Prsnt raises $290K investment for gifting app

Brighton-based tech startup Prsnt has raised $290K in early funding to expand its gifting app that helps consumers celebrate friendships in an immediate and exciting new way.

Available on the App Store and Google Play Store, the company’s ‘mini-gifting concept involves sending affordable, meaningful gifts redeemable from shops, cafés, pubs or online retailers – all for the same price as a birthday card and a stamp.

Prsnt has partnered with more than 100 of the UK’s most-loved high-street brands, including  Costa Coffee, Amazon, The Body Shop, Nike, Deliveroo, Red Letter Days, All Bar One, Spotify and many more. This means that no matter who the recipient is, the gifted will be able to find a great gift for that special person.

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“What we’re trying to achieve is a modern way of gifting, removing all the bottlenecks in terms of hassle while also addressing sustainability. We achieve same-second delivery, so it’s perfect for a friend’s or family member’s birthday or you don’t want the delay of sending something in the post,” said ,” said Omid Moallemi, Co-Founder, Prsnt.

The app reminds users when their friends’ birthdays are, and lets them send a gift – perhaps a coffee or glass of wine – and a personal video message straight to their phone when they can’t be there with them in-person to celebrate.

Once the recipient has received their gift, they can redeem it from their local outlet or online, removing a huge geographical barrier to gift sending and receiving that currently exists for most people.

Prsnt Co-Founders Omid Moallemi and David Parr were working as Co-Directors of a marketing and design agency when they began developing Prsnt. They share a co- working space in Brighton’s North Laine with technology developer Hamish Page, marketeer Louis Wren, and IT specialist Dan Hamilton of Source 3 Media. The two teams joined forces to combine their diverse skill sets and build Prsnt in September 2019.

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for the Prsnt team to pivot their efforts to developing the app full time. By June 2020, the app had received an initial round of seed investment and the final months of 2020 saw the app gain its initial test market through peer-to-peer referrals.

Likewise, if lockdown restrictions were to return, Prsnt has enormous potential for helping people stay connected with digital mini-gifts that can be redeemed from online retailers.

Admix Strengthens In-Play Leadership For The Americas

Marty Berman joins Admix as VP Sales US and LATAM

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Admix, the pioneering In-Play advertising platform that bridges the gap between gaming and advertising, announces the appointment of senior advertising industry leader Marty Berman as VP of Sales for North America and LATAM.

Berman’s appointment signals the latest phase of Admix’s 2021 US growth strategy, which will see the experienced teambuilder spearhead a major talent acquisition drive across the US, with Q3 and Q4 hires planned for New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Chicago native will work closely with Michael Silberberg, Admix’s New York-based VP of Global Partnerships.

He joins Admix with over two decades of media and advertising industry experience, having held senior leadership roles at global organizations such as InMobi, Integrate Marketing, NBC Internet, Triad and Monster, with key accounts including American Family Insurance, United Airlines, GMC and Progressive Insurance.

The gaming industry is at a tipping point following the change in consumer habits accelerated by Covid-19, which accelerated gaming’s mainstream cultural awareness and hypergrowth.

Consumers now spend more time gaming than they do on social media, creating both an opportunity and a challenge for brands to reach the three billion active gamers globally given the intrusiveness of many gaming advertising formats. Admix’s proprietary rendering technology has been engineered from the ground up, to insert demanding ad creatives into any 3D environment.

Marty Berman, VP Sales for North America and LATAM, commented:

“As demand increases exponentially to buy gaming inventory programmatically, Admix is in the lead position to deliver a solution to the Northern America and LATAM markets that solve the major barriers of scale to reach this elusive audience. Reaching the gaming audience via In Play media will continue to grow rapidly given its non-intrusive nature and the ability to automate the process programmatically, properly target, measure and prove ROI.”

Announcing the hire, Samuel Huber, CEO at Admix, commented:

“ Marty is a critical hire who will help Admix communicate the significant benefits of In-Play advertising, and he will also be instrumental in building our boots on-the-ground team across the East Coast, West Coast and Midwest.”

