Irix Offering 15mm f2.4 Lens with Edge IFH-100 Filter Holder Combo



If you haven’t heard of Irix, you should check out their products; the lens company combines fresh, modern designs and stellar optics to create some amazing third-party lens options.

And until February 14th, Irix is offering an equipment combo deal:

When you purchase the Irix 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone, you can pay just one extra Euro and receive the Irix Edge IFH-100 filter holder (normally 69 Euros in value).

Irix produces the 15mm f/2.4 Blackstone lens for three camera mounts: Canon EF, Nikon F, and Pentax K. It’s a fast prime lens that has received raved reviews, which makes it a perfect choice for landscape or architecture photographers looking to add an optically-impressive prime to their bag, not to mention astrophotographers.

The Irix 15mm f/2.4 is a manual focus only lens, which means it isn’t optimal for fast-paced genres such as street photography. But street photographers rarely shoot at ultra-wide focal lengths anyway, and all the photographers that would actually appreciate a 15mm prime probably work in manual focus most of the time.

One more thing you’ll appreciate about the Irix 15mm f/2.4 is the build quality. Irix is unique among lens manufacturers in that it offers two versions of the 15mm f/2.4: A rugged “Blackstone” lens, and a less rugged “Firefly” lens.

While the optics in the two versions are identical, the Blackstone is perfect for photographers who frequently take their gear into rough situations and who don’t have time to baby their equipment.

As for the Irix Edge IFH-100:

It holds 100mm square filters, including Irix’s hard and soft graduated neutral density filter lines. And it’s billed by Irix as “the lightest filter holder in its class.”

The Irix Edge IFH-100 should mount on lenses with a diameter between 52mm and 95mm.

So if you’re interested in grabbing a high-quality wide-angle prime, as well as a square filter holder, then take a look at Irix’s offer.

But act fast, because the deal expires 14th Feb 2020!

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iPad Pro vs Surface Pro: Can a tablet-laptop hybrid really replace your PC?

How the PC has evolved over the past decade
Back in 2010, when Apple launched the iPad, it looked like the PC was an endangered species. Ed Bott explains how 10 years of technical progress helped the PC survive. Read more:

At its June 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled some significant changes to the iPad operating system, even christening the revamped version with a new name all its own: iPadOS. The changes bring Apple’s flagship tablet, especially the iPad Pro models, closer to the “hybrid PC” category that Microsoft has staked out with its Surface Pro line.

From a hardware standpoint, the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the addition of the Smart Folio Keyboard and an Apple Pencil, is remarkably similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro 6, especially when viewed from the side. (The newer Surface Pro 7 is exactly the same size and shape as the Surface Pro 6, with only one noteworthy new feature: a USB Type-C port.)

Both devices make the same promise: You can have a tablet when you want a simple surface for reading or sketching, or snap on the keyboard to get something closer to a classic clamshell PC form factor.

But as soon as you sit down and actually try to get your work done, the differences between the two devices come into much sharper focus.

Here’s the tl;dr: The iPad Pro still appeals mostly to those who are firmly entrenched in the Apple ecosystem. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is most satisfying to those who require a traditional Windows PC. And anyone who expects to cross effortlessly from either world into the other is doomed to be disappointed.

For both companies, it’s been a journey of a decade or more that led to the current combination. And the development process has been almost stereotypical of how both companies work


iPad Pro (left) and Surface Pro 6 (right) offer strikingly similar profiles

Microsoft’s path was convoluted and filled with false starts and mistakes. It all started in 2012, with the launch of the ARM-powered Surface RT. That ill-fated device, launched two years after the iPad, tried and failed to be an iPad clone. It failed so miserably, in fact, that Microsoft had to write off nearly a billion dollars in inventory.

The Surface Pro took a similarly halting path to its current state, stumbling from its initial “brilliant, quirky, flawed” debut more than six years ago through multiple iterations. In classic Microsoft fashion, it took three tries to get the design right, and the company has been in “don’t mess with a good thing” mode ever since.

The Surface Pro 6 is filled with tiny but meaningful improvements over its predecessors, and the company seems at last to have ironed out the reliability problems that plagued the entire line in its early years.

Meanwhile, Apple took the opposite path with iPad, grudgingly adding PC-like capabilities to the iPad hardware over time but steadfastly resisting calls to make the Mac more like an iPad and vice versa.

The first iPad Pro, unveiled in 2015, included support for the new Apple Pencil, which looked like a direct response to the Surface Pro’s signature pen. In 2018, Apple added its own keyboard covers, including the Smart Keyboard Folio, which snaps into place almost exactly like the Surface Pro’s Type Cover.

But despite those hardware improvements, the iPad software experience remained pretty consistent through the years. Until now.

Must read

Forget about Dark Mode. The really significant iPadOS changes announced at WWDC 2019 are the ones that make it more like a PC or a Mac in everyday use. There’s finally support for external pointing devices, so you aren’t forced to swipe the screen to make a selection. There’s new support for external storage devices, an expanded set of Finder-like management tools for local files, some new window-management tricks, and even support for widgets on the home screen.

