Category Archives: funding

London Event App YPlan Raises $12m to go Global

London’s spontaneous events app YPlan has announced that it will open its doors in New York after receiving $12m (£7.8m) in Series A funding. US VC firm General Catalyst Partners, investors in Kayak and Airbnb, led the round, along with YPlan’s initial backers Wellington Partners. 

The company has attracted an impressive range of co-investors, including Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade, early Facebook employee Kevin Colleran and David Morin, founder of Path and serial angel investor. Shakil Khan, investor and advisor to Spotify and Summly, also joined the round. 

The start-up, which curates 15 last-minute listings per night, has offered tickets to more than 2,500 exclusive events, including a Beyoncé show and the invite-only Sofar Sounds, since it launched in November last year. It passed 200,000 downloads in April and is present on more than 10 per cent of London’s iPhones.  

We spoke to YPlan last year about how they find all the weird and wonderful stuff that London has to offer. Its executive team boasts some of the brains behind toptable, GetTaxi, Songkick, Airbnb and lastminute.com, with the former digital director of Timeout in charge of picking the best events. 

The YPlan team has already opened its New York office and is currently hiring for a growth hacker, a product manager and marketing staff to support the official launch in H2 2013. More European cities and an Android app are also on the way. 

The company received its seed funding of $1.7m in July 2012, a round led by pan-European Wellington Partners, investors in Hailo, and UK-focused Octopus Investments, which invested in SwiftKey. We’ll be speaking to YPlan to find out more about how they’re going to spend the next $12m.


Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/londons-mobile-only-event-app-yplan-raises-12m-go-global#pa0aGpFLhHTJARrW.99

Siemens and UK Government Launch Learning Hub to Plug Digital Skills Gap

Siemens has launched an education and careers platform to help inspire more young people in the UK to become engineers.

The digital hub has been ‘explicitly designed to encourage young people to engage with engineering and manufacturing related subjects’, with many software, electronic and mechanical engineers now going on to work in the mobile industry.

The company is working with the Cabinet Office, Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to open the education portal for teachers, students and parents to access relevant information. It will be rolled out to 5,000 schools by 2014, aiming to reach more than 1.95m pupils in the first year and 4.5m by 2016.

Siemans launched its first mobile phone in 1985 and released more than 100 handsets before it sold this arm of its business in 2005.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/siemens-and-uk-government-launch-learning-hub-plug-digital-skills-gap

Wayra Chosen to Launch Social Enterprise Incubator

Telefonica’s tech accelerator Wayra has become one of the first to be awarded money from the government’s £10m Social Incubator Fund. In a partnership with UnLtd, the Warya UnLtd Academy will provide investment and technical expertise to social entrepreneurs who use digital technologies to solve real-world problems. The organisation will look after 30 businesses over two years.
Bethnal Green Ventures, an accelerator for tech-based social enterprises, will also launch their Social Innovation Camp to support businesses tackling environmental and social problems. They will help 72 start-ups over four years.

“We are massively proud to celebrate this new partnership to find, support and grow digital social enterprises in the UK,” said Simon Devonshire, director of Wayra Europe. “We are also thrilled the government is giving this special partnership its full support and backing. Together we aim to address significant social issues through the use of digital technology combined with entrepreneurial talent.”

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/wayra-chosen-launch-social-enterprise-incubator

Hailo Puts $30m on the Meter


The taxi-hailing app founded by three London cabbies has raised $30m (£19m) from the VC firm that backed Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. With Tom Barr, former Starbucks exec, joining as the company’s US president and COO, the company’s next stop this quarter is New York.

The funding was led by Union Square Investors, others backers now include Richard Branson and the Japanese telco, KDDI, which has an exclusive partnership to support launches in Asia, starting with Tokyo’s 40,000 taxi drivers in a market estimated at $25bn.

“In just over a year, we have operations in ten cities across six countries and sales in excess of $100m. We now have the senior team, resources, and the investment and corporate partners to deliver our vision of bringing Hailo to NYC, Tokyo, and every street corner in every major city in the world,” said Jay Bregman, Hailo CEO and co-founder.

