AI-Fueled Startup Turns Disrupted Supply Chains Into Last Mile Opportunity

When Shamir Rahim, founder and CEO of VersaFleet, transformed his bio-medical startup into an AI-powered transportation management system, he never imagined being at the epicenter (in a good way) of a supply chain revolution during a worldwide pandemic. As anyone desperately searching for toilet paper discovered earlier this year, the last mile is the crucial link in every supply chain.

“We wanted to provide our customers with a command center view of last mile product delivery with cost and time savings,” said Shamir Rahim, founder and CEO of VersaFleet. “As our customers slowly open up again, VersaFleet is providing greater agility so they can quickly adjust logistics for maximum efficiency, whether people are out sick or returning to work, quarantines are lifted or imposed again, and operational hours shift at any time.”

Huge time savings improve customer experience 

Planners using VersaFleet’s SaaS-based cloud platform can dynamically schedule, dispatch, and track deliveries. Meantime, drivers send updates on completed deliveries in real-time using a mobile app. The algorithm also factors in data from orders connected through an ERP system like SAP S/4HANA.

“In a few clicks, planners can see which drivers are available, including their working hours and location preferences. They can select the most efficient route plan that uses the fewest vehicles traveling the least amount of distance for the highest number of items delivered,” said Rahim. “This reduces planning time from hours to minutes, saving valuable resources.”

Based in Singapore, VersaFleet serves customers primarily in Southeast Asia across many industries including consumer packaged goods, food manufacturing, white goods, casinos, and environmental services. One customer’s recent go-live actually coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Malaysia. It proved fortuitous for the global health and beauty retailer.

“Their implementation of VersaFleet couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Rahim. “Despite working remotely from their respective homes, the planners were able to work collaboratively in real time. They were able to restock high-demand items like toilet paper and sanitizing wipes up to five times a day, something they had never been able to do before.”

The company has slashed daily planning time by 90 percent, from up to four hours down to under 10 minutes. In addition, by digitalizing proof-of-delivery, the retailer sped up billing processes four-fold. Instead of waiting for drivers to return from their routes with paper-based records, finance immediately receives delivery confirmation for same day invoice processing. This kind of business agility cascades down to boost the customer’s experience.

“Companies can reduce stock-outs, which is so important in meeting people’s heightened demands, especially with fast-moving consumer goods,” said Rahim. “Several of our other customers have improved customer service levels by 50 percent.”

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Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

Counterfeiters are flooding markets with fake masks, coronavirus test kits, PPE worn by frontline workers, medicine and medical equipment used for healing patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Last week, the European Anti-Fraud Office announced that they had already identified 340 companies trading in counterfeit products linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The large majority of these fake goods are ineffective if not downright dangerous, and deceive both patients and doctors who trust that they are using genuine and effective treatments. This reduces the likelihood of patient recovery, and generally disrupts efforts to stop or slow the spread of the virus.

That counterfeiters have quickly seized on this new market opportunity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether a luxury handbag or watch, a medication or a bottle of wine, anything with a brand name attached to it will be counterfeited. The exterior or packaging of many counterfeits look identical to the genuine products, while the product itself is usually malfunctioning, made with inferior components, or at the very least does not adhere to proper manufacturing practices. The only challenge for counterfeiters is to insert their imitations into legitimate distribution channels without getting caught. For this reason, counterfeiters love opaque, long and complex supply chains that leave many opportunities for distributing the fakes wide open.

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Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

Justin Picard Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Scantrust

Counterfeiters are flooding markets with fake masks, coronavirus test kits, PPE worn by frontline workers, medicine and medical equipment used for healing patients afflicted with COVID-19.

Last week, the European Anti-Fraud Office announced that they had already identified 340 companies trading in counterfeit products linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The large majority of these fake goods are ineffective if not downright dangerous, and deceive both patients and doctors who trust that they are using genuine and effective treatments. This reduces the likelihood of patient recovery, and generally disrupts efforts to stop or slow the spread of the virus.

