5 Minutes with Isabella De Michelis Di Slonghello, founder and CEO of Hi Pulse

Posted on : 28-06-2016 | By : richard.gale | In : 5 Minutes With, Featured Startup, Innovation

Tags: , , , ,

0

Isabella De Michelis Di Slonghello, CEO and founder of Hi Pulse, a fintech firm focusing on privacy preferences management. Isabella previously was Vice President for Technology Strategy at Qualcomm.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I’m a Mum on duty and an entrepreneur launching a new technology business. It’s a real challenge to match and deliver on both fronts. As (at High Pulse) we are in the development phase of the product and it’s an internet service, which will boost consumers privacy, I have taken a lot of inspiration in talking to my children when we designed the requirements. Not surprisingly, they returned very constructive feedback showing they are fully aware of the internet economics and of the so called free-internet model functioning. They are 9 and 13 years old. So I take this as a good sign of maturity of how younger generation are looking at the internet: a wonderful experience on condition to remember what the rules of the game are.

For several years you have worked in Government Affairs… the EU is now taking major steps to strengthen data protection, such as the GDPR – what changes should we expect in the next couple of years? In your opinion, is GDPR sufficient?

I consider the adoption of GDPR a pivotal step in the construction of the digital world of the future. Many are the challenges to its implementation, however the goals set forth in the Regulation are achievable and companies shall start immediately looking into what the new requirements set. I hope other jurisdictions in the world will get inspired from the GDPR. I sense that some players in the market may feel uncomfortable with some of the provisions and in particular, with those which relates to “enforcement”. However, a strong enforcement scheme is what will trigger a much more solid and consumer friendly environment and this is really highly welcome.

Based on your experience as Vice President and Managing Director at Qualcomm Europe and VP Technology Policy Strategy (EMEA) at Qualcomm Technologies, what advice would you offer to women aspiring to leadership positions within the IT/tech industries?

Leadership positions are always open for women who want to take on opportunities in IT/tech as in every other industry. But it requires a high level of commitment, a great dose of energy and the openness to understand that finding a mentor and building your own network of influence are as important steps as distinguishing yourself by skills like executing, partnering and communicating.

In your opinion, how can we get more girls into IT?

It’s a public policy imperative. Computer science programming should become a basic competence from elementary schools onward and be taught to boys and girls at the same time. There would be lot more girls in IT if coding would be treated for what it is – a basic learning tool like, maths and physics.

Which tech innovations/trends are you the most excited about?

Bringing internet connectivity to the next 4 bn people in the world is one of the greatest objectives which I would like to see realized in coming years. Technology innovation in that space has lot of potential. Applications in personalized health have also strong potential. I expect big data to be a big contributor to future trends and financial technology to really take a boost in coming years.

Featured Tech Startup – Interview With Allan Martinson, Starship Robots

Posted on : 26-04-2016 | By : Maria Motyka | In : 5 Minutes With, Cyber Security, Featured Startup, General News, Innovation, IoT

Tags: , ,

0

What is it like to be part of a startup which brings robots to life (and to the streets of London)?

Our robots have been named #4 most anticipated tech product of 2016, right after Apple’s new iPhone. It is totally awesome!!! I have been part of many companies in my life but this one has completely spoiled me. It is such a ride.

 

starship woww

 

Starship Robots was featured in Forbes’ first episode of ‘The Premise’ tech podcast, during which one of the co-founders of Starship noted that the delivery industry is the largest undisrupted industry in the world and stated that “Millions of parcels are being delivered every day in a wasteful manner and its possible to automate this using today’s technology”. Could you please expand on this?

In EU and US alone the delivery firms carry 25 billion packages a year, plus we are doing 130 billion shopping trips on our cars. There is absolutely no point of moving a 2 or 7 ton gas-guzzling vehicle to bring somebody a few kilos of deliveries. You better put wheels to this package or bag and let it roll to you, with 0 emissions, 0 noise, 0 road congestion.

An average family loses an hour per day on shopping trips. We have a mission of giving people this 1 hour back. You can do your own math how many billions of hours we could release.

 

What do you consider as the most interesting insight you have learnt during Starship Robots’ trials? How prepared are consumers for their adoption?

People are MUCH more friendly towards those devices than we ever thought. And absolute majority takes them as the most natural thing on Earth.

 

starshipp

 

Each of Starship’s innocent-looking robots is equipped with 9 cameras, providing you with a 360 perspective. How would you respond to concerns over data privacy linked to what some could consider the introduction of surveillance machines to the streets and people’s doorsteps?

What is the difference between a driven looking at surroundings through the car’s window and our operator (potentially) looking at the sidewalk through cameras? Nothing. Following your logic, we should drive cars with closed eyes 🙂

 

As someone working in new tech, how do you imagine European metropolises in 10, 20 years?

European cities in 20 years will have self-driving cars and around 3 delivery robot per each such car. That is not a joke but based on our calculation on transportation needs.

 

When can we expect a launch of Starship Robots?

We expect a full launch in 2017. BTW We are looking for a name for the robot and feel free to submit ideas on www.starship.xyz.

