Month: March 2020

Eight Ways Entrepreneurs Can Finance their Business Ideas

Every entrepreneur or startup owner faces the biggest concern of financing their business. With minimal experience and no business background, entrepreneurs find it very hard to get the money at the initial level. Be it working capital or provision for the troubled times, you need money to run and grow your business. Let’s discuss some of the options that can help you get funding for nurturing your business ideas.

Before digging deep into the topic, it is necessary to go through two ways of financing your business — Equity and Debt. The equity option enables entrepreneurs to fund their business by providing an ownership stake to an investor. Here, there is no obligation of repayment. But then, you need to give up a part of your ownership in the business. It can also make you lose control over the company in the long run.

The debt option is like taking a loan for a specific period. You have to pay interest on the amount. Here, the ownership of your company is not at stake. But, if for some reason, you fail to repay the loan, the lender can take your company into liquidation. In such a scenario, you lose your company. The debt option is worth only when you have a strong financial backup.

Equity-based Funding

how to finance your startup idea

Self-funding- This is the safest way of funding for your startup. You can either use savings, personal debt, or both for your business. Also, you can consider selling assets like a second home or a boat to generate cash for your company.

Friends and family- This is a source of both equity and debt funding. Though this seems a handy source of funding, you need to remain cautious while assigning part of your business among friends and family members. Many businesses fail because key parts of business go into the wrong hands. Also, when the capital erodes, it hurts feelings and ruins friendships.

Angel investors and Crowdfunding- Affluent investors can bring capital in the startups. They are known as angel investors as they are always willing to invest in ideas they find lucrative in the future. Angel investors can also form a group of investors to spread risks and assist you to do extensive research. Local angels and the Chamber of Commerce are also good sources for funding your business at the initial stage.

Crowdfunding is also a concept similar to angel investors. The only difference here is that there is a large number of people or investors who contribute to your startup idea as per their wish. Crowdfunding has certain norms and its success rate is lower than that of angel investment. Crowdfunding is based either on equity, debt, or rewards. You can select the most suitable platform from hundreds of crowdfunding platforms.

Partnership- This is one of the strongest sources of funding for your business. Strategic partners can not only bring investment but also give new thoughts to take the business to the next level. Partners can also help your business by managing key processes. Let’s take the example of a property management company. A strategic partnership with a property maintenance company can help this company to provide 360-degree solutions.

Debt-related Funding

financing your startup

Lenders- Many lenders and organizations lend money to small businesses and startups. They lend money either at higher interest rates or ask for assets as security. Here, the interest rate is a bit tricky. For example, if the interest rate is 3% and the term is one month, then the actual annual interest rate is 36%. This is quite high as compared to a 3% rate.

Lenders are of two types- Traditional and Government lenders. Traditional lenders can be the first choice. Banks and credit unions are included in this type. This type of lenders, however, do not fund any innovative or experimental ideas. Government lenders work with the government arms to get more funds with some risks.

7a Loans- It is a type of loan that assists startups or businesses that have no collateral. Entrepreneurs with no personal or business assets are the most eligible candidates for this type of loan. However, a common man may not get this type of loan. What makes this loan attractive for entrepreneurs is the fact that the 7a loan has simple T&Cs. Entrepreneurs need to give a repayment guarantee of 85% to take this loan.

Banks- Both government and private banks lend SMEs and startups. But they need a track record and want to secure their loans by some of your assets. Banks are, however, not much friendly for SMEs and startups. Many entrepreneurs tend to stay away from banks at the initial stage because they have issues of both working capital and initial funding. In today’s time, banks have quickly become out of focus for entrepreneurs.

See Also: How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Venture Capitalists

They are basically the innovators of the business world. They’re constantly in search of entrepreneurs with lucrative ideas. If your idea is capable of working at a small level, you can easily convince a VC (Venture Capitalist) to support your business. VCs provide funds in two ways — equity or debt. Venture capitalists can lead your business to succeed at the international level.

Some venture capitalist companies invest in businesses by offering scholarships to entrepreneurs. Techpreneurs can leverage the benefits of these scholarships and become owners of small companies or startups at a young age. What’s more, your company can get money along with qualified business mentors through such venture capitalist companies. Simply put, VCs can assist you to launch your products while guiding your company at the initial level.

The SBA (Small Business Administration) is also a considerable debt option. It has many options but these options need a guarantee of repayment.

Concluding Lines

Many options are available to fund your business at the initial level. If you have a unique idea that you think it is worth investing, you can certainly explore various options and find the ideal one for your startup.

The post Eight Ways Entrepreneurs Can Finance their Business Ideas appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Watch BTS perform in sweatpants on James Corden, deliver sweet message to fans

Watch BTS perform in sweatpants on James Corden, deliver sweet message to fans

South Korean boy group and unstoppable force BTS joined Papa Mochi James Corden via video on Monday, performing hit song ‘Boy With Luv (feat. Halsey)’ from their shared social distance. The coronavirus pandemic may have suspended studio production, but the Late Late Show must go on.

“I think it’s quite a difficult time for everyone in the world right now,” leader RM told Corden from Big Hit Entertainment in South Korea. All Corden’s guests on HomeFest: A Late Late Show Special appeared via video, while he recorded from his home.

“It may seem like we’re isolated but we’re still connected through our shared experiences, courage, and laughter.” Read more…

More about Music, James Corden, Bts, The Late Late Show With James Corden, and Bangtan Boys

Los Angeles-based challenger bank HMBradley officially opens its virtual doors

The Los Angeles-based digital challenger bank, HMBradley, opened its virtual doors to the public today, allowing the thousands of waitlisted would-be users to set up direct deposits and collect their sign-up bonuses.

The company is offering banking customers an up to 3% return on their savings based on the percentage they save of their quarterly deposits.

HMBradley also set up a new feature which allows users to save towards specific goals.

Backed by PayPal founder Max Levchin’s HVF Labs, along with Walkabout Ventures, Mucker Capital, Index Ventures, and Accomplice, to the tune of $3.5 million, HMBradley was designed to benefit savers, the company said.

Account holders with balances up to $100,000 can receive up to 3% annual percentage yields on their accounts. These account holders qualify by receiving one direct deposit and saving at least 5% of the total amount deposited in an account monthly.

HMBradley accounts are held through Hatch Bank, which is FDIC insured.

To qualify for the 3 percent rate, customers need to save over 20 percent of their income, account holders who save between 15 percent and 20 percent receive 2 percent of their cash per year, and those saving less than 15 percent but more than ten percent receive a 1 percent APY.

“We want to empower and protect every consumer financially to show them that a bank can be on their side, regardless of how much money they make,” said Zach Bruhnke, co-founder and CEO of HMBradley, in a statement.

Account holders have access to 55,000 fee-free ATMs around the country, mobile check deposit and around-the-clock support, the company said.

The company’s MasterCard comes with all of the standard features including zero liability protection and an ability to set up travel, fraud alerts, and cancel cards all through an online portal, the company said.

How AI Makes You A Better Photographer

Once upon a time you needed to carry camera equipment around with you if you wanted to be able to document anything throughout your day. At first, cameras were reserved for still, seated photos only, but over time camera technology improved so that cameras were easily portable.