That counterfeiters have quickly seized on this new market opportunity shouldn’t come as a surprise. Whether a luxury handbag or watch, a medication or a bottle of wine, anything with a brand name attached to it will be counterfeited. The exterior or packaging of many counterfeits look identical to the genuine products, while the product itself is usually malfunctioning, made with inferior components, or at the very least does not adhere to proper manufacturing practices. The only challenge for counterfeiters is to insert their imitations into legitimate distribution channels without getting caught. For this reason, counterfeiters love opaque, long and complex supply chains that leave many opportunities for distributing the fakes wide open.

Traceability systems bring that much-needed transparency to supply chains. They rely on serialized, unique identifiers embedded in barcodes or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags placed on product packaging during manufacturing. As goods move through supply chains, products – as well as the cases or pallets which contain them – are scanned for inspections or to add traceability data. Every new scan generates additional data points, building up the traceability history of the product. When products reach the store shelves, consumers can scan the product identifier to verify a product’s provenance, expiry date, or any other information associated with it. All these scans culminate in creating the traceability and transparency of supply chains.

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Jobful, start-up founded by Mihai Cepoi, receives an investment of 250,000 euros

Launched in May 2018, the Jobful platform is dedicated to both young professionals who want to develop their careers and companies who want to streamline the recruitment process through a first test of candidates, as well as their interest.

In December 2018 he was third in Startarium, and in April 2019 he was accepted in the accelerator SAP.io in Berlin. In May this year, Jobful was one of three Romanian startups selected to present their product at the South East Europe Tech Tour 2019.

Original article here…

Three Ways Technology Can Help Save Retailers

Unless you’re selling sweatpants, which sold out 80 percent faster in April versus February this year, most fashion retailers face a dire spring and summer. J.C. Penney is the most recent casualty amongst retail giants, joining Nieman Marcus, Macy’s M and others in filing for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, April retail sales in the United States plunged 17.8 percent compared with 2019.

Stores in some parts of the United States are reopening, but not fully. The number of customers allowed inside stores may be limited — and many people will continue to stay away from non-essential businesses. To survive the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, retailers need new ways to stay close to customers virtually.

Here, two startup founders and an SAP expert describe how technology can help retailers survive and recover – while keeping their brands and customer followings intact.

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Queen of Raw Among the First to Get Funding From MIT Solve

Queen of Raw, a blockchain and AI-powered platform that pairs buyers and sellers of unused fabrics, is one of three teams that has landed funding via MIT Solve, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology initiative.

Led by cofounder and chief executive officer Stephanie Benedetto, Queen of Raw is the “2019 Circular Economy Solver.” Access Afya, a Kenya-based health-care center that caters to the urban poor, and Kinedu, an app that specializes in video-based, research-supported activities for children under age four, are also receiving funding.

With $120 billion worth of unused fabric stowed away in factories and being burned or buried, Queen of Raw works to make those sustainable materials available to people at any time and from any place. Deadstock and sustainable fabrics can be bought and sold online through its marketplace. Factories, brands and retailers post their unused fabric for resale on the platform so that purchasers can have easy access to new materials at lower price points.

rders can vary from one yard to one million yards. The company claims to have saved more than one billion gallons of water through its efforts. With the global textile market expected to hit $1.23 trillion by 2025, less than 1 percent of material used to make clothing is recycled. Queen of Raw also closed $1.5 million in seed funding Tuesday, an MIT Solve spokesman said.

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How AI And “Gaze Control” Will Help Businesses Reopen Safely

Recent projections by the US federal government estimate that there will be 200,000 new coronavirus cases in the US  by June 1. At the same time, governments around the world are grappling with the complexities of safely reopening businesses, schools and other public institutions.

Technology companies are rushing into that gap with software aimed at keeping people safe, while citizens navigate a patchwork approach to easing shelter-in-place orders. One well-known approach is the use of contact-tracing apps on smart phones created by tech and telecom companies. These apps alert people if they’ve been in close proximity to an infected person.

