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Main article: Europe

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Einride to launch commercial pilot of driverless electric pods with Coca-Cola European Partners

21:39 | 5 December

Autonomous robotic road-riding cargo pod startup Einride has signed a new partner for a commercial pilot on Sweden’s roads, which should be a great test of the company’s electric driverless transportation pods. Einride will be providing service for Coca-Cola European Partners, which is the official authorized bottler, distributor, sales and marketing company for Coca-Cola branded products in Sweden.

The partnership will see Einride commercially operating its transportation system between Coca-Cola European Partners’ warehouse in Jordbro outside Stockholm, and retailer Axfood’s own distribution hub, transporting Coca-Cola brand products to the retailer ahead of sending them off to local retail locations in Sweden.

Coca-Cola European Partners is looking to this partnership as part of its goal to continue to reduce emissions, since Einride’s system could potentially cut CO2 output by as much as 90% compared to current in-use solutions. This pilot is set to take place over the next few years, according to the two companies, and Einride says it hopes that it’ll be able to be on the road as early as some time next year, pending approval from the authorities since it’s a trial that will take place on public roads.

Einride announced $25 million in new funding in October, and has been running trials of the Einride Pod electric transport vehicle it created on public roads since May.

 


0

GitGuardian raises $12M to help developers write more secure code and ‘fix’GitHub leaks

20:07 | 4 December

Data breaches that could cause millions of dollars in potential damages have been the bane of the life of many a company. What’s required is a great deal of real-time monitoring. The problem is that this world has become incredibly complex. A SANS Institute survey found half of company data breaches were the result of account or credential hacking.

GitGuardian has attempted to address this with a highly developer-centric cybersecurity solution.

It’s now attracted the attention of major investors, to the tune of a $12 million in Series A funding, led by Balderton Capital . Scott Chacon, co-founder of GitHub, and Solomon Hykes, founder of Docker also participated in the round.

The startup plans to use the investment from Balderton Capital to expand its customer base, predominantly in the US. Around 75% of its clients are currently based in the US, with the remainder being based in Europe, and the funding will continue to drive this expansion.

Built to uncover sensitive company information hiding in online repositories, GitGuardian says its real-time monitoring platform can address the data leaks issues. Modern enterprise software developers have to integrate multiple internal and third-party services. That means they need incredibly sensitive “secrets”, such as login details, API keys, and private cryptographic keys used to protect confidential systems and data.

GitGuardian’s systems detect thousands of credential leaks per day. The team originally built its launch platform with public GitHub in mind, however, GitGuardian is built as a private solution to monitor and notify on secrets that are inappropriately disseminated in internal systems as well, such as private code repositories or messaging systems.

Solomon Hykes, founder of Docker and investor at GitGuardian, said: “Securing your systems starts with securing your software development process. GitGuardian understands this, and they have built a pragmatic solution to an acute security problem. Their credentials monitoring system is a must-have for any serious organization”.

Do they have any competitors?

Co-founder Jérémy Thomas told me: “We currently don’t have any direct competitors. This generally means that there’s no market, or the market is too small to be interesting. In our case, our fundraise proves we’ve put our hands on something huge. So the reason we don’t have competitors is because the problem we’re solving is counterintuitive at first sight. Ask any developer, they will say they would never hardcode any secret in public source code. However, humans make mistakes and when that happens, they can be extremely serious: it can take a single leaked credential to jeopardize an entire organization. To conclude, I’d say our real competitors so far are black hat hackers. Black hat activity is real on GitHub. For two years, we’ve been monitoring organized groups of hackers that exchange sensitive information they find on the platform. We are competing with them on speed of detection and scope of vulnerabilities covered.”

 


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Prolific wants to challenge Amazon’s Mechanical Turk in the online research space

12:00 | 4 December

Prolific, a U.K.-based startup that wants to make it easier to conduct online research, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding.

The round is co-led by Silicon Valley-based Pioneer Fund, and Altair Capital, with support from various angel investors based in the Bay Area. Prolific is also a graduate of Y Combinator and presented at YC’s demo day this past summer.