Over the last year, Admix has experienced hypergrowth with an 800% revenue increase driven by unprecedented inbound and direct sales, and expects to double in size from 40 to 100 staff this year.

The Honeybee solves maths tests without a sting

University of Sheffield study discovers that the honeybee can solve a type of maths test using non-numerical cues

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The honeybee can solve a type of maths test without any need for numbers – a discovery that could be used to develop smarter artificial intelligence – according to new research from the University of Sheffield.

In the study, by researchers in the University’s Department of Computer Science and their international collaborators, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, honeybees were found to be using continuous, non-numerical cues to solve a maths problem. 

The insight into how honeybees solve numerical problems could be used to design more sophisticated machines based on the brains of animals, which have evolved to find the simplest, most efficient way to carry out certain tasks.

The methods used in the study could also provide a new, alternative blueprint for testing numerical cognition in animals. Most previous studies attempt to control for at least one non-numerical cue, whereas the Sheffield study is the first to propose a new method that carefully assesses non-numerical continuous cues. 

Determining how different brains, especially those with a miniature brain, solve numerical tasks also provides a valuable insight into the evolutionary roots of cognition.

The ability to use numbers is a powerful cognitive capacity of humans, but replicating their full sophistication via AI is not possible with current approaches. With animals often being very good at finding efficient and sometimes unexpected solutions to problems, it is worth finding out which of their shortcuts could be useful for developing autonomous machines 

Through a task that is commonly used to test numerical cognition in bees and a variety of other animals, the Sheffield team discovered that honeybees can discriminate between placards displaying different numbers of elements without their brains having to process numerical data.

Honeybees were individually trained to identify placards showing different numbers of shapes. Some bees learned to find a sugary reward at the placards that had the most shapes on display while others learned to find the sugary treat at the placards showing the fewest number of shapes.

Once the bees learned this rule, they were able to quickly identify the placard with the highest or lowest number of shapes on them in order to find the sugary treat.

Since these visual cues are computationally simpler to process by a bee’s brain, it is a more efficient way for bees to use them in solving the task, instead of solving a complex cognitive task of numerosity.

To determine if the honeybee used non-numerical clues, they were then tested with two pairs of placards that all contained the same number of shapes but differed in edge length, convex hull and spatial frequency. None of the placards had a sugary treat and if the bees used numerosity they should have flown to each placard equally in search of a reward.

The study found that bees trained to find the placards with the highest number of shapes still flew to signs with the highest level of continuous variables and bees that were trained to find the placards with the lowest number shapes still flew to the signs with the lowest level of continuous variables, and ignored numbers. This suggests the honeybees responded to continuous cues on the shapes and not the number of elements.

Dr HaDi MaBouDi, the lead author on the paper who is based at the University of Sheffield, said: “The results of our study show that animals are incredibly clever and can solve tasks in effective and unexpected ways. This will be very practical in the future of artificial intelligence for designing smart machines based on animals that have evolved for some particular tasks.”

To further test the hypothesis, the bees were shown placards with visual cues that were opposite to the number of shapes on the placards. For example, placards that had three shapes on display but had a lower spatial frequency than the placards with two shapes.

To determine how efficient this non-numeric strategy was for the honeybee, the researchers also created a model based on known details of the honeybee brain. This bee brain model was able to solve several other similar numeric-based tasks without any need for number processing – similar to the real honeybees. 

The research paper, Non-numerical strategies used by bees to solve numerical cognition tasks, is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. To view the paper, visit: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.2711

Pension carbon emissions are a national scandal

Nearly 69% of adults are worried their company pension is investing in businesses that are contributing to climate change

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Research from Cushon, a FinTech workplace savings disrupter, has found that a staggering 99.5% of the population have no idea about the scale of carbon emitted as a result of their pension’s investments.

When coupled with the fact that each average UK pension pot finances the CO2 equivalent of nine family cars, this lack of awareness is a ‘national scandal’.

