Month: February 2021

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How investors are valuing the pandemic

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday morning? Sign up here.

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Kicking off with a tiny bit of housekeeping: Equity is now doing more stuff. And TechCrunch has its Justice and Early-Stage events coming up. I am interviewing the CRO of Zoom for the latter. And The Exchange itself has some long-overdue stuff coming next week, including $50M and $100M ARR updates (Druva, etc.), a peek at consumption based pricing vs. traditional SaaS models (featuring Fastly, Appian, BigCommerce CEOs, etc.), and more. Woo! 

This week both DoorDash and Airbnb reported earnings for the first time as public companies, marking their real graduation into the ranks of the exited unicorns. We’re keeping our usual eye on the earnings cycle, quietly, but today we have some learnings for the startup world.

Some basics will help us get started. DoorDash beat growth expectations in Q4, reporting revenue of $970 million versus an expected $938 million. The gap between the two likely comes partially from how new the DoorDash stock is, and the pandemic making it difficult to forecast. Despite the outsized growth, DoorDash shares initially fell sharply after the report, though they largely recovered on Friday.

Why the initial dip? I reckon the company’s net loss was larger than investors hoped — though a large GAAP deficit is standard for first quarters post-debut. That concern might have been tempered by the company’s earnings call, which included a note from the company’s CFO that it is “seeing acceleration in January relative to our order growth in December as well as in Q4.” That’s encouraging. On the flip side, the company’s CFO did say “starting from Q2 onwards, we’re going to see a reversion toward pre-COVID behavior within the customer base.”

Takeaway: Big companies are anticipating a return to pre-COVID behavior, just not quite yet. Firms that benefited from COVID-19 are being heavily scrutinized. And they expect tailwinds to fade as the year progresses.

And then there’s Airbnb, which is up around 16% today. Why? It beat revenue expectations, while also losing lots of money. Airbnb’s net loss in Q4 2020 was more than 10x DoorDash’s own. So why did Airbnb get a bump while DoorDash got dinged? Its large revenue beat ($859 million, instead of an expected $748 million), and potential for future growth; investors are expecting that Airbnb’s current besting of expectations will lead to even more growth down the road.

Takeaway: Provided that you have a good story to tell regarding future growth, investors are still willing to accept sharp losses; the growth trade is alive, then, even as companies that may have already received a boost endure increased scrutiny.

For startups, valuation pressure or lift could come down to which side of the pandemic they are on; are they on the tail end of their tailwind (remote-work focused SaaS, perhaps?), or on the ascent (restaurant tech, maybe?). Something to chew on before you raise.

Market Notes

It was one blistering week for funding rounds. Crunchbase News, my former journalistic home, has a great piece out on just how many massive rounds we’re seeing so far this year. But even one or two steps down in scale, funding activity was super busy.

A few rounds that I could not get to this week that caught my eye included a $90 million round for Terminus (ABM-focused GTM juicer, I suppose), Anchorage’s $80 million Series C (cryptostorage for big money), and Foxtrot Market’s $42 million Series B (rapid delivery of yuppie and zoomer essentials).

Sitting here now, finally writing a tidbit about each, I am reminded at the sheer breadth of the tech market. Termius helps other companies sell, Anchorage wants to keep your ETH safe, while Foxtrot wants to help you replenish your breakfast rosé stock before you have to endure a dry morning. What a mix. And each must be generating venture-acceptable growth, as they have not merely raised more capital but raised rather large rounds for their purported maturity (measured by their listed Series stage, though the moniker can be more canard than guide.)

I jokingly call this little section of the newsletter Market Notes, a jest as how can you possibly note the whole market that we care about? These companies and their recent capital infusions underscore the point.

Various and Sundry

Finally, two notes from earnings calls. The first from Root, which is a head scratcher, and the second from Booking Holdings’ results.

I chatted with Alex Timm, Root Insurance’s CEO this week moments after it dropped numbers. As such I didn’t have much context in the way of investor response to its results. My read was that Root was super capitalized, and has pretty big expansion plans. Timm was upbeat about his company’s improving economics (on a loss ratio and loss-adjusted expenses basis, for the insurtech fans out there), and growth during the pandemic.

But then today its shares are off 16%. Parsing the analyst call, there’s movement in Root’s economic profile (regarding premium-ceding variance over the coming quarters) that make it hard to fully grok its full-year growth from where I sit. But it appears that Root’s business is still molting to a degree that is almost refreshing; the company could have gone public in 2022 with some of its current evolution behind it, but instead it raised a zillion dollars last year and is public now.

Sticking our neck out a bit, despite fellow neo-insurnace player Lemonade’s continued, and impressive valuation run, MetroMile’s stock is also softening, while Root’s has lost more than half its value from its IPO date. If the current repricing of some neo-insurance players continues, we could see some private investment into the space slow. (Fewer things like this?) It’s a possible trend we’ll have eyes on this year.

Next, Booking Holdings, the company that owns Priceline and other travel properties. Given that Booking might have notes regarding the future of business travel — which we care about for clues regarding what could come for remote work and office culture, things that impact everything from startup hub locations to software sales — The Exchange snagged a call slot and dialed the company up.

Booking Holdings’ CEO Glenn Fogel didn’t have a comment as to how his company is trading at all-time highs despite suffering from sharp year-over-year revenue declines. He did note that the pandemic has shaken up expectations for conversations, which could limit short-term business travel in the future for meetings that may now be conducted on video calls. He was bullish on future conference travel (good news for TechCrunch, I suppose), and future travel more generally.

So concerning the jetting perspective, we don’t know anything yet. Booking Holdings is not saying much, perhaps because it just doesn’t know when things will turn around. Fair enough. Perhaps after another three months of vaccine rollout will give us a better window into what a partial return to an old normal could look like.

And to cap off, you can read Apex Holdings’ SPAC presentation here, and Markforged’s here. Also I wrote about the buy-now-pay-later space here, riffed on the Digital Ocean IPO with Ron Miller here, and doodled on Toast’s valuation and the Olo debut here.

Hugs, and have a lovely weekend!

Alex

 

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What the NFT? VC David Pakman dumbs down the intensifying digital collectibles frenzy

Non-fungible tokens have been around for two years, but these NFTs, one-of-one digital items on the Ethereum and other blockchains, are suddenly becoming a more popular way to collect visual art primarily, whether it’s an animated cat or an NBA clip or virtual furniture.

“Suddenly” is hardly an overstatement. According to the outlet Cointelegraph, during the second half of last year, $9 million worth of NFT goods sold to buyers; during one 24-hour window earlier this week, $60 million worth of digital goods were sold.

What’s going on? A thorough New York Times piece on the trend earlier this week likely fueled new interest, along with a separate piece in Esquire about the artist Beeple, a Wisconsin dad whose digital drawings, which he has created every single day for the last 13 years, began selling like hotcakes in December. If you need further evidence of a tipping point (and it is ample right now), consider that the work of Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, was just made available through Christie’s. It’s the venerable auction house’s first sale of exclusively digital work.

To better understand the market and why it’s blowing up in real time, we talked this week with David Pakman, a former internet entrepreneur who joined the venture firm Venrock a dozen years ago and began tracking Bitcoin soon after, even mining the cryptocurrency at his Bay Area home beginning in 2015. (“People would come over and see racks of computers, and it was like, ‘It’s sort of hard to explain.’”)

Perhaps it’s no surprise that he also became convinced early on of the promise of NFTs, persuading Venrock to lead the $15 million Series A round for a young startup, Dapper Labs, when its primary offering was CryptoKitties, limited-edition digital cats that can be bought and bred with cryptocurrency.

While the concept baffled some at the time, Pakman has long seen the day when Dapper’s offerings will be far more extensive, and indeed, a recent Dapper deal with the NBA to sell collectible highlight clips has already attracted so much interest that Dapper is reportedly right now raising $250 million in new funding at a post-money valuation of $2 billion. While Pakman declined to confirm or correct that figure, he did answer our other questions in a chat that’s been edited here for length and clarity.

TC: David, dumb things down for us. Why is the world so gung-ho about NFTs right now?

DP: One of the biggest problems with crypto — the reason it scares so many people — is it uses all these really esoteric terms to explain very basic concepts, so let’s just keep it really simple. About 40% of humans collect things — baseball cards, shoes, artwork, wine. And there’s a whole bunch of psychological reasons why. Some people have a need to complete a set. Some people do it for investment reasons. Some people want an heirloom to pass down. But we could only collect things in the real world because digital collectibles were too easy to copy.

Then the blockchain came around and [it allowed us to] make digital collectibles immutable, with a record of who owns what that you can’t really copy. You can screenshot it, but you don’t really own the digital collectible, and you won’t be able to do anything with that screenshot. You won’t be able to to sell it or trade it. The proof is in the blockchain. So I was a believer that crypto-based collectibles could be really big and actually could be the thing that takes crypto mainstream and gets the normals into participating in crypto — and that’s exactly what’s happening now.

TC: You mentioned a lot of reasons that people collect items, but one you didn’t mention is status. Assuming that’s one’s motivation, how do you show off what you’ve amassed online? 

DP: You’re right that one of the other reasons why we collect is to show it off status, but I would actually argue it’s much easier to show off our collections in the digital world. If I’m a car collector, the only way you’re going to see my cars is to come over to the garage. Only a certain number of people can do that. But online, we can display our digital collections. NBA Top Shop, for example, makes it very easy for you to show off your moments. Everyone has a page and there’s an app that’s coming and you can just show it off to anyone in your app, and you can post it to your social networks. And it’s actually really easy to show off how big or exciting your collection is.

TC: It was back in October that Dapper rolled out these video moments, which you buy almost like a Pokemon set in that you’re buying a pack and know you’ll get something “good” but don’t know what. But while almost half it sales have come in through the last week. Why?

DP: There’s only about maybe 30,000 or 40,000 people playing right now. It’s growing 50% or 100% a day. But the growth has been completely organic. The game is actually still in beta, so we haven’t been doing any marketing other than posting some stuff on Twitter. There hasn’t been attempt to market this and get a lot of players [talking about it] because we’re still working the bugs out, and there are a lot of bugs still to be worked out.

But a couple NBA players have seen this and gotten excited about their own moments [on social media]. And there’s maybe a little bit of machismo going on where, ‘Hey, I want my moment to trade for a higher price.’ But I also think it’s the normals who are playing this. All you need to play is a credit card, and something like 65% of the people playing have never owned or traded in crypto before. So I think the thesis that crypto collectibles could be the thing that brings mainstream users into crypto is playing out before our eyes.

TC: How does Dapper get paid?

DP: We get 5% of secondary sales and 100% minus the cost of the transaction on primary sales. Of course, we have a relationship with the NBA, which collects some of that, too. But that’s the basic economics of how the system works.

TC: Does the NBA have a minimum that it has to be paid every year, and then above and beyond that it receives a cut of the action?

DP: I don’t think the company has gone public with the exact economic terms of their relationships with the NBA and the Players Association. But obviously the NBA is the IP owner, and the teams and the players have economic participation in this, which is good, because they’re the ones that are creating the intellectual property here.

But a lot of the appreciation of these moments — if you get one in a pack and you sell it for a higher price — 95% of that appreciation goes to the owner. So it’s very similar to baseball cards, but now IP owners can participate through the life of the product in the downstream economic activity of their intellectual property, which I think is super appealing whether you’re the NBA or someone like Disney, who’s been in the IP licensing business for decades.

And it’s not just major IP where this NFT space is happening. It’s individual creators, musicians, digital artists who could create a piece of digital art, make only five copies of it, and auction it off. They too can collect a little bit each time their works sell in the future.

TC: Regarding NBA Top Shot specifically, prices range massively in terms of what people are paying for the same limited-edition clip. Why?

DP: There are two reasons. One is that like scarce items, lower numbers are worth more than higher numbers, so if there’s a very particular LeBron moment, and they made 500 [copies] of them, and I own number one, and you own number 399, the marketplace is ascribing a higher value to the lower numbers, which is very typical of limited-edition collector pieces. It’s sort of a funny concept. But it is a very human concept.

The other thing is that over time there has been more and more demand to get into this game, so people are willing to pay higher and higher prices. That’s why there’s been a lot of price appreciation for these moments over time.

TC: You mentioned that some of the esoteric language around crypto scares people, but so does the fact that 20% of the world’s bitcoin is permanently inaccessible to its owners, including because of forgotten passwords. Is that a risk with these digital items, which you are essentially storing in a digital locker or wallet?

DP: It’s a complex topic,  but I will say that Dapper has tried to build this in a way where that won’t happen, where there’s effectively some type of password recovery process for people who are storing their moments in Dapper’s wallet.

You will be able to take your moments away from Dapper’s account and put it into other accounts, where you may be on your own in terms of password recovery.

TC: Why is it a complex topic?

DP: There are people who believe that even though centralized account storage is convenient for users, it’s somehow can be distrustful — that the company could de-platform you or turn your account off. And in the crypto world, there’s almost a religious ferocity about making sure that no one can de-platform you, that the things that you buy — your cryptocurrencies or your NFTs. Long term, Dapper supports that. You’ll be able to take your moments anywhere you want. But today, our customers don’t have to worry about that I-lost-my-password-and-I’ll-never-get-my-moments-again problem.

Leather Jackets: 6 Styles That Will Never Fail You

Leather jackets are popularly known as the winter’s most worn outerwear. But there’s another thing that has made it an essential apparel for both men and women, and that is its style. Although leather speaks volumes about luxury and elegance, it becomes more classy when shaped with detail to be outerwear. To unleash the dapper in you, we suggest you check out men’s biker jackets, as they’re designed in a way that boost your panache.

Leather jackets and their styling can come in handy, but is that styling doing justice to your real leather biker jacket? What if it isn’t? Following trend is one thing and keeping up with your personal style is another. If you want to be a trendsetter, you need to be well aware of both. Having a better insight into what makes good fashion means having a keen sense of what goes well with what.

So, we’ll be sorting out styles that not only will get you noticed, but will also help you develop your sense of fashion. This foolproof style guide can do the trick.