You’ll also find some enterprise improvements in iPadOS, like the capability for administrators to separate business and personal data on BYOD devices and managed Apple IDs for business.

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Choose your iPad

Apple’s entry-level iPad features a 10.2‑inch Retina display, support for the full-size Smart Keyboard, and iPadOS. Customize your new iPad at Apple.

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Making the iPad experience more like a laptop does not, however, turn it into a laptop replacement, at least not for business customers. It’s hard to imagine a creative professional voluntarily giving up her Mac for an iPad Pro, although there are certainly circumstances where the lighter, more portable device will come in handy. Lightroom and Photoshop on mobile devices are simply not as capable as their counterparts on the Mac.

The same is true with Microsoft Office on the iPad, which still offers only a subset of the features available on the Windows and MacOS versions. Depending on your workload, you might be able to get by with an iPad Pro for an occasional business trip, but that still makes the iPad an occasional laptop substitute, not an all-in replacement.

The Surface Pro 6, on the other hand, is a full-fledged laptop replacement, with all the pros and cons that come with being a Windows PC. In the office, you can attach a docking station and use a full-sized monitor, keyboard, and mouse; on the road, it’s remarkably lightweight. But it doesn’t offer the simplicity of the iPad, and the experience of using the Type Cover is still off-putting for many users who prefer the solid feel of a clamshell keyboard.

Ultimately, the decision about which mobile device to adopt comes down to which one runs the apps you need. The simpler your workload, the more likely that an iPad Pro will be able to substitute for a laptop when you travel. But if you need the tools that only come in a full-strength desktop app, nothing less than a real laptop will do.

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The best cheap phones you can buy in 2020: Flagship features for any budget


(Image: CNET)

Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro starts at $1,000, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max starts at $1,099, and the Samsung Note 10 Plus starts at $1,099. Even the more affordable flagship from OnePlus, the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, is priced at $900. These manufacturers, along with wireless carriers, offer monthly payment plans to help people afford these high prices, but no matter how you slice it, the price of flagships is still a deterrent for many folks.

Thankfully, there are some outstanding affordable alternatives, and these alternatives have significantly improved over the past few years. Various manufacturers, including many from China and Korea, have compelling products that are becoming more popular as we reach smartphone saturation. Amazon has its Alexa Built-in phones that offer reasonable prices on current models and ones that might be a year or two old but are still valuable options.

Also: Money no object? The 10 best smartphones you can buy right now

Camera performance was a major differentiator between flagships and mid-range phones over the past couple of years, but even today’s affordable phones can help you produce decent photos to share with family and friends or on social media. Let’s take a look at some of the lowest-priced options available.

These phones are in order from lowest to highest price.

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review.


The Coolpad Legacy (see my review) is designed with a large display, huge capacity battery with Quick Charge 3.0, high-quality plastic and glass materials, a microSD expansion card, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and even launches with Android 9 Pie out of the box. There have to be trade-offs made at the $130 price (free on Metro by T-Mobile), but they are hidden well on the Coolpad Legacy.

This is a great first phone, one for someone who needs a phone battery that will last a couple of days on a single charge, or someone who wants a big display that is easy to read.

It has modern features and solid design aspects while performing reliably to help you get things done. I am still stunned by the low price of this phone and did not expect it to be this good.

View Now at MetroPCS


(Image: CNET)

The Moto G7 Play has a full retail price of $159.99, down from the MSRP of $199.99. It can be found on Amazon or directly from Motorola at this reduced price.

The Moto G7 Play has a 5.7-inch display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 632 processor, 13MP rear camera, 8MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD expansion card slot, and a rather large 3,000mAh battery. It has some water resistance and retains the 3.5mm audio jack.

The Moto G7 Play is priced at less than most insurance policies for flagship phones, so if you need a low-cost phone or a backup, then this may be the one to consider. Motorola also does a great job of providing a stock Android experience that gets fairly regular updates, too.

View Now at Motorola


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The Moto G7 Power (see our full review) is available at Amazon for just $200 or at Motorola for $250.

ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani stated that the Moto G7 power is the budget phone you are looking for, thanks to its very long battery life, solid performance, and affordable price. The photo quality won’t match flagships priced five times higher, but photos are still good enough for social media sharing.

The Moto G7 Power has a 6.2-inch display, rear 12MP camera, an 8MP front-facing camera, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage with a microSD card slot, and whopping 5,000mAh battery. It is a mid-level phone available at an entry-level price.

View Now at Amazon


Image: LG

The Samsung Galaxy Note series is one of the most capable devices for the enterprise, but models also start at $1,000 and go up from there. If you still want an experience with a stylus at a much more affordable price, LG’s Stylo line is worth considering.

The LG Stylo 5 is available as an unlocked smartphone with a 6.2-inch display, 3GB of RAM, microSD card, 3500 mAh battery, 13MP rear camera, and 5 MP front-facing camera. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 processor.

You can use the included stylus for note-taking, artwork, drawing chat messages, and more. Like the latest Galaxy Note devices, you can also slide out the stylus and capture handwritten notes on the go with the screen off.