According to Cushon’s recent research, more than eight in ten (84%) people are concerned about climate change and 69% are specifically worried that their company pension could be investing in businesses that are contributing to climate change.

In 1995, the average carbon emissions per capita in the UK were 9.3 tonnes. Over the last 25 years the population has actively managed to reduce this output to 5.9 tonnes, yet the way people invest their pension pots remains relatively unchanged and finances nearly four times our personal emissions.

Choosing to use a climate-friendly pension is minimal effort and saves the CO2 equivalent of 27 years’ of recycling each year.

With £2.2 trillion of assets held by pensions, and 62% of the population saying that they would engage more with their pension if they knew their money was making a positive impact on climate change, this exposes a massive missed opportunity for the UK to simultaneously do good for the planet and encourage healthier saving habits for retirement.

Climate change and savings habits are inextricably linked, and the pension sector’s part in this is a considerable, if poorly understood, part of the equation. In fact, each pension pot in the UK finances an average of 23 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year[6] through its investments.  Yet, only a tiny fraction of the population is aware of this.

Responding to this issue, Cushon recently launched a world first Net Zero Now pension. In doing so, their members are actively contributing towards slowing climate change and a 1.5 degree target. The fund has a management fee of just 0.15%, while offering highly competitive returns without sacrificing performance.

Responding to the Cushon research, Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, former UK Pension Minister, said: “It is about time we put people’s pension savings to good use in the battle to protect our planet and knowing their money can help long term sustainability will encourage more people to feel proud of their pensions.

Sienna Network Raises $11.2 Million For Privacy DeFi

Sienna networkPrivacy Decentralised Finance (DeFi) company Sienna Network has raised $11.2 million after a private and public sale of its tokens from institutional investors and the expanding Sienna community.

In the private token sale that was 200% oversubscribed and priced at $5 per token, Sienna Network raised $10 million from long-term investors that include NGC, Inclusion Capital, Lotus Capital, FBG, Skyvision Capital and more.

This was followed by a dual public sale at $6 per token that raised $1.2 million on the DaoMaker and Polkastarter exchanges after the company was swamped by huge interest and demand for the Sienna Governance Token. 

Sienna is solving the industry-wide problem of front-running where bad actors hijack future trades on public DeFi blockchains, leading to a demand for DeFi privacy. 

Execution priority on platforms such as Ethereum are driven by transaction fees. A transaction can be preempted by simply introducing a transaction and paying a higher transaction fee and is illegal in regulated financial systems. Hence front-running.

“It has been an extraordinary month and we have hit a super-sweet spot between institutional investment and our community. 

“At times it has felt like starring in The Social Network in the early days of Facebook with pings coming in from everywhere. The future looks so bright, we will have to wear shades,” said Monty Munford, Chief Evangelist and Core Contributor to Sienna Network.

Built on the Secret Network, which is the first blockchain with privacy-preserving smart contracts, and was recently profiled in a seminal TechCrunch piece article on Privacy DeFi, Sienna is a privacy-first and cross-chain decentralized finance platform where the Sienna community can privately swap, lend and convert its tokens into their private equivalent.

“Sienna’s success validates the vision we’ve long shared to bring data privacy to blockchains and decentralized applications. We believe Sienna will be a key pillar of Secret DeFi and help drive mass adoption of a more secure decentralized financial ecosystem,” said Tor Bair, CEO Secret Network.

Sienna was named after the Italian city Siena (Sienna in English), which played a historical role in banking and cryptography as early as 1135 AD when Sienna was an important trading post.

Loans against collateral and interest were offered to Sienna citizens while simultaneously, the world’s original bankers, the Knights Templar, initiated a huge network of money transfer locations so people could deposit money in the Veneto region and travel to places such as Sienna of Venice without the risk of being robbed.

Upon arrival at either destination, merchants could withdraw their money from a Templar location by handing in an encrypted document. The Templars had also invented a unique kind of encryption that would allow people to travel with a document that could only be decrypted by the Templars.