What Founders Can Learn from the On-Demand Economy

Has there been a business model that has earned as much attention, funding dollars, and as many spin-offs as the on-demand model? Certainly not in recent memory, and certainly not so quickly.

But just a handful of years after the first on-demand companies rose to become economic powerhouses, the model is experiencing problems, and the many smaller companies in that space have to reinvent the system. The problem is multifaceted and is in part due to the sheer volume of companies competing for consumer adoption. Services that span the full range of customer needs are fighting for traction, and many are falling out.

Last year the sum of venture capital funding that was given to on-demand startups collapsed by 50% compared with the year prior. In fact, the on-demand model often referred to as the “Uber of X,” is also being called the “Uber of failure.”

But out of the mayhem, valuable lessons are slowly being learned. Watchful founders are identifying the symptoms of failure. The model can work when the right service is paired with the right operational support and the right vision. But it has taken billions of dollars in funding and hundreds of failed companies to understand what that mixture should look like.

Lessons to Learn from the On-Demand Economy

While by no means a comprehensive list, these are a few things that founders in and out of the on-demand economy can learn from the last few years:

Copy and Paste Doesn’t Work

It should go without saying, but even though imitation is the highest form of flattery, it doesn’t always make for a good business. That has been proven out in the on-demand space where hundreds of companies copied the Uber model with little to know innovation or even customization to the particular service they were providing.

Lessons to Learn from the On-Demand Economy

But by the same token, the on-demand companies that are still receiving venture capital funding and acquiring users are the ones who have built on top of the model. Scot Wingo, founder, and CEO of on-demand eco car wash service Spiffy put it this way, “Entrepreneurs who are succeeding in the on-demand space today do not operate like the original on-demand companies. They have changed their backend operations, changed their corporate cultures, and are going back to the basics of how to run a quality company and putting the customer first.”

Perhaps the single greatest takeaway is that the first responsibility of an entrepreneur is to innovate, even if only by a few degrees.

Fundamentals Still Apply

At the beginning of the on-demand era, there was an enthusiasm about the model that it was a gold strike. People rushed to open up their goldmine confident that they would also find incalculable wealth without needing to experience the drudgery of building a business in a traditional industry.

Of course framing any opportunity as a gold rush is easier to do in hindsight. In the beginning, it was hard to be a voice of reason and bet against something that had such universal appeal. But there were concrete signs at the beginning that ignored by many entrepreneurs.

No business model in the world allows you to ignore the basic tenets of good business. Every business needs a brand, a path to profitability (one that doesn’t assume the idea will go viral on its own), and core values that consumers can identify with. Most on-demand companies lazily attached their brand and values to the notion of convenience. But consumers want to be able to relate to a brand for its unique qualities – its commitment to excellence, passion for the environment, or desire to help the under served.

In other words, the fundamentals of business are essential in every industry, however great the hype.

Value is Greater than Hype

“Businesses solve problems,” says Wingo. “If your business is not solving someone’s problem or meeting someone’s need, it is not a viable business. So just because people have clothes does not mean they will use an on-demand dry cleaning service. There has to be more to the idea; a value proposition that connects with people.”

Good entrepreneurs have the ability to understand in a meaningful way what value is. Maybe it is instinct, perhaps it is just careful observation, but the most successful entrepreneurs can tell whether a value proposition makes sense or not. That is not to say that they are immune to hype and dollar signs, but that is the difference maker.

Testing every business idea against that principle is also what is changing the makeup of on-demand companies which are increasingly purpose-driven, slow growth, and laser focused on value. Wingo’s startup Spiffy has several of those earmarks, slowly launching in select cities, emphasizing its commitment to the environment, and using full-time employees instead of contracted workers. The industry is likely to see more changes as the winnowing of on-demand services continues.

Founders should pay close attention to those changes and learn from the on-demand saga.

How diarrhea can give you a healthy lifestyle

Washington D.C.: Despite thousands of years of pant-crapping history, there’s a surprising amount we don’t know about diarrhea. Does it actually help clear the bacteria causing a gastrointestinal infection, or is it merely a symptom of disease that should be prevented as much as possible?

