Start Ups

The Briefing: OneWeb Raises Big New Round, Tiger Global Eyes $3.5B Fund, And More

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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OneWeb raises SoftBank-backed round for satellite network

OneWeb, the heavily funded developer of low earth orbiting communications satellites, announced that it has secured additional funding from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems.

The Financial Times reports that SoftBank invested a further $350 million into OneWeb. The financing comes after the satellite internet company went into bankruptcy last year after being unable to secure an urgent funding round.

OneWeb’s mission is to deliver broadband connectivity worldwide. In December 2020, it launched 36 new satellites, bringing its total fleet to 110 satellites. The company says the capital raised to date positions it to be fully funded for its first-generation satellite fleet, totaling 648 satellites, by the end of 2022.

New funds

  • Tiger Global reportedly raising $3.5B: Startup and growth-stage investment firm Tiger Global Management is reportedly seeking to raise $3.5 billion for a fund called Tiger Private Investment Partners XIV that it expects to close in March.

Funding rounds

  • Oqton raises over $40M in Series A: Oqton, a startup based in Belgium and San Francisco that develops AI-driven software for the manufacturing industry, announced that it has has secured more than $40 million in a Series A funding round led by Fortino Capital, PMV and multinational engineering group Sandvik.
  • Solstice heats up residential power with $3.1M: Solstice Power Technologies, headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, closed on an oversubscribed $3.1 million funding round led by Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures. The software and customer management company is developing residential solar power capabilities.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-1-15-21/

Start Ups

When Should Software Be Patented?

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Despite the controversy over whether software should be patentable, 62% of all patents filed are software-related. The biggest issue with the software patent debate is a lack of understanding. 

Before we cover patent eligibility requirements for software, it’s important that we address the elephant in the room. Many tech founders see software patents as a roadblock to innovation. While we sympathize with this viewpoint, we also understand the competitive nature of the industry and encourage our clients to leverage software patents as a legal tool to protect their innovations when possible.

This leads us to the question, when should software patents be pursued by a tech startup? 

When Should Software Be Patented?

Before obtaining a patent, there are a few things worth considering. While developing new software might be exciting, don’t forget that you should be thinking about how to protect your innovation. If you produce a piece of software and it has the potential to be marketable or particularly valuable to your company, you should seriously consider developing an IP strategy to protect your software IP assets.

At the outset of developing an IP strategy, consider the following questions:

  • What are your short-term and long-term goals for your IP assets? Is your software the type that will be soon rendered obsolete, or do you have reason to believe that your software will have lasting power in the market?
  • How valuable is the software asset to your company? Evaluating the worth of the software can help you determine whether it warrants IP protection
  • What IP protections is the software eligible for? A skilled patent attorney can help you identify patent-eligible processes that your software performs.

Various aspects of software-implemented inventions may be eligible for patent protection. For instance, the underlying process that the software performs could be protected by a utility patent, while tangential features of software, such as graphical user interfaces, displays or icons, can be protected with design patents.

When other tools for protecting your software fall short, a patent can provide the extra protection benefits required to make the continued investment worthwhile. 

When Shouldn’t Software Be Patented?

Not all software is patentable. You shouldn’t seek patent protection for software that doesn’t have a novel process or function. This would be software that’s openly accepted and known about. 

The only time you could consider seeking a patent is when you develop an innovative software or improvement to existing technology. The focus should be on what novel processes your software performs, and whether your software moves technology forward. 

Can Software Code Be Patented?

The actual code of your software is not patentable. While a patent does not protect the actual code created for your software, copyright protection can.

Unlike patents, copyright protection attaches as soon as you put the code into a tangible medium. However, it can be difficult to prove the creation date, so filing with the US Copyright Office can help secure your protection and have proof of the creation date. 

Considering Patenting Your Software?

Developing new software can be a highly profitable venture. However, you’ll want to protect your innovations while you pursue a profit. Understanding how and when to pursue patent protection will help you effectively protect your software and its code. 