Try Leather On Leather

tips on wearing a leather jacket

Although it comes in the category of warmth-giving material, leather is an exquisite textile material, including cotton and wool. But the place leather has managed to score in people’s wardrobe cannot be compared with that of other materials. Leather is all about class and refinement, and if it is a part of your wardrobe, you must wear it with the same style.

Moreover, leather on leather is the most pragmatic approach towards styling. If you are au courant with the trend, you must have seen bloggers and influencers donning this attire. This outfit approach can be seen in two ways: to style it with a leather button-down shirt or to style it with finely shaped leather pants. Either way, it will look exquisite.

Denim With Leather Is A Beguiling Combination

Everyone loves denim. Be it men or women, denim has been used and enjoyed by all ages. To style the two of the most sought-after textiles, you’ll need a perfect-fit denim shirt because obviously, denim jeans are usual.

You’ll need men’s leather motorcycle jackets and a blue denim shirt with brown textured buttons and black khakis to complete the whole vibe. Finalize this look with a flair of grace by adding black shoes to the mix.

Get Your Favorite Hoodie

Layering is one of the most common ways to make the most out of winter clothes. Men’s designer leather jackets are the most sought-after category to pull off this look. To give this look an upgrade, you just need to grab your favorite hoodie, but make sure it is plain.

Pair your go-to hoodie with a blingy leather jacket to bring the most out of this attire. Add a dash of swag to your overall jaunty look with black denim and you’re all set.

We’re Back On Sweaters

If you love old school fashion, then this attire can become your go-to outfit for years to come. To style this look, get your hands on some finely knitted sweaters; also, make sure you choose your sweater’s color wisely. If you’re pairing this sweater with a classic black leather jacket, you must go for dark tones, preferably bottle green and navy blue.

Pair this sweater with your trendy black hooded jacket while your bottom sports some knee ripped black jeans. Wrap this look with flair by adding a pair of black sneakers.

A Vest Is A Never-Ending Style

Have you ever thought about styling a vest with a leather jacket? If you haven’t, then it is high time to do it now because you’re missing out on many trendy styles. Although vests and jackets have been both used and displayed by many people in a single attire, it doesn’t work at all times. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that you need to be open to changes when upgrading your style. It’ll always bring out the best in your personal style.

Complete this look by wearing a plaid sweater vest over a plain white shirt and dark brown chinos. Don’t forget to include the main highlight of the whole thing – a leather jacket. Although it might not be easy to get your hands on the best affordable leather jackets, once you find the one that fits your needs and preference, there’s no going back.

Be A True Dapper With High Neck

how to wear leather jacket

Pairing a high neck and leather jacket is one of the most elegant combinations that you can wear. If you are the kind of person who prefers to be unique in terms of style, then this look is exclusively for you. Despite the inner class it exudes, this look hasn’t been exhibited by a lot of people. You can also choose to pair a dark grey high neck with a classic black leather jacket. Talk about dressing to impress!

No matter what your preference is, you can pull off any look as long as you remember to wear your confidence as well. Leather already gives off a vibe of masculinity, so it won’t be hard to pair it with other items of clothing that’ll make you a sight for sore eyes.

The post Leather Jackets: 6 Styles That Will Never Fail You appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Singapore-based Raena gets $9M Series A for its pivot to skincare and beauty-focused social commerce

A photo of social commerce startup Raena’s team. From left to right: chief operating officer Guo Xing Lim, chief executive officer Sreejita Deb and chief commercial officer Widelia Liu

Raena’s team, from left to right: chief operating officer Guo Xing Lim, chief executive officer Sreejita Deb and chief commercial officer Widelia Liu

Raena was founded in 2019 to create personal care brands with top social media influencers. After several launches, however, the Singapore-based startup quickly noticed an interesting trend: customers were ordering batches of products from Raena every week and reselling them on social media and e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Tokopedia. Last year, the company decided to focus on those sellers, and pivoted to social commerce.

Today Raena announced it has raised a Series A of $9 million, co-led by Alpha Wave Incubation and Alpha JWC Ventures, with participation from AC Ventures and returning investors Beenext, Beenos and Strive. Its last funding announcement was a $1.82 million seed round announced in July 2019.

After interviewing people who were setting up online stores with products from Raena, the company’s team realized that sellers’ earnings potential was capped because they were paying retail prices for their inventory.

They also saw that the even though new C2C retail models, like social commerce, are gaining popularity, the beauty industry’s supply chain hasn’t kept up. Sellers usually need to order minimum quantities, which makes it harder for people to start their own businesses, Raena co-founder Sreejita Deb told TechCrunch,

“Basically, you have to block your capital upfront. It’s difficult for individual sellers or micro-enterpreneurs to work with the old supply chain and categories like beauty,” she said.

Raena decided to pivot to serve those entrepreneurs. The company provides a catalog that includes mostly Japanese and Korean skincare and beauty brands. For those brands, Raena represents a way to enter new markets like Indonesia, which the startup estimates has $20 billion market opportunity.

Raena resellers, who are mostly women between 18 to 34-years-old in Indonesia and Malaysia, pick what items they want to feature on their social media accounts. Most use TikTok or Instagram for promotion, and set up online stores on Shopee or Tokopedia. But they don’t have to carry inventory. When somebody buys a product from a Raena reseller, the reseller orders it from Raena, which ships it directly to the customer.

This drop-shipping model means resellers make higher margins. Since they don’t have to carry inventory, it also dramatically lowers the barrier to launching a small business. Even though Raena’s pivot to social commerce coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, Deb said it grew its revenue 50 times between January and December 2020. The platform now has more than 1,500 resellers, and claims a 60% seller retention rate after six months on the platform.

She attributes Raena’s growth to several factors, including the increase in online shopping during lockdowns and people looking for ways to earn additional income during the pandemic. While forced to stay at home, many people also began spending more time online, especially on the social media platforms that Raena resellers use.

Raena also benefited from its focus on skincare. Even though many retail categories, including color cosmetics, took a hit, skincare products proved resilient.

“We saw skincare had higher margins, and there are certain markets that are experts at formulating and producing skincare products, and demand for those products in other parts of the world,” she said, adding, “we’ve continued being a skincare company and because that is a category we had insight into, it was our first entry point into this social selling model as well. 90% of our sales are skincare. Our top-selling products are serums, toners, essences, which makes a lot of sense because people are in their homes and have more time to dedicate to their skincare routines.”

Social commerce, which allows people to earn a side income (or even a full-time income), by promoting products through social media, has taken off in several Asian markets. In China, for example, Pinduoduo has become a formidable rival to Alibaba through its group-selling model and focus on fresh produce. In India, Meesho resellers promote products through social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram.

Social commerce is also gaining traction in Southeast Asia, with gross merchandise value growing threefold during the first half of 2020, according to iKala.

Deb said one of the ways Raena is different from other social commerce companies is that most of its resellers are selling to customers they don’t know, instead of focusing on family and friends. Many already had TikTok or Instagram profiles focused on beauty and skincare, and had developed reputations for being knowledgeable about products.

As Raena develops, it plans to hire a tech team to build tools that will simplify the process of managing orders and also strike deals directly with manufacturers to increase profit margins for resellers. The funding will be used to increase its team from 15 to over 100 over the next three months, and it plans to enter more Southeast Asian markets.

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The Top 4 First Date Mistakes To Avoid To Establish A Real, Meaningful Connection

So, you’ve successfully moved past the friendly introductions phase and wooed her with your witty banter well enough to secure a first date. Well done! Now what? How will you prepare? And are there any rules you ought to abide by? You bet.

But don’t worry, these dating tips aren’t drawn from mind games, power struggles or other mind-numbingly basic psychology hacks. Throw all that old stuff out and test drive these tried-and-true methods proven to elevate your first date, remove the stress, and offer both parties a genuinely good time.

After all, this could potentially be your first date with your next long-term girlfriend (or even wife, if the cards are right), so you’re going to want to make a good impression. Here’s how to lead the interaction in your favor by avoiding these four common first-date mistakes:

Mistake #1: Going In With Any Set Expectations

how to avoid first date mistakes

Have you ever worked up an ideal outcome in your mind ahead of an event, and then been let down because things didn’t go as planned? Who hasn’t, right? By developing preconceived notions for how an event or interaction “should” go, not only do you set yourself up for disappointment, you also often miss out on other present opportunities that you didn’t anticipate.

As far as dating goes, film and television scenes have led us to believe that if a first date doesn’t end up in some hot, casual rolling-around-in-the-sheets action, it was a flop. But you know what? That’s not real life. People are people, and each person is different. I want you to ditch any sort of expectation you have around how your first date should go — particularly, how it should play out at the end of the night.

Instead, focus on being yourself, being friendly and being fully present with your date. Try to release your nerves and any pressure to impress. You’re just hanging out with another person, not addressing the nation on live TV! Who cares if you act a fool or turn her off? This is a first date. It’s supposed to be enjoyable, it’s not supposed to feel like a job interview or audition. Just go into the date to have fun and get to know her better.

If she doesn’t like you or it doesn’t last? No biggie. The point of dating is to weed out the false connections so you can hone in over time on the women who do like you (and who you like back). I laugh at the YouTube videos of guys trying to psychologically trick women into liking them, lusting for them, and all of that disingenuous bs. It’s not that complicated.

Just be yourself. You don’t want to enter into what could potentially be a long-term relationship on false pretenses or by being someone you’re not. Dating should be fun. You don’t need another chore, right? Don’t make it stressful. JUST HAVE FUN.

Mistake #2: Looking Like Crap

Look man, you need to look good. Do you have any idea how much time, energy, and money women spend to show up to a date looking nice? You owe it to her to show that you cared enough to try. I’m not saying that you should max out a credit card at Neiman Marcus.

I’m simply saying: put on some clean clothes that are wrinkle-free and don’t smell like a gym bag. Brush your hair and ensure your breath doesn’t smell like an Italian restaurant’s back-alley dumpster. If you are sporting a scraggly beard that looks like a teenager trying (but failing) to look cool, shave that.

Women want their men clean, looking crisp, and smelling nice. I’d go so far as to argue that women typically prefer polished, put-together, respectable-looking men over uber-fit or ultra-rich guys. So, present yourself as if you respect yourself, otherwise — she will not respect you.

Women are generally much more attuned to aesthetics and scent than men are, so unless you want to turn her off right out the gate, make sure you show up looking (and smelling) like you give a damn. This doesn’t take a large wallet to achieve, just a little pre-date due diligence.

Mistake #3: Exposing Poor Form Or Bad Manners

avoiding first date mistakes

Somewhere along the way, it became “cool” for a dude to seem aloof, superior or sport bad manners in dating scenarios. I’m not sure where this poor form sprang from, but let me tell you, good manners, kindness and decency go a long way with a woman. There are several simple things you can do on a date to show your respect for others (including your date and yourself), such as:

  • Say “please” and “thank you” to her, to the waitstaff and to others you encounter
  • Listen to her — for the love of God, do not interrupt her!
  • Show genuine interest in her conversation
  • Ask deeper questions to learn more about her
  • Show up clean and presentable (re: Mistake #2)
  • Be kind to her — otherwise, just cancel the date now
  • Ignore your phone (keep it in your pocket for the duration, ideally)
  • Did I mention don’t check your phone?
  • Don’t check your phone.

Remember, while you’re approaching the date without an expected outcome (re: Mistake #1), you never know how this interaction can/will evolve or what role this person could eventually play in your life. Even if the chemistry isn’t there, she could still easily become a best friend, creative partner or meaningful business contact. BE NICE.

Mistake #4: Jumping Into Bed Right Away (Trust Me)

Listen. If you’re only going on dates because you just want to score some sex, I’m not sure why you’ve read this far into the article. There are apps for that, and candidly, I’m not about that life. My goal is to help good men find great girlfriends they can partner with and mutually add value to one another’s lives and goals.

If that’s the kind of connection you are looking for, you need to get to know this girl as a person before you do the deed. Sleeping with someone before you’ve organically reached that point in the relationship just invites more complication than you can quantify.

Plus, by rushing physical intimacy before you truly know or understand your partner, you risk ruining what could have been a very fruitful friendship. Yup, I said it — your girlfriend will end up being your best friend. And you don’t develop a friendship by slapping skins. You build a friendship over time by getting to know someone for who they truly are.

I can’t tell you how many men I’ve coached who ended up in horrible breakups with girls they swore were “amazing at first.” The reason these relationships started out so strong but ended in catastrophe is because they leaned into the lust of it all instead of laying a foundation of shared interests, intellect, energies, and beliefs.

A romping relationship may feel fantastic at first, but let’s be real — you want to spend your days with someone who can amuse, amaze, support, and challenge you in everyday life outside of the bedroom. I know this may be my most unpopular advice for men, but I’ve lived it out for myself and found it to be true. The best relationship I’ve personally ever had (my current and forever one) evolved out of a sexless friendship over many, many months.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Test these tips out for yourself on your next first date and see how they can alleviate some of the stresses, pressures, and pitfalls of dating. Focus on being kind and genuine, having fun and trying to truly connect with your date — and watch how organically the rest will unfold.

Every good guy deserves to connect with his perfect match. It may just take some time to find the right fit. So be mindful and strategic of who you invite into your life (and who you are, as a man, in the process)!

The post The Top 4 First Date Mistakes To Avoid To Establish A Real, Meaningful Connection appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Rainmaking launches Motion Ventures to boost innovation in the maritime industry

A new fund has launched, with backing from the Singaporean government, to support tech innovation for the maritime industry. Called Motion Ventures, it is targeting $30 million SGD (about $22.8 million USD) and has completed its first close, with Wilhelmsen, one of the world’s largest maritime networks, and logistics company HHLA as anchor investors.

Motion Ventures was launched by Rainmaking, the venture building and investment firm that runs accelerator program Startupbootcamp, and will jointly invest in startups with SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of government agency Enterprise Singapore.

