Bold Business Logo

Deliveroo – Food and Delivery Industry Unicorn

For entrepreneurs who want to enter the world of food and delivery, 2018 offers them a great year to start. However, Will Shu, the co-founder, and CEO of Deliveroo already found his luck in the food startup industry in 2013. He did not wait for 2018 to come.

To date, because of the massive efforts and dedication from its stuff, Deliveroo is becoming a total contender to the popular food delivery startup, UberEats.

Deliveroo is an online food delivery service, which critics say is part of the ‘unicorn’ startups. In just five years, the UK-based company has already earned a $2 billion valuation.

How it all Started

It all started when Shu could not find delivery options from some of Europe’s well-known restaurants. He then decided to quit his job as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. Shu then enrolled himself in a business school to gain knowledge about opening up a company.

He established Deliveroo together with his childhood friend, Greg Orlowski. According to Shu, “I funded it with my own money in the beginning, so you just do everything.” The former investment banker also shared that for eight months, he became a delivery driver for his own company.

Shu proved everyone that he is not just a successful businessperson; he also puts pride on what he does. Up until now, Shu still delivers food once every two weeks. He said, “You got to really understand what restaurateurs are thinking, what customers are thinking, what drivers are thinking. I have done every job in the company. I think it’s invaluable.”

Right now, the food delivery service of Deliveroo is present in more than 200 cities. It is available across Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Middle East. The London-based company also employs 35,000 delivery people.

What Makes Deliveroo Stand Out?

Because of innovation, many entrepreneurs have started to build their own company or business. Moreover, it is inevitable that these companies will offer the same services. Now, it will be a challenge for the owners to come up with a fresh idea that will separate them from the rest.

Good thing is that Deliveroo will not have a problem with that. It is currently offering a new service that other food delivery startups have never done.

Aside from getting orders from restaurants to customers, Deliveroo also supports various chefs with kitchen space. The rising food delivery company endorses the food that these chefs make to the public.

Another unique thing that Deliveroo does is its plan to build a kitchen concept for the aspiring chefs. The company is calling it Editions. Shu stated, “We’re trying to roll out Editions, improve the customer experience and do so many things. We’re thinking about entering new markets too.”

However, in spite of a solid performance, Deliveroo still manages to face a backlash from its own people.

A Slight Bump on the Road to Success

Deliveroo is no doubt a promising startup, but just like any other food delivery companies; its workers go on strike repeatedly. Reports suggested that the delivery workers go on strike because of their wages and lack of benefits.

Shu made sure that he finds a solid solution to the problem. He said, “There’s been almost a black and white divide between flexibility and job security. We’ve been working with governments to try to end that because we want to offer riders benefits, but it has to be in the context of a flexible working model.”

The minute problem that Deliveroo is facing will just make the company even better. Deliveroo might be new to the industry of food and delivery but it already promises to provide a good service.

Shu has many wonderful plans for his company. One of which is to open a service in the United States. Deliveroo is taking one-step at a time. Today, it is creating a bold impact in Europe and eventually make a name in the international market.

Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Through Tiny Drop of Blood

Nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease. In the US, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 has it. By 2050, it is projected that sixteen million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s disease. One actually doesn’t have to look too far ahead to realize the impact of this disease. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2016, 15.9 million family caregivers provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours and $230 billion to people with dementia. A potential new diagnostic tool is on its way.

Nearly 44 Million People Around The World Are Affected by Alzheimer's Disease

Researchers have been working on understanding this disease for years. However, Alzheimer’s disease still stands as the only disease in the 10 leading causes of deaths in the United States that cannot be prevented or cured. Despite the bleak statistics, there has been a glimmer of hope. Researchers are currently developing a blood test that can help with the early detection of Alzheimer’s. And all this test needs is a tiny drop of blood.

Currently, diagnostic tools for Alzheimer’s disease are positron emission tomography (PET) brain scans and the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Brain scans are time-consuming and expensive. Through this method, doctors are able to see the structure of the brain and check if it is functioning well. This is done by introducing “tracers” attached to glucose into the blood stream. Active brain areas will utilize glucose at a higher rate.

Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is the fluid that cushions and delivers nutrients to the body’s central nervous system. This fluid also carries waste away from the brain and spinal column. A sample of this fluid is analyzed to check and measure changes in the fluid pressure, protein, and glucose. The presence of chemicals, bacteria, viruses and other harmful organisms can also be detected. This fluid is usually taken through a needle from the patient’s lower back area. This procedure though proven effective in understanding symptoms, can be painful and invasive.

Signs It’s Too Late

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Symptoms develop slowly over a number of years and obvious changes only occur long after the disease has already made changes in the brain. This delayed onset of symptoms also hampers the progress of research regarding Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most common signs of this disease if memory loss, specifically remembering recently learned information. Some patients begin to experience challenges in completing daily tasks and put things in unusual places. They also may confuse dates, season and the passage of time. Patients also lose the ability to retrace their steps and have trouble remembering how they got there.

People with this disease also experience change in judgement or decision-making. They begin to withdraw from their social circles because of feelings of confusion, suspicion, depression, fear and anxiousness.

