Calling in sick – The best excuses, according to your boss

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 22 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Employees suffering from a migraine might want to think up a better excuse when phoning in sick from work, as just one in five bosses consider the headache serious enough to warrant a day off.

Back pain, injury caused by accident and even elective surgery such as a cataract operation or hip replacement fail to arouse sympathy out of managers, with around 37pc considering these ailments adequate excuses for missing work.

The medical insurance provider AXA PPP Healthcare surveyed 1,000 business owners, managing directors and chief executives about their attitudes towards employees' sick leave.

The research found that flu is the most acceptable ailment for staff to stay at home – even though it won sympathy from just 41pc of bosses.

While mental illnesses such as stress, depression and anxiety were not viewed more or less kindly by managers, employees were significantly more likely to lie about non-physical health.

A survey of 1,000 non-executive employees found that 7pc would tell their boss a lie if they had to miss work for a physical ailment such as back pain, flu or accidental injury.

However, they were almost six times more likely to lie if they called in sick due to stress, anxiety or depression, with 40pc saying they would not tell their manager the truth.

The survey also found that 22pc of employees would not give the honest reason if they phoned in sick due to a cold, while 12pc would lie about having a migraine.

“Employers need to challenge this blinkered attitude, both for their own benefit as well as that of their employees,” said Glen Parkinson of AXA PPP Healthcare.

“In many cases it is more productive for an employee to take a day off to recover from a spell of illness rather than to come into work, with diminished productivity and, for likes of colds and flu, the potential to spread their illness to workmates.”

When asked to explain why they would withhold the truth from their managers, 23pc of employees said they preferred to keep their health issues private.

A further 23pc admitted they were afraid of being judged, 15pc said they were concerned about not being believed, 7pc said they were afraid of their manager's reaction and 3pc confessed they would feel ashamed to reveal the true reason.

Mr Parkinson added: “Showing sympathy and flexibility when employees are unwell is crucial to maintaining a healthy and committed workforce, which in the long term creates a healthier business.”

By Lauren Davidson

Google, Facebook aiming to stop spread of fake news

 

People who got election news on Facebook might have been looking at more fake stories than real ones. BuzzFeed reached that surprising conclusion after analyzing the last three months of campaign coverage. The website studied how Facebook users engaged with bogus news stories, as compared to authentic ones. Jericka Duncan reports on what it means for voters.

Multi-national suppliers warned by Tesco not to raise prices following a drop in the pound

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Thur, 17 Nov, 2016) London, UK – –

Tesco
Clive Darra/flickr

Britain's biggest retailer Tesco has warned its multi-national suppliers against pushing up prices following a drop in the pound just so they can maintain their reported profits.

In his first public comments since last month's “Marmitegate” row between Unilever and Tesco over who should take the hit from the weaker pound, the supermarket's Chief Executive Dave Lewis said that when there is a currency devaluation, multi-national businesses present results in both constant and current exchange rates.

“And the City (investors) completely understands it, they don't devalue a stock because of that, they understand it's part of the volatility of being in many countries,” Lewis told reporters on Thursday during a briefing at Tesco's headquarters at Welwyn Garden City, north of Londo

“The only thing we would ask of companies that are in that position is they don't ask UK customers to pay inflated prices in order that their reporting currency is maintained. They don't do that for countries outside of the UK,” he said.

The pound has fallen around 16 percent against the U.S. dollar since Britons voted on June 23 to leave the European Union, making imports more expensive. It is also down to a lesser extent against the euro.

Tesco scored a public relations coup in October when it briefly halted online sales of goods produced by Unilever after the Anglo-Dutch group sought to lift prices of popular brands such as Marmite. The two quickly reached an agreement, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

Last week, Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury's, Britain's No. 2 supermarket group, said multi-national suppliers should take some of the pain of sterling's fall, arguing their profitability was higher than UK grocers'.

Lewis, who worked for Unilever for 28 years, recognised some suppliers were facing legitimate cost pressures. Under such circumstances, Tesco could try to offset this by, for example, changing recipes or finding cost savings.

“There's (inflationary) pressure. Some of it is justified and if we can't offset it then we work out how it is we can accommodate that between ourselves and indeed our partners,” said Lewis.

