Day: June 24, 2019

Monzo, the UK challenger bank, raises £113M Series F led by YC’s Continuity fund at a £2B post-money valuation

Monzo, the fast-growing U.K.-based challenger bank with more than two million account holders, has raised £113 million (~$144m) in additional funding.

Confirming TechCrunch’s scoop in April, the Series F round is led by Y Combinator’s “Continuity” growth fund, and gives the company a new £2 billion (~$2.5b) post-money valuation. That’s double the £1 billion valuation it garnered in October last year.

A number of other new and existing investors have also participated in the Series F. They include Latitude, General Catalyst, Stripe, Passion Capital, Thrive, Goodwater, Accel, and Orange Digital Ventures.

The investment by London-based Latitude, the growth fund from prolific seed investor LocalGlobe, is particularly noteworthy given that LocalGlobe itself didn’t previously back Monzo. The same might be said of YC’s Continuity, considering that Monzo isn’t a YC alumni (although GoCardless, Monzo co-founder Tom Blomfield’s previous startup, did take part in the Silicon Valley accelerator).

The take-away: a growth fund attached to an early-stage fund can be a great antidote to the anti-portfolio (the list of successful companies a VC firm either missed, were unable or chose not to invest in).

Meanwhile, Monzo’s new funding round and YC’s backing should be viewed within the context of not only fast growth and increasingly convincing product-market fit in the U.K. — the challenger bank is currently adding 200,000 new sign-ups for its current account each month — but also recently unveiled plans to tentatively launch across the pond.

We first reported that Monzo was busy assembling a U.S.-based team over five months ago, and the U.K. company made its U.S. plans official last week. This will see a U.S. Monzo app and connected Mastercard debit card available via in-person signups at events to be held soon. The rollout will initially consist of a few thousand cards, supported by a waitlist in preparation for a wider launch.

The U.S. launch is being done in partnership with a local bank, but in the longer term Monzo plans to apply for its own U.S. bank license, similar to the strategy it employed in the U.K. so as to own and operate as much of its technical, product and regulatory infrastructure as possible.

In the U.K., this has helped Monzo achieve an NPS score of 80, which Blomfield previously told me is unusually high for a bank. This is seeing 60% of U.K. signups remain long-term active, transacting at once per week. As a counterpoint, however, the percentage of Monzo users that pay a salary into their Monzo account sits at between about 27% and 30% of active users, suggesting that a significant number of Monzo customers aren’t yet using it as their main account (Monzo’s definition of salaried is anyone who deposits at least £1,000 per month by bank transfer).

Success in the U.S., therefore, isn’t a given, conceded Blomfield when I had a call with him earlier this month. Instead, he argued that the key to cracking North America will be creating a fully localised version of Monzo based on carefully listening to U.S. users and once again finding product-market fit. He says there are obvious and less obvious cultural and technical differences in the way Brits and Americans save, spend and manage their finances, and this will require significant product divergence from the U.K. version of Monzo. Today’s new £113 million injection of capital is clearly designed to provide some of the breathing space required to achieve that.

As a side note, there are encouraging signs from other London-based fintechs that have ventured across the pond. One recent example is the financial “digital assistant” chatbot Cleo, which entered the U.S. around a year ago and has been more successful than the company anticipated, seeing Cleo add 650,000 active U.S. users to date. In fact, the U.S. currently makes up more than 90% of new Cleo users, prompting one source to describe the U.K. startup as effectively a U.S. company now.

Jake Paul and Tana Mongeau got engaged and no one is sure if it’s real

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YouTube’s loudest couple is engaged, and honestly nobody surprised.

Jake Paul proposed to fellow vlogger Tana Mongeau during a weekend trip to Las Vegas to celebrate her 21st birthday. At around 1:30 a.m. at a club on Monday, he brought out a three-tier cake decorated with an enormous ring and the words, “Will you marry me, Tana?”  

She immediately tweeted about it. 

JAKE JUST PROPOSED

— Tana Mongeau (@tanamongeau) June 24, 2019

JAKE PAUL AND TANA MONGEAU ARE ENGAGED! @jakepaul @tanamongeau Y’ALL CRAZY CRAZY DAMN CANT WAIT FOR THE CONTENT & THE DRAMA ALERT @KEEMSTAR pic.twitter.com/eUPns3mv0J

— 💌 (@fullsendjana) June 24, 2019 Read more…

More about Youtube, Jake Paul, Tana Mongeau, Culture, and Web Culture

Save $500 on the Alienware curved gaming monitor and get a $150 Visa card

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TL;DR: The immersive Alienware 34-inch curved gaming monitor is on sale for $999.99, saving you $500. Plus, get a $150 Visa prepaid card with your purchase.


If you’re going to make the investments into PC gaming (i.ecomputer, keyboard, mouse, headset, etc.), you want to make sure what you’re spending money on is actually worth it. A monitor is arguably one of the most important pieces of your gaming setup — it’s how you actually see what you’re playing. 