But other technologies can help. When businesses and other institutions open up, they will need to do a lot of things differently. A new technology called “gaze control” allows people to avoid touching surfaces, like ATM display screens or subway-fare vending machine, that may be potentially contaminated with the virus. Stephan Odörfer is founder and managing director of Munich-based 4tiitoo (pronounced “42”), a startup that creates gaze control technology. Put simply, this technology lets people use their eyes to interact with computers, replacing the need to touch a keyboard, mouse or screen.

Moreover, 4tiitoo has combined gaze control with AI to analyze patterns in users’ eye movement and predict what people want to do next within a particular computer screen or application. “Gaze control allows you to do two things. It controls the computer and we can use it to get an understanding of what the user actually wants to do, “said Odörfer. “By understanding intention, we can proactively support him.”

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New product displays COVID-19 stats on airline, hotel and OTA websites

Bacarai – one of PhocusWire’s Hot 25 Startups for 2020 – has developed a new API service that connects COVID-19 statistics to airport codes and hotel locations so that airlines, hotels and online travel agencies can display the data within their shopping workflows.

SmartCheck provides statistics such as total cases, new cases by day, total tests, number of people recovered and number of deaths, with data pulled from publicly available sources around the world. Airlines, hotels and OTAs can access SmartCheck via an API and then customize how the information is displayed on their sites – for example showing the trend of new cases on a line graph.

Bacarai is part of the current SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco, a B2B travel technology accelerator, and Totten says some of the SAP Concur teams are now looking at SmartCheck.

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SAP.iO Foundry Paris : « Le programme pour les start-up HR Tech est adapté avec le Covid-19 »

Sébastien Gibier, directeur de SAP.iO Foundry Paris, présente la sélection des huit start-up de la promotion Future Of Work. L’organisation a été bousculée avec la crise.

Après avoir traité la chaîne d’approvisionnement, le commerce de détail et les technologies vertes, SAP.iO Foundry Paris aborde l’angle HR Tech. Le programme d’accélération de start-up de l’éditeur de logiciels pour les entreprises (et leader européen), qui avait démarré il y a trois ans, a intégré une sélection de huit start-up (six sont françaises) dans sa promotion “Future of Work“. Sous la forme d’un programme d’accompagnement, elles vont passer plusieurs semaines à développer leurs visions business et leurs fonctions technologiques sous la houlette de SAP. Cette saison a trois particularités (deux officielles et une totalement imprévue) :
– les solutions des jeunes pousses retenues devaient compléter fonctionnellement SAP SuccessFactors, la solution RH de l’éditeur (125 millions d’utilisateurs à travers le monde) ;
– 5 partenaires clients deviennent « coproducteurs » du programme SAP.iO Foundry, c’est-à-dire qu’ils viennent chercher des start-up qui correspondent à leurs propres besoins ;
– La crise Covid-19 est survenue lors de l’activation de la promotion “Future of Work“. Ce qui a nécessité quelques adaptations dans le programme supervisé par Sébastien Gibier, directeur de SAP.iO Foundry Paris. Dans un entretien, il précise les implications de cette crise dans la feuille de route du programme initialement établie.

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What COVID-19 means for a travel startup focused on sustainability

One perhaps unintended consequence of travel coming to a near halt due to COVID-19 is the return of clearer skies and fewer carbon emissions.

For the startup Jet-Set Offset, which is a donation-based carbon offsetting tool for air travel, this is temporary good news on the sustainability front, but the startup is now reevaluating how it can help its partners amid the travel slowdown.

With Jet-Set Offset, named one of PhocusWire’s Hot 25 Startups for 2020, travelers can offset carbon emissions from flying by automatically donating one cent per mile to environmental organizations working to reduce carbon emissions.

However, “as travel has slowed or even ceased, real-time mileage-based donations to our partners are also down,” says the company’s co-founder and CEO, Anna Ford.

“These nonprofits need our help now more than ever to continue their planet-saving projects,” she says, and to that end, Jet-Set Offset has pivoted its messaging and launched a month-long campaign to celebrate April as Earth Month and allow travelers to offset carbon emissions from past flights.