By the 1990s and early 2000s, cameras didn’t even require film and there was no developing of pictures as everything had turned digital. As digital camera technology improved, digital cameras began to be added to cell phones, and eventually smartphone photography became commonplace.

This gave rise to all kinds of apps like Instagram, which is basically a diary of photos online. Cameras on smartphones have become highly sophisticated pieces of equipment, and part of the reason we’ve all turned into such great photographers is the technology inside those cameras.

How AI Improves Smartphone Photography

Regular cameras have automatic features that still motion and adjust aperture for the right shot. In your smartphone, this is all done with artificial intelligence, which allows a tiny camera to be packed with powerful features. The AI in your smartphone camera can detect faces, blur the background, adjust lighting, and more. Different effects create different outcomes, but in many high tech cameras the AI will take the best features from multiple shots and combine them into one perfect photo.

The artificial intelligence in your smartphone camera works by mimicking human sight, filtering out the excess information that your brain would and creating one unified image. It makes split second decisions about all the variables in your view in order to produce the best possible results.

In addition to perfect photos every time, the AI in your smartphone camera can also add fun and interesting effects to your photos and videos, change out backgrounds, create different effects, and more.

Apps Make Smartphone Cameras Even Better

present ai photography

If you want to achieve different results than your standard camera can produce, there are apps for that. Cymera Camera can help you retouch photos or add stickers for social media. The VSCO app allows you to mimic the effects of old-school films like Agfa, Kodak, and Fuji. Filmic Pro can help edit for focus, exposure, white balance, zoom, and more. Moment Pro allows for professional-grade photo editing on your smartphone.

For editing and enhancing there’s also:

  • Prisma – filters that make your photos look like paintings
  • FaceApp – lets you edit your photos to look younger or older or otherwise change your appearance
  • Adobe Photoshop Camera – swap out the background of your photos and more
  • Doublicat – put your face in a meme
  • Polaroid Lab – print your photos right from your phone onto Polaroid paper

New Hardware Turns Your Phone Into A Professional Camera

You can use your phone to create professional photos and videos for a blog or business, too. There are lots of hardware add-ons that can help you generate high quality photos and videos. If you want to shoot video for a vlog, you’ll need a gimbal. It’s a device that stabilizes your phone. You’ll also need a microphone to improve sound quality. With all the enhancements available it won’t be long before someone starts shooting movies on smartphones.

Light rings and different lenses can also enhance your photography. Light rings are fairly inexpensive and use ultra-efficient LEDs to give your photo a sense of professional lighting. Different lenses can be snapped right on to your phone for different effects. Fish eye lenses can make fun and whimsical photos, while macro and micro lenses can help you achieve specific photographic tasks.

See Also: Pictures and Pennies: How To Make Money From Photography?

Smartphone Photography Becomes Next Level

ai photography today

You can take the cover shot for a magazine with your smartphone, and even journalists are using smartphone photos in reporting on their stories. While there will always be a need for regular cameras, for our daily lives smartphone cameras have more than filled that void. Just think about all the baby pictures you see on social media on a daily basis — it’s easier than ever to document every moment and milestone.

Learn more about the high tech software and hardware that allows you to take stunning pictures with the same device you call your mom on from the infographic below. Where will this amazing technology take our smartphone photography next?

Please include attribution to https://www.ubreakifix.com with this graphic.

Smartphone Cameras: How AI Makes You Look Like a Pro [infographic]

 

The post How AI Makes You A Better Photographer appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

John Krasinski chats ‘The Office’ reunion with Steve Carell on cheery new show ‘Some Good News’

John Krasinski chats 'The Office' reunion with Steve Carell on cheery new show 'Some Good News'

Last week, John Krasinski asked his Twitter followers to share #SomeGoodNews as a little break from… well, all the news that isn’t very good. Now, that Twitter thread is a show, with Krasinski joining the pro late night hosts by turning his home office into an incredibly wholesome little DIY “news network for good news”, with some help from his kids’ graphic design skills. And, well, good news: turns out The Office star, A Quiet Place writer-director, and super ripped action star also makes a pretty decent YouTuber.

First up Jim John shares some of the highlights from his hashtag replies, from the global shows of appreciation for healthcare workers to sweet stories of (sigh) love in the time of coronavirus. (If all the stories of older people who can’t visit their spouses in nursing homes are ruining you, then be warned: there’s a doozy in here.) Read more…

More about Steve Carell, The Office, John Krasinski, Entertainment, and Movies Tv Shows

The Station: Bird and Lime layoffs, pivots in a COVID-19 era and a $2.2 trillion deal

Hello folks, welcome back (or hi for the first time) to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to the all the ways people and packages move around this world. I’m your host, Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch.

I also have started to publish a shorter version of the newsletter on TechCrunch . That’s what you’re reading now. For the whole enchilada — which comes out every Saturday — you can subscribe to the newsletter by heading over here, and clicking “The Station.” It’s free!

Before I get into the thick of things, how is everyone doing? This isn’t a rhetorical question; I’m being earnest. I want to hear from you (note my email below). Maybe you’re a startup founder, a safety driver at an autonomous vehicle developer, a venture capitalist, engineer or gig economy worker. I’m interested in how you are doing, what you’re doing to cope and how you’re getting around in your respective cities.

Please reach out and email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, opinions or tips or send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.

Micromobbin’

the station scooter1a

It was a rough week for micromobility amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bird laid off about 30% of its employees due to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.

In a memo obtained by TechCrunch, Bird CEO Travis VanderZanden said:

The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has forced our leadership team and the board of directors to make many extremely difficult and painful decisions relating to some of your teammates. As you know, we’ve had to pause many markets around the world and drastically cut spending. Due to the financial and operational impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we are saying goodbye to about 30% of our team.

The fallout from COVID-19 isn’t limited to Bird. Lime is also reportedly considering laying off up to 70 people in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Meanwhile, Wheels deployed e-bikes with self-cleaning handlebars and brake levers to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. NanoSeptic’s technology, which is powered by light, uses mineral nano-crystals to create an oxidation reaction that is stronger than bleach, according to the company’s website. NanoSeptic then implements that technology into skins and mats to turn anything from a mousepad to door handles to handlebars into self-cleaning surfaces.

The upshot to all of this: COVID-19 is turning shared mobility on its head. That means lay offs will continue. It also means companies like Wheels will try to innovate or pivot in hopes of staying alive.

While some companies pulled scooters off city streets, others changed how they marketed services. Some turned efforts to gig economy workers delivering food. Others, like shared electric moped service Revel, are focusing on healthcare workers.

Revel is now letting healthcare workers in New York rent its mopeds for free. To qualify, they just need to upload their employee ID. For now, the free rides for healthcare workers is limited to Brooklyn, Queens and a new service area from upper Manhattan down to 65th street. Revel expanded the area to include hospitals in one of the epicenters of the disease.

Revel is still renting its mopeds to the rest of us out there, although they encourage people to only use them for essential trips. As you might guess, ridership is down significantly. The company says it has stepped up efforts of disinfecting and cleaning the mopeds and helmets. Revel also operates in Austin, New York City, Oakland, and Washington. It has suspended service in Miami per local regulations.

Megan Rose Dickey (with a cameo from Kirsten Korosec)

Deal of the week

money the station

Typically, I would highlight a large funding round for a startup in the “deal of the week” section. This week, I have broadened my definition.

