BOLD Advertising Requires Some Bold Decision-Making

BOLD Advertising Requires Some Bold Decision-Making

Advertising has without doubt been transformed irrevocably by digital connectivity. Consumer product brands, service providers, organisations of any nature, and even individuals, can become their own media owners. Anyone with access to the internet can create and distribute unique content to generate audiences and build a bespoke following. What does it mean for the empirical guidelines and “rules” about advertising that evolved in the pre-digital era? 

Some advertising commentators appear to believe the established practices are redundant, a distraction, a nostalgic cling on to the past. As are the traditional ‘legacy media’ themselves. Other more seasoned operators in the sector are convinced that a new generation of advertisers are so overwhelmed by the digital opportunities to measure audience numbers and behaviour that they favour performance metrics over establishing what their advertising aims and strategy ought to be in the first place.

Effective advertising is carefully planned

An advertising strategy seeks to answer four key questions;

1.     What do we want to achieve? This relates to the company’s overall Business Objectives, and needs to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timetabled.

2.   What’s the creative message(s) that will achieve our aims?

3.     How are we going to deliver those messages – which communication channels and techniques to use?

4.     Who should we be talking to, who are our prime prospects?

I’m going to focus on the latter two points of delivering messages and targeting the key recipients, because it appears to me that the two questions are getting muddled together and resolved with one decision. Advertisers are increasingly choosing communication channels because of the way they can be targeted and their effectiveness measured, rather than due to their inherent communication qualities and their relevance to the advertising objectives.

Pre-digital media

A wide range of advertiser scenarios require different strategies and executions, though when I was planning how to spend £ millions for top advertising agency clients there were two basics: did an advertiser want to build a long-term brand image – stake out a position in their marketplace with a stand-out personality; or stimulate short-term sales or some other behaviour (e.g. apply for a business award, request a holiday company brochure, join a book club).

Mainstream mass-media advertising, and its techniques, was handled quite simplistically. There weren’t many research-led “scientific” solutions. To make it easy for advertisers to understand what their agency advisers were guiding them to do, there was high-scale adoption and use of simple acronyms such as AIDA: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. 

This mantra was applied just as much to infrequent and well-researched purchase decisions such as buying a motor car or international property investment, as to frequent repeat-purchase grocery products including breakfast cereals, beer, confectionery and washing-up liquid. So there was undoubtedly plenty of room for advertising to raise its game as a business discipline to be taken more seriously in the client boardrooms.

Frequency vs Recency

In practice, the aims of either building a long-term presence in people’s minds or generating a more direct response, required different strategies. The first aim was achieved through a planning emphasis on the number of times a message was seen or heard – Frequency Planning. Achieving a more direct response was better achieved by an approach based on Recency Planning. This requires achieving exposure to advertising at a time or place relevant to short-term desired actions, and was championed by the late Erwin Ophren

Recency Planning is about placing each individual opportunity for exposure to the advertising in a place and/or at a time when it is most likely to have its greatest effect. Legacy media examples includes simple executions like these:

  • Advertising d-i-y stores and products in the run-up to long weekends when people would be more likely to take on home improvement tasks.
  • Running tv commercials for breakfast cereals on breakfast-time tv channels.
  • Putting advertising for cars and motor accessories on radio at times when there is the highest proportion of the audience listening in-car.
  • Advertising specialist sports equipment in specialist magazines, whether it’s field sports, ice hockey, tennis, golf, running marathons, whatever.

The digital age

Fast forward to today, and the mass of online content and ubiquity of social media. Any business or other type of organisation, and indeed any individual person that seeks an online presence, has a multitude of opportunities to position themselves adjacent to or within relevant content. Or to actually provide content itself to satisfy people searching for solutions to their personal challenges, whether it’s home repairs, make-up tips, raising a family, dieting, where to shop for particular items, improve sports or business performance, or advice on virtually anything else. As well as creating influential social media accounts, people can even have/be their own YouTube channel!

The collection and management of mass digital data also enables specific targeting on individuals by their known location, interest, hobbies, pastimes, and attitudes and opinions about many issues including politics, as well as standard demographic data of age, socio-economic class and gender. Targeting the “right people” to begin with can be more specific. Monitoring their behaviour after exposure to certain messages is also possible in ways that were unheard of 10 years ago.

The rush to embrace specific targeting of highly defined individuals and transparency of accountability has brought us to a tipping point at which the benefits of online digital advertising – including remarketing, the impact of online influencers, email marketing, pay per click and all the rest – are thought not to just outweigh the usefulness of pre-digital legacy media, but to make them redundant.

Institutional aversion to running advertising on legacy media was brought home to me when a marketing student I mentor in one of the UK’s ten largest universities told me they are taught to never even consider advertising on television, billboards, radio or in hard copy print. “Online = good; offline legacy media that existed before = bad.” I’m not making this up.

Digital brands use legacy media

Though let’s have a reality check. YouTube is highly responsible for the growing trend to on-demand viewing, particularly among younger adults, in place of watching standard television with its linear scheduling of content. Their research-based report “Reach more than just viewers” encourages advertisers to target viewers by their hobbies, interests and passions, rather than by set times of day or day of week. Yet, as at March 2018, television was still delivering 94.6% of the total video advertising audiences in the UK (source: the generic television marketing body thinkbox).

UK television and video-on-demand viewing data: source, thinkbox

In 2018 the biggest spending sector on UK television advertising was online businesses. Amazon alone spent over £60 million, which was a 21% increase on its tv adspend in 2017. They clearly see benefits from expensively using more than just their own part of the media advertising landscape to project a strong brand image rather than just influence short-term decisions and actions.

What’s your “Why”?

In fact the brand positioning proposition, conveying what a brand stands for and thus its role in a person’s lifestyle, has been updated as its “Why.” This is a trend influenced strongly by Millennials and it requires brand owners and service providers to not only explain their products’ benefits and why they should be valued, but why they are in business providing them in the first place.

More people are increasingly making moral and ethical judgments on brand behaviour, and brands are increasingly aware of any poor public opinion of them. UK supermarket chain Tesco was rocked by the revelation that some of its 2019 Christmas cards were made by “slave labour” in a prison in China. Swedish fashion brand H&M is also investigating similar claims.  

A brand’s “Why” and the values it stands for is an on-going communication requirement, not tied to short-term purchase or usage decisions. 

New data shows “brands with purpose” are expected to grow at twice the rate of those without some focus on social or environmental responsibility. The reasons a brand’s “Why” is so important is explained by Simon Sinek in his now legendary TedTalk. The 18 minute version of this has been viewed almost 48 million times. 