Plaques and Tangles

Our brain cells operates by communicating with other cells. Damage spreads and cause problems in other areas when something hampers communciation. People with Alzheimer’s disease have have unusually high beta-amyloid deposits according to studies. These protein deposits called “plaques” buildup in the spaces between nerve cells. “Tangles” on the other hand, are twisted and coiled fibers of the protein called tau. Most people develop plaques and tangles with old age. But people with Alzheimer’s disease tend to develop far more than usual.

Hope in a Tiny Drop of Blood

Alzheimer’s disease has no known cure. But early detection can help reduce the impact and slow down the development of symptoms. The knowledge that the disease is on its way can prompt a change in lifestyle.

This test works by detecting the presence of amyloid beta (Aβ) and protein tau deposits in the blood. Even under extremely low concentration, abnormal levels of amyloid beta and protein tau detection by analyzing a few tiny drops.

Remarkably, these protein forms start to appear in as early as 20 to 30 years before noticeable symptoms appear. Researchers are optimistic with the progress this test is making. With the potential of replacing expensive brain scans and invasive spinal fluid analysis, this test is hopefully available within the next few years.

AI Matches Wine to your Palate

For years, wine has undergone a transformation from a snobby upscale product to one which the masses have adopted. In traditional wine-producing countries, people are romantic about wine. In France, Italy, Spain and other countries, wine holds a spell among ordinary folks, wine drinkers and connoisseurs. But with advancements in technology, Artificial intelligence (AI) is now playing a role in the wine business.

The romance of wine in the United States started in the 1970s, when Napa Valley proved that they could produce world class wine. California wine, since then, became more than just table wine and expanded beyond growers and vineyards.

Wine in the 21st Century

Wine appreciation as a function of culture, has taken a turn towards the 21st century. Wine clubs started because of a popular appreciation for wine along with desire for wine education. Wine subscription services aimed to meet the demand for wine by people who do not have the time to go out and meet regularly to discuss wines.

Now AI has the ability to decide what wine you should drink. A monthly wine delivery system uses AI tochoose the right wine, for the right occasion – fitting a person’s preferences.

The success of online wine clubs and wine subscription services is growing as more neophytes sign up for their monthly wine recommendations. These services, like those offered by Weekly Selection, use trained sommeliers to choose interesting wines for their clientele. After the success of these online wine experts, newcomers bring Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the picture. Winc and Bright Cellars use AI to assist clients in deciding among thousands of wines.

Bright Cellars Lets You Explore Wine Options

Promoting the company with a “passion for wine”, Bright Cellars aims to educate the public with the end goal of helping the them discover wine. They make it easy to order wines, and easier to understand wine. The start of the process is in getting to know the customer.

With the use of a questionnaire on their website, they aim to capture the customer’s tastes. The questionnaire explores your likes, including your favorite chocolate, or how you like your tea. This is where the AI comes in.

bright cellars and winc

The AI matches the resulting flavor profile with the wines. The flavor profile also learns additional information through user reviews and recommendations from the customer. With more online engagement, the AI learns and fine-tunes the profile, thereby providing better recommendations in the future.

AI for wine is not far fetched. It does not have the nose nor the palate for wine, but it depends on the subscriber’s preferences. Not every wine drinker is able to discern the subtle nuances of flavor and scent. However, most wine drinkers and enthusiasts are able to explain their wine preferences. They can explain the fruity aroma of a zinfandel, or the density and thickness of a sangria.

AI  Helps You with Your Preferences

The AI’s questionnaire is about taste and flavor preferences. The territoriality of wine and its character is due to the soil and growing conditions of the wine. These characteristics of the earth and climate give wine its layers of scent and flavor. In lyrical terms, it is the distillation of the soil and its fruits. Smelling wine before putting the glass to the lips is a necessary part of the enjoyment of wine. It teases the palate, and the sense of smell to open up for more flavors to come. The initial whiff is an invitation with its layers of scents.

Character is further reinforced when the wine first touches the tongue. The profile is layer upon layer of various other flavors. There is the slight citrus taste reminiscent of oranges or apples, and the underlying tannin coming in the second or third wave, the woodsy flavor adds to the complexity. The flavor intensifies and unfolds itself during the whole process of drinking wine.

This is the essence of today’s AI engine: to bridge personal interactions between AI and the user. It is the same “personalization” strategy of Alexa, Google AI and Siri, that help the AI become more useful to the user.

The initial results of the matching might not be different even if there were changes between answers. However, this is just the starting point.

AI Does Not Do Wine Tasting

The problem with the use of AI is that it is not inherently credible in describing wine without the use of a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This tool will tell the user the composition of the wine. This composition, when compared to other wines, can enable exactly where the wine was grown and what year. At least in theory, it should be able to. This is a cold science for such a vibrant libation.

The discord occurs when using AI on food and drinks. However, it is not how AI is used in giving recommendations. A person has preferences about chocolate, food, drinks, activities, and others. These variables are the baseline in suggesting wine. The initial suggestion may not vary from one user to another, no matter if the preferences changed. What does matter is the succeeding wine suggestions evolve with the feedback from prior wine selections.