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a historic stimulus package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or “CARES” act. President Donald Trump signed it hours later. The CARES act contains an unprecedented $2.2 trillion in total financial relief for businesses, public institutions and individuals hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TechCrunch has just started what will be a multi-day dive into the 880-page document. And in the coming weeks, I will highlight anything related or relevant to the transportation industry or startups here.

I’ll focus today on three items: airlines, public transit and small business loans.

U.S. airlines are receiving $58 billion. It breaks down to about $25 billion in loans for commercial carriers, $25 billion in payroll grants to cover the 750,000 employees who work in the industry.  Cargo carriers will receive $4 billion in loans and $4 billion in grants. These loans come with some strings attached. Airlines will have to agree not to lay off workers through the end of September. The package forbids stock buybacks and issuing dividends to shareholders for a year after paying off one of the loans.

Public transit has been allocated $24.9 billion. The CARES Act provides almost three times the FY 2020 appropriations for this category, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The funds are distributed through a formula that puts $13.79 billion to urban, $2 billion to rural, $7.51 billion towards state of good repair and $1.71 billion for high-density state transit. APTA notes that these funds are for operating expenses to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 beginning on January 20, 2020.

Amtrak received an additional $1 billion in grants, that directs $492 million of those funds towards the northeast corridor. The remaining goes to the national network.

Small business loans are a critical piece of the bill, and an area where many startups may be focused. There is a lot to unpack here, but in basic terms the act provides $350 billion in loans that will be administered by the Small Business Administration to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. These loans are meant to cover an eligible borrower’s payroll, rent, utilities expenses and mortgage interest for up to eight weeks. If the borrower maintains its workforce, some of the loan may be forgiven.

Venture-backed startups seeking relief may run into problems qualifying. It all comes down to how employees are counted. Normally, SBA looks at a company’s affiliates to determine if they qualify. So, a startup owned by a private equity firm is considered affiliated with the other companies in that firm’s portfolio, which could push employment numbers far beyond 500. That rule also seems to apply to venture-backed startups, in which more than 50% of voting stock is held by the VC.

The guidance on this is still spotty. But Fenwick & West, a Silicon Valley law firm, said in recent explainer that the rule has the “potential to be problematic for startups because the SBA affiliation rules are highly complex and could cause lenders to group together several otherwise unaffiliated portfolio companies of a single venture capital firm in determining whether a borrower has no more than 500 employees.”

One final note: The SBA has waived these affiliation rules for borrowers in the food services and food supply chain industry. It’s unclear what that might mean for those food automation startups or companies building autonomous vehicles for food delivery.

More deal$

COVID-19 has taken over, but deals are still happening. Here’s a rundown of some of partnerships, acquisitions and fundraising round that got our attention.

  • Lilium, the Munich-based startup that is designing and building vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft and aspires to run in its own taxi fleet, has raised $240 million in a funding round led by Tencent. This is being couched as an inside round with only existing investors, a list that included participation from previous backers such as Atomico, Freigeist and LGT. The valuation is not being disclosed. But sources tell us that it’s between $750 million and $1 billion.
  • Wunder Mobility acquired Australia-based car rental technology provider KEAZ. (Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but as part of the deal KEAZ founder and CTO Tim Bos is joining Wunder Mobility) KEAZ developed a mobile app and back-end management tool that lets rental agencies, car dealerships, and corporations provide shared access to vehicles.
  • Cazoo, a startup that buys used cars and then sells them online and delivers to them your door, raised $116 million funding. The round was led by DMG Ventures with General Catalyst, CNP (Groupe Frère), Mubadala Capital, Octopus Ventures, Eight Roads Ventures and Stride.VC also participating.
  • Helm.ai came out of stealth with an announcement that it has raised $13 million in a seed round that includes investment from A.Capital Ventures, Amplo, Binnacle Partners, Sound Ventures, Fontinalis Partners and SV Angel. Helm.ai says it developed software for autonomous vehicles that can skip traditional steps of simulation, on-road testing and annotated data set — all tools that are used to train and improve the so-called “brain” of the self-driving vehicle.
  • RoadSync, a digital payment platform for the transportation industry, raised a $5.7 million in a Series A led by Base10 Partners with participation from repeat investor Hyde Park Venture Partners and Companyon Ventures. The company developed cloud-based software that lets businesses invoice and accept payments from truck drivers, carriers and brokers. Their platform is in use at over 400 locations nationwide with over 50,000 unique transactions monthly, according to RoadSync.
  • Self-driving truck startup TuSimple is partnering with automotive supplier ZF to develop and produce autonomous vehicle technology, such as sensors, on a commercial scale. The partnership, slated to begin in April, will cover China, Europe and North America.

A final word

Remember, the weekly newsletter features even more mobility news and insights. I’ll leave ya’ll with this one chart from Inrix. The company has launched a U.S. traffic synopsis that it plans to publish every Monday. The chart shows traffic from the week of March 14 to March 20. The upshot: COVID-19 reduced traffic by 30% nationwide.

inrix traffic drop from covid

Detroit Auto Show canceled in preparation for FEMA to turn venue into field hospital

The North American International Auto Show, which was scheduled for June in Detroit, has been canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and the city prepares to repurpose the TCF Center into a temporary field hospital.

NAIAS is held each year in the TCF Center, formerly known as the Cobo Center. Organizers said they expected the Federal Emergency Management Agency to designate the TCF Center as a field hospital.

“Although we are disappointed, there is nothing more important to us than the health, safety and well-being of the citizens of Detroit and Michigan, and we will do what we can to support our community’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak,” NAIAS Executive Director Rod Alberts said in an emailed statement.

The NAIAS is the latest in a long line of events and conventions that have been canceled as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread from China to Europe, and now the U.S. and the rest of the world.

More than 100 convention centers and facilities around the country are being considered to potentially serve as temporary hospitals. Alberts said it became clear that TCF Center would be an inevitable option to serve as a care facility.

The NAIAS, also known as the Detroit Auto Show, will be held in June 2021. Organizers are discussing plans for a fundraising activity later this year to benefit the children’s charities that were designated as beneficiaries of the 2020 Charity Preview event.

This year’s show was highly anticipated because it had moved from January to summer, following years of encouragement to schedule it during the warmer months.

All tickets purchased for the 2020 NAIAS show, including tickets for the Public Show, Industry Preview and Charity Preview will be fully refunded, organizers said. Charity Preview ticket holders will be given the option of a refund, or the opportunity to donate the proceeds of their refund to one of the nine designated Charity Preview beneficiaries. The NAIAS ticket office will be in contact with all ticket holders, according to the organizers.

Twitter removes Giuliani tweet pushing misinformation about coronavirus

Twitter removes Giuliani tweet pushing misinformation about coronavirus

Twitter removed a tweet from Rudy Giuliani on Friday that contained several pieces of misinformation related to coronavirus.

The tweet, which quoted another tweet from right-wing personality Charlie Kirk, falsely claimed that the drug hydroxychloroquine, which is used to treat lupus, arthritis, and malaria, has “a 100% effective rate treating COVID-19.” This is not true: Despite Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for the drug, there is still only anecdotal evidence that it can effectively treat coronavirus.

