Kiwi.com expects to be one of the winners of the tourism turnaround thanks to its patented algorithm

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Kiwi.com‘s proprietary algorithm, Virtual Interlining, allows users to combine flights and ground transportation from more than 800 operators, including many that don’t normally cooperate with each other. This gives them the ability to provide customers with cheap flights that other search engines simply cannot see.

According to Mario Gavira, the platform’s vice president of growth, this is going to benefit them to come out stronger from a crisis that has been hitting the travel industry hard for more than a year.

Kiwi.com was born 7 years ago to differentiate itself from traditional platforms, which involves generating unique content that can only be found on its platform.

From there they went on to combine their flight itineraries with ground transportation itineraries into one. “We can make a single reservation for a client to go from London to Benidorm, using various means of transport,” says Gavira in an interview with Business Insider Spain.

Gavira, who took up his post in January and has more than 20 years of experience in the industry, was managing director for France at Edreams Odigeo and, most recently, managing director of Europe’s leading multimodal metasearch engine, Liligo.com.

Now, the expert talks to Business Insider Spain about what lies ahead for the industry, and especially for Kiwi.com, when travel returns to normal.

Every crisis is also an opportunity

“The pandemic was a huge blow for the whole industry and like any other player, especially in the airline industry, we had a dramatic drop in sales, especially in the first wave when our sales fell by 95%,” he recalls.

Faced with that slump, the platform began to take measures to ensure its survival: they cut costs as much as possible and made sure they had enough cash to survive for as long as possible.

“We didn’t have any major layoffs because most of our employees are in the Czech Republic and there were subsidies there that allowed us to be flexible and keep our employees.”

Kiwi.com records more than 100 million searches a day and employs 2,000 people worldwide. Of these, 30 are based in Barcelona.

Ingredients to stay afloat

“We foresee that there will, unfortunately, be some players that will not survive or will have to merge with others, but others are going to emerge stronger and at Kiwi, we have all the ingredients to make it.”

As a global player, Kiwi.com benefits from each country’s different rates of vaccination for recovery. For example, as he points out, traffic in the US is still very active, although not as much as at pre-pandemic levels.

“Because we are an ambitious company, we believe that every crisis is also an opportunity. We have started working very aggressively on improving our product both at the content level and improving the capabilities to promote an application that is more comprehensive so that when tourism comes back again we can benefit from that,” he notes. Twenty-five percent of the employees are engineers working on improving the product.

On the other hand, there is no doubt that this crisis has accelerated digitalization. This, according to the expert, will mean that traditional players based in physical offices will suffer more if they have not managed to transform themselves and offer a product that is on par with what pure online players can offer.

Despite this, Gavira points out, the pre-crisis financial strength of each company also plays an important role, and this is another point in Kiwi.com’s favor. The platform has “very important” financial support from General Atlantic (a U.S. growth capital firm that has also bet on big players such as Airbnb), which invested in the company in 2019 and bet on them as a “winning horse” in the world of tourism.

“We have all the cards to come out on top and become one of the major players in online travel the future,” he says.

In 2019, the company had a turnover of 1.3 million euros, according to its website, but Gavira does not reveal figures for the results of the worst year for the sector, although he notes that they expect to recover the same level of turnover prior to the pandemic in the summer of 2022.

Star trends

As they focus on preparing for the recovery and maximizing their technological potential “to be one of the winners in this tourism turnaround,” they are keeping an eye on the trends that will shape the future of travel.

Post-COVID tourists will be even more demanding: these will be the star trends in 2021, according to top industry executives

“There is another challenge that I think after this crisis is going to be more important, which is sustainability,” he notes.

Air transport is one of the most polluting industries and, according to Gavira, being a multimodal player that offers greener transport alternatives (such as buses), gives them an advantage.

On the other hand, the future of tourism is inconceivable without technology.

We are great believers in artificial intelligence. Our ability to combine 20 billion possible itineraries a day requires algorithms that allow us to process all that massive amount of data. We are a beneficiary of this technology and we are obviously applying it more and more to the whole process,” he says.

As for blockchain, Gavira explains that they are not investing aggressively, although they are studying it.“If cryptocurrency becomes democratized, it may be a form of payment that we offer in the near future.”

2 out of 3 people believe they will be able to travel before the summer

“The search volume has increased sharply for summer. We see that there is a willingness and desire to travel again. When you reach a certain percentage of vaccination, people start looking for flights because they see the end of the tunnel and start dreaming,” he says.

According to a survey of global citizens conducted by Kiwi.com in February, 67.4% of international travelers are optimistic about the future of the industry and believe they will be able to travel in the next six months. In addition, 79.6% of participants would be willing to get vaccinated if it would allow them to travel sooner. In fact, 62.5% say they plan to travel more in a post-pandemic scenario than before.

Kiwi.com’s goal is to be prepared for when this happens.

“When the skies open up, my main goal is to get Kiwi in a position to be able to maximize its technology and be as present as possible in the consumer’s mind to be able to sell as much as possible and generate significant growth,” he says.

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Plum lands in Spain: this is how the fintech that wants to save for you works

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He wanted to create an app to help save that was almost as easy as hitting a button. This was Victor Trokoudes’ idea for founding Plum, a British fintech that is now making the leap to other European markets after raising an €8.4 million funding round.

