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Steve's ITK: Time out

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Steve's ITK

August 14 · Issue #47 · View online
Steve's In The Know: Everything I published recently, commentary you won't find elsewhere, write-ups of events I attended or spoke at, and industry rumours.

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Opening thought: Time out
I’m going to keep this newsletter fairly short as this is my last task before I’m on leave for 2 weeks. Before you ask where I’m going, I’m not actually leaving London!
In fact, chalk this up as more of a ‘staycation,’ although I’m not even sure if it qualifies as that: I’ll mainly be working every day on a music project I’m writing and producing with friends. The album has got to the point where it needs my undivided attention for more than a weekend here and there, so that’s the plan!
However, there’s been plenty of decent news since the last edition of 'Steve’s ITK’ and a few pieces I wrote that I wanted highlight in particular.
Tractable
The first is an interview with Tractable co-founder and CEO Alexandre Dalyac, as part of the London startup’s $20 million Series B led by U.S. venture capital firm Insight Venture Partners.
Tractable are a graduate of company builder Entrepreneur First, and is applying artificial intelligence to accident and disaster recovery. The company is using deep learning to automate visual damage appraisal and speed up insurance payouts and access to other types of financial aid.
The reason I like the piece is two-fold: Dalyac is – or claimed to be – almost entirely un-media trained and therefore gave a very raw and candid interview (and his pitch was one of the most exuberant I’ve heard in recent years!). But better still, he actually had something to say beyond just publicising Tractable’s raise.
This included strong views on AI startups selling out too early, and the need for AI to find real-world use that is commercially viable. If that doesn’t happen, he believes it won’t just be Tractable that suffers, but the continued belief and investment in AI as a whole. Otherwise we could be facing another so-called 'AI winter’.
“Sounds so Alex, infectious enthusiasm,” is how one of Tractable’s early investors summed up the article.
Hinge Health
The second piece I want to draw your attention to is a funding story I did on Hinge Health, a now US company co-founded by Daniel Perez (who is a regular reader of ITK).
I’ve known Perez for quite a few years, having covered his first startup in 2012 when he was just out of Oxford University. Back then he was about as wet behind the ears as a founder can be and kinda pushy too. He was also the first ever founder to make the effort to visit me in my home neighbourhood of Tottenham, outside of London’s main tech hotspots, even when he didn’t have anything to pitch, which I really appreciated.
Nowadays, he is doing much more interesting work.
Hinge Health is best-described as a tech-enabled platform to treat musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders — things like knee pain, shoulder pain, or back pain — and is also backed by Insight Venture Partners, along with London’s Atomico.
The company combines wearable sensors, an app, and health coaching to remotely deliver physical therapy and behavioural health for chronic conditions. The basic premise is that there is plenty of existing research to show how best to treat MSK disorders, but existing healthcare systems don’t do a very good job at delivering best practice, either because of cost and the way it is funded or for other systemic reasons. The result is an over tendency to fall back on the use of opioid-based painkillers or surgery.
Hinge’s business model is interesting, too. The startup charges per patient signed up to the program and sells into self-insured employers and health plans, including to large tech companies, with the pitch being that its platform can significantly reduce medical costs associated with chronic MSK conditions. And it’s working.
I keep asking Perez when he is going to bring Hinge Health to the UK’s NHS (he’s a big fan of our health system), especially since the startup maintains a small London office. He says it is definitely something he’d like to do.
Bonus: When I injured my neck/shoulder earlier in the year, the Hinge Health founder was the first to drop me a note after reading about the incident in ITK (#40). “You know I run an musculoskeletal company!” he emailed, before advising that I stay moving. “Movement is medicine, even if it hurts,” apparently. To be fair, he also said I really should see a doctor; advice I readily ignored.
Things I wrote
SenSat, a UK startup that uses visual and spatial data to ‘simulate reality’, picks up $4.5M seed
Lyvly scores $4.6M for its members-based shared living and rental platform
Hinge Health raises $26M Series B to tackle musculoskeletal pain
Berlin’s Taxfix, a mobile assistant for filing your taxes, picks up $13M led by Valar Ventures
MessageBird offers single API for customer comms across WhatsApp, WeChat, Messenger and more
Handiscover, the startup that helps you find accessible travel accommodation, raises $700K
Shell Ventures backs UK car repair marketplace WhoCanFixMyCar
Flux partners with fast food merchant itsu for itemised paperless receipts
Challenger bank Monzo launches accounts for 16-18 year olds
Insurance app Lemonade looks set to drop lawsuit against Germany’s Wefox
Teamleader, the SaaS platform to help SMEs go digital, scores $22M Series C
Shedul, the booking platform for salons and spas, picks up $5M investment
Tractable is applying AI to accident and disaster appraisal
Feature.fm offers free “pre-save” tool for upcoming releases on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer
Grover raises €37M Series A to offer latest tech products as a subscription
Snap40 raises $8M for its AI-powered patient monitoring solution
Industrial robots startup Gideon Brothers raises $765K led by TransferWise co-founder
Festicket integrates with Spotify to help you discover festivals you’ll like
Sweden’s Engaging Care raises $800,000 for its digital healthcare SaaS
With eyes on Europe, Open Banking API provider TrueLayer raises $7.5M
Mention Me, the referral marketing platform, raises $7M led by Eight Roads Ventures
Proportunity offers ‘help to buy’ loans based on predicting future house prices
Closing thought: Making things
Arturia Microbrute (pre-chop)
Arturia Microbrute (pre-chop)
As I alluded to above, I don’t really do vacations. If I was to go somewhere sunny and scenic, perhaps with a couple of books to read and good music to listen to, I’d only be able to relax for a week at most before I’d get inspired and then be driven mad with the need to be creative and/or start making things again. Dead time is creative time.
On that note, this weekend a friend and I executed a mod we’d planned to make to an analogue synth I own. The problem we wanted to solve was I found the controls at the back hard to reach because of my disability/seating position. We also wanted the device to take up less desk space.
We achieved both by… chopping off the very limited keyboard and then making a simple cover out of foam board. It came out pretty nice.
Until next time, stay creative,
Steve
The Arturia Microbrute 'chop'
The Arturia Microbrute 'chop'
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