The Future of Payments and Security in Retail Wrap-up

Last night a host of 100+ industry experts and entrepreneurs gathered at Plug and Play Headquarters in Sunnyvale to explore the synergy between financial technology and retail as it relates to the issue of payment security. This month’s meetup, titled “The Future of Payments & Security in Retail’ featured a panel discussion on the  future of point of sale and checkout followed by five startup pitches.

The panel discussion, titled “The Past, Current, & Future of the Point-of Sale” was led by:

During the panel, the speakers elaborated on the relationship between financial technology and retail that ultimately meets at the point of sale. They investigated topics surrounding vulnerability at the point of sale and emerging technologies set to disrupt the current landscape such as the integration of Near Field Communication (NFC) chips in high-end smartphones, cloud computing, and the advent of digital currency.

The startups that pitched from Plug and Play’s Retail and Fintech accelerators were:

Truelink is a credit card solution designed to protect senior citizens from fraud.  Their platform features an easy-to-use dashboard that enables users to decide exactly when and where a given credit card will work.

Cloudwalk offers a one-stop open payment platform on the cloud.  By providing a third party platform based on the cloud, Cloudwalk is able to manage the security of POS software for any type of terminal in the same place.

Bitwage makes wages the way they should be: secure, easy, and fast.  Their recently launched payroll platform reduces costs via next-day fiat to Bitcoin service.

AGNITiO‘s voice ID solution offers government, commercial, & public security organizations cutting edge voice recognition & voice biometrics technology.

The Trulioo family of identity verification products are built on the concept of social verification, using a ‘Wisdom of Crowds’ methodology to confirm identity.

The event was also supported by Bitwage, who demonstrated their recently developed Bitcoin point of sale integration platform at the conclusion of the event.  Using Bitwage’s new system, any connected device can be instantly turned into a secure point of sale terminal that accepts Bitcoin without any additional hardware.

Plug and Play’s Fintech & Security accelerator will supplement our most recent batch of Bitcoin startups. The program is focused on connecting corporations with early stage companies in the areas of mobile payments, consumer engagement, data analytics, and cloud & security.

Plug and Play Retail is a 12-week startup accelerator program. Startups accepted into the accelerator are leveraging technology to solve the biggest problems top brands, retailers, and industry players face today. Plug and Play, along with a round-table of corporations and industry experts, jointly decide the startups that are accepted into the program.

To learn more about Plug and Play’s Brand & Retail Accelerator, click here.  To learn more about our Bitcoin Accelerator, click here.

11/17/14: Last Week in Tech, in Tweets

1. Uber and Spotify are combining forces for an interesting initiative.

2. Retailers are turning to innovation as they gear up for the holidays.

3. Airbnb is releasing a quarterly print magazine.

4. Forget hybrids, Toyota has plans to bring hydrogen fuel cell cars to production. Honda is falling behind.

5. Type with your brain.

6. Net Neutrality is still an issue.

7. Facebook is developing an alternative to Linkedin, seems like they just want more of your data.

8. Panasonic’s futuristic idea for advertisements might be a little bit too much.

9. Your Fitbit data could be used against you in a court of law.

10. Facebook, Google, and Apple are lobbying to protect your information from the NSA.

Adventure Bucket List is Helping Travelers Get More Out of Their Vacation

Plug and Play’s Adventure Bucket List, one of fall 2014 EXPO winners, enables travelers to make the most of their vacation time. Their solution employs a white label platform that can be easily integrated into any currently existing travel website to give travelers a better idea of where to go and what to see at any given destination.

According to founder and CEO Ryan Stobie, ABL is designed to “transform the way people around the globe book their travel.”

As a traveler, it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the options that are available to you with only a limited amount of time to spend in an unfamiliar destination. Tours and activities are rarely reserved prior to the trip itself, and time is often wasted in the process of browsing and booking. ABL’s solution accounts for this by presenting a wide range of options specific to a traveler’s chosen destination that can be booked in the same place as their vacation itinerary.

Implementing ABL on your travel website is as simple as entering two lines of code. Once ABL has been added to your site, their platform integrates with your reservation system to provide real-time availability for a wide range of tours and activities. Customers are then able to book recommended activities without ever leaving your webpage.