The Alienware 34-inch curved gaming monitor features a display that will cause you to lose yourself in every game. Currently, you can snag the monitor on sale for $500 off, and you’ll receive a $150 Visa prepaid card with your purchase. Read more…

More about Gaming, Alienware, Monitor, Mashable Shopping, and Tech

The next service marketplace wave: Vertical market-networks

Ivan Smolnikov
Contributor

Ivan Smolnikov is the CEO and founder of Smartcat, the market network platform for the translation industry.

The last few decades have produced many successful marketplaces. We went from goods marketplace pioneers such as eBay and Amazon to simple service marketplaces such as Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Upwork, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and Fiverr. But why haven’t we seen many successful B2B service marketplaces?

Table of Contents


Why Many B2B Service Marketplaces Failed

Some would argue that companies such as Upwork, Thumbtack, Fiverr, or TaskRabbit are horizontal B2B marketplaces in the sense that they provide access to suppliers of different services. But while businesses do indeed transact with freelancers on such “horizontal” marketplaces, for most service verticals these are limited-value, one-off transactions. They fail to enable long-term business collaborations.

So, such marketplaces haven’t delivered more valuable services nor introduced a new paradigm for how businesses buy specific services at scale and on an on-going basis. Why is that?

Horizontal marketplaces are stuck at the discovery process

Horizontal services marketplaces don’t provide much value beyond matching clients with quality service providers. In other words, they don’t facilitate collaboration between buyers and suppliers, never mind provide ways for the two parties to collaborate more efficiently over time as they engage in follow-on projects.

In essence, the model these marketplaces were built around is not much different from the likes of Craigslist, which put a convenient UX on traditional classified advertisements.

Complex B2B services require workflow and collaboration tools

In their article “What’s Next for Marketplace Startups?,” Andrew Chen and Li Jin found that there aren’t many successful service marketplaces because those offerings are complex, diverse, and difficult to evaluate. It’s challenging to define a successful transaction in a service marketplace because it’s harder to quantify success.

One reason is that several service providers must often work together to complete a single job for a buyer, requiring a complex workflow from end to end. As a result, it’s difficult for marketplaces to not only mediate service delivery but also make it significantly more efficient for buyers and suppliers. If both the buyer and suppliers don’t see a significant efficiency gain other than being initially matched, why would they continue using the marketplace?

(Image via Getty Images / Lidiia Moor)

The $50 billion translation industry is a prime example of complex B2B services marketplaces. On the supply side are roughly 50,000 small agencies around the globe responsible for more than 85% of this $50 billion industry. (Note we are referring to agencies here as suppliers, though they play on both sides.)

On the demand side are businesses that need to translate text from one language into another. Plus about 1,500,000 freelance linguists work in this industry, many of whom are more specialized than professionals in other industries.

Anyone can find and hire a translator on Fiverr or Upwork. Both provide a vast selection of language translators. However, the quality and cost of the translation depends on the translation tools available to the translator as well as their subject expertise.

Neither Fiverr nor Upwork provide computer-aided translation (CAT) and collaborative workflow solutions for users of their platforms. Additionally, neither provides an effective way for all parties to collaborate and continuously improve the efficiency and quality.

But the problem with traditional marketplaces goes even further: Multiple translators and reviewers are usually needed to complete a single job for a customer. Multi-language translation projects are even more complicated. Such projects require multiple service providers and cost estimates, in addition to project management tools.

This is why building a B2B service marketplace is difficult. Service marketplaces must not only connect buyers and suppliers, but also provide tools to enable an efficient and collaborative workflow that reduces wasted time and effort.

Horizontal marketplaces suffer high attrition

In addition to the problems already outlined, traditional marketplaces experience another issue that prevents them from growing and retaining market participants: Buyer and supplier attrition.

Many business services are based on regularly recurring engagements. In some cases, a buyer and a service provider interact daily, requiring a different workflow than gig-marketplaces are built around.

Buyers and suppliers have little motivation to continue interacting on a platform with no workflow automation solutions. They lack a way to improve service efficiency and quality, automate collaboration, payment, paperwork, and other basic processes required for a business.

This is why many traditional marketplaces suffer from slow network effects and high attrition. (A network effect is what happens when a platform, product, or service delivers more value the more it is used.

Think Facebook, eBay, WhatsApp.) Why wouldn’t companies work directly with service providers outside of a marketplace after they were introduced? What incentives keep the service transaction on the marketplace? These are critical questions to answer when building a marketplace.

Traditional marketplaces target broad services, making it nearly impossible to provide workflow solutions for buyers and suppliers. Going forward, successful service marketplaces will be developed relying on an industry-specific SaaS workflow. This will focus buyers and suppliers on longer-term projects and interactions that serve the unique needs of collaborations and transactions in a specific vertical.

Image via Getty Images / OstapenkoOlena

What makes a successful service marketplace?

In “The next 10 Years Will Be About Market Networks,” James Currier, Managing Partner at NFX Ventures, defines a new era of service marketplaces, which he calls market networks.

A market network is a platform that combines elements of an n-sided marketplace, a network, and workflow solutions. An n-sided marketplace is one that requires coordination of multiple supply-side parties to provide a complex service for a single buyer.