SEEDS Capital announced in June 2020 that it plans to invest $50 million SGD in maritime startups, with the goal of creating more resilient supply chains and fixing issues underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shaun Hon, general partner at Motion Ventures and director at Rainmaking, told TechCrunch that the fund plans to invest in around 20 early-stage startups focused on AI, machine learning and automation, with check sizes ranging between $500,000 SGD to $2 million SGD.

“We’ve got our eyes on some of the maritime value chain’s biggest challenges including decarbonization, supply chain resilience and improving safety. In most cases, the technology to address the industry’s issues already exists, but the missing link is figuring out how to apply these solutions in the corporate context,” Hon said.

“That’s what Motion Ventures aims to address,” he added. “If we can bring a consortium of industry adopters together to connect with entrepreneurs early in the process, we’re setting everyone up with the best chance to succeed.”

In addition to capital, Motion Ventures plans to partner startups with well-established maritime firms like Wilhelmsen to help them commercialize and integrate their technology into supply chains. For mentorship, Motion Ventures’ startups will also have access to Ocean Ventures Alliance, which was launched by Rainmaking in November 2020, and now includes more than 40 maritime value chain industry leaders.

Microsoft has dropped a bunch of game deals for Gold members

Microsoft has dropped a bunch of game deals for Gold members

TL;DR: Microsoft has dropped a wide range of deals on hit games for Xbox Live Gold members, saving you up to 95% on list price.


Listen, we know you don’t need an excuse to stock up on Xbox games, but we’re going to give you one anyway. You can save up to 95% on a wide range of Xbox games, so long as you’re an Xbox Live Gold member.

The range of the sale is actually quite staggering. You can pick up Xbox One games, Xbox One bundles and special editions, Xbox One DLC, and even Xbox 360 games. This could be the perfect moment to try something new.

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How You Can Cultivate A Habit Of Writing In Children

Writing is an important skill not all individuals are able to master in their lives. By cultivating this productive habit in the formative years, children can develop effective writing skills and eventually become proficient in all kinds of communication.

It is a skill that is required in almost every phase of life – whether you need to write an essay for school or send a work-related email, you need to have good writing skills. Helping young ones develop their writing skills early on will contribute to their successful future.

To add to that, writing allows you to have an outlet to let your emotions flow. You can learn to express yourself better and even get rid of some toxic feelings during the process. Children usually have difficulty in expressing themselves and organizing their thoughts, which is why it can be a great way to help them manage these emotions.

In this article, we’ll explore some ways in which you can cultivate the habit of writing in children.

Teach Them How to Read!

how to improve writing skills for kids teach to read

The most important habit that children should learn in the formative years is reading. Reading is vital because it nourishes the mind and helps children to think in new ways. It helps kids to identify and acknowledge the world around them, besides teaching them the functions of language.

Writing is a creative activity; thus, to create, one needs material or substance. This is acquired through regular reading habits. So, before a child is handed a pencil, he or she should be given a book. Reading material chosen for the child should arouse curiosity and enhance the powers of imagination.

Make Writing Instruments Their Best Friends

Learning how to hold a pencil or a pen is an entirely new experience for kids. They may find it really difficult at first to memorize alphabets or write with clarity. Make sure that you always encourage them to help them feel comfortable.

Children are usually fascinated if they’re offered a variety of eye-catching, colorful pens and pencils, so ensure that the child has a range of writing instruments that he or she can use. Encourage your child to make wish-lists or to-do lists and eventually, start writing letters to relatives together. Make the child believe that notebooks, pens and pencils, and even the waste bin are one’s friends. They never judge or scold for writing anything on them; they accept everything that the child writes.

Observation Is The Key

improve writing skills for kids

Help the children become more observant. The more they watch things, the more ideas and thoughts and questions they’ll accumulate in the mind.

They should be shown everyday things we habitually ignore despite their beauty: flowers, birds, animals, etc. Activities like cloud-watching, birdwatching, fishing and stargazing can imbue your young ones with awe and wonder.

Encourage the child to let out all those ideas and feelings, stories and experiences (even the dreams they see), and record them in writing. The child should be encouraged to write regularly, even if it means writing little. They should not be made to write at some fixed time. The idea is to make them believe they are free to write whenever they want and that the act of writing allows them to share everything they feel.

Always Try To Give A Positive Feedback

Elders should try not to criticize the writings. Children take time to learn and it’s completely okay if your child seems a little hesitant to write at first. They may make spelling mistakes and it may take some time for children to develop their own distinct writing voice.

Encourage them to work harder and tell them they’ve done a great job. Hearing compliments can help the child to feel loved and respected and in turn, he or she will try to work harder on the skill.

Try to reward them if they write something nice or beautiful. You can make their favorite breakfast or simply give a pat on the back! Praise what they write, but not excessively.

Enjoy The Story Time!

Storytelling sessions are definitely precious. Our parents, grandparents, family members and elders have all cherished the practice of sharing stories of their times.

Telling stories will spark images in the child’s imaginative space and he might try to emulate the same practice while writing. Additionally, it can introduce the child to different genres and help him or her improve his or her vocabulary.

Asking them to read out what they write can also be a good way to encourage and praise them (only if the children are willing to show their work)

This would make them work harder on the craft.

Final Thoughts

Writing is an imperative skill that can boost the cognitive development of young children. It can help them to enhance their ability to think and communicate. It is important that parents allow their child to learn and grow at their own pace. Every child is unique and has different needs.

Not only can these tips help kids get in the habit of writing, but they can also help parents maintain a healthy and happy relationship with their children.

The post How You Can Cultivate A Habit Of Writing In Children appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Tom Holland insists the previous Spider-Men aren’t in ‘Spider-Man 3,’ nobody believes him

Tom Holland insists the previous Spider-Men aren't in 'Spider-Man 3,' nobody believes him

Marvel’s Spider-crew has been mercilessly toying with fans today, with stars Tom Holland, Jacob Batalon, and Zendaya each sharing different title cards revealing different titles for the next MCU Spider-Man film. According to Holland’s Instagram, the third film will be called Spider-Man: Phone Home, giving a distinct E.T. vibe. However, Batalon’s feed declared the title to be Spider-Man: Home-Wrecker. To make matters more confusing, Zendaya then announced a third potential name: Spider-Man: Home Slice.

Unfortunately, Holland didn’t seem inclined to clear up any of the confusion in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday. The one thing the current Spider-Man would say, however, is that, despite rampant fan speculation, former Spider-Men Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire do not have cameos in the film. Read more…

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Daily Crunch: Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia

The Facebook-Australia news battle seems to have reached an end, Android gets an update and Lucid Motors is going public via SPAC. This is your Daily Crunch for February 23, 2021.

The big story: Facebook brings news sharing back to Australia

Last week, Facebook responded to the Australian government’s proposed law requiring internet platforms to strike revenue-sharing agreements with news publishers by blocking news sharing and viewing for users in the country. But with the government amending the law, Facebook said it will restore news sharing in the “coming days.”

Among other things, the amendments call for a two-month mediation period before Facebook is forced into arbitration with publishers, and it also says the government will consider commercial agreements that the platforms have made with local publishers before deciding whether the law applies to them.

William Easton, Facebook’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement that the amendments address “core concerns about allowing commercial deals that recognize the value our platform provides to publishers relative to the value we receive from them.”

The tech giants

Android’s latest update will let you schedule texts, secure your passwords and more — This update will integrate a feature called Password Checkup to alert you to passwords you’re using that have been previously exposed.

Twitter relaunches test that asks users to revise harmful replies — Twitter is running a new test that will ask users to pause and think before they tweet.

Area 120 is beginning to use Google’s massive reach to scale HTML5 GameSnacks platform — GameSnacks is an HTML5 gaming platform where titles are bite-sized and load much faster.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Lucid Motors strikes SPAC deal to go public with $24B valuation — This will be the largest deal yet between a blank-check company and an electric vehicle startup.

Shippo raises $45M more at $495M valuation as e-commerce booms — The startup provides shipping-related services to e-commerce companies.

Reddit ups Series E round by another $116M — Reddit had already announced a $250 million Series E earlier this month.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

How to overcome the challenges of switching to usage-based pricing — The usage-based pricing model almost feels like a cheat code, according to OpenView’s Kyle Poyar.

Oscar Health’s initial IPO price is so high, it makes me want to swear — Alex Wilhelm doesn’t mince words: “Public investors have lost their damn minds.”

RIBS: The messaging framework for every company and product — The test is designed to tell you if your story is memorable, so you can turn it into a compelling message.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Announcing the complete agenda for TC Sessions: Justice — Our second-ever dedicated event to diversity, equity, inclusion and labor in tech is coming up on March 3.

Six Miami-based investors share their views on the region’s startup scene — Investors see a huge opportunity for the region to become a major startup hub by utilizing its diverse workforce and wonderful quality of life.

SolarWinds hackers targeted NASA, Federal Aviation Administration networks — Hackers are said to have broken into the networks of U.S. space agency NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration as part of a wider espionage campaign.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

What Factors Affect Auto Insurance Givebacks?

The world has looked very different since last year. With the closing of most places of business, the places one can drive to has been limited greatly. The amount of cars on the road has been drastically reduced since the start of the pandemic.

With people driving less, there is a question of how this can and will affect car insurance now and in the future. Autoinsurance.org has looked into those factors and has broken it down. According to the website, many parts of the country saw a 60 percent drop in the amount of miles driven.

Along with rolling lockdown, the pandemic also brought financial struggles with it. Furloughs have left many Americans without jobs and nowhere to go, and yet they were still stuck with auto insurance for the few occasions when they left their houses.

Because of this, insurance companies provided givebacks in the form of: deferred cancellation due to missed payments, no penalties for late payments, waived deductibles for those medical frontliners who commute, as well as financial aid and light-on-the-pocket payment schemes.

Some of the biggest insurers—GEICO, Allstate, Progressive, and State Farm—refunded premiums in response to the drop in mileage. With the refunds, premiums also dropped 25 percent. This totaled $14 billion returned to policyholders.

Despite the drop in driving for most Americans, a select few actually saw and increase in driving in the midst of the health crisis. The demand for delivery has sharply increased because of the need to stay indoors. Some people have also turned to gig work apps to alleviate the financial struggle. Apps like DoorDash and Grubhub allow for some people to stay indoors, but others are now driving more to fulfill the apps’ demands.

car insurance premium factors

With all that in mind, will there be a total refund in the future of auto insurance? It is true that driving less equates to reduced low-speed accidents and lower rates overall. Still, it is unobtainable to provide an equal refund percentage.

There are multiple variables that keep full refunds from happening, such as: gravity or seriousness of accidents, hard-to-predict changes in driving habits, steeper repair expenses due to supply chain problems, and claims for slowed down repairs due to mobility restrictions.

Another factor is that, seemingly contradictory, less driving could mean more accidents. With less people on the roads, there is a higher chance for speeding. So, less traffic also entails increased high-speed accidents.

It could mean an increase of a whopping 50 percent in accidents while going over 70 mph and a 30 percent rise in road mishaps while going over 100 mph. The rise in speeding can lead to an increase in claims, higher cost claims, and more severe accidents.

factor that affect your car insurance premium

One way to understand how all this can affect your insurance is to understand risk pools. Auto insurers have to insure all drivers nationwide, regardless of their driving history and level of risk. Risk pools spread the claims costs across more people to keep premiums lower. It is important to know what risk pool you fall into. High-risk drivers are teenagers and those with a history of violations. Low-risk drivers are experienced drivers who have never received a ticket.

The pandemic has also had people looking toward the future—where people are not stuck indoors—and that future will most likely include autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles can also affect auto insurance just the coronavirus.

Considering 94 percent of accidents are caused by human error, it makes sense that self-driving cars could drastically change how insurance is calculated. An increase in these vehicles could lead to: a shift in liability, lower premiums, and fewer insurance claims.

But this brings up the question, who is liable when there is an accident?

Arguably, autonomous vehicles will shift blame away from the driver and will make driver history irrelevant. However, determining fault in these cases is difficult. If the driver is driving, normal insurance makes sense. If the car is in control, is the manufacturer or the driver liable? The simplest solution is no fault or split fault personal insurance.

Another solution is for the manufacturer to start providing insurance policies instead of personal insurance companies. This would eliminate the need to determine who is liable as manufacturers can calculate the odds of malfunction and charge based on that.

They also can lower premiums with upgrades and new releases. Autonomous vehicles would also lower the risk profiles of many drivers. It stands to reason that autonomous vehicles would reduce premiums by $25 billion.

Insurance Givebacks

The post What Factors Affect Auto Insurance Givebacks? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Katana raises $11M Series A to be the SaaS powering ‘manufacturing entrepreneurs’

Katana, an Estonian startup that has built manufacturing-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for SMBs, has raised $11 million in Series A funding.

Leading the round is European venture capital firm Atomico, with participation from angel investors Ott Kaukver (Checkout.com CTO), Sten Tamkivi (CPO Topia, formerly Skype), Sergei Anikin (CTO, Pipedrive) and Kairi Pauskar (former TransferWise HR Architect). Previous backer 42Cap also followed on, bringing the total investment raised by the company to date to $16 million.

Founded in 2017 by Kristjan Vilosius (CEO), Priit Kaasik (engineering lead) and Hannes Kert (CCO), Katana positions itself as the “entrepreneur manufacturer’s secret weapon” with a plug-and-play ERP for small to medium-sized manufacturers. The idea is to wean companies off existing antiquated tools such as spreadsheets and legacy software to manage inventory and production. The startup is also playing into macro trends, such as the advent of online marketplaces and D2C e-commerce, that are resulting in an explosion of independent makers, spanning cosmetics to home décor, electronics to apparel, and food and beverages.

“We are seeing a global renaissance of small manufacturing driven by the rise of e-commerce tools and consumer demand for bespoke products produced locally,” says Vilosius. “Just walk around any big city from London to San Francisco, and you’ll see workshops all around you. Someone’s making organic cosmetics here; over there, someone is making electric bikes. These companies are run by passionate entrepreneurs selling through traditional channels, but also selling through direct-to-consumer channels, e-commerce stores and marketplaces, etc. This is a massive boom of makers wanting to create products and sell them globally, and it is not a trend that will disappear tomorrow”.

