Why Ratan Tata Is Backing This New Brand That Fuses Tech And Tea Estates

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Kaushal Dugar left an office job to modernize a stagnant, colonial era industry. Tea growing regions in eastern India have conducted business in the same way for the last 200 years. While there are notable premium tea brands, such as Twinings, there isn’t a single Indian one. Dugar raised $6 million to change that.

His startup Teabox combines technology with tea to create India’s first global premium tea brand. Much like other subscription box enterprises, Dugar developed a monthly service that caters to a customer’s palate. Each month, customers are sent an assortment of teas. They provide feedback after each box. And after the first three boxes, the company has developed an understanding of what their customer prefers.

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“We use technology and algorithms in a smart way to solve the discovery journey,” he says from his Siliguri headquarters.  The online storefront sells over 250 varieties of teas — all sourced from different regions of India, several offered in organic varieties.

Read the full story at Forbes.com.

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This Fund Will Invest In Startups That Aren’t Run By White Men In Big Cities

 

Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, is keen to change that dynamic. That’s why she’s backing a new $10 million fund, the Focus Fund, for women and minority entrepreneurs, led by JumpStart Inc., an Ohio-based nonprofit that helps tech entrepreneurs find capital and resources to grow their businesses.

This economic engine has been defined by white males, and mostly privileged white males,” she says. “We love Mark Zuckerberg, we love what he’s done with Facebook but he happened to have rich friends across the hall at Harvard. We love Sergey and Larry, but they had Stanford.”

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Social Enterprise Accelerator Solvey Gets Over 3 Million Views On YouTube

In May, I met YouTubers Dave Erasmus and Louis Cole in Delhi.  They were on their third stop on a fast-paced world tour called Solvey, to find entrepreneurial individuals, interested in giving back and solving problems in their home countries.

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Erasmus, a serial entrepreneur, and Cole, a travel vlogger on YouTube with a massive global fan following, hit 8 cities in 30 days. Two months later, I spoke to Erasmus, now back home in England, to see what the results were of that mega trip.

“I’ve finally recovered from my travels.  Today, I woke up with a spring in my step,” he says, laughing.

That’s one month after their whirlwind tour ended.  While it may have been ruthless on their bodies, it did yield the results they were hoping for: 145 people applied from around world and that too across generations (ages 12 to 67).  Plus, the vlogs garnered over 3 million views on YouTube.

Read the full story on Forbes.

New Charity Invites Female Millionaires To Donate — And Get Involved

There’s a lot of talk about helping the girls and women of the developing world, but there’s not a lot of money to back it up.

According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, “less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl.”

The Maverick Collective hopes to change that breakdown. It’s a philanthropic organization that was publicly launched this week at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen. Its 14 members, all women, have each contributed at least $1 million to fund a specific project in the developing world that tackles a women’s health issue: domestic violence, maternal health, cervical cancer. The goal is to come up with projects that get good results, then build them up to a bigger scale.

And it’s not just about writing a check. Each donor is involved with the project she is sponsoring. The women have traveled to the countries where the project is going on and are tracking its progress.

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The group’s CEO is Kate Roberts, who was a top advertising executive before becoming senior vice president of the nonprofit PSI — Population Services International. The co-chairs are Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, who is also the co-founder, and Melinda Gates. (As our readers may know, the Gates Foundation is a funder of NPR.)

We spoke with Roberts in Copenhagen to learn more about this new organization. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Read the full story on NPR.

Slovakian architects’ pod makes tiny houses seem enormous

For house hunters a bit on the nonconventional side, here’s an edgy idea:

A new off-the-grid home comes with a kitchen, shower, bed and sitting area. But it’s only 86 square feet — smaller than a tiny house — and can be towed behind a car. If you happen to drive an electric vehicle, it’ll even charge the car for you.

The Ecocapsule, designed by a Slovakian architectural studio, is an egg-shaped abode for a single person or a snug residence for a small family. Powered by solar and wind energy, it’s completely mobile: no water or power hookup needed.

A filtration unit collects rainwater and stores purified water. With a 750-watt wind turbine that pops up, it looks as futuristic as it sounds — ideal for adventure-seekers with a nomadic lifestyle, families looking for life beyond the suburbs or millennials and empty-nesters seeking attention-grabbing affordable housing options.

It’s currently available for pre-order in limited quantities for a little more than $90,000 (shipping from Slovakia not included). Since revealing the design at last year’s Pioneers Festival in Vienna, the design team says it has received more than 50,000 inquiries.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

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Photo Courtesy of Ecocapsule

YouTubers FunForLouis And Dave Erasmus Embark On Global Journey To Fund Social Entrepreneurs

YouTubers Louis Cole and Dave Erasmus are a comical, charming, and adventurous duo. Their friendship is evident through their travels: snowboarding in Canada, salsa dancing in Cuba, and jazz sessions in New York.

Yet, recently, I met them in Delhi embarking on something bigger: a 30-day tour around the world called The Solvey Project.  The aim is to find social entrepreneurs who could use a nudge: financially and emotionally.  The duo will fund 7 ideas (or individuals) with a minimum of $1,000 a piece at the end of this whirlwind tour.

It’s a pitch competition unlike others — not centered around massive funds, but learning, listening, and seeing where their small doses of capital can spark a change, says Erasmus.

Cole, who is famous for his Youtube channel, FunforLouis, which has nearly 2 million subscribers, sees Solvey as a way to start a “revolution.”

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Read the full story at Forbes.com.

How A Bootstrapped Idea Made It Onto Apple’s Online Store

Say hello to the future of filmmaking — on an iPad or smartphone.   A small bootstrapped startup is now selling an aluminum and urethane contraption on the Apple Store that can turn any iPad into a movie-making machine.

Since DSLR cameras start at $500 (for a very basic kit) and lenses alone can run upwards of $10,000, filmmaking can be an expensive hobby.  That’s why Josh Apter, a filmmaker and founder of the Manhattan Edit Workshop, created the Padcaster.  “I literally took my iPad to a framing store and had it framed like a picture,” he says.

Perched on a tripod and with space to attach a microphone, a light, and even lenses, the $400 iPad in this “crude prototype,” as Apter refers to it, had transformed into a proper filmmaking camera.

He took the first iteration to the NAB Show, a massive conference for all things film, technology, and content.  Though Apter was there primarily to promote his film school, he attracted more attention for this one-eyed, odd-looking contraption.

Apter started testing it out at events, illustrating to consumers that this device could give rise to what he jokingly calls, “Video Twitter”  After interviewing folks, he’d do a quick edit on the tablet, using iMovie, and then post the video online on social media platforms — all within hours, if not minutes.

“People were amazed by the speed.  They expected to see it up online in a week or two, not in an hour.  Their mouths hung open. And that’s when I knew that we had something. That was the draw.”

Read the full story at Forbes.com.