The tweet also alleged that Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is “the latest Democrat to ban doctors from prescribing the lifesaving drugs hydroxychloroquine and Z-Paks to save senior citizens in the state.” (Trump has specifically touted the combination of hydroxychloroquine and axythromycin — which is sold as Zithromax, or a Z-Pak — as a treatment; again, there is not clinical evidence to support his excitement.) Read more…

More about Twitter, Social Media, Rudy Giuliani, Coronavirus, and Culture

A new FDA-authorized COVID-19 test doesn’t need a lab and can produce results in just 5 minutes

There’s a new COVID-19 test from healthcare technology maker Abbott that looks to be the fastest yet in terms of producing results, and that can do so on the spot right at point-of-care, without requiring a round trip to a lab. This test for the novel coronavirus causing the current global pandemic has received emergency clearance for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and will begin production next week, with output of 50,000 per day possible starting next week.

The new Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test uses the Abbott ID NOW diagnostics platform, which is essentially a lab-in-a-box that is roughly the size of a small kitchen appliance. It’s size, and the fact that it can produce either a positive result in just five minutes, or a negative one in under 15, mean that it could be a very useful means to extend coronavirus testing beyond its current availability to more places including clinics and doctor’s offices, and cut down on wait times both in terms of getting tested and receiving a diagnosis.

Unlike the rapid tests that have been used in other countries, and that received a new type of authorization under an FDA guideline that doesn’t confirm the accuracy fo the results, this rapid testing solution uses the molecular testing method, which works with saliva and mucus samples swabbed from a patient. This means that it works by identifying a portion of the virus’ DNA in a patient, which means it’s much better at detecting the actual presence of the virus during infection, whereas other tests that search the blood for antibodies that are used in point-of-care settings can only detect antibodies, which might be present in recovered patients who don’t actively have the virus.

The good news for availability of this test is that ID NOW, the hardware from Abbott that it runs on, already “holds the largest molecular point-of-care footprint in the U.S.,” and is “widely available” across doctor’s offices, urgent care clinics, emergency rooms and other medical facilities.

In total, Abbott now says that it believes it will produce 5 million tests in April, split between these new rapid tests and the lab tests that it received emergency use authorization for by the FDA on March 18.

Testing has been one of the early problems faced by the U.S. in terms of getting a handle on the coronavirus pandemic: The country has lagged behind other nations globally in terms of per capita tests conducted, which experts say has hampered its ability to properly track and trace the spread of the virus and its resulting respiratory disease. Patients have reported having to go to extreme lengths to receive a test, and endure long waits for results, even in cases where exposure was likely and their symptoms match the COVID-19 profile.

How sleepcasts helped me tackle insomnia

How sleepcasts helped me tackle insomnia

It’s 4 a.m. again and I’m wandering around a marina, being introduced to a bunch of local cats by name.

Each one has a boat and a backstory, and I’m meeting them all thanks to the most low-key, soothing voice possible. Having encountered the self-indulgent Ginger, grand Saba, and tiny Bebe, I finally, finally nod off to sleep. It’s been a while.

This is just one of the many bedtime audio journeys I took to help conquer a bout of insomnia after moving countries. It’s called a “sleepcast” a kind of sleep meditation-podcast hybrid launched by mindfulness app Headspace in 2018. They’re not the first to do it, but they truly nailed it. Read more…

More about Apps, Sleep, Meditation, Headspace, and Hit Snooze

Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian on how to survive these crazy days (and what to learn from them)

Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian founded Initialized Capital roughly nine years ago and they’ve closed four funds since, including most recently in late 2018.

That $225 million vehicle is roughly twice the size of their previous fund, but because of the coronavirus, the firm, and its portfolio companies — some of which include Opendoor, Instacart and Coinbase — could be facing a tougher road in 2020. Certainly, that’s true of nearly ever other venture firm and startup right now.

To get a sense of where the team is currently, what it’s telling its founders, whether it thinks the abrupt downturn might change founders’ behavior, as well as whether either thinks big tech should be broken up, we talked with the two last night about these issues and more. It was a fun conversation that you can check out here, beginning around the 23 minute mark. In the meantime, you can find highlights from our conversation right here. Among the many things we covered:

We first talked about how much runway startups need right now that the U.S. is largely closed for business.

Tan offered that because returning to normalcy could “well be six to nine months,” partly because the U.S. isn’t informally containing the virus and there’s not yet a vaccine for it. To “make sure you have the cash to last to the other side,” he said, founders need to think in terms of 18 months. “It’s a lot,” said Tan, “but that’s sort of what’s necessary, and that’s what we’ve been advising our portfolio companies.

The duo also talked about  how to actually squeeze 18 months of runway out of startup that hasn’t freshly raised a round.

Ohanian said to “renegotiate everything,” from office space to venture debt agreements. He also noted there are “obvious things that you get cut early, around like non-essential marketing,” saying, “I’m as bummed as the next person to not be able to go to Cannes Lions this year, but I think we all agree like these are very reasonable things to be cutting at times like this.”

Because Ohanian is fairly vocal on Twitter about U.S. efforts to contain the coronavirus and to help healthcare workers, we spent some time on this, too. 

Ohanian said that, “Like a lot of Americans, I’m pretty frustrated by the situation right now. I mean, I live in Florida, which I think is going to see some really staggering numbers [of sickened residents] here in the next couple of weeks [because of its] elderly population and . . .a governor that’s that’s taking too long to do the things we need to do to keep them safe.”

He added that he remains inspire by the “ingenuity and the resilience” of its citizens, including founders who’ve begun adapting to these new situations, including the Initialized portfolio companies Flexport, the logistics startup, and Ro, the tele-health startup that originally focused on men’s wellness.

Through a new initiative announced earlier this week, Flexport is “literally raising millions of dollars in donations to bring medical supplies to the Bay Area and to those healthcare workers,” noted Ohanian.

Ro is meanwhile offering a free Covid-19 assessment to anyone who wants to take it and if he or she is deemed at enough risk, Ro will connect that individual with a physician or RN. That medical professional can’t administer an FDA-approved test, Ohanian acknowledged, but it’s better than nothing, he suggested. “This is not a salve. This is not a magic wand at all. What hopefully this can do is give people more information quicker about the decisions they should be making about their own safety and the safety of people they might come in contact with.”

Naturally, we had to ask how a founder lands a check from Initialized, and whether the firm needs to see a product or momentum first.

On this front, Tan was clear that “no traction is fine,” explaining that the firm funded Around, a two-year-old, Redwood City, Ca.-based videoconferencing startup that this month announced $5.2 million in seed funding, with “a demo that kind of honestly barely worked” but whose approach to solving a particular problem really resonated with the team.

Tan also pointed to Instacart, the grocery delivery company that’s “doing insanely well right now,” as housebound Americans steer clear of grocery stores.

“When I met [founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta,” said Tan, “it was the early days of the iPhone app platform” and “everyone else was pitching that idea” at the same time. But where most ‘demoware’ is “jerky” or “not properly threaded,” Mehta’s “scrolled really smoothly and the images were properly threaded and I could see that he was a craftsman,” says Tan. As important to him, “Apoorva is not a person who accepts ‘no.’ He takes a no and turns it into a yes.” (Both Tan and Ohanian emphasized here that good salesmanship, meaning solid storytelling, can accomplish a lot.)

