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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The Show Must Go On: SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv Kicks Off its Consumer Products Program

Despite the uncertainties in today’s reality, SAP.iO’s pledge to help startups bring innovative solutions to SAP customers remains constant. Although we cannot physically be together at this time to conduct our 3-month program in-person at our office in Tel Aviv, we are excited to have launched SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv’s Consumer Products program virtually. The shift to a virtual program has challenged our team to develop a schedule that is lean, yet also teeming with valuable content and sessions. Modifying our face-to-face meetings to Zoom calls has given us the opportunity to extend the richness of SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv’s offering overseas, with two of our startups joining the cohort from San Diego and Toronto. In addition to the five Israeli startups we selected, we now have the opportunity to work with two amazing companies that we otherwise would have never met, simply due to geography.

In place of the intimate garden rooftop party we had originally planned for our kickoff event, on May 11th we hosted a virtual gathering with over 88 investors, open innovation leaders, various global CPG executives from SAP’s customer base, and SAP and SAP.iO leaders. Although we couldn’t enjoy a glass of wine overlooking a beautiful Tel Aviv sunset together as planned, our startups shared their solutions and impressed the top-notch crowd over Zoom. We even got to “clink” our wine glasses/ coffee mugs virtually with a toast to a successful and enjoyable program.

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SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv’s Second Cohort to Focus on Consumer Products Industry

SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv announced the launch of its second program, focused on startups in the consumer products industry, with a virtual kickoff event that took place on Monday. “We understand that especially now, in light of the Covid-19 crisis, even the best startups will need support in reaching global markets and we are fully committed to supporting our selected portfolio companies in doing so, together with SAP,” said Lior Weizman, director of SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv.

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SAP In Focus: Tech That Will Help Us Reopen Video

Startup CEO and SAP expert say “gaze control” and AI will help people get back to work, play and life more safely. Stephan Odörfer, founder of 4tiitoo, explains how touchless computing will protect workers. Meanwhile, David Judge, SAP’s Vice President for Intelligent Enterprise Solutions, believes the pandemic will accelerate adoption of technologies like machine learning, blockchain and IoT. Learn how these technologies will help us recover, while protecting our data privacy.

Watch Interview Here…

SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv Launches Accelerator Program Focused on Consumer Products

SAP kicked off its consumer-products-focused business-to-business (B2B) technology accelerator program at SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv, with seven early-stage startups focused on manufacturing, supply chain, sales and marketing solutions.

The SAP.iO zero-equity-ask program is designed to accelerate innovation and drive new business models for SAP’s customers. This cohort will tackle top-priority challenges including personalization, consumer experience, data-driven insights, sales automation, and demand and supply planning.

Startups in the program will have access to curated mentorship, exposure to SAP technology and application programmable interfaces (APIs), and collaboration opportunities with SAP customers.

“Our customers are looking for innovative solutions to help improve agility and speed, especially in these challenging and transformative times,” said Peter Maier, SAP president of Industries and Customer Advisory.

The following startups are participating in the SAP.iO Foundry Tel-Aviv:

  • Aiola’s natural-language sales analytics platform integrates data from multiple planning software systems of consumer packaged goods companies, generating accurate sales and demand forecasting, trade promotions optimization, new product launch analysis and market-share forecasting.
  • Hexa helps retail partners share information by converting their existing product information into immersive content (three-dimensional/artificial reality) in an efficient and cost-effective way.
  • Pecan is an automated predictive analytics platform that uses advanced artificial intelligence to connect and unify various data sources, allowing quick and automated development and deployment of predictive use cases.
  • Sampler is a direct-to-consumer product sampling platform that allows brands to target, track and measure their sampling programs from start to finish.
  • SRP Analytics’ advanced digital retail format connects brands, local stores and consumers on a single nearby platform, increasing sales growth, supply-chain efficiency and consumer loyalty.
  • TrenDemon is a content marketing analytics platform that integrates a company’s digital assets and maps the customer journeys, providing insights and action items to improve content impact and return on investment.
  • TVPage provides brands with the ability to present ambassador digital storefronts on their websites — empowering subject matter experts, in-store sales associates, influencers and savvy customers to promote and sell their products online.

Plum Continues to Expand Their Enterprise Customer Base, Gaining Bentley Systems as a Customer

Plum, a software-as-a-service company that provides enterprise organizations with the data they need to quantify the potential of their workforce, announced today that they acquired a new enterprise customer, Bentley Systems, the leading global provider of software solutions to engineers, architects, geospatial professionals, constructors, and owner-operators for the design, construction, and operations of infrastructure, including public works, utilities, industrial plants, and digital cities.  

A number of large enterprises, including Scotiabank, Deloitte, SAP, Bloomberg, and Hyundai, are using Plum to enable data-driven decision-making when it comes to their talent acquisition strategies. 