View Now at Amazon


While we tend to focus on the Samsung Galaxy S and Note series, Samsung is making waves with its extremely capable A series. The Samsung Galaxy A50 is available from various carriers with the least expensive option being the unlocked version at $249.99 from Samsung.

The Samsung Galaxy A50 (see our full review of the Xfinity Mobile model) sports a gorgeous 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage with a microSD card and a Samsung Exynos 9610 processor. There are three cameras on the back: 25MP, 8MP, and a 5MP depth sensor with a whopping 25MP front-facing camera. A very large 4,000mAh battery keeps this gorgeous phone powered up.

An optical fingerprint sensor under the display works very well while we also still have a 3.5mm headset jack and USB-C port. The Galaxy A50 is a very good phone and will give you an appreciation for the A series.

View Now at Samsung


The Motorola One Action stands out from the pack of affordable phones with a triple rear camera design that brings a 117-degree ultra-wide-angle camera, 12MP standard camera, and a 5MP depth-sensing camera lens at a price much less than flagships with three lenses. ZDNet’s Jason Cipriani was very impressed by the release and I personally am considering one for a test phone.

The Motorola One Action is powered by a Samsung Exynos 9609 processor with Android 9.0 Pie, a 6.3-inch display, 4GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and a 3500mAh battery.

One unique function we haven’t seen from others is the ability to film video in landscape while holding your phone comfortably in portrait orientation. You can enjoy media on the big display with a small hole-punch front-facing camera too.

There is a minimal level of water resistance, a 3.5mm audio jack, Bluetooth 5.0, and more inside. It’s a capable phone available at a very affordable price.

View Now at Motorola


Google’s Pixel line of phones has been competing with flagships from Apple, Samsung, and Huawei. Google revealed the Pixel 3a at just $399 a few months ago, and the press has been extremely pleased with its performance. It’s a mid-level phone, but the standout camera from the Pixel 3 is included, so if you want the absolute best phone for under $400 that will be updated for years, then you can’t go wrong with a Pixel 3a in Just Black, Purple-ish, or Clearly White.

Even better for the masses, Google is selling these in T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint stores. Stay tuned as Google gets ready to announce the Pixel 4 in October.

The Pixel 3a is running Android 9 Pie and is assured of getting updated to Android 10 on a timely basis. It has a 5.6-inch display with a rear 12.2MP camera, and a front 8MP camera with Google’s fantastic image processing software.

A Snapdragon 670 powers the Pixel 3a with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3,000mAh battery, and stereo speakers. A fast rear fingerprint scanner unlocks the phone while it also still retains a 3.5mm headphone jack.

View Now at Best Buy

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H1 Insights is giving the healthcare industry the ultimate professional database – TechCrunch

I want to build a business which profiles every single researcher and healthcare professional in the world and I want to sell it to industry,” says Ariel Katz, the co-founder and chief executive of H1 Insights. 

With the healthcare industry on a mission to digitize and analyze every conceivable datapoint it can to wring more efficiencies out of its incredibly fragmented and broken system, for Katz, there’s no opportunity that seems more obvious than giving the industry data on its own professionals.

The idea may sound like nothing more than creating a LinkedIn for healthcare professionals, but building an accurate account of the professional ecosystem could be a huge help to businesses as diverse as pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurers, and, eventually, consumers.

For Katz, it’s the continuation of a longstanding mission to create transparency for datasets that were previously opaque. Katz sold his first company, Research Connection (which became LabSpot), three years ago. That company was designed to uncover the research underway at universities around the country so students could see where they should apply for undergraduate and graduate studies.

After the sale the young entrepreneur went on a vacation to India, and it was there that he met his co-founder Ian Sax. “He backpacked there to follow his wife who was volunteering with Mother Theresa [and] ended up starting a staffing company.”

The two men became friends and collaborated on projects — including a software that would help medical school students find jobs.

Conversations between the two soon hit upon the lack of transparency around what research was happening at what universities and which clinical trials were underway at which hospitals. A visible network of experts, the two men thought, would go a long way toward solving a number of the healthcare industry’s seemingly intractable problems.

“Pharma, biotech, and medical devices spend $30 billion per year partnering with researchers and hospitals,” says Katz. “If you could allow a user sitting on the pharmaceutical side to sort and search and rank and analyze researchers… it would help reduce the cost and solve the problem.”

While Katz says the transparency can help solve a number of healthcare’s drug development and discovery problems, he’s wary about creating others. H1 Insights has built certain rules on how its database should be used, which Katz hopes will limit abuse.

“We don’t sell to sales and marketing arms at pharmaceutical companies,” he says. The risk there is that these sales and marketing arms could put undue pressure on doctors to skew research.

The data that H1 collects is already public, so there’s no need for the company to use user generated data to build out its dataset. “It’s all public. The biggest problem is de-duping it,” says Katz.

The company already has 350,000 academic researchers and 4 million healthcare professionals in its database already.

That body of knowledge was enough to attract Y Combinator, which accepted H1 Insight into its latest cohort of companies.