As for what’s happening day to day, we asked both if they’re spending time in board meetings, poring over financials and trying to figure out how keep the startups in their portfolio going during this downturn. They suggested they’d already done this before Covid-19 took hold in the U.S.

Said Tan, “Not to put other VCs on blast, but often they don’t actually keep track of the runway of their companies quite so closely. For us, we have quarterly reviews, [so] the day all this stuff happened, we immediately knew who we needed to spend time with. We’d started talking about this in February. I wore my first N95 mask to our retreat in Cabo San Lucas [early last month] and and people at the airport thought I was a little bit nuts, but it was already in our mind that [the virus] might come over here. So when we did our last portfolio review in February, we were already mindful of anyone who has short runway [because we wanted] to make sure we had that conversation.”

Added Tan, “There are some boards that I’m on where I was telling them this was going to happen, and they just didn’t believe me. But for a few teams, they were able to put the right things into place and start their fundraise a little bit earlier.”

Before we let them go, we asked if they had thoughts about the tech giants — on which we’re suddenly more reliant on ever  — being broken up, and whether they should be.

Ohanian, who famously cofounded the social media giant Reddit, declined to say much on this front, other than that Initialized has backed “companies that thrive in part because they’re giving everyone else a chance to compete with Amazon. So I don’t know if that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what else would.”

For his part, Tan said he “probably” doesn’t want the government to intervene with big tech, but he’s concerned about their rise (and rise).  Said Tan, “What I want is our startups to be successful, and when they become successful, that they arm thousands of small businesses, medium-size businesses, and the retailers that could not possibly to hire an engineer to actually survive. . . because otherwise, Amazon’s going to run the table. 

We also asked if they worry big tech companies are more hesitant to shop, given the regulatory scrutiny they have been under. 

Tan suggested that Initialized hasn’t counted on M&A activity for its exits for some time.  “What’s weird about startups [[is that back] in 2008 when we came up, M&A was a much bigger part of what people talked about. These days, everything we fund, we want to fund it for the IPO.”

The reality, he continued is that none of the tech giants are acquisitive because they “sort of don’t know what to do with the cash. [There’s] definitely a Peter Thiel-ism that I totally believe, which is that Google is sitting on a cash hoard, and when you sit on a cash hoard, it means, ‘I don’t know what else to do. There are not projects that have a positive net IRR that I can put that money into. I could not hire people to go work on a thing that could make more money.’

Said Tan, “If anything, these companies have sort of become giant babysitting places for very, very smart tech people.”

Not last, we talked about their hopes for what comes next.

Ohanian is choosing to remain optimistic on a lot of fronts right now, he suggested, and that’s unsurprisingly true of his work. As he told us, “One of the fortunate parts about doing early-stage investing is also that this [frightening moment] is a time when founders are going to come solving real problems. I actually expect the next two years to be opportunities for some really great and hopefully impactful companies to get formed. “In the wake of all this,  [founders] can not just solve really important business leads; they can also do some good in the process.”

Before we parted ways, we also talked about founders and whether some had blown it by not taking their companies public while the window was still open.

Both Tan and Ohanian seemed to defend founders who’ve chosen to stay private longer in recent years while ceding that staying private isn’t good for employees or investors or the founders themselves. Indeed, “a lot of it comes back to governance,” said Ohanian, with both he and Tan expressing equal parts dismay over activist investors and the perpetual shareholder rights that founders have been demanding to protect themselves from said activist investors. (Ohanian called such voting rights an “ugly hack.”)

Both sang the praises of Long Term Stock Exchange — the stock exchange created by entrepreneur Eric Ries — and what it hopes to accomplish, which is to make it safer to go public without worrying about activist investors by rewarding longer-term shareholders who believe in a company.

Worth noting: LTSE, as it’s known, is an Initialized portfolio company.

Photo: Tim Daw for Initialized Capital

Joe Biden joins Jimmy Kimmel to talk cooking, coronavirus, and calling out Trump

Joe Biden joins Jimmy Kimmel to talk cooking, coronavirus, and calling out Trump

“With all that’s been going on over the past couple of weeks virus-wise, I feel like we’ve almost forgotten about the presidential election,” said Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday. All elections are important, but the coronavirus pandemic and a severely divisive U.S. president have raised the stakes particularly high this year.

As such, Democratic candidate Joe Biden joined Kimmel via video call to discuss his campaign, how he’s social distancing, and Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t quite understand the lack of willingness to move rapidly and to let science dictate,” said Biden, referring to Trump’s slow reaction to the pandemic. Read more…

More about Joe Biden, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Jimmy Kimmel, 2020 Election, and Coronavirus

12 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

Few activities have stood the test of 2500 years. Today we still have running, music, writing, swimming and… mindfulness meditation (among scarce others).

Such ancient interests that are still practiced today have a good reason for thriving so many centuries later. But while our ancestors could feel the benefits of meditation, they didn’t have the luxury of modern science to support their claims; it seemed to improve their lives, so they kept doing it.

Now, as western researchers have applied scientific rigor to mindfulness meditation, the results are in… and they’re more incredible than you might have imagined. Below are twelve science-based benefits of mindfulness meditation that will blow your mind.

Make your brain younger

A Harvard neuroscientist and her team wanted to determine whether meditation can change the brain over the long run.

Amazingly, their research found that 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter (brain cells) as 25-year-olds in the prefrontal cortex (a key brain region used for decision-making and memory), which normally declines with age. The scientists concluded that “regular practice of meditation may slow the rate of neural degeneration.”

Meditation has also been shown to fight age-related cognitive decline and even slow cellular aging. While most peoples’ memory and other brain functions decline as they get older, these effects aren’t seen to the same degree in long-term meditators.

Increase pain tolerance by 57%

mindfulness meditation benefits
Meditation has been shown to increase pain tolerance.

Your read that right: After just four days of training in mindfulness meditation, participants in one study found painful hot sensations to be 57% less unpleasant on average.

This may sound too good to be true, but there’s solid neuroscience to suggest why. As you learn to meditate, your brain can begin to separate the physical sensation of pain from your emotional reaction to it. Most of the suffering we experience, scientists have found, is a result of our psychological reaction, rather than the pain itself.

See Also: Easing Back Pain: 7 Things You Can Do To Promote Comfort

Gain back half of your waking life

Harvard researchers found that we spend an average of 47% of our days lost in thought. That’s nearly half of your waking life spent in some kind of mental simulation, daydreaming about the future or past. And the same study found that many of those thoughts are negative!

Mindfulness meditation can help you regain presence and spend less time mind-wandering. As you practice, you’ll spend more time immersed fully in whatever you’re doing and get more out of your life.

Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression

In our modern western world, millions of people suffer from anxiety and depression.

This has also led many of them to take up meditation, which has been shown to help with both mental problems. One of the reasons that mindfulness meditation helps in this area is that it teaches you to identify and detach from the harmful stories you might be telling yourself. Anxiety and depression, after all, are both negative narratives that get repeated over and over again in a mental loop.

Become more self-aware

This isn’t something that can be studied in the lab, but it’s one of the first benefits that every meditator notices at some point.