The problem, however, is that small and medium-sized manufacturers don’t have the right software to support workflows necessary to sell through multiple channels — and this is where Katana comes in. The plug-and-play software claims a superior UX designed specifically to power boutique manufacturing, including functionality supporting the workflows of modern manufacturers, i.e. inventory control and optimization, and purchasing materials, managing bill-of-materials, tracking costs and more. It also offers an API and integrations with popular e-commerce sales channels and accounting tools such as Shopify, Amazon, WooCommerce, QuickBooks, Xero and others.

“We have built the world’s most self on-board-able manufacturing ERP, and that’s a very important differentiation between us and competitors,” explains Vilosius. “Implementation is so simple that more than half of Katana’s users self-onboard. It takes less than a week on average to get Katana up and running, compared to months for competitors”.

As an example of how a company might use Katana, imagine a boutique manufacturer using Shopify as their main sales channel. Once configured, Katana pulls in orders from Shopify and knows whether or not the product is available so it can be shipped immediately. If it’s unavailable, Katana displays if the necessary raw materials needed to manufacture are in stock and by when the product could be finished. “We handle the entire process from getting the raw materials in the warehouse to planning manufacturing activities, executing and shipping when the product is done,” says Vilosius.

Katana software screen shot

Image Credits: Katana

Cue statement from Atomico partner Ben Blume, who joins the Katana board: “Atomico has always believed in the strength of Estonian-built engineering and product, and as we got to know the team at Katana, we saw a familiar pattern: a relentlessly product-focussed team with the incredible ability to build and think from their customer’s point of view, and an unwavering belief that a new generation of manufacturers with big ideas shouldn’t have to settle for less than world-class technology to support them.”

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The problem with this is that there are only so many shows and movies on the likes of Netflix and Disney+. It’s inevitable that you’re going to run out of options at some point, but there is something you can do to push this point further away.

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12 Tips To Organize Your Small Business For Success

As a small business owner myself, it was quite a journey to get my business organized. Especially in the beginning stages when you’re a solopreneur who’s wearing all the hats and doing all the things, most of us hustle hard. And while that’s fine for a while, it’s definitely not a long-term strategy.

In this article I’ve collected the 12 top tips I used myself to organize my small business for success. Now, keep in mind, this took me years to manage to implement all of those tips!

So, if you’re currently at a point of complete overwhelm and chaos, start with one thing. Once you’ve nailed that, go on to the next one.

Okay, let’s get started.

Think About Your Vision

Oh boy, I had no idea a vision was even a thing until a few months ago. When I started my first side hustle back in 2018 (Amazon FBA) I was just trying out different things. I honestly had no idea where I wanted to go with it. That’s probably one of the main reasons why it failed miserably…

Don’t make the same mistake and get clear on your vision right now! Take out your journal and dream big. Allow yourself to write down your biggest, maybe even impossible, dreams for your life and your business.

Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years from now? What do you want to be known for? How much time do you want to be working on your business every day?

Get very clear on what you want for your business and where you want to go with it.

Set A One-Year And A 6-Month Goals

Okay, so the first step was all about dreaming big. Now, let’s get a little more realistic and specific.

Take your vision and break it down. Where do you want to be one year from now? Imagine you traveled one year into the future and write your goals out in present tense as if they had happened already. Then, think about how you’ve achieved them.

Do the same with your 6-month goals. What can you achieve in 6 months? How will you have gotten there?

Be as specific as possible!

Break Those Goals Down Into Monthly Goals

We’ll stay with goals for a little longer as they’re crucial in having an organized business.
By now, you know what you want to achieve within the next 6 months. And you’ve also written down how you’ll get there.

Now simply break your 6-month goal down into monthly goals. What do you need to do each month to achieve your desired results?

As soon as I’ve started doing that, achieving my goals has become so much easier!

Plan Each Week Ahead Of Time

the main ways of organizing a business

Now we’re getting even more specific.

You’ve got your monthly goals, so let’s look at your weekly schedule. In order to have a well-organized business you need to plan ahead of time. Last-minute actions are fine every now and then, but they really mostly cause lots of stress and overwhelm.

So, what I like to do is to take 2 hours on Sunday and plan the coming week.

Use A Content Calendar Or Promotional Calendar

To do that I use a content calendar. I’ve created a customizable template for this year which is probably the easiest way to go about this step.

Go over every platform that you’re creating content for and plan when you’ll be working on it and when you’ll publish it.

So much more organized right away!

Use Google Drive For All Your Files And Documents

Next, let’s look at your files. I love to keep it really clean and simple, so my suggestion is to just use Google Drive. Having all your files in a Cloud system makes them accessible from any device anywhere in the world. Plus, it’s much easier to have everything in one place instead of scattered all over your computer and different software…

Delegate Simple And Repetitive Tasks

Delegating is another super important part of getting your small business organized. It doesn’t have to be a lot, you can just hire a VA for a couple of hours per week. But the amount of work this person can do for you will help you grow so much faster.

And delegating actually isn’t that complicated. Just make sure to provide really clear instructions, ideally with a screen recording, and then adjust as you go.

Use Software For Automation

In addition to delegating, using software for automation also helped me so much in getting organized. One prime example is Tailwind where I schedule all my pins once a month.

That’s a huge time saver!

Other examples are social media scheduling software like Later or Hootsuite.

Use A Project Management Software

Now, if you really want to take the structure in your business to the next level, I highly recommend using a project management software like Asana.

Asana is free and makes it super easy to plan all your projects and tasks. You can then assign them to a member of your team or to yourself.

Super useful!

Work In Blocks And Use Calendar Blocking

After lots of testing, I found that working in blocks and scheduling them into my calendar helped me boost my focus and productivity drastically.

Have you ever noticed that there are times during the day when you’re more focused than others?

Make use of that and schedule those blocks in your calendar. Then schedule leisure blocks during times when you’re less focused.

Get Rid Of Notifications

main ways of organizing a business

Notifications are one of the main causes for all of the overwhelm and anxiety we’re experiencing nowadays.

So, why don’t you just get rid of them?

Instead of constantly being reminded of everything you could be missing, better schedule blocks every day for when you’ll go on social media or when you’ll check your email. This way, there’s no need for notifications anymore.

Have An Accountability Partner

Okay, before we wrap this up, here’s one last super tip: get an accountability partner!

This will supercharge your productivity. Having someone checking in with you on a regular basis automatically creates the same pressure as having deadlines. So, procrastination will pretty much evaporate.

Sound too good to be true? Give it a try!

Conclusion

Alright, so these are my 12 tips to organize your small business for success. I know how stressful it can be as a small business owner. But there is a better way than hustling 24/7 and always doing things the last minute.

Just start implementing one tip after the other and you’ll find that your business gets more organized and streamlined by the day.

This will help you increase your results, improve your mental health, and will ultimately allow you to finally live your dream life.

The post 12 Tips To Organize Your Small Business For Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Twitter explored buying India’s ShareChat and turning Moj into a global TikTok rival

Twitter recently held talks to acquire Indian social media startup ShareChat as the company explored ways to expand its presence in the world’s second largest internet market and build a global rival to TikTok, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The American firm, which is already an investor in Bangalore-based ShareChat, offered to buy the Indian startup for $1.1 billion and had committed an additional investment of $900 million, two of the sources said.

The talks are no longer ongoing, two sources said, requesting anonymity as the matter is private. TechCrunch could not determine why the talks did not materialize into a deal.

Two sources said Twitter had expressed intention to take Moj, a short-form video app that ShareChat owns, to international markets and position it as a rival to Chinese app TikTok.

Twitter declined to comment and ShareChat did not respond to a request for comment.

India’s ban on TikTok last year prompted scores of local startups and international giants to try their hands at short-form video format.

Moj, with over 80 million users already, has emerged as one of the largest players in the category. Earlier this month, Snap inked a deal with ShareChat to integrate its Camera Kit into the Indian short video app. This is the first time Snap had formed a partnership of this kind with a firm in India.

With the buyout offer no longer being entertained, ShareChat has resumed talks with other investors for its new financing round. These investors include Google, Snap, the sources said.

TechCrunch reported in January that the Indian startup was talking to Google and Snap as well as some existing investors including Twitter to raise over $200 million. A potential acquisition by Twitter prolonged the investment talks.

ShareChat, which claims to have over 160 million users, offers its social network app in 15 Indian languages and has a large following in small Indian cities and towns, or what venture capitalist Sajith Pai of Blume Ventures refer as “India 2.” Very few players in the Indian startup ecosystem have a reach to this segment of this population, which thanks to users from even smaller towns and villages — called “India 3” — getting online has expanded in recent years.

In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and chief executive of ShareChat, said the startup’s marquee app was growing “exponentially” and that users were spending, on an average, more than 30 minutes a day on the service.

Twitter, itself, has struggled to make inroads outside of bigger cities and towns in India. Its app reached about 75 million users in the country in the month of January, according to mobile insight firm AppAnnie, data of which an industry executive shared with TechCrunch. It inked a deal with news and social app Dailyhunt to bring Moments — curated tweets pertaining to news and other local events — to the Google-backed Indian app.

The American social network has broadened its product offering in the past year amid pressure from activist investors to accelerate growth.

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Gillmor Gang: Leave Quietly

It turns out the most important decision made was not the vote to choose (and remove) in the election but Twitter’s permanent banning of the former President from the social network. Suddenly the temperature cooled, the new administration engaged with the details of vaccine rollout, and the second impeachment trial ended with an expected outcome. Twitter’s move was bipartisan if the trial was not.

Twitter’s other big move was the acquisition of Revue, a Substack competitor we’re moving to in production of the Gillmor Gang newsletter. It features tools to drag and drop articles from Twitter, Feedly, and other newsletters, but crucially the ability to reorganize these chunks as the writing develops. It’s my bet that the newsletter container will absorb blogs, podcasts, and streaming into a reorganized media platform available to creators small and large.

This kind of organic process development meshes well with the newsletter model. It encourages more timely releases, and an editorial feel that prizes quality over quantity. As newsletters proliferate, an evaluation of time over volume becomes most significant. It’s less an eyeballs pattern than a prioritization of what is not chosen and then what is, consumed or annotated with social recommendations. As with the Gang’s Frank Radice Nuzzel newsletter, the focus becomes less flow and more authority or resonance.

Daily Commentary

I have made the decision to cover the media exclusively in “The Radice Files” There are plenty of general news aggregators out there, and I for one, am just tired of those stories. I hope you’ll stay with me.

Instead of non-stop Trump, the only political story in the revamped Radice File is about how Fox News cut away from House manager video testimony to a commentary on the futility of covering the violence given the lack of votes for conviction. This shadow dance happens not just on Fox but the other centrist or left networks like CNN and MSNBC. The slant is not what’s interesting; the networks’ business model and the subtle effect on media programming is.

No wonder that streaming’s impact is being felt in the latest unicorn from Silicon Valley, Clubhouse. The audio streaming podcast disruptor is marketed as a FOMO inside hallway conversation, with a Twitter social cloud viral onboard mechanism that digs deep into your contact list and never lets go. Big ticket items such as a keynote-like conversation with Elon Musk are overbooked from the first minute. I tried unsuccessfully to join this week’s follow up with Marc Andreessen and his VC partner Ben Horowitz but it was sold out at 5000 after 30 minutes.

But there is definitely something tugging at me as I get notifications of people joining and creating rooms on various glitzy Valley topics. The live feeling of serendipity and catch it as you can promises the possibility of lightning in a bottle, the sensation of history being made, not just observed. Probably just an illusion, but it’s reminiscent of the feeling we used to get when putting a record on the turntable and daring the artist(s) to succeed. I still get that every time Miles’ Kind of Blue resumes, the awe with which time is reorganized at the atomic level.

People say a Clubhouse can go easily from 1 to 5 hours. I think RSS was killed by the red unread marks indicator. Size matters? Probably, if my college research suggests. But more important than length is ROI, and that’s where the Clubhouse effect dovetails with the newsletter moment. The ingredients of both are intuition, choice, the organic breadcrumb trail, and the payload.

Intuition

Does this notification fit in with what pattern I’m trying to discern this moment. I love movies like Citizen Kane and North By Northwest for the mirage that they project of a universe fated by a biologically innate DNA. Sometimes we call it fate, other times dumb luck, but always that dumbest of phrases: It is what it is. Only this time the conceit is: It is what it’s about to be is. And if something happens, yes, I knew it. Not specifically, but given the mood the planet is in, it figures this could happen.

In a newsletter: the game is not to read everything, but only what and when and in what order. The prize is the analytics, which reward the reader with more stuff, and the publisher with validation of the impact of the combination of choice (citations) and context (writing.) In Clubhouse, it’s being in the room and what — knowing when to bail? For me it’s escaping the inevitability of the point being made in a podcast, or the filter of the business model of what I’m going to do next. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press. Maybe…

Choice

There’s a bunch of choice: Choice of room, people, time invested, moment of throwing good money after bad. Choice of what I’m playing hookey on — work, cable news, family fun, sleep. Clubhouse lets you publicly eavesdrop, a broadcast @mention that doesn’t give you the option of lurking. But you can do the closest thing to multitasking: doing the dishes, playing with the dog, monitoring. cable news with the sound off, DJ-ing for a private room, driving, etc. It is the new radio, pandemic be damned. Wherever you go, there you still are.

Newsletters? People, time reading, research replacement, subscription development, form of payment (money, authority, trust), influence or eyeballs. The game is trading current media for future rebundling, where the new publishers, studios, and artists are grown.

Breadcrumb trail

These choices create the breadcrumb trail, plowing under the old and furrowing the new. Newsletters are the leading edge of this refactoring, tilling the memes, models, and markets for the trends that become viral. The analytics of opens, email vs. web clicks, and notification triage are implicit for the most part in their signal. Harvesting these breadcrumbs requires the impact of new content created in response to the earlier data. Once you’ve identified a valuable consumer, your real work has just begun.