With the accelerator’s help, H1 Insights wants to take its business global and develop applications for the pharmaceutical industry, care providers and ultimately consumers.

The initial application for all of that data is clinical trials.

“The number one reason why clinical trials fail is recruitment,” says Katz. “If you can find a principal investigator who has done a successful clinical trial in an adjacent space,” pharma companies can improve their chances for success, according to Katz. 

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Photography Gear You Will Need for Different Types of Photo Shoots


Have you ever wondered if there is specific photography gear that you will need for different types of photoshoots?


It has now been over a decade since I started shooting professionally. Over the course of that time, I have often been asked for advice on what camera to buy to take professional images. Now, if you’re into photography, I think you’d agree with me that this is the wrong question to ask. There are far more important factors to consider when taking an amazing image rather than the latest shiny camera.

My answer to the above question is always the same: it’s not the camera (given that camera manufacturers churn out new models year in year out). But instead, it’s two other things – the lens and the photographer.


A camera is no good if the photographer doesn’t know how to use it properly to achieve the image they have in mind. Equally, what good is a new latest-tech camera if the lens used for the purpose is not the correct lens? An example being, using an ultra-wide lens to capture a portrait.

Therefore, the better question to ask is, “which is the appropriate lens to use for a particular photoshoot?”


In other words, it is crucial that you, as the photographer, match your gear to the needs of the photoshoot. This will enable you to achieve the image you have in mind.

This article discusses the photography gear you will need for different types of photoshoots.

However, I know that we each have our own ways of doing things and our own preferences, so bearing this in mind, what I have written below are suggestions and based on what I do as a photographer.

What’s in my gear bag depends on what I’m shooting. I have a variety of photography bags for this reason. As a side note, it is worth investing in proper photography bags to protect your gear.

The Staples


But first, the staples. If you are (or want to be) a professional photographer, this is my recommended minimum photography gear you will need.

For photoshoots, always carry at least 2 camera bodies, ensuring you have one for back-up in case something happens to the other one.

Make sure you sync the times for both cameras, and that the settings are the same.

Also, fully-charge your batteries in both cameras. My cameras are all full-frame. If you have a camera with a crop sensor, this changes the way you capture your images. Here is a helpful article on the difference between full-frame and crop-sensor cameras.

On top of the camera and lenses, I always bring at least 2 flashguns with me and make sure I have spare batteries (or fully charged if they are rechargeables). I use a diffuser cap with my flashguns and generally use these to bounce light both indoors and outdoors rather than directly at the subjects unless I’m shooting backlit.

1. Family photoshoot


In general terms, the ideal set of lenses for a family photoshoot includes a wide, medium, and a long range of lenses.

My preference is for prime lenses, as they are usually small and handy, and give me sharper and cleaner images.

Good prime lenses can be heavy and also a little expensive. I carry the 35mm f/1.4G, 85mm f/1.8G (also available in 1.4G) and the 105mm f/2.8G. Because these are used on a full-frame camera, the lenses capture their expected focal range accordingly, that is, that a 35mm lens has a 35mm effective field of view. If your camera has a crop sensor with a crop factor of 1.3x for example, then the 35mm will have an effective field of view of a 46mm, the 50mm will have the 65mm and the 105mm will be 135mm. Therefore, you would then need to consider more wiggle room when shooting.

These are important to bear in mind, especially when shooting in small spaces indoors.

The 105mm gives not only a long-range but also macro capability. I like having a macro lens with me, which works wonderfully to capture details.

You can also have zoom lenses in your bag instead of primes. Zoom lenses can be very versatile. For example, the 24-70mm lens will allow you to capture wide and medium-range images with just one lens.

However, they are a little bulky in comparison to primes, especially if the lens is professional and has a fixed aperture. That would also mean better optics, and it would be heavier too.

If you just want to use one lens that covers this range, then there is the 24-105mm Canon lens option.

2. Event Photography


For events such as birthday parties, product launches, conferences, and suchlike, my preference is to go for zoom lenses rather than primes. Events are usually fast-moving, and I don’t have the time to keep changing lenses.

Often I will have both cameras on me with a double rapid strap. One camera will have the 24-70mm, and the other has the 70-200mm. These are usually sufficient.

I always carry a macro with me, though, just in case. However, with both bulky zooms that cover wide to long-range, I use my nifty 60mm micro lens for extreme close-up and macro shots.

In addition to the above, I also carry with me wireless transceivers that enable me to shoot with off-camera flashes.  Transceivers are wireless transmitters and receivers that enable you to control your flash remotely. This also means you need stands for the flashes. So, carrying a monopod and a gorilla pod, or a tripod if you need more stands.

3. Weddings


If I’m shooting a wedding alone, I pack all the above minus the 35mm and the 50mm as the zooms already cover these focal ranges. 

Needless to say, I pack my entire arsenal and the kitchen sink when shooting weddings with a second photographer, as with two of us, more gear and back-ups are needed. That means at least four camera bodies, at least six lenses, a minimum of four flashes (sometimes six), and all the transceivers and stands required. 

I have written an article on wedding photography gear you will need when starting out on here.

4. Portraits


Portrait photography is a specialty that requires a different set of lenses.