Though Britain's grocery market has seen two years of deflation, Lewis noted inflation coming through in some areas, calling out pork as an example.

“It's selective. By no means is it completely flat and across the board, it's very much commodity by commodity, product by product.”

The media briefing was held the day after Tesco hosted a seminar for investors and analysts which detailed the strategic drivers of its recovery.

Shares in Tesco have risen 43 percent this year after three straight quarters of underlying UK sales growth and a rise in market share following five years of losses.

Industry data published on Tuesday showed Tesco's sales rising at the fastest pace for three years.

Last month, the firm reported a 60 percent rise in first half operating profit and raised profitability targets.

By James Davey       (Editing by Mark Potter)

 

Middle Class buy-to-let dream hampered by tough new mortgage affordability tests

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thur, 17 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Buy to let
Mark Moz/flickr

Property investors will face tough new mortgage affordability tests from next year which will herald the “beginning of the end of the middle-class buy-to-let dream”, experts have warned.

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, announced additional rules on buy-to-let which will result in ordinary investors being able to borrow far less towards their purchase.

Mr Hammond indicated he was concerned about “financial stability” following a boom in residential property investment as savers desperately try to find profitable places to put their money.

Many have turned to buy-to-let to fund retirement income after being effectively barred from putting more money in to their pensions by the Government. Low mortgage rates have made the investments attractive.

However, ministers have recently targeted buy-to-let properties with aggressive new taxes, including higher rates of stamp duty and the removal of tax relief on mortgage interest.

Experts fear that the announcement will make the investments unaffordable for many middle class people, closing down another potential saving opportunity.

Mr Hammond and Theresa May, the Prime Minister, are expected to come under pressure to ease the burden on savers with new tax breaks or government help in next week's Autumn Statement.

Under the plans to give the Bank of England extra powers, affordability checks are to be introduced for investors, who will now have to prove they can make a profit of 25 per cent profit from tenants even if large interest rate rises make their mortgage more expensive.

The Chancellor said: “It is crucial that Britain’s independent regulators have the tools they need to keep our financial system as safe as possible.

“Expanding the number of tools at the Financial Policy Committee’s disposal will ensure that the buy-to-let sector can continue to make an important contribution to our economy, while allowing the regulator to address any potential risks to financial stability.”

Ray Boulger, from John Charcol, a mortgage adviser, said: “The rationale for these stress tests are the same as those which were brought into the residential market to avoid people being unable to repay their mortgages if interest rates rise.

“If interest rates were to move up quickly that would cause buy-to-let investors a huge problem as they are too acclimatized to low rates. If rates rose sharply and they were unable to repay their mortgages en masse the market could suddenly be flooded with properties.”

From Jan 1 the Prudential Regulation Authority, the lending arm of the Bank of England, will impose new minimum affordability thresholds which will reject borrowers who make less than 25 per cent profit from their investment, or would no longer be able to afford mortgage repayments if interest rates rise to 5.5 per cent.

For example, someone with a £200,000 interest-only mortgage borrowing at 1.79 pc would have monthly mortgage payments of £299.

However, as these repayments would rise to £917 if their rate of repayment interest rose to 5.5 per cent, they would need to prove they could charge rent of £1,146 a month to be approved for the mortgage.

As the Bank rate is currently at a record low of 0.25 per cent, mortgage deals are cheaper than ever with many charging less than 2 per cent interest.

Andrew Montlake, director at Coreco, a mortgage broker, said: “Many people will see this as the beginning of the end of the middle class buy-to-let dream which is a big shame. “

Until recently middle-class savers have helped fuel a buy-to-let boom in Britain with more than two million savers funnelling cash into rental properties to help fund their retirement.

The Bank is forcing lenders to “toughen up” over concerns they have relaxed standards for landlords.

Prior to the announcement of the Bank's new rules, some lenders went further and tightened their criteria voluntarily with some, including Nationwide, now refusing to lend to landlords making rental profits of less than 45 per cent of their mortgage repayments.

When the building society announced the change in April this year, Paul Wootton, managing director of its buy-to-let arm, The Mortgage Works, said the move was a response to the change on tax relief.

