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September 21, 2018
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Kegel trainer startup Elvie is launching a smaller, smarter, hands-free breast pump

in Amazon.com/berlin/Bluetooth/breast pump/breastfeeding/connected device/Delhi/Elvie/Gadgets/Hardware/Health/India/Milk/Politics/Pumps/smart technology/smartphone/Startups/Tania Boler/TC/Technology/United Kingdom/United States/Wearables/writer by

Elvie, a Berlin-based startup known best for its connected Kegel trainer is jumping into the breast pump business with a new $480 hands-free system you can slip into your bra.

Even with all the innovation in baby gear, breast pumps have mostly sucked (pun intended) for new moms for the past half a century. My first experience with a pump required me to stay near a wall socket and hunch over for a good twenty to thirty minutes for fear the milk collected might spill all over the place (which it did anyway, frequently). It was awful!

Next I tried the Willow Pump, an egg-shaped, connected pump meant to liberate women everywhere with its small and mobile design. It received glowing reviews, though my experience with it was less than stellar.

The proprietary bags were hard to fit in the device, filled up with air, cost 50 cents each (on top of the $500 pump that insurance did not cover), wasted many a golden drop of precious milk in the transfer and I had to reconfigure placement several times before it would start working. So I’ve been tentatively excited about the announcement of Elvie’s new cordless (and silent??) double breast pump.

Displayed: a single Elive pump with accompanying app.

Elvie tells TechCrunch its aim all along has been to make health tech for women and that it has been working on this pump for the past three years.

The Elvie Pump is a cordless, hands-free, closed system, rechargeable electric pump designed by former Dyson engineers. It can hold up to 5 oz from each breast in a single use.

It’s most obvious and direct competition is the Willow pump, another “wearable” pump moms can put right in their bra and walk around in, hands free. However, unlike the Willow, Elvie’s pump does not need proprietary bags. You just pump right into the device and the pump’s smartphone app will tell you when each side is full.

It’s also half the size and weight of a Willow and saves every precious drop it can by pumping right into the attached bottle so you just pump and feed (no more donut-shaped bags you have to cut open and awkwardly pour into a bottle).

On top of that, Elvie claims this pump is silent. No more loud suction noise off and on while trying to pump in a quiet room in the office or elsewhere. It’s small, easy to carry around and you can wear it under your clothes without it making a peep! While the Willow pump claims to be quiet — and it is, compared to other systems –you can still very much hear it while you are pumping.

Elvie’s connected breast pump app

All of these features sound fantastic to this new (and currently pumping) mom. I remember in the early days of my baby’s life wanting to go places but feeling stuck. I was chained to not just all the baby gear, hormonal shifts and worries about my newborn but to the pump and feed schedule itself, which made it next to impossible to leave the house for the first few months.

My baby was one of those “gourmet eaters” who just nursed and nursed all day. There were days I couldn’t leave the bed! Having a silent, no mess, hands-free device that fit right in my bra would have made a world of difference.

However, I mentioned the word “tentatively” above as I have not had a chance to do a hands-on review of Elvie’s pump. The Willow pump also seemed to hold a lot of promise early on, yet left me disappointed.

To be fair, the company’s customer service team was top-notch and did try to address my concerns. I even went through two “coaching” sessions but in the end it seemed the blame was put on me for not getting their device to work correctly. That’s a bad user experience if you are blaming others for your design flaws, especially new and struggling moms.

Both companies are founded by women and make products for women — and it’s about time. But it seems as if Elvie has taken note of the good and bad in their competitors and had time to improve upon it — and that’s what has me excited.

As my fellow TechCrunch writer Natasha put it in her initial review of Elvie as a company, “It’s not hyperbole to say Elvie is a new breed of connected device. It’s indicative of the lack of smart technology specifically — and intelligently — addressing women.”

