 2018 – The Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) today announced its first funding allocations — expected to mobilize over $1.6 billion in additional funds from an allocation of $120 million — for programs designed to knock down the unique barriers facing women entrepreneurs in developing countries.   This initial round of grant allocations alone mobilizes twice the amount originally   targeted for We-Fi over its lifetime.The first round includes funding for proposals from the Islamic Development Bank to complement and expand successful initiatives in Yemen, Mali and Nigeria; the Asian Development Bank to improve the business environment for women in Sri Lanka; and the World Bank Group for global, regional and country specific activities to increase public and private sector support for women in business, with a focus on the poorest and most fragile environments.We-Fi, which has received over $340 million from 14 governments, initially set out to mobilize $800 million in additional financing from the private sector, donors, governments and other development partners, but expected mobilization from today’s first round of allocations exceeds those expectations. In addition, fifty-eight percent of the first allocations will go to IDA countries or states affected by fragility, conflict or violence, putting We-Fi on track to exceed its commitment to devote half its portfolio to those areas.“We know that everyone benefits when women have the resources they need to fully participate in economies and societies,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “By harnessing the public and private sector, We-Fi creates an unprecedented opportunity to maximize financing for women entrepreneurs in developing countries, so that they have a real and fair chance to start and run businesses, create wealth, share in prosperity, and achieve their highest aspirations.”Some 70% of women who own small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world currently can’t get the financing they need.  They are either shut out of financial institutions, or can only get high-interest, short-term loans, resulting in a $1.5 trillion credit deficit for women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.  Women also often lack access to the technologies, market connections, networks, and training necessary to build and maintain a successful business.We-Fi, announced last July at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, is an innovative, new facility that supports women-led businesses and works with governments to improve the laws and regulations stifling women entrepreneurs in developing countries.“The response from stakeholders in both emerging and advanced markets has been enthusiastic and immediate, clearly demonstrating the urgent need to scale up efforts to help women entrepreneurs in developing countries,” said Priya Basu, head of the We-Fi Secretariat at the World Bank.  “We-Fi fills a critically important gap; it’s the first significant fund committed to tackling the full range of barriers facing women entrepreneurs across the developing world.”On Thursday, at its Spring Meetings, the World Bank Group will host a session on closing the digital economy gap facing women entrepreneurs.We-Fi is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Republic of South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.We-Fi was established as a Financial Intermediary Facility (FIF), which allows the international community to provide a direct and coordinated response to global priorities.  FIF funds can be raised from multiple sources, both public and private, and are usually transferred to external agencies (e.g. ADB’s program aims to improve the business environment for women-owned/led SMEs in Sri Lanka, build the capacity of women entrepreneurs, improve access to finance, and strengthen evidence and data. It will increase business growth opportunities for women entrepreneurs by boosting investment and providing capacity-building support.• The World Bank Group was granted $75 million for its program “Creating Finance and Markets for All”, with $49 million allocated to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to lead private-sector initiatives, and $26 million allocated to the World Bank to lead public-sector activities. Over half of the funds allocated to the World Bank Group will be dedicated to International Development Association (IDA) eligible countries and conflict affected states where women struggle most to grow their small and medium businesses, including countries like Bangladesh, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zambia.   The grant is expected to mobilize innovative private sector focused solutions, test and evaluate new approaches.

