In the loop: Cera Care’s fake review accusations, dropping retail sales and the government’s new AI deal

It’s not easy to keep up with the latest news when running a startup. Fortunately, we’ve collected a tasting menu of the most mouthwatering nibbles from this week. From why entrepreneurs fail at romance to how mobility scooters may impact employability

In the loop: Cera Care’s fake review accusations

UK healthcare startup Cera Care accused of posting fake online reviews

Having great online ratings can work wonders for a startup’s brand. But being caught writing those reviews yourself, well, let’s just say that might have the opposite effect.

That’s allegedly what Cera Care, the UK-based healthcare startup, has been doing, according to sources speaking with Bloomberg. Looking at 104 reviews on Trustpilot, the sources said many of these posts were put up by people connected to the company. A spokesperson replied that they took “any allegations of false reviews extremely seriously” and that the company will investigate any claims.

However, that’s hardly the only problem Cera Care is facing. The company is also accused of falsely claiming that it was partners with seven companies that it actually didn’t have a relationship with.

Whether or not these allegations are true, we can all agree that being accused of faking reviews and partnerships isn’t a good look.

Retail sales continued to disappoint in April

In what’s become a familiar refrain, retail sales again failed to thrill in the first half of April, according to new research from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

Having surveyed 100 businesses, the researchers found that while 31% had seen sales jump compared to the same period in 2017 on a year ago, 33% of retailers saw sales plummet. Dishearteningly, this gave a balance of -2%, which was a clear failure of the expectations in March that thought sales would on average jump by 16%.

Looking at potential reasons for the underwhelming results, CBI pointed towards tougher trading conditions, structural changes in the industry and the continued squeeze on household incomes.

With none of these factors predicted to improve anytime soon, it seems as if the challenges for retailers will continue much the same way over the next year.

Companies like Deepmind and Amazon join forces with government to boost AI

Artificial intelligence or AI is changing everything from financial services to healthcare. No wonder then that the government is committed to transforming Britain into an AI powerhouse with the new AI Sector Deal.

The deal is part of the UK’s digital strategy that aims to navigate the country safely through the fourth industrial revolution. It sees the government team up with major tech titans like Deepmind, Amazon and Element AI to provide about £1bn of funding to do things like enhancing the nation’s digital infrastructure, upskilling 8,000 computer science teachers and creating 200 doctoral studentships in AI between 2020 and 2021. Moreover, the government also plans to make it easier to recruit high-quality tech talent from abroad by doubling the number of Tier 1 visas to 2,000 a year.

It’s great to see the government take the future of tech so seriously.

Oracle acquired Grapeshot

It’s a bit ironic that just days after a CNN investigation revealed that hundreds of companies appeared alongside extremist videos on YouTube, Oracle, the computer company, acquired Grapeshot, the UK startup safeguarding brands online.

While the details of deal are scant, Techcrunch estimates that the purchase cost Oracle between $300m and $400m. Not a bad payday for the business that has raised $22.5m in total across five funding rounds.

Given the rise of fake news and online controversies like the one highlighted in the CNN report, it’s safe to say that the acquisition couldn’t have been more timely.

Two-thirds of SME owners don’t have time for romance

Launching a small business can be an amazingly liberating experience. However, as we reported this week, it can also be the kiss of death for entrepreneurs’ dating lives, with 65% of SME owners confessing to having no time for romantic endeavours or to exercise. While it’s great to see entrepreneurs give it all for their businesses, not taking care of their health can severely damage their brands, as we wrote back in January. So take matters of the heart seriously.

Check out Italy’s emerging startup sector

All roads may lead to Rome but for the longest time that didn’t include VC investment. In fact, when it came to startups, Italy was clearly underperforming. But as we reported this week, things are seemingly changing in the Mediterranean nation. The question is, will it be enough to catch up with the rest of Europe?

Revolut became a unicorn and Culture Trip raised $80m thanks to rounds this week

It’s been a great week for investment in UK startups. Not only did Culture Trip, the travel inspiration startup, announce an impressive $80m series B round this week but Revolut, the challenger bank, also acquired unicorn status by raising a smashing $250m series C. How’s that for a vote in confidence for UK startups’ potential?

Why entrepreneurs should mind the gender pay gap

With larger firms being forced to reveal their gender pay gap, we this week looked into why startups should take equal pay seriously from the get-go. Believe us, it will pay dividends as they grow.

The startups using AI to improve medicine

From accurately diagnosing patients by listening to the way they talk to predicting rehabilitation times, AI is transforming healthcare around the world. That’s why we checked in with some of the startups in the field to see how they’re doing it and what their challenges are.

Mobility scooter users think their disability undermines their professional image

Despite it being illegal to discriminate workers for their disabilities, we reported this week that almost half of mobility scooter users fear that the vehicle damages their image and about a quarter thinks it negatively affects their employability.

Eric Johansson
Eric Johansson

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