Jow, the French e-grocery app — which combines recipes, recommendations and online grocery ordering — has raised $7 million in new funding.
The round is led by Stride.VC, alongside Caterina Fake and Jyri Engeström from Yes VC, and Shan-Lyn Ma, the co-founder and CEO of Zola. Previous seed backers, DST global partners and eVentures, also participated.
Launched in 2018 and now supporting five of France’s leading grocery retailers (Monoprix, Carrefour, Auchan, Chronodrive, and E.Leclerc), Jow’s app claims to let you complete your weekly online food shop in as little as a minute (once you’ve been on-boarded, of course).
It does this by creating customised menus, tailored to each user and household, and then automatically fills your online shopping cart with the required ingredients. The idea is to answer the question: “what’s for dinner tonight?” while providing a more cost-effective alternative to recipe kits such as Blue Apron or Hellofresh, and less reliance on take-outs from the likes of Deliveroo or Uber Eats.
“Doing your weekly shopping online can take you up to one hour,” says Jow co-founder and CEO Jacques-Edouard Sabatier. “You waste a lot of time looking for the right product category, sub category, scrolling through hundreds of references, you finally find your product, put it in your cart, and repeat this process up to 40 times (the number of items in your cart)! It’s a horrendous experience, with no added value at all for the customer”.
That’s in contrast to brick ‘n’ mortar grocery shopping, argues Sabatier, where there is an opportunity to “feel, taste and smell the products”. He says it’s the terrible user experience of grocery shopping online that has limited its e-grocery growth. Jow aims to change that.
“Jow creates a customised menu, just for you, with simple and delicious recipes,” explains Sabatier. “Our food recommendation engine considers your tastes, your kitchen appliances, whether or not you have children and checks the availability of the ingredients in your supermarket. Jow then automatically fills your cart with all the ingredients you need to cook the meals”.
In addition, Jow offers a customised list of your repeat purchases, and its recommendation engine claims to help you choose the exact quantities needed to avoid waste. You can also check out with a single click, and the app will synchronise with your chosen supermarket delivery or pick up service.
Noteworthy is that the app’s recipe to cart feature represents on average 75% of the products Jow users add to their cart. Staple products such as toilet paper, beverages, toothpaste etc. make up the remaining 25%.
The app is free for end users, seeing the Paris and New York-based startup generate affiliate revenue from supermarkets that want to use the service to acquire younger, mobile-first customers. The business model is asset light, too, since Jow is largely built on top of the existing infrastructure and capabilities of larger supermarkets.
“Apart from the 50x improvement on the e-grocery funnel, it’s unbelievable to see that to date, in a world where you have tailored and recommended experiences around music, video etc., you have no strong recommendation engine or experiences around food,” adds Sabatier.
In addition, the startup believes that more broadly it has created a mobile e-grocery experience that actually works. “E-grocery is one of the only e-commerce segments where desktop still prevails,” says Sabatier. “[Bucking this trend], 90% of Jow’s customers shop using their mobile devices, the experience is so smooth and fast that you can do your weekly shopping in just one minute on the subway or the bus”.
Amazon expands Fire TV Live Channel guide
Amazon Fire TV users have a change to look forward to that is live as of today. Amazon has announced the expansion of providers for the Fire TV Live Channel guide, adding more than 400 channels from 20 different providers. The expanded Live Channel guide includes content from YouTube TV, Sling TV, Tubi, and its services, including Prime Video Channels and Prime Video Live events.
Amazon also says it will integrate IMDB, XUMO, Plex, and Amazon News app into the Fire TV Live TV channel guide. With those channels added to the guide, users can now see them in the Live tab and the Universal Channel tab. All of the services, except for Plex, are available now.
Plex will come soon, but an exact timeframe is unannounced. Amazon is also currently making all of the services and content from several other providers free to new customers. Along with the additional channels, Alexa support for all live TV programs has been expanded. With the Alexa expansion, users are able to navigate to specific channels or play live TV shows by name using Alexa commands.
