Self-care startup Shine raises $5 million Series A

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Shine, an early arrival in market now teeming with self-care apps and services, has closed on $ 5 million in Series A funding, the company announced today, alongside the milestone of hitting 2 million active users. The round was led by existing investor by Comcast Ventures with betaworks, Felix Capital and The New York Times also participating.

The investment comes roughly two years after Shine launched its free service, a messaging bot aimed at younger users that doles out life advice and positive reinforcement on a daily basis through SMS texts or Facebook’s Messenger.

At the time, the idea that self-help could be put into an app or bot-like format was still a relatively novel concept. But today, digital wellness has become far more common with apps for everything from meditation to self-help to talk therapy.

“We’re proud that we were part of the catalyst to make well-being as am industry something that is so much more top-of-mind. We really sensed where the world was going and we were ahead of it,” says co-founder Naomi Hirabayashi, who built Shine along with her former co-worker Marah Lidey. The founders had wanted to offer others something akin to the personal support system they had with each other, as close friends.

“Marah and I are both women of color, and we created this company from a very non-traditional background from an entrepreneurship standpoint – we didn’t go to business school,” Hirabayashi explains. “We saw there was something missing in the market because wellbeing companies didn’t really reach us – they didn’t speak to us. We didn’t see people that looked like us. We didn’t feel like the way they shared content sounded like how we spoke about the different wellbeing issues in our lives,” she says.

The company’s free messaging product, Shine Text, was the result of their frustrations with existing products. It tackles a timely theme every day in areas like confidence, productivity, mental health, happiness and more. And it isn’t just some sort of life-affirming text – Shine converses with you on the topic at hand using research-backed materials to help you better understand the information. It’s also presented in a style that makes Shine feel more like a friend chatting with you.

The service has grown to 2 million users across 189 countries, despite not being localized in other languages. 88 percent of users are under the age of 35, and 70 percent are female.

Shine attempted to generate revenue in the past with a life-coaching subscription, but users wanted to talk to a real person and the subscription was fairly steep at $ 15.99 per week. That product never emerged from testing, and the founders now refer to it as an “experiment.”

The company gave subscriptions another shot this past December, with the launch of a freemium (free with paid upgrades) app on iOS. The new app offers meditations, affirmations, and something called “Shine Stories.”

The meditations are short audio tracks voiced by influencers that help you with various challenges. There are quick hit meditations for recentering and relaxing, those where you can focus on handling a specific situation – like toxic friendships or online dating – and seven-day challenges that deal with a particular issue like burnout or productivity.

Affirmations are quick pep talks and Shine Stories are slightly longer – around five minutes-long, and also voiced by influencers.

“The biggest thing is that we want to meet the user where they are – and we know people are on the go,” says Hirabayashi. “You can expect a lot more to come in the future around how we combine this really exciting time that’s happening for audio consumption and the hunger that there is for audio content that’s motivational and makes you feel better.”

Asked specifically if the company was considering a voice-first app, like an Alexa skill, or perhaps a more traditional podcast, Hirabayashi said they weren’t yet sure, but didn’t plan on limiting the Shine Stories to a single platform indefinitely. But one thing they weren’t interested in doing in the near-term was introducing ads into Shine’s audio content.

The Shine app for iOS is a free download with some selection of its audio available to free users. Users can unlock the full library for $ 4.99 per month, billed as an annual subscription of $ 59.99, or $ 7.99 per month if paid monthly.

The founders declined to offer specifics on their conversions from free to paid members, but said it was “on par with industry standards.”

With the Series A now under its belt, Shine plans to double its 8-person team this year, launch the app on Android, continue to grow the business, including potentially launching new products.

Now the question is whether the millennials are actually so into self-care that they’ll pay. There are some signs that could be true – the top ten self-care apps pulled in $ 15 million last quarter, with meditation apps leading the way.

“We’re dominating the self-care routine of millennial women right now and we want to keep doing that,” Hirabayashi says.