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Top CEOs in Pakistan – 2018

Top CEOs in Pakistan – 2018

The foundation runs various projects such as hospitals, schools initiative and water supply amongst other projects.Afzal, known for his creative pocket squares, has previously served as CEO at Peshawar Zalmi, Executive Director at Stylo and Associate Director at KPMG.Zeeshan tweets @zeshanc100Shamoon Sultan – KhaadiOver recent years Khaadi has become one of the leading retailers of clothing with exponential growth throughout Pakistan and worldwide. Working with names like Noorjehan Bilgrami and Shahnaz Siddiq, Sultan wanted to bring something unique to the market, the result of which we see today is Khaadi.Shazia Syed – UnileverShazia heads the Pakistani endeavour of one of the largest companies in the world – Unilever, which has a stake in most household items.Shazia started in Unilever building the Brand in 1989 and has gained experience in various departments since then before being named as CEO in 2015.Mian Abdul Rehman Talat – BlueEastSome of you may know Talat from his appearance on the show ‘Idea Croron Ka’. In 2016 he has founded BlueEast which is driving innovation by utilising the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT).Apart from developing their branded IoT solution, BlueEast is supporting the open source ecosystem with a few additions of their in-house software.Abdul Rehman tweets @artalatDr Faisel Sultan – Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer HospitalWe’ve all heard of the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital (SKMCH) and Imran Khan who envisioned the initiative but some credit is due to the CEO, Dr Faisel Sultan. SKMCH has become a benchmark for the highest standards for healthcare in Pakistan.Dr Sultan graduated from King Edward Medical College in 1987 and post graduate in Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease.Dr Faisel tweets @ceoskmchSameer Ahmed Khan – SocialChampKhan runs a social media automation software company alongside a software consultancy. Graduating from Karachi University with a BS in Computer Science, Khan has fulfilled roles as a developer going on to starting up a couple of companies which had to close up. He sees the failures as experience which benefit him in his current role.Sameer tweets @sameerpeaceBilal Athar – WifiGen (Start Up)Athar, who we’ve covered in detail before makes it as the CEO under the start up category. Available data (online and offline) is limited and often unverified; couple that with the competitiveness and high quality talent available in the current market, it makes it a tough job to shortlist candidates. As with previous years, we review a number of factors which include the standard metrics most businesses consider, but also try to add innovation, social media input, and factors like leadership style to that list too. Over the recent years the startup ecosystem has skyrocketed and the government is supporting the innovation. Yusuf is leading the innovation from the front through the National ICT R&D Fund which is deployed under the Minister of IT. He heads the ICT research & development fund which is tasked with growing the knowledge economy through innovation and research.Previously he has been with Time Warner Cable in the US, lead the Pakistan Software Export Board as MD/CEO and founded companies that have provided organisational transformation and IT policy development to organisations like the UN.Yusuf tweets @yhuss2000Junaid Iqbal – CareemJunaid is somewhat a household name now with the surge in popularity of Careem. Facing stiff competition from Uber, Careem’s marketing ploys like ‘Rishta Aunty’ and ‘Waseem Akram, CEO for a day’ ensure it keeps the multinational behemoth sweating.Iqbal boasts a BA in Economics from the University of Michigan, later adding to his education at LUMS and Harvard business School. Professionally he has served as CEO in finance and security companies.Junaid tweets @jiqbalpkZeshan Afzal – Shahid Afridi FoundationEveryone has heard of (Lala) Shahid Afridi and as you will know, he has been active in his philanthropic efforts of late.

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Iconic brand Airstream’s latest trailer is a lesson in both entrepreneurship and M&A

Iconic brand Airstream’s latest trailer is a lesson in both entrepreneurship and M&A

