News from around the world – June 13

A compilation of important news from the startup world:

Got a disruptive technology? Better budget for lawyers and lobbyists
Startups love disrupting old industries. But it can get messy and expensive when old industries fight back.  Opternative, a startup that developed an online eye exam, already has seen laws passed in three states looking to prevent it from doing business; two others created new regulations. The four-year-old Chicago tech company operates in 33 states.  Opternative’s 13th employee was a head of government affairs — brought on before it made a more routine hire like a controller, says CEO and co-founder Aaron Dallek. The company hired its first outside lobbyist last year and now has eight. Startups long have bumped up against lawsuits and new laws in creating new business models. During the dot-com boom, it was Napster and copyright laws.

Why There Isn’t More Of A Hullabaloo About Civic Tech
While there’s a growing interest among social entrepreneurs and others in civic tech, the sector still hasn’t made a big splash. For that reason, Omidyar Network, which has invested around $90 million in 35 civic tech organizations over the past decade, recently decided to sponsor research into how to accelerate and expand the area. The underlying idea is that civic tech shares many of the characteristics of 21rst century movements. That includes such elements as being mission driven, focusing on creating change that benefits the public and and enabling more citizen input into decision making.

Entering Tech? Prepare for the Weird Job Interview Questions
Startups and the tech world in general love non-conformists: the traditional route is bad, but a disruption is great. Companies that are storied for asking hard riddles or posing philosophical questions to interviewees can get away with these sorts of practices. The perfect weird interview question serves a lot of purposes: it breaks the ice, it tests people’s ability to stay focused, it reveals how they think, and it forces them to be creative. Often, the interviewer is more interested in someone’s response to the question than to their answer. Does the person choke up? Do they use poor logic as they talk through the problem?

Local startups need more common space, connections to thrive
As Charlottesville pushes to identify itself as a city friendly to growing small, technology-centric businesses, entrepreneurs here say their companies face a few important bottlenecks. Business owners complain that the city currently lacks suitable commercial real estate close to downtown for a startup to get off the ground and large-scale office space for growing companies. Finally, with a relatively small culture of startups, attracting talented workers to the area has proven difficult.

So you think you’re a stellar start-up? Prove it!
So many people in so many places trying to come up with the next hot thing. Categories include health care, technology, products/services, women/minorities, college students, and coolest idea. There are no minimum requirements for revenue, years in business, or number of employees. But the application process does ask several questions designed to give a better sense of the start-ups, including the problem each is trying to solve, the market potential, and job-creation projections. Applications will be reviewed by a third-party panel of judges. Finalists will be invited to an awards program in September, where winners in each category will be revealed.

The future is bright for FinTech
FinTech is hot on the agenda for venture capitalists and investors alike in 2016. Finance and technology have been linked since Peter Thiel made it okay to share bank details online at the turn of the millennium, but it has blossomed in the past eight years. FinTech companies are offering models that have stood the test of time and grown sensibly over a number of years, and investors are waking up to the party and taking a real interest in this exciting sector. The sector’s innovation continues to grow and the prospects for blockchain and machine learning can add value in areas such as underwriting and eliminating fraud. Low interest rates, stretching into the foreseeable future, and the plight of banks have also helped to create a perfect storm for a FinTech surge.


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