Rental apps popping up like weeds
When we hear about a young startup in the rental sector, our ears always perk up, because it currently has the most room for improvement, and is light years behind the residential sector. We have highlighted dozens of them in recent years, watching them grow and make some of the same mistakes that residential search companies have made, namely the assumption that no one does what they do or can do.
TechCrunch recently wrote about Y Combinator-backed Rentobo.com, which at first glance was refreshingly beautiful. TechCrunch writes, “The team, which was part of the Y Combinator Summer 2011 class, started off originally with the idea of auctioning off apartment rentals. But it quickly realized that all the infrastructure it was building would be extremely useful in just getting most apartment listings online. So it began to focus instead on what it could do to automate the process and make things easier for both landlords and tenants.”
While an early pivot is never unhealthy, it made us immediately wonder why Y Combinator would back a company entering such a noisy space that is being pioneered by the big bucks? Although Rentobo is well designed and could possibly do the same tasks, RentJuice has already innovated the “common application” for renters and landlords, the crux of what appears to be Rentobo’s offering, and RentJuice also made headlines last year when they created the first ever directory of rental industry insiders.
Since then, RentJuice was acquired by Zillow for $40 million, so perhaps Rentobo sees flaws in the system and seeks to go head to head with Zillow, and why not? Zillow saw flaws in Realtor.com and came out doing something extremely similar, but in a way that they saw as superior.
Sexy design, but what’s next?
Rentobo also has to compete with LeaseRunner which has a loyal following for their making the leasing process paperless, automated, and easy enough for the non-tech savvy to understand, particularly landlords. Alternatively, RentMonitor simplifies property management and reduces paperwork, alongside their competitors.
Since the company already pivoted, it is conceivable that they could end up adding search, and not only go up against legacy brands like ForRent.com, but Inhabi, which matches renters and landlords, eHarmony style, or Lovely which is amazingly beautiful and going national.
Maybe the next iteration will include scoring for listings like Rentenna or throw in a mix of aggregated short term rentals with traditional rentals like Rentmix or stick to aggregating Craigslist and other listing sites like Padmapper is so famous for.
IS there room for Rentobo in this noisy sector?
So the question remains – is there room for Rentobo in the rental sector? Their design is beautiful, but not exactly unique, and their offering is being adopted already by Zillow through their new acquisition of RentJuice. They could pivot to go head to head with another company, but while the space is noisy, it is our assertion that there is tremendous room for improvement and innovation in the rental sector, particularly with multifamily and one-off landlords, as the actual leasing process remains a pain point for rental seekers every day.
So, while Rentobo’s offering is not overtly unique, they should take that Y Combinator seed money and keep forging ahead, and be aggressive about it, just like Zillow and Trulia did to Realtor.com – there’s room for improvement in the noisy space of everyone trying to innovate, but the rental sector is still coming up short. It will be fascinating to see Rentobo go after Zillow and their other competitors, as the cycle of young startups begin putting pressure on the companies that are no longer the new kids on the block. To Rentobo, we say go get ’em.
Use AI to automatically transcribe your Google Meet meetings
(TECH NEWS) This Google Chrome extension uses artificial intelligence to automatically transcribe and log notes from your Google Meet and video meetings.
A new Google Chrome extension helps eliminate the pains of transcribing your Google Meet video meetings, interviews, and lectures. Otter.ai makes note-taking easy by transcribing and captioning all your chats in real-time and lets you save and share the transcripts with participants.
The AI-powered assistant differs from other transcription services because its AI model was built from the ground up to specifically handle long-form, multi-speaker, and complicated meeting situations.
“Meetings usually run long, could be 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and people interrupt each other all the time. People may speak a little faster or a little slower. They may pause and hesitate and restart and suddenly change topic,” said Otter.ai CEO and Co-founder Sam Liang in an interview on the NVIDIA AI podcast.
“All of these make taking notes for meetings way more complicated. So, that’s why we build AI technologies to optimize note-taking for meetings,” he continued.
Since Otter uses Ambient Voice Intelligence, it can recognize voices and even learn new terminology. With the tool, you can find what you need quickly. By using a summary keyword, you can see where that word appears in all instances. You can also speed up the playback or skim through long recordings.
Besides Google Meet, Otter works on iOS, Android, and Zoom. And, it’s available in all the company’s different pricing plans. With a free plan, you get 600 minutes of transcribing with each recording having a maximum length of 40 minutes.