Founded in 2014 by Ekaterina Damer and Phelim Bradley, doctoral students at Sheffield and Oxford universities respectively at the time, Prolific offers an online tool to easily recruit and pay research participants and conduct what it calls “ethical and trustworthy” research. The idea was born out of Damer’s own frustration with existing options, including Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), when carrying out research for her own PhD.

“I was struggling to recruit participants for my research,” she tells TechCrunch. “None of the available tools were fit for purpose because they were either obscure, expensive or really slow! By ‘obscure’ I mean: It wasn’t clear who the participants were, how they were treated and whether the data quality would be any good! I considered Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (MTurk), the most widely used tool for academic research, but it only had U.S. American and Indian participants and a distinct lack of European ones”.

This led her and Bradley to create Prolific as a better alternative to MTurk and it wasn’t long before other colleagues at Sheffield and Oxford started using the product. Just a year in, Prolific was being used by researchers globally, including those from Stanford, Oxford, Yale, and UPenn.

“It’s grown from there almost purely through word-of-mouth, with over 3,000 customers now from researchers and companies around the world!’ says Damer.

Prolific also counts the World Bank and several Fortune 500 companies as customers, and claims to reach a network of 70,000-plus active research participants from a wide range of backgrounds.

“The problem is that behavioural research on the internet is broken,” Damer explains. “Finding participants is difficult and slow and the data you get from other platforms is often low quality because incentives are not aligned or you’re dealing with legacy platforms that don’t leverage tech.

“Customers want participants and data they can trust, but they typically have to resort to platforms which provide disengaged people who sign up for pennies. Or they even end up collecting data from fraudsters and human-assisted bots. Researchers across academia and industry are desperate for higher quality sampling solutions”.

To fix these issues, Damer says that Prolific is building research technology that makes people-based research “more effective and efficient” than existing solutions, from sourcing participants, to prescreening for the right target demographics, to automating participant payments. The startup also employs what it calls proprietary user validation technology that uses statistical algorithms and machine learning to catch bots and bad actors, which Damer says plague many of the company’s competitors.

“It’s actually quite shocking how competitors often squeeze their participants (or ‘workers’) because they see them as a commodity,” she adds. “This means that participants are either disengaged or try to game the system. In contrast, we have many positive incentives built into our platform. Participants can prequalify for studies so they never get kicked out randomly, we encourage and collect two-way feedback… researchers love that they can talk to participants directly through our interface in case questions, feedback or concerns arise, and we mandate a minimum pay of $6.50 (£5) per hour. All of this creates trust and virtuous cycles that power our growth”.

Damer frames Prolific’s broader mission as making “trustworthy data about people more accessible”. “Our core belief is that access to high quality psychological and behavioural data is the foundation for great research and ultimately, for progress in business, tech, and society,” she says. “The bigger vision is to build the most powerful and flexible infrastructure for research on the internet”.

That’s not to say that Prolific doesn’t have competitors that are also attempting to make online research and insights more accessible and of better quality.

Companies like CloudResearch, and Positly utilise MTurk’s API, but Damer says that has limitations since “great data and great research starts with a great community,” which, arguably, MTurk isn’t.

There are also well-established operations such as Nielsen, Dynata (formally Research Now SSI), YouGov, Cint, IpsosMori, Qualtrics Panels, and SurveyMonkey Audience, along with newer players like Attest, and Respondent.io.

 


0

Otta picks up £850,000 seed to match you to relevant jobs

12:00 | 4 December

Otta, one of the latest startups aiming to fix what it sees as a broken job search and recruitment market, has picked up £850,000 in seed funding. Backing the young London company is LocalGlobe, along with a number of U.K. angel investors and founders.

The latter includes Paul Forster (co-founder of Indeed), Shakil Khan (an early investor in Spotify and founder of Student.com), Matt Robinson (co-founder of Nested and GoCardless), Duncan Jennings (founder of VoucherCodes), and Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas (COO at GoCardless).

Founded in June this year by former Nested employees Sam Franklin, Theo Margolius and Xav Kearney — all of whom are 25 years of age or under — Otta wants to make it easier to find suitable skilled jobs at fast-growing companies. The startup does this via an initial online quiz, followed by a UI that shows you one potentially suitable job at a time, with a matching algorithm claiming to get more personalised as you provide feedback.