Nailed Dublin, Madrid next

Hailo secured $17m from Accel Partners in March to launch in Dublin –  where it became the number one taxi service in the city in just three months – and has gone live in Boston, Toronto and Chicago since the service was unveiled in November 2011. Twitter’s US sales director, Bruce Daisley, speaking at today’s Mobile Marketing Association Brand and Agency Briefing, reveleaved how Hailo uses hastag targeting to drum up new business, tweeting out statements like ‘heading for the #websummit in Dublin today?’.

Hailo, now considered the best-funded taxi app in the world, with $50.6m raised to date, is on its way to Spain, beginning with Madrid and Barcelona. Hailo says it has 10,000 London taxi drivers, from whom is takes a 10 per cent cut from the fare, which makes it the dominant e-hail application in London. Earlier this month, Hailo launched an outdoor, print and digital campaign in the capital.

The $30.6m Series B round also included Moscow-based Phenomen Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Red Swan Ventures, as well as existing investors Accel Partners, Wellington Partners, which provided initial seed money, and Skype founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico Ventures.

Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/hailo-puts-30m-meter

Students as consumers- the great university debate

First published at http://www.pluto-online.com/?p=1768

The debate is rumbling on about where we go on funding for university.

The NUS has been protesting in London against removing the cap on top-up fees. But what is really at issue here?

In these hard economic times, we need, and need to be world-class graduates that can compete in the global markets and excel in our given fields.

China, India, Brazil and Russia, the growing economies, have seen their chance to shine here, and are understandably grasping it with both hands.

A lecturer comments on an article on the Independent Online that many UK students (I’d have preferred it if he’d made it clear that it wasn’t all) are wasting their degrees:

“Because they are constantly told that they are ‘customers’, students increasingly assume that getting a degree is simply about being spoon-fed, and taught to the test, in return for paying their 3,000.

“There is alarmingly little appreciation that learning/studying is an interactive, two-way process.

“The same mindset also means that a growing number of students are choosing whether or not to turn up for (compulsory) classes, on the grounds that ‘If I don’t attend lectures or seminars, it’s my money I’m wasting, so why should you care? Besides, you can’t afford to kick me off the course, because you need my fees!’”

He continued: “Many students today have an alarming inability or unwillingness to think independently or engage intellectually. They expect everything to be done for them (consumer ‘rights’, naturally), and many of them seem far more interested in spending their days and nights text-messaging or playing on their Facebook sites than reading books.”

Can you say it doesn’t sound a little familiar? We’re a pretty despondent group by all accounts. Many are scraping through, blowing their loans and not ending up in a career worth the money.

However they decide to solve the funding issue- they might consider removing the cap and allow better universities to charge more, a progressive tax or a sort of tax after education- are universities producing the high-quality graduates necessary for the future, to improve on a knowledge-based economy?

In January this year, the BBC wrote that intake to UK universities is at “an all-time high. It [the government] wants more than half of young people to go on to higher education.

However, they went on to say that: “The number of UK students at UK universities fell from 1.97 million in 2007 to 1.96 million last year.” The drop is more than likely a funding issue than a realization that university might be a waste of time. Plus, what are the other options?

Oxbridge and the Russell Group universities still out-perform, as always. And these graduates are apparently getting twice as much contact time for their money. But would allowing these institutions to charge more yet again price some out of education?

Universities are depending upon international students for their income, some charging almost seven times what the natives are asked for, is this really fair? And it seems part-time students are getting a raw deal. But is doing a degree on that basis more or less useful? It is obviously necessary for some learners but is six years too long to get something that might ultimately not bag you your ideal career?

Current undergrads have been perpetual guinea pigs of New Labour. Third years will have been half way through primary school when Tony and his cronies got their optimistic but misguided mitts on our futures. Coming to the end of its natural life, we might have been able to breathe a sigh of relief- the end of meddling and patching-up. But no, the mess could take years to clear up. Because what is the answer?

And what of the tutor’s comments? Is many student’s treatment of their degrees another example of ‘rights without responsibility’? Everyone has the right to go, but what responsibility comes with it?

University was at one time only for the privileged, why are we all not more grateful of the privilege we have been given?