So why the pump? “We recognized the opportunity [in the market] was smarter tech for women,” Boler told TechCrunch on her company’s move into the breast pump space. “Our aim is to transform the way women think and feel about themselves by providing the tools to address the issues that matter most to them, and Elvie Pump does just that.”

The Elvie Pump comes in three sizes and shapes to fit the majority of breasts and, in case you want to check your latch or pump volume, also has transparent nipple shields with markings to help guide the nipple to the right spot.

The app connects to each device via Bluetooth and tracks your production, detects let down, will pause when full and is equipped to pump in seven different modes.

The pump retails for $480 and is currently available in the U.K. However, those in the U.S. will have to wait till closer to the end of the year to get their hands on one. According to the company, It will be available on Elvie.com and Amazon.com, as well in select physical retail stores nationally later this year, pending FDA approval.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Scaling startups are setting up secondary hubs in these cities

in Amazon.com/America/apttus/austin/boston/coinbase/Column/crowdstrike/Delhi/Docker/GitHub/India/New York/north carolina/Orlando/Politics/Portland/raleigh/San Francisco/Silicon Valley/Startups/TC/Tennessee/texas/United States by

America’s mayors have spent the past nine months tripping over each other to curry favor with Amazon.com in its high-profile search for a second headquarters.

More quietly, however, a similar story has been playing out in startup-land. Many of the most valuable venture-backed companies are venturing outside their high-cost headquarters and setting up secondary hubs in smaller cities.

Where are they going? Nashville is pretty popular. So is Phoenix. Portland and Raleigh also are seeing some jobs. A number of companies also have a high number of remote offerings, seeking candidates with coveted skills who don’t want to relocate.

Those are some of the findings from a Crunchbase News analysis of the geographic hiring practices of U.S. unicorns. Since most of these companies are based in high-cost locations, like the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston and New York, we were looking to see if there is a pattern of setting up offices in smaller, cheaper cities. (For more on survey technique, see Methodology section below.)

Here is a look at some of the hotspots.

Nashville

One surprise finding was the prominence of Nashville among secondary locations for startup offices.

We found at least four unicorns scaling up Nashville offices, plus another three with growing operations in or around other Tennessee cities. Here are some of the Tennessee-loving startups:

When we referred to Nashville’s popularity with unicorns as surprising, that was largely because the city isn’t known as a major hub for tech startups or venture funding. That said, it has a lot of attributes that make for a practical and desirable location for a secondary office.

Nashville’s attractions include high quality of life ratings, a growing population and economy, mild climate and lots of live music. Home prices and overall cost of living are also still far below Silicon Valley and New York, even though the Nashville real estate market has been on a tear for the past several years. An added perk for workers: Tennessee has no income tax on wages.

Phoenix

Phoenix is another popular pick for startup offices, particularly West Coast companies seeking a lower-cost hub for customer service and other operations that require a large staff.

In the chart below, we look at five unicorns with significant staffing in the desert city:

 

Affordability, ease of expansion and a large employable population look like big factors in Phoenix’s appeal. Homes and overall cost of living are a lot cheaper than the big coastal cities. And there’s plenty of room to sprawl.

One article about a new office opening also cited low job turnover rates as an attractive Phoenix-area attribute, which is an interesting notion. Startup hubs like San Francisco and New York see a lot of job-hopping, particularly for people with in-demand skill sets. Scaling companies may be looking for people who measure their job tenure in years rather than months.

Those aren’t the only places

Nashville and Phoenix aren’t the only hotspots for unicorns setting up secondary offices. Many other cities are also seeing some scaling startup activity.

Let’s start with North Carolina. The Research Triangle region is known for having a lot of STEM grads, so it makes sense that deep tech companies headquartered elsewhere might still want a local base. One such company is cybersecurity unicorn Tanium, which has a lot of technical job openings in the area. Another is Docker, developer of software containerization technology, which has open positions in Raleigh.