Trokoudes is a well-known figure in the fintech world. He was one of the first 5 employees of Transferwise, another British fintech that revolutionized international transfers by lowering their cost for customers and that, after 10 years of activity, has just changed its name to Wise.

Trokoudes was its director of international and banking, the position he held when he began to think about starting his business.

“I was close to 30 and I realized that, despite having this experience in the investment world – before entering the fintech world, he worked as a trader in London – I was not doing anything with my money,” explains to Business Insider Spain the founder of Plum, who assures that he had in his mind the voice of his father reminding him to make the most of his money.

The problem was not so much that there were no instruments to invest, but that I was not clear on how to manage my finances and boost savings,” adds Trokoudes, who wanted it to be as simple as pressing a button to save.

Thus Plum was born. An application where you can include your accounts from other banks so that, thanks to technology, the app tells you how much you can save -there are several savings modes depending on the amount you want to generate-. This brain allows the user to save without leaving their accounts uncovered, pause saving for a while or change the percentage for a few weeks.

Who they are and what they offer you: 13 fintechs already operating in Spain and looking to unseat traditional banks

Under PSD2, the regulation governing financial payments, financial aggregators can collect your data from other accounts with your permission. However, this is the theory because, in practice, it’s not always that simple because of how banks’ data or their APIs are organized.

In the case of Plum, in Spain right now only data from Bankia, CaixaBank, Santander, BBVA, and Sabadell can be included in the application. In other words, if you are a customer of ING, for example, or if you have any other account in a neobank, you will not be able to use this application for the time being. Or, at least, it will not give you a complete picture of your personal finances.

Troukades points out that, although it is not possible now, they plan to add the rest of the banks to their roadmap, as is already the case in the United Kingdom, where they are some 18 months ahead of other European countries.

The other legs of the business: investment, comparator, and cashback

In addition to the savings, Plum was completed with a user version holistic version for the user, including an investment part. This option, which is not yet available in Spain, focuses on offering investment services with a range of ETFs for users to invest their savings. The advantage over other brokers, Troukades points out, is that its commissions are lower.

In addition to this option, there is a tariff comparator where users can see if their internet or telephone bill is average or if they can find something cheaper. Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, the Plum user can compare with other similar customers. This function has not yet arrived in Spain either.

To finish off the catalog of functionalities, the app offers a range of CASH BACKS. The app also offers a range of shopping savings in some stores. This service is already available in Spain, although for the moment there are only a few stores where you can save on purchases.

Plum was born in 2017 in the United Kingdom and has just landed in Spain. Like most unlisted companies, it shares little economic data about its activity. Troukades agrees to say that they are not yet profitable, but little else.

It simply points out that they have 1.5 million users in the UK and expect to close 2021 with 3 million in that market. If all of Europe is taken into account, the target is to end this year with 5 million customers, including 500,000 in Spain.

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BBVA opens its application to customers of other banks to test their financial aggregator services

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BBVA has decided to open its mobile app for both iPhone and Android to customers of other banks. From now on, it will not be necessary to have an account with the bank to use the platform and its services such as the financial aggregator.

Thus, anyone will be able to access the bank’s application and try services such as the aggregation of their banks, the BBVA Valora tool (used to find out the estimated price of a home) or view their balance and movements, as well as perform some operations, such as initiating payments.

Who they are and what they offer: 13 fintechs already operating in Spain and seeking to unseat traditional banks

Once the other entities have been added, users will also be able to request transfers and consult their income and expenses in an orderly fashion to have total control of their finances and understand what they spend their money on, among other functionalities.

What BBVA intends to do with this step

BBVA has explained that with this project it intends to continue taking steps towards its goal of expanding its customer and user base, putting some of the functionalities and services available in its app into the hands of non-customers.

The director of Open Market at BBVA Spain, Leyre Baltza, said in a statement that opening the application to non-customers is a technological challenge, but also a firm commitment to a philosophy that is very close to the world of large technology companies, where the entry barriers to learning about or using a service are very low.

With this development, BBVA incorporates the elements of the e-commerce experience into its activity, such as the usual option of allowing users to continue as guests. There are also different levels of engagement when accessing a music or video platform.

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Samsung redoubles its bet on mid-range smartphones to conquer the market: “The pandemic has meant that we have to adapt quickly to change by listening to consumers.

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The mobile market in Spain is at a very interesting moment. Not only in terms of sales – where Chinese companies are increasingly taking more and more of the cake from historic leaders such as Samsung and Apple –but also in terms of technology.

Manufacturers are increasingly offering devices with tighter prices and better features, which complicates the consumer’s final purchase decision. In this regard, specifications originally intended for the high end – such as, for example, screens with 120Hz refresh rates, or IP67 certification (water and dust resistance) – are already visible in the mid-range, and at very reasonable prices.

Proof of this is the update of Samsung’s Galaxy A range, which includes the Galaxy A52, the Galaxy A52 5G, and the Galaxy A72. In fact, this is its most strategic line, as last year alone it cornered 64% of the multinational’ s total sales.