Transformation and decentralisation of the advertising industry has manifestly given any organisation or individual opportunities to personally connect with potentially millions of people, or maybe what’s more important to some is to reach out to a much smaller group of key influencers. I work at it myself through managing clients’ social media accounts and creating online content (inbound marketing).

Technology has changed the way we connect with the world and it has transformed the way advertisements are broadcast. There was always B2B and B2C, now we can also use C2C. But I do not agree that is a reason to discard the benefits of legacy media that were expensively and effectively developed by major brand and business owners.

I’m also quite certain that when it comes to spending their advertising budgets, big-spending clients will expect to work with advisers who understand and know how to use legacy media.

BOLD Awards 2020

Advertising is one of 12 categories in the international BOLD Awards 2020 that aim to recognise top companies, projects and individuals powering breakthroughs around the world.

The closing date for entries is January 15, after which there will be a round of public voting – which we hope you will take part in. A panel of international judges will then determine the category winners, who will receive their awards at a black-tie ceremony on 27th March 2020 in Venice, Italy.

Want a chance to be there? To see all 12 categories and to submit your entry go to https://bold-awards.com/bold-awards-2020-categories/.

9 Ways To Ruin Your Open Innovation Challenge

9 Ways To Ruin Your Open Innovation Challenge

A growing number of organisations and projects are turning to open innovation challenges. They can generate fresh ideas and solutions from unexpected sources to open the way for sometimes truly transformational breakthroughs. And they can do it faster and at a lower cost than traditional R&D processes.

However, the growing popularity of such challenges and prize competitions does not mean they are easy to organise, or that the desired results are guaranteed.

At the CSW Global 2019 conference in San Francisco in September 2019, Aurelie Wen, Managing Partner of the open innovation platform Agorize North America, highlighted nine factors where challenge sponsors could miss out on maximising the effectiveness of their open innovation challenge. Here is her pitch deck for you to avoid any of the nine tripwires. 

BOLD Fintech Accelerators in Europe

The existing big players in the financial services market are all transforming their legacy systems and services to the digital ‘always on’ new era. Digital natives who have grown up knowing only the online digital world since at least their early teens are able to start with a blank page and embrace – and even create – new technology  to deliver faster, better value and more reliable services than the legacy providers. Is it a clash or is there synergy?

It wasn’t too long ago that fintechs were met with resistance by banks and the rest of the “financial establishment,” and when they achieved widespread traction they were perceived as a threat. Now, there is greater appreciation that fintech startups can build solutions much quicker than if the legacy corporates try to develop them in-house.  

Source: Raconteur, Future of Fintech

Consequently, many fintech accelerators have been founded by, or are at least significantly backed by, those existing players that include major banks, VCs, and sometimes government-backed business development agencies. Funding fintech accelerators is their means to access a pipeline of innovative startups who are delivering breakthroughs that are perhaps beyond the highly regulated corporate mindset and hierarchical structures of the big players.

What do accelerators provide?

Accelerators provide an attractive package of office space with access to technical resources, expert mentoring, connections to leading actors in financial markets, and even cash to cover living expenses. Gaining a place on a fintech accelerator programme could be compared to winning a prize in an open innovation challenge.

Highly popular

High demand for places on accelerator programmes means in some cases fewer than 1% of applicants are accepted. The accelerator hubs are able to select only the most promising startups that have already moved beyond proof of concept stage to a point of MVP or beta stage prototype, and are on the verge of gaining customer and marketplace traction – and thus an income. The hub ‘backers’ may also work to an undisclosed agenda of fintech solutions they would prioritise in order to meet any known customer demands.

What a place in an accelerator programme costs

In exchange the accelerator programme providers generally take a slice of equity, commonly between 5% and 8%. They then drive the startup management teams hard on a business development crash-course that aims to bring them in three months to a level that might have taken more like 18 months to reach if they had been left to their own devices.

Fintech accelerator locations

The startups and the accelerators thus exist in a symbiotic relationship and tend to naturally cluster around the main centres of financial expertise. This is where there is a receptive openness that appreciates their aims, availability of an educated and experienced workforce, and an investment ecosystem.

Timetabled formats

A number of accelerator hubs have structured programmes where a cohort of usually ten startups begin together, mentored individually though following a shared timetable. There is a formal application process with deadlines, interim interviews and presentations to give to win a place. Other hubs accept startups joining month-by-month on a rolling basis, and remain flexible to put extra resources in to what they identify as the most promising rising stars.

These are some of the accelerators that provide a formal business development course, usually lasting 12-13 weeks. Inclusion in this article does not mean we consider these fintech accelerators to be the biggest or better than others in Europe, they have been chosen to represent a cross-section of the flexible ways fintech accelerators can operate.

Locations and Accelerator Programme Providers

London

Barclays Bank is definitely part of the financial establishment, it was founded in 1690. Places on Barclays Accelerator are open to technology-focused startups across all aspects of financial services. Applicants can be from anywhere, though must attend the programme in person and thus have the right to remain in the UK.

It is a 13 week course based in central London for ten companies at a time that are likely to “solve real problems or create meaningful innovations.” Barclays takes 2% equity in each company, and its funding partner Techstars takes 4% for providing each team with up to $120,000.

Natwest, like Barclays, is one of the UK’s main high street banks. The Natwest Fintech Accelerator launched in 2018, and as well as London there are hubs in Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. This accelerator provides six month courses and does not take any equity as payment.

London and Amsterdam

Startupbootcamp is an affiliation of 20 accelerator hubs around the world that offer a variety of programmes for different industry sectors. In Europe, its fintech hubs are in London and Amsterdam. In London the sole focus is now on growth stage companies, whereas fintech startups can apply for accelerator programme places in Amsterdam.  

Startupbootcamp’s fintech programmes are backed by the UK Lloyds Banking Group, the Dutch Rabobank, Mastercard and PwC, among others big players.

The Amsterdam hub provides a three month accelerator programme, with six months use of shared co-working space and access to technical resources, plus each team is given €15,000 in cash to cover living expenses. Programmes conclude with Demo Day, a chance for the startups to showcase themselves to an audience of over 400 investors, partners, mentors, media, and the local ecosystem. 

In exchange, Startupbootcamp will require 6%-8% equity in each company accepted on the Amsterdam programme.

Frankfurt

Fintech Europe is an accelerator program launched in 2018 run and operated by Plug and Play Tech Center. It aims “to plug the gap between Silicon Valley and Frankfurt,” said Dr Sebastien Schafer, the CEO and Founder. 

It is available to startups from across the world to apply to participate in two batches per year (12 weeks each). The platform offers the corporate partners, who are some of the world’s leading players in the financial industry including Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, BNP Paribas, Danske Bank, TechQuartier and several more, opportunities to partner up with the most promising Fintechs. 