The Orlando metro area stood out mostly due to Robinhood, the zero-fee stock and crypto trading platform that recently hit the $5 billion valuation mark. The Silicon Valley-based company has a significant number of open positions in Lake Mary, an Orlando suburb, including HR and compliance jobs.

Portland, meanwhile, just drew another crypto-loving unicorn, digital currency transaction platform Coinbase. The San Francisco-based company recently opened an office in the Oregon city and is currently in hiring mode.

Anywhere with a screen

But you don’t have to be anywhere in particular to score jobs at many fast-growing startups. A lot of unicorns have a high number of remote positions, including specialized technical roles that may be hard to fill locally.

GitHub, which makes tools developers can use to collaborate remotely on projects, does a particularly good job of practicing what it codes. A notable number of engineering jobs open at the San Francisco-based company are available to remote workers, and other departments also have some openings for telecommuters.

Others with a smattering of remote openings include Silicon Valley-based cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike, enterprise software developer Apttus and also Docker.

Not everyone is doing it

Of course, not every unicorn is opening large secondary offices. Many prefer to keep staff closer to home base, seeking to lure employees with chic workplaces and lavish perks. Other companies find that when they do expand, it makes strategic sense to go to another high-cost location.

Still, the secondary hub phenomenon may offer a partial antidote to complaints that a few regions are hogging too much of the venture capital pie. While unicorns still overwhelmingly headquarter in a handful of cities, at least they’re spreading their wings and providing more jobs in other places, too.

Methodology

For this analysis, we were looking at U.S. unicorns with secondary offices in other North American cities. We began with a list of 125 U.S.-based companies and looked at open positions advertised on their websites, focusing on job location.

We excluded job offerings related to representing a local market. For instance, a San Francisco company seeking a sales rep in Chicago to sell to Chicago customers doesn’t count. Instead, we looked for openings for team members handling core operations, including engineering, finances and company-wide customer support. We also excluded secondary offices outside of North America.

Additionally, we were looking principally for companies expanding into lower-cost areas. In many cases, we did see companies strategically adding staff in other high-cost locations, such as New York and Silicon Valley.

A final note pertains to Austin, Texas. We did see several unicorns based elsewhere with job openings in Austin. However, we did not include the city in the sections above because Austin, although a lower-cost location than Silicon Valley, may also be characterized as a large, mature technology and startup hub in its own right.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Touchscreen Google Home device evidence spied in official app code

in Amazon Echo/Amazon.com/Android/computing/Delhi/Gadgets/Google/google home/google search/India/Politics/smart speakers/smartphones/YouTube by

There’s now more evidence Google is testing a touchscreen Home device. AndroidPolice points to sections of code of the latest Google app that refers to a device that sports a new on-screen interface. The APK teardown of 7.14.15 beta version revealed a long list of on-screen menus and functions that are utilized by a device with the code-name of Quartz. These abilities include YouTube playback — a function the Amazon Echo Show recently lost.

In September we reported Google was working on a Google Home device that sported a touchscreen interface. Two sources confirmed the device has been internally codenamed “Manhattan” and will have a similar screen size to the 7-inch Echo Show. One source received info directly from a Google employee. Both sources say the device will offer YouTube, Google Assistant, Google Photos and video calling. It will also act as a smart hub that can control Nest and other smart home devices.

This report by AndroidPolice seemingly confirms many of those details. The code review revealed multiple on-display features, interactive timers, weather forecasts with 32 different icons, YouTube video playback and a basic web browser, along with photo galleries and Google Maps with business listings.

At this point Google has yet to confirm the existence of the device yet it makes sense Google is at least toying with the idea and internally testing such a device. Companies have long tried to build a central information hub of sorts with the Amazon Echo Show being the latest such device. Google is clearly following the Amazon Echo line step for step with the next obvious move being an Echo Show clone.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Sonos announces Alexa-controlled wireless speakers

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Alexa is officially the first voice assistant to be available on Sonos, a move that turns the wireless speaker product into a voice-controlled sound system.