“Job seekers are frustrated by the amount of noise from most job search experiences,” CEO Sam Franklin tells me. “LinkedIn returns 25,000 software engineering jobs in London. There is very limited opportunity to filter these results down to what you care about. Plus the recommendations are ordered by how much companies are paying, not by what results are truly best”.

He says that while working at Nested he would often see engineers receive 50 or more messages or emails per month from recruiters, and yet those engineers would never engage. Digging a little deeper, he was told that potential candidates felt they couldn’t rely on recruiters because they aren’t in your corner. “They only push you the roles where they have commercial agreements in place,” he observes.

That has seen Otta “handpick” over 300 of London’s most innovative companies, says Franklin. From well-known brands like Revolut and Spotify to emerging companies such as WhiteHat and Cuvva. “The curation of quality companies alone adds a lot of value to job seekers,” he says.

Otta surfaces information such as whether the company hiring has a visa sponsorship licence, the exact office location (not just London), recent funding and founder profiles.

“For individual jobs we label the tech-stack used and pull out the most important requirements,” explains Franklin. “Jobs are shown one-at-a-time (instead of in a list format) and this means we collect more feedback on what candidates like and dislike. This feedback and additional data is really helpful for us to deliver better recommendations. Similar to how Spotify makes recommendations based on what you listen to, we use machine learning to recommend you jobs based on which jobs you like and dislike. Recommendations improve as our collection of users spend more time on the platform”.

Since launching in August 2019, Otta says that “thousands” of job seekers using the platform have shortlisted over 20,000 roles, although the company is yet to attempt to monetise this engagement.

“We currently aren’t monetising the platform, despite being asked by plenty of companies to help them recruit for certain roles,” says Franklin. “We have committed to only making money in a way that improves the experience for candidates. So this means we won’t charge companies to post jobs, as we want candidates to see all the fantastic roles suited to them. We also won’t allow companies to pay to influence our search results, as we want to show candidates their best roles first”.

Instead, the plan is to charge companies to proactively engage with Otta’s “high-quality pool” of candidates. The idea is to try and add value to both sides of the marketplace, akin to a much more targeted LinkedIn Recruiter. “Companies will get to reach out to active candidates that are interested in their company, and candidates will get directly contacted by their favourite companies without being spammed by recruiters,” promises the Otta CEO.

 


0

Cuvva raises £15M Series A to launch flexible monthly car insurance

11:30 | 3 December

Cuvva, the app-based insurance provider that began life offering pay-as-you-go driving cover but has since expanded to also sell travel insurance, has raised £15 million in Series A funding.

Backing comes from RTP Global, Breega, and Digital Horizon, joining existing investors LocalGlobe, Techstars Ventures, Tekton and Seedcamp. A number of angels also joined the round, including Dominic Burke, the CEO of Jardine Lloyd Thompson, and Faisal Galaria, the former chief strategy and investments officer of GoCompare.

Launched in 2016 when founder Freddy Macnamara (pictured) become frustrated he couldn’t let others drive his car intermittently because of lack of insurance cover, Cuvva was an early pioneer of pay-as-you-go car insurance.

The idea, which was easier explained than done, was to make it possible to insure a car only when it was being driven, and therefore be cheaper for low mileage drivers, and via an app and access to the DVLA database, make it easier to on-board new drivers for pay-as-you-drive cover.

The insurtech still offers hourly car insurance but its product line has since been expanded to daily covery, as well as a product specifically aimed at learner drivers. In addition, Cuvva entered the travel insurance space, no doubt spotting overlap with its presumably younger, millennial demographic.

To that end, Cuvva says it will use the new capital to launch a new pay-monthly motor product in early 2020 that it says could cut average annual bills for car owners “significantly”. It will do this by cutting out various middle people, including brokers and comparison websites, which it says charge insurers about £70 on each policy sold.

“Unlike legacy insurers, Cuvva will not charge a fee to spread payments over the year and it will not penalise loyal customers with dual pricing,” says the startup. Cuvva also says it will offer the same savings, whether you are signing up as a new customer or a returning customer, and won’t charge admin fees to alter personal details registered with your policy.

