Some two-thirds of men experience hair loss by the age of 35 and scientists have been working on a cure for decades. For many, drugs that help to curb or even reverse male pattern baldness remain expensive and difficult to access. But US startup Thirty Madison has come up with a model that makes hair loss treatment more affordable by marketing directly to consumers. The company’s haircare brand, ‘Keeps,’ negotiates fixed prices with manufacturers, offering the drugs to customers on a monthly subscription basis for as little as $10 a month. Niche, subscription-based e-commerce business models like this - from Dollar Shave Club to Netflix - have proven hugely popular in the startup age, and Thirty Madison appears to be on the path to success – this week the company snagged some $15 million in funding and says it plans to launch a sister brand soon that will provide migraine medication.
Mobile phones appear to be growing bigger by the day, but one smartphone pioneer has come out of the woodwork to buck that trend. Palm this week unveiled its new “companion” handset, designed to give people a break from their regular smartphone. The device is roughly the size of a credit card and features two cameras but no headphone jack. It can sync with larger iOS and Android devices, ensuring access to your regular phone even if you leave it at home. Palm’s latest venture confirms their belief in a market for smaller, streamlined handsets as customers increasingly look to cut loose from the downsides of large smartphone use.
MIT announced this week it will invest $1 billion into a new college focusing on the “rise of artificial intelligence.” The move marks the biggest ever commitment to AI by a US academic institution, and a major investment in a field that continues to expand rapidly. “As computing reshapes our world, MIT intends to make sure that it does so for the good of all,” reported MIT President L. Rafael Reif.A leader in software and technology research, MIT said it hopes the college will “rewire” the way educators teach AI, including its social and ethical implications. The college is slated to open in September 2019.
Music streaming platforms such as Spotify and Pandora are often as popular for their ability to recommend music as they are for simply playing it. Now Apple, longtime industry competitor with its iTunes platform, appears set to take the technology to a new level. Reports surfaced this week that the company had hired the founders of music analytics startup Asaii. By improving its analytics, Apple will not only help connect users with music they enjoy, but may also discover burgeoning music stars themselves. Apple would look to promote emerging artists exclusively on Apple platforms, away from competitors like Spotify, in effect becoming a new form of record label. Apple has been sparing on the details so far, but it’s clear the growth of streaming and the reduced cost of recording have radically changed the music industry – and the world’s tech giants want in on the action.
The venture capital system has been criticized for being inaccessible for startups founded and run by women. Jane VC and Amplifyher Ventures, two new female-focused venture funds, want to change that. Jane VC was started by female investors and operators and is now asking for pitches. In their mission statement, they promise to give “our guidance, thought partnership, investment, and introductions joyfully.” So far, they have raised $2 million and plan to invest in companies in very early stages. The founders of Amplifyher promise marketing expertise and plan to make 10 to 15 investments of $100,000 to $300,000 for the next three years.