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daily roundup (Jan 28, 2022)

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Games24x7 ropes in Hrithik Roshan as the brand ambassador of RummyCircle

Games24x7 has announced actor Hrithik Roshan as the brand ambassador for India’s largest online skill gaming platform, RummyCircle. As part of the partnership, Hrithik will be seen in multimedia campaigns by RummyCircle, spanning across TV, digital and social media platforms.

Since its launch in 2009, the online skill gaming platform has partnered with talented personalities to further strengthen its engagement with millions of players across the country.

Announcing the association, Bhavin Pandya, Co-founder and CEO of Games 24×7, said, “We are very excited to partner with Hrithik, one of India’s biggest stars. Hrithik has had a remarkable career which is an epitome of versatility as he makes the right moves at the right time. His dynamism, talent, and widespread appeal have made him really stand out. This resonates well with Games24x7 as we are constantly differentiating ourselves by providing awesome game playing experiences.”

Hrithik Roshan, brand ambassador of RummyCircle

Teachmint acquires MyClassCampus to expand its offerings for schools & institutes globally

Teachmint, an education infrastructure startup, has announced the acquisition of MyClassCampus, an educational ERP player, which enables campuses with end-to-end digitisation of their operations, management and communication.

With this, Teachmint expands its offerings to schools and institutes by combining a deep ERP software with its own state-of-the-art Learning Management System. This deal marks Teachmint’s fourth acquisition, following Teachmore, Teachee India team, and Airlearn.

Co-founders of Teachmint

Founded in 2017 by Rachit Dave, Rutvij Vora, and Raj Kothari, MyClassCampus is a campus management solution that enables schools, colleges, and coaching centers to digitise all their operations from online admissions, HR and Payroll management, performance management to communication management among many other functions. Since its inception, the company has served over 1,500+ institutes and 2+ million students across 30+ countries.

English language proficiency app ELSA releases availability of speech recognition and feedback engine API

ELSA, a company that uses speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence to help language learners improve their spoken English, on Friday announced the availability of its proprietary AI-enabled API.

This API technology integrates into any language learning solution to develop an English-speaking feature with automated speech recognition and interactive teaching. ELSA’s AI technology was built for the ELSA Speak App, which boasts 25+ million customers worldwide.

With the release of its API, ELSA is democratising the access to quality learning for users around the globe with new edtech partnerships with CNA Go in Brazil, Edulinx in Japan and Sahi.ai and UOLO in India to name a few.

Flipkart Samarth’s ‘Crafted by Bharat’ boosts the growth of India’s handicraft and handloom makers

As Flipkart Samarth’s first-ever dedicated ‘Republic Day’ sale event – ‘Crafted by Bharat’ comes to an end, it has reaffirmed the role ecommerce plays in empowering local businesses particularly MSMEs, artisans, weavers, etc.

The event, aimed at celebrating India’s rich culture and heritage by showcasing the traditional handicrafts and handlooms from across the country, was held on January 26, marking the occasion of India’s Republic Day.

The event saw a 1.4X increase in participation, compared to non-sale days, of artisans and weavers, and 25+ top Government and NGO brands associated with the Flipkart Samarth program.

Home furnishing, home décor, and grooming were the best performing categories during the sale, in terms of units sold. At the same time, large furniture, home furnishing, and home décor were best performing categories in terms of revenue.

Consumers from across the country showed an appetite for Flipkart Samarth products, with cities such as Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, New Delhi, Patna and Pune driving the sales for products ‘Crafted by Bharat.’ 60 percent of the consumers were also from Tier II and III cities.

Safe Security and Infosys announce strategic collaboration to bring cutting edge risk quantification solutions to the market

Safe Security, a cyber risk quantification solutions, announced a strategic collaboration with Infosys, a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting.

Safe Security’s SaaS platform SAFE, combined with Infosys’s capabilities in quantitative cyber risk management will enable organisations to get an enterprise-wide view of overall cyber risks, predict breaches using SAFE’s proprietary algorithm and know the potential financial impact of each cyberattack before it occurs.