The startups do not have to provide any equity, funding comes from corporate sponsors. It also receives support as part of Germany’s Digital Hub initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.

Lisbon

Beta-i delivers the Lisbon Challenge, a tech oriented accelerator program based in Portugal’s capital that provides courses tailored to specific tech sectors including fintech. Their programmes work with 15 startups at a time on a 10 week course which ends with an Investment Day spent pitching to investors. To be selected a startup business must be incorporated in Portugal and at least two co-founders must fully attend the 10 week programme.

To date they have received 4,300 applications from startups to attend, of which they have worked with 210. 105 businesses that completed the programme have received a total investment of €75 million between them, operating in 20 different industries. 

Beta-i provides startups with Phase 1 funding in two tranches: €15,000 for 2% equity to all startups joining the programme, and a further €55,000 for 5% after the programme for the startups that have “risen up to the challenge”. Beyond this, in a Phase 2 the top five startups are offered a further 6 month incubation period, during which each startup will receive a further  investment of €40,000 for 6%-10% equity.

Programme partners include the Lisbon City Council.

Vilnius

Based in the capital city of the Lithuania, Startup Wise Guys has been accelerating startups since 2012, though is only in its third annual round of providing a formal accelerator programme for ten fintech startups at a time. 

It operates a two tier system. Startups that have reached MVP stage though do not yet have a marketable product can apply for a 14 week programme and up to €30,000 investment in exchange for 9% equity.

Startups that do have a product can apply for a place on a seven week course and up to €50,000 investment for 9% equity. All companies on either programme must be registered in Lithuania.

Applications open in May each year, and a three day boot camp each September reduces the applicants to 25. The pre-product 14 week accelerator programme runs through October to the end of December. The seven week programme for companies with a product then runs in January and February, after which it formally closes. However, during March and April, on-demand help is still available from mentors.

Stockholm

Stockholm has the highest population of any city in Scandinavia, and 18% of its workforce are in the finance sector. In late September 2019, Findec, a Swedish fintech incubator hub that has supported over 400 startups, announced its first three-month accelerator programme for fintech, regtech and insuretech startups. They are running it with PwC Sweden, and call it The Bonfire. Applicants must be based in Sweden, at a beta product stage ready for the injection of seed funding, and have at least two people working fulltime.

Nordea, which is the largest bank in the Nordic countries, is a second business partner. The Bonfire also has connections with fintech hubs in Norway, Denmark and Finland that in time will be able to filter through their strongest candidates. There is also a tie-up with the Japanese bank Nomura and two Japanese fintech hubs.

Five successful applicants for places in its first cohort have been announced. At this stage, details of the amount and terms of funding that may be available to startups accepted on the programmes are reserved for applicants only.

BOLD Awards 2020

Fintech is one of 12 categories in the annual BOLD Awards 2020. Other categories include AI, Robotics, Science, Space Frontier, Advertising and Marketplaces. The full list, and the place to submit an entry, is here. After a round of public voting in January and then assessment by a panel of international judges, category winners will receive their award at a prestigious black-tie ceremony on March 27th 2020 in Venice, Italy. Good luck!

Main image source: Finextra Retail Banking Technology Report 2019




Under a BOLD Influence: 80+ Influencer Marketing Statistics

Under a BOLD Influence – 80+ Influencer Marketing Statistics

Advertising is a business sector that has been significantly transformed by the internet and digital technology. Mass communication used to be controlled by gatekeeper media company owners, and it cost a lot of money to put messages in front of a lot of people. Now, with billions of people connected to each other through social media platforms, and with online publishing and video opportunities, each person can become their own media channel.

And so Influencer Marketing has evolved: endorsements and product placements from influencers, people and organizations who possess a purported expert level of knowledge and/or social influence in their respective fields.

It is an important aspect of today’s Advertising landscape, and the BOLD Awards welcome entries in this or any other Advertising-related sector. We’re open for submissions now, please click here to enter.

In the meantime, please click on this infographic image to see over 80 Influencer Marketing statistics, provided by smallbizgenius.

BOLD Awards 2020 Announces its First Six International Judges

BOLD Awards 2020 Announces its First Six International Judges

BOLD Awards is on a powerful mission to recognize top companies, projects and individuals that are are seen to be managing their crowd-related projects and initiatives in a way that really powers breakthroughs around the world.

The BOLD Awards are already open for submissions in 12 categories of business until December 31. A public vote early in 2020 will create shortlists of nominations in each category, and then an international panel of judges will assess them and determine the winners.

Hosted in Venice, Italy at H-FARM’s campus, BOLD Awards will thus be a unique awarding event which combines the power of the crowd and the hard work of individuals. We are delighted to announce the first six of our judges who will be reviewing nominations.

Chairperson of the BOLD Awards Judging Panel is Maurizio Rossi, Founder and Co-CEO of H-FARM. H-FARM launched in 2005 with the aim to help the tech-native generation become entrepreneurs, driven by a Human Philosophy and Design Culture. The company listed in 2015 and remains driven by the same values in order to address the transformation of non-tech corporates by the global startup ecosystem, and help the next generation of breakthrough entrepreneurs to embrace an educational path that fits the new reality of the sharing economy.

Rob Israch is CMO of the automated payments company Tipalti, which is the sponsor of the Marketplaces category. Rob has over 15 years of marketing expertise with an emphasis on data analytics, new technology and content marketing. He was previously VP Global Marketing Programs at Netsuite where he led global branding, and has also held management positions at Intuit and GE.

Our judge in the Space Frontier category is astrophysicist Marc Kuchner, who is currently the principal investigator at the popular citizen science website DiskDetective.org. With Wesley Traub he invented the band –limited coronagraph, a design to be used on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). He is also known for developing the ideas of ocean planets, Carbon Planets and Helium planets, and for his novel supercomputer models of planet-disk interactions.

As one of the pioneers in the crowdsourcing ad space, Epi Ludvik has established himself as a radical thinker and leader in crowdsourcing. As a global citizen, Epi has worked with clients throughout Asia, Europe and the US and understands the purpose-driven influence the crowd economy can have, not only on brands, but also on the greater society.

With this knowledge and experience Epi founded Crowdsourcing Week in 2013. Since the first CSW Global conference in 2013, over 20,000 people from 75 countries have attended various CSW events, marking them as the crowdsourcing events to attend.

A serial entrepreneur since graduation, Epi creates the strategies needed to leverage the crowd and drive exponential business growth.

