BuddyGuard & Chatterbug: storytelling, smart home network effects and the future of EdTech

BuddyGuard, the Berlin-based smart home startup, raised €3.4 Million from Bachmann Group for their AI-empowered security camera called FLARE. BuddyGuard’s FLARE: AI-enhanced security camera with service add-ons BuddyGuard’s FLARE is an independently acting camera, equipped with, amongst others, a battery, Wi-Fi, cellular, motion sensors and a microphone. Using these features and the built-in AI-capabilities, FLARE detects conspicuous movements or noises and alerts first responders if necessary. The AI distinguishes between you (including your pets) and unknown people and acts accordingly. You can further enhance the FLARE’s capabilities by subscribing to one of BuddyGuard’s add-ons. These add-ons are BuddySIM (for when Wi-Fi is unavailable), BuddyReact (for automatic contacting the police and a live-stream to BuddyGuard’s monitoring center), BuddyCall (call and text alert in the case of unexpected activities), and BuddyCloud (cloud for the video material). The FLARE itself costs €449 and BuddyGuard markets it as products for B2C and B2B. BuddyGuard’s FLARE (Source) FLARE’s difficult positioning in a crowded market due to high price and low brand recognition FLARE’s main difference compared to alternatives is their AI. Other cameras have similar functionality. For instance, several are equipped with motion detection, animal- or voice detection. However, as none of them comes with AI technology,

byte heroes, HydroMine, and Wysker — first ICOs in Austria and Germany

 In the last couple of days four ICOs have been announced in the DACH-area: HEROCoin by byte heroes (Austria’s first ICO) H2O by HydroMiner wys by Wysker (Germany’s first ICO) CTD by Cointed Here I will cover HEROCoin, H2O, and wys. As Cointed was accused of fraud, it deserves a more detailed look and I will do so separately. ICOs in general, are a fascinating topic and I am equally excited that we have them now in Austria and Germany as well. In this post, I am going to focus on the white papers and only briefly touch upon the startups itself. Due to lacking regulations, there are no binding guidelines regarding what such a white paper should contain or a company-specific coin should be. However, what struck me was How little information about the current state the white papers provide: finances, competition, and market overview, for instance, are sparsely elaborated How little information about the future they present: wysker is the only company to provide measurable metrics for assessing progress (and these metrics are not the most useful ones) The lack of an economic model for the coins: I believe that the issued coin should be tied to the

Parce, pariot, and home-ix

In the last couple of days at least three German startups have made it into the news: parce pitched on Die Höhle der Löwen Pariot started their Kickstarter campaign Porsche invested in home-iX Parce During the Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) parce pitched their smart socket Parce Plus. It costs €49.90 and devices connected to it can be controlled through an app or Siri. They also have two smart light switches announced to ship March 2018 in the portfolio.parce’s products from left to right: light switch Parce M1, light switch Parce L1, and socket Parce Plus (Sources: Parce M1, Parce L1, Parce Plus) The socket, which was the focus of the pitch, has pretty standard features; integration into HomeKit (no Android support, however), an accompanying app and power consumption logging. According to the TV pitch, their main differentiator is „Made in Germany“ and WLAN as the connection technology. However, on Indiegogo, where they raised money for their first socket Parce, they advertised more functions which centre around analytics. The Parce turns off devices based on usage or schedules, has price comparison for electricity included and recommends you ways how you can save money. But according to their website these features are

Google’s Pixel Buds, Bragi, and the power of incumbents

Google introduced a range of new products during its hardware event including a set of wireless headphones called the Pixel Buds. Google Hardware event; presentation of Pixel Buds start at 1:23 Amongst other features, Pixel Buds support real-time voice translation through Google Translate. The earphones, however, do not do the actual translation work: Google told us that the earbuds are connected via Bluetooth to the smartphone, and that the smartphone microphone picks up the spoken words. It sends them over the cloud to Google’s data centers, where Google Translate produces a translation. It sends back the translated words in the form of speech to the phone, which transfers them back to the earbuds. — VentureBeat Thus, they are more about seamless user experience than technology (click the Bud and start talking vs. talking out your phone, opening the app and then talking). The announcement of wireless headphones should not come as a surprise. A Google patent from earlier this year showed that they might be working on something like that. Also, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, and Apple have similar products as well. Speaking of Apple, Apple’s AirPods are what comes immediately to mind when hearing about the Pixel Buds. And the

revolut, N26, and the future of banking

revolut, the app-based bank from Britain, started their operations in Germany and Austria on September 27. From their profile on SEEDRS Revolut is targeting consumers and businesses that are dissatisfied with their banks and other financial services for three main reasons: (i) lack of product innovation (ii) the expense of spending money abroad and (iii) fees to transfer money overseas. — SEEDRS The narrative is clear (this is important as I will show later on) and is well summarized in revolut’s claim: “ Revolut — The only account for your global lifestyle”. Concretely this means that you get fee-free purchase and withdrawals for 120 currencies, free money transfers of up to £5,000 per month and you can keep up to 26 currencies in the app which you can exchange without fees. Furthermore, they focus on user-friendliness through insightful spending overview (financial forecasting is planned), immediate balance update, splitting-bills between revolut-users, P2P credits, in-app credit card (un)blocking, instant money transfers and an in-app customer support chat bot. In terms of products you can either use a real or virtual credit card and they also offer an insurance for smartphones. In addition to free services, they have a premium version (6,99€/month) though which you