He said: “This change is a proactive move that recognises the need to help safeguard rental cover for landlords over the coming years, and in advance of the forthcoming changes to mortgage interest tax relief.”

While would-be landlords are being locked out of the market, current landlords are rapidly looking to sell, studies have indicated.

One survey of almost 1,000 experienced private landlords by the Residential Landlords' Association found a quarter of buy-to-let investors are planning to sell their rental properties as a result of the Government tax changes.

By Katie Morley

 

The Latest Episode Of QLM Business Weekly Broadcasted Online On November 16th


QLM Business Weekly
This QLM Business Weekly Episode is going to include several interviews from UK entrepreneurs in different key industries.

QLM Business Weekly is an online show with the latest news and tips for business owners and consumers in the United Kingdom. Their latest episode will be available on November 16th, 2015. This is a 20-30 minute show which is hosted on the Digital Media Channel of QLMBusinessNews.com. This episode will mainly focus on small business owners and entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom.

This episode will interview five small business owners from different industries across the United Kingdom.

. Konstantinos Kapelas of “Total Health Now Clinic.” He will talk about – “Finding the Right Alternative Health Expert.”

. Sarah Cozens of “Nutkin Nannies.” She will talk about – “Finding the Right Nanny Agency.”

. Harrison Architects & Designers Ltd's Andrew Harrison will talk about – “Finding the right Architect and Interior Designer.”

. D H Plumbing & Heating Services' Danny Hensman will talk about – “Finding the Right Plumbing and Heating Company.”

. All Seasons Valeters' Nick Kyprianou is going to talk about – “Finding the Right Car Detailing Company.”

QLM Business News is a part of QLM Business Solutions Group which was founded by Henry Smith. Smith states that QLM Weekly was designed to assist small businesses and consumers in making informed purchasing decisions. The episode features numerous business experts from different industries who will educate the consumers on finding the right professionals in the relevant industries.

The show will teach you what questions to ask and what to look for when picking the right service provider in different industries. “The episode is full of company news, stories, updates, and interesting interviews with business leaders,” Henry added. “Come and learn by watching the show.”

You can watch the episode by clicking this link.

QLM Business Weekly!

The episode offers marketing analysis, interviews, stories, updates, and business news relating to small and medium-sized businesses in the United Kingdom. The episode focuses on a wide variety of industries such as business & finance, technology, trading, health & fitness, property & maintenance, relationships, travel, fashion & beauty, home & gardening, food & entertainment, education, pet care and a lot more.

Amazon Strengthens Ties With Morrison Presenting Fresh Concerns For Ocado

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Wed, 16 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Amazon Online Retailer
simone.brunozzi/www.flickr.com

 Amazon.com Inc. extended its British tie-up with Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc, presenting a fresh concern for Ocado Group Plc as competition mounts for the U.K. online grocer.

Members of Amazon’s Prime service in parts of London and southeast England will soon be able to order from an expanded range of Morrison grocery products for delivery in as little as an hour. The regions being targeted are right on Ocado’s doorstep and will add to tensions between the supermarket chain and the online grocer only three months after they extended their own partnership. Ocado shares fell as much as 6.8 percent.

“Morrisons is completely cutting out Ocado in this new offer,” Andrew Gwynn, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas, said in a note. Products for the new service will be picked from Morrison supermarkets and delivered by Amazon.

By strengthening ties with Amazon, Morrison is straining relations with the company that it partnered with to belatedly enter the online grocery market in 2013. Mounting competition is taking a toll on Ocado, which said in September that profits will likely fall below analysts’ estimates. The online grocer is also struggling in its efforts to license its warehousing technology to international retailers.

Ocado has been assured by Morrison that the supermarket “acknowledges and respects the exclusivity provisions in our agreement,” Ocado said by e-mail. These oblige Morrison to operate its own online grocery service within the confines of the partnership.

Ocado shares fell 6.1 percent to 265 pence at 9:58 a.m. in London. The stock is down 13 percent this year, headed for a third straight annual decline. Morrison shares rose as much as 1.4 percent.