It’s smart to speak with a patent attorney early on. This ensures you don’t miss an opportunity and expose you and your startup’s intellectual property to unnecessary risk. 

Request a free consultation today and speak with one of our skilled attorneys about protecting your software and valuable intellectual property. 

The post When Should Software Be Patented? appeared first on The Rapacke Law Group.

Source: https://arapackelaw.com/patents/softwaremobile-apps/when-should-software-be-patented/

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Start Ups

What Is Telecom Billing And How Can It Help Your Business?

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Reliable and timely communication is a necessity for any business. You need to reach out to customers, teammates, suppliers, and other stakeholders. The majority of business processes today depend on communications.

Telecommunications services ensure seamless connectivity. The increased dependence of businesses in telecom services necessitates a billing system that will help manage telecom usage, monitor expenses, and control costs.

If your business is in the telecommunications industry, telecom billing software can help you improve everyday business operations. Additionally, software developers can incorporate tailor-made features that are designed to support your business’ unique processes.

What is Telecom Billing Software?

The billing process for telecom services is complicated – and a telecom billing system automates and simplifies the labor-intensive tasks. It ensures accurate tracking of end-user consumption and optimizes efficiency, thereby saving money and time.

Traditional vs. Modern Telecom Billing Systems

Traditional telecom billing systems were limited to handle billing for SMS and voice services. As the services of telco providers have expanded, a robust billing solution that can cater to new schemes and subscription plans has become necessary. These IT solutions can be modified to meet the business’ current requirements.

In a rapidly evolving and highly competitive market, telecom providers need a billing system that is flexible enough to adjust to the changing products and services. Older billing systems also lack online capabilities which further reduce their efficacy. Modern telecom billing solutions address all of these needs.

With billing software, you can compute usage as well as generate and send billing statements to subscribers. It also provides a platform for monitoring payments and receivables.

Unlike other utilities, telecommunications services often have complex rates and charges. A subscription plan can include phone, SMS, internet, and other connectivity services. And in recent years, telecom providers have further expanded their range of services, which now includes upfront charges, hardware costs, software licenses, support, consultancy, etc. Since not all consumers avail of similar services, calculating their monthly bills can be tough.

For connectivity and voice services, the billing solution calculates the usage based on the call detail records (CDRs) which are automatically created every time a subscriber uses the communications network. The system calculates the costs based on the usage and the subscription tariffs. Monthly billing is sent electronically or through snail-mail on a scheduled billing period.

Developers of telecom billing system, Kansys, emphasized that these IT solutions are capable of monitoring the costs of services that they purchase from suppliers. This enables the business to check the accuracy of supplier billings as well as manage their expenses properly. With this software, businesses address any losses due to improper charges from suppliers.

How Telecom Billing Solutions Help Your Business

Real-time usage monitoring

Telecom billing systems enable businesses to capture CDRs in real-time. Hence, you can generate invoices anytime should a subscriber request for one.

Service provisioning

Modifying, adding, and canceling products are not uncommon in telecom services. With telecom billing solutions, you can quickly revise the billable items depending on the products the end-users avail. The additional charges, such as upfront costs and installation fees, are automatically reflected on the subscriber’s bill.

Simplify back-office processes

Managing high volumes of subscribers can be a difficult task. Typical back-office functions include recording customer service usage; provisioning services; adding new subscribers; calculating and generating invoices; receiving payments; tracking unpaid bills; terminating delinquent accounts; and more. Telecom billing solutions automate repetitive, labor-intensive, and time-consuming back-office processes. Thereby, you can focus on more important matters and become more productive.

Efficient billing process

Billing systems provide you with a reliable and efficient payment method, thus ensuring convenience for subscribers. It enables subscribers to check and pay their bills on their smart phone or computers. Likewise, it can also help businesses save a lot of time and money on printing and sending out bills.

Data validation

Telecom billing solutions can quickly identify and eliminate duplicate entries or data errors. This avoids double billing of the same subscriber, thus preventing any disputes.

