News Corner

Squire, a barbershop tech platform, triples its valuation (again) with Tiger Global

When co-founders Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant first began barbershop tech platform Squire in 2016, they leaned in: The duo bought a barbershop in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood to see firsthand how the business worked. For one year, the co-founders religiously worked at the shop, now owned by a larger barbershop chain, handling every bit of the business (except cutting hair).

Five years later, the co-founders view that experience as a key moment in the history of Squire, now a 175-person company with a tech platform used by over 2,000 shops across three continents. After last raising a Series C in December and tripling its valuation, Squire announced today that it has raised a $60 million round led by Tiger Global.

Squire balances clean fades with the coronavirus

And, it tripled its valuation, again. Off of 300% year-over-year revenue growth, the New York startup is now valued at $750 million. It’s a massive uptick: A little over a year ago, Squire was valued at $75 million.

Like many startups these days, Squire wasn’t searching for capital when Tiger Global, which participated in its Series B and C rounds, offered to lead its next financing. The startup has only spent 10% of its previous round, a $45 million equity round, and now has tens of millions more in the bank. Ultimately, its decision to bring on more capital is so it can expand in the U.K. and Canada more aggressively — even in the wake of early-stage competitors like Boulevard. Squire’s dry powder also puts the co-founders in a position to acquire companies, a strategy that Salvant is into and plans to be “aggressive about.”

Squire also announced today the official launch of a product that has been in the roadmap since inception: Squire Capital, a money management platform with tools tailored to the needs of barbershop operations, such as instant payments. Squire’s core business has been more around appointments, loyalty programs and the installment of contactless payment. Now, a fintech layer aims to offer a more niche service than current financial services heavyweights like Square or Paypal.

Fintech is a “natural next frontier” for Squire, Salvant said, because the startup already has deep insights into how its businesses operate and how they process sales; now, it wants to add another service so it can offer a more holistic experience to them.

Squire Capital was built with Bond, a venture-backed fintech infrastructure startup that aims to help enterprise operations launch their own banking products. After experimenting with a $15 million debt financing arm around the time of its Series C, Squire isn’t offering loans at this time, hoping to find a better way to scale offerings in the future.

Squire is en route to becoming a historical and unfortunately still rare Black-led unicorn. Salvant talked about the significance of that feat, noting that this was “the optimal outcome” when founding the company. He hopes that VCs and investors will start to invest more in Black founders with Squire as a data point of a success story.

“Let’s face it, we’re not typical founders, we don’t look the same and we don’t act the same,” Salvant said. “I just want to serve as a lighthouse and this is validation for myself, my co-founder, but more importantly, what’s coming after us.”

Source: Techcrunch

NUST Displays Assistive Technologies At Technology For Inclusion Summit

In recent news, the National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) collaborated with the Pak-Everbright Development Organisation (PEDO) to hold the first-ever Inclusion Summit 2021.

The summit was held within the university where the primary objective was to connect users, manufacturers, researchers, and respective stakeholders in the domain of assistive technologies. Moreover, this allowed NUST to engage with the industry and display its assistive technologies for potential commercialization.

The summit was attended by Miss Kanwal Shauzab, MNA & Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, who commended the efforts of NUST for connecting the industry and users together through this inclusive event for the first time. She further added that such informative sessions are the key to inclusive and sustainable development in Pakistan.

Moreover, Dr. Rizwan Riaz, NUST Pro-Rector Research, mentioned that the university takes its social responsibility very seriously. Moreover, he stated that NUST has been proactively engaged in developing innovative technologies and devices to face numerous challenges and ensure the latest technological advancements are being implemented to leverage benefits for humanity, especially for the differently-abled people. So far, the university has successfully conducted several projects in numerous fields such as Biomedical Sciences, Neurosciences and Prosthetics, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence.

Shahab ud Din, CEO, Pak-Everbright Development Organization (PEDO), mentioned his lifelong struggle and difficulties being faced throughout these due to disability and how technology will pave the way for benefits and ease for the disabled.

BlackBerry smartphones could be making a new comeback thanks to Onward Mobility

BlackBerry brand has been part of Onward Mobility’s portfolio since August 2020 and we’ve heard nothing but promises for new BB smartphones since.The company launch a pre-commitment program, suggesting a new handset might finally be on the way.

The program is actually a subscription list for partners and fans, who will be able to receive “product, feature, and availability updates” before the general public. The landing page on Onward Mobility’s website also said these people and organizations can provide direct input and influence features and functionality.

The biggest takeaway from the page is that a handset is likely being developed.

Onward Mobility has experience in security software, but in the field of mobile hardware it has no expertise, and probably that’s why it is turning to partners like telecoms and influencers who know the audience better.