The new agreement between Morrison and Amazon means Prime customers can now choose from a range of several thousand Morrison products compared with less than 1,000 previously. They will pay 6.99 pounds for a one-hour delivery slot and won’t be charged for groceries delivered within a two-hour window. Amazon has full control over the prices it charges for Morrison products.

Amazon’s move further underlines its intention to take on Britain’s supermarkets and the looming threat is causing incumbents to raise their game. J Sainsbury Plc, which is also concentrated in London and the south east of England, began trialing a one-hour delivery service in southwest London in September.

By Paul Jarvis and Sam Chambers

British government will be “unashamedly pro-business” to forge role outside the EU

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com – – Mon, 14 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Union Jack
Mikey/flickr.com

The British government will be “unashamedly pro-business” as it seeks to forge the country's future role outside the European Union, but business must also act responsibly, Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday.

In a speech at Mansion House in the City of London financial district, May will say Britain must be the strongest advocate for free trade, but also manage the forces of globalisation so that everyone benefits from them.

Discontent among those seen as “left behind” by globalisation was considered a key driver of Britain's June 23 vote to leave the European Union.

“The government I lead is unequivocally and unashamedly pro-business … We will do everything we can to make the UK outside the EU the most attractive place for businesses to invest and grow,” May will say, according to extracts of the speech released in advance by her office.

“But in return, it is right to ask business to play its part in ensuring we build a country that works for everyone. And that British business, which is so often on the frontline of our engagement with the world … is seen not just to do business but to do that business in the right way.”

May will say that while businesses play a key role in creating jobs, generating wealth and supporting the economy, Britain must also recognise that the reputation of business can be undermined by those who “appear to game the system and work to a different set of rules”.

The government is due to put forward proposals later this year aimed at improving corporate behaviour, including tackling excessive executive pay. May has also previously talked about the responsibility of companies to pay their taxes.

The government will seek to use its new industrial strategy to help ensure that families and communities who may lose out from global trade can actually benefit from it, May will say.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

How Uber Rival a car-hailing startup came to a Screeching Halt

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Mon, 14 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

When bills for a corporate credit card used by Karhoo Inc. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Ishag arrived, employees in the London office of the car-hailing startup often spotted unusual purchases. There were designer shoes and clothing, along with veterinarian’s bills for a pet dog. The employees flagged the costs as potentially non-business related, but signs of lavishness continued — first-class flights, a blowout in Las Vegas, Cuban cigars.

Ishag’s spending, described by several employees and those familiar with Karhoo’s finances, came to an abrupt end this week when the company shut down after running out of money. As the extent of the startup’s financial problems became known in recent weeks, Ishag stopped coming to the office and two other executives embarked on a futile attempt to keep the firm afloat, said the people, who asked not to be identified for fear of damaging career prospects. About 200 people lost their jobs.

Ishag did not respond to phone calls, e-mail or LinkedIn messages seeking comment. Some of the money was reimbursed, according to a person familiar with the costs. Employees said they didn’t know where Ishag was currently. In an e-mail to employees this week, he apologized for the company's collapse.

“I deeply regret the impact and inconvenience recent events have caused you all,” Ishag said in the e-mail. “I feel responsible, not only to you but also to your dependents as well, and wanted to extend my apologies to you all. I truly wish things had turned out very differently.”

Even by the standards of tech startups that fail more often than not, Karhoo’s demise is extraordinary. Before the company’s price-comparison app for hailing a taxi was released, Karhoo grabbed headlines last year when it reportedly raised $250 million and said it had plans to bring in more than $1 billion. In fact, it never raised that much. According to internal financial documents, it had raised $39 million as of September and was bleeding money as it attempted to take on Uber Technologies Inc. In its two-year life, Karhoo generated about $1 million in net revenue, according to the records shared with Bloomberg.

No Funds

Karhoo employees said they were largely unaware of its dire position until a recent Friday, when managers told them the company didn’t have enough funds to make payroll. There were no severance packages and people weren’t paid for the previous month’s work. People were furious. As the announcement was made, Ishag had been in Singapore in a last-ditch effort to raise more money, two former employees said.