For flattering images of a person, I would always use the 85mm for headshots, the 50mm for medium shots, and the 35mm for full-body shots.

You may not need to use all three, so plan ahead of what you might be shooting, so you don’t bring unnecessary gear.

Again if you want the zooms as opposed to the primes, you could always use the 24-70, 24-105, and the 70-200. Just make sure that you shoot within the range mentioned above as a guide.

Longer focal ranges compress the background resulting in a more flattering look compared to using a wide lens. For example, if you use the 24mm, you are shooting so close to the person, you will end up with image distortions.

Depending on the portrait session, I may or may not use off-camera flashes which would require the transceivers. A small reflector is also really handy for portraits, especially when controlling shadows. I have written an article on gear essentials for portrait photography when starting out here.

5. Landscape


Landscape photography is the opposite of portrait photography, and the lenses and accessories required are different.

You would need wide lenses, such as a 16-35mm or a 24mm to capture wide, expansive shots. You may also want to invest in a telephoto to capture long landscapes with great background compression if you are shooting mountains, for example.

If you plan on doing long exposure photography to achieve soft, blurred waterfalls and waves, you will also want to invest in a tripod and some filters, such as ND and graduated filters. This will enable you to reduced the amount of daylight coming into your lens so that you can slow your shutter speed down without completely over-exposing your image. You would also need a cable or remote shutter release so that you don’t introduce camera shake by pressing the shutter button.

To find out more about landscape photography, read these helpful articles here.

6. Travel


When speaking of travel, my only experience in this type of photography is family holidays. For professional travel photography, read these articles.

If you are just after good holiday photos that capture memories of your family, then I can help with that. I have tried various holidays with only one lens. One time I just took the 85mm. Another time, I took just the 35mm, the 50mm on another holiday, and, more recently, the 60mm. Following on from these experiences, my personal travel lens is now the 60mm.

The 50mm is also a favorite.

7. Product


Occasionally, I do some product photography. My go-to lenses for these are the 24-70 and the 60mm micro.

I use off-camera flashes and transceivers and some flags. When shooting small items in a white seamless background, using a white lightbox will help you achieve this easily.

For more tips on product photography, read this article.

8. Interiors


For interior photography, my go-to lenses are the 24-70mm and the 50mm. You can read more in-depth as to why I use the 50mm here and how I use the 24-70mm especially for shots of an entire room scene.


I hope this article and the further links provided have helped you think through what photography gear you will need for different types of photoshoots. If you have any suggestions to add, write them on the comments below.

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Adding India to your business – TechCrunch

At the start of recruiting season in business school, a top-tier consulting firm sent an invite to the entire class: “over your career, you will either be sitting with us or across from us. We would like to get to know you.”

If you’re building a large-scale technology startup, sooner or later, you should be having a conversation about the Indian market. India’s growth is often compared to China’s, but the big difference between these two markets is that India has an open internet infrastructure, where the best product wins.

In the last decade, Indian consumers have enjoyed the trifecta of cheap smartphones (courtesy of Android), some of the lowest data rates on the planet (courtesy of Mukesh Ambani’s telecom firm Jio) and rising disposable income. Most consumer startups from the U.S., Europe and China have already seen a large number of users organically adopt their product as hundreds of millions of Indians have come online.

Some examples:

  • for most of 2018 and 2019, Tinder was the highest grossing app in India
  • Quora and Pinterest are consistently in the top 30 most visited websites
  • India is the largest or second-largest user base for Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Linkedin, Twitter, Snapchat and many other platforms

Snapchat, in particular, has seen tremendous growth in the Indian market. In March 2019, Snap launched eight new languages — five of which are spoken in India. Consequently, the company reported in Q3 2019 that 6 million out of the 7 million new Daily Active Users added were from outside the U.S. Snapchat’s stock is up almost 3x in the last year, well ahead of Nasdaq’s performance in the same period.

As a cross-border investment firm investing in U.S. and European companies to help them grow in India, we thought it would be useful to share our conversations with growth-stage entrepreneurs about the Indian market. In this article, we will focus on consumer-facing (B2C and B2B2C) companies.

What segment of India do you want to target first? 

While everyone thinks of India as a singular 1.3 billion-consumer market, there are, in fact, multiple sub-segments that have their own characteristics and are acquired differently. The India 1 segment, arguably the most lucrative, constitutes the 25+ million Indians who have credit cards, form the 10 million iPhone install base and were Netflix’s first 500,000 users in the country. The India 2 segment requires products that work in languages other than English and potentially different product features (such as voice input). Snapchat is now focused on acquiring India 2 users with its new language strategy.

What are the best ways to acquire users in this segment?

The short answer is — it depends. If you are in a category (such as gaming) that appeals to a broad demographic and geography, strategic partnerships with mobile OEMs or unicorns building super apps (Paytm and PhonePe for example) will give you a high-volume distribution channel. If you are a wellness app that is focused on India 1 users only, then it makes sense to prioritize channels or partnerships, such as hospital chains in Tier 1 cities, to acquire that segment of users. If you already have organic traction in the country, look at your analytics (for example, cities where your users are based, price range of phone models being used and so on) to understand your initial set of power users.