Adrian Stan has a background in quantum physics, astrophysics, and nonlinear dynamics and obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics and Natural Sciences from University of Groningen, The Netherlands. He joined Philip Morris International R&D as a Senior Scientist in Systems Toxicology in 2019, and is currently responsible for the crowdsourcing activities launched through the sbv IMPROVER platform. sbvIMPROVER is sponsor of the BOLD Awards Science category.

Ricardo Marvão is Co-founder and Board Member of Beta-I, one of the main entrepreneurship and innovation organizations in Europe and based in Lisbon, Portugal. Since 2010 Beta-I has received over 4,000 startup applications to their programs, from which they have accelerated over 700 startups that have raised more than €80M. Recognized as one of the world’s most active startup accelerators, Wired magazine described them as “the top incubator in town.” Ricardo is responsible for the Open Innovation category.

All judges will apply consistent evaluation based on these criteria:
Level of Impact 40%, Scalability 30%, Transparency 20%, H-factor 10% (Human & Social).

We will be announcing the other judges early in January before public voting takes place.

Crowdsourcing Week and H-FARM, accelerator hub and digital educator, came together to organize this most innovative Awards program. By celebrating the BOLDness of the entrants and winners we aim to inform and inspire others to follow suit and to be BOLD.

Have you been involved in a project or innovation that’s worth bringing to the judges’ attention? Or maybe you know someone who you think should enter. It’s almost Christmas, don’t delay! Check the 12 categories and make your entry here. Good luck!

 

Retail Disruption Creates Opportunities for the BOLD

Retail Disruption Creates Opportunities for the BOLD

Many well-known retail brands have shut down in the past few years. Many others are re-negotiating rent costs to buy time to find ways to cope with pressures of reduced customer footfall, sales figures and profits. This spreads retailers’ challenges to a wider community of corporate owners of retail space and their shareholders – which includes millions of us through pension schemes and government investments. So when media headlines shout “the high street is dying,” whether in the UK or in other markets, we ought to take note. Though is it really dying, or transforming? And how can new tech help physical retailers regain some ground by disrupting the disruptors?

Digital transformation

Online shopping has been the first and most visible stage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Unlimited possibilities for billions of people connected by personal hand-held devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, have been spearheaded by how we buy things.

This new reality has been provided by tech giants including Amazon, eBay, and Alibaba. Though for many physical retailers the loss of just a small proportion of their sales has been enough to tip them in to a danger zone. Latest figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics show 19% of all UK consumer purchasing takes place online, and the figure is still growing.

Source: UK Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Some business owners, particularly independent retailers and their vocal trade bodies, want to claim “Endangered Species” status and demand regulatory changes. In the UK these include adding a sales tax to online purchases and a review of the entire business rates system. 

While online retail is certainly a contributory factor to the UK high street and US main street malaise, it  is not the sole issue. The thriving retail fashion brand Primark, for example has no online presence, while its online-only rival ASOS has begun to experience problems and has issued profit warnings.

Lucy Stainton is Head of Retail and Strategic Partnerships at the Local Data Company, which monitors the rates of business openings and closures across 680,000 UK retail premises. In a panel session at a recent event about the retail sector she confirmed a very healthy 64% of UK retail outlets are still independently owned. And when asked what types of retailers are most commonly going out of business, her reply was “The boring ones!”

The fairness, or lack of it, of anyone who chooses to shop online paying a levy to subsidise ‘boring’ shops, presumably run by the less enterprising owners, is debatable. Though the case for a review of business rates has some clear validity: in round terms, retailing accounts for 5% of the UK GDP yet the retail sector is levied nearer 20% of the country’s total business rates.

The role of local government

A bigger issue is that many local authorities remain caught in a pre-online retail time warp. In the UK, reduced access to central government funding through recent years has been offset by allowing local councils to keep a higher proportion of the money raised through business rates. Local retailers are often treated as a cash cow, as if there was no competition and they have an inexhaustible supply of customers.

Retail Disruption Creates Opportunities for the BOLD

Road transport policies were geared to reducing town centre traffic congestion and air pollution, partly through restricting the availability of car parking spaces and making what does exist more expensive. Many local authorities fail to see a fuller, holistic picture in which shoppers now need to be encouraged to support local stores rather than deterred from going to them. 

And the store owners need to ensure shoppers find it a rewarding experience when they get there. The word ‘retailtainment’ has entered the lexicon.

Social, not just commercial value

A growing number of built environment planners and lobbyists seek ways to establish a social value as well as a commercial value of high streets and local communities, and thus influence local authority decision-making in new ways.

The innovation foundation Nesta has addressed this issue through creating a board game called Flourish! Once downloaded, it can be customised to account for local circumstances and provides an opportunity for a variety of stakeholders to come together and share their relative points of view over a few rolls of the dice to assess policy options for boosting a local economy and strengthening the community. 

Some Retail Categories are Growing

The presence of charity shops in high streets and shopping centres is often used as media shorthand to suggest an area has problems of retail decay and community decline. Admittedly, charities are keen to take up short-term leases and they pay just a small fraction of business rates bills. Though this is an out-of-date attitude. Recent research findings released recently by Giffgaff, a contract-free mobile phone service provider, shows the stigma over buying recycled goods is lifting. A third of UK shoppers have bought used and refurbished items, or what some prefer to describe as “pre-loved.”

Some charity shops are actually leading the way in providing a better customer experience. They don’t have new lines or sales to highlight through PR or expensive media advertising. Store volunteers have to recognise the value of conversing with both the shoppers and the people donating goods who come through the door. All represent an opportunity to start the process of converting a casual visitor up the loyalty ladder to become a regular financial donor, or maybe even a shop floor colleague. It requires further skills beyond just transactional.

Others are multi-purposing to add to their social value on a high street and in a community. As an example, Robin Osterley, CEO of the Charity Retail Association told a “Future of the High Street” meeting organised by the non-profit social network Smiley Movement that the British Heart Foundation is distributing defibrillators to all its shops for public use. And they will also soon offer free blood pressure testing.

Lucy Stainton of the Local Data Company added that in the first half of 2019 the fastest growing retail category in the UK was men’s barber shops, and 95% of them are independently owned. Where once there was once only a magazine rack, customers are increasingly drawn in by attractions such as pool tables, and encouraged to treat them as places to socialise. 

Retail Disruption Creates Opportunities for the BOLD
L to R: Lucy Stainton. Local Data Company; Enedina Columbano, TRAID, Neil Duffy, Retail TRUST; Andrew Goodacre, British Independent Retailers Association; Robin Osterley, Charity Retail Association

Online Tech that Support  Retailers

As much as the digital transformation of shopping habits has put pressure on bricks-and-mortar retailers, there are also a growing number of tech providers offering to help them. Here is a selection.