In a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, investigators explore the immune mechanism that drives diarrhea, concluding that it does play a critical role in pathogen clearance in the early stages of infection.The new study, published in Cell Host and Microbe, also uncovers a previously unrecognized role for interleukin-22, an immune system molecule, in the host’s defense against infection.

“The hypothesis that diarrhea clears intestinal pathogens has been debated for centuries,” said corresponding author Jerrold Turner, MD, PhD, of the BWH Departments of Pathology and Medicine.”Its impact on the progression of intestinal infections remains poorly understood. We sought to define the role of diarrhea and to see if preventing it might actually delay pathogen clearance and prolong disease.”

Diarrhea is critical to enteric pathogen clearance, and that IL-22 may play a key role in host defense. (Photo: AFP)

To investigate, researchers used a mouse model infected with Citrobacter rodentium, the mouse equivalent of an E. coli infection. Using this model, they saw an increase in the permeability of the intestinal barrier within just two days of infection — well before inflammation and epithelial damage.

In particular, they uncovered a critical role for interleukin-22 that in turn influences another molecule called claudin-2, previously known to be involved in causing diarrhea.They found that diarrhea resulting from the signaling of these two molecules helped promote pathogen clearance and limited disease severity.

Other investigators have proposed developing new therapeutics to inhibit claudin-2. However, Turner and colleagues explain that the activation of this pathway may be critical for combating an infection, particularly in the early stages of a disease.They conclude that diarrhea is critical to enteric pathogen clearance, and that IL-22 may play a key role in host defense.

Can Windows 10 mobile-powered Samsung S8 save the Windows phone?

Photos showing a Galaxy S8 model allegedly running Windows 10 Mobile surfaced earlier today. While everyone knew that was a fake, hardcore Windows phone enthusiasts couldn’t help but imagine how their favourite mobile platform would be if ever Samsung decided to launch their dream project.

If truth be told, a Windows version of a Samsung Galaxy S8 isn’t so far off, mostly because Microsoft is itself is selling the phone in its own stores and Samsung agreed to pre-install a series of apps like Skype, Office, and OneDrive.

 The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback.

But as far as the fate of Windows 10 Mobile is concerned, it doesn’t even matter if Samsung launches such a device or not because of a very simple reason: the lack of devices wasn’t the only problem of Microsoft’s mobile ecosystem failed and now a single device can barely make a difference.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is by all means a masterpiece so having it running Windows 10 Mobile would clearly be an important win for Microsoft. But the win will not be a game-changing one. Even if tomorrow Microsoft launches the Galaxy S8, the sales will not be enough to save the platform.

The lack of devices was not the biggest problem of Windows Phone of the ecosystem, although it surely was one major drawback. The lack of developer support, which in turn led to the lack of apps, and also the slow pace at which Microsoft delivered updates had a big impact on Windows phones, with reduced interest from OEMs only the tip of the iceberg which was Microsoft’s problems with its mobile ecosystem.

Another important point to make here is that it is not known if the Galaxy S8 will be able to support the Windows 10 mobile platform or not. The reason being the Snapdragon 835/Exynos 8895 processor that powers it is not supported by Microsoft’s operating system.

Microsoft does support this chip but only for Windows 10 on ARM, a new emulation system that brings the full version of the operating system on ARM processors. With this project, Microsoft wants to bring new devices to the market, though there’s still no evidence that phones are also included in this plan.

In the meantime, there’s a good chance that neither Microsoft nor Samsung see a Galaxy S8 running Windows 10 Mobile as a good idea, especially with Redmond’s increased focus on Android and iOS lately.

Consumer Reports smartphone rankings puts the Galaxy S8+ at the top of the table – and the iPhone 7 plus can only manage FIFTH

In the battle of the smartphones, Samsung reigns supreme.

Consumer Reports has released its smartphone ratings analysis, which had found Galaxy S8+ is the best handset on the market, followed shortly after by its smaller counterpart, the Galaxy S8.

The report cited the devices’ ‘stunning camera, long battery life, and gorgeous display’ as what brought them to the top and beating its rival Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, which placed fifth.