We are trying to bring high-end technology to the mid-range, such as support for fifth-generation networks, cameras with 64-megapixel sensors, OIS and water resistance (IP67) in affordable smartphones so that any user can enjoy the latest without having to shell out a large sum of money,” explains Mark Notton, Samsung’s Product Director for Europe during an interview with Business Insider Spain.

A year marked by the pandemic and listening to consumer needs

In this regard, the executive stresses the importance of the company’s adaptation to the times: “The pandemic has meant that we have had to adapt quickly to change, but always listening to consumers. That’s what they demanded from us“.

As Notton says, the situation when developing devices this year was marked by the COVID-19 crisis, which has left a large part of the population without income. “We had to offer those people with fewer resources terminals that they could buy and that they found attractive; on the other hand, we also had to satisfy the needs of those people who could spend a little more on technology because restrictions prevented them from spending that money on other things, such as vacations or travel,” he explains.

This two-pronged strategy has been possible because they have a great deal of innovation muscle. Specifically, the company spends about 8.9 billion dollars a year on R&D, a not insignificant figure: “Now users can choose a device depending on the feature they like, and we are not just talking about high-end: if they want a large screen, they can opt for the A72; if they are looking for speed, they have the A52 5G; while if they want something more economical with a good camera I recommend the A52,” he says.

So are the Galaxy A52, A52 5G, and A72: Samsung’s mid-range star is renewed with a very modern design, refresh rate up to 120 Hz, and better cameras.

“In fact, if you ask me, I would take the Galaxy A52 5G because I prefer that 120 Hz refresh rate and 5G networks for gaming, but in Spain – unlike in Germany or the UK – large panels triumph over any other feature,” he explains.

As a curiosity, the executive assures that both the Spanish and Portuguese are “very thrifty” customers who look a lot at quality/price, who don’t mind paying a little more if it works out better for them in the long run. “That’s why our technology is perfect for them,” he says with a smile.

5G accessible in 2021, but ‘foldable’ technology will still be exclusive for at least 3 years.

According to Notton, 5G will be a big trend this year, and not just for premium smartphones. It will also be key in mid-range phones, as well as in all kinds of home devices, as it will enable better connectivity, greater fluidity, and therefore, a better user experience.

“There is still a long year ahead and I can’t reveal how many of our devices will be compatible with this technology, but I can tell you that it will be increasingly accessible to everyone,” he stresses.

We launched the world’s first foldable cell phone – the Galaxy Fold –and we have continued to present many models incorporating this technology. These types of devices will reach the general public, but we probably won’t see them on a ‘mass scale’ for at least 3 or 4 years.”

“In product development, over the last 20 to 30 years, more and more efficient innovations are being made and the price of the products is going down. We will move in that direction, but it is still difficult to see how fast we will be.”

A complicated 2021: with chip shortages and Apple closer than ever before

Beyond adapting to new technologies, Samsung does not have a particularly easy year ahead. On the one hand, Gartner’s global results for 2020 announced that Apple had surpassed them for the first time in mobile sales since 2016 -specifically, the apple company achieved a market share of 20.8% compared to 16.2% of its rival-; on the other hand, the chip shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic threatens many firms, will it affect them too?

According to the executive, Samsung has been working for some time on a plan of attack to alleviate both drawbacks. For the first, the multinational brought forward the launch of its Galaxy S21 (something that brought it much joy, since analysts’ forecasts are quite positive), in addition to which they plan to strengthen their mid-range to improve that “lost volume”. “What we are seeing is cyclical. If you look at the market on an annual basis, many competitors are on the same line,” he says.

As for the problem of the global chip shortage, he says that they have “one eye on the market” but that, according to his analysis, it will not affect them. “At Samsung, we have a very vertical structure: we manufacture chips, batteries, screens… in other words, we make most of the components that we include in our devices. This is a competitive advantage over others. It is true that this industry moves very fast, but so do we, and we know how to adapt to the circumstances.”

We will have to wait until Wednesday to see if this plan of attack proves effective, but all indications are that it will.

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Novel technology is capable of converting 5G signal into power deliverable to other devices

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5G technology is still in a process of implementation, which operators and governments of many nations are working on right now, and which in the not too distant future will be finalized, with the result that this connectivity can be enjoyed over a much larger territory. But, like any big change, it takes time.

However, unlike its predecessor technologies, 5G can bring about a huge change in the way we interact with smart objects, but not only that – it can also give rise to some of the most curious products. And the best example is a wireless charger that uses the 5G signal to obtain energy to charge a device.

It is a device developed by Georgia Tech, with which “we can have a large antenna, which operates at higher frequencies and can receive power from any direction, which makes it much more practical” according to Jimmy Hester, lab advisor.

This experimental product manages to convert the 5G signal into a kind of wireless electrical network, which in turn is capable of powering smart devices, something that can have a large number of practical applications.

This antenna has been developed based on Rotman lenses capable of collecting waves in the 28GHz band, and with it has solved the problem that the antenna must be facing the transmission target, having a large coverage angle that is capable of supplying power to low-power devices nearby, in any direction. All the energy collected with the antennas would be combined and fed to a single rectifier, which would also improve the efficiency of power transmission.