Having sat for some time directing your attention inward during mindfulness meditation, you’ve trained in the art of self-awareness (or what psychologists refer to as “introspective metacognitive awareness”). To put it one way, your mind gets good at observing itself.

This benefit doesn’t just help others, who have to deal with less of your annoying habits, but it’s also a fast path to self-improvement. Us humans are the only species on earth with this skill of “5th-degree metallization,” the mind’s capacity to become aware of its own processes.

Improve your concentration and working memory

In our current distraction crisis, it’s never been more important to have control of our attention. Furthermore, working memory is your ability to hold something in your mind in the short-term and is something that seems to be declining. Could you remember a 7-digit phone number if you had to?

Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve both of these key areas of cognitive functioning. So to all the kids drinking insane amounts of caffeine to get better test scores, try meditation instead!

Diminish inflammation

Inflammation is a major underlying cause of many illnesses, including depression, heart disease, acne, and fatty liver disease. While most people look to decrease inflammation by going on a special diet or exercising, there’s another option available that takes just a few minutes each day.

Studies have confirmed meditation’s ability to help diminish inflammation. Because of the mind-body connection, mindfulness meditation benefits your body’s health as well as your brain.

Overcome addictions

Whether to a chemical drug or something more minor, like chocolate, meditation has been shown to help reduce cravings and even addiction.

Addiction recovery centers are now using meditation, along with traditional treatments, to help addicts. Brown neuroscientist Judson Brewer, Ph.D. and his team found that mindfulness meditation was as effective as any other method for helping people quit smoking.

Reduce feelings of stress

mindfulness meditation benefit
One of the benefits of mindfulness meditation is that this happens less often.

The modern world is full of things that stress us out, from traffic jams to an unreturned text message. But your brain often can’t tell the difference between those minor issues and a lion attacking you on the savannah, as it sets into the motion the fight-or-flight response.

When you meditate, the brain goes from active beta brainwave states to slower and more rejuvenating alpha and theta brainwaves. One of the first things you’ll learn to activate on command is a state of deep relaxation that you can spend more of your time immersed in.

Boost your immune system

Nobody likes getting sick, and oftentimes we think of washing our hands as the best preventative.

But it turns out there’s another way to help bolster a healthy immune system. Some of the top meditation researchers in the world, including Richard Davidson, Ph.D. and Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. found that eight weeks of mindfulness meditation training significantly increased key antibodies compared to a control group.

Cultivate positive emotions, like compassion

While you won’t feel happy all the time, training a mindful mentality will gradually build up positive emotions. You’ll come to appreciate the smaller things in life more and better bear turbulent times.

Meditators commonly report feeling like they can better “surf the waves” of life, even when the ocean waters aren’t perfectly calm. And you also might uncover a natural well of untapped compassion within yourself as your practice continues.

Enhance your sleep

massage therapy deepen sleep

Sleep is something that’s often viewed as a waste of time… until we get a bad night’s sleep and realize how important it is for mental clarity, mood, and productivity.

Shockingly, 40% of U.S. workers chronically under-sleep, costing over $63 billion in lost productivity each year.

And while some people try to use various cocktails or drugs to knock themselves out, oftentimes they are just knocking themselves out rather than actually sinking into a restful state.

Better to do it the old-fashioned way with an ancient practice that’s been the hero of our story: mindfulness meditation. In a randomized clinical trial, meditation significantly improved sleep quality and lessened fatigue.

How much would you pay for a “magic pill” that accomplished all of the same benefits of mindfulness meditation? But all it takes is a few minutes each day. And if you’ve tried meditation but it didn’t seem to work, it’s likely that you weren’t taught correctly.

So if you feel like getting all of these benefits for yourself, here’s where to start:

The Best Way to Learn Meditation

Many people find it best to learn from a professional app, where they can meditate on-the-go and access some of the world’s best instructors in their pockets at any time. But most of the apps provide only surface-level instruction and are trying to make a quick buck.

That’s why we recommend one app in particular, the FitMind meditation app, which was created with the help of neuroscientists and monks and takes a more in-depth approach to meditation. Unlike the other apps, you’ll learn over 50 different methods, progressing from beginner to advanced techniques.
fitmind mindfulness meditation benefits

Via fitmindFitMind teaches this same program at Fortune 500 companies, like Amazon and Uber, and was recently named the #1 meditation app for better sleep and less stress by CNET.

If you’re trying to start a meditation practice or take your current practice to the next level to reap the full benefits of mindfulness meditation, we recommend giving the FitMind program a shot.

The post 12 Amazing Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk: New York gigafactory will reopen for ventilator production

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that the company’s factory in Buffalo, New York will open “as soon as humanly possible” to produce ventilators that are in short supply due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

His comments, which were made Wednesday via Twitter, follows previous statements by the CEO outlining plans to either donate ventilators or work to increase production of the critical piece of medical equipment needed for patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by coronavirus. COVID-19 attacks the lungs and can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. And since there is no clinically proven treatment yet, ventilators are relied upon to help people breathe and fight the disease. There are about 160,000 ventilators in the United States and another 12,700 in the National Strategic Supply, the NYT reported.

Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 25, 2020

Last week, Tesla said in a statement it would suspend production at its Fremont, Calif. factory, where it assembles its electric vehicles, and its Buffalo, N.Y gigafactory, except for “those parts and supplies necessary for service, infrastructure and critical supply chains.”

It isn’t clear based on Musk’s statements when the Buffalo plant would reopen or how long it would take to convert a portion of its factory, which is used to produce solar panels. Musk didn’t say if this was part of a possible collaboration with Medtronic .

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak told CNBC on Wednesday that it is increasing capacity of its critical care ventilators and partnering with others such as Tesla. He said Medtronic is open sourcing one its lower end ventilators in less acute situations for others to, to make as quickly as they can. These lower end ventilators, which are easier to produce because there are fewer components, can be used as an intermediary step in critical care.

Tesla is one of several automakers, including GM, Ford and FCA that has pledged support to either donate supplies or offer resources to make more ventilators. Earlier this week, Ford said it is working with GE Healthcare to expand production capacity of a ventilator.

GM is working with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of respiratory care products such as ventilators. Ventec will use GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more ventilators. The companies did not provide further details such as when production might be able to ramp up or how many ventilators would be produced.

‘This is sociopathic’: Seth Meyers blasts Trump’s plan to end coronavirus lockdown by Easter

'This is sociopathic': Seth Meyers blasts Trump's plan to end coronavirus lockdown by Easter

The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep countries in lockdown, with over 400,000 confirmed cases around the globe. Medical experts are warning that social distancing is pivotal to slowing the spread of the virus, which would put less strain on overburdened medical systems and save more lives. 

Of course, U.S. president Donald Trump has a much different view of the matter, aiming to send everyone back to work in time for Easter — less than three weeks away.

“It’s like those stories you hear about a small town that elects a dog as mayor every year,” quipped Late Night host Seth Meyers, taking one of this trademark Closer Looks (from home) about how utterly ill-equipped Trump is to handle this health crisis. “Sure, you know, it might seem like fun at the time. Dog mayor. But what happens when there’s a thunderstorm and you need the mayor to coordinate disaster relief, but he won’t come out from underneath the couch?” Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Seth Meyers, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Coronavirus, and Covid 19

9 Wardrobe Essentials You Must Own

While the in-season sneakers and fashion styles tempt you to give in to the latest fashion craze, chances are, you’ll find these used-to-be trendy pieces at the back of your closet. Trends come and go, but wardrobe essentials that never go out of style last a lifetime.