As stated by founder and CEO Ryan, “If you’re actually able to book the activities you’d like to participate in while traveling on the same platform that you used to book your flight, hotel, or car rental it makes everything much easier, and everybody has more fun.”

Ryan got the idea for ABL solutions two years ago as he was moving from his hometown Toronto to British Columbia. According to Ryan, “when you’re moving, sometimes it is not so easy to actually find all of the fun things to do. When it comes to travel, most of the time people are barely scratching the surface.” With this in mind, Ryan began developing ABL solutions while participating in the University of British Columbia’s entrepreneurship program.

Ryan joined our accelerator after winning a startup pitch competition that was hosted by UBC and sponsored by Plug and Play. As a VIP judge, Plug and Play CEO Saeed Amidi encouraged Ryan to push his business further and relocate to Silicon Valley 4 months ago. According to Ryan, his team has been very happy with the move:

“Silicon Valley is a very unique environment, I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like it. Everything around you fuels innovation from the companies that work beside you and the advisors you can meet to the money that you can secure to bring your business forward, it’s amazing and you can’t replicate it.”

ABL joined Plug and Play through our International Startup Camp. Plug and Play Startup Camp is a 10-week program designed to immerse startups and entrepreneurs into the Silicon Valley environment. Through a combination of structured workshops, speaker series, mentorship sessions as well as active coaching, startup founders will crystallize their ideas and business plans, build out their startup’s business model and prototypes as well as present their refined pitches to the venture capital community. Qualified Startup Camp participants are eligible to receive an investment of $25,000 upon acceptance into the program.

To learn more about Adventure Bucket List, check out their website. To learn more about Plug and Play’s Startup Camp, click here.

10/12/14: Last Week in Tech, in Tweets!

1. The Philae probe has landed on the surface of a comet.

2. Augmented reality is now a…reality.

3. The battle over Net Neutrality continues to generate controversy.

4. The jig is up for Silkroad 2.0, but a new version of the site is already operational.

5. Microsoft releases Visual Studio 2.0.

6. Beats launches its first pair of headphones since being acquired by Apple.

7. Square has released a new reader for chip-cards as we move towards EMV compliance.

8. Apparently it is not only possible, but relatively easy to legally stream movies online.

9. Ubisoft may be beating a dead horse with Assassin’s Creed, but Dragon Age: Inquisition is awesome!

Basketball Enthusiasts: Check out OpenBall!


OpenBall, one of Plug and Play‘s resident startups, is an online platform designed to bring basketball enthusiasts together on the court. Their solution enables organizers to coordinate tournaments and keep track of multiple team and individual stats in real time using a simple mobile app.

OpenBall founders Ken and Yuk met each other during college in Hong Kong where they were the captains of their school’s basketball team. At the end of their college career, the two friends were disappointed to discover that there was little opportunity for them to continue playing organized basketball at the amateur level. Realizing this, they set themselves to the task of organizing their own league.

In an effort to find teams for their league as quick as possible, Chris and Yuk looked for an online platform that could help. When they were unable to find the solution they were looking for, it occurred to them to build their own. It was at this time that they began to work on OpenBall, and their idea quickly snowballed into popularity.

Chris and Yuk started OpenBall because they “wanted to make the amateur experience more professional.” When they started this project, they knew that they wanted to provide more than a simple way for players to organize basketball games. Once their platform was operational, they started contacting players, coaches, and league commissioners in the United States to determine the best way to expand their market. They also began to work on a reliable way for players to track their performance throughout each game.

OpenBall’s complete platform includes an auto-scheduler, score-tracking, and a mobile tournament bracket that can be updated from anywhere. Their scheduling solution accounts for factors such as gym and team availability, and their app enables coaches and organizers to post and update scores in real time.

OpenBall’s team was introduced to Plug and Play’s accelerator through our joint initiative with Cyberport Hong Kong. Cyberport, founded in 2002, is a “creative digital community with a cluster of technology and digital content tenants” that is owned by Hong Kong’s SAR Government. Their 100,000 square meter operation is host to a number of established companies in addition to an incubation program.