Cue canned statement from Macnamara: “”I started Cuvva when I couldn’t find flexible insurance to help me share my car. Four years on from launch we are still discovering how big the problem we are solving really is. We’re now selling 3% of all UK motor insurance policies but we’ve got so much further to go. Cuvva is going to be the place where you buy all your insurance, all through our mobile app”.

 


0

Atomico Partner Tom Wehmeier reviews ‘The State of European Tech’ 2019 report

01:33 | 3 December

Atomico, the European venture capital firm founded by Skype’s Niklas Zennström, has released its latest annual The State of European Tech report, published in partnership with Slush and Orrick.

As part of the report, the authors surveyed 5,000 members of the ecosystem — including 1,000 founders — as well as pulling in robust data from other sources, such as Dealroom and the London Stock Exchange .

This year, the report reveals that the European tech ecosystem continues to mature and shows no sign of slowing — particularly highlighting the contrast from five years ago when the The State of European Tech report made its debut. Almost every key indicator is up and to the right, except, rather depressingly, diversity.

The data shows, for example, that competition for talent and access to the best founders has increased ferociously. And from a funding perspective, European founders have more choice than ever, especially with U.S. and Asian VC firms investing more and more in the region. Progress with gender diversity stalled, however, such as 92% of funding going to all-male teams.

I caught up with the report’s author Tom Wehmeier, Partner and Head of Insights at Atomico (also sometimes jokingly referred to as the “Mary Meeker of Europe”), where we discuss in more detail some of the key findings and why, it seems, that the rest of the world has finally woken up to Europe’s tech potential.

But first, a few headlines from the report:

  • European technology companies are on track to raise a record 30$B+ in funding in 2019, up from $25B the year before. (Source: Dealroom)
  • Despite failing to match the level of venture-backed exits of 2018, there was a record number of 40 $100M-plus deals as of September 2019, a size that many European tech sceptics did not believe was possible. (Source: Dealroom)
  • A number of multi-billion-dollar non-venture backed companies like Nexi and Trainline made their debut on the public markets.
  • European tech policymaking remains a mystery to many European founders.
  • When asked to describe the top priority of the European Commission in terms of tech policy, 40% of founders and startup employees say they don’t feel informed enough to comment. (Source: survey)
  • Despite this reported lack of awareness on policy issues, all respondents voted EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager as the person who had the most influence on European tech in 2019, good or bad. (Source: survey)
  • European parliamentarians aren’t talking about fintech and digital health, two sectors which investors poured a combined $12.7bn into last year (Source: Politico and Dealroom)
  • Europe’s diversity figures are still grim reading.
  • In 2019, 92% of funding went to all-male teams, a similar level to 2018. (Source: Dealroom)
  • There is still only one woman CTO in the 119 companies (<1%) based on a sample of executives in CxO positions at 251 European VC-backed tech companies that raised a Series A or B round between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019 with more than $10M funding, even though 7.5% of software engineers are women. (Source: Stack Overflow, Craft, Dealroom)
  • Looking beyond gender diversity, ethnic minorities in tech experienced discrimination at a much high rate than white peers. (Source: survey)
  • At least 80% of Black/African/Caribbean respondents who reported experiencing discrimination linked it to their ethnicity. (Source: survey)
  • 63% of women VCs reported increased focus on attending events with stronger participation from diverse founders. The corresponding number for men VCs was only 33% of female respondents suggested that their male counterparts are leaving female VCs to fix Europe’s diversity problem. (Source: survey)
  • European founders aren’t just aiming for commercial success — they are trying to solve some of the world’s largest problems.
  • One in five European founders states that their company is already measuring its societal and/or environmental impact. (Source: survey)
  • Only 14% of founders don’t believe it’s relevant for their company. Founders that are women are much more likely to be advanced in their approach to measuring impact. (Source: survey)
  • Employees are placing a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility, with 57% citing its importance in the State of European Tech survey. (Source: survey)

Extra Crunch: It is 5 years since Atomico published the first The State of European Tech report, which really attempted to capture a data-driven snapshot of the entire ecosystem. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen within European tech in the intertwining years or in this year in particular?

