Money makers: A LinkedIn for Shoreditch types
Pip Jamieson launched The Dots, a social network for young, "no collar" types, from her houseboat on the Regent's Canal.
Former MTV executive Pip Jamieson, 38, launched her start-up, The Dots, from her houseboat on Regent's Canal in late 2014, says Alex Lawson in the Evening Standard. The "Linkedin for creatives" business (inspired by the social network for professionals) has since moved to trendy Shoreditch and boasts a client list that includes M&C Saatchi, Warner Music, Google and Sony Pictures. Angel Academe, a female-focused network of angel investors, has invested £4m.
The Dots is aimed at "no-collar" workers, says Jamieson those under the age of 35 who are keen to hop between projects. "If, for example, you liked the NatWest app and wanted to hire the team behind it, you can see them all there," she explains. Clients buy a monthly subscription and can pay for extras such as more extensive searches and data analysis. Sign-ups are limited to an equal number of male and female users, of which 30% must come from BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds. "London has the most creatives in the world." says Jamieson. "It's the best place to build a network like this".
Starbucks bought our coffee for $83m
In the late 1980s, Steven Macatonia and Jeremy Torz, an immunologist and an optician, went to the US, where they noticed the emergence of "craft coffee", says Matthew Caines in The Daily Telegraph.
Inspired to create their own coffee-bean company, they returned to Britain in 1994, selling their possessions and renting a small workshop with a coffee roaster. A merger with the Seattle Coffee Company followed before the entire venture was bought by Starbucks for $83m in 1998. But Macatonia and Torz grew tired of corporate life and left in 2000 to start Union Hand-Roasted Coffee a roast and supply business. The firm now employs 75 staff, and has annual sales of £12.5m.
"We wanted to help the producer, while educating consumers and getting them to appreciate this commodity," says Torz. The consumer gets a higher-quality coffee from the security that comes through Union's long-term relationship with the growers. Union has also acquired the Edinburgh-based Brew Lab, a speciality coffee bar that will serve as a testing ground for new ideas.
"Obviously it has to be profitable. But through it we can learn about how the barista team works, what the customers say and like, and experiment with new brews," says Torz.
The nerd taking taxis to the skies
JoeBen Bevirt, "a trained mechanical engineer and sci-fi nerd", made a fortune selling bendable tripods and other camera accessories more than a decade ago, say Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone in Bloomberg Businessweek. Now the 44-year-old has poured that money into his California-based start-up, Joby Aviation (along with $130m raised in venture funding from the likes of Intel Capital and JetBlue Technology Ventures).
Bevirt's mission is to mass-produce "air taxis" for a ride-hailing service that Joby will operate. A trip will cost about as much as an Uber ride, and eventually the air taxis will be fully autonomous. The firm already has a functioning prototype named Rachel. Powered by electric motors, the taxi performs "like a cross between a drone and a small plane", say Vance and Stone "able to zip straight up and fly at twice the speed of a helicopter while making about as much noise as a swarm of super bees".Thousands of these sky cabs will soar above the conventional traffic, Bevirt says.
Bonny Simi, president of JetBlue's investment arm, is impressed. "There are a lot of dreamers in this space But we have done a lot of research and JoeBen has absolutely nailed the right time for it," she explains.
Taylor Swift: genuine fans only need apply
The "Swifties" as fans of US singer Taylor Swift are known are getting restless, according to Richard Morgan in the New York Post. The cause of their irritation is a new ticketing system which has been introduced by Swift and Ticketmaster called Verified Fan, rebranded "Taylor Swift Tix" for Swift's upcoming Reputation tour.
Under the scheme, real fans (as opposed to ticket touts) will get preferential access to concert tickets at cheaper prices before they go on general sale. To qualify, Ticketmaster's system "vets" customers for those who are most likely to attend by checking for social-media posts and newsletter sign-ups.
In a controversial twist, fans who are also able to prove their devotion to the singer by buying her album and merchandise are rewarded with "boosts" in the ticket queue. What a "greedy snake", one Twitter user fumed, quoted in the New York Post.
But what was Swift supposed to do? asks Lucas Shaw in Bloomberg Businessweek. Touts had cost her around $85m in lost revenue from reselling tickets for up to three times on websites such as StubHub and SeatGeek. Well, "that didn't sit well with Swift, who is as much an entrepreneur as she is an artist". True, her concert dates are taking longer to sell out, but buyers have several days to choose their seats and make their purchase.
"It's so easy for people to take shots at Taylor," David Marcus, head of music at Ticketmaster, tells Shaw. "But we were able to drive the biggest registration we've ever seen for Verified Fan."
That's fine, says Rupert Jones in The Guardian. But raiding your Instagram and Twitter posts to judge whether you are a "genuine" fan or not seems to be a little dystopian. A Ticketmaster executive even joked last year that they would check DNA "at least, we think it was a joke". Still, Swift is far from the only act using Verified Fan, especially in the US. "So like it or not, this new system is here and you had better get used to it."