Originally https://techcrunch.com/2016/08/30/sonos-partners-with-amazon-spotify-for-enhanced-music-control/announced a year ago, Sonos has been working “day and night” with Amazon to implement the features.

Alexa on Sonos will be available as a beta software update today. You will be able to control your speakers using Amazon Alexa-compatible devices including the Echo and the Dot.

The update will be available in the US, UK, and Germany.

Sonos CEO Patrick Spence calls this new platform the “Sonic Internet” and complained of “default speakers” in entry-level devices that didn’t work seamlessly with Alexa and each other.

“Music is one of the most used features with Alexa,” said Tom Taylor, SVP, Amazon Alexa, in New York today. The new Sonos integration allows you to ask Alexa to “play the new Killer’s song” and Alexa will find it.

Sonos now supports 80 music services and works together with Spotify and now Alexa. Further, the company is partnering with home CE providers like Crestron, Logitech, and Smartthings to add different interaction elements to the Sonos experience. In 2018 the company plans to open the Sonos API to developers and today they also announced a “Works With Sonos” badge to allow outside vendors to connect with the in-home devices.

The developer portal goes live today.

Sonos now supports AirPlay 2 which will allow you to send sound from your iOS device to your speakers. This implementation will also let you control your Sonos with Siri. This feature will launch next year. Today also marks the launch of a new Sonos app with an improved interface.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Amazon just launched 6 new gadgets and none was over $150

in amazon echo 2017/Amazon.com/Apple/computing/Delhi/e-commerce/Gadgets/India/iOS/iPhone/Politics/publishing by

In the year of the $1000 iPhone Amazon just announced a scattering of new gadgets and none cost more than $150. Essentially, Amazon said “screws the margins” and are selling everything as cheap as possible. This race to the bottom is Amazon’s standard operating procedure. The company did it with Kindles e-readers and again with Kindle Fire tablets. The company releases a proof of concept and lets the market respond. If the response is favorable, Amazon releases the Kraken on the market.

Amazon announced today the quirky Echo Buttons that cost $20 a pair, the $35 Echo Connect landline thing and a $70 Fire TV capable of 4K. And then there’s the swanky $99 cloth-covered Echo, adorable $130 Echo Spot alarm clock and the $150 Echo Plus, which sports all the goods from the original Echo plus a smarthome hub and comes with a Philips Hue bulb.

There’s even a talking Big Mouth Billy Bass. No word on its price, though.

If that’s not cheap enough, many of the products are available through bundles that pair an Echo with a Fire TV model so owners can experience smart home commands right out of the box.

So far the strategy worked with the Kindle and Kindle Fire tablets. In both cases, after the market liked the original model, Amazon slashed the hardware margins and flooded the market with quality hardware with MSRPs dramatically under the competition. In this most recent example, the Echo had a commanding hold on its market much like the Kindle did years ago. Amazon, following its known strategy, just sucked much of the air out of the in-home assistant market. The breadth of Amazon’s inexpensive offering is impressive.

Amazon now sells Echo products for as low as $20 and bundled a Fire TV Stick with an Echo Dot for $60. Said another way, a person could get three Fire TV Sticks and 3 Echo Dots for the price of one Apple TV 4K. If 4K is needed on the Fire TV, Amazon has a bundle for that, too, and a person could purchase two bundles of Fire TV 4K and Echo Dots for $20 less than an Apple TV 4K.

At the top of the line is the $199 Echo Look and $229 Echo Show. Both were announced earlier this year but round out a huge product line. There are now 8 different types of Amazon Echos available for purchase.

This bevy of Amazon products were announced at a pivotal time. Rumor has it Google is about to announce updates to its Google Home line including an Echo Dot-like smaller Google Home. Google was already playing catch-up and now it’s nearly inconceivable Google or Apple will be able to catch Amazon.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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