Tom Wehmeier: If I think back to when we did the first report, people who believe that Europe could actually be an interesting player in global technology, were largely limited to people who were in the tech industry in Europe itself. If you then fast forward to today, what has clearly happened — and I think 2019 was the year where this really materialized and became part of the narrative — was that belief translating from people on the inside to a bunch of people that were on the outside.

Most obviously has been the strength of interest from from the U.S. and the number of top-tier U.S. funds that are not just increasing their level of investment activity but committing to spending more and more time here on the ground, hiring people, building teams, building a network, and getting to know companies. I think it probably surprises people to know that 19% of all rounds this year will involve at least one U.S. investor in Europe, which is more than double since since the first year we did the report.

I think the other thing, where I come back to this idea that now we have finally convinced a certain group of people about the role that Europe can play, is mainstream institutional investors. I know it is not going to be lost on you, [but] this is going to be another record year for VC fund raising from Europe. And whilst the headline numbers might not be a surprise, I think what should catch people’s attention is that the composition of the LP base here in Europe is now shifting. And finally, there’s an unlocking of institutional investors, [by which] I mean pension funds, funds of funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds, who are committing to European VC at levels that are significantly increased and elevated from where they had been in the past. So, if you just take pension funds, we’re going to see close to a billion dollars invested which is up nearly three fold.

It’s a validation of what’s happening around European tech to see that now coming through and I think is ultimately something that helps to build a foundation for the next five years of success. As much as this is a report that’s looking back, it’s also about trying to understand where things go from here.

With regards to the pension funds, do you think that is driven by the general bullishness towards European tech, or do you think it’s more the macro economic reality that maybe other places where they could put their money aren’t very attractive at the moment?

I think it’s really a reflection that there’s a strong level of belief that European venture as an asset class is an attractive investment opportunity. And that is reflected by the numbers. One of the charts that we’ve got in the report is from Cambridge Associates who do the benchmarking for the VC indices… And when you look back over a 1, 3, 5, or even a 10 year horizon, the performance from European VC is demonstrating that this is a place where for anyone building a diversified portfolio, they should have some allocation. I think it’s fundamentally the strength of the investment opportunity. That is the single biggest driver for why you’re seeing this happen.

I think the biggest thing that Europe has been able to prove is that it can take a great idea and turn it into a great company and that company can scale to not just a billion dollar outcome but to a multi-billion dollar outcome and go all the way through into an IPO or into a large scale acquisition. What you’ve seen happen in 2019 is in part A reflection of what happened last year where it was obviously this record year with Spotify, Adyen, Farfetch, Elastic and others that really showed you can go full cycle from start all the way to finish. And that the magnitude of those outcomes can be at a scale that makes them globally relevant.

Are the pension funds shifting their allocation of VC away from other geographies or are they just doing more VC as a whole?

 


0

Facebook launches a photo portability tool, starting in Ireland

14:14 | 2 December

It’s not friend portability, but Facebook has announced the launch today of a photo transfer tool to enable users of its social network to port their photos directly to Google’s photo storage service, via encrypted transfer.

The photo portability feature is initially being offered to Facebook users in Ireland, where the company’s international HQ is based. Facebook says it is still testing and tweaking the feature based on feedback but slates “worldwide availability” as coming in the first half of 2020.

It also suggests porting to other photo storage services will be supported in the future, in addition to Google Photos — which specifying which services it may seek to add.

Facebook says the tool is based on code developed via its participation in the Data Transfer Project — a collaborative effort started last year that’s currently backed by five tech giants (Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter) who have committed to build “a common framework with open-source code that can connect any two online service providers, enabling a seamless, direct, user initiated portability of data between the two platforms”.

Facebook also points to a white paper it published in September — where it advocates for “clear rules” to govern the types of data that should be portable and “who is responsible for protecting that data as it moves to different providers”.

Behind all these moves is of course the looming threat of antitrust regulation, with legislators and agencies on both sides of the Atlantic now closely eyeing platforms’ grip on markets, eyeballs and data.

Hence Facebook’s white paper couching portability tools as “helping keep competition vibrant among online services”. (Albeit, if the ‘choice’ being offered is to pick another tech giant to get your data that’s not exactly going to reboot the competitive landscape.)

