[ByondXR in The Times of Israel] Israeli startup helps Coca-Cola, Lancôme and big brands recreate shops online

ByondXR’s online simulation of physical retail stores boosts sales during pandemic. Imagine peering through a computer screen into a living room with wood floors, white walls, and a pink sofa. Then see how the room would look with a gray sofa, or a blue one. With just a click of a mouse, replace the circular glass coffee table with a rectangular one, or two round wooden ones.

Read more here.

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High street bloodbath continues as Debenhams is latest casualty with 116 shops to close | City & Business | Finance » TechnoCodex – TechnoCodex

High street bloodbath continues as Debenhams is latest casualty with 116 shops to close | City & Business | Finance » TechnoCodex  TechnoCodex
“sweden startups when:7d” – Google News

AutoLeap says it will repair your lousy relationship with car shops

No one likes having to go to the automotive repair shop. There’s little transparency into what happens after a car is dropped off, invoices are often little more than a series of illegible bullet points, and the ordeal can feel chaotic.

AutoLeap, a six-month-old, Toronto-based startup that quietly raised $ 5 million in seed funding in September, thinks its team can figure out how to repair that broken experience by bringing car repair shops into the 21st century at long last. Its big idea is to help such shops organize their operations, schedule jobs, order parts, conduct digital inspections, and invoice customers in a transparent and seamless way.

It’s not the first to try to modernize the car repair process. A five-year-old, Seattle-based startup, Wrench, has already raised $ 40 million toward that end, while another entrant, RepairSmith, a two-year-old, L.A.-based car repair and maintenance service, is backed by Daimler.

Still, with a global automotive repair market that’s currently valued at $ 700 billion, there’s clearly room for more than one player and one approach, and AutoLeap has a few things going for it.

For starters, it has an investor base with some useful connections. Threshold Ventures, which led AutoLeap’s seed round, has ties to the automotive world, including through its bet on the car-selling platform Shift, which went public in October via a reverse merger.

AutoLeap — whose other venture investors include Maple VC, Liquid2 Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and Codename Ventures — is also backed by some notable individuals that hold sway in the world that AutoLeap is entering. Among them: Shift cofounder George Arison, former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, and former senior Bridgestone exec Ned Aguilar.

More importantly, AutoLeap’s founders worked together once before to reinvigorate a stodgy business. Before launching AutoLeap, co-CEOs Rameez Ansari and Steve Lau spent four years as the co-CEOs of FieldEdge, a SaaS company that helps contractors to run their small businesses.

They two — college friends who’d met at the University of Toronto — didn’t start the company. Rather, after Lau nabbed an MBA from Wharton for Ansari nabbed one from Stanford, they joined forces to acquire, manage and grow a neglected business after raising a a so-called search fund, a vehicle that’s backed by individual investors willing to bet that a team will find a company to buy, run it for some period of time, then sell it for far more money.

It was a productive experience for all involved. After spending $ 20 million to acquire FieldEdge, whose software had already been around for 30 years, Lau and Ansari so dramatically improved the company’s offerings that they were able to charge seven times what the company had previously charged for its products, says Lau. Then they sold it to the private equity firm Advent in 2018 for “north of $ 100 million,” says Lau.

It was a solid exit. Minus that $ 20 million investment, the team kept 30 percent of the remaining proceeds from FieldEdge’s sale, with the rest going to the search fund’s investors.

Even so, says Lau, he and Ansari might have kept going if not for rival ServiceTitan, which “went crazy on the fundraising front.” (The seven-year-old company has raised $ 400 million altogether from investors.) Between ServiceTitan’s daunting war chest and “given this was a first exit for us,” Lau says, “we transitioned out instead.”

Today, neither Lau nor Ansari wants to repeat the scenario with AutoLeap. Indeed, though Lau says the company is “heads down” and “not in any discussions” with investors now that it has secured seed funding, one imagines it won’t take long for AutoLeap to enter into discussions about that next round.

What investors would be funding essentially is a burgeoning software platform that aims to kill off paper flyers, crumbling fax machines, and sheaves of invoices — if only it can convince car repair shops to slow down long enough to try its software.