The 4 keys to the arrival of 5G in Spain: all you need to know

This technology would open the doors to the creation of smart and portable products, which could not only be used inside homes but also in points of interest outside the home, such as wireless charging points that do not depend on direct electrical connection and that can generate it through these antennas.

“I’ve been working on energy harvesting conventionally for at least six years, and for most of that time, there didn’t seem to be a key to making energy harvesting work in the real world, due to FCC limits on power emission and targeting. With the advent of 5G networks, this could work, and we’ve demonstrated it. That’s very exciting: we could get rid of batteries,” says Jimmy Hester.

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From the sun of the south to the lowlands of northern Germany – at VW, Matías Carnero begins work on the Supervisory Board

  • The Spaniard’s entry into the top committee is evidence of the upgrading of Seat in the Group and the Iberian Peninsula in central plans of the Wolfsburg-based company.
  • IG Metall has nominated Matías Carnero as a supervisor – the global player VW is to cultivate an international appearance even among exposed mandate holders.
  • The “E” from “Espana” also stands for the “E” in electromobility – Spain is increasingly focusing on alternative drives and is one of the most significant sales markets in Europe in perspective.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

It’s a first for VW: For the first time, an emissary from Seat is now a member of the supervisory board at the twelve-brand group in Wolfsburg. Spaniard Matías Carnero moved into the top body earlier this month. The appointment of the 53-year-old Catalan is a sign of the upgrading of VW’s Spanish Seat label, for example with regard to future e-cars, as well as the growing importance of the Iberian Peninsula and markets in Latin and Central America.

The VW Supervisory Board comprises twenty people, half of whom are on the capital side and half on the employee side. The latter has seven seats, which are filled by the company’s workforce. In addition, there are three union “tickets,” one of which is now held by Matías Carnero as successor to Kai Bliesener. Carnero, a Spaniard, was appointed by the German IG Metall union.

Carnero is a native of Barcelona, the capital of the Catalonia region. Close to the Mediterranean metropolis is the town of Martorell, where Seat’s main plant is located. At Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, S.A. (Spanish company for passenger cars; editor’s note), Carnero started in 1987 as an employee in vehicle assembly. In the course of time, he worked his way up to master craftsman and took on various positions in employee representation. Carnero has had a seat and a vote on the presidium of VW’s European and Global Works Councils since 2003.

As a global player, the VW Group is interested in a multicultural composition of its committees. Johan Järvklo had most recently served as the international representative of the employee side on the Supervisory Board; the Swede resigned his mandate in mid-2020 for personal reasons.

According to Matías Carnero, he wants to “continue to work for the workforce at Seat, for all employees of the Group and for the company.” As a member of the Supervisory Board, he said, the union and he himself “have the opportunity to participate in the body where the most important strategic decisions of the Volkswagen Group are made.”

This includes, among other things, the continued focus on electric drives. The factory in Martorell and the VW plant in Pamplona, Spain, are important factors in the Wolfsburg-based company’s plans. Within Europe, Spain is considered one of the potentially most important markets for e-vehicles, for example with regard to an entry-level model of the ID. model family and technically closely related offshoots of other brands. The “E” in “España” (in German: Spanien; editor’s note) gives VW a meaning all of its own. And Matías Carnero is fully behind it.

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Spanish unemployment falls below 4 million in its best March in 6 years while average employment and permanent contracts grow again

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

Despite the fact that the economic vice-president, Nadia Calviño, had warned that the unemployment data to be published this Tuesday by the Ministry of Labor would not be positive for employment and was going to cause a downward revision of the Government’s macroeconomic forecasts, the labor market figures have revealed the best March in 6 years for unemployment, a historic increase in permanent contracts, mixed data for employment and a further reduction in workers on ERTE.

These are some of the main conclusions drawn from the unemployment figures registered with the State Public Employment Service (SEPE), which show that in March it fell by 59,149 people compared to the previous month, its best figure for this month since 2015 and its third-best historical record. Moreover, the total number of unemployed stands at 3.95 million people, behind the 4 million it reached in February and its January records.

This graph shows how Spain has become the leader in youth unemployment in Europe.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration has released the affiliation figures for March, which show that average employment increased by 70,790 contributors with respect to the previous month, to an average of 18.91 million affiliates, although, in seasonally adjusted terms, the number of contributors fell by 45,438, to a total of 19.03 million people, which means recovering 668,000 affiliates since May last year.

Unemployment fell again in the best March in history for permanent hiring

With regard to the registered unemployment data, Labor pointed out that the total number of unemployed “returns to below the 4 million mark” after 5 consecutive months of increases, putting an end to this trend “once the impact of the third wave of the pandemic has been overcome, which has allowed the easing of restrictions affecting economic activity”.

Beyond the month-on-month decline of 1.5% in unemployment, the March employment figures highlight the strong increase in permanent contracts, as shown in the graph below, which shows that a total of 207,191 permanent contracts were signed in March, 14.76% of the total, representing the best figure for this month in the entire historical series, which Labor has attributed “to the impetus of the work carried out by the Labor and Social Security Inspectorate“.