PhonePe Pulse unveils digital payment trends for Q4 2021

Fintech platform PhonePe announced key digital payment trends from PhonePe Pulse Q4 (October – December) 2021. The latest report shows the tremendous pace at which the country is adopting digital payments.

The key highlights of this quarter were:

  • The PhonePe platform drove a cumulative 6.63 billion transactions in Q4, a 26 percent QoQ jump.
  • The Total Payments Value (TPV) of transactions processed grew 26 percent QoQ to $155 billion, mirroring the growth in the number of transactions.
  • Money transfers with UPI and merchant payments continued to register massive growth reaching 2.72 billion and 3.15 billion, respectively.
  • 25 million merchants were digitised across 15,700 towns and villages in India, which continued to help offline merchant payments register tremendous growth

According to the press statement, the trend of digital payments becoming a Pan-India habit which was observed in Q3, continued in Q4 as well with 722 out of 726 districts in the country clocking positive growth in the number of registered users and digital transactions.

Geographically, Goa (71 percent), Andaman (41 percent), Assam (37 percent) were the top three states and union territories in terms of QoQ transaction growth. Maharashtra registered 27 percent growth and became the first state to cross a billion transactions in a quarter (1.01 billion txns). Karnataka was a close second showing 24 percent QoQ growth and driving 932 million transactions.

Launched in September 2021, PhonePe Pulse is India’s first interactive website with data, insights and trends on digital payments in the country. The PhonePe Pulse website showcases more than 2000+ crore transactions by consumers on an interactive map of India.

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Airtable chief revenue officer, chief people officer and chief product officer are out • TechCrunch

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As part of Airtable’s decision to cut 20% of staff, or 254 employees, three executives are “parting ways” with the company as well, a spokesperson confirmed over email. The chief revenue officer, chief people officer and chief product officer are no longer with the company.

Airtable’s chief revenue officer, Seth Shaw, joined in November 2020 just one month before Airtable’s chief producer officer Peter Deng came on board. Airtable’s chief people officer, Johanna Jackman, joined Airtable in May 2021 with an ambitious goal to double the company’s headcount to 1,000 in 12 months. The three executives are departing today as a mutual decision with Airtable, but will advise the company through the next phase of transition, the company says. All three executives were reached out to for further comment and this story will be updated with their responses if given.

An Airtable spokesperson declined to comment on if the executives were offered severance pay. The positions will be succeeded by internal employees, introduced at an all-hands meeting to be held this Friday.

Executive departures at this scale are rare, even if the overall company is going through a heavy round of cuts. But CEO and founder Howie Liu emphasized, in an email sent to staff but seen by TechCrunch, that the decision – Airtable’s first-ever lay off in its decade-long history – was made following Airtable’s choice to pivot to a more “narrowly focused mode of execution.”

In the email, Liu described Airtable’s goal – first unveiled in October – to capture enterprise clients with connected apps. Now, instead of the bottom-up adoption that first fueled Airtable’s rise, the company wants to be more focused in this new direction. Liu’s e-mail indicates that the startup will devote a majority of its resources toward “landing and expanding large enterprise companies with at least 1k FTEs – where our connected apps vision will deliver the most differentiated value.”

The lean mindset comes after Airtable reduced spend in marketing media, real estate, business technology and infrastructure, the e-mail indicates. “In trying to do too many things at once, we have grown our organization at a breakneck pace over the past few years. We will continue to emphasize growth, but do so by investing heavily in the levers that yield the highest growth relative to their cost,” Liu wrote.

Airtable seems to be emphasizing that its reduced spend doesn’t come with less ambition, or ability to execute. A spokesperson added over e-mail that all of Airtable’s funds from its $735 million Series F are “still intact.” They also said that the startup’s enterprise side, which makes up the majority of Airtable’s revenue, is growing more than 100% year over year; the product move today just doubles down on that exact cohort.

Current and former Airtable employees can reach out to Natasha Mascarenhas on Signal, a secure encrypted messaging app, at 925 271 0912. You can also DM her on Twitter, @nmasc_. 