It isn’t a no-brainer that they will, admits Lau. “It’s a material onboarding effort, because you become the lifeblood of their business.” The sales process also requires convincing the shops to share their existing data and take the time required to be trained on how to use it.

Lau isn’t dissuaded, plainly. He says the time to onboard a new customer is one to two weeks and that “once they start seeing value, they get that ‘aha’ type of moment.” In fact, he says that AutoLeap is already working with a handful of shops, including several in Toronto, one in Las Vegas, and another in Boston.

As for its expansion plans, Lau says that some of the company’s seed funding will go toward digital marketing but that it’s also relying heavily on word of mouth. It helps, he says, that garages are often clustered in any one geographic area, which he believes will enable AutoLeap to spread quickly.

There isn’t “a lot of data” to support that assumption, offers Lau. But if AutoLeap has its way, there will be soon enough.

Above, left to right: AutoLeap co-CEOs Rameez Ansari and Steve Lau in a photo that Lau readily volunteers was Photoshopped owing to the pandemic.

Startups – TechCrunch

Prototype Machine Shops That Don’t Charge Insane Amounts?

I have a new muzzle brake design I want to get made out of either 15-5 PH SS or 17-4 PH SS; I tried to gather quotes for it and holy crap they want literally insane prices. One of the places were Protolabs, they quoted it at over $ 1500 for one, $ 1200 each for 2, and the decrease was minute after. Like what the heck? I've had parts quoted before to be machined and the highest for a complex part was $ 400 for one and dropped steeply for more. This part is fairly complex yes, but isn't too difficult IMO. There are way more complex designs for brakes on the market than mine and they don't charge the price of an organ for it.

Does anybody know of any machine shops that charge fair prices?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Questions about t-shirt shops for my startup.

I am not 100% sure this is the best subreddit for my question, but I have no idea where else to ask.

I am getting close to launching my startup. One of the things I want to add is a t-shirt shop so that people can buy t-shirts with my logo on it, in such a way that I can just give them a link and I don't have to deal with anything except profit payments (which will be minimal because I mostly want people to wear things to promote the brand).

I have setup a Teespring shopfront and it works fine, but the product range is limited and my logo looks washed out. I had previously ordered a t-shirt with the identical logo from Allied T-shirts and it looked awesome, but they don't seem to offer a shopfront service.

Can anyone recommend alternatives to Teespring that allow me to build a shopfront in a similar way, or have suggestions on how I might change my logo so it looks less washed out on Teespring? I don't know much about t-shirt printing, so I'm not sure if changing the brightness or something else on the logo might help. I guess Teespring's printing process is different to Allied T-shirts, because it was perfect on Allied's t-shirt.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

WizVille Local Monitor helps small shops track Google Maps ratings of competitors

French startup WizVille is launching a new product called Local Monitor to help restaurant owners, haircut places, bakeries and all kinds of small shops track their Google Maps ratings and the ratings of their competitors.

While there are plenty of ratings services to compare places around you, such as Foursquare, Yelp and Tripadvisor, Google Maps has slowly been showcasing ratings more prominently. And chances are you’re now checking ratings on Google Maps more than ever before.

“I’ve been working for ten years in customer ratings. There’s something huge happening right now — Google and Google Maps are taking over the customer relationship with small shops,” co-founder and CEO Timothée de Laitre told me

And yet, many small business owners don’t pay attention to their Google My Business rating that customers can see on Google Maps and above Google search results. WizVille thinks this is most important metric you can track. And it’s also important to know how your competitors are doing.

When you add your business to WizVille Local Monitor, the company displays other places around you that provide the same products and services. You can choose up to five competitors from that list.

After that, you receive a report with your rating, your competitors’ ratings and the evolution over time. This way, you know how you rank compared to your competitors. The service sends you a new report every month so that you can track your progress.

Google Maps ratings are really not that smart as the company is calculating the average of all your ratings to determine your overall rating. You could have opened your business ten days ago or ten years ago — all your reviews will matter.

If you have more than one shop or you need more features, you have to switch to the full-fledged WizVille customer experience management service. For that service, the startup works with bigger clients, such as Total, Etam, Naturalia and Schmidt.

Image Credits: WizVille

Startups – TechCrunch