Archive | December, 2014

Online grocery shopping is the next big thing


Online grocery shopping is all about freedom. The speed of transaction offers us utmost convenience, saving us precious time and allowing us to pursue other things. According to market research company IBISWorld, global online grocery shopping will grow to $9.4 billion in 2017, accelerating from $6 billion in 2012. This promising forecast is the reason why big retail companies like Amazon, Walmart and Fresh Direct are all riding the wave and developing their own online grocery shopping services today. One startup that aims to disrupt the online grocery shopping space is Instacart. What makes Instacart different from the likes of Amazon and Walmart is it doesn’t have inventory, warehouses or fleets of trucks. Instead, the company uses existing grocery stores such as Costco, Berkeley Bowl and Whole Foods as its grocery partners. Orders are placed through Instacart’s mobile app or website and a personal shopper will have the groceries delivered to your home in an hour to three hours max. Its lean business model allows the company to expand in cities easily. The service is currently available in 15 cities in the US.

Recently, Instacart has raised $220 million at a rumoured valuation of $2 billion. You can read about the funding here.

‘Tis the Season for Gifting


In the collaborative economy, there’s a subset called the gifting economy, a mode of exchange where things are not sold but given. In simplest form, it’s the arrangement for the exchange of goods or services without expecting anything in the return. It’s a concept that’s slowly catching on. In the US, Philadelphia-based web designer Adrian Hoppel made news when he stopped charging his clients and instead began to operate within the “gift economy.” This means payments are based on mutual respect and trust: Adrian builds quality websites for his clients and they in return pay him an amount they believe is fair. Trust, not money, became the medium of exchange. UK-based model Lily Cohen set up a non-profit called, a website and app that ¬†encourage people to do things for others for free. The site urges people to post wishes of things they need help with and in exchange, offer what they can give. The goal is to create a community that encourages giving and receiving. Gifting may not fix the problems of capitalism but it may help build a sense of community, where wealth and services are shared, and good deeds are passed from one person to the next.

Crossword is now social


PuzzleSocial, the creator of the “Daily Celebrity Crossword,” a popular mobile games app with more than a million users in the U.S., has raised $3 million in a round led by KiwiTech. Unlike other mobile gaming startups that raise funds in order to create more hit apps, PuzzleSocial aims to invest and further grow its Daily Celebrity Crossword. According to the company, the Daily Celebrity Crossword app is currently the No. 1 grossing digital crossword app in the U.S. The game combines traditional crossword puzzle with social features that allow users to challenge other players to complete the daily puzzles. Content is also always fresh. The company has a team of more than 30 writers to make sure that there’s a new puzzle every single day. To keep their users engaged, the company makes certain that the content is always fun, easy to understand, and provides high quality pop culture entertainment. You can read about PuzzleSocial’s funding here.

The sharing economy boom


In today’s collaborative economy, anything can be shared. From rides to tools, from rooms to home-cooked meals, anything that is worth sharing is now being shared and the surprising thing is, the market is responding positively. Thanks to the recession, today, hundreds of people have realised the value of collaboration and relied on peer-to-peer services to earn or save extra money. Social media and mobile technology have enabled the sharing economy and helped turn startups like Uber and Airbnb into billion dollar businesses. The success of these companies has inspired many startups to aspire to be the next big thing. One of these companies is Rent the Runway. What makes Rent the Runway exceptional is it’s known for being reliable and for its mammoth collection of expensive designer clothes and fashion accessories. The New York-based company boasts that it rents as many as 65,000 dresses, 25,000 earrings, bracelets and necklaces every single day to more than five million members. A $3,000 designer gown can be rented for as low as $70 on the site. Some clothes can go as low as $30 per rental. With very affordable rates, how couldn’t Rent the Runway have a five million customer base? The company recently announced a $60 million round of Series D funding led by Technology Crossover Ventures, with participation from Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Advance Publications, Inc. The latest investment brings the company’s total funding to $114.4 million.