FINTECH company MatchMove said it is receiving a US$100 million strategic investment from US-headquartered IT services group Nityo Infotech Corp at a US$600 million post-money valuation, which will make Nityo the startup’s largest shareholder.
We talked to Ben Stein, CEO at Staple about converting documents into structured data and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ben Stein: We are all doing well, thank you! Like most of the world, all team members have been involuntarily separated from friends and family. Our team is decentralized across Singapore, Vietnam, India and Sri Lanka. Our relationships have shifted online, and that is something we have grown accustomed to. Thankfully our team, our families and our friends are all doing well.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Staple.
Ben Stein: I previously worked with KPMG in Australia, Europe and North America for almost a decade, then in various corporate positions in London and Singapore. After working with clients in banking, energy, manufacturing and real estate, I noticed persistent inefficiencies in both enterprises and SMEs around data management. I left my CFO position at the time to explore how deep technology (“deep tech”) might present potential solutions to these inefficiencies. I joined EF (joinef.com), where I met my co-founder, Josh, a Ph.D. computer scientist. Together we met with more than 150 companies to understand their most pressing pain points, and we built Staple to address them.
Staple’s solution can read, interpret, extract and reconcile data from semi-structured and unstructured documents, regardless of layout or language. Currently, we support more than 90 languages, and we are helping customers process data-heavy workflows in Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indonesian.
How does Staple innovate?
Ben Stein: There is a lot of hype around big data, RPA, AI and analytics and their potential to rapidly accelerate the digitalization of business. What many don’t appreciate is that these technologies can’t function without a core ingredient: clean, structured data. RPA and bots are fantastic innovations, but they can only work with structured data. There is so much reliance on data, yet enterprises struggle to access, unlock and use it at scale because the data is not available in a standardized, accessible format. Without structured data, RPA bots cannot function, analytics tell an incomplete story, and information for decision making is either not timely, inaccurate, or not useful.
Many businesses are unable to reap the benefits of automation technologies as they cannot cross the divide between structured system needs and the unstructured or semi-structured realities of business. It’s the classic adage of “garbage in, garbage out”: unless meaningful, accurate, standardized data is ingested from the outset, RPA and automation implementations will fail. It’s important that digitalization agendas have proper regard for the “first mile of data processing.”
We dedicate a lot of effort to building software that employees actually enjoy using, as opposed to software that employees are forced to use. We don’t think there should be a distinction between software for SMEs or software for the enterprise; it should all just be software to be more productive. We also have a sharp focus on developing solutions that anybody – from the most junior employee to a highly technical CTO – can use. We’re working on tools that allow non-technical users to develop new AI models without touching a line of code. This introduces a level of flexibility that was previously out of reach for many users.
Ben Stein is CEO and cofounder of Staple, a Singapore-headquartered AI company specializing in data capture, processing, and reconciliation in more than 90 languages. He is a chartered accountant with past experience at KPMG, Octopus Investments, and Entrepreneur First. Ben Stein has degrees in law and commerce and is a full stack developer. In this interview, he explains what his company has to offer and what’s next for Staple.
Kurosh Hashemi is the founder and CEO of RoadGoat. Prior to starting RoadGoat, Kurosh founded and led the Ultraviolet LED Lighting business at Philips Lighting, which was acquired by Apollo Management. Kurosh also has extensive expertise across the Internet of Things and location data. He earned his MBA at UC Berkeley, where he was a Haas Merit Scholar. In this interview, he will talk about why he founded RoadGoat, what his solution has to offer, and what’s next for the company.
E-3 Magazine: What exactly does RoadGoat offer?
Kurosh Hashemi: RoadGoat is a pocket travel guide. We provide user-generated data for over 4 million travel destinations – neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Travelers can use RoadGoat to figure out how safe a place is, whether an area is low-risk for COVID-19, if it is tagged for business travelers or foodies, and much more. We even provide a travel map for users that they can automatically update with all their social media accounts, business trip data, fitness trackers, Google Maps, and more. We initially started as a consumer app but we’ve now teamed up with Concur to deliver the same great experience for business travelers.