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Consumer Reports has released its smartphone ratings analysis, which had found Galaxy S8+ (left) best handset on the market, followed shortly after by its smaller counterpart, the Galaxy S8 (right)

Consumer Reports has released its smartphone ratings analysis, which had found Galaxy S8+ (left) best handset on the market, followed shortly after by its smaller counterpart, the Galaxy S8 (right)

TOP 5 SMARTPHONES

1. Samsung Galaxy S8+

2. Samsung Galaxy S8

3. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

4.  LG G6

5. iPhone 7 Plus

The findings from Consumer Reports shows the Samsung Galaxy S8+ ranked as the top smartphone, closely followed by the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S7 Edge and LG G6.

Samsung had released its long-awaited Galaxy S8 family a few months following its unforgettable Note 7 fiasco – hoping the smartphones would repair its tarnished name.

And it seems that the Galaxy S8 and S8+ were in fact the South Korean firm’s saving grace, as the release from Consumer Reports deemed them ‘top dog’ in the industry.

‘If you want a stunning camera, long battery life, and gorgeous display in a water-resistant package, one of these could be the right phone for you,’ Jerry Beilinson withConsumer Reports shared.

‘You just have to be willing to spend the rent money on it: The S8+ starts at about $840, and the S8 at around $720.’

Although it may be hard for some users to believe Samsung was able to take the top spot, Beilinson has attributed the victory to the smartphone’s overhauled design.

The Galaxy S8 duo are without bezels on the side – the each have thin ones located at the top and bottom.

The Consumer Reports Lab had conducted an analysis on the batteries and found the Galaxy S8+ hit 26 hours, and the S8 (pictured) reached 23 hours of talk-time. The team also deemed the smartphones to have the best cameras

The Consumer Reports Lab had conducted an analysis on the batteries and found the Galaxy S8+ hit 26 hours, and the S8 (pictured) reached 23 hours of talk-time. The team also deemed the smartphones to have the best cameras

And although Samsung has been able to create a minimalist look, it is believed to still support a modern and elegant feel.

Another important addition was increasing the size of the screen, but keeping sticking with the same-size device as previous models.

The S8 and S8+ were also designed to be taller and narrower when held in portrait than previous variants – allowing for an easier hold when snapping a selfie.

While typical smartphones have an aspect ratio of 16:9, the new Samsung handsets have an aspect ratio of 18.5:9.

 

Google Sheets Can Now Make Charts on Request Using Machine Learning

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The updates are already available on Android and iOS
  • Explore feature was added to the app last year
  • Update adds support for spreadsheet shortcuts to the Web version

Google Sheets is already a useful productivity tool but the search giant has now updated it to add some more machine learning features. While users could already ask questions from Sheets to get data-related responses using Explore feature, machine learning now allows the app to create charts demanded by the users.

With the latest update, if users cannot see a chart that they need for their project or presentation, they can simply ask the app to create it for them. “Instead of manually building charts, ask Explore to do it by typing in ‘histogram of 2017 customer ratings’ or ‘bar chart for ice cream sales’. Less time spent building charts means more time acting on new insights,” the search giant said in its blog post.

google sheet story2 Google Sheets Story 2

Notably, users could already ask Google Sheets queries like “what is the distribution of products sold?” or “what are average sales on Sundays?” to get responses from the Explore feature, which was added last year.

Further, the giant has made it easier to keep your tables updated as users can now copy and paste data from Sheets to Docs or Slides and tap the “update” button to sync their data.

Apart from these updates, Google has also added the support for spreadsheet shortcuts to the web version of the app. The latest update is already available on both Android and iOS and can be downloaded through Google Play store or the App Store respectively.

The best printers you can buy for your home

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular in this connected world we live in, but if you start working from home, you may not have access to all the tools that an office-space has to offer. Not only that, but if you have kids in school, or simply need to print every now and then, having a good printer at your disposal can be extremely helpful. Of course, there are a ton of printers out there to choose from, and not all of them are created equal.

Before you decide on a specific model of printer to go for, you should make a few decisions on the type of printer you need. Here are a few key points to consider before you make the decision to pull the trigger on a new printer.