Mobile – TechCrunch

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Hot metal: 3D metal printing set to shine in manufacturing

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Hot metal: 3D printing in metal manufacturing

For many companies, 3D printing isn’t just for creating prototypes in resin, but also for building fully functional working parts in metal, as Jessica Twentyman explains.

One of Europe’s largest 3D printing factories is set to open in the UK in September this year, thanks to a £27 million investment announced last week by German industrial group, Siemens.

Siemens UK plans to set up the specialist facility in Worcester, already home to its specialist additive manufacturing unit, Materials Solutions, in which it acquired a majority stake back in August 2016. The new facility will be a focal point for collaboration between Materials Solutions and Siemens UK’s Digital Factory smart manufacturing division.

“This significant investment underlines our belief that there is huge potential for innovation and growth within the additive manufacturing sector,” said Juergen Maier, Siemens UK chief executive. “It is also the next step towards achieving our ambition of pioneering the industrialisation of 3D printing, and demonstrates how we are leading the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

As part of the UK government’s plans for a new industrial strategy, Mr Maier recently led a review in which senior executives from British industry pledged to retrain one million workers in exchange for a state-backed national plan to promote the adoption of digital technologies – such as 3D printing – across the manufacturing sector.

Hot metal 3D printing metals manufacturing
Siemens UK’s new 3D printing facility in Worcester, set to open in September 2018.

Read more: Adding additive manufacturing to the smart factory set-up

Metal milestone

The Siemens UK announcement marks a major milestone in the uptake of 3D printing in metals by manufacturing businesses. 3D printing – or ‘additive manufacturing’ (AM) – is now widely used by companies in the sector for building prototypes in resin for design purposes, but it’s now increasingly possible to print parts in metals that are ready for use in industrial applications.

Siemens’ Materials Solutions business is a pioneer in the use of a technology called selective laser melting (SLM), which uses powerful lasers to melt metal alloys to build high-performance metal parts.

It has clients in sectors such as aviation, automotive, power generation, and motorsports, and has already notched up considerable success in 3D printing gas turbine blades. Siemens UK plans to increase its fleet of metal 3D printing machines from 15 to 50 over the next five years.

Other companies also have their eye on metal 3D printing, as several announcements during March demonstrated.

At Indian IT services company Wipro, chairman Azim Premji opened a new centre for the technology in Bengaluru for its additive manufacturing arm, Wipro3D. Last year, automaker Ford, led a $ 65 million investment round in metal 3D printer company Desktop Metal, a Burlington, Massachusetts start-up valued at more than $ 1 billion. And Additive Industries, a Dutch company that supplies metal 3D printers to the likes of Airbus, Alfa Romeo, and automotive/aerospace components company GKN, announced plans to open a UK development centre at an undisclosed location.

In Auburn, Alabama, GE Aviation will this year use 3D printing to produce more than 34,000 fuel nozzle injectors for what the company says is the fast-selling jet engine in commercial aviation history, the LEAP. The engine is made by CFM International, a 50/50 joint venture of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines of France. The 37-strong fleet of metal 3D printers at GE Aviation’s Auburn plant is expected to grow to 45 by the middle of this year in order to handle demand.

And there’s no sign that the uptake of metal 3D printing will cool off anytime soon. According to recent research from New York-based Profshare Market Research, additive manufacturing with metal powders is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent to reach $ 1.7 billion by 2025, up from around $ 365 million last year.

That’s good news for suppliers of metal 3D printers, which include 3D Systems, Arcam, Desktop Metal, EOS, Markforged, Renishaw, Sciaky, and Stratasys.

Read more: Analysis: Four smart factory trends to watch in 2018

Internet of Business says

While 3D printing has sometimes proved to be slow and frustrating for small-scale users, it was always clear that its long term potential lay in the smart production of engineering parts and other large-scale industrial applications. So it is exciting to witness the birth of a new industry at last.

In the future, ever more complex but precisely engineered innovations will be possible, and in the long run the smart money will be on the IP – the schematics for items, rather than the items themselves. In itself this will link through to other technologies, such as digital twins, and create a new type of manufacturing and supply chain ecosystem; one that is more personalised, localised, and automated (PAL).