In addition, more than half of these contracts, 128,800, were full-time, while the remaining 78,400 were part-time. Meanwhile, 1.11 million temporary contracts were signed, of which 27.90% were for a specific job or service, 25.48% were temporary due to circumstances of production on a full-time basis and 26.68% were part-time.

As for segmentation by sex and age, female unemployment fell in March by 26,680 women, 1.16% less, while male unemployment fell by 32,469, 1.91% less, while unemployment among those under 25 years of age broke its trend and fell more sharply than in the older age groups, with 2.35% less than in February, while among those over 25 years of age it fell by 1.39%.

By sectors, the greatest fall in unemployment was recorded in the services sector, with 53,686 fewer unemployed than in February, in construction, with 7,685 fewer, and in industry, with 3,675 fewer, while agriculture is the branch of activity which generated the most unemployment in March, with 2,368 new unemployed, while another 3,529 were previously unemployed.

By region, only the Basque Country registered an increase in unemployment, with 993 more unemployed, while the other 16 autonomous regions saw a reduction in unemployment, led by Andalusia, with 16,925 fewer unemployed than in February, in the Valencian Community, with 8,897 fewer, and in Catalonia, with 6,390 fewer unemployed than in the previous month.

Mixed sign in employment and new reduction of those affected by ERTEs

As for Social Security affiliation, the different readings of the average data, where an increase of more than 70,000 contributors is recorded, and of the seasonally adjusted data, which shows its second consecutive monthly decline, reflect the slowdown in employment, which remains more than 330,000 contributors behind its February 2020 figures and with 85,800 fewer affiliates than 12 months ago.

However, the Ministry of Inclusion and Social Security has highlighted that “668,023 affiliates have recovered since May 2020, the lowest point after the impact of the pandemic on the labor market”, pointing out that the biggest declines in affiliation in seasonally adjusted data have corresponded to the services sector, with 34,000 less employed, and in agriculture, livestock and fishing, with 20,000 less.

On the other hand, the construction sector has once again added affiliates for the second consecutive month, with almost 6,000 more, after having suffered its first decline in January since the beginning of the pandemic, just as the industry has added 879 new contributors and has now accumulated 9 consecutive months of job creation. However, in average terms, the services sector was the one that gained the most affiliates, with 69,000 more, followed by construction, with 18,300 more, and industry, with 3,800 more.

By regimes, the general scheme reached 15.57 million employed after increasing by 53,831 workers, while the self-employed added 15,245 workers, reaching an average of 3.28 million members. Meanwhile, all the autonomous regions saw an increase in average affiliation in March, led by the Balearic Islands, with 1.52% more, Cantabria, with 0.89%, and Murcia, with 0.84% more.

As for workers affected by ERTE, it was reduced at the end of the third month of the year to 743,628 people, which means 115,913 workers less than at the end of February and 2.9 million less compared to “the most acute moment of the crisis, in April 2020”, according to Inclusion, which highlights that workers included in ERTE have been reduced by almost 80% compared to the spring of 2020.

The ministry points out that 528,098 affected by ERTE, which represents 71% of the total, are included “in some of the modalities that were implemented as of October 1, extended as of February 1, and which entail exonerations to the Social Security”. In addition, it highlights that 60.5% of the affiliates working in travel agencies are in ERTE, being the most affected sector after the accommodation sector, with 56.68% of jobs temporarily suspended.

By territories, Inclusion assures that “there is an important concentration in the areas with greater tourist activity”, highlighting that Las Palmas is the province with more workers in ERTE, with 15.75% of its employees in this situation, while Santa Cruz de Tenerife has 12.5% and Baleares, with 10.6%, while Guadalajara is the province with the least impact of the employment suspended by the pandemic, with only 2.3% of its employees in ERTE.

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Consultancy joins the 4-day week: the founder of Advantage Consultores assures that its implementation has brought “only advantages”.

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

Since the technology company Software Delsol from Jaén decided to start applying it in January 2020, more and more companies from different sectors have started to test the 4-day work week, including the company that organizes the largest young entrepreneurship event in southern Europe, Startup Campus, or the restaurant chain La Francachela, among others.

In addition, the 4-day work week has received an important boost from the institutions after the Government approved a pilot project with which it will subsidize with some 250,000 euros each of the 200 companies with between 6 and 200 employees that have been selected to experiment the implementation of the 4-day work week without reducing the salaries of their workers.

Everything you should know about the 4-day work week: where it is applied, what advantages it has and what possibilities you have to enjoy it.

Precisely, this is the 4-day week format chosen by one of the latest companies to join this new model of working hours, Advantage Consultores, an international consulting firm specializing in headhunting based in Barcelona, Madrid, and Nuremberg, which implemented the 4-day week in January without reducing the salary of its workers.

Three months later, its CEO and founder, Sylvia Taudien, assures that the experience is bringing “only advantages”, pointing out that “the full involvement and motivation of employees has increased” without generating costs or decreases in the quality of their service. “The client does not notice the day of absence, since the teams work very collaboratively and with agile tools such as Drive, Scrum, Slash, etc.”, emphasizes the head of Advantage Consultores.