What is your monetization and pricing strategy? 

The monetization strategy that worked in your existing market(s) may not work in the Indian market. From both an addressable base of paying customers (see the install base of credit cards above) to the ARPU, Asian markets have significantly lagged their western counterparts.

The good news is that with the strong adoption of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), a first-of-its-kind payments protocol that can be implemented by third-party applications, there is almost no friction (or costs) to receive payment amounts as small as two cents. When in India, you should be using UPI.

While Tinder found success with subscription billing at U.S. prices, Netflix entered India with a ~$7/month billing plan in line with their global rates but realized that growth would only come through innovations such as mobile-only plans at $2.80/month. Apple and Spotify have been clear that they want to target the mass market and launched with plans that are close to $1.50/month, a significant discount to their U.S. and European plans.

While these companies have found success with subscription billing, more likely monetization models are advertising led (YouTube) or freemium. Are there features in your product that you can charge a premium for while still offering a subset of the product for free (and cover your direct costs through advertising)? Are there partnerships (such as the ones that Netflix and Amazon Video have signed with Indian telcos) where you can get paid indirectly for your core product?

Build your costs in line with your target segment and pricing

Now that you have a better idea of your target market size and expected pricing, you should build a cost structure that is in line with expected revenues. Most of the companies we track have acquired their first five million customers (or more) in India with an initial team of one to three people on the ground. From both a team build out as well as customer acquisition cost point of view, most companies have been disappointed that they have invested in resources well ahead of understanding the size of their target market and expected revenues.

Find a local partner

If you aren’t setting up a local team in the near term, we recommend having a local partner/shareholder that is aligned with your business and plans. From regular follow-ups on strategic conversations to keeping tabs on changes in regulations, having someone local who understands your business is critical to your entry and expansion plans. Similar to the scrutiny that internet companies face in other countries, India is also drafting regulations for localized data storage and mandating a local point of contact for companies that have more than 5 million users.

For entrepreneurs building global champions, having an India strategy is essential and can form the beachhead to expand into Southeast Asia and the Middle East. As Mary Meeker has repeatedly noted in her annual report, India and Indonesia will be the first and third-largest open internet markets in the world.

What excites our team is that India is already home to significant user bases for early and growth-stage private companies such as Truecaller (100 million daily users), Quora (second largest market), Duolingo (10 million users), Brainly (20 million users), Wattpad (3 million users) and Vyng (14 million installs), while others such as FlixBus are actively setting up operations.

We hope you found the above information helpful. And if you are building a global technology company, we would like to get to know you.

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Teller raises $4M to take on Plaid in the U.S. by providing API access to bank accounts – TechCrunch

“They’re idiots, they’re really naive,” is how Stevie Graham, the co-founder of fintech Teller, once described Open Banking Limited, the body charged with delivering open banking in the U.K.

His view back in 2017 — which now looks somewhat prophetic — was that open banking wouldn’t be the competition driver it was hyped up to be. Instead, incumbent banks were incapable of change and would act in a malevolent way to stop fintechs from walking through the front door and stealing their lunch.

He, along with co-founder Dan Palmer, had spent several years building an early version of Teller that reverse engineered the APIs used by U.K. banks for their own mobile apps, and offered access to developers that wanted to create apps using banking data. It was billed as a more robust and realtime alternative to either screenscraping or waiting haplessly for PSD2 — the European directive mandating open banking — to eventually come into existence.

But this inevitably meant playing a game of Whac-A-Mole as incumbent U.K. banks tried unsuccessfully to thwart the efforts of Graham and Palmer. It was also never entirely clear who was doing the whacking.

Fast-forward to today, and Graham, who was Twillio’s first European employee, has a different incumbent in his sights. In late 2018, Teller re-incorporated in the U.S. to take on Plaid, the financial services API provider recently acquired by Visa for a chunky $5.3 billion.

The fintech startup also quietly raised $4 million in seed capital from a slew of U.S. investors: Lightspeed Venture Partners, Founders Fund, and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin’s SciFi. Teller’s U.K. product has since been shut down, and the company launched a U.S. beta of Teller in September.

“The U.S. is a better opportunity for Teller because the market is far larger with more mature, large-scale customers to serve as well as startups being created every day, [and] an incumbent with an unreliable, unpopular product and not much competition,” Graham tells me.

“PSD2 was also a factor in our decision to withdraw from the U.K. Primarily because it made practically every use-case of banking APIs a regulated activity, meaning that it’s no longer possible to quickly build and test a product without first spending thousands of pounds and 3-6 months getting FCA approval. When we checked at the end of 2018 less than 100 entities had been granted approval. We can not build the business we want with a total addressable market of 100 customers”.

On Plaid, Graham is almost as scathing as he was about the major U.K. banks three years ago, even if he chooses his words a little more carefully. Unlike Plaid, Teller’s technology is not built using screenscraping, dubbed a “creaky technique” by the Teller co-founder,  and therefore is “more reliable and performant”.