Airstream If you know Airstream, your know the 85-year-old company because it manufactures, in the USA, the all-American trailer at its best, crafted from shimmering aluminum and exuding timeless cool. Airstream "That starts to seem a lot like a recreational vehicle," he said in an interview with Business Insider earlier this year, adding that Airstream is now focusing intently on the intersection between transportation and residential design. "We want to make sure we're in that conversation." Nest is a good example. The first has a U-shaped dinette that converts into a bed, "a permanent bed with a plush Tuft & Needle mattress," the company said. The low weight is also a boon, enabling Nest to be towed by a relatively modest vehicle. (Airstream's largest trailer, the Classic, tips the scales at over 8,000 pounds, meaning you'd need a big SUV or full-size pickup to cover hauling.) Nest, meanwhile, can be towed by a compact SUV, such as Toyota RAV4. But shiny silver-bullet trailers aren't all the iconic brand has going on. In 2016, under CEO Bob Wheeler (who joined in 2005), Airstream acquired NEST Caravan, a startup that has produced a prototype fiberglass trailer that caught Airstream's eye. "There's really nothing else like it," Wheeler said in a statement. "Nest acknowledges Airstream's lasting legacy, while anticipating a new potential for outdoor adventure." Airstream The Nest's design came via Robert Johans, who founded the Oregon-based company prior to its acquisition by Ohio-headquartered Airstream. Johans oversaw the expansion of the Nest prototype for Airstream, and the exterior was designed by Bryan Thompson, who had also worked on Airstream's outdoors-friendly Basecamp, the smallest aluminum trailer in the lineup.

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Pakistan’s IT Sector Has Grown By 150% in 5 Years: Anusha Rehman

Pakistan’s IT Sector Has Grown By 150% in 5 Years: Anusha Rehman

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman has said that Pakistan’s growth rate of IT exports have jumped 150% over the last five years.She stated this while chairing the 38th meeting of the Board of Directors of Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) here on Thursday.The meeting was convened to review various initiatives for accelerating growth of the IT sector during 2018-21.The Board discussed some proposals at length that would position Pakistan’s IT & ITeS industry for the next phase of growth.Federal Secretary IT Aamir Ashraf Khawaja, Member Telecom Mudassar Hussain, Member IT Syed Raza Shah, Chairman Pasha Barkan Saeed, Acting MD PSEB Syed Ali Abbas Hasani and other Board members were also present in the meeting.Pakistan’s IT & ITeS Sector has developed phenomenally due to ongoing efforts and generous incentives and facilitation granted to the sector. Rehman said that Pakistan’s growth rate of IT & ITeS exports have jumped 150% over the last five years, which is a remarkable achievement.Anusha Rehman said that every possible effort is being made to enhance growth of the IT Industry in Pakistan.As a result, the IT industry is growing in terms of the number of companies, revenue, exports and workforce every year, thereby demonstrating clear confidence in the ability of the local companies to deliver IT solutions and services which meet expectations of foreign clients.ALSO READPakistan’s IT Sector Reports Record Revenue GrowthThe board was apprised that an increase of 15% has been witnessed in the number of call centers during the last one year.The Minister said that, “although we have achieved our major targets but there is much more to do to enhance the Pakistani IT sector’s representation at international forums.”She directed the Pakistan Software Export Board management to coordinate with all stakeholders and enhance Pakistan’s participation in key international events.

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Directly raises $20 million for customer service powered by the crowd and AI