Insider Picks_ 3 4x3 printer

  • Laser or inkjet: There are two main types of printers – laser and inkjet, and they’re actually pretty different. Laser printers are generally more expensive, but the trade-off is that you don’t have to worry about buying ink, and pages are printed a lot quicker. Laser printers need toner, which lasts longer than the ink used by inkjet printers. This type of printer is also best for printing documents and sometimes only prints in black and white, though many laser printers can do color, too. Inkjet printers are cheaper to buy, but ink is expensive. However, if you print photos, this is the printer you want. Inkjet printers are also easier to maintain, so most people will likely prefer them.
  • Do you want a scanner? Many printers these days also come with a scanner, meaning you can combine your printing and scanning needs into one device. Speaking from personal experience, it’s common to use the scanner after signing a document that may have been emailed to you, so it may be a good thing to have in your home office.
  • Double-sided printing: Many printers out there offer the ability to print double-sided documents, so you won’t have to worry about flipping the page over and printing again if you want dual-sided printing. This also helps cut down on the number of pages you print, which is obviously good for the environment.

Some companies also offer some extra features. For example, HP offers an ink subscription service, in which you can pay $2.99 per month and have HP automatically send new ink when it detects that your ink supply is running low.

But what’s the best printer out there? Here are the five best printers you can buy. You should also check out our guides to the best computer mice and the best Bluetooth keyboards.

Although the Brother MFC-J985DW is our top pick, for various reasons laid out in the slides below, you should also consider the HP Envy 5560, the HP LaserJet Pro M252dw, the Canon ImagePrograf PRO-1000, and the Canon Pixma iP8720.

One in 10 brand new cars has to go back to the garage for repairs in the first year – but what’s the most reliable motor you can buy?

HUNDREDS of thousands of new car buyers are having to return cars to their dealer with problems, a study has found.

Electrical gripes, engine woes and rattling interior trim are leaving owners frustrated with their brand new motors.

Jaguar XF

2
Almost a third of owners reported problems in the first year with their Jaguar XF

Driver Power, the UK’s biggest car satisfaction survey, found 12 per cent of owners said their car had gone wrong within the first 12 months.

And with a record-setting 2.69million vehicles registered in 2016, it could mean more than 300,000 have already developed faults and needed repairs.

Figures from the Driver Power study – which quizzed drivers on cars aged between two and 12 months – show the Jaguar XF was the car with the most issues.

Cars with most recorded faults in the first year

  1. Jaguar XF: 31%
  2. Jaguar XE: 27%
  3. Land Rover Discovery Sport: 25%
  4. Range Rover Evoque: 24%
  5. Nissan X-Trail: 22%
  6. Skoda Superb: 21%
  7. Nissan Pulsar: 21%
  8. Subaru Forester: 20%
  9. Citroen C4 Cactus: 20%
  10. Subaru Outback: 20%

A third of owners (31 per cent) said their car failed in the first year.

And there was more bad news for British makers, too, with the Jaguar XE the next worst following by the Land Rover Discovery Sport – more than a quarter of owners reported problems with both.

The car deemed most reliable over long-term ownership was the Toyota RAV4.

Top 10 most reliable cars

  1. Toyota RAV4
  2. Skoda Yeti
  3. Audi Q3
  4. SEAT Leon
  5. Lexus RX
  6. Kia Cee’d
  7. Lexus CT
  8. Suzuki Vitara
  9. Lexus NX
  10. Volvo XC60

Dodgy reliability of new vehicles is supported by the record number of contacts The Motor Ombudsman has received for its dispute resolution service.

In the first four months of 2017, it saw a 45 per cent rise in disgruntled customers get in touch compared to 2016.

And the top reason for an owner to contact The Motor Ombudsman related to the quality of the vehicle at the time of purchase.

Holly McAllister, head of customer service and quality at The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Case volumes as a proportion of contacts remain low which demonstrates the great efforts that all parties are going to in order to resolve any disagreements before needing formal adjudication which is very encouraging for all involved.”