Many employees were left wondering how the company could have blown through what they thought was $250 million in the bank. Some of them joined Karhoo because they were told in interviews that the company had raised that much money, making it more stable than a typical startup. After the figure appeared in U.K. news reports, company executives also cited it in meetings with potential business partners, according to people who attended.

Some workers had been confident in the company’s trajectory, after its app was downloaded nearly 300,000 times since it was introduced in May.

The company spent heavily to expand globally, several employees said. Long before the app was launched, Ishag opened offices in London, Singapore and Tel Aviv and built a marketing staff of more than two dozen. The company rented apartments in New York, including one at a cost of $12,000 per month, said a person with direct knowledge of the cost. The company also had a 10-year lease on an office in New York.

Ishag touted Karhoo as an upstart competitor to Uber. Its app aggregated cars available from non-Uber taxi and car services, allowing customers to pick from them. But the launch, originally scheduled for January 2016, was pushed back to May.

$400 Million

As Karhoo introduced its service in London and several other U.K. cities, Ishag was attempting to raise more money. One person involved in the process said Ishag was at one point seeking a $400 million valuation. To entice investors, he had to show that customers were using the service in droves to hire taxis, several former employees said.

The company began an aggressive promotional campaign in which it gave away codes for free rides, according to former employees. But the service had a bug that didn’t properly process the codes, meaning customers could use them over and over again. Some people on social media said they had taken more than 100 free rides. The company had to pay drivers or taxi companies even though Karhoo didn’t receive any money from customers. In October, about 70 percent of its bookings were with promo codes, according to sales documents seen by Bloomberg.

The app’s payment processing system also didn’t have many fraud protections, such as verifying a user’s address or requiring an e-mail address to set up an account, several people said. At one point, more than 90 percent of passengers’ credit-card payments were being rejected as a result of the problems, three people said.

Customer service was such an issue that Karhoo hired an outside contractor to handle it. The company, ModSquad Inc., is owed nearly $500,000, according to a breach-of-contract suit filed against Karhoo in New York. One employee said Karhoo canceled the contract after it realized the cost of ModSquad's service equated to about $3 per ride each customer was taking — more than it was taking in total after paying drivers. Several taxi companies that are owed money have been calling former Karhoo employees seeking payment, one person said.

Karhoo and ModSquad are scheduled to appear on Dec. 8 in the U.S. District Court in New York. When contacted, Erik Anderson, the lawyer representing ModSquad, said he couldn't comment about ongoing litigation.

Dog, Drinks

Employees described Ishag as persuasive and said he often talked about “creating a reality” for the company. He also gave himself perks like smoking in the office, flying first class and staying in top hotels, while staff members flew in economy and slept at budget inns.

When his dog, a pug, required a medical procedure, about $6,000 was charged for a veterinarian, two people familiar with his expenses said. In Las Vegas for a technology conference, he threw a party with drinks, exotic dancers and party favors that included Cuban cigars with Karhoo’s logo, two people said.

The company approached one of the Las Vegas party attendees later to see if he wanted to invest. Having seen what was spent at the party, the person demurred, according to a person involved in the fundraising attempt.

Ishag’s career started at age 17 when he left his London school and went to India to start his first business. In 2000, he was one of three founders of an online advertising group called Espotting, which used a network of search engines to deliver targeted traffic to advertisers. Ishag’s next move was to become CEO of waste-management company Bluewater Bio Ltd., which went public in 2007 and then got taken private again. He spent eight years there before departing.

Ishag said in a July interview with the online publication Startup that he got the idea for a comparison app for ground transport while in California and then decided to develop a prototype in India before raising money for Karhoo from investors. A cousin, David Ishag, joined the company’s board as chairman. David Ishag didn’t respond to a LinkedIn message seeking comment.

The company has dozens of backers, including Eric Daniels, the former CEO of Lloyds Banking Group Plc, who said his investment was “modest.” Other reported backers include Nick Gatfield, former chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment; Jonathan Feuer of the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners; and David Kowitz, co-founder of Indus Capital Partners. Feuer declined to comment. Gatfield and Kowitz couldn’t be reached.
Shutting Down

The company closed down owing $30 million to creditors, employees, property managers, advertising agencies and other contractors, according to one person who has seen the figures.

