14 March 2018

INNNOVATE - Mars Announces US$100M Fund

Leap Ventures and the Companion Fund are Supported by US$100 Million Venture Investment from Mars Petcare

 (PRNewsfoto/Mars Petcare)Mars Petcare unveiled two new programs to support startup innovation and the next generation of disruptors in the pet care industry. Leap Venture Studio (Leap) in partnership with Michelson Found Animals and R/GA is the first accelerator focused on the future of pet care, and Companion Fund is a $100 million venture capital fund in partnership with Digitalis Ventures
"We're excited to support entrepreneurs and innovators in creating new products and services that deliver on our purpose: 'A Better World for Pets,'" said Poul Weihrauch, President, Mars Petcare. "The extraordinary opportunities of connected technology and data are open to all. Match them with the expansive reach, resources and core capabilities of a company like Mars, and together we can create a powerful force for change."
These programs are new ways of reaching innovators and entrepreneurs whose companies are at various stages, from ideation to execution to scale.
"Our ambition is to become a partner of choice for everyone willing to change the rules of the game in pet care. Mars Petcare is leveraging our own success stories, Whistle and Wisdom Health, to identify and support the next wave of industry disruptors," said Leonid Sudakov, President of Connected Solutions, the global ventures, consumer technology, data and analytics division of Mars Petcare. "Mars Petcare's unique global scale and network of connected businesses will support the founders in taking their ideas from whiteboard to pets and their owners' homes."
About Companion Fund
Companion Fund is a $100 million venture capital fund managed by Digitalis Ventures. Companion Fund will provide startup capital and support to entrepreneurs addressing the needs of pets, pet owners and vets. The fund will focus primarily on the investment opportunities in Digital Health, Diagnostics, Nutrition and Services, but is excited to explore new areas of need with exceptional entrepreneurs. Digitalis Ventures has offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London.

About Leap 
Leap is the first startup accelerator focused on pet care innovation, led by Mars Petcare, R/GA and Michelson Found Animals. Leap is based in Portland, Oregon, at R/GA's office in the heart of the innovation-centric Pearl District. Leap is targeting early stage startups and will be split into two cohorts of six companies each. A customized team of R/GA's award-winning strategists, technologists, designers and consultants will collaborate with the startups to help execute their business plans and prepare them for future milestones, including fundraising, pitching and business development. The startups will receive mentorship from industry executives and access to world-class partners.

12 March 2018

INNOVATE - Amazon Targets Counterfeit Merchandise

Amazon's Transparency Program to Prevent Counterfeit Merchandise Seeks to Add 1,000 brands in 2018

Amazon Transparency Program
In the spring of 2016, Amazon began trialing a new approach to eliminating counterfeit product. The program was tested on Amazon products for the first year. It expanded to a few select vendors in mid 2017 but in 2018 Transparency is expanding to hundreds of other brands.

According to Amazon, there are three types of brands that need this protection:

  1. Brands that value the authenticity of their products and can be negatively impacted by counterfeit merchandise.
  2. Brands with product manufactured through “3rd shift” or secondary factories.
  3. Brands launching new products likely to attract counterfeit copycats.

This cool program uses the Amazon app to provide consumers with information about where the product was manufactured and other details that validate the  authenticity. The consumer uses the Smartphone app to take a picture of the 2D barcode and automatically sees the information associated with that SKU.
Transparency Label

The Transparency Program identifier label looks like this:

Amazon provides a unique 26 digit alphanumeric code related to the authenticity information for each product enrolled in the program. The manufacturer applies the code to the product prior to delivery so the Amazon fulfillment centre is able to validate authenticity during the product acceptance phase. The manufacturer receives global protection by applying the code to each product no matter which channel it sells through. Consumers use the code to verify the product no matter where it is purchased, but will be assured of accredited merchandise when they acquire the product through Amazon.

According to Amazon, the program will add between $0.01-$0.05 to the cost of each item depending on the volume. Amazon product acceptance protocols are expected to discover most counterfeit merchandise, however, consumers may also report vendors selling counterfeit product. Once registered, Amazon will notify all sellers that Transparency codes are required and will not accept product whether sold by the brand, a third-party seller or Amazon Retail.

Amazon Marketplace features millions of independent vendors across the globe who list hundreds of millions of items. Since the launch 10+ years ago, Amazon Marketplace accounts for over half the company's e-commerce volume. This rapid expansion has forced Amazon to deal with a surge in counterfeits and unauthorized selling.

CNBC recently told the story of Wee Urban owner Holly MacLean. After reaching a peak of $500,000 in baby clothing sales on Amazon Marketplace in 2016, she saw revenue plunge 80 percent in 2017 because of counterfeit and copyright infringement issues. 

According to CNBC, Amazon has invited "early adopters" to trial the Transparency program for their products. Bang & Olufsen, Victorinox Swiss Army and 3M are said to be among those invited. 

Amazon plans to roll Transparency out across all Amazon marketplaces and any brand by the end of 2018. Those interested in learning more can email Amazon at:

11 March 2018

SABBATH - Billy Graham in Chicago 1971, Who is Jesus?

Billy Graham Preaches Jesus in the Chicago Crusade 1971 (42'36")

For those who never heard him preach, here is a classic sermon by Billy Graham who recently left this world for his heavenly home. May you be blessed!

10 March 2018

VIDEO SATURDAY - Blockchain, Hydrophobic Surfaces, Accelerated Tech, Demographics and VUCA

We are pleased to present 12 minutes of viewing curated by InfoStream for your edification:

CIO - Don Tapscott explains why blockchains will rewrite business models and revolutionize industries. (3'11")

GE has invented nanostructured coatings and surfaces that are hydrophobic and delay the accumulation of ice or water on a particular surface. (2'16")

IBM - In 2015, Al Opher, Global Leader & Partner, Digital Operations, looked at the unprecedented number of technologies that are all hitting at once: virtual and augmented reality, embeddables, 3D printing, robotics, and cognitive. (1'33")

Stats Canada - National demographics can often mask major regional differences. (2'51")

Deloitte - We live and operate in a constant state of turbulence. Military planners call it VUCA. Disruptors are intensifying, requiring a decisive focus on Human Capital. (2'33")