Read more: Double vision: Why industrial companies are embracing digital twin technology

Read more: PAL value chains: how IoT transforms manufacturing and supply

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Galaxy S9 and S9+ May Shine Brightest as S6, S7 Replacement

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Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 and S9+ handsets claimed the spotlight on Thursday as the first reviews of the smartphones surfaced. The general consensus appears to be that these new models successfully built on past designs, yet fell short in numerous areas. The new phones are good — but anyone expecting revolutionary functionality may be disappointed. Those who upgraded to the Galaxy S8 and S8+ last year may not find impressive-enough changes to upgrade to the S9 and S9+, many reviewers suggested.
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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 VR kit needs software to make it shine

When Qualcomm announced its new Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR platform earlier this year, it threw around terms like "6 DoF SLAM" and "foveated rendering" as highlights. While it's easy to understand the benefits of these tracking and graphics improvement…
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Error tracking tools shine a light on just how crappy software really is

I love to learn about all the latest and greatest tech innovations alongside my work as a software developer at Raygun. But as I flick through these articles, something troubles me. While pushing forward with new software technology is great, we might not even have gotten the basics right yet. We’ll applaud Elon Musk for announcing interplanetary travel. We’ll marvel at the latest iPhone, or fantasize about getting into self-driving cars that whisk us away to our chosen destination. But at the same time, we struggle with the most simple problem — building software that just works. This morning I…

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NextLiFi teams with Monash Uni to shine light on Li-Fi potential

NextLiFi Monash Li-Fi

NextLifi, an Australian specialist in Li-Fi technology, has announced it will work with engineers at Monash University to create prototypes that use light rather than radio waves to transmit data.

Li-Fi data transfer, sometimes called visible light communication (VLC), is achieved by modulating LED-based lighting, on and off, at a very high rate – so fast, it is imperceptible to the human eye.

Since the visible light spectrum is 10,000 times larger than the radio frequency spectrum, Li-Fi is capable of data transfer speeds around 100 times greater than Wi-Fi and may have an important role to play in solving bandwidth congestion issues as more devices connect to the IoT.

In particular, Li-Fi holds out the promise of smart lighting that doesn’t just illuminate a space, but also provides its connectivity, too. Since light can’t turn corners or pass through walls, data transmitted will be limited to that space alone – but this, say its proponents, makes Li-Fi more secure than Wi-Fi.

Read more: Bosch employee canteen in Singapore gets benefit of IoT-controlled air con

Melbourne and Malaysia

Employees from NextLifi will be collaborating with researchers in the Monash Microwave, Antenna, RFID and Sensor Laboratory, based at the University’s campuses in Melbourne, Australia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and led by Dr Nemai Karmakar, an associate professor in electrical engineering.

“Through this international industry collaboration, we are expanding our research and commercialization horizons from microwave and millimeter wave technologies to the exciting domain of visible lightwaves, which has really strong potential to benefit the national economy,” he said.

At NextLifi, CEO Gary Mackenzie said he expects visible light communication market to grow “exponentially” in the next few years, “especially in the IoT sector due to its vast benefits, with low-cost, large-spectrum and security advantages.” He anticipates that the company’s first commercial Li-Fi applications will be used in industry within the next two years.”

Read more: Lighting manufacturers and IoT companies form new alliance

Birth of Li-Fi

This is still a very new technology. Li-Fi was first demonstrated back in 2011 by Professor Harald Haas, chair of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh, in a Ted Global talk, Wireless data from every light bulb. Haas is also chief scientific officer at PureLiFi, a spin-out company based on his pioneering research at Edinburgh.

According to a recent report from Transparency Market Research, the global Li-Fi market is set for “robust growth” between 2016 and 2024, fueled by demand from the healthcare and education sectors. “Since the technology involves visible light wavelengths and not radio waves, it is less likely to have negative effect on humand health,” says Transparency’s analysts. Leading companies in the sector, they say,  include Philips, LVX, PureLifi, GE and Oledcomm.

With its tie-up with Monash University, NextLiFi clearly aims to be among them.

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