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Simple Checklists to Prepare for COVID-19 Now Free Through Ruum by SAP

By: Stefan Ritter Co-Founder & Head of Product at Ruum by SAP

No matter where you are in the world, times are chaotic. It can feel easy to be consumed by the latest headlines about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic because information is moving and changing rapidly. In light of these circumstances, it’s important that everyone has a plan.

Whether you own a small business, run a nonprofit, are head of your household, or are just looking to keep yourself healthy, we believe everyone is important. We want to be a partner in enabling you to run your day-to-day operations and, therefore, have created two, free templates on Ruum by SAP that outline an interactive checklist for managing the risks of COVID-19. These custom templates were built as a solution for teams and individuals who want to have a plan in place, but don’t necessarily have the time or resources to build one from scratch.

We want to make it easy for you. Here are COVID-19 planning checklists for Ruum users:

All of the information in these checklists was based on the latest information from the CDC and was not created by SAP. We also recommend reviewing the latest CDC guidelines for businesses or the latest CDC guidelines for households.

Ruum is a lightweight tool that helps users collaborate in real-time. Within Ruum, users create a living document where they can distribute tasks, set deadlines, input comments, and provide feedback simultaneously. It reduces the time spent on administrative and coordination work, allowing teams, families, or individuals to focus more on tasks that really matter. Ruum by SAP operates within the New Ventures and Technologies unit at SAP, which is on a mission to future-proof SAP and our customers’ businesses through technology innovation and product incubation.

Our hope is that having a plan and checklist in place can eliminate some of the uncertainty and fear surrounding this pandemic. For us, it’s essential to put our employees, customers, and public health first in this challenging time.

About New Ventures & Technologies

To future-proof SAP and our customers’ businesses, SAP the New Ventures and Technologies (NVT) organization drives transformative innovation through technology innovation and product incubation. NVT identifies commercial opportunities in the SAP ecosystem, explores and pioneers the business impact of emerging technologies and makes them enterprise-ready. For more information, visit our website.

SAP’s Newest Venture Investment Protects Users’ Identities

In the fast-paced times of digitization, the question of how companies are protecting our digital identities becomes increasingly significant. Almost every online service requires personalized data to identify users. Thus, while surfing on the internet we leave our marks by granting access to our data without the transparency of understanding where that data is being stored, and who can access it.

Many websites and online services claim that data is protected because each individual user must enter a login id and password. But for users, creating and remembering a personalized password for every site is cumbersome and often leads to weak passwords that are used across many platforms. This process is broken because it’s not only inconvenient but also can expose users to data breaches.

Two SAP employees, Dor Shany and Rooly Eliezerov, sought to solve this problem by building a web application, OwnID by SAP, to safeguard personal data on various platforms. Their venture is in the process of creating decentralized, portable identities that users can take with them wherever they go online through their phone. The controls implemented by OwnID will ensure that the user maintains and owns all their own information. After creating a basic profile, users can use their digital identity instead of a username and password on every website that supports the solution, just by scanning a QR code.

“A user will create an identity with basic profile information and will then be able to use it to log in to any website or app that supports this option by scanning a QR code,” Shany said.

Dor Shany, co-founder of OwnID by SAP, states: “Our personal information can feel incredibly dispersed among all of the websites we use every day. We want to give people the freedom to keep their personal information personal.”

The idea of this came to Rooly’s mind while researching for his book “The Digital Identity Crisis” where he came across the concept of self-sovereign identity (SSI) — a term which describes the ability to hold and control your identity-related features. The project lays the foundation for further advancement, eventually leading to data autonomy for end-users and various application scenarios in every sector.

OwnID was chosen as one of the 2019 winners of SAP’s internal accelerator program, resulting in the team joining the SAP.iO Venture Studio to focus on the venture full time. The Venture Studio is designed to invest in small, entrepreneurial SAP teams to build and launch products that create a meaningful impact for business and society. Financial support and business expertise help the candidates go from the articulation of their initial idea to its successful commercialization.