Directly raises $20 million for customer service powered by the crowd and AI

San Francisco startup Directly has raised $20 million in a third round of funding to build its customer service offering for companies leveraging AI and crowd-sourced experts. In an interview today, Directly CEO and cofounder Antony Brydon acknowledges that the field of customer service providers is extremely competitive. Once Microsoft implemented Directly, the company helped Microsoft build a trusted network of experts — power users of Excel, the Surface, and other products — to answer questions instead. (Directly provides its experts a cash incentive, typically $2 to $60. For example, if a question comes in asking how to reset voicemail on a Microsoft phone, Directly uses machine learning to identify it’s a question about Microsoft phones, and routes into the experts on that topic. Second, the Directly system uses AI to identify which experts are the top performers on specific topics. Directly does this by polling Microsoft’s wider expert network, asking them to rate the answers given by top performers on the phone questions. If a particular answer is better than others, it will start to dominate, and the expert who provided that answer earns more income every time that question is served. After raising a seed round of $4 million and a series A of $12 million, the company has now raised a total of $36 million. Mila D’Antonio, principal analyst at Ovum, who specializes in customer engagement and who has looked at Directly, says the company delivers the core needs of customer service in an innovative way. Given the debate about AI, and whether or not it will enhance the human workforce, Directly is refreshing in that it enhances human interactions instead of replacing them, she says. Brydon says company identities are changing, which also makes Directly’s timing relevant: Instead of seeing themselves of owners of buildings and employees, companies see themselves as networks and communities, where they want to leverage talent on their edges — power users, affiliates, and other champions. Brydon declines to reveal financials, but did say the company can earn “single-digit millions” of dollars from large accounts and “several hundred thousand” from mid-sized accounts. The company typically starts with a test, where its network handles one percent of support inquiries, and then as the automation gets richer, it takes over more. A larger customer can do $10 million in rewards a year, and a mid-sized customer can do $1 million in rewards a year. On the one hand, you have 50 to 100 AI-inspired customer support vendors like LivePerson, Kore.AI, and Pypestream, seeking to apply natural language or other forms of machine learning to answer questions with chatbots. Directly is targeting a huge market, no doubt: The top 2000 companies in the U.S. spend about $250 billion each year on supporting customers, Brydon said — that’s about 50 billion customer cases a year, with each query costing about $5 to answer. And yet, customer service ratings remain at about 75 percent. Directly says it gets those ratings up to an average of 93 percent, reduces response times to 2-3 minutes across digital channels, and cuts support costs by an average of 65 percent. Directly’s model is novel, though the expert payment part of the model needs to be proven out. Directly experts get paid an average $200 a week, but the top five percent make $2,000 to $5,000 a week, Brydon says. That’ll be enough for a lot of people, either as a sole income or as a nice supplement to their day job — if the the model scales. There are plenty of gig economy companies, like Uber for shared rides and Upwork for freelance staffing, but participants on those networks often devote a significant amount of their time. The challenge for the AI companies is that none of them have a data advantage, Brydon says. And for the crowd companies, they’ve lacked speed, accuracy, and consistency. “The quality of the system hasn’t been there,” he says. Six months ago, before Directly was implemented, a Microsoft user asked a question about a Surface computer or Excel spreadsheet, and Microsoft would route their question digitally to an outsourced call center.

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Future of IOT in the Manufacturing Industry

Future of IOT in the Manufacturing Industry

If there is something critical to the operations of the plant, for instance pipeline leaks in an oil and gas plant, then acceptance and adoption takes less time as more than improving efficiency it can help avoid any casualty to the plant and lives of people. Chennai-based DeTect Technologies' IoT product – Gumps monitors oil and gas pipelines even at extreme temperatures, detects any corrosion and transmits the data to the cloud for early detection of any defect. "For such a problem, while it takes time for client to be educated about it, but the acceptance to IoT products is there.Companies are now open to change," says Daniel Raj David, its Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, launched in 2014. The best way to move ahead, suggests David, is to be transparent to the client for errors to be made. "We seek their help in understanding with our errors in order to derive value out of it." Then there is other big variable attached – manufacturing in India versus China due to cheaper costs. This is the challenge even as none of the startups have been able to scale in this space," says Dr Sumit D Chowdhury, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gaia Smart Cities.The former President at Reliance Jio launched Gaia in 2015 monitors to improve public services and citizen engagement under his smart citiy solutions, industrial and supply chain automation and product tracking for logistics companies as part of its enterprise solutions. While for MNCs, the appetite to adopt IoT is high as globally it has been around for few years, large enterprises are still trying to understand the size of value it would bring to them while SMEs are least bothered. "Beyond metro cities, IIoT awareness and discipline to use such technology is lacking.SMEs in fact are debating on the basic fact that since manpower is cheaply available to them then why should they invest in IoT. IIOT is one of the spokes to the technology hub that is driving the wheel of fourth industrial revolution. While the former would be mitigated as more solutions are deployed across industries, the latter is an infrastructural issue beyond the control of businesses. "Moreover, you need expertise. For instance, in building algorithms to interpret thermal data we have oil and gas experts and nondestructive testing (to analyze materials, components without any damage) experts," adds David.The opportunity nonetheless is higher on the industrial side. That's in fact quite critical one as businesses would be able to have operational visibility to make instant and effective decisions to boost quality and optimize cost and time.For consumer-based applications, IoT has been more of a replacement to existing technology or a new layer to an existing layer such as connected cars, home lighting, television and smartphones. But on the industrial side, it has been ideated, built and executed for the first time, since large enterprises and manufacturing units have been running on legacy machinery and ways to track and analyze data to decide on the quality of those machines and infrastructure. Hence, implementation for large firms is the real problem."Almost all our customers have deployed IoT for the first time instead of replacing an existing infrastructure," says Abhishek Latthe, Chief Executive Officer, SenseGiz. The start-up offers enterprise and industrial IoT products for sensor-based monitoring to avoid machine failure and track assets and employees at the shop floor to boost productivity. The biggest use case for Latthe has come by exploring association with the Indian Army to deploy its sensors for surveillance at the Pakistan border. "We have already run trials for one kilometer fencing. The army has asked for some additional features in the sensor which we would present in March this year."Finding Scale The time to adopt IoT products by industrial units is however unique for every product.