To find out more about Plug and Play, click here. To try out Openball, check out their website.

11/3/14: Last Week in Tech, in Tweets

1. Google unveils the Nexus 9 tablet.

 

 

2. Android 5.0 ‘lollipop’ is live.

 

 

3. Lenovo is having a busy week.

 

 

4. Google Calendar has been revised.

 

5. Facebook is changing its rules…again.

 

6. Sprint hires new CEO, cuts 2,000 jobs.

 

7. Monster is updating its platform.

 

8. Skype is introducing a translator feature..impressive.

 

9. You won’t see anybody with an Apple Watch before 2015.

 

Plug and Play and The Co-Foundry are Proud to Announce the Multi-Stage Accelerator Program!

Launch of US-Singapore Multi-Stage Acceleration Program for Startups

Plug & Play (Silicon Valley, US) and The Co-Foundry (Singapore)
are proud to launch a 6-12 month multi-stage acceleration program based out of Singapore for at startups looking to address today’s largest and fastest growing markets in Asia and also expand into the more developed and ultra-competitive US market.

With strong vertical (industry based) acceleration support from Play & Play in the US, this program strongly boosts potential startups with the quick access to key demand drivers and strategic partners in the US. Startups can leverage on a strong funding pipeline from early on so they can focus on executing their growth plans. This program gears startups to be global from day one, and accelerates startups in finding a product-market fit and subsequently getting to scale.

Amongst other benefits, startups accepted to this highly selective program will enjoy privileged access to:

· Potential clients and strategic partners to accelerate startups’ growth
· Business & technology mentors with deep industry experience and domain knowledge
· Footholds in Asia and US, with opportunity to join Plug & Play’s program in the US.
· Deep technology explorations to boost product impact and build technical defensibility
· Workshops and hackathons to gain ideas, talent and insight to boost their startups.

“We are most excited about this partnership, as it brings a most compelling suite of support for our startups.” said Mr. Michael Yap, Founder of The Co-Foundry. “It brings access to the US ecosystem, coupled with access to possibly the fastest growing internet markets in Asia. We believe this is the first acceleration program to stretch across the two regions.”

“Jointly, we will rope in major corporations within the targeted sectors to support our startups. The world is competing for talents and innovations, and our corporate partners would have the opportunities to work with the most exciting talents emerging out of Asia.” said Mr. Saeed Amidi, Founder of Play & Play.

The program accepts startups in various stages, and can help marshal funding support from initial seed funding rounds of up to US$50,000 all the way up to working with US and Asian venture capitalists for Series A funding rounds of up to US$1M.

The first cycle of this program will focus on startups in the Financial Technology and Internet of Things sectors.

The deadline for startups to apply is 15 Dec 2014 via https://angel.co/pnp-tcf-multi-stage-accelerator-program-1. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis from 1 Jan 2015 so early applications are encouraged.

About Plug & Play
Plug and Play is a global startup accelerator that specializes in growing high-tech start-ups and increasing their chances of success. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Plug and Play’s global network includes 270+ portfolio companies that have raised over US$3 Billion, 200+ corporate and investor partners and an active community in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Website: http://plugandplayaccelerator.com and http://plugandplaytechcenter.com/

About The Co-Foundry
The Co-Foundry, we are a team of passionate individuals who have come together on a mission to help build valuable startups. Our team has the experience in founding startups and also has a deep appreciation of the challenges of building viable businesses under extreme uncertainties.
Website: http://theco-foundry.com

For Media Enquiries, please contact:

Hanyang LEONG
Program Lead,
The Co-Foundry
Mobile: (65) 9875 0042
Email: hanyang@theco-foundry.com

Jupe Tan
VP International Operations,
Plug & Play
Tel: + 1 (408) 524-1408
Email: jupe@plugandplaytechcenter.com

Join Us on November 19th!

With so much negative media coverage surrounding credit card breaches at a number of the country’s largest retailers, the question of payment security has been on the American Nation’s mind. Financial institutions and retailers alike are looking to make their customers feel safe, and recent trends in financial technology innovation indicate a desire to move away from traditional banking and payment systems. Advancements such as the integration of Near Field Communication (NFC) chips in high-end smartphones and the advent of digital currency have the potential to circumvent the complications that make vendors and their customers vulnerable to fraud.