“We are also better because we have the incentive to really care about our users and mean it. Plaid has rolled up the market by buying Quovo and is now effectively a monopoly. Speaking to users we found a lot of frustrated Plaid customers that didn’t feel as if Plaid was sympathetic when things went wrong. For example their Capital One integration has been down for months. Maybe the Plaid folks genuinely can’t fix it, maybe they don’t have truly enough competition to care. Either way, our Capital One integration works great”.

Suspicious of Visa’s ability to innovate and serve developers as customers, Graham says that if he was a Plaid user he would be concerned about the future quality of the product now that it’s owned by a legacy business “not exactly renowned for … shipping successful developer products”.

The deal is also substantially all-cash, he notes, suggesting that employees may have little incentive to stay.

“The top talent at Plaid has to now be sitting there in the morning thinking ‘do I really want to work at a stodgy public company that has barely 3x’d its stock price in 5 years? This is not what I signed up for’. This is why I fear for the future of Plaid’s product. A lot of their best people will be heading for the door, and we’d love to talk to them,” Graham says unabashedly.

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31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer

Do you want to level up your photography with a powerful burst of learning?

If your answer is yes – you’ll absolutely LOVE our course – ‘31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer‘ which is open for enrollment this week only (with a 50% discount).

“31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer” is our most popular course of all time, and for good reason. Jim Hamel is one of the most attentive course instructors and mentors we’ve seen and his teaching is so actionable!

31 Days to Becoming a Better Photographer

We’ve opened the doors to the next lucky group of beginners – but only until the 31st of January. If you want to be one of our students who become a better photographer in 31 days, act now.

Claim your spot in the course here.

Professional photographer Jim Hamel created this course especially for enthusiasts who dream of taking amazing photos, but are not sure where to start… this 31 day video course will finally set you on the path to photography success.

Great Teaching, Practical Exercises and Mentoring

The great thing about this course is that it’s incredibly practical. You’ll learn a lot but you’ll also be actively applying what you learn. Here’s how it works.

  1. 31 Easy to Understand Lessons – The course is broken down into 31 easy to understand lessons – designed to give you more knowledge of how your camera works and how to get more control over it.
  2. 31 Practical Exercises – Each lesson comes with a practical exercise – designed to help you apply that knowledge.
  3. Mentoring from a Pro Photographer – All early bird participants also get access to a secret Facebook group where course creator – Jim Hamel – will give group mentoring, offer extra support, answer questions and where you can share some of the results you’re getting.

In this course you will learn all about:

  • Exposure
  • Lighting
  • Subjects
  • Composition
  • Camera Techniques

Plus you’ll get direct access to mentoring from Jim via our exclusive private Facebook Group.

Here’s a taste for the course – straight from the mouth of course creator Jim Hamel:

Access to a professional like Jim would normally cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but when you purchase this course, you not only get over 7 hours of video tutorials, you get to ask Jim questions, follow along with assignments, and become part of a group of other like minded photographers.

Do I have to complete the course in 31 Days?

No, you don’t. You will get lifetime access to the course modules so you can take all the time you need. Just be sure to take advantage of the access you have to the group and Jim in the first three months.

Enrolments End Soon

Hurry – because of the mentoring component of this course spaces are limited and will only be open for enrolments for a short time and 50% off is only for a short time too!

Check out all of the course modules and enrol here.

P.S. As always, we offer a 60 Day Guarantee, so if you find the course isn’t for you, we’ll be more than happy to refund you – no questions asked.

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In Miss Americana, Taylor Swift demotes the Internet – TechCrunch

In nearly a decade of attending Sundance, I’ve never seen a scene like the premiere of the documentary Miss Americana, detailing the last year and a half or so of Taylor Swift’s life. The crowd before letting into the theater was huge, blistering with rumors about whether or not there was so many guests and press that there wouldn’t be room for ticketed attendees and whispers about which door Swift would use when arriving.

A large crowd of hopeful waitlister fans, largely young women (not extremely common for Sundance) sang Swift songs in the 30 degree chill. When Swift did arrive, the cheers were off the charts for a normally relatively reserved crowd used to seeing celebrities.

All of this buildup, of course, served to underscore the major themes of Lana Wilson’s intimate and focused profile of Swift during a period of her life that typified a major shift in her attitude towards her public and private life.

If you’re like most people, your feelings about what kind of person Swift might be are decided by crowd-sourced panel of the top few percent of the most vocal Internet users. Among those, of course, are the media.

We’re far enough now into the Internet’s third age where it’s not represented as some sort of holistic and separate entity. Instead it’s woven like a tapestry into the daily life of Swift and her camp. Tweets, Instagram posts and articles on sites like this one are presented as a third conversant in any conversation, both between Swift and Wilson and between Swift and her family.

Basically, Swift is like most of us in that regard, we have all begun to treat the collective output of the internet as an entity with a right to wedge itself into any two beings attempts to reason.

But Miss Americana is not just about Taylor vs. The Internet, it’s also reflection on how that same panel lowers its gavel differently for women, especially young women, than it does men.