Land Rover Discovery Sport

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A quarter of Land Rover Discovery Sport owners had early issues

BlackBerry Says Its New Solution Can Help Businesses Monitor WhatsApp Chats

HIGHLIGHTS

  • BlackBerry has partnered VoxSmart to offer data monitoring services
  • It provides ability to capture, record, store and analyse mobile voice
  • Services will be useful for firms to monitor WhatsApp and WeChat chats

To enable financial institutions monitor data on WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging platforms in line with the upcoming European Union (EU) directive, BlackBerry has partnered with the leading mobile surveillance and compliance firm VoxSmart.

Together with BlackBerry UEM (Unified Endpoint Management), which connects and manages endpoints, VoxSmart’s ‘VSmart’ will provide financial services firms with the ability to capture, record, store and analyse mobile voice, text and third-party instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and WeChat.

BlackBerry Says Its New Solution Can Help Businesses Monitor WhatsApp Chats

“Together with VoxSmart, we can enable businesses around the world to effortlessly capture conversations on endpoints including smartphones, wearables, tablets and laptops,” said Florian Bienvenu, Senior Vice President of EMEA Sales, BlackBerry.

“This joint solution is an excellent example of how BlackBerry is leveraging its software portfolio and developing strong partnerships to secure the Enterprise of Things,” Bienvenu added in a statement.

The companies have partnered to help financial services firms comply on time with the European Union’s “Markets in Financial Instruments Directive” (‘MiFID II’).

MiFID II, which comes into effect on January 3, 2018, demands that all financial services firms in Europe must keep records of all services, activities and transactions for at least five years.

 

Records include all electronic and instant messaging communications, telephone conversations and text messages related to or intended to conclude in a transaction, even if one does not occur.

The directive seeks to make financial markets in Europe more resilient, transparent and investor-friendly.

“VoxSmart is the only global mobile compliance solution that can capture, record, store and analyse both voice and third party instant message applications such as WhatsApp and WeChat,” said Oliver Blower, CEO, VoxSmart.

“Our partnership with BlackBerry has already led to additional proofs of concept exercises from other global investment banks and financial services firms, who are seeing the MiFID II Directive as a chance to refine their approach to mobile security and compliance,” Blower added.

Already successfully deployed to several global investment banks and trading houses, VSmart provides a perfect balance between user experience and compliance, securing and enabling regulated users, all while adhering to stringent global regulations.

Facebook Rainbow Reaction Is Here and This Is How You Can Get It Now

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Facebook has added the Rainbow reaction to support LGBTQ Pride
  • There are also Pride-themed masks and frames
  • Pride-themed features on Facebook will till June-end

Facebook has launched a new Rainbow emoji reaction, among several other features, in honour of the LGBTQ Pride Month — celebrated every year in June — and show support to the community and the cause. The Facebook Rainbow reaction is accompanied by a Rainbow Frame for profile pictures, Pride-themed masks and frames in Facebook Camera, and even the option to start fundraisers for the community on the platform. The new features will be available throughout the month of June.

How to get the new Facebook Rainbow Reaction

To get the new LGBTQ Rainbow Reaction and the other Prime-themed features, you need to ‘like’ the LGBT@Facebook official group. Once you like the page, you will soon see the Rainbow emoji reaction when you long-press on the like button on a post, photo, link, video, etc. Similar is the process to get the new The new features are available only in the US for now, and some even in the US complain of not getting the new features despite liking the page.

Facebook Rainbow Reaction Is Here and This Is How You Can Get It Now

Apart from the Pride-themed features on Facebook, there are some LGBTQ-supporting features on Instagram and Messenger as well. On Instagram, walls in major US cities will be turned into colourful beacons of LGBTQ support, where you can leave supportive comments on your posts. You can also celebrate Pride and be creative with stickers and a rainbow brush. Similarly, Messenger users can use Pride-themed stickers, frames, and effects in the Messenger Camera.

In a statement, Facebook said, “As Pride celebrations begin around the world, Facebook is proud to support our diverse community, including those that have identified themselves on Facebook as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or gender non-conforming. It added over 12 million people across the globe are part of one of the 76,000 Facebook Groups in support of the LGBTQ community.  The social networking giant noted that more than 1.5 million people plan to participate in one of the more than 7,500 Pride events on Facebook this year.