“We realized that due to the pandemic there was a physical and mental exhaustion with so many hours in front of the screen,” says Taudien. “We also noticed that the candidates’ willingness to change had increased,” he stresses. This is why he decided at the end of 2020 to introduce a four-day workweek starting in January in order to“protect” his employees and “increase well-being, productivity and therefore productivity. engagement and therefore productivity.

Thus, since last January, “employees can freely choose their day off per week, except for Monday, which is a day for team meetings, and Friday, which is a day for reporting with clients,” explains the founder of Advantage Consultores, who emphasizes that “this day off is respected to leave room for the employee to dedicate himself or herself to topics such as sports, training, family, Mindfulness, etc.” and that collaborative tools are used “so that the handover is fluid”.

Sylvia Taudien explains that her staff works between 32 and 35 hours a week and earns the same salary as before, stressing that “the salary is no longer measured by hours, but by productivity”, and that her decision not to reduce salaries despite cutting working hours is due to the fact that they believe that “results and productivity will be better than fewer hours”.

In fact, the CEO of the consulting firm assures that“productivity has increased due to the high motivation of the team in a climate of trust, self-determination and entrepreneurial spirit within the company”. In addition, among its objectives in implementing the 4-day week are “well-being, full engagement, a new culture based on autonomy, customer and project orientation and empowerment“.

The basis of this model, according to Taudien, is “trust and discipline”, stressing that the 4-day week “requires a change of mindset in how we perceive the working relationship”, which implies, according to her experience, focusing on “employee entrepreneurship within the company and full responsibility for projects and changes, self-managed by them”.

However, Sylvia Taudien recognizes that the implementation of the 4-day week requires “a change of mentality for the employees, with some astonishment”, although she stresses that the change has been assumed naturally, defining the experience as “very gratifying” and pointing out that they have not encountered any difficulties in the process but that “we are only reaping congratulations”.

Taudien, who is German but has been living and working between Barcelona and Nuremberg for 37 years, is optimistic about the possibilities of this model of working hours becoming widespread in Spain and explains that “in Germany, in the 50s or 60s there was a famous campaign: I want my dad to play with me on Saturdays, to change from a 6-day working week to a 5-day working week. Now in Germany, they work 35 hours a week and it is a very productive country”.

In Spain, the CEO of Advantage Consultores assures that the government “uses this measure to reduce unemployment by hiring more people” and points out that there are other models, such as Job Sharing, in which 2 employees occupy a single position. “I already learned at Singularity University in Silicon Valley that the future of work was going to fewer hours per week with widespread pay,” she says.

Sylvia Taudien stresses that robotization and artificial intelligence will lead to the loss of 5 million jobs, but the gain of 3 million new ones. She stresses that “the pandemic has taught us that these new virtual and flexible work models are possible and are here to stay“.

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Their CEO is only 25 years old, and he quit his job at the WSE for this company. DoxyChain wants to revolutionize document management

  • Doxy Chain was developed for the interdisciplinary competition Global Legal Hackathon and enables document management while guaranteeing security and immutability of once saved data.
  • To be able to develop the project, Gabriel Dymowski resigned from his job at the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Among those who believed in his idea were a lawyer and investor Jacek Bajorek and Wolters Kluwer publishing house.
  • DoxyChain was the first Polish start-up to join Oracle’s Market Connect program.

This is an automated machine translation of an article published by Business Insider in a different language. Machine translations can generate errors or inaccuracies; we will continue the work to improve these translations. You can find the original version here.

DoxyChain is an application for managing and storing digital documents using blockchain technology. The creator of the solution is a young team of developers and lawyers led by 25-year-old Gabriel Dymowski. The start-up is currently looking for funding on foreign markets and plans to raise at least €2 million by the end of the third quarter of this year. This budget will allow DoxyChain to scale its solution on a European level.

Anna Anagnostopulu, Business Insider Polska: DoxyChain was created as a solution for law firms. It was supposed to make it easier for them to issue, revoke and handle powers of attorney. How did you come up with the idea? How did you know the problems of this environment?

Gabriel Dymowski, co-founder and CEO of DoxyChain: The starting point for our solution was a Hackathon, specifically the Global Legal Hackathon, focusing on technologies for lawyers. While working on the project, we wondered why such large amounts of documents in law firms are still not digitized. The lawyers we spoke with emphasized one thing. They said they didn’t trust the systems available and that they weren’t secure enough to go digital.

Our liaison to the law firms is Marcin Lorenc, who is a lawyer himself. Based on his recommendations, we decided that we would focus on a solution for court mandates, which we programmed on the blockchain. Almost two years have passed since then and today the use of DoxyChain is much broader.

Let me ask you for an example.

One of our investors and first customers is Mr. Jacek Bajorek. He has a law firm that signed a large framework agreement with the city of Plock for legal services. Within this framework agreement other, smaller ones were created, e.g. for issuing a legal opinion on some issue. The city, through the secretary’s office, sent the inquiry how much time would it take the legal office to prepare such an opinion. The law firm responded, and the city commented. All this correspondence could be done by e-mail, with attachments in the form of Word files. We systematized business processes and then described them in our system, which allowed us to process all the steps within one platform.

All actions – sending a request, responding to it, agreeing or disagreeing – were recorded in the blockchain. When the target document was signed, you could read the event history and get all the information about it – not only about the signature but also about the whole negotiation process.