Paid plans offer more recording time and length maximums. They give you additional features like the ability to import audio and video, advanced export and search functions, and the capability to be used during live events.
The cross-platform product can be used anywhere, which means you can use the AI transcribing assistant on your phone. So, if you’re a student or journalist trying to record an interview, you can use the mobile app to record the conversation. In the app’s dashboard, you can view all your recorded transcriptions and those shared with you.
The company’s target market is the business and enterprise meeting market, and people are definitely using it. “Today with remote work and distributed workforce, most of the meetings are happening on Zoom or Webex or Microsoft Teams. So, people are finding Otter really useful to improve their collaboration remotely,” said Liang.
Otter is simple enough to use. All you do is go to the Google Web Store to install the extension. You tap the Otter icon to open it and login or sign up for an account. Once you’re logged on, you just tap the Record button to begin recording. Then, the extension will do all the hard work for you.
Microsoft’s latest HUGE investment: Self-driving car technologies
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft invests in self-driving car technology by joining other investors in a combined equity investment of $2 billion.
Microsoft has put its money into self-driving car technology. The tech giant has partnered with General Motors and Cruise, GM’s majority-owned driverless car startup, to “accelerate the
commercialization of self-driving vehicles.”
“Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a press release. “Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”
Along with Honda and other institutional investors, the companies are investing a combined $2 billion into the autonomous car company. This new funding round brings Cruise to a post-money valuation of $30 billion.
The long-term strategic partnership between the companies will be a collaborative one and beneficial for both. To roll out its fleet of self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, Azure.
In turn, as GM’s and Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, Microsoft will use the car company’s “industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.”
Besides helping bring the self-driving technology out to the market quicker, the companies will also work together on other digitization initiatives. For instance, they will collaborate on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. And, explore opportunities to streamline operations and increase productivity.
“Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “As Cruise and GM’s preferred
cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
Wow! This synthetic cornea gave a legally blind man his vision back!
(TECH NEWS) Another instance of “technology is amazing:” this minimally invasive eye implant has opened new doors for sight restoration surgeries for the legally blind.
After being the first patient to receive a cutting-edge cornea implant, a legally blind 78-year-old man can see again. Directly after his surgery, the patient was able to recognize his family members and read an eye chart. The KPro implant comes from the company CorNeat.
KPro is the first implant that can be directly integrated into the eye wall, replacing damaged or deformed corneas with no donor tissue. The clear layer that protects the front portion of the eye is called the corona. The corona is susceptible to degeneration or scarring, as well as a number of diseases such as keratopathy, keratoconus and pseudophakia bullous.
While artificial cornea implants already exist, the surgeries are complex and typically only used as a last resort when transplants or cornea ring implants don’t work. That is perhaps what makes the CorNeat transplants so remarkable – it’s a simple procedure that’s minimally invasive.
Additionally, KPro uses a biomimetic material that “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration”. Not only can these implants give you your sight back instantly, but they also can help the natural tissue in your eyes to grow back and integrate. Now, THIS is cool stuff.
CorNeat said that ten more patients in Israel are approved for trials, as well as two in Canada. Six others are in the approval process in France, U.S., and the Netherlands. Professor Irit Bahar of CorNeat stated that he believes this project will ultimately impact millions of people’s lives. Only time will tell.
This advancement in biotech comes at a time where many Americans are uninsured and at a higher risk for health ailments due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent effects. At its best, CorNeat’s KPro offers some hope – while COVID has brought many industries to their knees, advancements in medical technology seem to persist.
If the results of the implants continue to stay as promising as they are now, who knows – maybe we’ll all be receiving cornea implants as a normal part of health upkeep in the not-so-distant future. I know I’ll be first in line.
Business Finance4 hours ago
6 questions to ask when considering a startup accelerator
Business Entrepreneur1 week ago
How can a small business beat a large competitor moving in next door?
Opinion Editorials2 weeks ago
Ways to socialize safely during quarantine
Opinion Editorials5 days ago
Freelance is the Future? I call bull malarky
Business Marketing2 days ago
Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way
Business Marketing2 weeks ago
Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?
Business Finance2 weeks ago
Under-representation of women in fintech: Let’s talk about it
Tech News1 week ago
The top 10 languages you can know as a programmer