Launchd in 2014 by a husband and wife team who began their retail careers with a market stall, Down Your High Street is a service that enables local independent retailers to achieve an online presence in a digital marketplace. Shoppers can source out-of-the-ordinary products from 530 independent shops based all over the country. They can also opt for an interest-free instalment payment plan if they wish through DYHS’s collaboration with the fintech payment platform Clearpay.

Dotty Directory provides advertising for small and medium size retailers on a number of websites with a local focus on areas around the UK. In return, their details are passed on to service providers such as insurance companies who will try to sell to them.

MaybeTech offers courses on using social media for local retailers to raise their online presence and attract more customers. Also, their platform uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to help larger organisations listen and engage with their customers through social media, benchmark their results, and optimise the ROI of their activity.

LoLo (short for Local Loyalty) has started rolling out a mobile app that enables shoppers to benefit from using online tokens that unlock cash price reductions in local stores. The retailers can in turn use the tokens they accept to enjoy their own savings on goods and services they require for their business, including media advertising. When there are enough consumer users they will also receive customer data feedback in order to improve future decision-making on pricing and offers. The scheme is networked so that regardless of wherever tokens are earned they can be used with any retailer or service provider signed up to LoLo.

Near Street is a search platform that shows the availability of items in nearby physical stores alongside the regular online options of Amazon, eBay and so on. Any stores that maintain online records of stock levels can participate. The system also helps product manufacturers and brand owners check where their goods are after they have been delivered to distribution centres.

BOLD Awards 2020

There are 12 categories in the award programme. Some of the organisations included in this article are relevant to the Advertising, Fintech, Artificial Intelligence and Marketplaces sectors. Other categories include Open Innovation, Crowdsourcing, Agritech and Science. Entries are open now until December 31, and if you think you’ve got what it takes to be BOLD, check the full list of categories and please complete your details here -> http://bold-awards.com/submit-your-project

There will be a round of public voting in January 2020, that we hope you will take part in, after which a panel of international judges will decide the winners. The prestigious awards ceremony is a black-tie event that will be held on the campus of the startup accelerator hub H-Farm near Venice, Italy, on March 27.

Applications for an invitation to attend the award ceremony can be made via this link.

BOLD Startups Are Transforming Many Marketplaces

We are well acquainted with the likes of Amazon, eBay, Rakuten and Alibaba – the giants of online retail. These were among the first wave of pioneer disruptors who used the internet to rock the retail boat and make it easy and reliable for us to purchase goods and items from home or the office. Or on mobile devices, from anywhere with an internet signal.

Online shopping continues to grow in the UK and is currently estimated to represent 19% of the total. There is a Christmas shopping spike in November every year. The downside is a collapse of many large well-known retailers, as well as countless local independents, who have struggled to grasp the new reality and adapt their business models in time. But that’s another issue.

Source: UK ONS (Office of National Statistics)

Following the broad scale mass market platforms that have influenced many people’s behaviour, there is a growing range of specialist consumer and B2B marketplace platforms. Some are filling gaps as traditional markets disappear, some want to make traditional markets disappear, and through the use of technology some are providing services far beyond the scope of their traditional predecessors. Many were pitching to potential investors at a recent NOAH Conference in London where we caught up with them.

An important aspect of new technology that encourages many other startup marketplaces is the proliferation of fintech solution providers. Automated payment systems, such as provided by Tipalti, enable speedier, easier to manage and lower cost invoice processing and money transfer on a mass scale – cross-border if required – than legacy banks.

Consumer Marketplaces

Selling a home

Movewise is a proptech startup operating in the residential real estate sector. There are a lot of disappointed people who try to buy or sell domestic properties. Half the valuations made by estate agents don’t get listed. Those that are listed are frequently at over-estimated valuations to encourage sellers to go ahead. Then buyers mostly fail to make offers that meet the valuations.

Pure online services accounted for 5% of the UK market in 2018. However, many buyers and sellers remain wedded to the idea of using a traditional service and dealing with a person they believe they can trust. 

Founder and CEO Tom Scarborough

Movewise is targeting the other 95% of the market with an online service that deals direct with homeowners who want to sell. It provides them with a valid valuation based on mass data, checks where and what they are looking to move to, and then analyses the relative performance of different estate agents to put the homeowner in touch with the ones that have the best track record against their most important criteria.

Founder and CEO Tom Scarborough began Movewise in 2018 after the problems he went through selling his own property identified the pain points he hopes to solve. He says they will soon be crowdfunding.

Second-hand jewellery

Buying and selling second-hand jewellery is a global market worth £30bn. It is a slow, complex and fragmented buyers’ market in which sellers are subject to inconsistent valuations with no recognised independent yardstick of accuracy, competency or honesty. It can be a frustrating and time-consuming process to get a valid price.

Verado.com provides an independent valuation and makes details of the items available for sale to a global network of buyers. They aggregate offers from over a thousand national and international dealers to provide sellers with the absolute best price. They provide insurance for goods in transit, take payment from the buyer which is transferred to the seller within 7 days, and charge 10% commission.

Verado is the brainchild of Claudio de Giovanni, a serial entrepreneur with an MSc from London School of Economics.

Fashion retail

Any number of customer/purchase tracking systems can record the items we buy. But what about the reasons why we buy them, and what they show about us as a type of person?

Fashion journalist and psychologist Anabel Maldonado founded The Psychology of Fashion and in 2020 will launch PSYKHE. It is a test shoppers can take that reveals the Why they buy what they choose, not just the What they buy, powered by machine learning and personality trait science.

Once a retailer or a brand owner understands why a customer has certain preferences they can more skilfully create other recommendations for them. The shopper will receive better quality information that is more suited to their psychographic preferences, and will perhaps start to see those brands and retailers as their lifestyle partners.

The process can be extended to where people choose to go on holiday, where to dine out and where to work out, as examples.

Chartering a pleasure boat

Netherlands-based GotoSailing is a a 30 year old boat charter business. It has adopted new technology to disrupt its own market with an aim to be market leader in five years. Anyone registered with the platform can search a data base of 5,000 boats, specify additional services, and pay through an instant booking facility. It’s faster, safer and more comprehensive than was ever previously possible.

The boats are vetted by a team of experts. The costs have no hidden extras. Boats can be for exclusive use or with a hired kipper and crew. Payment is made to GotoSailing who in turn handle payments to the boat owners. The boat users cannot be charged by anyone else for anything else.

Sailing enthusiasts have access to boats they cannot afford to own, and boat owners start to earn an income from an asset that spends most of its time moored up somewhere. And 3% of all booking fees are donated to sailing clubs to help with their upkeep and encourage people to keep taking up sailing.