I imagine it as a cross between Google Docs and Slack instant messaging, popular even in editorial offices.

Exactly. What makes us different is the level of security we guarantee in our relations with external entities. We assume that within one organization people trust each other. Whereas when negotiations are between two separate entities, the greatest value we give them is the security of the documents and the undeniability of the information once recorded in them.

Imagine that we met today and are negotiating a contract for 200 thousand euros. The arrangements would have to be communicated to each other by email, and if we quarrel, it could even be a matter of dispute which final version of the contract we signed. With blockchain, there is no such possibility. From each previous version of the document, a hash is created, which uniquely identifies the changes made. In practice, this means that if you change even a comma in the agreement, the system will clearly indicate that this is a new version of the document.

Do both parties to a transaction need to be your client to work on DoxyChain?

No. A company that chooses to use our services sends a link to the contract to the counterparty via email. The person to whom the correspondence is addressed must go through a two-step authentication process. He clicks on the link and goes to the DoxyChain website. He sees the document but cannot sign it yet. He has to enter his phone number and then enter a code received via SMS. He accesses and signs the document without involving his organization.

Authentication by email alone is not enough for us, hence the need for a phone number. In the next two to three months, we want to add a video verification option.

How is the trust in blockchain among customers and investors? The UKNF regularly warns against investing in cryptocurrencies, with which blockchain is often equated.

When it comes to investors, we go to those who know the potential of the technology. Clients have typically heard of blockchain, or at least bitcoin, and want to understand what our solution is all about. However, there is no denying that some are distanced.

We feel it’s not easy for us, but we also know our value. When someone tells me that the regulator is warning about blockchain, I say: Ok, but do you know what PKO bank did recently? It digitalized the general terms of its contract with regard to blockchain. As a result, so far it has saved PLN 20 million by making 11 million contracts available to its customers.

Blockchain is the best technology for building coalitions of trusted entities. People stop trusting Facebook, Google, technology companies. We say: don’t trust DoxyChain, a young start-up. You yourself will be the guarantor of the reliability of the stored documents. Blockchain gives decentralization. Entities that want to co-create this system with us will maintain its vertices, i.e. replicated blockchain databases that sign off on the fact that no changes have occurred on the network. In short, it’s moving away from a single trust point to entities that co-create the system. It is also important to note that the UKNF warns against cryptocurrencies, which our solution is not associated with.

You say that you want to set European standards for document circulation and security. Have such standards already been defined, for example, at the EU level?

The European Commission is working on the construction of such standards, using blockchain. This year, a project is to be launched under which a distributed network of member states will be created, in which each country will maintain its top.

However, there are already regulations such as RODO or PSD2, the EU directive on payment services, to which we had to adapt. The right to be forgotten resulting from RODO strongly conflicts with, for example, the fact that on a blockchain, once stored, information is never lost. We managed to solve this problem thanks to an appropriate layer of anonymization. It is because of such technological and legal issues that we have been coming to the market for so long. We provide blockchain in the SaaS model (software as a service – ed.). So far there has been no such thing on the Polish market.

Photo: press materials From the left: Daniel Bigos, Rafael Schultz, Gabriel Dymowski, Marcin Lorenc, Piotr Żelazko.

How many entities are already using the platform and how many are testing it?

In 2020, we did a few single deployments, mostly in law firms. Currently, DoxyChain is testing about 20 entities from various industries. We have a base of several hundred companies interested in our service, which we will open to in the coming weeks.

How much will they pay?

99 PLN per user. If there are five people using the platform in a given company, the customer will pay PLN 99 for each of them separately.

You have recently said that you are planning to raise EUR 3 million from investors this year. What will they be used for?

Actually, I was talking about a round of 3 million euros. We currently have 2 million euros pledged from two foreign investors and we may stop there. As the president, I prefer to stick to a smaller budget and show the effects sooner. What the final amount will be will result from talks with investors.

We are looking for foreign funds because our goal is to enter European markets as soon as possible. So we need not only capital but also know-how. We have a really strong team, great developers, one of the partners lives in the fintech capital – Berlin. So we have exposure and opportunities to expand into the European market and that’s how we want to scale the product.

Our goal is to reach a thousand users in 18 months. We define the user as a medium-sized SME, where 4-5 people will be using our platform. This is the level at which the company will generate €100k of MRR and be ready for the next round of funding.

You have basically been working under pandemic conditions since the beginning of the company. On the one hand, it’s a lot of inconveniences, on the other hand, it’s an acceleration when it comes to digitalization.

We look at the results of DocuSign, a company that was the first in the industry. In a pandemic, it saw 30 percent year-over-year growth! This has never happened in its 20-year history.

Digitization has undoubtedly accelerated. Since the beginning of Pandemic, I’ve been getting inquiries about whether the platform has already taken off. What was once a revolution is now an evolution. Even public sector entities are in the process of digital transformation and I am sure that digital document management will soon become the standard.

Before becoming CEO of DoxyChain, you worked at the Warsaw Stock Exchange and were a member of the working group at the Ministry of Digitalisation, among other things. An impressive CV for a 25-year-old. Your partners also have something to boast about.