Pakistani and Korean Firms Partner to Expand EV Charging Infrastructure in Pakistan

Pakistani and Korean Firms Partner to Expand EV Charging Infrastructure in Pakistan

Zi Solar Pvt. Ltd., a renewable energy solution provider in Pakistan, has entered into an exclusive partnership with a Korean global leader in renewable energy called Aeonus Co. Ltd. to enable the deployment of Electric Vehicles (EV) charging and storage equipment in Pakistan.

The companies will also engage in collaborative research and development efforts to promote electric charging infrastructure and facilities in Pakistan in line with the government’s objective to promote EVs for improving the environment and to reduce the oil import bill.

This collaboration complements the EV Policy 2021-2026 that aims to create a robust local EV market with 30 percent and 90 percent shares in passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks market by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

The signing ceremony was held at the office of the Korea Trade and Investment Cooperation Agency in Karachi and the document was signed by Zi Solar’s Director of Business, M. Bilal Zaigham; the CEO of Zi Solar, Mohammad Farooq; the CEO of Aeonus, Eun Heo; and Daniel from Aeonus. The Director of Zi Solar, Zaigham Hassan, and the Founding Chairman of Zi Solar, Zaigham Mahmood Rizvi, attended it virtually from Qatar and the United States respectively.

The CEOs of Zi Solar and Aeonus thanked KOTRA and the Pakistan Embassy in Seoul for arranging the meeting.

Commenting on the partnership, Bilal Zaigham, said that EVs have begun gaining ground in Pakistan, and reliable and efficient charging solutions and equipment are needed to ensure the sustainability of the trend. He remarked that Zi Solar’s partnership with Aeonus would be a milestone in the enhancement of the growth of EVs in Pakistan.

Bilal Zaigham added that Zi Solar has achieved a significant position in providing renewable energy-related solutions and technologies in a very short period since its inception in 2015 and that it aims to offer its arsenal of expertise to ensure growth of the EV manufacturing infrastructure in Pakistan.

Under this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Zi Solar Pvt. Ltd. will facilitate the establishment of EV charging infrastructure and Smart Mobility Charging Outlets along with the distribution of all three levels of fast EV chargers, including over 50kWDC (level 3) chargers and over 7kW AC (level 2) chargers.

Zi Solar will also set up Electric Energy Storage System (EESS) with Solar Panels for EV Charging Systems in Pakistan to ensure maximum efficiency and sustainability.

Source: Propakistani

5 strategies that every startup should implement to sustain its business

Being the founder of a startup is a complex and challenging task in itself; You have to face challenges such as having the monetary capacity and the knowledge to get a business off the ground, you have the need to face fierce competition, a volatile economy and a changing market. In addition to all this, 2020 accentuated the challenges you face as an entrepreneur.

According to different estimates, the Mexican economy fell by around 9%. Many entrepreneurs stopped their activities, others changed their category, many had to face the crisis making important decisions to pivot their businesses. To get ahead of these situations, measures must be taken, G2 Consultores, a firm specialized in startups, makes recommendations for strategies that you should follow to sustain your business:

Create a marketing strategy from the moment you start your business

Consider that, if you are a recently created company and that you are beginning to generate income, you need to make yourself known with your potential clients. We know that operating costs are high in the early stages compared to your income, so we recommend using free marketing tools found online. Do not start without a strategy, without knowing the customer’s needs and what they are looking for in products or services like yours. Learn to identify which social networks it uses so that you can make yourself known.

Once you have tested the behavior of your customers and your strategy, define if it is correct or pivotal, measure your KPIs, there are also tools that will allow you to know where you stand to avoid spending resources unnecessarily.

If you are in the early stages, remember that your solution has to be viable, feasible and desirable

Consider that this requirement is first so that you have the certainty of what is going to work inside your company and then outside. If it is feasible it is because it will work with the technology you are developing, if it is viable it is because it has financial viability and the most important thing is that it is desirable for the market in which you want to enter and this you have to demonstrate in the future with possible, suppliers, investors, etc.

Choose the right people

Usually, the people who accompany you in the early stages of the company are the co- founders , however, with the growth of your company you will see the need to  hire staff. Do not take it lightly, draw a correct organizational development strategy, hire the right people who add value to your company and who are experts in those activities that you can no longer or those in which you are not an expert.

Keep doing what’s working

If you are growing it is because you are satisfying a need, people need and like what you are doing, so continue doing it for now, do not blur yourself.

Stop doing what doesn’t work

Once you have identified what works, try to do the same with what is not generating results, reallocate resources, but first analyze, create a strategy and pivot as soon as possible.

The implementation of strategies at any stage is necessary for companies, do not navigate aimlessly, since you will not know where you want to go or what objectives to achieve. If you do not know how to generate business strategies for your company, we suggest you approach an expert.