How does your solution work?
Hashemi: At the heart of our technology is a database of over 4 million travel destinations. Our users contribute meaningful insights about each of these destinations and we supplement this guidance with some more data-driven insights such as information about COVID-19, safety, when to go, budgetary ratings, and more. All that customers need to join RoadGoat is a WIFI-enabled device, as it is a completely free platform.
Why did you start RoadGoat to begin with?
Hashemi: We started RoadGoat because we felt that there was a lack of information about travel destinations. While sites like TripAdvisor, Google, and Yelp give great context about local businesses, no one is providing context about neighborhoods or towns – that’s where we come in. We help you understand if a destination is good for business travelers, nightlife, foodies, and more. Is it safe? What’s the COVID-19 situation? Is it LGBTQ+-friendly? Our users rate, rank, and tag destinations to help guide each other.
The air travel industry is waking up to a post-pandemic world filled with people who have a heightened awareness of climate change and sustainability. The entrepreneurs behind Jet-Set Offset are turning these concerns into action for both consumers and businesses.
Using the startup’s carbon-based offsetting tool, companies can donate one cent for every air mile flown by employees to environmental non-profit organizations.
“Individuals and companies are much more mindful that travel and commuting are a big part of their carbon footprint and need to be incorporated into their sustainability planning and actions,” said Anna Ford, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Jet-Set Offset. “Remote working has brought people together in more authentic ways, increasing demands to align personal values such as sustainability with working norms, including travel.”
Realistic Strategy for Sustainable Travel
Functioning like a fundraising tool for non-profit and charitable organizations that focus on sustainability, Jet-Set Offset’s mileage-based donations are tax-deductible and backed by a realistic business-oriented strategy. During its first year in business, thousands of Jet-Set Offset consumers made donations to a range of non-profits. These organizations offer products, education, and advocacy in areas such as clean transportation, renewable energy, land and wildlife conservation, reforestation, and green buildings. The startup’s next target market is enterprises.
SAP.iO Foundry Paris lance un nouvel appel à candidatures pour trouver les startups qui formeront la 5ème promotion de l’accélérateur parisien. Pendant la crise du COVID-19, beaucoup d’entreprises ont connu des perturbations de leur chaine d’approvisionnement. Pour offrir de nouvelles solutions innovantes aux entreprises, SAP.iO Foundry Paris va recruter cette fois une sélection de jeunes pousses spécialisées dans le domaine de l’approvisionnement. Les startups françaises mais aussi européennes peuvent candidater dès aujourd’hui jusqu’au 19 juillet 2020 pour bénéficier, pendant 10 semaines, du programme d’accélération d’exception de SAP.
Enrichir les offres SAP S/4HANA et SAP Ariba
Cette nouvelle promotion regroupera 6 à 8 startups innovantes orientées « procurement » pouvant apporter beaucoup de valeur aux clients SAP et complémentaires aux offres leaders du marché SAP S/4HANA et SAP Ariba. Les jeunes pousses seront notamment retenues pour leurs approches novatrices de gestion des approvisionnements qui visent à simplifier l’expérience utilisateur, l’automatisation des process et une gestion des données améliorées.
Les startups sélectionnées devront répondre à plusieurs enjeux : comprendre l’univers SAP pour pouvoir construire une relation business de confiance, créer une intégration technique entre leur solution et celles de SAP et rencontrer les clients de SAP tout au long du programme. A l’issue du programme, les solutions des startups rejoindront l’App Center de SAP et notamment l’Ariba Network le plus grand réseau commercial B2B au monde avec 4,6 millions d’entreprises sont connectées dans 190 pays.
Un programme d’accélération mature qui se développe à l’échelle européenne pour dénicher les meilleures startups
Après deux années de succès, SAP.iO Foundry Paris se développe et ouvre ses portes à des startups européennes. L’objectif reste le même : dénicher les meilleures startups pour répondre au mieux aux besoins et aux attentes de SAP. Ce nouveau programme sera également virtualisé afin de permettre à toutes les startups, quel que soit le fuseau horaire, de suivre la formation.