The closest parallel for me is probably Lady Gaga’s 2018 documentary Five Feet Two. There are similar segments that show the teardown of the modern pop song-making process.

Swift says that those were her most nerve wracking to film because of the messy way songs sometimes come together. But they were fascinating to me, and are some of the most fun bits. Swift and her collaborators often write and sing words right off of their iPhones (I saw no Android devices at all) as they work through a track. Songs that come to have intense meaning for fans are often snapshots of Swift’s life quickly jotted down in the notes app.

About that oddity, and pretty much every other way that the public perceives her, Swift proves to be firmly and calmly self-aware. She even acknowledges that this very awareness of how she is perceived often comes across as calculation or manipulation on her part.

While Swift gets all of this criticism powered by attention economy jet fuel, her self-awareness is not unique. I see it on TikTok and other young platforms, as teens and young people come to grips with and analyze how they are manipulated and judged by those very platforms. Swift may represent a sort of prime exemplar, but the attitude is generational, imo.

The Kids are just more capable of awareness of the systems at work on them than any previous generation.

The aforementioned Gaga doc, for me, worked very well when it showcased the real physical and psychological toll of a pop career. Miss Americana does this as well, even though Gaga has focused on her ability to challenge and provoke, while Swift has — as she herself admits in the doc — held onto the concept of being a ‘good girl’, liked by everyone as her guiding principle.

Swift’s realization of the completely impossible task of pleasing the networked apparatus of fickle outrage machines that pass as the deciding body of public opinion now is the core pivot point for the doc.

That’s typified by a scene where she is faced by a panel of people, all men, who are telling her all of the reasons taking a public political stance would be dangerous, costly to her brand and damaging to her financially. The impetus is Swift’s opposition to Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn’s re-election. Swift’s experience with her sexual assault trial and Blackburn’s opposition to the Violence Against Women Act are the tipping point that pushes her to take a public political stance for the first time. Provoking her team to have a conversation that takes the rough shape of an intervention.

There are sincere elements of concern for Swift — her father gets all of her death threats and arranges for security, she said after the screening. But the comments from her staff and team included by Wilson are telling — “what is the most effective way we could ensure that half as many people come to a Taylor Swift show?”

What you won’t find in this doc is some sort of lurking personal demon. Instead the demon is the way that internet culture reduces anyone with a modicum of fame to slivers of projected personality. And, by extension, becomes the most potent engine of self doubt ever invented.

By demoting the Internet to a tool vs. a deciding force in her well being, Swift is showing fans and viewers a healthier path forward.

The two major themes explored include Swift’s desire to please an ever-demanding audience, and the endemic separation between the way creative men are judged and the way creative women are judged in the public sphere.

Both are addressed cleverly, if not in a wholly (and perhaps impossibly) satisfying way.

Wilson has executed the prime directive of a documentary film with Miss Americana. If you were of a slightly negative opinion of Swift going in, based on casual impressions generated for you by vocal minorities amplified via algorithm you will find yourself coming away with more empathy, understanding and likely respect for the Swift presented here. A portrait of a powerful woman in control coming to grips with the current costs of that command.

People on the other side of the love/hate coin are unlikely to be converted. But given that one of the through lines of the doc is Swift’s increasing ability to separate opinion from directive, it’s not likely that it will bother her — as much.

Image: Sundance

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iPadOS productivity secrets (these also work on the iPhone)

The best new features in iOS 13
With iOS 13 set to roll out on September 19, ZDNet’s Beth Mauder walks you through her five favorite new features and how you can add them to your iPhone. Read more:

I’m amazed how many features Apple builds into iOS, and then just leaves them hidden for me to find. Here are a crop of tips and tricks for working with words and images on your iPad. 

All of these also work on the iPhone, but because of the limited screen size, they can be trickier to use on the smaller handsets (and near impossible even on those if you have big, meaty paws like I do).

Must read: The ultimate MacBook USB-C accessory just got better

#1: Text selection

iPadOS 13 gives you very fine control over text selection using just screen taps:

  • Double tap: Select a word
  • Triple tap: Select a sentence
  • Quadruple tap: Select a paragraph

#2: Undo and redo

Remember the “Shake to Undo” feature in iOS? While that’s still present, picking up an iPad and giving it a shake to undo something is hardly convenient given the size and weight of the tablet. iPadOS 13 has some gestures that are a little less energetic:

  • Swipe left with three fingers to undo
  • Swipe right with three fingers to redo
  • You can also use a three-finger double-tap to undo, which feels a little bit awkward initially but soon becomes second nature.

#3: Copy, cut, and paste

Now we’re getting advanced. I recommend practicing these on some scrap text before using them for real, as they can take some getting used to.

  • Pinch in with three fingers to copy
  • Pinch in with three fingers twice (moderately quickly) to cut
  • Pinch out (or unpinch!!) with three fingers to paste

Must read: Eight things I love about iOS

#4: Moving the cursor about

Want to move the cursor about the page? Just place your finger on the cursor and move it. 

Think of it as picking it up and dropping it down somewhere else. So simple, yet it took me a while to figure it out (I was jabbing at the screen too hard).

See also:

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