Plum CEO Caitlin MacGregor says, “We are seeing success growing our customer base with enterprise companies that are focused on improving candidate experience, reducing bias in the hiring process, and helping provide efficiency in their recruitment pipeline. We’re excited to support Bentley Systems in these endeavors.” In September Plum announced a $4.2 million round of seed funding to continue to focus on their product strategy and grow their enterprise customer base.

Working in close collaboration with SAP SuccessFactors and as a SAP App Center partner, Plum provides added value to the SuccessFactors recruitment module. The SAP SuccessFactors partnership was a key factor in the decision to purchase Plum, says Bentley Systems’ Chief Talent Officer Florence Zheng. “Leveraging predictive talent data will enable Bentley Systems’ teams to be even more effective in our process and ensure that we are placing the right people in the right roles,” said Zheng. “There are a lot of great tools out there. The integration of Plum in SuccessFactors, besides the value Plum brings to the talent acquisition process, makes it a perfect choice for us.

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SAP: Accelerator Program helps B2B Startups in Tel Aviv

By launching its consumer products focused, business to business (B2B) technology accelerator program at SAP.IO Foundry in Tel Aviv, the software company will begin its focus on seven startups in manufacturing, supply chain, and sales and marketing. Those within the program will have access to curated mentorship, as well as exposure to SAP technology and application programmable interfaces (APIs), and collaboration opportunities.

“Our customers are looking for innovative solutions to help improve agility and speed, especially in these challenging and transformative times,” commented Peter Maier, SAP president of Industries and Customer Advisory.

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Paradox Raises $40M Series B to Help Companies Embrace the Future of Work with Conversational AI

Paradox, the conversational AI platform helping HR and talent teams automate administrative tasks and deliver real-time candidate and employee communications, announced today $40M in Series B funding, led by Brighton Park Capital. The Arizona-based startup, whose 200+ global enterprise clients include McDonald’s, CVS Health, and Unilever, will leverage the funding to expedite its vision of a future where AI is a liberating force to help people do their best work.

“No one goes into recruiting or HR because they like screening resumes, scheduling interviews, or managing paperwork,” said Paradox founder and CEO Aaron Matos, who started his career as an HR practitioner. “Our clients love our AI assistant Olivia because she helps them get back to doing the strategic people work that got them into recruiting and HR in the first place.”

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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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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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Marketing data platform Adverity raises $30M Series C led by Sapphire Ventures

In the time many of us live in now, we all know our online media consumption is — to state the obvious — going through the roof. Subsequently, the amount of data pertaining to online marketing is, equally, reaching stratospheric heights and in recent years tech companies like Datorama and Funnel.io, SuperMetrics and Adverity have appeared to give marketeers a data intelligence platform to deal with the welter of spreadsheets and reports necessary to track everything.

Last year, Vienna HQ’d Adverity closed an €11 million Series B funding round for its AI-driven platform to produce actionable insights in real-time for marketers.

Today it’s announcing a Series C financing round of $30 million, bringing the total amount it has raised to $50 million. The latest funding round is led by Valley-based Sapphire Ventures . Also participating is Mangrove Capital Partners, Felix Capital, SAP.iO and aws Gründerfonds who have all re-invested in this latest round. 

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6 startup CEOs explain strategy for making sure layoffs are only ever a last resort, from slashing expenses to asking employees what kind of pay cut they can afford

As the coronavirus crisis escalated in March, Emil Mikhailov, CEO of the AI startup XIX, sent an email to his employees, warning them to prepare for a recession when their top priority will be to “to survive the storm.” 

“It’s not clear what is going to happen,” he wrote.

Then he made a vow: “We as a team will not lose anyone. We will sacrifice short-term to make sure everyone is OK.”

The downturn has upended the world of startups, many of which are scrambling for ways to cut expenses, including layoffs. But some startups are stressing the need to protect their employees’ jobs as they figured out ways to survive the downturn. 

Some CEOs and founders, like Mikhailov, have even promised not to cut anyone.

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How Businesses Can Stay On The Right Side Of History During Tough Times

Every day the news features stories about how businesses are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis. Whether it’s small companies developing new revenue streams to stay afloat, or larger ones reorienting operations to provide critical support, one thing is clear: Businesses are pivoting quickly.

But there can be missteps too. COVID-19 related promotions fill my social feed and inbox. Buy a comfy work-from-home bra! Puzzles (that are sold out) to help entertain the family!

Bonin Bough is a digital marketing guru, startup investor, and author of “Txt Me: Your Phone Has Changed Your Life. Let’s Talk about It.” His latest venture, OpenMessage, creates dynamic, branded text messages to drive customer loyalty. The company was selected by SAP.iO Foundry (a global startup accelerator) to participate in its new cohort of customer experience and retail companies.

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