Les startups sélectionnées feront partie d’un programme de 10 semaines et travailleront aux côtés de cadres et de mentors internationaux (cadres SAP et mentors externes) pour se concentrer sur leurs défis uniques.
« La gestion des approvisionnements des entreprises a été bousculée ces derniers mois avec la crise du COVID-19. Cette prochaine promotion vise à apporter toujours plus de valeur aux entreprises et des solutions complémentaires à nos clients SAP S/4HANA et SAP Ariba. Parce que nous souhaitons nous entourer des meilleures startups du moment, nous allons élargir la portée du programme et intégrer les meilleures pépites sur le sujet. Le programme est donc ouvert aux startups européennes avec nous l’espérons une forte représentation française ! », explique Sébastien Gibier, Directeur de SAP.iO Foundry Paris.
A propos de SAP
SAP est le leader du marché des applications d’entreprise : 77% des transactions financières mondiales passent par un système SAP. L’entreprise accompagne les organisations de toute taille et de tout secteur à mieux opérer. Nos technologies de machine learning, d’Internet des objets (IoT), d’analytique avancée et de gestion de l’expérience aident nos clients à transformer leur activité en « entreprise intelligente ». SAP dote les professionnels d’une vision approfondie sur leur activité et favorise la collaboration pour garder une longueur d’avance sur leurs concurrents. Pour les entreprises, nous simplifions la technologie afin qu’elles puissent utiliser nos logiciels comme elles le souhaitent, sans interruption. Notre suite d’applications de bout en bout et nos services permettent à plus de 440 000 clients d’opérer de manière rentable, de s’adapter en permanence et de faire la différence. Avec son réseau mondial de clients, partenaires, employés et leaders d’opinion, SAP aide le monde à mieux fonctionner et à améliorer la vie de chacun. Pour plus d’information, visitez le site www.sap.com
SAP) kicked off the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco business-to-business (B2B) travel technology accelerator, with eight early-stage enterprise startups.
This program is geared to improving the travel and expense management experience for SAP’s customers, and includes the SAP Concur portfolio. Startups in the program will have access to curated mentorship, exposure to SAP technology and application programmable interfaces (APIs), and opportunities to collaborate with SAP customers.
“Collaboration with SAP.iO will help foster an open innovation ecosystem and will help us deliver new emerging technologies that bring value to our customers,” SAP Concur President Jim Lucier said. ” We look forward to working with the rising stars in the travel technology industry and helping them scale.”
The following startups are participating in the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco Spring 2020 program:
- Bacarai is launching the world’s first group airfare marketplace — providing travelers the ability to shop, purchase and manage group trips online.
- Hotailors is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that provides enterprises with full visibility over contingent worker travel, ensuring that bookings meet travel policies, expense limits and safety standards.
- Jet-Set Offset provides technology that enables companies to offset their carbon footprint generated from flying with an automatic one-cent-per-mile donation to an environmental nonprofit organization chosen by the individual or company.
- Jojonomic is the first mobile expense management system in Southeast Asia connected to the region’s financial and tech ecosystem, serving tens of thousands of users across hundreds of enterprises.
- Lumo is a platform that uses machine learning to predict flight delays. Lumo’s APIs and SaaS products are used by travelers, travel management companies, airlines, travel insurance and travel technology companies to help proactively manage disruptions hours to weeks in advance.
- RoadGoat is a location-technology platform that enables businesses to integrate critical data consisting of about 4.3 million travel destinations, driving rich user experiences that translate to higher engagement and increased bookings.
- Tripgrid is a flexible project-based workspace that helps businesses automate and streamline travel workflows, such as travel documents and reports, data normalization and cost reconciliation.
- 30SecondsToFly produces software employing artificial intelligence for the travel management industry to help automate call centers, providing greater service at lower operational costs.
The accelerator program will conclude with an SAP.iO Demo Day presentation at the beginning of June.