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Now is the best time ever to start a business, thanks to new technology

Posted by Julio Ferreira on

This is the greatest time ever to be in business for yourself.

No, not the third best time, or even the second. It is THE greatest time to be an entrepreneur, ever.

And I can confidently say that without hyperbole for a variety of reasons. Want to start a one-person business? Great, you can. Want to start a business on a shoestring? Easy peasy. Want to be small but grow big? Got you covered.

The main reason for this is that technology has transformed the playing field. Today, any business can be small but look big, act big, and make big bucks.

I have recently had the privilege of getting sneak peeks and previews of some of the top tools technology companies have been developing to make the business of small business better, and they are pretty amazing.

Let’s start small, with a one-person business and the idea of freelancing. If it seems that everyone has a side-hustle these days, that’s because it is essentially true, and a main reason is that technology has made finding and getting gigs easier than ever.

UpWork for instance is a fantastic online platform where freelancers can bid on projects. Recently, UpWork published its annual Freelancing in America survey and that report exemplifies what I am talking about:

In the past four years alone, the number of freelancers who have made solopreneurship their full-time gig has jumped from 17% to 28%. Why? Among other reasons, not only do technology and platforms like UpWork make finding gigs much easier, but people love it – 71% said they would not leave freelancing for a job “for any amount of money.” Wow.

What if you need help running your business? Then I would say you should check out one of the latest online dashboards on the market.

Want to return that wedding gown?:Wedding dress chain David's Bridal wants to remake itself after bankruptcy with 'real brides,' easier returns

One of my favorites is made by Keap (formerly Infusionsoft.) This all-in-one tool helps small businesses all along the sales cycle: From marketing and acquiring new leads to tracking those leads to managing staff to invoicing clients.

What’s even better about the Keap CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is that it automates the entire sales process, freeing you up to do other things. The software automatically handles follow-up, updates client records, and gets you paid.

What if what you are just looking to start a business?

Consider the latest from Yahoo Small Business and their new tool called Business Maker. A few weeks ago, I was in Chicago and was given a demonstration of it by Kush Shrivastava, the managing director of Yahoo Small Business. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The dashboard easily guides you through the startup process, as Yahoo has teamed up with an array of partners like PayPal, Symantec and Legal Inc.,to help you get going.

This intuitive one-stop-shop walks you through the steps needed to start your business and then seamlessly offers the tools and partners needed to take you to the next level. And maybe best of all, it is designed to scale and grow with your business.

Finally, what if you need help with your website and social? While many of the tools and platforms above certainly can help with this, I must make special mention of the latest from GoDaddy.

Called Websites + Marketing, it is the "+" that really stands out. There are plenty of sites out there that will help you build a business website, but what was impressive about the GoDaddy option was that it integrates social and marketing into the process.

Being tech-savvy brings perks:Some apps give discounts and let you skip the line. But is that really fair?

As explained to me by GoDaddy’s celebrity spokeswoman Ayesha Curry, the AI-powered InSight tool helps you create a customized action plan based on your individual business and market needs. With this dashboard, you can manage, all in one place, your site, your social media, your email campaigns, pay-per-click, everything.

So yes, it is indeed the greatest time ever to be an entrepreneur.

 

Read more

Now is the best time ever to start a business, thanks to new technology

Posted by Julio Ferreira on

This is the greatest time ever to be in business for yourself.

No, not the third best time, or even the second. It is THE greatest time to be an entrepreneur, ever.

And I can confidently say that without hyperbole for a variety of reasons. Want to start a one-person business? Great, you can. Want to start a business on a shoestring? Easy peasy. Want to be small but grow big? Got you covered.

The main reason for this is that technology has transformed the playing field. Today, any business can be small but look big, act big, and make big bucks.

I have recently had the privilege of getting sneak peeks and previews of some of the top tools technology companies have been developing to make the business of small business better, and they are pretty amazing.

Let’s start small, with a one-person business and the idea of freelancing. If it seems that everyone has a side-hustle these days, that’s because it is essentially true, and a main reason is that technology has made finding and getting gigs easier than ever.

UpWork for instance is a fantastic online platform where freelancers can bid on projects. Recently, UpWork published its annual Freelancing in America survey and that report exemplifies what I am talking about:

In the past four years alone, the number of freelancers who have made solopreneurship their full-time gig has jumped from 17% to 28%. Why? Among other reasons, not only do technology and platforms like UpWork make finding gigs much easier, but people love it – 71% said they would not leave freelancing for a job “for any amount of money.” Wow.

What if you need help running your business? Then I would say you should check out one of the latest online dashboards on the market.