First, you look for the signature of exultation, the embedded essence of the experience that a certain combination of intuition and action rewards the detective. For that is what this new media is: an information thriller that taps into deep reading, listening, and sharing. Every catch phrase — round up the usual suspects, or we are not the droids you are looking for — represent uber themes we crave to navigate a terrifying treacherous world. We are the droids we’re looking for, and these new medias represent possible parallel worlds where we can not just survive but honor values of our choosing.

In the movies, it’s called the plotline. Clubhouse presumes there’s a story worth waiting for, the moments where we gain power by sharing and decorating reactions with clues as to what part of the same elephant we are investigating. We know intuitively that we’re not going to learn business secrets, but there is gold to be retrieved from the participants as they share their sense of humor or lack of it, their rhythm of when they join, raise their hand, are successful at being invited on stage, when they leave, whether they boomerang, and only a little what they actually say. The price for this is your breadcrumbs.

The Payload

As much as I’m intrigued by Clubhouse, I’ve only actually joined or started a room twice. Once was by accident, as I realized by clicking on a link to see who was there. Me, I found out. Another was a conversation about a Techmeme podcast by the podcaster and Chris Messina of hashtag fame. I never could get into the big A16Z attractions. Like Frank Radice’s newsletter pivot, I was primarily interested in the atmospherics surrounding Andreessen Horowitz’s media strategy. But that doesn’t obviate the steady feeling that something substantial is going on here.

Media generally is swallowing its pride in the wake of the political nightmare we’ve been living through. Notice I say media, not mainstream media or social media. Smarter people than me can debate the distinction, but I think the difference between the two is overstated, and more importantly, not that indicative of what the value of these new media surges will turn out to embody. More and more, the substantial writing that filters in on Twitter, RSS (through Feedly), and aggregators like Nuzzel and Medium is significant in its approach to the central issues we’re struggling with. That includes traditional players like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Information, and the tech journals, as they combine newsletter techniques with their substantial resources.

We’re seeing a merger of the medias, with the consensus around value and weight being measured by new metrics. In television, it’s the NewFronts combining digital and linear TV; in music it’s at the song level, not the album. Streaming has shaken the old networks to their core, with a horse race between Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and ABC, NBC, and the old CBS. M&A has swallowed Fox, Time Warner, FX, and even an old studio, Paramount. And radio? You could say the usual suspects Apple, Google, Amazon, and Spotify, but Clubhouse? Like Zoom, I think so. Twitter and Facebook have bigger fish to fry, but Apple Car and Glasses are the key platforms Clubhouse will play in as we move into the autonomous work from anywhere reality. The payload is value, time management, and notifications at the core of the move to digital.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, February 19, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

Watch sport from all around the world with this beginner-friendly VPN

Watch sport from all around the world with this beginner-friendly VPN

SAVE 82%: A three-year subscription to CyberGhost VPN is on sale for £1.99 per month as of Feb. 20, and includes an extra three months for free.


How are you planning on spending the weekend? You can’t go out and socialise, so it looks like your only option is staying in, getting comfortable, and watching something surrounding by drinks and snacks. 

If you’re planning on watching sport this weekend, you’ve probably considered a seriously dodgy stream that throws a bunch of even dodgier adverts your way. We really don’t recommend this plan, because you’re risking exposure to some nasty viruses. Instead, you should invest in a VPN. Read more…

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Daily Crunch: Uber loses UK legal challenge

Uber loses a legal battle over driver classification, we survey mobility investors and new data suggests a COVID-19 vaccine should be easier to transport. This is your Daily Crunch for February 19, 2021.

The big story: Uber loses UK legal challenge

The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court has reaffirmed earlier rulings that the Uber drivers who brought the case — which dates back to 2016 — are workers, not independent contractors.

“Drivers are in a position of subordination and dependency in relation to Uber such that they have little or no ability to improve their economic position through professional or entrepreneurial skill,” the court said in a statement. “In practice the only way in which they can increase their earnings is by working longer hours while constantly meeting Uber’s measures of performance.”

Uber, while acknowledging the decision, emphasized that it applies to the specific group of drivers who brought the case, many of whom are no longer driving through the app.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Ex-General Catalyst and General Atlantic VC announces $68M debut fund — New York-based Avid Ventures is launching its $68 million debut venture capital fund.

With $20M A round, Promise brings financial flexibility to outdated government and utility payment systems — Promise integrates with official payment systems to offer more forgiving terms for fees and debts that people can’t handle all at once.

Acast acquires podcasting startup RadioPublic — RadioPublic spun out of public radio marketplace PRX in 2016.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Ten investors predict MaaS, on-demand delivery and EVs will dominate mobility’s post-pandemic future — The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t just upend the transportation industry, it laid bare its weaknesses and uncovered potential opportunities.

A fraction of Robinhood’s users are driving its runaway growth — A closer look at payment for order flow, a controversial practice in which Robinhood is paid by market makers for executing customer trades.

Three strategies for elevating brand authority in 2021 — Advice from Fractl marketing director Amanda Milligan.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine just got a lot easier to transport and distribute — There’s new stability data collected by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dizzying view of Perseverance mid-descent makes its ‘seven minutes of terror’ feel very real — NASA has just shared a hair-raising image of the rover as it dangled from its jetpack above the Martian landscape.

Will the Texas winter disaster deter further tech migration? — It’s too early to tell the exact toll the storm has taken in loss of life, property damage and economic activity.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

This is the best place to find deals on PlayStation Plus memberships

This is the best place to find deals on PlayStation Plus memberships

SAVE 20%: A 12-month subscripton to PlayStation Plus is on sale for £39.79 on CD Keys, saving you 20% on list price.


The world of gaming was sent into overdrive towards the end of last year with the release of next-gen consoles, and it has never really recovered. It seems like everyone is still chasing consoles, games, and accessories, with the most popular products suffering from stock shortages.

Something that is always popular but doesn’t suffer from stock issues are subscription services. You can always find deals on things like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass memberships, but where are the very best deals to be found? Read more…

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Gillmor Gang: Blockhouse

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, February 12, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the new Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.

6 Mistakes To Avoid During Spring Home Cleaning Session

Home cleaning ventures have been propagating on different social media channels. Be it Instagram or Facebook, everyone has their share of home cleaning hacks. As it should be, cleaning is an essential requirement if we want to live a healthy and long life. Frequent visits to a physician would also be avoided with a clean living space.

The last several months have given people plenty of time to discover some amazing cleaning hacks, which motivated them to make notable changes in their home and share the improvements on their social media channels.

Needless to say, regular cleaning sessions make the home a healthier and safe place to live, giving you a chance to stay more organized. However, it gets a bit more complicated when it comes to spring cleaning since it can lead to hazardous incidents at times.

Living in a healthy and safe home environment is a must, but so is ensuring your safety while working around the house. So, we’ve listed some of the cleaning mistakes that many people make in order to avoid accidents while doing spring cleaning.

Lifting

Spring cleaning does not only involve dusting and mopping, it’s certainly more than that. Most of the dirt is collected under or at the corners of furniture. In order to clean or remove it, lifting is required, and heavy lifting can cause back pain or spinal cord injuries.

That’s why it’s important to be careful when lifting or moving around furniture. Do some stretches and use the right technique before proceeding. And, don’t jump on the cleaning adventures alone. It’s better to have an extra pair of hands to do the necessary job.

Ladders

common cleaning mistake

Window, roof shingles, or gutters are on your cleaning to-do list, so be extra cautious. Firstly, you need a ladder to climb up, which is why you have to be extra careful. One wrong step can have unpleasant consequences. Falling off a ladder leads to body pains and several other injuries. Ladder injuries can even go beyond broken bones.

Ladder falls are quite common during cleaning or renovation ventures and any fall can bring out fatal outcomes. Be it an extension ladder or step ladder, both can equally pose a danger. So, regardless of the type of ladder you are using, get the help and supervision you need to reduce the chances of accidents.

Cleaning Gear

A cleaning session does not work without gear. So, before you jump on to your spring-cleaning work, you need to have cleaning detergent that will make the area dust-free, cleaning gloves that will protect your hands from harmful chemicals, and brushes to reach the impossible ends easily.

Based on the areas you are about to clean, you need to wear protective gear like masks, goggles, and heat shield. These will help to prevent chemicals from getting directly absorbed into your skin and exasperating your respiratory tract. With the right protective gear, you’re also protecting your eyes from harmful fumes.

Unclean Humidifier

One of the things that most people forget is a humidifier. Dirty humidifiers are home to several bacteria, germs, mold, and viruses that can make you or your family sick. Thus, if you have a humidifier, clean it regularly to stay away from any ailments.

Dust, grime, and dirt carry pathogens, and these airborne pathogens can transmit several illnesses, allergies, and even asthma. Therefore, cleaning session or not, it is essential to clean your humidifier regularly.

Miscellaneous Cleaners

what are common cleaning mistakes

Several people try to use more than two cleaners for mopping. However, sometimes, this can cause a chemical reaction that produces toxic fumes, leading to severe consequences. This is why mixing different chemicals without the best knowledge is never a sound solution.

The chemical reaction not only occurs when two solutions are mixed, subsequent use of different chemicals can also produce fumes in some instances. So if you’re not satisfied with a cleaning product you just used, don’t instantly apply a different one. Wipe out the area first with soapy water and then use the other cleansers.

Proper Ventilation

Regardless of the product or cleanser you are using, the first thing to do is keep ventilators on. Opening up windows, doors or using fans to keep the air circulating to and fro will help you and your family steer clear of any harmful fumes.

Most people are attracted to fragrance-based cleansers, but these fragrances can also be harmful. In fact, products with fragrances can aggravate the condition of those with asthma, allergies, or any other respiratory illnesses. Thus, it is crucial to choose a cleanser with no fragrance to avoid irritating your respiratory system.

Final Thoughts

Home cleaning is a major necessity in today’s life. With the pandemic still posing a threat in our day to day, it is essential for everyone to conduct timely cleaning sessions. Remember, your biggest wealth is your health and a clean environment is one of the things that can ensure that.

When done together, home cleaning can be fun too. Bring everyone in the family on board and assign each member with some tasks to make spring-cleaning an interesting session. With the above-mentioned hacks, not only can you have a clean home but also the safest spring home cleaning session.

The post 6 Mistakes To Avoid During Spring Home Cleaning Session appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Apple AirPods Pro have dropped below £200 on Amazon

Apple AirPods Pro have dropped below £200 on Amazon

SAVE £50: Apple AirPods Pro are on sale for £199 on Amazon, saving you 20% on list price.


It’s best to totally ignore AirPods, because those sexy little earbuds are seriously tempting. They are hard to resist, so it’s better to pretend that they simply don’t exist. Nothing can penetrate your anti-Apple bubble, except maybe a deal? Oh go on then. Maybe just this once.

As of Feb. 18, you can save £50 on Apple AirPods Pro from Amazon. This brings the price down to £199, and includes a wireless charging case so you can keep listening all day and night.

More about Apple, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Uk, Uk Deals, and Airpods Pro

Glassdoor now lets you filter company ratings by demographics

Despite efforts from companies to create equitable environments, it’s clear that employees of a certain demographics, like Black women, sometimes have very different experiences from their counterparts. Glassdoor aims to better surface those experiences through a new feature that allows folks to filter ratings by demographics.

Up until now, Glassdoor only presented an overall ranking for a specific company, so there was no way to easily determine if, for example, Black women feel the same as white men, or if Latino men feel similarly to Asian men. In addition to race, Glassdoor now allows people to filter by gender identity, parental or caregiver status, disability, sexual orientation and veteran status.

Overall, Black employees are less satisfied at work in comparison to all employees, according to new preliminary research from Glassdoor. The research is based on the more than 187,000 employees across more than 3,300 companies who have provided demographic data.

Image Credits: Glassdoor

That same research showed Apple had the highest overall company rating among Black employees, with an average rating of 4.2 out of five. Apple’s overall company rating from that sample size is 3.9.

“Because these data are so new — having been collected within just the last four months — it’s important to resist the urge to make sweeping claims based on early data,” Glassdoor Data Scientist Amanda Stansell and Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain said in the report. “The averages we’ve reported above are not derived from representative probability samples of company workforces — they represent data shared anonymously by Glassdoor users at this time. Readers should therefore take some caution in making conclusive, company-wide inferences about the state of race and employee satisfaction.”

4 Great Ways To Improve The Safety And Security Of Nursing Homes

Working at a nursing home can be stressful. You’re responsible not just for the well-being of elderly residents, but also for their safety and security — 24/7.

No matter how talented your workforce is, you still need technology to help. Here are four great ways to embrace technology and reinforce the safety and security of your nursing home.

Incorporate In-Room Patient Monitoring

Patients can’t realistically have around-the-clock staff assistance in their rooms, and so, it’s essential to have in-room monitoring to ensure resident safety and to alert staff of any important activities.

For instance, you can install motion sensors inside rooms to monitor the patient’s movement. Such devices could be triggered when residents need help getting out of bed, notifying staff members to assist them.

Leverage 24/7 Security Camera Surveillance

patient safety in nursing homes

Cameras are vital not just to monitor resident activity and boost staff productivity, but for the overall security of your nursing home. 

Apart from having 24/7 video surveillance in hallways and elevators, your nursing home should have video cameras for entrance/exits and parking lots, too. Cameras can help prevent theft in the facility and enhance security for residents, staff, and guests.

Furthermore, video surveillance helps ensure the quality assurance of your staff in administering medication and keeping track of other resources. In the event of theft, video footage can help settle liability and theft claims and reduce workers’ compensation.

Ensure Complete Perimeter Access Control

Video surveillance plays a vital role in perimeter security, but perimeter access control helps prevent trespassing and keeping patients from exiting the building without staff to escort them.

Rather than basic mechanical locks, your facility should have electronic access control with access cards for staff. The main entrance should be equipped with an intercom system to ensure anyone who enters the property has the authority to do so.

