News from around the world — May 16

New York City presents better opportunities for business.

A round-up of important news from the startup world:


NYC presents more opportunities than challenges for foreign ad firms
With digital ad spending reaching nearly $160 billion this year, and expected to surpass the spend on television advertising next year, the Big Apple overflows with adtech startups. Many of these startups are coming to New York from abroad, specifically Europe and Latin America. “Silicon Valley has more startups and more money,” Judith Messina points out in Ad Age, “but New York City is the predominant force in ad tech.” Despite the challenges of setting up shop in such a huge and saturated market, especially with a different language and as a culture not known for cutting-edge technology, these foreign startups believe that the opportunities NYC presents are greater than its challenges.

US startups see new worlds open up to marijuana
An embarrassing experience trying to get medical marijuana from a doctor gave Mark Hadfield, chief technology officer of HelloMD, the idea he needed to stimulate his business. Instead of targeting patients with general medical ailments, the foundering telemedicine company could connect people seeking medical marijuana cards with doctors. HelloMD used its existing technology to make an already-legal process more efficient and discreet. Within six weeks, the revamped HelloMD app was available to Californians. Consumers download it, answer two dozen health questions and video chat with a doctor, who recommends various marijuana strains. Customers receive a PDF of the doctor’s approval a few minutes later and a laminated card in the mail. HelloMD is one of a growing cluster of startups pivoting their businesses into the cannabis industry .Nearly 1.5 million Americans have secured doctor recommendations to use marijuana as medicine .

A Berlin investor has warned that a Brexit will starve UK tech startups of EU money
UK tech startups could be cut off from large pools of venture capital money if the UK exits the European Union, a Berlin-based investor has warned. The EU allocates money to venture capital firms through the European Investment Fund (EIF) on the premise that they invest it into the most promising startups across the union’s 28 member states. If the UK pulled out of the EU, then these venture capital companies would no longer be able to back UK startups with money from the EIF.

What startups are saying about raising cash in Latin America
Many Latin American entrepreneurs have endured decades of political and economic hardships that left the investment landscape in a less than desirable state — especially for emerging startups. Thankfully this is all changing, and at an unprecedented rate. Entrepreneurs across the region, as well as government initiatives and investment opportunities, are booming and transforming everything we once knew about the ability to raise funding here. Of course, the lack of funding opportunities has not stopped the region from churning out some major success stories, such as MercadoLibre and Open English, but the once-immature startup environment is finally beginning to blossom with a recent injection of capital, funding options and incredibly savvy entrepreneurs.

Is EvoNexus an alternative to Silicon Valley for startups?
Seven years ago, EvoNexus was a startup for startups. The fledgling tech incubator floated between a couple of mostly empty office buildings, where voices echoed through abandoned cubicles. Off in a corner, it provided a few desks, Internet access and mentoring to a handful of San Diego startups at no charge. Today, the echoes are gone. Since it opened, EvoNexus has given 134 companies a jump-start in its three locations — downtown San Diego, University City and Irvine. These firms have raised $297 million in angel and venture capital equity funding. Seventeen have been acquired, pushing the total “outcomes” for EvoNexus companies — money raised plus the amount paid by acquirers — to over $1 billion.

Serial entrepreneur questions Waterloo Region’s startup culture
A survey completed last year for Communitech, the organization that advocates for the region’s tech sector, said there are about 1,100 active startups in the area. All levels of government, and the private sector, invest millions in programs to foster new startups. The supports and encouragements for startups keep growing. The University of Waterloo’s startup program, Velocity, is expanding in the Tannery building in downtown Kitchener. It also opened more space on UW’s campus. The Accelerator Centre in Waterloo now has satellite offices in downtown Kitchener and Stratford. One of the hottest trends in municipal economic development is innovation districts. Kitchener has one in the western end of its downtown. In Waterloo, the corridor along Phillip Street, adjacent to the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, has dubbed the Idea Quarter.

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