How NLP identified the inherent flaws of ICO startups

The ICO is one of the hottest financial trends, breaking the VC model of investment, allowing basically anyone to raise money through a digital tokens offering or to participate in such a financial round. Just last week around 65 startups raised money through an ICO, and in total, 140 startups raised about $2.1 billion so far.

But who are the startups raising these flash rounds, and how do they perform? Two of them, Bancor and Omise, were at the center of a discussion during the latest TechCrunch Disrupt event earlier this week. Eyal Hertzog, co-founder of Bancor and Jun Hasegawa, CEO of Omise both raised an aggregated $175 million in ICOs, claimed that people buy tokens as they buy currency: because they believe in the future of the body that issued them.

According to them, an ICO is not only a mechanism for fundraising but also a way to make the ecosystem around a company be a part of a company’s success: professional investors, customers, suppliers – basically anyone. Unlike IPOs, token holders can immediately liquidate their tokens with the aid of other companies working with the startup (e.g. developers or retailers), or with other token holders who engage with the startup.

People who bought Bancor and Omise’s tokens must be curious to know how they perform, besides knowing their token price. Luckily, we have Emmet, the digital company analyst to help us analyze their momentum using NLP and AI technology.

Emmet is an AI powered digital company analyst, now accessible for everyone from Zirra’s website. He understands simple English and can answers questions such as “Give me facts for Uber,” “What are the risks for Slack?” Show me traffic for Airbnb,” “Is Coursera hiring?” and “Who is competing with Palantir?”

**Try Emmet here and invest in Zirra via SeedInvest to make private companies accessible**

We asked Emmet a few questions to dive deeper into Bancor and Omise. Here are some of the most interesting insights we got back. The output of the two queries shows both startups share common challenges and opportunities: They both lack patents or trademarks, they experience a high level of competition, and they suffer from a low level of partnership with other companies. Considering the fact that their mission is to create an ecosystem of developers, apps and services that use their tokens to create value, this is something both should take seriously.

Risks and Challenges for Bancor – By Emmet

Although, both have raised a significant funding round, larger than most of their competitors, and Emmet acknowledges the fact that both are among the top three of their niche in terms of funds raised.

Bancor created a protocol to standardize the creation of tradable tokens, beginning with Etherium. According to its founders, Bancor promotes the liquidation of every digital good. Omise is an online payment gateway offering a wide range of processing solutions focused around Southeast Asian businesses.

Risks and Challenges for Omise- By Emmet

Let’s get a closer look at each company’s traffic, by asking Emmet to show the traffic of both Bancor and Omise.

The output shows an uptick in Omise’s traffic from 20,000 visitors in March 2017, to 40,000 in July, and than up to 100,000 visitors last month. The trend is steady in both mobile and desktop traffic. In contrast, Bancor’s traffic has seen better days. It created a massive interest in its token last June when the company announced the biggest ICO to date, $150 million, but lost momentum right afterwards. In fact, Bancor’s traffic returned to its pre-announcement days. Bancor’s valuation is now two thirds of its valuation at its ICO (0.007 ETH today). However, Omise’s valuation is now about a quarter of its valuation at ICO (0.0025 ETH).

Blockchain technology startups that have raised funds through ICOs are catching the the eye of the media, challenging the VC industry and the way in which companies are contracting with their investors. However, most of these companies are too young and not yet ripe for the picking, with little sign of success, except for their large ICO.

**Try Emmet here and invest in Zirra via SeedInvest to make private companies accessible**


5 Things Emmet Could Teach Us About Startups in the News

5 Things Emmet Could Teach Us About Startups in the News

Are you a tech industry addict? Meet Emmet, our digital company and market analyst. Emmet is an AI-powered digital company analyst that is already a celebrity among our customers who have downloaded it to their Slack accounts. But starting today, Emmet is going fully global, and will be accessible for everyone for the first time from Zirra’s website.

Go and try him. Ask him anything about companies, using simple English and the company name such as “Give me facts for Uber,” “What are the risks for Slack,” “Show me traffic for Airbnb,” “Is Coursera hiring?” and “Who is competing with Palantir?”

We asked Emmet a few questions to dive deeper into this week’s most exciting startup news. Here are some of the most interesting insights we got back:

1.The many early signs about Juicero’s situation:

Although it’s easier to speak in hindsight, there were quite a few preliminary signs regarding Juicero’s shut down. If you’re only just coming back from summer break, here is a summary of the news regarding Juicero: The $400 juice machine company that raised $118 million from Silicon Valley’s top VCs, said it’s going to stop selling its products and give customers their money back. The main criticism of the product was it’s high pricing ($700 at the beginning) for a juice machine and juice packs that could be squeezed by hand and did not require a fancy machine.

Even though many could have anticipated Juicero’s demise, there’s always an element of surprise when it finally happens. But using automated analysis techniques such as Zirra’s, one could raise a few red flags long before last week’s official announcement.