Market networks enable multiple buyers and suppliers to interact, collaborate, and transact on the same platform. They provide users with industry-specific workflow solutions that enable efficient, ongoing collaboration on long-term projects. This reduces costs and leads to a higher quality of services and increased overall value for all users.

But how do you actually build a successful market-network platform? While the answer to that varies from company to company, here is our approach. We were able to build a market network for the translation industry that combines the components: network, marketplace, and workflow solution.

STEP 1: SaaS workflow platform unlocks high-value collaboration

The first step to building an effective complex market network is to develop a workflow that is easy for users to embrace. It might not seem like much, but this increases productivity by enabling teams to perform tasks that were previously impossible.

7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays

Stress is a silent killer and if you’re not doing well in coping with stress at work, it can spell problems for you.

Stress can strike anyone, even the most optimistic and energetic of people.

Your boss or teacher might not help as they keep pushing you to hit your goals. The next thing you know, you’ve lost your focus, energy, and confidence. You start going home late with stoop shoulders and a heavy feeling.

Then, you start seeking sweet treats to lift your mood.

Studies show that stress is one of the leading causes of chronic health conditions. Heart disease, accelerated aging, and diabetes are linked to stress. And if you’re not careful, this can lead to depression, too.

Yes, stress is inevitable. But there are many ways to manage it effectively on a daily basis.
Here are the best ones to help you start coping with stress at work.

Identify the nature or cause of your stress

To start coping with stress at work, you need to be more self-aware. Every time you are stressed out, step back and find out what’s really dragging you down.

In the workplace, stress can be due to the fear of being laid off. It can be due to an overwhelming workload or because of the leadership or management style of your boss.

At school, stress can be due to project deadlines, an unfavorable environment, and teaching style. Stress could also be due to financial and time constraints. It can also happen after a recent loss of a loved one.

To handle these situations, it’s best to talk to experts.

Control yourself. Eliminate your triggers to avoid feeling negative.

Allocate time for your hobbies, exercise, and social life

Set aside a couple of hours to hit the gym, do some painting (or writing), and commit to other hobbies. Choose who to hang out with. And, if possible, talk to an expert to get the social and emotional support you need to stay positive.

Coping with stress at work starts with your mornings

When you wake up early, you sleep early. This is especially true if you’re productive throughout the day and be more tired at the end of it.

It’s also the best time to apply Tony Robbins’ 15 Minutes of Fulfillment wherein you allocate the first 15 minutes of your day doing positive visualization. You may extend the 15 minutes to 30 minutes or an hour if possible.

Mel Robbins also promotes the 5-Second Rule that helps you avoid pushing your alarm clock’s snooze button. These principles can help you get on your feet fast and ready to take the day.

The secret to waking up and starting a great day really lies in your bedtime routine. Before you sleep, spend some time to pray, meditate, and write a one-liner gratitude journal. It also helps to plan, organize, and prioritize your to-do list for the next day before you sleep.

Choose your breaks strategically

Taking a break just because your friend invites you for a short cigarette or coffee break isn’t a good idea. Stopping in the middle of a task can disrupt your flow. When you get back to work, you won’t be as focused as before.

Learn to say no.

You can use the Pomodoro Technique to manage your time. This technique allows you to transition from work-mode to relax-mode without compromising your productivity.

See Also: Hack the Pomodoro Technique to Boost Your Productivity

Don’t compromise your sleeping patterns and your healthy diet

It’s easy to fall into the trap of hanging out with friends for too long after work to ease your stress. But remember, the best way to ease your stress is to get adequate sleep.

Eating sweets may seem to alleviate stress, but indulging on sweet treats after work and at night can increase your insulin levels. The next thing you know, you’re having trouble sleeping.

Instead of sweets, eat foods that will help you fall asleep faster. A dinner consisting of almonds, turkey, walnuts, fatty fish, and kiwi is best. You can pair this up with chamomile tea, tart cherry juice or passionflower tea.

Take advantage of online time management, productivity tools, and stress management apps

A plethora of apps and tools are now available to help enhance productivity. These can help you get more things done in a day. Specifically, you may get started with the following:

Pomodoro Timer– to allocate time for work and rest

Pocket, Wunderlist, Trello – to create and organize tasks

Pocket Yoga – to meditate and exercise on the go

Spotify, Deezer – to listen to your choice of soothing, stress-relieving, or inspiring music or audio

Don’t forget to equip your web browser with a plug-in that limits your use of social media and other non-work related websites.

Be consistent and be patient with yourself

Don’t be too hard on yourself.

You have to understand that handling stress is a skill that needs to be developed with consistency and commitment. If you think you failed today, plan and commit to doing better tomorrow!

Doing this helps you avoid the feeling of being stuck with self-blame and self-pity which also causes stress.

The reality is this:

Stress is as constant as change in the world. So don’t feel helpless and depressed when you’re experiencing it. This is normal and everyone has their own kind of stress.

You just have to know how to start coping with stress at work. And for that, what you need to do is to commit to following the tips above to fight stress and live a happier and longer life.

The post 7 Awesome Ways to Effectively Manage Your Stress on Weekdays appeared first on Dumb Little Man.