In the loop: High street turmoil, a £30m pot for self-driven cars and the value of women-led startups

This week the skies in Britain’s retail sector may have been grey and dull but Amazon is on a hiring spree, the race towards autonomous vehicles is speeding up and so is the fire in women to take the lead in business

In the loop: High street turmoil

Delivery robot startup Starship Technologies banks $25m

From keeping the house clean to doing laundry, we can give more time to tasks that involve our intellectual faculties thanks to robots. And as robotics is becoming better understood, the amount of robotics startups are bound to scale and secure more investment.
Starship Technologies, the automotive robotic startup, is no exception. On Thursday June 7 the 2014-founded firm announced an additional $25m in seed funding in a boon for the autonomous technology sector. The round includes investments from experienced business moguls like Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb, Jaan Tallinn, founding engineer of Skype, and Gary Barber, former chairman and CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Commenting on future plans, Janus Friis, co-founder of Starship said the scaleup will start deployment of robots globally, especially in university campuses in the US and the UK. The company has an additional benefit as it will be using the expertise of former Airbnb executive Lex Bayer, the newly named CEO of Starship. After Just Eat has been seen rolling up the streets with robots by Starship, robotic delivery cars are no more the technology of tomorrow but rather today.

Self-driven vehicles to revolutionise transport in the UK

Being a pro at parallel parking has never been an easy skill to develop – or having to park without human intervention. But the UK’s vehicles post-Brexit will change lanes as driverless cars will be on British roads by 2021 following UK government plans to allot £30m of investment in automative businesses to make self-parking cars a reality.

Companies which are testing and developing self-driven parking have been invited by the government to pitch their idea and bag an initial investment of £5m. This project will be funded through Meridian, the government’s branch aiming to develop the autonomous vehicle sector in the UK.
As robots have started delivering pizza and Amazon parcels already, self-driven cars are not a surprise.

In the midst of cancelled trains throughout UK and traffic woes, a self-driven car would be a blessing, giving Brits one less subject to complain about. With the way technology is progressing, the next decade might even see flying cars.

E-commerce saves the day as the high street crash continues

It’s the end of an era for the UK high street. From the past few months, established stores such as Marks and Spencer and Maplin have been closing down.

But the increasing list of casualties has had a new addition. House of Fraser announced the closure of 31 stores out of the 59 which will see 6,000 job cuts. This includes its huge flagship store on Oxford Street.  The “brutal” closures are part of a Company Voluntary Arrangement, which will be approved by creditors on June 22. As part of the process, House of Fraser also plans to relocate its Baker Street head office and Granite House office in Glasgow to new locations to cut costs.

Elsewhere, Poundworld, the discount retailer which has 5,000 staff members, filed a notice to appoint an administrator and is looking for potential buyers.

Although the high street continues to witness disaster, the online sector might be the reason the demand is redirected. Amazon announced the addition of 2,500 new jobs in the next six months increasing its workforce to 27,500 by the end of the year. Is e-commerce the hero or villain of retail?

More women should take the lead in startups

While women are struggling to break the glass ceiling thanks to comments made by certain company heads on one hand, research from The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, and MassChallenge, the startup accelerator, shone light on the fact that women-led startups earn double compared to those by men.

The research analysed 350 alumni companies that took part in the MassChallenge programme and showed that even though female entrepreneurs receive less VC funding, companies under the helm of a woman gave the return of 78¢ for every $1 of funding as opposed to 31¢ by those founded by men. This resulted in investors being able to earn an additional $85m in a span of five years.

The gender pay gap has been all over the headlines this year and, with the challenges in the business sector as well, it seems like women do have it harder in spite of them being able to make more realistic assumptions than men. The Qatar chief along with the CEOs of FTSE 350 companies might beg to differ on this one – but the numbers speak for themselves.

Kate Spade tragedy stirs mental health issue

After the suicide of the fashion designer, companies must give foremost attention to employee health and wellbeing to avoid detrimental consequences.

Save your store from closing

With the high street in a downward spiral, learn how incorporating artificial intelligence can integrate offline and online experiences for your customer.

Worst excuses for excluding women

CEOs give the most outrageous excuses of why women will not “fit in” the boardroom such as the “issues covered are extremely complex”.

Companies don’t get the vote of confidence by Brits

Further to the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, updated privacy policies and unending emails for data permission from users, very few people trust companies to use their personal information discreetly.

Female entrepreneurs outraged after comments by Qatar chief

After the Qatar Airlines chief said his “job can only be done by a man as it’s a challenging position,” businesswomen reacted to the outdated attitude that company heads and senior executives hold.

Venture capitalists investing in international scaleups

White Star Capital, the VC firm, opens a $180m fund for businesses across the Atlantic after the past few months witnessing a dip.


Varsha Saraogi
Varsha Saraogi

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