Access control is particularly critical for memory care units, as patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s may wander off to other parts of the building or even exit the building if it’s not properly secured.

Specialized access control for memory care units in your nursing home may include:

  • Credential technology for entry/exit, such as keypads with PIN codes for staff, so patients can only access certain parts of the building with accompanying staff.
  • Electronic bands worn by patients that interface with door-mounted readers. If a patient passes through a restricted door, the system sets off an alarm for your staff.
  • Limited entry/exit points (with a fire exit), to make it easy for your staff to track patient movement in the facility.

Don’t Forget Fire Safety

improve patient safety in nursing homes

Fire safety is imperative for any property, but especially so for nursing homes where residents may have mobility problems and require more time to evacuate in case of emergencies.

Besides, sources of fire threats are just about everywhere in nursing homes, including combustible medical equipment like oxygen tanks, kitchen stoves, and other appliances.

So, there should be no compromises when it comes to having functional smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, fire sprinklers, and fire extinguishers, together with unmistakable fire escape routes and plans.

Other Safety Questions to Ask

Apart from the four security measures outlined above, below are a few quick questions to consider when determining the security measures taken by your nursing home:

  • Is the property gated properly and well-lit?
  • Is there a place in each patient’s room where valuables can be secured?
  • Do you conduct background checks on new hires?
  • Do you have qualified security personnel?
  • Is the staff well-trained to tackle various security issues?

Closing Thoughts on Nursing Home Security Measures

Running a nursing home is arduous, to say the least. You want your residents to live comfortably and stress-free, instead of being concerned about their safety and security.

From in-room monitoring to video surveillance, and perimeter access control to fire safety — make sure to cover all of these points in your nursing home to make life easier for you and your residents.

The post 4 Great Ways To Improve The Safety And Security Of Nursing Homes appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Support small businesses and save 15% with this eBay code

Support small businesses and save 15% with this eBay code

SAVE 15%: Until midnight on Feb. 19, you can save 15% on great brands and small businesses on eBay with the code PLAYWITH15.


Everyone loves a voucher code, especially when they actually work and they don’t come with a long list of catches. 

Until midnight on Feb. 19, you can save 15% on great brands and small businesses on eBay with the code PLAYWITH15. That means you could save over £50 on the Apple iPhone XR, over £50 on an Eve mattress, over £20 on an Asus Chromebook, and much more. Or you could invest in something from a small business, which could both give you something totally unique and help them out. Read more…

More about Ebay, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Uk, Uk Deals, and Tech

With Ironspring Ventures, Texas gets a $61 million new fund focused on ‘industrial’ technologies

From the chemical refineries that line the Gulf Coast to oilfields of West Texas, heavy industry has always been a big part of the economy in the Lone Star State.

Now, as venture capital moves in to the state as part of an exodus from California, a new fund is combining Texas’ industrial past with its high technology future.

That fund is Ironspring Ventures, which has closed its first investment vehicle with $61 million nearly two years after it launched its fundraising efforts.

The fruit of a partnership between Adam Bridgman and Peter J. Holt, the co-founders of an earlier investment vehicle called Holt Ventures, and Ty Findley, a former investor at G.E. Ventures and the Pritzker Group, the firm’s mission is to “accelerate digital adoption across legacy heavy industries,” according to Bridgman.

Each member of the Ironspring team has a long history with industrial technologies and deep roots in the Texas economy. Findley, a managing partner, grew up “in the middle of nowhere in East Texas” but comes from a family of entrepreneurs who built businesses along the Texas and Louisiana border.

“I joined up with our other co-founder and managing partner, Peter Holt,” said Bridgman. “That was really step one for us pursuing this broader mission of investing in legacy industry at the early stage of digital innovation. We were fortunate to find a strong cultural alignment and rare experience with Ty [Findley]. After co-investing over a period of time we got to know each other very well. We joined forces and it’s been a nice journey over the last year-and-a-half of formally launching and formally closing the fund in December.”

The first deal that the three men invested in together was Augmentir, a service providing information and support for remote workers. “Everything comes back to these words ‘digital industrial’ for us,” said Findley. “There’s this massive gap where people forget that almost the majority of GDP in this country is manufacturing.”

So far, Ironspring has invested in four portfolio companies, Mercado, which is developing a service to improve the import process; Icon Build, a company developing 3-D printing tools and technologies for the building industry;  FastRadius, which brings design tools and services for prototyping and industrial design; and GoContractor, a safety and compliance management service.

The firm’s average check size is around $2.5 million and investments will range from $1 million on the low end to $4 million on the high end, according to the firm’s partners. That means looking for what the firm called “post-seed” deals.

And the firm is looking for technology that is transforming how businesses design products, build them, and provide services and operate across the wide range of industrial output.

“We’re trying to organize around those themes,” said Bridgman. 

The Best Way To Name A Business

When it comes to business, what does the company name mean? Everything! For companies of all sizes, a good business step is a vital step towards attracting clients and growing brand awareness. Good business names are memorable. They create a strong impression, and they differentiate the company from its competitors.

The goal of a good business name is to clearly identify the business in a customer’s mind. On the other hand, bad business names are vague in a customer’s eyes. They may be generic, hard to spell, or too similar to the name of a competitor.

Given that 65% of Americans dream of starting a business one day, naming a business is something every aspiring entrepreneur should know how to do. Here are 5 easy steps anyone can follow to find their ideal business name. To start, list keywords and phrases related to the business. Consider how you want to do business and who your intended customers are. What sort of words might appeal to them?

Second, create a lengthy list of ideas for the business’s name. Never commit to a word or phrase immediately. This is the step where outside advice is helpful. Consult with friends, family, and peers for suggestions and feedback with the understanding that nothing is set in stone.

having a great business name

Once you have a shortlist of viable contenders, the third step is to research trademarks already in use. No one wants to commit to a name only to discover it’s taken. Ignoring the trademark of another business may lead you into a lawsuit.

After ensuring there are no legal barriers to the name you want for your company, the fourth step requires you to consider how to brand the business name effectively. Will the name fit well into a logo design? What brand colors would you use with this name? Some names lend better to branding than others. Make sure yours fits the bill.

Finally, the last necessary step is to check website and social media availability. Consider what domain extension best fits your business. Do a simple internet search to check domain availability and do the same thing with social media handles. In today’s society, many businesses use their online presence for promotional and informative purposes.

Some also do business on the internet outright. Having social media handles out there that customers can confuse for your business is a path to headache and revenue declines. It’s not enough to stand out from other businesses; you have to stand out from other social media users as well.

deciding a great business name

What happens if a brand name is poorly chosen? It’s not the end of the world, but fixing that initial mistake can be costly. Attorney fees alone can be a nightmare, as businesses who change their name have to update tax documents on the federal, state, and local level.

They also have to edit legal documents and contracts, and change trademarks, patents, and copyrights. When it comes to rebranding, new advertising and promotional materials are not cheap. The cost of updating a website, company logo, and social media handles vary as well.

For a small business, this extended process can cost up to $180,000. It also takes 8 months of work, during which customers must stay informed and updated if they are to be retained. No one wants to lose customers in the haze as they go about rebranding. The goal of a name change is often to expand a consumer base, not shrink it.

If you eventually do have to change your business’s name, fret not. You’re in good company. In 1968, Subway was known as Pete’s Super Submarines. Their name sounded too much like “pizza submarines” to customers, giving them the mistaken impression that the restaurant was a pizza place. Rebranding led to greater clarity for customers.

In 2006, Twitter was on the trend of cropping vowels from words. Their name was “Twttr.” Had they kept that name instead of opting for simplicity, their social media site would give the impression of a bygone era rather than a modern tool for communication.

Still, it’s better to avoid the hassle of changing a business’s name. It’s preferable to get names right the first time.

The Psychology of Naming Your Business

The post The Best Way To Name A Business appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day by saving on your cybersecurity

Celebrate Valentine's Day by saving on your cybersecurity

SAVE 82%: A three-year subscription to CyberGhost VPN is on sale for £1.99 per month as of Feb. 14, and includes an extra three months for free.


Valentine’s Day is all about cards, flowers, and chocolates, and it’s all very romantic. But you know what is more romantic that all of that? Cybersecurity, that’s what.

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There is infinite money for stock-trading startups

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. Want it in your inbox every Saturday morning? Sign up here

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

Earlier this week TechCrunch broke the news that Public, a consumer stock trading service, was in the process of raising more money. Business Insider quickly filled in details surrounding the round, that it could be around $200 million at a valuation of $1.2 billion. Tiger could lead.

Public wants to be the anti-Robinhood. With a focus on social, and a recent move away from generating payment for order flow (PFOF) revenues that have driven Robinhood’s business model, and attracted criticism, Public has laid its bets. And investors, in the wake of its rival’s troubles, are ready to make it a unicorn.

Of course, the Public round comes on the heels of Robinhood’s epic $3.4 billion raise, a deal that was shocking for both its scale and speed. The trading service’s investors came in force to ensure it had the capital it needed to continue supporting consumer trades. Thanks to Robinhood’s strong Q4 2020 results, and implied growth in Q1 2021, the boosted investment made sense.

As does the Public money, provided that 1) The company is seeing lots of user growth, and 2) That it figures out its forever business model in time. We cannot comment on the second, but we can say a bit about the first point.

Thanks not to Public, really, but M1 Finance, a Midwest-based consumer fintech that has a stock-buying function amongst its other services (more on it here). It told TechCrunch that it saw a quadrupling of signups in January as compared to December. And in the last two weeks, it saw six times as many signups as the preceding two weeks.

Given that M1 doesn’t allow for trading — something that its team repeatedly stressed in notes to TechCrunch — we can’t draw a perfect line between M1 and Public and Robinhood, but we can infer that there is huge consumer interest in investing of late. Which helps explain why Public, which is hunting up a way to generate long-term incomes, can raise another round just months after it closed a different investment.

Our notes last year on how savings and investing were the new thing last year are accidentally becoming even more true than we expected.

Market Notes

As the week came to a close, Coupang filed to go public. You can read our first look here, but it’s going to be big news. Also on the IPO beat, Matterport is going out via a SPAC, I chatted with Metromile CEO Dan Preston about his insurtech public offering this week that also came via a SPAC, and so on.

Oscar Health filed, and it doesn’t look super strong. So its impending valuation is going to test public traders. That’s not a problem that Bumble had when it priced above-range this week and then skyrocketed after it started to trade. Natasha and I (she’s on Equity, as well) have some notes from Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd that we’ll get to you early next week. (Also I chatted about the IPO with the BBC a few times, which was neat, the first of which you can check out here if you’d like.)

Roblox’s impending public debut was also back in the news this week. The company was a bit bigger than it thought last year (cool), but may delay its direct listing to March (not cool).

Near to the IPO beat, Carta started to allow its own shares to trade recently, on the back of news that its revenues have scaled to around $150 million. Not bad Carta, but how about a real IPO instead of staying private? The company’s valuation more than doubled during the secondary transitions.

And then there were so very many cool venture capital rounds that I couldn’t get to this week. This Koa Health round, for example. And whatever this Slync.io news is. (If you want some earlier-stage stuff, check out recent rounds from Treinta, Level, Ramp and Monte Carlo.

And to close, a small callout to Ontic, which provides “protective intelligence software” and said that its revenue grew 177% last year. I appreciate the sharing of the numbers, so wanted to highlight the figure.

Various and Sundry

Wrapping this week, I have a final bit for you to chew on from Mark Mader, the CEO of Smartsheet, a public company — former startup, it’s worth noting — that plays in the no-code, automation and collaboration markets. That’s a rough summary. Anyhoo, I asked Mader about no-code trends in 2021, as I have my eyes on the space. Here’s what he wrote for us:

If you thought the sudden shift to remote work sped up corporate America’s shift to digital, you haven’t seen anything yet. Digital transformation is going to accelerate even more rapidly in 2021. Last year, the workforce was exposed to many different types of technology all at once. For example, a company may have deployed Zoom or DocuSign for the first time. But much of this shift involved taking analog processes like meetings or document signing and approval and bringing them online. Things like this are merely a first step. 2021 is the year the companies will begin to connect large-scale digital events to infrastructure that can make them automated and repeatable. It’s the difference between one person signing a document and hundreds of people signing hundreds of documents, with different rules for each one. And that’s just one example. Another use case could involve linking HR software to project management software for automated, real-time resource allocation that allows a company to get more out of both platforms, as well as its people. The businesses that can automate and simplify complex workflows like these will see dramatically improved efficiency and return on their technology investments, putting them on the path to true transformation and improved profitability.

We shall see!

Alex

 

The How And Why Behind Recruiting AI

Let’s start with the basics. What is recruiting AI? Recruiting AI is artificial intelligence used specifically for hiring. It can read resumes and job descriptions using its knowledge to match candidates to positions where they would be successful.

Recruiting AI and other software are increasingly becoming one of the main tools for the hiring process. Technology can help to make the process much quicker and more effective. This visual guide breaks it all down.

How Can Recruiting AI Be Used Successfully?

ai recruiting

Recruiting AI makes the hiring process overall run better. It can instantly tell recruiters who the best applicants are and if it is programmed correctly with unbiased data, it can increase a company’s diversity. With an AI program trained on unbiased data, the implicit biases human recruiters have, which often unknowingly get in the way of hiring diverse people, are eliminated.

Several recruiters and HR professionals do not believe their current hiring practices are good. In fact, 81% believe their practices are average or worse. It is a daunting task to look through possibly hundreds of resumes and choose the best people. It has been found that recruiters typically spend only seven seconds looking at a person’s resume.

It is understandable why this happens given the bulk of their task, but it is not a good practice. In those seven seconds, recruiters do not have enough time to fully consider a candidate and make an unbiased decision about them.

Several implicit biases like similarity bias, the halo/horns effect, the contrast effect, and the central tendency effect can occur with the poor hiring practices currently in use. Similarity bias makes people value traits in others that are similar to their own, which directly works against efforts to increase diversity.