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First Class of Asian Entrepreneurs Graduates from UNCTAD and Alibaba Business School’s eFounders Fellowship Program

First Class of Asian Entrepreneurs Graduates from UNCTAD and Alibaba Business School’s eFounders Fellowship Program

The program, a joint initiative by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and Alibaba Business School, aims to enable young entrepreneurs to unlock their full potential and to bridge the digital divide.With the conclusion of the second eFounders program, Alibaba is now another step closer to fulfilling the commitment made by Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, in his capacity as the UNCTAD Special Adviser for Young Entrepreneurs and Small Business. The credit of the culture and the success goes to Jack Ma and his emphasis on maintaining a strong culture. I hope to implement my learnings back at Dawaai.pk.’The graduation of the 37 Asian candidates, who hail from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, means they have been officially inducted as Fellows of the global eFounders Initiative network, joining an inaugural cohort of 24 African entrepreneurs who graduated in 2017.As part of the commitment by UNCTAD and Alibaba to ensure all Fellows actively apply what they have learned within their communities, both organizations will continue to follow up with the Fellows with the support of local stakeholders every three months, and support the creation of digital ecosystems designed for inclusive and sustainable growth around the world.For more information on the eFounders Fellowship, please visit Alibaba’s eFounders Fellowship portal and UNCTAD. Over the next five years, Alibaba and UNCTAD will help empower 1,000 entrepreneurs in developing countries to use digital transformation for more inclusive and sustainable economic development.“The energetic spirit and creativity of these young entrepreneurs and the altruistic approach they demonstrate in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals is encouraging,” Arlette Verploegh, UNCTAD’s coordinator for the eFounders Initiative, said.“Their stories are truly inspirational and provide real-life examples that the young generation can use new technologies to generate economic opportunities for the benefit of their communities,” Ms. Verploegh added.Out of 37 Asian entrepreneurs who graduated from the program, 5 were from Pakistan, namely:Muhammad Komail Abbas, Co Founder of Find My Adventure – A tourism platform that connects local tour providers from Pakistan to local and international travelers.Shazil Mehkri, Co-Founder and CEO of Sastaticket.pk – An online travel startup that makes travel bookings easy and transparent for Pakistani Travelers.Furquan Kidwai, Founder and CEO of Dawaai.pk – An online pharmacy network providing doorstep delivery for prescription medicines in Pakistan.Anum Kamran, Co-Founder of Buyon –An online marketplace enablibng small to medium sized businesses in Pakistan to sell online.Hamza Iftikar, COO and Co-Founder of DealSmash –A mobile app for shoppers providing targeted offers based on interests and buying patterns.Shaping Champions for the New Digital EconomyThroughout the 11-day program, Asian entrepreneurs gained first-hand insights, participated in field visits and attended lectures to understand the digital transformation that has swept China during the last 20 years.Using Alibaba as the study model, as well as attending meetings with and tours of local incubators and e-commerce business schools, the participants analyzed Alibaba’s ecosystem of platforms and solutions including Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, Alibaba.com, Cainiao Network, Hema and Fliggy, as well as recent industry trends and developments such as New Retail, rural e-commerce and the emergence of Internet celebrities.ALSO READDealSmash Cofounder Makes it to Alibaba’s eFounders InitiativeThrough these interactive and engaging sessions, the participants gained an understanding of the considerations made by Alibaba Group to support and grow the digital economy in China and looked into how they can apply the lessons learned in their home markets.“We want to empower these budding entrepreneurs with fresh perspectives and provide the tools for success, through practical and theory-based sessions from our best and brightest talent within Alibaba and our network of partners,” said Brian Wong, Vice President of Alibaba Group, who heads the Global Initiatives program.