It’s certainly true that portability of user uploaded data can be helpful in encouraging people to feel they can move from a dominant service.

However it is also something of a smokescreen — especially when A) the platform in question is a social network like Facebook (because it’s people who keep other people stuck to these types of services); and B) the value derived from the data is retained by the platform regardless of whether the photos themselves travel elsewhere.

Facebook processes user uploaded data such as photos to gain personal insights to profile users for ad targeting purposes. So even if you send your photos elsewhere that doesn’t diminish what Facebook has already learned about you, having processed your selfies, groupies, baby photos, pet shots and so on. (It has also designed the portability tool to send a copy of the data; ergo, Facebook still retains your photos unless you take additional action — such as deleting your account.)

The company does not offer users any controls (portability tools or access rights) over the inferences it makes based on personal data such as photos.

Or indeed control over insights it services from its analysis of usage of its platform or wider browsing of the Internet (Facebook tracks both users and non users across the web via tools like social plug-ins and tracking pixels).

Given its targeted ads business is powered by a vast outgrowth of tracking (aka personal data processing), there’s little risk to Facebook to offer a portability feature buried in a sub-menu somewhere that lets a few in-the-know users click to send a copy of their photos to another tech giant.

Indeed, it may hope to benefit from similar incoming ports from other platforms in future.

“We hope this product can help advance conversations on the privacy questions we identified in our white paper,” Facebook writes. “We know we can’t do this alone, so we encourage other companies to join the Data Transfer Project to expand options for people and continue to push data portability innovation forward.”

Competition regulators looking to reboot digital markets will need to dig beneath the surface of such self-serving initiatives if they are to alight on a meaningful method of reining in platform power.

 


0

As the new year beckons European investors start moving into new roles

17:57 | 30 November

As the Holiday Season approaches, new jobs for players in the tech ecosystem beckon. And this is no less true for investors. Two notable moves have recently happened that are worthy of note in the European scene.

The first is that GR Capital, a pan-European VC, is opening an office in London and has lured Jason Ball, who, earlier this year, left Qualcomm Ventures where had been European Managing Director for over a decade. Bad spent ten years as a mentor at Seedcamp and individually invested in more than ten companies. He was understood to be looking for new challenges, either building a new fund or joining another – so now we have our answer as to what he decided.

Founded in 2016 by Roma Ivaniuk in Ukraine, GR Capital specializes in late-stage VC investments. It has over $70M under management and has invested in Lime, Azimo, WeFox, McMakler, Glovo and Meero among others. The fund has traditionally been known for investing in Eastern Europe, but with a London office and the extremely well-networked Ball under its belt, we should be hearing more from them on the wider European scene in future.

Ivaniuk said in a statement that the move “means we can now drive our pan-European business activities from the continent’s most important VC hub, London.”

Ball said “We see a huge opportunity here to connect the dots between West and East. The London ecosystem is an exciting offering for investors in Eastern Europe, which in turn presents unique R&D and growth opportunities for portfolio companies.”

Meanwhile, Jon Bradford was most recently a partner of Motive Partners and a UK investment pioneer — having founded the Springboard Accelerator that merged with Techstars to become Techstars London, as well as helping to co-found F6S and Tech.eu. But he is also on the move, now joining Dynamo Ventures as its newest partner.

Bradford will be joining Dynamo on a full-time basis having previously been an advisor who helped launch the debut fund. He has invested in over 100 startups over the last decade including Apiary, Hassle, Tray.io, Flitto (that recently IPO’ed in Korea), Sendbird and Chainalysis. Dynamo is a US-EU based seed fund focused on B2B startups in supply chain and mobility. It has invested in 20 startups across the US and overseas, investing in including Sennder (Berlin), Skupos, Stord, Gatik and LEAF Logistics.

 


0

Pixpay is a challenger bank for teens focused on pocket money

16:01 | 29 November

Meet Pixpay, a French startup that wants to replace cash when you’re handing out pocket money to your kids. Anybody who is older than 10 years old can create a Pixpay account, get a debit card and manage pocket money.

Challenger banks are nothing new, but they’re still mostly targeted towards adults. If you want to create an N26 or Revolut account, you need to be at least 18 years old. You can create a Lydia account if you’re at least 14 years old with parental consent.