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Kubernetes Gateway API reality check: Ingress controller is still needed

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No doubt the new Kubernetes excitement is the Gateway API. One of the more significant changes in the Kubernetes project, the Gateway API is sorely needed. More granular and robust control over Kubernetes service networking better addresses the growing number of use cases and roles within the cloud-native paradigm.

Shared architecture — at all scales — requires flexible, scalable and extensible means to manage, observe and secure that infrastructure. The Gateway API is designed for those tasks. Once fully matured, it will help developers, SREs, platform teams, architects and CTOs by making Kubernetes infrastructure tooling and governance more modular and less bespoke.

But let’s be sure the hype does not get ahead of today’s needs.

The past and future Kubernetes gateway API

There remains a gap between present and future states of Ingress control in Kubernetes. This has led to a common misconception that the Gateway API will replace the Kubernetes Ingress Controller (KIC) in the near term or make it less useful over the longer term. This view is incorrect for multiple reasons.

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Ingress controllers are now embedded in the functional architecture of most Kubernetes deployments. They have become de facto. At some point, the Gateway API will be sufficiently mature to replace all functionality of the Ingress API and even the implementation-specific annotations and custom resources that many of the Ingress implementations use, but that day remains far off.

Today, most IT organizations are still either in the early adoption or the testing stage with Kubernetes. For many, just getting comfortable with the new architecture, networking constructs, and application and service management requirements requires considerable internal education and digestion.

Gateway API and Ingress controllers are not mutually exclusive

As we’ve done at NGINX, other Ingress maintainers will presumably implement the Gateway API in their products to take advantage of the new functionality and stay current with the Kubernetes API and project. Just as RESTful APIs are useful for many tasks, the Kubernetes API underpins many products and services, all built on the foundation of its powerful container orchestration engine.

The Gateway API is designed to be a universal component layer for managing service connectivity and behaviors within Kubernetes. It is expressive and extensible, making it useful for many roles, from DevOps to security to NetOps.

As a team that has invested considerable resources into an open source Ingress controller, NGINX could have chosen to integrate the Gateway API into our existing work. Instead, we elected to leverage the Gateway API as a standalone, more open-ended project. We chose this path so as not to project the existing constraints of our Ingress controller implementation onto ways we might hope to use the Gateway API or NGINX in the future. With fewer constraints, it is easier to fail faster or to explore new designs and concepts. Like most cloud-native technology, the Gateway API construct is designed for loose coupling and modularity ­— even more so than the Ingress controller, in fact.

We are also hopeful that some of our new work around the Gateway API is taken back into the open-source community. We have been present in the Kubernetes community for quite some time and are increasing our open-source efforts around the Gateway API.

It could be interpreted that the evolving API provides an invaluable insertion point and opportunity for a “do-over” on service networking. But that does not mean that everyone is quick to toss out years of investment in other projects. Ingress will continue to be important as Gateway API matures and develops, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

Plan for a hybrid future

Does it sound like we think the Kubernetes world should have its Gateway API cake and eat its Ingress controller too? Well, we do. Guilty as charged. Bottom line: We believe Kubernetes is a big tent with plenty of room for both new constructs and older categories. Improving on existing Ingress controllers —which were tethered to a limited annotation capability that induced complexity and reduced modularity — remains critical for organizations for the foreseeable future.

Yes, the Gateway API will help us improve Ingress controllers and unleash innovation, but it’s an API, not a product category. This new API is not a magic wand nor a silver bullet. Smart teams are planning for this hybrid future, learning about the improvements the Gateway API will bring while continuing to plan around ongoing Ingress controller improvement. The beauty of this hybrid reality is that everyone can run clusters in the way they know and desire. Every team gets what they want and need.

Brian Ehlert is director of product management at NGINX.

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4 Ways to Use Social Media for Market Research

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Social media has undoubtedly changed the way brands think about digital marketing. Just a few years ago, networks like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn only played a small part in global marketing strategies. But as their user numbers have grown, so has their importance for digital marketing. Today, social media channels offer digital marketers excellent market research opportunities.