Ishag wasn’t seen around the company’s offices as employees boxed up their belongings and left. In the e-mail, he thanked them for working without pay.

In the interview with Startup, Ishag discussed the challenges of building a tech venture.

“If someone wants to do something special or difficult, that person has really got to focus all their efforts,” he said. “It takes a toll; it takes a toll on the people around you. It takes a toll on your partner if you’ve got one, or on your wife. That’s why I’m saying, as an entrepreneur, it is a way of life because it does affect everything you do.”

By Adam Satariano and David Hellier

Mark Zuckerberg: How He Built His Facebook Empire

Bloomberg's “Game Changers” goes from Harvard dorm rooms to NASDAQ trading floors to reveal the Facebook CEO's sheer and sometimes stubborn determination. (Source: Bloomberg)

An original documentary series, Bloomberg Television's “Game Changers” provides a compelling look at the business leaders and entrepreneurs who climbed to the top of their fields and changed our world. How did Warren Buffett become the most successful businessman in America? What drove Jeff Bezos to make Amazon.com the world's largest online retailer? How did Reed Hastings transform the world of movies with Netflix? These in-depth profiles and those of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Harry Potter's creator JK Rowling, entrepreneur Mark Cuban, fashion designer Ralph Lauren, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, tell their stories with candid, exclusive interviews and personal accounts from the people who helped these business leaders along the way.

Businesses in London proposed granting visas to EU Nationals to Avoid Brexit Skills Shortage

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bloomberg.com – – Fri, 11 Nov, 2016) London, Uk – –

Visa
Chris Fleming/flickr.com

Businesses have proposed granting visas to European Union nationals in the London metropolitan area to prevent any migration curbs after the Brexit vote leading to a shortage of workers.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Thursday that about 25 percent of London’s workforce is foreign, while EU nationals account for a huge proportion of workers in industries including finance, construction and hospitality. If they suddenly needed work visas under current immigration rules, London would lose 160,000 workers and face a 7 billion-pound ($8.7 billion) negative economic impact, the LCCI said, citing a report by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The call follows a PricewaterhouseCoopers study last month that said the U.K. should adopt a regional visa system to allow it to deal with staffing needs once it leaves the EU. That report was commissioned by City of London Corp., which oversees the financial district. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for a visa system for the British capital.

London voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU, and Khan has said that, as much as he “might like the idea of a London city state,” he was “not planning to blockade” it. He is lobbying Prime Minister Theresa May for increased autonomy and access to talent.

The Brexit vote, and indications the government may prioritize controlling immigration, has exacerbated existing concerns about staff shortages. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the supply of workers has been declining for more than three years.

“In the approaching post-Brexit scenario, for London to remain competitive, we need to not only recruit the very best but also to be able to identify where we have skills shortages and act,” said LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge.

The lobby wants a one-off, single-issue London Work Visa granting current EU nationals indefinite leave to remain. It said the government could decide eligibility — such as employment in London on the June referendum day or the triggering of Article 50 — to mitigate against a sudden influx of new arrivals.

By Fergal O'Brien

UK technology start-up Improbable seeks backing from both sides of the Atlantic

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com via new.sky.com – – Wed, 26 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

A British technology company which last year attracted money from one of the hottest investors in Silicon Valley is in talks with prospective backers about a new funding round that could value it at more than £400m.

Sky News has learnt that Improbable, which creates virtual worlds used in complex computer games, has approached investors on both sides of the Atlantic (Shanghai: 600558.SS – news) about putting fresh money into the business.

The talks, which have yet to be concluded, come 18 months after Improbable took $20m from Andreessen Horowitz, the California-based tech investor which was an early backer of Facebook (NasdaqGS: FB – news) .

Improbable is widely regarded as one of the most exciting companies to be based in Tech City, the district of London which acts as a hub for digital start-ups.

The company, which says its software has a wide variety of potential applications, such as modelling how a virus might spread through a major city, was founded little more than three years ago by Herman Narula, a Cambridge computer science graduate.

Improbable has also described its Spatial operating system as being applicable in areas such as economics, finance, town planning, transport and military training.

