From Barclays’ new fund for northern SMEs to cybersecurity woes of businesses, these are our most important startup stories from the last seven days. Oh, and we found out what managers can learn from Marvel anti-hero Deadpool too
Tech protests in the valley
Silicon Valley tech titans are changing the world. However, residents in the Bay Area think they aren’t doing enough to tackle inequality back home. On Thursday May 31 they took matters into their own hands by blocking shuttles carrying Google employees.
The lead up to the protest kicked off a few months ago when San Francisco suddenly became flooded with startups offering electric scooter rental services, the BBC reports. This led to a deluge of pimped-up kick bikes swarming the city. While the city was quick to issue new regulations preventing the problem to exacerbate, the protesters thought these measures weren’t enough. So on Thursday protesters took their own scooters and piled them up high in an intersection, preventing Google employees from going to work for two hours.
When it was pointed out that Google actually doesn’t have an electric scooter scheme, the protesters said they were also making a stand against tech companies causing a housing crisis in the area.
This isn’t the first time residents of the Bay Area has vented their disdain for the tech titans of the Valley. And we’re betting it won’t be the last time.
VASCO acquires Dealflo
Backstreet Boys may not care who you are – where you’re from or what you did – but that’s a seriously bad attitude in the world of business. Unless you’re willing to open up yourself for fraud, then ensuring potential partners and customers are who they say they are is paramount. Given the importance of identity verification, it’s hardly surprising a startup that helps companies with this has been acquired for £41m.
London-based Dealflo was founded in 2009 and provides a platform that incorporates everything from advanced multi-country ID verification and bank checks to solutions preventing impersonation and fraud. The company was bought on Wednesday May 30 by VASCO Data Security, the international powerhouse that provides a similar service.
It’s always encouraging to see our local girls and boys make a successful exit.
WH Smith revealed as the worst shop on the high street
Bad customer service and outdated business models could sum up a lot of high street retailers. But, as we learned this week, some shopkeepers are worse than others.
In its annual ranking, Which?, the review publication, revealed Britain’s best and worst shops. Having surveyed over 10,000 people, the researchers ranked WH Smith as having the worst stores in the UK. The chain has been in the bottom two for the past eight years.
While Which? didn’t say exactly what was so particularly bad with WH Smith, the shops are constantly made fun of on Twitter for its lack of tidiness, laughable displays and poor customer service.
Nevertheless, some clues on what makes a great store could be find among the top three stores – Lush, Savers and Smyths Toys. Which? noted that they all offered “sensory experiences, [that] help with choosing products or first-class customer service,” all of which online shopping can’t provide in the same way at the moment.
So while it’s easy to make fun of WH Smith, looking at the top three may actually offer insights into how the high street can be saved. And given several huge retailers have recently pulled back their operations, it’s safe to say they need all the help they can get.
Barclays launches £500m fund to boost northern SMEs
When George Osborne, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the Northern Powerhouse project in 2014, it was welcomed by many SME leaders. They recognised that northern England had long been underdeveloped when it came to the support of smaller companies.
Governments and investors have since followed suit by offering both guidance and investment to SMEs in the region. And this week Barclays announced that it would do even more by launching a new £500m growth fund for small and medium-sized businesses in the north of England. The fund will be used to invest in companies in the region to help them scale and create new jobs.
And you know us, we love to hear about small-business leaders being given a helping hand to grow their companies.
Management by Deadpool
The second cinematic outing of the merc with the mouth may have been out for just a few weeks but it’s already scored over $500m at the box office. While some may watch the flick for a healthy injection of chuckles, expletives and bad ass explosions, we urge you this week to enjoy it for the management lessons. Seriously. We’re not kidding.
Moneyfarm raised £40m in series B round
UK fintech startups are top of the line. No wonder then that Moneyfarm managed to raise a massive £40m series B round this week.
What to think about when stepping into the shoes of the founder
Grant Powell is the CEO of Central Working, the shared co-working space startup. However, he’s not the founder but actually took over to help the business scale. This week he shared his experience of stepping into the founder’s shoes and what you can learn from it.
Cybersecurity awareness training wanted
A new survey has revealed that workers use the same password across multiple accounts. This made us wonder how managers can prevent employees from being too lenient with their cyber safety.
Foodtech startup Mothive picked for new accelerator
While the UK is struggling with an obesity crisis, many other countries around the world are suffering from severe food shortages. That’s why it’s encouraging to see initiatives to support foodtech startups. For instance, this week Mothive, a startup assisting farmers with real-time agro-environmental data, was picked to take part of FoodTrack, the new startup food tech accelerator programme.
Bad onboarding experiences make workers leave
Ever had a candidate accept a job and then suddenly say they’ve got another job? Or have you seen new starters leave the company just months after they started? Then it may be time to brush up on your onboarding process. A study released this week revealed that a bad initial experience at a new job was one of the major reasons why workers leave an employer. So unless you want new starters to think your business is cream of the crap, then you better look into how to make workers feel more welcome.