How market research sets brands apart

Market research has always been an integral part of building a brand. Conducting market research means gathering information and learning more about your target market, establishing potential customer personas, and evaluating how successful your product could be.

Market research also helps quantify product-market fit. Once your product or service has been launched, research allows brand teams to check whether customers receive the messages they want to communicate.

With a company’s marketing goals, market research forms the foundation of successful brand marketing strategies. In short, it is hard to overstate the importance of market research. Still, there are drawbacks. Traditional market research techniques, such as interviews and focus groups, can be time-consuming. These tools can also be tough on resources if the research is done thoroughly, forcing some brands to launch a marketing strategy built on hunches rather than data. Others limit the scope of their study in the hope that findings may still be valid. Both of these options are putting brands at risk.

Related: The 7 Secrets of Truly Successful Personal Brands

Social media lifts market research limitations

Social media platforms have all the tools necessary to provide brands with answers to market research questions. Social media can offer insights into branding, content messaging and creative design, as well as improve awareness of competitor activity and industry trends.

Much of this is made possible by the sheer number of potential customers brands can access via social media. Facebook alone has nearly three billion active users every month, which has been growing for nearly a decade. Instagram continues to gain ground, with currently around two billion active users.

Social media usage figures are projected to grow for at least the next few years. More than 4.26 billion people spent time on social media in 2021. Statisticians believe that figure will rise to nearly six billion within five years.

But social media can do more than provide user numbers. The companies behind Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok know a great amount of information about their users, starting with demographics and including lifestyle preferences. These insights enable brands to access the right audience faster than ever before and at lower costs.

Related: In a Crowded Field of Emerging Franchises, Only the Strongest Brands Thrive

How to use social media for market research

Social media channels allow brands to access several layers of information about their industry, the brand itself, competitors, messaging and creative design.

1. Industry insights

Using social media channels is an efficient way to assess industry trends in real-time. Channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram make it easy to spot and isolate leading trends and changes in those trends. A few years ago, images captured consumer attention. More recently, however, video-based channels like TikTok have cemented the importance of video as a tool to connect with customers. Of course, brand teams can choose to ignore certain trends, but it is still important to understand the drivers behind the industry.

In this context, industry drivers are not only topics or tools. Social media has created a relatively new digital marketing phenomenon — working with influencers. Identifying and working with the right influencers can be a critical driver of business growth.

Before the advent of social media channels, gathering similar information required more time and in-depth analysis simply because the information was not as easily accessible.

2. Competitor research

Social media has made it easier to conduct competitor research. Companies from virtually every industry sector have started embracing social media channels to connect with customers and partners. As a result, it is far easier to understand your competitors’ marketing strategies and analyze which marketing tactics and channels work best for them.

Following a competitor’s social media channels helps brands understand what audiences engage with and which content they ignore. Brand teams gain a deeper insight into the mindset of their competitors’ clients. Following these channels regularly allows you to clearly understand your competitors, their audiences, and their marketing approach.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Research for Small Businesses

3. Brand positioning

Are your target audiences perceiving your brand the way you would like to be perceived? Monitoring social media allows your marketing team to answer this question quickly. Hashtags and search functions make it easy to assess how a brand is being discussed without any delay associated with traditional market research methods.

As a result of gaining instant insights, your team can adjust and correct its brand messaging quicker than ever.

4. Content messaging and design

A traditional approach to determining advertising messages might involve A/B testing, among other methods. While these types of market research are important for developing successful (traditional) advertising campaigns, they can be expensive and delay the campaign.

Social media channels allow brands to test their content messaging and design directly with minimal costs. Through likes and comments, brands gain instant customer feedback. Throughout a few posts, it will become clear whether customers are more likely to engage with images, videos or webinars, for example.

If a brand uses social media to generate sales, conversion figures will quickly deliver more tangible insights than A/B testing can. Those insights can immediately be applied to the advertising content, allowing brands to conduct market research and put their findings into practice simultaneously.

Using social media channels for market research lets brands learn about industry trends and competitor activity in real-time. Brand teams can also assess brand perception, messaging and content design without delay, optimizing market research results and overall campaign performance.

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