“It is inspiring to witness the passion in their pursuit for learning,” he said. “Their rigorous discussion of the issues and constant questions about the digital phenomenon in China have enabled them to discover new ideas and approaches for a more inclusive and sustainable development model for their own businesses and for the benefit of their communities back home.”A unique aspect of the program was accessto top Alibaba executives and successful e-commerce players like PayTM, India’s leading eWallet provider, and Lazada, the largest e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia.In addition, the participants visited various cutting-edge Alibaba facilities like Hema Fresh to experience a physical representation of the future of New Retail. They also had the opportunity to understand smart logistics with a visit to the Cainiao Jiaxing logistics center and appreciate the immense potential of rural e-commerce development at Bainiu Village, also known as China’s Taobao Village after the online shopping website due to the seamless integration of e-commerce with every facet of life there.The entrepreneurs also experienced the transformative impact of technology on society in China, with visits to the Dream Town incubator in Zhejiang, set to be China’s Silicon Valley, and to Yiwu City, a critical node for wholesale trade for the nation, and the world’s largest offline B2B market.A Global Fellowship for Communities around the WorldAt the conclusion of the intensive 11-day program, participants were challenged to share how they plan to impart their new-found insights in e-commerce, e-finance and payments, smart logistics, big data and tourism to fellow entrepreneurs and their communities at home, and formulate improvements to their business ideas.Pakistani Entrepreneur, Anum Kamran, founder of Buyon.pk, an online shopping marketplace enabling small to medium sized businesses in Pakistan to sell online, talked about her experience, saying, “The journey at AliBaba was a once in a lifetime experience for me. The culture which has been cultivated by Jack Ma, is a one of its kind. It has been a pleasure being a part of the journey put together with Alibaba and UNCTAD”Another participant,F urqan Kidwai who established Dawaai.pk, an online pharmacy network, said, “Being a part of the eCommerce community, meeting Jack Ma was a lifelong dream.

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Government announces a $75m fund for new startups

Government announces a $75m fund for new startups

TechJuice > Startups > Government announces a $75m fund for new startupsBy Aqsa Khunshan on April 4, 2018  –   Like us now!  The Government of Pakistan has decided to set up a 75 million dollar fund for entrepreneurs and small startups at State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).This will be a great move on the part of the government for entrepreneurs who want to start a small business and in return, this move is expected to increase the vote bank of the ruling party. After comprehensive discussions, the cabinet approved the establishment of the credit lines to microfinance banks and microfinance institutions.The cabinet in a meeting held on March 21, reported that government will disburse this funding amount to microfinance banks and microfinance institutions which will provide credit lines to eligible borrowers and entrepreneurs to set up their business in Pakistan. Additionally, the move comes at a point when the ruling government is getting ready for general elections of 2018 and this might be a last-minute rescue for PMLN to attract the business community.Last month, the ministry of IT allocated PKR 124 million for tech startups in Pakistan to develop applications to improve the lives of mentally and physically disabled persons. Ahsan Iqbal, Interior Minister and Minister of Planning announced the Venture Capital Fund of worth Rs. 1 billion to encourage young entrepreneurs in their ambitions of making Pakistan a better place to live in.Nonetheless, it is yet to be seen whether the government will be able to finish up its announced projects or just it is another story of bribing business owners to win their votes.TechJuice for Browser: Get breaking news notifications on your browser.