Both founders bring long-term experience in the field of identity management. In fact Rooly founded the SAP acquired customer data cloud Gigya (now SAP Customer Data Cloud) and Dor held leadership roles at Gigya for over a decade.

The team has big plans for OwnID’s integration into SAP. Through partnership with SAP Consumer Data Cloud, OwnID has the potential to serve a huge network of websites and log-in screens which would advance the security and user experience for millions of users. From a long-term perspective, the concept of identity management could also help solve bureaucratic problems requiring proof of credentials in many different contexts, e.g. offering a way of providing identification for people who are not in possession of haptic identity documents such as refugees.

The team joins other incubated ventures within the SAP.iO Venture Studio including Ruum by SAPBrilliant Hire by SAPSpotlight by SAP, and the newly appended startup GreenToken by SAP.

Visit our SAP.iO website for updates and connect with us on social media (LinkedIn and Twitter).

“Have a good understanding of your strengths.” with Penny Bauder & Vanessa Liu

Vanessa Liu is the VP of SAP.iO, a global organization responsible for building an ecosystem of startups around SAP. In her role, she is overseeing SAP.iO’s North American Foundries in New York and San Francisco, including programs devoted to women and diverse-led B2B enterprise tech companies.

Vanessa was most recently the Chief Operating Officer at Trigger Media Group, a $22MM digital media incubator. In her role, she co-founded, incubated and oversaw business operations and strategic initiatives of Trigger’s portfolio companies: InsideHook (the essential digital lifestyle guide for adventurous and discerning men) and Fevo (SaaS technology bringing friends and networks together for group experiences at live events). Vanessa currently serves as a board observer of Fevo and is an advisor or investor in start-ups including Bounce Exchange, Grata Data, GroundSignal, Knotel and Narrativ. She mentors female founders through Declare’s Lead Program.

Previously, Vanessa was an Associate Partner at McKinsey & Company’s Media and Entertainment Practice, based in Amsterdam, London and New York. In this role, Vanessa was responsible for serving clients in a variety of media and high tech sectors including online advertising, magazine and newspaper publishing, television, video content production, and information services, particularly on issues of digital media strategy, emerging market strategy, growth and innovation. Vanessa graduated magna cum laude with an AB in psychology from Harvard University and cum laude with a JD from Harvard Law School. She was a Fulbright Scholar at Universiteit Utrecht in the Netherlands where she conducted independent research on the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice. She serves as Vice President, College Alumni Affairs, of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Ihave always been inspired by innovation — from the age of 12 through my senior year in college, I actually wanted to be an astronaut and spent much of my adolescent life learning about science and innovation that way. In college, I switched gears and decided to go into law, doing research on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and going to law school. However, I realized very quickly that addressing atrocities years after the fact wasn’t satisfying. I wanted to be a part of the solution in terms of economic development and to prevent these atrocities from ever happening in the first place. So, I started working for McKinsey and went into management consulting. On my third project, I was staffed on a digital media project. I was tasked with helping my client launch a new free internet service provider for the Dutch market. We had 6 months to create a business plan and to launch the service. I was immediately hooked. While at McKinsey, I worked with media companies — newspaper and magazine publishers, broadcasters, information services companies — where I crafted their digital plans and launched new businesses for them.

After 8 years though, I realized I had outgrown my time at McKinsey. I didn’t want to give businesses back to clients to run; I wanted to continue running them myself. At a time when many would regard as least optimal to start a business — I had just moved back to NYC from London and delivered my second child — I teamed up with a business partner and we launched a venture startup studio, called Trigger Media. Over the course of 6 years, we co-founded two portfolio companies — InsideHook, a digital lifestyle publication for men 35–50; and Fevo, a platform that enables groups to purchase experiences together. As the co-founder and interim CEO of both companies at various moments, I realized firsthand how much more difficult it is for women and diverse entrepreneurs to get funding — not because they don’t have the ideas, but often because they don’t have access to the right networks. I joined SAP.iO because I wanted the opportunity to help other underrepresented founders gain the access they deserve to help propel their businesses forward.

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