Indeed, our greatest value is the team. Piotr Żelazko, the main architect of the solution, is in my opinion one of the biggest blockchain talents in Poland. Together with Daniel Bigos, he is responsible for aspects of blockchain technology. We have Marcin Lorenc, an excellent lawyer of the young generation, also a member of the blockchain working group, thanks to whom we better understand the problems and needs of our clients. Rafael Schultz is opening doors for us to businesses in the international market. We also have a great business angel, Jack Bajorek, who immediately believed in our project. Finally, we are supported by ICEO, a company specialized in scaling start-ups, which has an incredible experience in the market.

As for me, I have devoted everything to this company. I worked at the Warsaw Stock Exchange, in the WSE Private Market project. I could build a new market using blockchain technology, create the history of the financial market in Poland. For a 24-year-old guy, it was something amazing and extremely prestigious. Only a few years earlier, the Polish Financial Supervision Authority warned against Bitcoin and blockchain, and since 2019 everyone is looking at what will happen on the WSE and how blockchain technology will be implemented on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. I learned a lot while working for the WSE and it made me very strong. I decided to leave when after the Legal Hackathon we started to be contacted by companies like PwC or IBM asking what our next step would be and convincing us that this idea has incredible potential. I left when we didn’t have funding yet, I bet everything on DoxyChain. I owe the knowledge I have today to the fact that I have smart people around me, older than me. I’m not afraid to ask them, I try to listen and take their advice. You can’t learn to swim if you don’t jump into a pool of deep water, and I always wanted to do business. So I decided to do business instead of working for a corporation.

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Why you should offer interviews to applicants with gaps in their résumés

Man traveling Azores Portugal
Having come from a non-academic family, I certainly wouldn’t have dared to leave any gaps in my résumé before my first job in a local newsroom.

  • Gaps on your résumé often mean life experience but many people are scared to take time out.
  • I dropped out of my university degree and later left a company job but it made me a better worker.
  • Recruiters should view résumé gaps with curiosity and be more concerned when people don’t have any.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In between jobs, I’ve chased magic swords. A friend of mine traveled through Vietnam and Thailand. Another spent time taking care of her family and one enjoyed the summer doing nothing at all.

From a human perspective, a gap in your résumé is obviously a good thing – you’ve spent that time having pizza for breakfast, entertaining clever thoughts, learning Spanish vocabulary, or devouring all seven Harry Potter books.

Gaps in your résumé mean freedom and freedom takes courage.

I’m in my mid-30s now, but from 1992 to 2008 when I was preparing for working life, I feared the résumé gap. Career advisors taught us to see them as the death knell to our careers.

“People will ask about it,” we were warned. “And what are you going to say?”

Having come from a non-academic family, I certainly wouldn’t have dared to leave any gaps in my résumé before my first job in a local newsroom.

The fear of plunging myself into “economic ruin” would’ve plagued me and I would’ve been afraid of how I’d justify myself in job interviews – and whether I’d even be able to respond to the dreaded question.

teen playing desktop computer game with headphones graphics
I dropped out of a university degree and spent my days playing computer games.

But now, my advice to anyone with a résumé gap would be to answer boldly.

I dropped out of a university degree and spent my days playing computer games until I finally got a place on a different program. Although that might not seem like a good use of my time, it taught me a very important lesson – if something doesn’t work for me, I have to change it.

At that point, it was my degree, and later on, it was a company I was working for. Both times, it’s been worth it because I’ve been able to better evaluate my situation and think about my skills and what I really want. My life has improved as a result and I’ve become a better worker.

“I don’t have any gaps on my résumé,” one of my acquaintances wrote to me once. “And I regret it.”

The people I know who do have those gaps have told me they took the time off to recover from mental health issues. Many of them decided they wanted to work for themselves during their breaks, and a lot of them have made it happen.

What people learn during their time off from their careers gives them the freedom to think differently and maybe even better. Admitting that is tough because it goes against our ideas about the “ideal worker.”

That’s precisely the problem. What society demands of professionals today isn’t sustainable anymore, or even relevant. If you do your job well only when it works for you, then you are one thing above all else: replaceable.

People do lots of things in their jobs. They develop ideas, help people, solve problems, manage the chaos behind the scenes at large institutions, tackle climate change, teach, calculate, heal, and program.

black woman hiking
Gaps on your résumé often mean you’ve got life experience.

We’re not always equally good at those things and gaps tend to help us improve our performance. We need to remember life isn’t a machine and people aren’t cogs – life is complex.

If we don’t incorporate that into our lifestyles and into our work, then ultimately there won’t be anyone left who can develop the ideas to accommodate our complex lives.

However, gaps are scary. One of my friends is currently looking for a job but she’s scared to spread the word through her networks, whether professional or personal. I think that’s a fatal error.

If we all had the courage to leave gaps in our résumés and if recruiters approached gaps with curiosity rather than apprehension, the world of work would radically change.

Even taking parental leave is considered a “gap” in your résumé – a career inhibitor or something you shouldn’t allow yourself.

The truth is that work experience rarely makes us discover anything about life. We only get that through life experiences.

That’s why I think recruiters should be more concerned when someone comes into an interview without a gap in their résumé.

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