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From Silkworms to Software, France’s LVMH Backs Luxury Startups

usnews.com From Silkworms to Software, France’s LVMH Backs Luxury Startups April 9, 2018, at 1:03 p.m. From Silkworms to Software, France’s LVMH Backs Luxury Startups Share Share on Google Plus Ian Rogers, chief digital officer at LVMH, Delphine Arnault, member of the executive board at LVMH, Xavier Niel, founder of “Station F”, Bernard Arnault, chief executive officer of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE and Frederic Arnault, head of connected technologies at TAG Heuer pose…

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EPIcenter to ‘Accelerate’ Local Startups in First Cohort

EPIcenter to ‘Accelerate’ Local Startups in First Cohort

Courtesy / Lake/Flato Architects A side, cut-out view of the EPIcenter reveals a lower lobby level of the future facility. Britton said Tuesday that the organization has about $20 million in funding in its pipeline; however, the deals have not been finalized. Jason Pittman, president and co-founder of Go Smart Solar, said the company aims to develop a community solar project in the San Antonio area. “We’ve spent a significant portion of our energy careers trying to figure out how to bring solar to low-income communities,” Pittman said. “[Through] our community solar program, we think that we’ve figured out a way to do that. Hopefully, [utility companies like CPS Energy] select [our community solar project] because if they do, we’re going to be able to bring solar to parts of San Antonio and parts of these other communities that have never had solar before. JJ Velasquez / Rivard ReportGo Smart Solar President Jason Pittman (left) and CEO Robert Miggins co-founded the company, which was selected by energy think tank EPIcenter as one of two accelerator startups. She is planning to make upgrades to the prototype and use the counsel of EPIcenter’s industry mentors to engage potential users. She first developed a version of the product as a student at Codeup, a local software development coding bootcamp, she said. “It really comes from working in that industry and being frustrated with putting together a detailed model and realizing it may not actually mean that much,” Morton said, adding she wants to make building models more meaningful. Scott Ball / Rivard ReportAnna Morton of Morton Gestalt will be one of the first incubator companies at EPIcenter. EPIcenter, a nonprofit organization with plans to turn a former power plant on the Mission Reach into a think tank for energy innovation, will announce Tuesday the first cohort of its New Energy Incubator and Accelerator. There’s kind of a lack of connection back to design with it. If we could just close that loop a little bit, I think it would enhance our ability to design better buildings from an energy-efficiency standpoint” but also in other ways, Morton said. It’s a very novel idea to create this incubator, accelerator, new energy economy think tank, this maker space in an old, decommissioned power plant.” Disclosure: Go Smart Solar and CPS Energy are business members of the Rivard Report. Go Smart Solar, a solar panel installation service provider that leverages computing technology to optimize energy production, will lean on EPIcenter mentors as it scales operations up and expands into markets outside of San Antonio. In addition to its functions as an incubator and think tank, EPIcenter’s estimated $74 million redevelopment of a long-offline power plant on the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River aims to bring a fabrication laboratory for testing new products in the energy space, a conference center for hosting industry events, and an interactive, educational exhibit space. The redevelopment project has yet to break ground, but the accelerator program will function out of Geekdom in the meantime. EPIcenter is still $53 million away from its targeted $74 million goal for funding the planned facility, CEO Kimberly Britton said. The nonprofit plans to open the former CPS Energy facility in phases over the next three years.

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