Look away from fleeting fashion styles and trends. Instead, fill up your closet with classic pieces that will never go out of style. Let’s get started!

A classic white shirt

timeless fashion pieces white shirt

A good quality, crisp white tee is arguably the most versatile piece you’ll ever own. You can style it with a pair of jeans or skirt, wear under a silk dress, or tied at a waist over it. It’s a wardrobe piece you can wear any day of the year.

See Also: Ways That Will Make You Love Your White Tee Even More

A go-to little black dress

A staple LBD—there’s no explanation needed for why you need one in your closet. But, if you must really know, a nice black dress that suits your silhouette at a modest length can go from day to night.

An all-around pair of black trousers

Whether they’re wide-legged, tie-waist, or pleated, you need at least one pair of fail-safe black pants. For days when you don’t know what to wear, it’s a good wardrobe piece that will go well with anything—white tee, sweater, cropped top… you name it.

A for-any-occasion dress

A bold, floral printed dress is an essential piece to complete your wardrobe. You can wear it for any occasion and season. Moreover, you can dress up in it for a cute daytime date or lunch out with friends.

If you’re not into florals, you can opt for a delicate silk slip dress. It’s one of those versatile and stylish pieces that you can wear for leisurely days (to long nights) or party nights with your girlfriends.

A versatile pair of minimal sneakers

Chunky sneakers emerged into the fashion spotlight several months back, but a good pair of classic sneakers will remain in style no matter how many trendy footwear surfaces. Think of it as the traditional white tee. Whether you’re wearing a slip dress, a white tee-denim jeans fit combo, or an LBD, you can put an effortless spin with a nice pair of white sneakers.

A chic yet comfy pair of ballet flats

From Audrey Hepburn to Meghan Markle, a lot of celebrities have been spotted with a good and sophisticated pair of ballet flats that completes the whole look. The best part—they’re just the right balance of comfort and style. You can wear it to dress up your cocktail dress for a date night or a business casual day at work.

See Also: What to Wear On A Business Trip: 5 Outfit Ideas You Can Try With Flats

A laid-back pair of denim jeans

timeless fashion pieces denim jeans

Jeans will never be out of style. It’s a classic piece that you can wear when dressing up or down. It works well as an off-duty look or a casual fit for when you’re running errands. It’s also something which you can wear throughout the year, whatever the season. Toss over a coat, and you can don it during wintertime.

A chic white button-down

How do you know if you have the perfect pair of white button-down? When it can pair seamlessly with anything, be it with a pair of black trousers, denim jeans, or a pencil skirt. It makes you look polished. Plus, a white blouse is office-appropriate. You can buy a couple of different styles and wear them to work—sort of like a uniform.

A cozy sweater

The perfect sweater is not only comfortable and stylish, but it also works well tucked in boyfriend jeans, over black pants, and even paired with a feminine skirt. If you lay your eyes on one and instantly liked it, get one in at least two colors.

Summing it up

Spend less time curating your outfits or thinking you have nothing to wear when you have a closet full of trendy and statement pieces. The solution to this fashion dilemma is to dial it back a bit to a more minimalist wardrobe.

When you finally get your hands on the perfect white tee and little black dress that you can whip out on any occasion at any time, you have one less thing to worry about when heading out. Think about revamping your wardrobe and style—switching to timeless pieces—as one way to shape an improved version of you.

The post 9 Wardrobe Essentials You Must Own appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Neighborhood ‘bear hunts’ are an adorable cure for kids’ social-distancing boredom

Neighborhood 'bear hunts' are an adorable cure for kids' social-distancing boredom

With schools closing and people warned to stay home due to the coronavirus, parents and caregivers are working extra hard to keep their children engaged and not climbing the furniture. Fortunately it’s still safe to take brief, socially-distanced walks outside, provided there aren’t many others out and it’s done responsibly. 

Just be careful — there are bears out there.

To heighten the fun of these jaunts, and keep local community spirit alive, people around the world are putting stuffed toys in their windows for children to spot on “bear hunts.” 

It isn’t clear exactly where the trend started, but it’s gained momentum over the past few days. Read more…

More about Parenting, Children, Teddy Bear, Covid 19, and Social Distancing

Fox Sports to broadcast the full season of NASCAR’s virtual race series

Esports racing, helped by record-setting viewership, is hitting the big time.

Fox Sports said Tuesday it will broadcast the rest of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series, following Sunday’s virtual race that was watched by 903,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

While those numbers are far below the millions of viewers who watch NASCAR’s official races — the last one at Phoenix Raceway reached 4.6 million — it still hit a number of firsts that Fox Sports found notable enough to commit to broadcasting the virtual racing series for the remainder of the season, beginning March 29.

The races will be simulcast on the FOX broadcast network, Fox Sports iRacing and the FOX Sports app. Races will be available in Canada through FOX Sports Racing.

Virtual racing, which lets competitors race using a system that includes a computer, steering wheel and pedals, has been around for years. But it’s garnered more attention as the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, has prompted sports organizers to cancel or postpone live events, including the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament, NBA, NHL and MLB seasons as well as Formula 1 and NASCAR racing series.

Classic. @JimmieJohnson checks in live with @JeffGordonWeb during the #ProInvitationalSeries and says he needs to “learn different cars” for his 2021 schedule. 👀

(And Jeff helps him notice a bit of damage 😂) pic.twitter.com/5gFgl1f0e3

— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 22, 2020

NASCAR ran its first virtual race in the series on Sunday in lieu of its planned race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, which was canceled due to COVID-19. Not only was it the most watched esports event in U.S. television history, it was Sunday’s most-watched sports telecast on cable television that day.

50 seconds of #ProInvitationalSeries virtual engines. CRANK IT UP! pic.twitter.com/wyG1JhFkPQ

— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) March 22, 2020

“This rapid-fire collaboration between FOX Sports, NASCAR and iRacing obviously has resonated with race fans, gamers and television viewers across the country in a very positive way,” Brad Zager, FOX Sports executive producer said in a statement. “We have learned so much in a relatively short period of time, and we are excited to expand coverage of this brand-new NASCAR esports series to an even wider audience.”

Granted, there aren’t any live sports to watch in this COVID-19 era. Still, it bodes well for the future of esports, perhaps even after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

“The response on social media to last Sunday’s race has been incredible,” said four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, who is announcer for Fox NASCAR. “We were able to broadcast a virtual race that was exciting and entertaining. It brought a little bit of ‘normalcy’ back to the weekend, and I can’t wait to call the action Sunday at Texas.”

You can see what the virtual racing looks like here in this clip from Fox Sports.

NASCAR isn’t the only racing series to turn to esports. Formula 1 announced last week that it would host an esports series, the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, with a number of current F1 drivers alongside a number of other stars.

The virtual Formula 1 races will use Codemaster’s official Formula 1 2019 PC game and fans can follow along on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, as well as on F1.com. The races will be about half as long as regular races, with 28 laps. The first race took place March 22. The first-ever virtual round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series kicked off on March 21.