Last year's fundraising was reported to have valued Improbable at $100m, with talks about a new round raised at five times that valuation raising eyebrows among some technology investors.

“It's a fantastic idea, but the revenue model isn't really proven yet,” said one serial backer of London start-ups.

Improbable is understood to have presented at a conference hosted by Allen & Co, the investment bank which focuses on technology and media deals, earlier this year.

Augmented and virtual reality companies are attracting significant investment from global technology investors, further inflating many of their valuations.

Allen & Co is now said to be assisting Improbable with its fundraising discussions. Improbable declined to comment.

Entrepreneurial Britains aspire to be Branson and Sugar wannabes

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, Oct 25, 2016) London, Uk – –

The entrepreneurial spirit among Britons runs deep. More than three-quarters of Brits, and particularly young people, dream of being their own boss.

While the prospect of long hours, increased stress and a long haul to success weighs heavily on the minds of those keen on starting their own business, more than half cite the hope of a striking a better work-life balance as a major motivating factor.

According to new research from St. James’s Place Academy, the training and development arm of the FTSE-100 financial services company, 78% of men and 73% of women aged 25-55 said they had dreams of becoming an entrepreneur.

More than half of all 2,000 quizzed thought that having more control/setting their own hours would be the best thing.

A further 21% thought that better job satisfaction would result, 15% believe they could increase their earnings and 11% like the idea of working from wherever they like.

“It’s also great news to see women and men equally enthusiastic about the prospect of running their own businesses – indeed, the entrepreneurial vision seems to be something that unites the sexes rather than dividing them,” said Adrian Batchelor, academy director at St. James’s Place Academy.

When it comes to perceptions of what might be the hardest thing about running a business, men and women slightly differed.
A significant minority of women think that managing the finances would be the hardest thing (30%) compared to the 38% of men who think attracting customers would be the toughest challenge.

Roughly equal numbers of men and women thought that long hours (19%) and stress (16.5%) would be the hardest thing to deal with.
“As the future of our success depends on a steady stream of people wanting to run their own business to join the Academy, we’re relieved to discover that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in the UK,” added Mr Batchelor.

Younger workers (those aged between 18-35) are more predisposed to the entrepreneurial dream (82%) than older people in employment (58% of those aged 55+).

And Londoners are the most entrepreneurially-minded (81% want to run their own business) while the Scottish are the least (69%).

St. James’s Place Academy is hosting an event – Inspiring Women – on 23rd November in London.

By Mark Dorman

£10 million venture capital fund to invest in female entrepreneurs in the UK.

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Mon, 24 Oct, 2016) London, UK – –

Debbie Wosskow, the CEO of home sharing platform Love Home Swap, and Anna Jones, the former CEO of publisher Hearst Magazines UK, are raising a £10 million venture capital fund to invest in female entrepreneurs in the UK.

The duo announced their new AllBright fund on Monday, saying it will help to address the funding gap that currently exists between male and female led companies.

Wosskow told Business Insider that a number of high net worth individuals and angels have already contributed towards the £10 million fund but was unable to provide an exact figure. The company hopes to make up the remainder from other limited partners (LPs) between now and the end of the year.

In April, analysts at tech research firm CrunchBase found that just 10% of the world's VC money currently goes to female founders.

In addition to the VC fund, AllBright is launching a crowdfunding platform in the next two weeks so members of the public can back female-founded companies, with investments of £100 and upwards. There will also be an “AllBright Academy” at some stage, which will provide female founders with online courses and mentoring sessions.

“The VC fund alone doesn't cut it because you can't get the scale, no matter how big the fund is,” said Wosskow, who is chairman of AllBright. “But the fund, plus the crowd, and the academy will do it.”

Wosskow, an angel investor herself that has backed the likes of Kate Unsworth's smart jewellery firm Vinaya, was keen to stress AllBright is for companies of all shapes and sizes, not just those in tech.

“This isn’t about tech,” she said. “The statistics on women-led business are just so crap. We felt like we needed to do something to change the conversation.”

Wosskow, who was tasked by the UK government with writing a report on the sharing economy in the UK, was also keen to highlight that AllBright isn't “anti-men,” pointing to several male employees on the AllBright team.