Ensures transparency

Finally, telecom billing ensures accessibility and transparency of subscriber details. With this system, end-users can review their bills and check for any discrepancies. Proving timely, accurate, and detailed data on telecom usage increases subscriber confidence. It also helps build a trustworthy brand. 

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Start Ups

Dealing with Anxiety during Isolation: A Guide for Remote Staff

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The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought a lot of changes in today’s workplace. Remote working has been on the rise, as many organizations are encouraging their staff to work from home in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. And, while most people have had a challenge in adapting to these changes, most companies have reported an increase in productivity, as well as cost savings. 

However, despite the benefits that most companies have started to enjoy in regards to having remote staff, most managers are concerned about the emotional health of their staff. This is after most people started complaining about the anxiety and loneliness associated with working remotely. Their major concern is that working in isolation can ultimately affect their employees’ productivity. 

Research conducted by Gallup revealed that working remotely can make someone feel isolated and lonely. While this is not typical, it’s preventable. A recent study of 1,900 people working remotely conducted by Buffer revealed that 90% of people aim to work remotely, while 94% propose offsite careers. When asked about the greatest challenge of working remotely, 21% said loneliness. 

This shows that loneliness is the greatest challenge for remote working, and people should find ways to deal with the issue. In this post, we shall give a guide on how remote staff should deal with anxiety during isolation. Read on for more information!

For remote workers

Work outside your home at least one day every week

Now, because things are opening up, lockdowns are being lifted, you can set a day every week that you shall be working outside your home. Whether you choose to work at a coffee shop, local library, or a co-working space, working outside your home is the first step towards fighting isolation and its effects. 

Finding a suitable coffee shop, university, library, or co-working space to work from once a week will allow you to interact with other people. In case you have a friend who works remotely, you can tag them along too. Although you might not speak to most of the people surrounding you, working outside your home will make you feel as if you are part of a larger community. 

Also, when possible, you can contact other remote workers who live in your state or city and schedule a meeting. You can use this time to interact as you work on similar projects. 

Create or join groups in your company for social connection

Use the common platform that your teammates use to communicate at work to create or join social groups, where you can socialize with your coworkers, regardless of their location. Whether you choose to use Slack group to chat and share photos to regular Zoom meetings, find ways to socialize and connect with your colleagues. While this might seem insignificant, it can go a long way towards dealing with the effects of isolation when working remotely. 

Make good use of your flexible work schedule

Working remotely comes with a lot of flexibility. So, you should make good use of your flexible work schedule, and create extra time to socialize with your friends and family. You can choose to go out for coffee or breakfast with your neighbor or spend extra time with your family before starting your work. Also, you can take some time to take your dog to the park, or create some time to socialize—something that you cannot while working in a physical office. 

For employers

Create remote team building activities

If you are wondering whether it’s possible to have remote team building activities—it’s very possible. And, these activities can go a long way towards dealing with employee isolation. There are various ways you can use to keep your remote staff connected through a video chat. 

These ways include:

  • Trivia night
  • Team lunch
  • Coffee break
  • Show & Tell

In addition to preventing remote staff isolation, online team building activities come with other benefits like motivating your staff and improving communication, all of which lead to improved productivity. All you need to do is to find creative ways to engage with your staff, and don’t forget to have fun all the way through. 

Encourage your staff to take social breaks

Social breaks for remote workers are very important, as they not only deal with the feeling of isolation but also increase productivity. Social breaks also help remote employees feel refreshed and catch up with coworkers. 

So, employers should encourage virtual social breaks and chatting sessions. At the end of the day, you need happy employees, and you will be guaranteed increased productivity. 

Support your remote staff

Yes, you will need to provide the right support to your remote employees. This is particularly important if you want to hire dedicated .NET developers since it will help them to grow their skills. Thus, you must ensure that you are providing your staff with the right support—whether they are permanent or temporary remote staff. 

There are several ways to support your remote staff. Some of these ways include:

  • Having a virtual meeting to discuss the progress of tasks or update them on important developments.
  • Providing the necessary tech support they need to achieve a certain goal.
  • Planning for online seminars or conferences to help your staff sharpen their skills.