Want to return that wedding gown?:Wedding dress chain David's Bridal wants to remake itself after bankruptcy with 'real brides,' easier returns

One of my favorites is made by Keap (formerly Infusionsoft.) This all-in-one tool helps small businesses all along the sales cycle: From marketing and acquiring new leads to tracking those leads to managing staff to invoicing clients.

What’s even better about the Keap CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is that it automates the entire sales process, freeing you up to do other things. The software automatically handles follow-up, updates client records, and gets you paid.

What if what you are just looking to start a business?

Consider the latest from Yahoo Small Business and their new tool called Business Maker. A few weeks ago, I was in Chicago and was given a demonstration of it by Kush Shrivastava, the managing director of Yahoo Small Business. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The dashboard easily guides you through the startup process, as Yahoo has teamed up with an array of partners like PayPal, Symantec and Legal Inc.,to help you get going.

This intuitive one-stop-shop walks you through the steps needed to start your business and then seamlessly offers the tools and partners needed to take you to the next level. And maybe best of all, it is designed to scale and grow with your business.

Finally, what if you need help with your website and social? While many of the tools and platforms above certainly can help with this, I must make special mention of the latest from GoDaddy.

Called Websites + Marketing, it is the "+" that really stands out. There are plenty of sites out there that will help you build a business website, but what was impressive about the GoDaddy option was that it integrates social and marketing into the process.

Being tech-savvy brings perks:Some apps give discounts and let you skip the line. But is that really fair?

As explained to me by GoDaddy’s celebrity spokeswoman Ayesha Curry, the AI-powered InSight tool helps you create a customized action plan based on your individual business and market needs. With this dashboard, you can manage, all in one place, your site, your social media, your email campaigns, pay-per-click, everything.

So yes, it is indeed the greatest time ever to be an entrepreneur.

 

Read more


The Station: A new self-driving car startup, Inside Tesla’s V10 software, Lilium’s big round

Posted by Julio Ferreira on

If you haven’t heard, TechCrunch has officially launched a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and goods move from Point A to Point B — today and in the future — whether it’s by bike, bus, scooter, car, train, truck, flying car, robotaxi or rocket. Heck, maybe even via hyperloop.

Earlier this year, we piloted a weekly transportation newsletter. Now, we’re back with a new name and a format that will be delivered into your inbox every Saturday morning. We’re calling it The Station, your hub of all things transportation. I’m your host, senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec.

Portions of the newsletter will be published as an article on the main site after it has been emailed to subscribers (that’s what you’re reading now). To get everything, you have to sign up. And it’s free. To subscribe, go to our newsletters page and click on The Station.

This isn’t a solo effort. Expect analysis and insight from senior reporter Megan Rose Dickey, who has been covering micromobility. TechCrunch reporter Jake Bright will occasionally provide insight into electric motorcycles, racing and the startup scene in Africa. And then of course, there are other TechCrunch staffers who will weigh in from their stations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

A new autonomous vehicle company on the scene

Deeproute.ai is the newest company to receive a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Here is what we know so far. The Chinese startup just raised $50 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Fozun RZ Capital, the Beijing-based venture capital arm of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International. The company has research centers in Shenzhen, Beijing and Silicon Valley and is aiming to build a full self-driving stack that can handle Level 4 automation, a designation by the SAE that means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human intervention.

Deeproute.ai is also a supplier for China’s second-largest automaker Dongfeng Motor, according to TechNode. The startup plans to offer robotaxi services in partnership with Dongfeng Motor for the Military World Games in the city of Wuhan next month.

Snapshot: Tesla Smart Summon

Remember way back in September when Tesla started rolling out its V10 software update? The software release was highly anticipated in large part because it included Smart Summon, an autonomous parking feature that allows owners to use their app to summon their vehicles from a parking space.

We have some insight into the rollout, courtesy of TezLab, a Brooklyn-based startup that developed a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle. Tesla owners who download the app can track their efficiency, total trip miles and use it to control certain functions of the vehicle, such as locking and unlocking the doors, and heating and air conditioning. TezLab, which has 20,000 active users and logs more than 1 million events a day, has become a massive repository of Tesla data.

TezLab shared the data set below that shows the ebb and flow of Tesla’s software updates. The X axis shows the date (of every other bar) and a timestamp of midnight. (Because this is a screenshot, you can’t toggle over it to see the time.)

Read more

If you haven’t heard, TechCrunch has officially launched a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and goods move from Point A to Point B — today and in the future — whether it’s by bike, bus, scooter, car, train, truck, flying car, robotaxi or rocket. Heck, maybe even via hyperloop.

Earlier this year, we piloted a weekly transportation newsletter. Now, we’re back with a new name and a format that will be delivered into your inbox every Saturday morning. We’re calling it The Station, your hub of all things transportation. I’m your host, senior transportation reporter Kirsten Korosec.