B2B Marketplaces

Livestock and crops

Stepping in to the gap left by the demise of many livestock markets in the UK’s traditional market towns is Hectare. Farmers are increasingly finding they have to transport their animals further to sell them at market. They may have to take from their own safe and disease-free locality to an area with a higher risk. It was becoming more expensive, taking more valuable time, and causing more stress.

Hectare is an online platform that examines numerous markets to aggregate current prices being paid. It provides an online interface for buying and selling livestock and cereal crops, and handles payment through its FarmPay service.

Hectare’s CEO Doug Bairner is a serial disruptor. He has worked in the marketing team at Red Bull, launched a cycle clothing business using crowdfunding, and worked for the crowdfunding-based craft beer maestros Brewdog.

Hectare (which was not pitching at the NOAH Conference) has raised over £3m from investors and organisations from grant funding from government schemes, to crowdfunding investment from individuals and farm businesses, and strategic investment from well known angel investors.

Scrap Metal

Most scrap metal originates from product manufacturing. Up to now it has been disposed of in a piece meal manner, often dealing with a shortlist of personally known buyers or, if new to the market, on a word of mouth basis.

Having built a business on new tech, German startup Schrott42 takes briefs from smelters and then find sellers who can meet each brief. They offer prices based on an extensive database of recent transactions. When a deal is agreed they collect the waste, deliver the waste to any one of 80 sites in Germany which is the most convenient for the smelter, take payment from the smelter, and the scrap metal provider is paid in 48 hours.

Schrott24 recently qualified for an EU grant worth €1.2m.

Live music industry

Swiss-based Optune is a live music industry booking platform. Performing live music has become more valuable to artists than sales of recorded music, yet 50% of the fees live music event organisers and promoters pay to artists doesn’t reach them. It goes to middlemen and supports a disorganised, inconsistent and inefficient supply chain.

The Optune web app enables artists, agents, promoters and venue managers to collaborate on and organize events together. Artists can set their availability, itineraries, riders, are provided with schedules and timetables, and all can create and exchange contracts and invoices with automatic templates. Optune facilitates the sharing and processing of all relevant event details, and every player can view the event and contribute to it in the same shared online space.

Once an artist is booked to appear an automated social media marketing programme kicks in.

BOLD Awards 2020

Marketplaces is one of 12 categories in the BOLD Awards 2020. You can check all 12 categories – which include AI, Robotics, Fintech, Agritech and Open Innovation – and submit your entry here, to December 31.

Public online voting will take place in January 2020, a panel of international judges will decide category winners, and awards will be presented at a black-tie ceremony hosted by our event partner H-Farm on their campus just outside Venice, Italy. The date for that is March 27, 2020. So, what are you waiting for?


Smart Farming, or the Future of Agriculture

Smart Farming, or the Future of Agriculture

We are a Ukraine-based company which means that our parents and grandparents lived in the era of infamous Soviet collective farms, where tractors were considered to be an ultimate technology. For them, a smart farm will sound like a fairy tale.

So let it be, a fairy tale of a smart farm.

First of all, what is a smart farm?

Smart Farming is a concept of farming management using modern Information and Communication Technologies to increase the quantity and quality of products.

Among the technologies available for present-day farmers there are

  • Sensing technologies, including soil scanning, water, light, humidity, temperature management;
  • Software applications — specialized software solutions that target specific farm types;
  • Communication technologies, such as cellular communication;
  • Positioning technologies, including GPS;
  • Hardware and software systems that enable IoT-based solutions, robotics and automation; and
  • Data analytics, that underlies the decision making and prediction processes.
Technologies involved in smart farming, according to Beecham Research 

Armed with all possible tools, farmers can monitor the field conditions without even going to the field and make strategic decisions for the whole farm or for a single plant.

The driving force of the smart farming is the IoT — the concept of connected smart machines and sensors integrated on farms to make farming processes data-driven and data-enabled.

IoT-based farming cycle:

The core of the IoT is the data — and more data. To optimize the farming process, IoT devices installed on a farm should collect and process data in a repeated cycle that enables farmers to quickly react to emerging issues and changes in ambient conditions.

Observation — sensors record observational data from the crops, livestock, the soil or atmosphere.

Diagnostics — the sensor values are fed to specific software with predefined decision rules and models that ascertains the condition of the examined object and any deficiencies or needs.

Decisions — after issues are revealed, the software determines whether location-specific treatment is necessary and if so, which.

Implementation — the treatment needs to be performed by means of the correct operation of machines.

After evaluation, the cycle repeats from the beginning.

It is believed that the IoT can add value to all areas of farming from growing crops to forestry. In this blogpost, we’ll talk about two big spheres where IoT systems can revolutionize agriculture: precision farming and farming automation/robotization.

Precision Farming

Applications of IoT in agriculture

Precision farming, or precision agriculture, is an umbrella notion for IoT-based approaches that make farming more controlled and accurate. In simple words, plants and cattle get precisely the treatment they need, determined with great accuracy. The biggest difference from the classical approach is that precision farming allows decisions to be made per square meter or even per plant/animal rather than for a field.

By precisely measuring variations within a field, farmers can boost the effectiveness of pesticides and fertilizers, or use them selectively.

Precision Livestock Farming

Like in the case of precision agriculture, Smart Farming techniques, enable farmers to better monitor the needs of individual animals and adjust their nutrition correspondingly, thereby preventing disease and enhancing herd health.

Besides, large farm owners can use wireless IoT applications to monitor the location, well-being, and health of their cattle. With this information they can identify animals that are sick so they can be separated from the herd, and prevent the spread of disease.

Smart Farming, or the Future of Agriculture

Automation in Smart Greenhouses

Traditional greenhouses control the environmental parameters through manual intervention or a proportional control mechanism which often results in production loss, energy loss, and increased labor cost.

And IoT driven smart greenhouse intelligently monitors as well as controls the climate, eliminating the need for manual intervention. To do so, different sensors that measure the environmental parameters according to the plant requirement are used and store it in a cloud for further processing and control with minimal manual intervention.

Agricultural Drones

Agriculture is one of the major industries to incorporate both ground-based and aerial drones for crop health assessment, irrigation, crop monitoring, crop spraying, planting, soil and field analysis and other spheres.

Since drones collect multispectral, thermal, and visual imagery during the flight, the collected data provide farmers with insights into plant health indices, plant counting and yield prediction, plant height measurement, canopy cover mapping, field water ponding mapping, scouting reports, stockpile measuring, chlorophyll measurement, nitrogen content in wheat, drainage mapping, weed pressure mapping, and so on.