The halo/horns effect reinforces our first impressions of a person, making it difficult to challenge our snap judgments and bias. The contrast effect plays with the opinions people form when comparing candidates to the others considered directly before or after. Finally, the central tendency effect leaves people wary of rating anyone too extreme for fear of their opinions being formed on bias.

Fortunately, an unbiased recruiting AI can solve this. But first, you have to ensure the recruiting AI is programmed with unbiased data. In the past, AI has eventually learned the same biases as its human recruiters because it was trained with their narrow data.

To create an unbiased AI, a wide variety of job descriptions, companies, resumes, and outcomes should be used. The AI should also be blocked from seeing information like a candidate’s age, gender, or name (which could allude to the person’s race). Once you have a completely unbiased recruiting AI, the whole hiring process can be expedited and establish fairness for diverse candidates.

Higher Diversity Leads To More Creativity And Profitability

benefit of ai for recruiting

The whole idea of a quicker and fairer hiring process sounds great, right? Right! Let’s look at the many benefits of increasing a company’s diversity, which come from having an unbiased recruiting AI.

Diverse people bring diverse thoughts and processes to the table. Vildan Stidham, Divisional VP of Global Talent Acquisition at Abbott, explains, “D&I can bring innovation, creative thinking, and different perspectives that are essential in our growing businesses.” The new, creative ideas brought into companies by diverse people make those companies thrive. New inventions and ways of thinking greatly improve life as we know it.

The improvements diversity brings to innovation also brings about a company’s profitability. The 20 most diverse companies in the S&P 500 have a higher long-term profitability than the less diverse ones. Greater diversity in a company’s leadership for both ethnic and gender diversity ultimately leads to significant profitability and financial success.

Needless to say, the ability to succeed financially is what keeps companies alive and able to materialize the creative, innovative ideas their people create. And having high diversity allows a company to do both.

Using an unbiased recruiting AI throughout the hiring process can make everything easier and quicker while increasing the workforce’s diversity and the company’s success. After programming the AI to be unbiased with a lot of varied data, it can instantly recognize the top candidates for any position, including candidates that may have been discriminated against unconsciously by human recruiters.

Embracing Diversity: The How & The Why With Help From AI

The post The How And Why Behind Recruiting AI appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Unblock and watch American Netflix with PureVPN

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PureVPN is one of the best VPN providers when it comes to server network, customer support, security, and the number of simultaneous connections allowed with the same plan. It has experienced problems unblocking Netflix though, so all of the positives haven’t really mattered to a lot of users.

This frustrating situation has now changed, because PureVPN can unblock American, Australian, and Japanese Netflix libraries. This cat and mouse situation is constantly evolving, but for the time being, PureVPN is a great choice for unblocking Netflix. Read more…

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Does SoftBank have 20 more DoorDashes?

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. This week felt oddly comforting from a tech news perspective: Facebook is copying something, early-stage startup data is flawed enough to talk about and sweet DoorDash is buying robots for undisclosed sums.

So, here’s a rundown of the tech news we got into (as always, jokes aren’t previewed so you’ll have to listen to the actual show to get our critique and Award Winning Analysis*):

In good news, long-time Equity producer Chris Gates is back starting next week, which means we’ll have our biggest crew ever helping get the show put together. And, in other good news, there’s going to be more Equity than ever for you to hear. Coming soon.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST and Thursday afternoon as fast as we can get it out, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

*OK, so not award-winning yet. But soon enough, because manifestation works.

India’s BharatPe valued at $900 million in new $108 million fundraise

India may soon have another fintech unicorn. BharatPe said on Thursday it has raised $108 million in a financing round that valued the New Delhi-based financial services startup at $900 million.

Coatue Management led the three-year-old startup’s Series D round. Other six existing institutional investors — Ribbit Capital, Insight Partners, Steadview Capital, Beenext, Amplo and Sequoia Capital — also participated in the round, which brings BharatPe’s total to-date raise to $233 million in equity and $35 million in debt.

The startup said as part of the new financing round it returned $17.17 million to its angel investors and employees with stock option.

“With the balance sheet well capitalized (more than US$ 200M in bank), we are now going to keep our heads down and deliver US$30B TPV and build a loan book of US$ 700mn with small merchants by March 2023,” said Ashneer Grover, co-founder and chief executive of BharatPe.

BharatPe operates an eponymous service to help offline merchants accept digital payments and secure working capital. Even as India has already emerged as the second largest internet market, with more than 600 million users, much of the country remains offline.

Among those outside of the reach of the internet are merchants running small businesses, such as roadside tea stalls and neighborhood stores. To make these merchants comfortable with accepting digital payments, BharatPe relies on QR codes and point of sale machines that support government-backed UPI payments infrastructure.

Scores of giants and startups are attempting to serve neighborhood stores in India.

The startup said it had deployed over 50,000 PoS machines by November of last year, and enables monthly transactions worth more than $123 million. It does not charge merchants for universal QR code access, but is looking to make money by lending. Grover said the startup’s lending business grew by 10x in 2020.

“This growth reiterates the trust that the small merchants and kirana store owners have showed in us. This is just the beginning of our journey and we are committed to build India’s largest B2B financial services company that can serve as one-stop destination for small merchants. For BharatPe, merchants will always be at the core of everything we build,” he said.

BharatPe’s growth is impressive especially because it was not the first startup to help merchants. In a recent report to clients, analysts at Bank of America said BharatPe has proven that fintech is not the winner takes all market.

“BharatPe perhaps has the late mover advantages in the space. It was one of the first companies to act as a universal consolidator of QR codes on UPI, giving the merchant the advantage to have one QR code (eventually others like Paytm followed). Unlike its Fintech peers, BharatPe is not educating the merchants but instead following its larger peers who have already educated the merchants,” they wrote in the report, reviewed by TechCrunch.

The startup, which has presence in 75 cities today, plans to further expand its network in the nation with the new fund.

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How To Protect Yourself From SMS Scams

Smartphones and cell phones have changed the way we communicate. We can instantly send and receive messages through wireless calls, text messages or SMS, email, and social media platforms. With the advancements of technology, there are advantages and disadvantages—and sometimes danger.

SMS scams or text scams are prevalent in this age of smartphones and cell phones. Many scams are SMS marketing; some are more deceitful.

SMS marketing is sending promotional campaigns for marketing purposes via text messages. These messages are meant to communicate time-sensitive offers, updates, and alerts to potential or established customers.

Businesses use SMS marketing because it is one of the more effective forms of communicating with customers when done correctly. When done incorrectly, these can be viewed as unwanted messages and solicitations that bombard people regularly.

SMS scams are a problem because more and more people are using mobile banking and online shopping, making them easier targets for scammers and fraudsters. There are different types of scams people need to be aware of.

identifying a fake text message

  • Spam SMS messages usually notify the receiver that he/she won a prize and ask them to reply with personal information, including bank or credit card details.
  • Phishing is a method used by scammers by sending messages that pretend to be from a reputable company or someone the receiver knows and asks them to verify something with their personal details like passwords or bank information.
  • SMS spoofing is when the scammer sends text messages carrying the name or number of a well-known brand or company.
  • SMS Malware attacks are mobile malware scams that send out unsafe links. Some scammers will use specific tactics to get people to do something they aren’t aware are dangerous.
  • Family emergency is one of the most common ruses. The message will say that the recipient’s loved one got into an accident or is in trouble and needs immediate financial help. In a panic, the victim will then send what is being asked of them in the hopes of helping their loved ones, not realizing they are being duped.
  • Refund scam. The message will tell the victim that they will receive a refund from a service provider but need certain information for it to be processed. Using the information provided, the fraudster will gain access to the victim’s account. Do not respond to these types of texts and do not give away personal information right away.
  • Reactivation scam. The message will tell the victim that their account has been compromised and asks them to text a code or reset their password through a suspicious link to reactivate their “account.”
  • Prize scam. The scammer sends the victim a text message saying that they’ve won a prize or holiday getaway from a contest they didn’t enter. The text will also contain a link where the victim will input their personal information that the scammer will use to their advantage.
  • Parcel delivery scam. With online shopping and delivery becoming more prevalent today, scammers can now send fake messages imitating official couriers but will ask for additional information or extra charges from the recipient to ensure the delivery of their packages.

If you receive these text messages or anything similar, here are some ways to avoid falling into these SMS scams.

how to know a fake text message

  • Be on the lookout for unusual or unknown numbers. Most brands and companies will use verified numbers or use less than ten digits. If the number seems iffy, ignore or delete these messages or best to block.
  • Check for grammatical and spelling mistakes. All companies and brands use copywriters and editors to create marketing messages. Scammers will often make spelling and grammatical errors. This may seem simple, but it’s the easiest way to identify SMS scams.
  • Double-check messages. Recall if you’ve entered a contest or if there even really is one from a particular brand or company. If there isn’t, then it is definitely a scam. Report it to the proper authorities or the company itself so that they can warn their other customers of such activity.
  • Don’t click any links. If you received any SMS that contains a link, don’t click on it, as it is designed to steal information or spread malware. But do regularly change or update passwords of your online accounts or emails to make it more difficult for hackers to access these.
  • Don’t trust text messages that contain your name. Just because a text message has your name doesn’t make it genuine or legitimate. Chances are the scammer got your name from social media or other sources.
  • Verify the authenticity of the company or the sender. If you do not recognize the name of the company or brand that sent you the text message, do some digging to check if they have an official website or social media channels or if the company really exists.
  • Always verify the messages you received. Check with your relatives or friends if they are indeed in need of any assistance. Report these fraudulent messages to the telecommunication carrier you are using or your local government agency handling fraud cases.

Protect Your Information At All Times

Being alert and suspicious go a long way to protecting yourself from fraudsters who are taking advantage of technology to fool people out of their money. Verify details before establishing contact with anyone over the phone, SMS, or online.

The post How To Protect Yourself From SMS Scams appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Stephen Colbert calls out Senate GOP ‘cowards’ on day 1 of Trump’s second impeachment trial

Stephen Colbert calls out Senate GOP 'cowards' on day 1 of Trump's second impeachment trial

“Here we go again, again,” Late Show host Stephen Colbert quipped. “I’ve got that real feeling of déjà coup.”

Former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial finally got underway on Monday, almost a year after his first impeachment, and Republicans are again trying to shield their darling baby boy from a consequence. While the prosecution presented a video demonstrating that the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s rally were one and the same, numerous Republicans determinedly averted their gaze as though not looking at it meant it didn’t exist.

“You know that they say, gentlemen,” said Colbert. “See no evil, hear no evil, makes you seem really evil.” Read more…

More about Stephen Colbert, Impeachment Trial, Culture, and Politics

Investor Alexa von Tobel on the biggest driver of social-media-fueled stock trading

Alexa von Tobel has always felt strongly that too many people are shut out of the stock market. She felt this as a 23-year-old who didn’t have $5,000 to open a brokerage account. She felt it while building LearnVest, a financial planning startup she launched in 2009 and sold in 2015 to Northwestern Mutual for what she says was ultimately $375 million. In fact, von Tobel — who two years ago launched her own venture firm with fellow entrepreneur and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker —  cares so much about the yawning gap between investors and non-investors that she has written books about how to take control of one’s money. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, she is also a certified financial planner.)

Little wonder that in late January, for a podcast that von Tobel routinely hosts for Inc., she interviewed Robinhood Vlad Tenev about the company’s quest to make investing accessible to all and how it had shaken up the brokerage landscape in the process. Neither foresaw what would happen days later, when a Reddit community of amateur investors didn’t try to occupy Wall Street so much as turn it upside down by using Robinhood, in part, to drive up the share price of companies like GameStop and AMC Theatres — then unwind those positions. As a 21-year-old college student who lost $150,000 over the course of several days told the outlet Vice, “This whole thing has numbed me to money.”

What happened? Education, in the view of von Tobel, who says it never became an integrated part of bigger picture. While the GameStop saga has “brought a lot of new learnings and new things that people have to process and consider,” paramount among these is the inadequate financial training that Americans receive.

“I want the tools to be democratized, where everyone can get equal access to the financial system,” said von Tobel in a lively chat with us late last week that you can hear here. “But I also want equal education, and that’s where we’re woefully falling behind as a society. It’s not taught in high schools, colleges, or grad schools. Very few schools even teach the basics.”

The issue only grows more important to address each year, she says. People are living longer, and they’re more responsible than ever for their financial well-being. Meanwhile, because of innovations in fintech, including at Robinhood — which became wildly popular very quickly precisely because it dispensed with many of the barriers to participating in the stock market — there is little to keep someone from making lousy decisions with outsize consequences.

So what’s to be done? For starters, she suggests that society begin to place as much emphasis on financial health as physical wellness. “If you’re close to having a major health crisis, doctors do a really good job of saying, ‘Here’s all the things that you need to do to protect yourself; here’s what needs to happen. The same needs to exist in the financial world.”

It will take a number of stakeholders, she believes. One of these is “platforms – all of them — that provide you with [financial] tools and resources, so you can understand the kind of risks you’re taking on [to the extent] that they can provide it.”

Another, she said, is regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Created in 2010 to safeguard consumers in banking, mortgage, credit card and other financial transactions, the CFPB’s very constitutionality was called into question by the Trump administration, yet its guidance is sorely needed, suggests von Tobel. (“Regulation is always a step behind, and that’s a little bit of what we’re feeling” as a society right now.)

Of course, the third and biggest stakeholder of all is the U.S. educational system, says von Tobel, adding that “you need all three, working in unison” in order to have real impact.

As for any structural changes in the meantime that von Tobel thinks should happen — according to CNBC, for example, Robinhood is preparing to lobby against a trading tax that’s been floated as a way to dampen some of the frenzied activity seen in recent weeks — she declines to “pontificate too much.”

Still, she said she thinks that “getting a Citadel and everyday Americans on equal footing is where we want to end up,” and she isn’t without hope that we’ll get there.