When users turn on their TV with the change applied, they now see shows, movies, and sports rather than a row of apps. Amazon also promises to continue to invest in Live TV. Late in 2020, Amazon added Fire TV support for on-demand local news channels in 12 cities. That service will expand to 90 additional cities during 2021.
Late last month, Amazon added its Luna gaming service to Fire TV, and no invite was needed to join. The Luna gaming service launched last September and had been in early access requiring an invite to sign up. Amazon’s move also eliminated the requirement for an invite to purchase the Luna controller.
OnePlus Nord 2 leak might sound disappointing to some
Although it doesn’t reach the top 5 in terms of numbers, OnePlus is arguably one of the more well-known brands in the smartphone market, particularly among Android phones. Its mix of specs and price continues to enchant some consumers, even though those prices continue to climb every year. It launched the OnePlus Nord to balance the scales and the mid-range phone received the same warm welcome in markets where it was made available. Its successor, however, might give some fans pause as it switches out the most important component from Qualcomm to MediaTek.
You could almost say that OnePlus has been, so far, a Qualcomm shop, with all its phones powered by one Snapdragon or another. That’s true even for the OnePlus Nord N10 5G and OnePlus Nord N100, budget phones that, in another time or place, would have used a MediaTek processor known for being more affordable than Qualcomm’s equivalent. That chain might finally be broken if Android Central’s insider tip comes to pass.
The OnePlus Nord 2 will allegedly use a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 instead of whatever Snapdragon 7-series Qualcomm will have this year. On paper, this is quite an upgrade from the first OnePlus Nord’s Snapdragon 765G as the Dimensity 1200 is the company’s top-tier 5G processor. On paper, it would be racing against a Snapdragon 8-series instead.
In practice, it remains to be seen how well the Dimensity 1200 will perform. MediaTek hasn’t exactly been known for its raw performance and more for its balance of price and power. That said, offering 5G at higher clock speeds will benefit buyers’ pockets as well.
The bigger winner here is perhaps MediaTek, who is able to bag yet another big player in the smartphone market. While Qualcomm retains its grip on the high-end premium market as always, MediaTek’s 5G Dimensity chips are slowly gnawing away at its share, even with 5G-capable Snapdragon 6-series processors available.
Microsoft Garage Group Transcribe tries to make meeting notes obsolete
AI-powered transcription services have been around for quite some time now but the transition to online meetings of late have almost made them less useful. More and more businesses, however, are moving back to in-person meetings but with safeguards in place, like masks and physical distancing. That can make automatic transcription harder, forcing some to take notes and lose the flow of the conversation. Microsoft Garage’s latest project, however, tries to address that with seemingly magical AI, as long as everyone in the meeting has an iPhone and the Group Transcribe app installed.
To be clear, Group Transcribe is designed for in-person meetings, not for online ones. While it can still be used for remote or virtual meetings, its efficacy could drop considerably. That’s because the app harnesses the collective audio input of all phones connected in a meeting to create a “highly accurate transcript” that also includes who said what.
This “live” requirement also powers Group Transcribe’s real-time translation capabilities. That means that participants can speak comfortably in their own languages and others will be able to follow along with a live translated transcript. Group Transcribe supports more than 80 languages, Microsoft Garage boasts, but its seemingly magical power doesn’t come without its costs.
Like any AI-based transcription and translation system, Group Transcribe improves and grows according to the data it is fed. While Microsoft promises it doesn’t store audio recordings or transcribed text on its servers, the Garage research team is appealing to users to donate some of that data to help improve the system. It’s an opt-in condition, thankfully, and requires all participants to actually agree to the donation.
Recordings and transcripts will be “de-identified” and split up into snippets that will then be distributed to reviewers. That said, Microsoft Garage does make it clear that humans will actually be involved in processing those snippets, perhaps bringing back the nightmares around smart voice assistants and third-party contractors a few years back.
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