This is an opportune time at Plug and Play where we are currently preparing for the launch of our first Financial Technology Accelerator that will be running concurrently with our Brand & Retail Program.  We believe that Fintech innovation will be paramount to the resolution of the problems that have plagued American retailers over the past year. As such, we will be gathering Plug and Play’s network of entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations to explore the synergy between these two evolving verticals.

Please join us on November 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 at Plug and Play headquarters in Sunnyvale for “The Future of Payments & Security in Retail” featuring a panel of corporate executives followed by rapid-fire pitches from Silicon Valley’s top payment and security startups.  The event will be free to attend with registration at this link.

Plug and Play’s Fintech & Security accelerator will supplement our most recent batch of Bitcoin startups. The program is focused on connecting corporations with early stage companies in the areas of mobile payments, consumer engagement, data analytics, and cloud & security.

Plug and Play Retail is a 12-week startup accelerator program. Startups accepted into the accelerator are leveraging technology to solve the biggest problems top brands, retailers, and industry players face today. Plug and Play, along with a round-table of corporations and industry experts, jointly decide the startups that are accepted into the program.

To learn more about Plug and Play’s Brand & Retail Accelerator, click here.  To learn more about our Bitcoin Accelerator, click here.

Congratulations to Joomag, Our Hottest Company of the Month!

Joomag, Plug and Play’s Hottest Company of the Month, offers an incredibly easy way for publishers to digitize their content. With Joomag’s free service, publishers are able to create and distribute interactive digital magazines, photo albums, catalogs, and ebooks by simple uploading a PDF file. Their solution streamlines the process of digitization, enabling users to polish and publish their work in mere minutes.

With Joomag’s platform, users can upload any PDF file to be customized with interactive content and then converted into a digital publication. Customers who do not have a file prepared in advance can choose from a selection of predesigned templates that can be fully customized. Once a format has been selected, users can take advantage of Joomag’s professional online editor to enhance their production with interactive content such as music and video.

Joomag’s platform supports a broad range of interactive content from video and audio to chat boxes and feedback forms. Music can be added to any publication and Video can either be uploaded directly to Joomag or embedded from websites like YouTube and Vimeo. Users are also able to include space for readers to leave feedback and subscribe to their publication.


According to founder and CEO Ruben Vardanyan, Joomag was founded in 2009 to “introduce new tools into the emerging industry of digital publishing.” Recognizing the rising popularity of blogs in addition to other forms of digital media, Joomag’s team set out to take advantage of this inevitable shift in the publishing industry.

Joomag’s team became acquainted with Plug and Play last November as they were exploring ways to establish a presence for their company in Silicon Valley. According to Ruben, “We moved last November, and we have been very happy. The staff, the atmosphere, and the other startups are extremely friendly and there has been a lot to learn from from them. It has been very interesting, and we hope to stay here for a long period of time.”

As of yesterday, over 200,000 publishers have used Joomag to reach over 3.5 million readers. This number has grown from 10,000 publishers since July of 2012, and the company has plans to establish a satellite office in Munich within the next month.

Plug and Play works closely with major publishing companies such as Axel Springer as they work towards digitization. Launched in 2013, the Axel Springer Plug and Play accelerator has been working closely with startups in Germany to provide them with coaching, workshops, and networking. We expect to see companies like Joomag gain even more traction as we continue to see traditional publications going digital.

To try Joomag, click here. To learn more about Plug and Play’s Axel Springer initiative, click here.

10/27/14: Last Week in Tech, in Tweets

1. Major controversy over Hungary’s planned internet-tax.

2. The internet has joined the fight against Ebola.

3. Foursquare may not survive its controversial relaunch.

4. Amazon joins the fray with its own streaming service.

5. Retailers in the US are blocking NFC cell-phone transactions.

6. Logitech releases the ‘fastest’ gaming mouse of all time.

7. Today is the 110th anniversary of America’s first subway ride!

8. Roger Ver advocates the use of Purse.io for 20% discount on any order from Amazon!

9. This quarter’s results are in, and Microsoft is alive and kicking.