Importantly, IoT-based smart farming targets not only large-scale farming operations, but can also add value to growing trends in agriculture like organic farming, family farming, including breeding particular cattle and/or growing specific cultures, preservation of particular or high quality varieties etc., and enhance highly transparent farming to consumers, society and market consciousness.

Smart Farming, or the Future of Agriculture

Internet of food and farm 2020

If we have the Internet of Things and the Internet of Medical Things, why not have one for food? The European Commission project Internet of Food and Farm 2020 (IoF2020), a part of Horizon 2020 Industrial Leadership, explores through research and regular conferences the potential of IoT technologies for the European food and farming industry.

It is believed that the potential of a smart web of sensors, actuators, cameras, robots, drones, and other connected devices brings an unprecedented level of control and automated decision-making and makes it possible to build a lasting innovative ecosystem.

Third Green Revolution

Smart Farming and IoT-driven agriculture pave the way for what can be called a Third Green Revolution.

Following the plant breeding and genetics revolutions, the Third Green Revolution is taking over the agriculture based upon the combined application of Information and Communication Technologies such as precision equipment, the Internet of Things, sensors and actuators, geo-positioning systems, Big Data, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, drones), robotics, etc.

In the future depicted by this revolution, pesticide and fertilizer use will drop while overall efficiency will be optimized. IoT technologies will enable better traceability of food which in turn will lead to increased food safety. It will also be beneficial for the environment, for example, through more efficient use of water, or optimization of treatments and inputs.

Therefore, Smart Farming has a real potential to deliver a more productive and sustainable agricultural production, based on a more precise and resource-efficient approach. New farms will finally realize the eternal dream of the mankind and feed our growing population that may reach 9.6 billion by 2050.

BOLD Awards 2020

Agritech – smart farming – is one of 12 categories in the BOLD Awards 2020. Other categories include AI, Robotics, Science, Advertising, Fintech and Marketplaces. The full list, and the place to submit an entry in any of the categories, is here. After a round of public voting and assessment by a panel of international judges, category winners will receive their award at a prestigious black-tie ceremony on March 27th 2020 in Venice, Italy. Entries can be submitted now and up to December 31.

Article credit: written by Sciforce, a Ukraine-based IT company specialized in development of software solutions based on science-driven information technologies #AI #ML #IoT #NLP #Healthcare #DevOps

BOLD Use of AI is Powering Breakthroughs in Many Sectors and Markets

BOLD use of AI is powering breakthroughs in many sectors and markets

Debates on the benefits of and threats from artificial intelligence are moving on. Projections of mass unemployment due to the loss of routine work are becoming more balanced by realisations that maybe 65% of children in primary school today are going to have jobs that don’t exist yet! 

The roles of Governments are being seen less as subsidising declining business sectors and mass unemployment and more as preparing and retraining people with new skills to implement breakthroughs in all sectors of industry and services. The reduction of drudgery in the workplace allows the integration of AI with HI – combining it with human intelligence to develop a hybrid augmented intelligence and release a tidal wave of human creativity and innovation.

The more predictable areas where AI is going to make a swift difference is anything that involves scrutiny of a mass of information. In some aspects of this, the ability to identify patterns, trends or links among the mass of so much data that is available these days is becoming beyond the scope of individual humans. We’ll look at some examples of this, and also take a look at a more humanitarian example where AI is beginning to make a positive difference in areas that were once thought to rely on the “human touch.”

The future of work

Perhaps the first thing to do, though, is to educate tomorrow’s workforce about AI. Career opportunities are being created everywhere in new tech and multi-disciplinary hybrid AI. As an example, Canada’s need for qualified AI workers is growing exponentially, and most of the country’s educational institutions are struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving market.

The Canadian government has part-funded the AI Pathways talent development programme to inform and educate Canada’s youth about the learning pathways and career strategies that are available to them. Much of this is done by encouraging them to provide AI-based solutions to open innovation challenges posted by the Agorize platform relating to three core sectors of Sustainability, Work and Education, and Social Equality. 

Fintech/Proptech

The use of AI by Fintech startups is disrupting the financial services sector almost beyond recognition. Major consumer brands that have taken hundreds of years to establish their reputation are being eclipsed by a whole number of new kids on the block.

One vulnerable finance sector is mortgage loans for people to buy homes. The UK’s £270bn mortgage market is still heavily dominated by the “big six” consumer banks. In 2018 they accounted for nearly 70% of all mortgage lending, though mortgage decisions can still take weeks to process and cause some fallout due to deals and buying-chains that collapse in that time.

Startup M:QUBE plans to use AI to shake up the UK home loans market from early 2020 by using artificial intelligence to extract data about borrowers more quickly, and from more sources, than conventional lenders and the credit agencies they use. Co-founders Stuart Cheetham and Richard Fitch have already raised a £5m seed round of investment from institutional backers.

DigitalStreet is a service being pioneered by the UK’s HM Land Registry that holds the records of all property ownership in the country. They are using Al to provide a comprehensive service to homebuyers and the professional advisors they turn to. Many people find moving home a daunting process. DigitalStreet claims over 50% of UK homebuyers in 2018 were ill through stress and damaged relationships with their partners. There are plenty of pain points to help people navigate.

Early in the moving process DigitalStreet will be able to address a number of important issues, particularly when people are moving to a new area they are unfamiliar with. Maybe the movers want to maintain a lifestyle, and require the locations of gyms and fitness centres, theatres, galleries, cinemas or sports clubs. Perhaps they want to check environmental issues such as local air pollution levels; the level of participation in community matters and activities; maybe they have personal safety concerns and want to know about crime statistics; or the cost and reliability of public transport to commute to their workplace. This will all be sourced through AI to be available from a single provider.

Healthtech

According to figures from technology investment company Atomico, healthtech is the third most dominant industry in European technology, with around $2.6bn invested in 2018, up from $1.6bn in 2017.

Healx, is a UK startup co-founded by one of the inventors of Viagra. It has raised $56m in Series B funding to expand the rollout of its artificial intelligence technology that hunts for new treatments for rare diseases by making predictions about how those diseases might respond to drugs that already exist. 

Image source: Healx

Historically, literature reviews are a critical part of the scientific process. By reading as much of the available literature as possible, researchers may reach conclusions that are more reliable than those from individual studies. There is a risk of missing something relevant if a topic is not well-studied, or, conversely, being utterly overwhelmed by the number of potentially relevant studies if a topic is well-studied. AI can help to solve this problem because computers can sort through science papers much more quickly.

In a test, a manual search and an AI search for articles relevant to a particular skin condition produced similar results, with a 77% duplication of articles found by both methods. However, the manual search took a researcher four hours a week for four months, and the AI search was completed in three hours.  