Asking Zirra’s NLP-based chat bot for Slack, Emmet produced a few insights about Juicero’s fate:

Let’s validate the data with monitoring Juicero’s traffic in recent months with the help of Emmet:

**Try Emmet here**

2.Who will compete with the flying DeLorean?

There is good news for aerospace lovers and Back to the Future fans this week. Lilium Jet, a German startup that has developed a flying taxi that can take off and land vertically has raised a B round of $90 million from Chinese WeChat operator Tencent, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennstrom and Ev Williams, Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.

Lilium’s aircraft can fly at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour for about an hour on a single charge, and its founders are planning it to be used as a flying ferry, hopping rooftops terminals which also be operated by Lilium. Passengers will be able to fly from one rooftop to another within minutes.

Now, we hear a lot about vertical take-offs and landing aircrafts, and some of us have lost track of how many companies are in the race to create a flying taxi. To make order out of chaos, we asked our digital analyst about similar companies to Lilium Jet. Here is the output we got:

Emmet recognized about 20 similar companies, with Aeromobil and e-volo being the most similar, with a degree of similarity of 47% each. Emmet also knew Kitty Hawk, the personal flyer funded by Google’s Larry Page, as a major competitor with 41% degrees of similarity.

As inventor Thomas Edison would have recommended, it is better to measure such disruptive hardware inventions by the number of patents each company holds. Again, we asked Emmet to count patents and trademarks for us, and within seconds we got a patent map on each company. According to our NLP based patents finder, Terrafugia has eight granted patents, which makes it the vertical take-off vehicle company with the highest number of granted patents, surpassing by far all the others. In fact, most of the others have a few registered trademarks on average, and we couldn’t find any other granted patents. However, Terrafugia is a much more established company, having been founded in 2006.

Aeromobil – Pending Trademarks: 2 Registered Trademarks: 2

Terrafugia: Pending Patents: 3 Registered Trademarks: 5 Granted Patents: 8

Pipistrel: Registered Trademarks: 5

3.Live and Kikin’: Kik Messenger App Wants to Raise $125M in an ICO

The developer of popular Kik Messenger plans to raise $125 million in an ICO, in what may be the biggest ICO for an established consumer company – having previously raised over $120 million in equity from traditional VCs. I kept hearing this news from time to time, as the company is managing a PR blitz to create awareness to optimize its public ICO success, so I decided to check once and for all how much of the total sum was already raised – and from whom.

I asked Zirra’s digital analyst Emmet this very simple question: “How much did Kik raise?” and got the attached output. At the end of the list, one could see, Kik raised $50 million from BlockChain Capital only a few days ago, as a part of its presale round to select accredited investors. That means that the company is still far from its $125 million goal. The remaining $75 million will be raised by issuing tokens for the general public with Kik’s unique token called Kin. Kin will create an ecosystem for digital services that will promote peripheral services on top of the messaging app, rewarding its app developers with a common currency. How do I know all that? Because I asked Emmet about recent news for Kik, with the common “Emmet, show me news for Kik.”

4.Via Transportation – Mercedes’ new carpooling startup

Via, a shuttle-based carpooling service, that can be found in NYC, Chicago and Washington D.C., has raised a strategic investment from German Daimler, owner of Mercedes Benz brand. Daimler will help to bring the growing startup to Europe, starting with London.

Via’s offering is a little different than that of other carpooling or ride-hailing apps such as Uber or Lyft. Via sells a seat in a black shuttle for $5 and also offers its software platform to other transportation providers. The company has grown significantly in recent years, broadening its service out of lower Manhattan into all of Manhattan, Brooklyn, JFK, Chicago’s city center, Washington D.C, Orange County and Houston.

But who is this company, that suddenly jumped out of anonymity to conquer the transportation world, and is now one of Mercedes Benz’s significant partners?

We asked Emmet for facts about Via.

Emmet created a summary of the most important facts about Via, and also shared with us its profiles within social networks and company databases such as Bloomberg. Here, Emmet decided that Via is a communication product primarily because it is an app that uses sophisticated software to match potential drivers with passengers.

However, we wanted to learn more about the company’s management and gave our analysis chat bot the following command.

We used the links in Emmet’s report about Via’s management and looked at the backgrounds of the founders. It appears that co-founders Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval are both graduates of the elite Talpiot program of the Israel Defense Forces. The program accepts the best math students from high schools, and also awards its graduates with degrees in the sciences. While reading about the Talpiot program, we learned it created a vast network of successful entrepreneurs such as the founders of Checkpoint, Passave, Stratoscale, Metacafe, Supersonic, Anobit, Adalom, Compugen, and Cannabics.  

**Try Emmet here**

5.23andMe raises $200 million – but is it hiring?

You always wanted to work for a successful biotechnology company and you’ve just heard that 23andMe is raised close to $200 million in a funding round led by Sequoia. You can easily check for open positions in any company by asking Emmet if a company is hiring or simply by asking him to show jobs for a company.

Emmet found 20 open positions in 23andMe. Here, we’ll show you the first five: