Deliveroo will enter Taiwan, its fourth market in the Asia-Pacific so far

Food delivery service Deliveroo is making headway in its Asian expansion strategy. The London-based company announced today that it will launch in Taiwan in the coming weeks, starting with Taipei, the country’s capital, before heading to other cities. This marks Deliveroo’s fourth market in the Asia-Pacific region (the others are Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore) and is also a launch with personal significance for founder and CEO Will Shu, whose family is Taiwanese.

In a press statement, Shu said “Our launch in Taiwan is also a personal milestone for me, my parents were born in Taiwan and much of my family still lives in Taipei. Taiwan is the market with my favourite food in the world—my personal favourite is a big bowl of 牛肉麵 [beef noodle soup] and a huge piece of 炸雞排 [fried chicken]. From a personal standpoint, It’s an amazing feeling to launch Deliveroo in Taiwan.”

Once its Taiwan business starts, Deliveroo, which is reportedly eyeing an IPO to take place in the next two years, will operate in a total of 13 markets around the world. The company already faces stiff competition in Taipei, however, where its rivals will include Foodpanda, Uber Eats and Honestbee. Foodpanda was the first, launching five years ago, but Uber Eats quickly became a formidable rival when it entered Taiwan in 2016. Honestbee, a grocery and food delivery service, is also popular, and during lunch and dinner times riders carrying these services’ cooler bags on the backs of their scooters are a ubiqutious sight on Taipei’s streets.

Like other food delivery startups, all three offer costly incentives like discount codes, flash sales and free delivery to entice customers. The resulting war of attrition has forced food delivery services in other markets to withdraw or consolidate. For example, Foodpanda sold off its Vietnam and Indonesia operations, before the company itself was sold by Rocket Internet to larger rival Delivery Hero at the end of 2016.

Deliveroo has the advantage of a large war chest, however, and its funding (its Series F last year raised about $480 million at a valuation of more than $2 billion) will help it with the high cost of competition as it expands into new markets.

Lively raises $6.5M to bring its comfortable and inclusive lingerie to brick-and-mortar stores

Roy Raymond opened a little store called Victoria’s Secret, now one of the most popular lingerie businesses in the world, because he was embarrassed to buy lingerie for his wife in department stores.

The brand was founded on the premise that men needed a safe space to buy lingerie for women and women needed a larger variety of sexy, angelic bras and other intimates to wear for men.

But it’s 2018. Women, today, buy lingerie for themselves. They want to be comfortable and functional and beautiful all at the same time.

“[Victoria’s Secret] was always about the angel and the fantasy and a lot of push up and wire so women’s bodies could conform to a marketing campaign,” said Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder and CEO of direct-to-consumer lingerie startup Lively, and a former Victoria’s Secret senior merchant. “Inspiring women to be Candice Swanepoel is not feasible for most women in the world. I wanted to create a product that is for women and by women.”

Recognizing the gap in the market for bras that don’t stab you with underwire, she built Lively. To date, the company has raised $15 million in venture capital funding, including a $6.5 million Series A investment from GGV Capital, NF Ventures and former Nautica CEO Harvey Sanders announced today. 

“Previously, women had two rows of products in their drawer. One row they wanted to be seen in … and the other row was ones that were more basic and comfortable — but no nobody wanted to be seen in them.”

Though she began work on Lively before the #MeToo movement, Cordeiro Grant says it pushed the business forward in a big way. In the last year, the size-inclusive startup has seen 300 percent growth. What began as a direct-to-consumer company selling $35 bras and underwear has expanded to offer swimwear, activewear and loungewear. Physical retail is next.

“Women have been ready for a conversation like ours,” she said.

The startup is using the capital to open brick-and-mortar stores, a trend among other e-commerce businesses. The first of several stores in the pipeline, a 2,700-square-foot location, opened in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood this July. Stores in Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas are also on the docket, as is a partnership with Nordstrom that will have Lively selling a limited distribution of intimates across 11 stores beginning next week.

Lively competes with several other brands of direct-to-consumer lingerie and activewear, including ThirdLove, AdoreMe, TomboyX and Outdoor Voices.

 

Ebay’s HeadGaze lets motor-impaired users navigate the site with head movements

The sophisticated head-tracking system like the one built into the iPhone X may have been intended for AR and security purposes, but it may also turn out to be very useful for people with disabilities. A proof of concept app from an eBay intern shows how someone with very little motor function can navigate the site with nothing but head movements.

Muratcan Çiçek is one such person, and relies on assistive technology every day to read, work and get around. This year he was interning at eBay and decided to create a tool that would help people with motor impairments like his to shop online. Turns out there are lots of general-purpose tools for accessibility, like letting a user control a cursor with their eyes or a joystick, but nothing made just for navigating a site like eBay or Amazon.

His creation, HeadGaze, relies on the iPhone X’s front-facing sensor array (via ARKit) to track the user’s head movements. Different movements correspond to different actions in a demonstration app that shows the online retailer’s daily deals: navigate through categories and products by tilting your head all the way in various directions, or tilt partway down to buy, save or share.

You can see it in action in the short video below:

It’s not that this is some huge revolution in interface — there are some apps and services that do this, though perhaps not in such a straightforward and extensible way as this.

But it’s easy to underestimate the cognitive load created when someone has to navigate a UI that’s designed around senses or limbs they don’t have. To create something like this isn’t necessarily simple, but it’s useful and relatively straightforward, and the benefits to a person like Çiçek are substantial.

That’s probably why he made the HeadGaze project open source — you can get all the code and documentation at GitHub; it’s all in Swift and currently only works on the iPhone X, but it’s a start.

Considering this was a summer project by an intern, there’s not much of an excuse for companies with thousands of developers to not have something like it available for their apps or storefronts. And it’s not like you couldn’t think of other ways to use it. As Çiçek writes:

HeadGaze enables you to scroll and interact on your phone with only subtle head movements. Think of all the ways that this could be brought to life. Tired of trying to scroll through a recipe on your phone screen with greasy fingers while cooking? Too messy to follow the how-to manual on your cell phone while you’re tinkering with the car engine under the hood? Too cold to remove your gloves to use your phone?

He and his colleagues are also looking into actual gaze-tracking to augment the head movements, but that’s still a ways off. Maybe you can help.