Legaltech

In October 2019,  Authenticity.AI, a US global leader in AI solutions for legal and compliance industries, announced the launch of an automated court transcription service. By using AI and natural language processing (NLP), the application analyses the sounds captured by digital court recording software and transcribes them from audio or video to court formatting approved transcript files. 

This brings immense cost and time savings to a historically labour-intensive process, and also allows court reporters to review, modify and approve their final transcripts for accuracy before publishing them. 

AI for social service provision

Since 2012, StreetLink has run a UK nationwide system to provide members of the public with a way to notify local authorities when they see a rough sleeper so that support teams can be alerted. But there’s frequently a recurring problem of incomplete information that makes it hard to locate each rough sleeper, and on average only one-in-seven are found by response teams.

Homeless in London, UK. Image credit: Tom Parsons 

By using information from past decisions, data scientists have created a machine learning model to automatically categorise alerts, giving StreetLink an immediate ability to prioritise them. With rough sleeping in London currently hitting record highs, the AI-based solution will be implemented for the first time during the coming winter months.

BOLD Awards 2020

All of these startups would make strong claim in the BOLD Awards AI category. Or maybe you have worked on an alternative AI-based initiative that promises to make an outstanding breakthrough. 

Entries are currently open to 31 December 2019. After a January round of public voting followed by an assessment by a panel of international judges, the final black-tie award ceremony takes place 27 March 2020 on the campus of H-Farm, a major startup accelerator and digital educator, near Venice in Italy. Make your entry here, if you think you’re BOLD enough.

Main image source: Authenticity.AI

Fintech Startups Disrupt Market Leaders with AI

Artificial intelligence is fundamentally changing the way that the consumer and small business financial system works. In the last few years, large investment banks have hired artificial intelligence specialists from the world of academia and put them in charge of their AI divisions. Fintech start-ups have begun using machine-learning algorithms to model credit ratings and detect fraud, and hedge funds and high-frequency traders are using AI to make investment decisions.

Most legacy banks have a fixed model of providing a free basic consumer banking service to their customers, and then charging disproportionately for additional services. Many services were developed pre-digital, and bank customers had to accept a slow pace and high costs. Digital technology has been introduced where it can be to improve efficiency, but they essentially remain analogue-designed processes.

Against this backdrop, Fintech startups tend to focus on one specific financial facility and develop a better and faster service at lower cost to the user. With better and automated examination of more databases they are able to accept more people as customers, maintain a lower default rate, and achieve a higher repeat rate. 

Several fintech startups were pitching to potential investors at the recent NOAH Conference in London UK, and a cross-section of them demonstrate the array of services they hope to steal away from the traditional providers.

Vetting for Home Tenancy Agreements

Virtually anyone who has rented a home has gone through the process of being vetted by a credit rating agency. In the UK, banks reject 50% of loan applications simply because there is not enough data available on the applicant to make a robust decision. And a refusal is itself a black mark on a person’s already weak credit rating, generally leading to higher interest rates charged by future lenders. So the process helps no-one.

The team at the Risk42 startup based in Hamburg, Germany, is led by founder Roberto Valerio. They previously specialised in fraud prevention and detection, and analysed over 700,000 loan applications. Using many additional data sources that the ‘regular’ credit agencies don’t think to consider they have been able to give a valid appraisal of 90% of applicants.

Risk42 raised seed funding in September 2018 and is currently raising a second round of investment finance.

Turnover-based Business Lending

After the financial crash of 2008, banks everywhere became more selective over who they lend to. Startups were starved of cash, and the growth of equity crowdfunding since then has been a market response. Though company founders are not always happy or willing to dilute their own shareholding.

Berlin-based ConsciousGrowth started just seven months ago under founder Sebastien Nienbaber. Startups that are already trading can apply to share a percentage of their future revenue in exchange for up-front working capital.

ConsciousGrowth uses AI to consider a wider range of variables in deciding to make business loans. By providing marketing and revenue data alongside basic business information, a business can receive funding in as little as two days.

Unlike equity crowdfunding it doesn’t cost business owners any equity; they do not have to give personal guarantees that a bank would require; and unlike VC funding they are not obliged to accept a stranger on their board of directors. Monthly cash flows can fluctuate, which is why repayments scale up or down from one month to the next in line with net revenue.

Small Business Loans

Led by Founder and CEO Jens Woloszczak who was previously a Senior Consultant at McKinsey & Co., Spotcap developed an in-house credit risk algorithm to provide flexible and accessible loans to small businesses.

It launched in Spain in September 2014 before expanding to the Netherlands and Australia in 2015, the UK in 2016 and New Zealand in 2017.

They are beginning to find that numerous banks and other lending institutions want to work with them to provide their own SME clients with an efficient and straightforward lending experience. Research shows 81% of banks believe the way to adopt digitisation is to partner with new generation providers like Spotcap and many other fintech startups.

Three More In Brief…………..

London-based Fluency is a startup crypto bank. Mainstream banks won’t hold cryptocurrencies and cash transfers from them to buy a cryptocurrency can take 3-8 days and cost up to 15% in fees, says Co-Founder Inga Mullins. Fluency’s cash transfers to buy crypto are instant, deposits are free, and there’s zero withdrawal cost. Crypto-fiat exchange is free up to £5,000 month. Like many fintech startups, Fluency provides a better service faster and cheaper than legacy providers. Fluency has just started a round of seed funding in U.S. and U.K.

Nemuru is a Barcelona-based startup in Spain that provides on-the-spot personal loans in three minutes at the point-of-sale for buyers of high ticket items costing up to €20,000. Their AI-based credit checking is faster and more accurate, and can accept more shoppers than traditional credit agencies can assess. They have over 300 store-owner users. Nemuru initially partnered with BBVA and BancoSabadell (two of the biggest Spanish banks) for funding operations and have so far raised €2 million from local VCs. Nemuru is enjoying an average 70% monthly growth and plans to expand to Colombia and Mexico.

flatfair is a fintech/proptech startup based in London. There is a vast level of distrust between landlords and tenants over deposits – and getting them back at the end of a property rental. Tenants join flatfair as a member for a cost equivalent to one week of their rental agreement, and can use a card rather than cash to pay a deposit. flatfair also runs credit checks for the landlord that are better at determining risk levels through using AI to assess additional data collection points. Clients include several major UK letting companies. 

BOLD Awards 2020

Any of these startups are BOLD enough to enter the Fintech category, which is one of 12 categories in the BOLD Awards 2020. Other categories include AI, Robotics, Science, Advertising and Marketplaces. The full list, and the place to submit an entry, is here. After a round of public voting and assessment by a panel of international judges, category winners will receive their award at a prestigious black-tie ceremony on March 27th 2020 in Venice, Italy.