Creating Your Personalized Productivity Tool Kit: Top 10 Tools to Consider

Wouldn’t it be great if you complete a task that usually takes 20 minutes, within a fraction of seconds? It would surely save your time, which further can be utilized for other important tasks. Needless to mention, when you complete more tasks on a daily basis, your business is likely to enjoy exponential growth. You can improve your chances of success by exploiting personal productivity tools.

Arrays of software are available in the market that allow professionals to automate most of the tasks and keep track of everything. These tools offer outstanding features that aid in creating tasks, setting timelines & reminders, performance tracking, time tracking, creating reports, team collaboration, file sharing, etc. Simply put, these features will take your team’s productivity to another level.

With so many tools around, you may wonder what is the most popular personal productivity software to boost time management skills? We have sorted out the following personal productivity tools that will help skyrocket your productivity.

ProProfs Project

best productivity tools proprofs project

It is a robust online project management software that boosts productivity by simplifying most project-related tasks.

Features

  • An intuitive dashboard helps in managing and organizing project-related tasks, tracking progress, collaborating with the team, delegating tasks, and creating reports.
  • Task dependencies to save time and meet deadlines.
  • File sharing and internal commenting to discuss particular tasks or projects.
  • Gantt charts to check out the progress of each project.

Pricing

It is free for a lifetime in the basic version. Its premium version starts at $19 per month.

TickTick

It is an intuitive and effective personal productivity software or app that can aid in scheduling and managing your tasks.

Features

  • With this personal tool kit, you can classify your work according to deadlines, make notes and checklists, prioritize your targets and sort your goals in accordance with priority, date, and title.
  • It works as a productivity planner and enables you to achieve your goals.
  • No matter whether your goals concern shortening project completion time or sharing a to-do list with team members, TickTick is a one-stop solution to all your problems.
  • As this personal productivity software is intuitive and user-friendly, you can add reminders and tasks swiftly and effortlessly.

Pricing

Starts at $2.99 per user per month.

Google Drive

best productivity tools google drive

You prefer to work smarter, don’t you? Google Drive is one such productivity management software that helps you work smartly and be more productive in accomplishing tasks in your daily life.

Features

  • It is cloud-based software to add files (docs, sheets, and presentations) and works on them in real-time.
  • All Google account holders get 15 Gb storage space for free.
  • You can save your attachments, keep your files and documents in a particular folder, and even make presentations on this drive.
  • You can share your saved files with your colleagues and friends so that they can view, download, and edit them.

Pricing

It is free until 15 GB. Subscription for Google Drive starts at $1.99 per month.

Evernote

Gone are the days when you take your notebook out and take notes about work schedules, deadlines, etc. Thanks to technological advancements, we can now use an application for taking notes. Evernote is an easy-to-use software that enables its users to make notes and create to-do lists online.

Features

  • Save all your files and notes in real-time by using this cloud-based software.
  • You can use a smartphone, computer or tablet to access this user-friendly application, which can be synced across all devices.
  • It serves as a productivity management software, which offers help regarding note-making, archiving, organizing, and task management.

Pricing

It is free for a lifetime. Its premium version starts at $7.99 per month.

Last Pass

You might have to keep all the passwords in your head and use them as and when required. But have you ever thought what would happen if you lose these passwords or forget them? It will hamper your workflow. This is where Last Pass steps in to release the pressure.

Features

  • Last Pass is a personal productivity software that helps to keep and protect all passwords.
  • Creating an account on LastPass is as easy as creating an email ID. All you need to do is to set login credentials to access your LastPass Account.
  • You can even generate passwords for your business accounts by using this software.
  • You just need to remember the master password of the LastPass account, and this application will do the rest for you.
  • It supports auto-filling the app logins and web browsers.

Pricing

Free, Premium pack for $2 per month, and a family pack for $4 per month

Beeminder

best productivity tools beeminder

Have you ever come across any tools that help you in visualizing your goals? Beeminder is one such tool that aids in the visualization of goals and sets measurable targets for accomplishing them.

Features

  • Whether it is about hitting the gym, learning a new skill, spending time on a project with a strict deadline, or anything else, this app can help you focus on your targets.
  • It keeps track of time and sends notifications to keep you updated about new changes in the project’s success.
  • The software helps in keeping all distractions at bay.

Pricing

Starting from $15 per month.

Toggl

Online time tracking software, Toggl is extremely helpful for consultants, graphic designers, and freelancers. So, how does this software help?

Features

  • It keeps track of time spent on each task and also reviews concerning prudent use of time.
  • You can access this software through your computer, tablet, or smartphone and keep a tab on the number of hours spent on a particular project.
  • You can convert Toggl time tracking data into insightful reports, which further can be exported in PDF, Excel or CSV format.
  • A powerful dashboard helps in monitoring the progress of the project.

Pricing

Starting at $9 per month.

Todoist

Todoist is a robust productivity tool that helps in organizing all your tasks. It helps in creating tasks, delegating them, setting deadline and tracking tasks.

Features

  • It reminds you about preset deadlines from time to time.
  • Subtasks can be created for better organization and prioritization.
  • You get timely notifications when team members add comments, begin a task, or complete it.
  • It shows daily and monthly reports.

Pricing

It offers a three-tier pricing, which are as follows: free, premium, and business. Pack available from $29 per year.

Spark

Spark App is an email management app by Readdle that keeps your productivity up by syncing and organizing your emails.

Features

  • It is loaded with built-in capabilities that allow this tool to analyze your emails and help you classify them according to the priority.
  • This tool groups the emails in categories such as personal, newsletter, and notifications.
  • The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows users.

Pricing

Starting from $9.99 per month.

Any.Do

best productivity tools any do

Any.Do is a popular productivity tool among users, as it comes with multiple functionalities from task management to to-do lists. This tool allows you to remain organized, thereby, maximizing productivity.

Features

  • It is a very robust tool that combines tasks, calendars, lists, and reminders.
  • It keeps you stay on track, which enables you to plan and manage your tasks effectively.
  • The app is accessible from multiple devices

Pricing

Starting from $4.99 per month.

Create your personalized productivity tool-kit by picking any software from this list!

No matter what your profession is, automating your life with these useful tools is necessary to enhance your experience and maintain a balance between your professional and personal life.

The post Creating Your Personalized Productivity Tool Kit: Top 10 Tools to Consider appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Seth Meyers blasts beachgoers, Trump, and Rand Paul for not taking coronavirus seriously

Seth Meyers blasts beachgoers, Trump, and Rand Paul for not taking coronavirus seriously

The stock market is plummeting, the coronavirus infection rate is soaring, and countries all over the world are going into lockdown. Still, some younger people continue to go out, apparently under the impression that they can’t contract the virus.

As Late Night host Seth Meyers noted from home, President Trump’s failure to take the crisis seriously for weeks now has only contributed to a dangerous lack of urgency. The lack of social distancing even prompted New York governor Andrew Cuomo to issue a stern, all-caps warning on Saturday: “YOU ARE WRONG.”

“That is serious big dad energy,” said Meyers. “‘You are wrong. Now go to your room for two months. Think about what you did. Better hear you washing your hands in there.'” Read more…

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