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  1. IFTTT and SmartThings partner to make the Internet of Things easier to manage

    Bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds just became a whole lot easier.

    By Nathaniel Mott , written on

    From the News desk

  2. Software eats food: FarmersWeb raises $1 million brings wholesale food sales online

    A year ago I lamented the shortcomings of B2B ecommerce. What ever happened to the $7.3 trillion in business-to-business spending that we expected to come online? Why is so much business still done via paper invoices, fax machines, and obnoxious email chains? Since then I've encountered a handful of companies aiming to solve this problem. Joor, Lookboard, Handshake, Insite Software, MerchantFuse and NuORDER all attempt to solve this problem in various ways. This week I met another one that's bringing software to an industry that previously did business via cash, handshakes and faxes: wholesale food. FarmersWeb is a New York-based company with an online platform to connect buyers and sellers of wholesale food. So farmers list their inventory, which can be updated in realtime. Buyers such as restaurants, office cafeterias and schools use the platform to purchase their ingredients. The company has raised close to $1 million from private angel investors to bring wholesale food sales online. Co-founder David Ross was previously a venture capitalist at Bay Grove Capital. His co-founders worked at a distribution company focused on local food; they were shocked when they realized such a platform didn't exist. There is no special sauce to FarmersWeb's platform; it is simply an online marketplace similar to many other digital marketplaces. The difference is that no other company has really offered this service before and put in the work to build up both sides of the marketplace, Ross says. Most platforms for farmers are consumer-facing and so the sales happen on a much smaller scale, or they're focused around helping people form CSA's or only provide a database of local farms in a certain area. "The local food movement is still relatively new," Ross says. "We're solving some of the general inefficiencies you get from traditional B2B commerce," he says. It's not only convenient from a timing perspective -- chefs can place an order at any time rather than calling during business hours. Likewise, buyers have an online record of what they've purchased, as opposed to just sending someone to a farmer's market with cash. Same goes for the sell side -- farms can pull detailed transaction records to help them plan for what will be popular next season; they can also ensure their inventory lists are always up-to-date with an easy to manage back end system. FarmersWeb handles the payments and leaves the logistics to the farms, who use their own delivery trucks, rent them, or sometimes ship via Fedex where it makes sense. Currently FarmersWeb is only available in New York, with around 100 active buyers on the site including Hearst, The Met, Proskauer Rose, NoMad Hotel, Eataly and The Four Seasons using the platform. A variety of private high schools are also on board. By taking a transaction fee, the company's revenues are growing at 20 percent each month, tripling sales over the past six months. Soon the site will roll out a national platform that allows any farmer to list their goods, for which they will pay a subscription fee.

    By Erin Griffith , written on

    From the News desk

  3. Yves Behar on design and the Internet of Things

    Yves Behar is the high-profile designer behind products like the Jawbone Jambox and the Ouya gaming console. Yesterday, he unveiled his new project, August, at the D11 conference to much fanfare – a “smart lock” that lets a you lock and unlock a door with your smartphone.

    By Richard Nieva , written on

    From the News desk

  4. To sell connected devices, retailers should emulate Warby Parker

    Shopping online might be convenient, but it's hard to get a feel for a product with nothing more to go on than a few poorly-lit photos, a fresh-from-the-marketing-department product description, and the thumbs-up or thumbs-down of someone calling himself "SatansXLover." You're basically playing a game of Amazon roulette, where the device you decide to purchase can either meet your wildest fantasies or elicit nothing more than a resigned "meh." It's even more challenging to shop for connected devices, which are often equally reliant on their physical and digital aspects.

    By Nathaniel Mott , written on

    From the News desk

  5. Can connected devices change the world?

    There's been plenty of talk about how connected devices can help each of us individually. Fitness trackers like the Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up, and Nike+ FuelBand are meant to help you finally get in shape. Nest's learning thermostat promises to lower your energy bill by up to 20 percent. A connected home might be able to tell you when the laundry is done, can lock the doors and turn off the lights when you go to sleep, or allow everyday objects to communicate with you and each other. But can connected devices be used for something beyond our narrow interests?

    By Nathaniel Mott , written on

    From the News desk

  6. The future according to John Doerr (Or: How Twitter can become the fifth big company in tech)

    At last week's PandoMonthly, Sarah Lacy asked Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner John Doerr if Twitter will join Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as the "fifth horseman of tech." His answer, fitting for a guy who dreams big, had little to do with Twitter's market share or valuation, and everything to do with how we experience the world.

    By David Holmes , written on

    From the News desk

  7. Hardware is a stop-gap on the way to a hyper-connected future

    It's becoming easier and easier for software companies to dabble in hardware. Kickstarter has allowed companies to attract the funding (and attention) necessary to prototype and manufacture physical goods. Grand St. and Anvil are developing platforms to help startups sell those same products. The line between software and hardware startups has dissolved alongside the boundaries between our physical and digital worlds -- now the only question is whether or not these companies will continue to embrace hardware, or if physical goods are simply a stop-gap between our barely-connected present and our hyper-connected future.

    By Nathaniel Mott , written on

    From the News desk

  8. Is the Internet of Things the future of narcissism?

    I'm surprised that Time didn't force the selfie-taking millennial on its cover about the "ME ME ME" generation to wear a fitness tracker, the new epitome of data-driven narcissism.

    By Nathaniel Mott , written on

    From the News desk

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