These recommendations help the AI narrow down the search. Sommeliers have tasted the various wines and given their comments. The AI matches these comments with the subscriber’s preferences and their reaction to prior wine offerings. It is an intelligent system based on an iterative process. It learns with succeeding iterations.

Succeeding monthly deliveries would show that the AI has learned something about the individual.

The service also allows the user to choose which wine he would like to buy, foregoing any recommendation.

Richard Yau and Joe Laurendi, who both went to MIT, founded Bright Cellars. They had tried other services and found that the random wine deliveries did not catch their palate. The iterative nature of their AI reflects this attempt at fitting a person’s taste. The Bright Cellars service also has a unique wine selection as their list of wines is not easily available anywhere else. This allows them to have better control of their pricing.

Winc

Winc follows the same general concept of Bright Cellars. It uses a questionnaire to get an idea of a person’s tastes. Then it provides a recommendation for a 4-bottle delivery at $13 per bottle. The customer has the option to upgrade from a Select list, replacing the base selection with more expensive ones, at a slightly more expensive price. Some wines cost up to $40.

The 4-bottle package is free of shipping and costs a minimum of $52. It comes with a booklet titled “A to Z of Wines,” which is informative and a perfectly good read providing information about wine quality, taste, acidity, body, as well as grape varietals like “Merlot” or “Pinot Grigio”. The booklet also provides suggestions about wine and food pairings.

There is no membership fee to pay. You can skip a month, and you can also cancel your subscription any time by informing Winc of the cancellation at least 2 days in advance of the delivery date. First time orders can avail of a $20 discount.

The additional cost that Winc charges is not for the wine nor the delivery, but for the service and the experience. This is an experiential service aimed at highlighting the wine service.

Like almost all wine club delivery service, it is possible to buy a better known brand at the wine store, however, the company has taken pains to ensure that the customer understands the wine and pairs it accordingly.

Wine subscription services are going high tech and they expect to grow in number due mainly to the success of Bright Cellars and Winc. Specifically, their success at instructing new wine drinkers on the finer things in life can make long time loyal customers.

Precision Medicine – How Height is Impacted by Genes?

The Scientific American recently showed that genetics predominantly determines human height. And only a small portion affected nutrition and other environmental factors. According to the report, “60% to 80% of the difference in height between individuals is determined by genetic factors, whereas 20% to 40% can be attributed to environmental effects, mainly nutrition. This answer is based on estimates of the ‘heritability’ of human height: the proportion of the total variation in height due to genetic factors.”

Heritability allows researchers to examine the impact of genetics on a person’s height. Recently, a team of Harvard scientists was able to isolate the genes that contribute to a person’s height. They used precision medicine that looks at individual variability in genes.

This bold discovery can do more than make individuals taller in the future. It could be the key to understanding more complicated genetic problems and finding a cure for them.

Headed by Terence Capellini, Associate Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, the team has been working on “switches” that could influence height. They also experimented on how these switches alter the function of a key height gene.

“Large genome-wide association studies on upwards of 250,000 people found about 700 genetic regions associated with height,” Capellini said in a Science Daily report. “But within each region there could be many single DNA variants linked together, so there are potentially tens of thousands of variants spanning those regions. The question is how do you whittle that number down to those specific variants that influence height?”

Filtering Genetic Variants

Individual height differences
Individual height differences

There are over 60,000 genetic variants that can affect that cartilage growth plate of bones. Capellini’s team needed to filter which ones directly affected the cartilage growth plates. These are areas in the long bones of the legs and arms that produce new bones. Interestingly, they lengthen as children grow. This means that when the switch is off, the genes can help bone growth and length. This will result to taller individuals.

The scientists tracked down “switches” responsible for causing neighboring genes to turn on and off.

The process was long and tedious, requiring several quality control tests. Michael Guo, one of the study’s co-authors, brought down the 60,000 possible genetic variants to 900.

“We also looked at switches from other cell types to see if these genetic variants appeared, and they didn’t. That really suggests to us that the signals we’re seeing are very strong, it’s not just a property of the genome or a property of identifying these switches,” the study read.

Isolating the Switches

Chondroitin Sulfate Synthase 1 or CHSY1 is the gene responsible for cartilage hardening into bone. Scientists determined that it influences the length of the thigh bone or femur in humans and mice.

When the researchers removed the switch and its variant from human cartilage cells, they saw an increased expression of the gene. These findings can create a big impact to further understanding of the role of genes in human height. The team plans to develop more methods to test other gene variants and determine their effects on height.

In-depth studies will allow scientists to better understand other conditions affected by both genetics and environment. These include heart ailments, diabetes, and even cancer. Importantly, understanding what switches trigger certain genes could lead to treatments or a cure.

Capellini said:

For any disease or trait, being able to say here is a switch that turns a gene on or off, and here is the mutation in that switch that can effect it dramatically…that’s pretty powerful.

That will allow us figure out what are the biological pathways that are worth targeting. The future of personalized medicine will rely on knowing what specific pieces of DNA are doing in the body, and this is one way to do that.”