Pixpay, like Kard, wants to fill that gap and offer modern payment methods to teens so that you can ditch cash altogether. Parents and kids both download the Pixpay app to interact with the service.

A few days after creating an account, your child receives a Mastercard. It offers the same features that you’d expect from a challenger bank — you can customize the PIN code, lock it and unlock it, receive a notification with each transaction and restrict some features, such as limits, ATM withdrawals, online payments and payments abroad. Pixpay also lets you generate virtual cards for online payments.

In addition to some spending analytics, users can create projects and set money aside to buy an expensive thing after months of savings. Parents can also define an interest rate on a vault account to teach children how to save money. In the future, Pixpay wants to let teens collect money after a babysitting job for instance.

As for parents, they can send money instantly from the Pixpay app. You can top up your Pixpay account with your favorite debit card and send money on a regular basis (€4 per week for instance) or for one-off payment (here’s €15 for your movie ticket and fast food).

Parents can see an overview of multiple accounts in case you have multiple children using Pixpay. Eventually, the startup wants to let multiple parents manage the account of their child, which could be useful for separated couples.

Pixpay costs €2.99 per month per card. Payments and ATM withdrawals in the Eurozone are free. Transactions in foreign currencies cost 2% in foreign exchange and ATM withdrawals outside of the Eurozone cost €2.

The startup has raised $3.4 million (€3.1 million) from Global Founders Capital. The company partners with Treezor, a banking-as-a-service platform that lets you generate cards and e-wallet accounts using an API.

 


0

Zebra Fuel, the startup that brought fuel directly to your vehicle, is ‘no longer’ delivering in London

20:35 | 28 November

Zebra Fuel, the London-based startup that delivered fuel directly to your vehicle — backed by Robin and Saul Klein’s LocalGlobe, Brent Hoberman’s Firstminute Capital and Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman — has told customers it is “no longer” delivering fuel in London. However, it is unclear at this stage if the company has ceased operations entirely.

In an email informing customers on Tuesday, Zebra Fuel gave no further details, except to express “sincere apologies for any inconvenience this causes you and hope that you have enjoyed using our services”. That sounds onerous, to say the least.

Meanwhile, a tweet posted by an employee at Zebra Fuel, which has since been deleted, seemed to suggest that the company may have closed its doors. “Last night at @Zebra Fuel we did amazing – onto the next opportunity,” the tweet read.

I’ve reached out to Zebra co-founder Reda Bennis and have yet to hear back. I’ve also contacted the PR agency the startup had previously used, and will update this post should I hear back.

Founded in 2016 by Bennis and Romain Saint Guilhem, Zebra Fuel was attempting to bring the convenience of on-demand delivery (or, more accurately, book ahead delivery, since it isn’t really on-demand) to refuelling your car. Via the startup’s smart phone app, Londoners could book a time-slot to have one of Zebra Fuel’s mini-vans and trained personnel come to their location to dispense fuel to their vehicle.

The idea, Bennis told me when Zebra Fuel announced its seed funding, is to eliminate the need to ever queue at a gas station again, which is not only inconvenient and time-consuming, but often sees a driver make an additional roundtrip journey and have to leave the engine running while in situ waiting for a pump to become available.

By bringing fuel to you and others in your neighbourhood, a proposition like Zebra at scale could help cut emissions and reduce congestion. Or so the pitch perfect pitch went.

Despite bring fuel to you, Zebra claimed to be price competitive with inner city gas stations — offering fuel at prices on a par with or cheaper than central London — because it sources fuel from the same wholesale suppliers as the leading petrol stations and doesn’t have to soak up the high costs of rent for each premium gas station location.

In turn, the Zebra Fuel mini-vans themselves didn’t need to travel to the wholesale supplier, but were refuelled by the Zebra Fuel “mother ship,” a much larger tanker able to restock multiple Zebra Fuel delivery vehicles.

Here’s the email sent to customers in full:

Dear Zebra Customer,

With great regret, we must inform you that Zebra Fuel will no longer be delivering fuel in London.

We would like to express our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this causes you and hope that you have enjoyed using our services.

Warmest regards,

The Zebra Team

 


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