The Austrian-based start-up Timeular went on Die Höhle der Löwen (DHDL) with their hardware-based time tracking tool ZEIº. The ZEIº is an eight-sided polygon where each side represents a task you are working on. You switch between these tasks by switching the polygon, and the upwards-facing side is the tasks being tracked right now. Three Z by Timeular (Source) I wrote about ZEIº a while back (post in German) and concluded that the product creates „pain“ for users: because they have to (re-)design each side multiple times due to ZEIº’s limited flexibility: it has only eight sites, and you cannot add spontaneous tasks people can steal it it is only useful for stationary work The jury from DHDL additionally mentioned that people simply won’t use ZEIº because finding the right side for the corresponding task is difficult, they will simply forget to track and that using a time tracking device is simply annoying. Furthermore, they criticized that a hardware-based solution is not future-proof and that an (AI-)software is the way to go. ZEIº only better significantly better for a few people The first part of the criticism shows that customer education is needed. There are a lot of people who do not

volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup, raised two million euros

volders, a Berlin-based contract management startup raised two million euros. The company describes itself as a personal contract assistant. You feed the application with your contracts and it manages them for you. You are alerted about contract expiration, you can cancel or prolong contracts and in combination with a built-in price comparison tool you can compare and sign up for new contracts. Overview of your contracts in volders (Source) In essence, volders wants you to do the following things in a repetitive circle: Upload all your contracts Receive notifications about contract expiration Cancel contracts Compare and switch contracts volders started as vertragslotse.com in 2014 and received a six-figure investment in 2015. Also in 2015, Vertragslotse.com was renamed into volders. (It seems to me that the major reason for the name change was internalization.) Finally, In 2016 they launched an iOS-App (pretty late) (volders’ history) With their latest investment they want to position themselves as your „personal digital contract assistant“. Furthermore, they want to make “their customer service more proactive and tailor the comparison and prolongation offers more towards their customers“. This year they increased their user base by 50 percent to 550.000 (from Gründerszene). Their plan (more proactive customer service and

Apples Finanzergebnisse Q1 2017

Am 31. Jänner fand Apples Telefonkonferenz zu den Finanzergebnissen für Q1 2017 (1. Oktober bis 31. Dezember) statt. In Summe war es ein Rekordquartal. So erwirtschaftete Apple mit einem Umsatz von $78.4 Mrd. (Wachstum von 3,3 Prozent im Vergleich zum Vorjahr) einerseits mehr als vom Konzern erwartet und andererseits das größte Quartalsergebnis bis her. Dieser Rekord ergab sich durch Höchstwerte beim iPhone, dem „Service-Geschäft“, der Mac-Sparte und der Apple Watch. Das globale Wachstum wird von China und einem Starken US-Dollar gebremst. Zur Sparte Anwendungssoftware  (iWork, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X etc.) wurde nichts genannt. Es gab Wachstum in vier von fünf geografischen Regionen, Potential für Indien, China und Stärke des US-Dollar aber stellen Problem dar Die Performance in Großchina verbesserte sich (wie von Apple erwartet) in Relation zum vorigen Quartal. Der Umsatz fiel um 12 Prozent, bereinigt um Wechselkursschwankungen waren es acht Prozent. Festlandchina blieb konstant bzw. wuchs wenn bereinigt um Währungsschwankungen. Als problematisch sieht Apple in vielen Märkten die Stärke des US-Dollars. Laut Apple wird die Marke weiterhin Prestige angesehen, insbesondere da die Mittelklasse in Ländern wie China, Indien und Brasilien wächst. Die Demonetisation in Indien hat Apple zwar noch nicht ganz verarbeitet, erzielte aber trotzdem einen Umsatzrekord dort. Tim

Xiaomi’s troubles and how to solve them

The Chinese internet company Xiaomi was founded in 2010. In 2014 and 2015 it was amongst the top five (sometimes even top three) smartphone makers world wide.   And with a valuation of over USD 46billion it is one of the world’s most valuable technology start-ups. Xiaomi might be known for its low-budget and stylish smartphones, targeting China’s middle class and its youth, but that is only part of what gave it that valuation. Investors believe that Xiaomi can build and ecosystem with its smartphones, smart home products and services consisting of games, apps and others. Its potential lies in bringing revenue through hardware-purchases as well as recurring purchases through services. Part of Xiaomi’s smart home portfolio (Source) Xiaomi’s portfolio represents that idea. Its offerings include a set-top box, rice cookers, a water and an air purifier, a drone, a fitness tracker,TVs, notebooks and a virtual reality headset as well as accessories such as power banks and audio devices. Xiaomi starts losing to competitors Ending 2015, however, it starting losing market share and ranks now below the top 5 smartphone producers. Instead of USD16 billion in sales revenues as predicted by the CEO Lei Jun, the company reached $12.5 billion, a miss of almost 13%.

Recall of Note 7 did not hurt Samsung’s brand

Samsung has completely recalled its Galaxy Note 7 and stoped production due to risks of catching fire. As a consequence the company lost more than $19n of stock value. At the time of the recall, analysts worried about negative consequences on the firm’s credibility and trust. The concerns were not unjustified considering the gravity of the issue and what other companies were doing at the time of the recall. Actually there wer two rounds of recalls; in the first, which officially started on September 15, Samsung replaced faulty Note 7 with new handsets. The second recall, issued on October 10, was final and production of the Note 7 stopped. The dates are of these actions are interesting as Apple announced its new iPhone models, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on September 7, about a week before the first recall. Also, Google announced its new phones around these days; on October 4 the company presented its Google Pixel phones. With that in mind it is safe to assume that Samsung will not only incur costs from lost sales and recycling of the phones, but also due to damaged reputation. A recent poll, however, indicates otherwise. The poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos revealed two things: Current Samsung smartphone owners are as loyal to their