For example, she thinks crypto is “here to stay” and that the infrastructure being created around it will be positive for innovators as well as end users. She’s also expecting “self-driving wallets” that pay bills and make investments to become the new normal, and she thinks they could minimize some of the financial distress we might continue to see otherwise.

Considering the chaos of late, the latter almost sounds too easy, but the “wallet is simply a math equation every day,” she says. “If you have so much [money] available free, where should it go? What’s the most optimal place? It’s a math equation that updates every single hour, and I do think elements of it will be self-driving based on your goals and what you want to accomplish.”

As she puts it, “I can’t wait for the day that that actually exists in a way where it automates on its own. I do believe that’s the future.”

Top 10 Money Saving Tips For College Students

When students are in college, there are several expenses that you have to meet. From tuition fees to food and living expenses, the cost of living is on the rise. But that does not mean that you have to starve; you can save your money in many ways as a college student.

Here are some quick tips:

Don’t Buy New Textbooks

Often, textbooks can be really expensive. So when you are about to begin a new semester, you can contact your seniors who have taken a similar course and borrow their textbooks instead. Many seniors do not have any use for their books and would be happy to give them away. An alternative could be downloading e-books online. Likewise, you can also sell your textbooks to somebody else or to stores who would accept them for a lower price and earn some money.

Use Your Student ID Card Wherever Possible

Nowadays, student discounts are available on almost everything. From electronics to technology and software, clothes and shoes, your college ID can help you save big. So always carry your student ID wherever you go and ask at the billing desk if they offer any type of student discount.

Food & Grocery

saving money as a college student

Eating out is expensive, so try to cook food at home as much as possible. This practice is not only beneficial to your health but to your finances too. Buying groceries in bulk also helps you get bigger discounts. You can team up with friends to go grocery shopping, buy big family packs, segregate the items, and split the costs. This gives everyone a great deal of savings.

Electronic Gadgets

Gadgets and technology have become an integral part of our lives, especially as college students. You can choose to borrow money online when you’re making a heavy investment like a phone or a laptop. Personal loan apps can help you borrow online loans easily with flexible repayment options. And for general accessories, you can choose cheaper brands instead of going for the top ones to help you save money.

Choose Your House Wisely

Dormitories and hostels are cheaper living options as compared to off-campus living. You can even choose to share accommodation and have flatmates to help you divide your rent and other expenses. Also, weigh the options you have at hand before making a decision.

Pay Your Fees Smartly

You can use various modes of payment for paying your tuition fees or housing fees. Choose the one that doesn’t levy an additional charge of process fees. For example, if you use a credit card to pay your university fees, you will be charged an additional 1.75% on the total amount. So if you have to pay $5,000, you will end up spending an additional $87.50. However, if you use cheques or banks transfers, you can save that amount every term, which is a significant saving overall.

Plan Your Meals

When you chart out a meal plan for the whole week, there are several benefits. For one, it helps you calculate the exact number of ingredients which you need through the week. It also enables you to avoid any impulsive purchases at the supermarket. Moreover, it reduces food wastage at the end of each week. Planning your meals can even help you observe your diet. You would know whenever there’s too much intake of unhealthy food for consecutive days, making you conscious of your eating habits.

Make Your Own Coffee

save money as a college student

Machine coffee can cost you $3 per cup on an average. Look at it from an annual perspective; you will be spending almost $600 on coffee at that rate. Instead, you can purchase coffee beans and make your own coffee. That way, you save a significant amount of money.

Don’t Purchase A Car, Rent It

As a student, having your own car is not a necessity. There are several options you can consider, like renting a car, renting Uber or Lyft, etc. Because a car is not just an expensive buy, it is also a heavy maintenance asset. Fuel, parking, maintenance, and unexpected repairs, among others, can burn a hole in your pocket as a student.

Be Wise And Prudent While Using Credit Cards

Credit cards are a boon when managed wisely. But they can prove to be a disaster if you have no self-control. Don’t set a very high limit on your card. If you do keep a card, use one with low limits and lowest interest rates. Ensure that you can pay the bill each month and not incur interest as much as possible.

Managing your studies along with expenses can be a little challenging. But being frugal, cutting down on unnecessary costs, and planning budgets well can help you manage your finances efficiently.

The post Top 10 Money Saving Tips For College Students appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

LanzaJet inks deal with British Airways for 7500 tons of fuel low emission fuel additive per year

LanzaJet, the renewable jet fuel startup spun out from the longtime renewable and synthetic fuel manufacturer, LanzaTech, has inked a supply agreement with British Airways to supply the company with at least 7500 tons of fuel additive per yer.

The deal marks the second agreement between the UK-based airline and a renewable jet fuels manufacturer following an August 2019 agreement with the British company Velocys. It’s also LanzaJet’s second offtake agreement. The company announced itself with a partnership between the renewable fuels manufacturer and the Japanese airline ANA.

Through the deal, British Airways will invest an undisclosed amount in LanzaJet’s first commercial scale facility in Georgia. The fuel will being powering flights by the end of 2022 the companies said.

It’s part of a broader expansion effort that could see LanzaJet establish a commercial facility for the UK airline in its home country in the coming years.

Back in the U.S. the plan is to begin construction on the Georgia facility later this year which will convert ethanol into a jet fuel additive using a chemical process.

Fuel from the plant will reduce the overall greenhouse emissions by 70 percent versus traditional jet fuel. It’s the equivalent of taking almost 27,000 gasoline or diesel-powered cars of the orad each year, according to the company.

The deal is the culmination of years of research and development work between LanzaJet’s parent company, LanzaTech and Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Spun off in June 2020, LanzaJet was financed by an investment group including parent company LanzaTech, Mitsui, and Suncor Energy. British AIrways now joins the two other strategic investors as LanzaJet eyes an ambitious scale up program through 2025. The company plans to launch four large scale plants producing a pipeline of renewable fuels. 

“Low-cost, sustainable fuel options are critical for the future of the aviation sector  and the LanzaJet process offers the most flexible feedstock solution at scale, recycling wastes and  residues into SAF that allows us to keep fossil jet fuel in the ground. British Airways has long been a  champion of waste to fuels pathways especially with the UK Government,” said Jimmy Samartzis, the chief executive of LanzaJet. “With the right support for  waste-based fuels, the UK would be an ideal location for commercial scale LanzaJet plants. We look  forward to continuing the dialogue with BA and the UK Government in making this a reality, and to  continuing our support of bringing the Prime Minister’s Jet Zero vision to life.”  

The LanzaJet fuel is certified for commercial flight up to 50% blend with conventional kerosene. “Considering the aviation market is 90 billion gallons of jet fuel a year, having 50% or 45 billion of production capacity and reaching that max blend level will be a great problem to have,” said LanzaTech chief executive Jennifer Holmgren in an email.

LanzaJet’s manufacturing facility in Georgia is designed to produce zero-waste fuels, according to Holmgren, and British Airways will receive 7,500 tonnes of sustainable aviation fuel from LanzaJet’s biorefinery each year for the next 5 years.

The partnership between British Airways, Hangar 51, International Airlines Group’s accelerator and others.

In addition to its biofuel work, British Airways is also working with companies like ZeroAvia, the hydrogen fuels company that also received backing from Amazon, Shell, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

“For  the last 100 years we have connected Britain with the world and the world with Britain, and to  ensure our success for the next 100, we must do this sustainably,” said British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle. 

“Progressing the development and commercial deployment of sustainable aviation fuel is crucial to  decarbonising the aviation industry and this partnership with LanzaJet shows the progress British  Airways is making as we continue on our journey to net zero.”

 

Here’s how to watch the Australian Open for less than £2

Here's how to watch the Australian Open for less than £2

SAVE OVER £10: A two-month subscription to Prime Video Channels is on sale for £0.99 per month until Feb. 21, saving you £12 on list price.


After a three-week delay, the Australian Open has finally started, and Prime members can watch every shot for less than a £2.

By signing up to Eurosport Player, you can watch the tournament for just £1.98. A two-month subscription to Prime Video Channels (including Eurosport Player) is on sale for £0.99 per month until Feb. 21, saving you £12 on list price.

Eurosport Player offers full, uninterrupted live coverage of the tournament as well as match replays, highlight shows, and catch-up matches available later in the day. As well as the Australian Open, it covers the French Open, Wimbledon, and the Davis Cup. Read more…

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What New Batteries Mean For Renewable Energy

The 2020s are expected to be good for green energy. At the 2010’s end, renewables powered the equivalent of 43.5 million homes in America. Solar and wind generated tens of billions in investments and hundreds of thousands of jobs each. By 2025, the global industry for renewables is predicted to reach $1.5 trillion. If it happens, that will be incredible growth over a very short timespan.

While governments are supporting this growth, many strides are demand driven. Over 70% of Americans think clean energy should be prioritized. Half would purchase green energy for their personal consumption if given the option, and nearly all of that half would be willing to pay an average of $15 more per month for that privilege.

Climate awareness is motivating this choice; three quarters of Americans want to reduce pollution and provide a better life for future generations. On the economic side, 58% of Americans also think renewable energy will improve the economy, and nearly half think wind or solar will be cheaper than coal by 2028.

renewable energy

How will companies be able to fulfill demand for clean energy? The most important thing for them to invest in is batteries. Most renewable energy sources can’t be captured at all times. Solar energy has to be captured during the day, while wind energy is captured when it’s windy outside.

However, consumers use electricity during nights and still days as well. Power-generated at one time needs to be stored for when it’s needed another time. Right now, that is not happening. As of 2019, less than 5% of behind-the-meter solar systems included a battery.

So what’s been happening instead? Up until recently, net metering has been a popular practice for homeowners with solar panels. Residential solar sells excess power to their utility company on days when they generate more than they need. Utility companies dislike this system because they say it allows homeowners to use their infrastructure at no cost.

In 43 states, changes to residential solar regulations are likely to bring an end to net metering. As the practice is phased out, homeowners with solar panels will need a power storage system for their investment to be viable. In other words, they want a battery.

Batteries fill the gap for renewable energy on all fronts. Residential buildings store energy for evening use and backup power, industrial sites can reduce power waste from energy production exceeding consumption, and telecoms can have backup power at cell towers and data centers to increase data security. Everyone benefits from adding a battery to their renewable power system.

However, renewables shouldn’t just use any battery. Right now, the most popular battery type is lithium-ion. These batteries were first invented in 1912. They have not undergone drastic change in the 109 years since. Today, they fuel everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. Next year, lithium-ion batteries are expected to fuel 61% of demand.

Unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries suffer from several limitations that make them a poor fit for power storage. For starters, these batteries don’t last long in terms of storage and full discharging will only result in even shorter lifespan. From a safety perspective, these batteries may also explode or catch fire while in use or after disposal.

lithium ion battery

Even worse, lithium-ion batteries are not environmentally sustainable. Both production and extraction abuse the water supply, leading to dry farms and contaminated bodies of water. Variation in materials makes recycling lithium-ion batteries a difficult, costly endeavor. Lithium-ion batteries are still the best choice for mobile applications, but they should not be used for energy storage.

Instead, green energy companies should consider vanadium flow batteries for their energy storage needs. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, vanadium flow batteries don’t degrade anywhere near as quickly. With annual maintenance, they have over 25 years of useful life, during which they can be fully charged and discharged throughout.

Vanadium flow batteries are also a safer alternative because they are non-flammable and non-explosive. Most importantly, they are a sustainable choice for batteries. 100% of electrolyte in a vanadium flow battery is reusable in a new battery. Recycled vanadium is every bit as functional as freshly mined vanadium, too. The future is not just in green energy, but green batteries as well.

The Modern Energy Market

The post What New Batteries Mean For Renewable Energy appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Learn all about Six Sigma with lifetime access to this training course

Learn all about Six Sigma with lifetime access to this training course

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Google-backed Dailyhunt and Josh’s parent firm raises over $100 million

VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of popular news and entertainment app Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, said on Monday it has raised over $100 million as part of a Series H financing round from Qatar Investment Authority and Glade Brook Capital Partners.

The announcement follows another $100 million+ investment the startup secured from Google, AlphaWave, and Microsoft in December last year. That tranche of investment, also part of Series H, had turned Dailyhunt into a unicorn (giving it a valuation of $1 billion or higher). The startup has to-date raised about $430 million.

Dailyhunt, co-run by Virendra Gupta and former Facebook India head Umang Bedi, is a popular news and entertainment app that serves more than 285 million users each day in 14 local languages in India. Its reach in India, the world’s second largest internet market, would explain why Twitter last month partnered with the Indian firm to bring Moments to Dailyhunt.

VerSe Innovation expanded to short form videos last year, with Josh, after New Delhi banned TikTok and created a theoretical void for snacking content in the country. Scores of large giants and startups — including MX Player and ShareChat — have attempted to try their hand at short form videos in the recent quarters.

Facebook launched Instagram Reels in India last year, and YouTube launched Shorts, which is already garnering over 3.5 billion daily views in India, it said last month. (With over 450 million users in India, YouTube is closing in on WhatsApp’s market lead in India.)

Josh appears to have emerged as one of the leading players: The startup says Josh has amassed over 85 million monthly active users — 40 million of whom check the app each day — and the app sees more than 1.5 billion video plays everyday.

Now the startup says it is exploring expansion into more categories and like with Dailyhunt and Josh, cater users in smaller cities and towns and eventually replicate this model in international markets.

India’s internet economy is expected to be worth $639 billion by 2030, analysts at Citi wrote in a report to clients late last month. The coronavirus pandemic accelerated digital adoption and users’ appetite to transact online, a report from analysts at UBS said last week.

India leads with Tier 2 cities comparable to Tier 1. Biggest catch up opportunity in Philippines and Vietnam (UBS)

“Josh represents a confluence of India’s top 200+ best creators, the 10 biggest music labels, 15+ million UGC creators, best in class content creation tools, the hottest entertainment formats, and formidable user demographics. Josh has been consistently rated as the leading Indian short-video app in India on the Play store,” the startup said in a statement.

The startup said it will deploy the fresh capital to broaden its local languages content offering, and expand its creators ecosystem and AI and ML tech stacks.