Portions of the newsletter will be published as an article on the main site after it has been emailed to subscribers (that’s what you’re reading now). To get everything, you have to sign up. And it’s free. To subscribe, go to our newsletters page and click on The Station.

This isn’t a solo effort. Expect analysis and insight from senior reporter Megan Rose Dickey, who has been covering micromobility. TechCrunch reporter Jake Bright will occasionally provide insight into electric motorcycles, racing and the startup scene in Africa. And then of course, there are other TechCrunch staffers who will weigh in from their stations in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

A new autonomous vehicle company on the scene

Deeproute.ai is the newest company to receive a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Here is what we know so far. The Chinese startup just raised $50 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Fozun RZ Capital, the Beijing-based venture capital arm of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International. The company has research centers in Shenzhen, Beijing and Silicon Valley and is aiming to build a full self-driving stack that can handle Level 4 automation, a designation by the SAE that means the vehicle can handle all aspects of driving in certain conditions without human intervention.

Deeproute.ai is also a supplier for China’s second-largest automaker Dongfeng Motor, according to TechNode. The startup plans to offer robotaxi services in partnership with Dongfeng Motor for the Military World Games in the city of Wuhan next month.

Snapshot: Tesla Smart Summon

Remember way back in September when Tesla started rolling out its V10 software update? The software release was highly anticipated in large part because it included Smart Summon, an autonomous parking feature that allows owners to use their app to summon their vehicles from a parking space.

We have some insight into the rollout, courtesy of TezLab, a Brooklyn-based startup that developed a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle. Tesla owners who download the app can track their efficiency, total trip miles and use it to control certain functions of the vehicle, such as locking and unlocking the doors, and heating and air conditioning. TezLab, which has 20,000 active users and logs more than 1 million events a day, has become a massive repository of Tesla data.

TezLab shared the data set below that shows the ebb and flow of Tesla’s software updates. The X axis shows the date (of every other bar) and a timestamp of midnight. (Because this is a screenshot, you can’t toggle over it to see the time.)

Read more


Could These Wireless Earphones Be Better Than The Apple Originals? And At A Fraction Of The Price?

Posted by Julio Ferreira on

Here Are The Mind-Blowing Test Results!!

My job is testing and reporting on electronic gadgets. I’ve used almost every type of Bluetooth headphone that exist… and I know how important great sound is.

When everyone thinks of super high-quality wireless headphones, one company usually comes to mind, and that is Apple. Apple AirPods are the gold standard of wireless headphones. They sound fantastic, usually work flawlessly, and are simple to use.

What could be wrong with that?

Nothing. Apple makes great stuff. I’m a lifelong Apple fan, but to tell you the truth, ever since Steve Jobs passed, I believe that Apple has slowed down on the innovation and evolution of their products.

That morning, the box arrived with the brand-new PlayBeatz headphones for me to review. I unboxed them and was immediately impressed with the careful packaging.

I had seen lots of headphones, but these PlayBeatz had a quality look and feel. They were made of smooth, high quality composite plastic. They were carefully constructed. Finely joined seams and precision openings for the speakers. I was already impressed.

They felt good. I popped them in my ears to test out the fit.

They fit snugly, and even though I shook my head and practically turned upside down, they stayed in and did not fall out.

I was highly impressed. Almost all the headphones I had tested before were too big, ugly, looked weird, and fell out of my ears. The PlayBeatz on the other hand, looked great, were the right size, and fit securely in my ears.

 

Read more

Here Are The Mind-Blowing Test Results!!

My job is testing and reporting on electronic gadgets. I’ve used almost every type of Bluetooth headphone that exist… and I know how important great sound is.

When everyone thinks of super high-quality wireless headphones, one company usually comes to mind, and that is Apple. Apple AirPods are the gold standard of wireless headphones. They sound fantastic, usually work flawlessly, and are simple to use.

What could be wrong with that?

Nothing. Apple makes great stuff. I’m a lifelong Apple fan, but to tell you the truth, ever since Steve Jobs passed, I believe that Apple has slowed down on the innovation and evolution of their products.

That morning, the box arrived with the brand-new PlayBeatz headphones for me to review. I unboxed them and was immediately impressed with the careful packaging.

I had seen lots of headphones, but these PlayBeatz had a quality look and feel. They were made of smooth, high quality composite plastic. They were carefully constructed. Finely joined seams and precision openings for the speakers. I was already impressed.

They felt good. I popped them in my ears to test out the fit.

They fit snugly, and even though I shook my head and practically turned upside down, they stayed in and did not fall out.

I was highly impressed. Almost all the headphones I had tested before were too big, ugly, looked weird, and fell out of my ears. The PlayBeatz on the other hand, looked great, were the right size, and fit securely in my ears.

 

Read more