Featured Startup – 5 Minutes With Avtar Sehra, Crowdaura

Posted on : 26-02-2016 | By : Maria Motyka | In : 5 Minutes With, Featured Startup, Finance, Innovation

Tags: , , , , , , ,

0

In your view, which aspects of the financial services industry are the most likely to be revolutionised by the Blockchain?

Blockchain is being presented as a savior of the financial system, which a key focus point on clearing and settlement. However, there are many aspects of the trade-lifecyle process that are being either overlooked or ignored and some of those aspects are fundamentally much more of an overhead in terms of time and cost than some of the post trade activities. In addition, using current technology the post trade activity cannot be fully autonomised as smart contracts still need external scheduling services to trigger key Blockchain events, such as cashflows.

Blockchain capability and capacity will increase in terms of data security, storage and compute. As this takes place, the chain will become an increasingly fatter layer in the financial services trade life cycle technology stack. For example Crowdaura is already experimenting with instrument document structuring, pricing and execution on chain as well as looking at the obvious post trade activities. While we are focusing on simple debt, equity and swap instruments at the moment, we have our sights on much more complex products and deal structures.

We also believe that the current view of deploying a global Blockchain fabric for financial services is most likely an incorrect approach. We think a global finance Blockchain network will develop like how many other networks develop, such as the Internet. For example there are huge opportunities for driving greater efficiencies in the internal trade lifecycle from execution, trade capture to documentation, confirmation and other post trade administration and control activities. At the moment these internal trade lifecycle processes are stymied by inefficiencies related to transfer of data between systems and executing reconciliations and reporting, or trying to maintain unpractical or uneconomical golden data sources.

In Crowdaura we are already experimenting with deployment of internal operational chains, where our applications can plug into, and providing adapters to integrate in-house or third party applications into the chains. Eventually these local area chains will then be connected to wider areas chains through trusted internal “pegging” nodes, very much like how LANs connect to the Internet in a current enterprise environment. In this model certain internal functions such as confirmations, clearing and settlement, can then move from the internal to the external chain, whilst still maintaining data security and privacy.

avtar

Crowdaura has recently been chosen for both the Fintech Innovation Lab (as the only Fintech startup in the lab utilising Blockchain) and the Microsoft Accelerator program – what made you stand out from competing startups?

Crowdaura beat over 300 start-ups to be accepted into the 6th Microsoft London Accelerator cohort, and over 600 start-ups to win a place in the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab. We are one of the first Blockchain start-ups to be accepted into the Microsoft Accelerator, and this is because Crowdaura doesn’t position itself as a Blockchain company. We leverage a complex stack of technologies, with Blockchain being one of them, but our focus is to provide a best in class Financial Services offering.

We feel that Crowdaura is a glimpse into the future of investment/wholesale banking, as we bring together digital platforms, machine learning and Blockchain to enable large financial services firms to provide automated self-service banking to clients for securities lifecycle management. We want to help financial services firms do what they do, but more easily, cheaply, quickly and safely. This is achieved through automation of activities such as legal/regulatory document structuring; intelligent marketing, distribution, execution; and a Blockchain based clearing, settlement and administration engine.

What made us stand out is that we focus on developing technology for real world financial application. We look at a specific market, the business and operating models being used in that market, and then we try and build a minimal viable end-to-end system that enables frictionless execution within that market. We have many key services that are pre-developed, and most of these are web based (SaaS solutions), which can all be provided as a centralised “investment bank engine-in-a-box”.

However, the true power is leveraged in networks where exchanges can connect up with brokers, or banks with buy-side clients. In such cases we have developed a Blockchain engine, chain agnostic – meaning we can utilise the Bitcoin Blockchain, Etherium Blockchain, or any other blockchain and that can be leveraged for clearing, settlement and depository services, and executing Delivery Versus Payment (DVP) using fiat currencies. We are also experimenting with more on-chain functionality; obviously administration of coupons, dividends and voting are the easy wins. But we have a longer term vision connected with chains that have greater compute capabilities as we feel this is where the future is for truly distributed markets.

Could you share your experiences of working in an accelerator?

The London Microsoft Accelerator program itself has been steadily gaining momentum since launching three years ago, offering a select few start-ups mentoring, support and resources as they push their product through development and bring their offering to market. The accelerator culminates in a pitching event where VCs, Angels, and notables throughout industry assemble to view some of the finest start-ups in the UK and potentially offer investment.

Microsoft Accelerator (MSA) has been extremely supportive in helping us develop the technology side of our business whilst we were still in ‘stealth’ in the fourth quarter of 2015. With their help and support we were able to successfully win a place in the Accenture FinTech Innovation Lab as the only ‘blockchain’ startup in this year’s batch. Being part of the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab is a great opportunity as it gives Crowdaura the opportunity to work with many of our potential clients in Investment Banking to refine our product and execute novel proof of concepts (PoC’s). So far it’s been exciting to network with different high-potential high-growth startups, share ideas, and discuss collaborative efforts in the future. There is also a lot we are learning from our start-up colleagues in the lab, they are all immensely intelligent and talented people running some incredibly innovative startups.