Besides, it’s important to encourage your staff to raise any concerns or questions during these meetings. 

Bottom Line

While remote working has its benefits for both employees and employers, it’s important to deal with the issue of isolation, since it can greatly affect the productivity of remote workers. The tips we’ve discussed will help both remote workers and their employers deal with the effects of isolation while working remotely. 

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Start Ups

Top 5 Qualities You Need To Become a Software Developer

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Although there are a lot of jobs in the software development industry, it doesn’t mean there’s no competition in the industry. To become a good software developer, you need to be at the top of your game if you stand out from the other software developers. Being a skilled and professional software developer is the only way you can get your dream job. 

With this, one should ask—what qualities do I need to become a software developer? And is it just a matter of qualities? Tigran Sloya, the CEO of CodeFights says that there are several important qualities every software developer should have. 

In this article, we shall discuss the top 5 qualities you need to become a software developer. Read on for more information. 

Positive attitude

As a software developer, you are responsible for your client’s product. Besides, you are determined and eager to go the extra step to get the job done and deliver the best product. However, this comes with one great challenge—the pressure from your clients to meet urgent deadlines. 

At times, some of your clients will need to launch the software by a certain date—and you will need to up your game, and deliver a finished software by that date. Besides, some clients will need you to rectify some parts of your finished work—and this can go on several times. 

A good software developer shouldn’t allow a client’s feedback to affect their ego. This calls for one to have a positive attitude, regardless of the feedback they receive from their clients. 

Analytical skills

According to software developers from Entrance Consulting, analytical skills are essential for anyone who wants to become a software developer. Being a software developer calls for one to think out of the box, gather and analyze data, resolve issues, and make important decisions confidently. 

Unfortunately, this is where some software developers fail—the lack of analytical skills. That means, not everyone can start a career in software development. The thing is—you don’t learn analytical skills—it’s an inborn talent. If you don’t have this skill, consider pursuing another career. 

One way to boost your basic analytical skills is by solving logic and algorithmic problems. However, it’s essential to understand that everyone has their limit—and they cannot exceed this limit. 

Good communication skills

One might ask, why do I need good communication skills when starting a career in software development? Well, as a software developer, you will need to understand issues, break them down and suggest solutions coherently. 

Besides, you should understand concepts without any issue, and ask the right questions in case you need any clarifications. The last thing you want is to proceed to work on a project, and yet you don’t have clear instructions. 

Also, as a software developer, you will be working with teams, and closely with your clients. And, this involves a lot of writing and talking—which calls for clear and transparent communication. You should be able to understand your clients and teammates and pass the right information whenever required. 

Ability to adapt, learn, and grow

A survey conducted by LinkedIn showed that software developers spend most of their time learning. The survey showed that 48% of software developers learn new skills every year, compared to 37% of all other professionals. 

After developing software, it requires continuous improvement, which is not only good for the program but the developer too. The following are some of the major platforms that allow software developers to learn and update their skills:

  • On-the-job learning – this is common for every software developer. Identifying broken codes and searching for solutions can help you to perfect your skills in software development. 
  • Boot camps or upskilling programs – online boot camps are a good option for a software developer who wants to learn a specific skill like artificial intelligence or data science. The most exciting thing about these programs is that you can continue to learn while working—and pay way much less than a university program, and still get the skills needed in today’s software development market.
  • Mentorship and coaching – as a software developer, you will need someone to guide you and hold your hand if you want to grow. An experienced mentor can assist you to perfect your skills and hasten your future in software development. 
  • Seminars – some of the latest developments in any industry, including software development are presented and discussed in events and like seminars and conferences. Thus, you should aim to identify and participate in such events regularly if you want to sharpen your skills.

Team player

As said earlier, you cannot work alone on a software development project. For any software development project to be successful, you need to work hand in hand with other people. Exchanging ideas, thoughts, experience, and knowledge can make sure that your project is a success. If you are a poor team player, it will be a challenge for you to achieve this. Besides, you will have a challenge in becoming a part of any software development team. 

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