By Sam Shead

House calls are on the way back thanks to this health care startup

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.finance.yahoo.com – – Tue, 18 Oct, 2016) London, Uk – –

One health care company is harnessing technology to bring a doctor to your doorstep within two hours.

Heal connects patients with vetted and licensed pediatricians and family practice doctors. Doctors arrive in under two hours for emergency situations or you can schedule an appointment ahead of time. It costs $99 per visit without insurance or an in-network co-pay.
On Tuesday, the Santa Monica-based company announced it has raised $26.9 million in Series A funding led by Thomas Tull’s Tull Investment group, bringing the total funding to $40 million. Other investors joining the round include Breyer Capital and Qualcomm (QCOM) Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs.
“Heal is uniquely positioned to assume the role of the go-to health care option in America. They have the leadership team, technology innovation and vision required to contribute to the transformation of the health care industry,” Tull said in the press release.
The husband and wife co-founders came up with the idea in October 2014, when their then-7-month-old son was sick on a Friday afternoon.

“We couldn’t get a hold of his pediatrician so we went to the emergency room and waited there from 4 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Turns out my son was OK. But when we were on the way home, my wife turned to me and said there has to be a better way,” one of the founders, Nick Desai, told Yahoo Finance.
Desai and his wife, Dr. Renee Dua — who is board-certified in nephrology, hypertension and internal medicine, and served as chief of medicine at Valley Presbyterian and Simi Valley Hospitals in California — embarked on a journey to reinvent primary and preventive care.
Since April 1 of this year, Heal has seen 8,500 patients. Recruiting mostly through referrals, the company employs 15 full-time doctors and 45 long-term contractors. Desai says he understands that Heal can’t fix medicine for patients unless they help doctors first.
“The reality of the health care system is that primary care physicians are unhappy,” he said. “Ironically, this dissatisfaction exists because doctors don’t have enough time to practice quality medicine.”
With Heal, a medical assistant drives doctors to a patient’s home. Through a tablet-based record system, physicians spend the car ride analyzing a patient’s history through the digitized system.

Currently available in California’s Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and San Diego, Heal accepts all the preferred provider organization (PPO) health insurance plans, including Aetna (AET), UnitedHealthCare (UNH), Cigna (CI) and Anthem Blue Cross (ANTM).
“We want to offer services that are patient-friendly and improve health care outcomes,” Desai said. “More and more people have insurance because of Obamacare, but it’s the first time they don’t know how to find and use services or if they don’t want to wait for a doctor they just go to the emergency room, which costs more money for both the patient and the system.”
Heal’s mission is akin to that of a bevy of other health care startups that have served specific regions. Doctors Making Housecalls operates in North Carolina. Ashton Kutcher-backed Pager operates in New York City. Dose Healthcare was started by an emergency medicine physician in Nashville. Despite regional competition, none have expanded nationally. Desai thinks Heal is equipped to do so.
With the funding, Desai says he wants to be in every corner of California and serve more patients. Heal will also begin accepting Medicare next month, and it will extend into 10 new markets in 2017.
“From February to November, we’ll be entering one new market a month,” he says.
Of course, the landscape for certain providers isn’t looking so bright, with Aetna, UnitedHealth and Humana exiting 11 of 15 state exchanges next year.
Acknowledging that local knowledge is critical (he and Dua grew up, were educated and have spent their entire adult lives in California), Desai said he and his team need to fully grasp the regulatory market and leverage existing networks to succeed. He’s optimistic that people are desperately looking for an alternative to the health care options typically available to them.
“Health care delivery is very fragmented,” he said. “We’re up against the system but there are a lot of players.”
Additionally, he wants to participate in the next wave of biometric product development.
“We want to reinvent the business process of medicine and we’re seeing that a patient’s home environment is critical to precision medicine,” he said.
By partnering with diagnostics companies, Heal aims to develop intelligent software to create more accurate treatment plans.
And Desai is practicing what he preaches. His now 2 ½-year-old son gets everything from his check-ups to his vaccinations from a Heal doctor. They haven’t taken him to a doctor’s office in the past year.

By Melody Hahm