Capital crunch shines a light on the importance of founders’ mental health, investors say
Mental wellness goes hand-in-hand with innovation and success. For investors then, this needs to be a focus of investment, as risk exposure is also in the wellness of the founder.
n recent years, calling oneself a startup founder was certainly seen as a flex. For those who wielded that role or the coveted CEO position, you were likely to be placed on a pedestal or be viewed as a visionary, aided by a venture capital market that experienced an overextended bull run in the background.
Yet, behind the glamor and front-page interviews and features, the life of a founder can often cause severe issues such as depression, burnout, panic attacks and imposter syndrome that take a toll on one’s mental health — and, if not treated, their startups and the productivity of those within it — employees, operators and executives alike — can suffer.
In 2019, a report showed that 72% of surveyed entrepreneurs self-reported mental health issues, according to Forbes. It’s unclear what these numbers are now; however, it is very likely that they would’ve increased significantly in light of the pandemic, the uncertainty caused by the SVB and FTX collapse, and the widespread impact of the economic downturn that has resulted in a severe cash crunch and massive layoffs.
As this TechCrunch article points out, what drives the mental health epidemic among entrepreneurs is their propensity to accept risk. It also highlights ways to address these issues: prevention and awareness, methods that seem to be growing on a global and Western front whose markets are filled with millions of therapists and apps like Calm; in emerging markets such as Africa, not so much. In addition to having fewer outlets to address mental health issues, founders on the continent are facing a new kind of pressure, the type that comes off the back of a record venture capital year (2021) bolstered by large U.S. and global funds: chasing projections and trying to fit into inflated valuations.
There are other subtler impacts. For instance, the sudden collapse of SVB, despite affecting just a few startups, sent many African founders into panic mode as they scrambled to review banking options to avoid such circumstances creating more uncertainty for them. With never-ending problems, especially in the current bear market, these events highlight the need for founders to prioritize their mental health and for investors and boards to help them seek support when needed.
To explore the issue further, TechCrunch had a chat with Ameya Upadhyay and Lisa Mikkelsen of Flourish Ventures, an evergreen global VC firm that claims to operate a “founder well-being” approach to investing, to discuss why investors need to invest in African founders’ mental wellness. Upadhyay is a venture partner at the firm. At the same time, Mikkelsen is the head of Global Human Capital, an arm of the firm that helps portfolio companies align business and HR strategies, including well-being conversations.
TechCrunch: Why is the discussion around African founders’ mental health critical right now? Did the SVB debacle underscore its importance, or is it a theme waiting to be touched on for years?
Millennial Daria Dana Taps into Jewelry Industry with Zigleys
Within African American communities, hair is not—and will never be—just hair.
Black hair has several identities. It is pride, identity, and culture. It’s beauty standards, professionalism, and institutional discrimination. It’s mental health, self-esteem, and history. It’s wearing the label of “good” or “bad” hair upon birth and the impact it will have throughout your life.
But if you were to ask millennial businesswoman Daria Dana, she would tell you that Black hair is a crown. And she knows very well that every crown needs jewels.
This ingenious idea went from a mindset to a lifestyle as it became the key concept behind Zigleys, the most recent ode to natural hair! With an evocative tagline, this pioneering entrepreneurship aims to provide “Jewelry for Your Crown, Fit For Royalty” in the shape of 18-karat gold ornaments for locks, braids, twists, and other protective styles.
Tapping into uncharted and underserved territory, Zigleys has awed media outlets across the Internet. Among many others, the brand has been featured in Forbes One, MadameNoire, LA Weekly, Yahoo! Finance, The Source, Swagger, and more—each of them denoting the originality and high quality of the jewelry.
But Dana is not dazzling her path in the business world with just jewelry. Each item is more than hair pieces turned luxurious—they are a statement that aims to break stereotypes and showcase the sophistication and graceful aesthetics of Black hair.
“For so long, we have heard that black hairstyles are unprofessional,” says the beauty founder Dana to This is 50. “Truly, we don’t need hair jewelry to tell us that’s not true. But I argue that black hair is compatible with luxury and professionalism.”
And her argument is sound, as Zigley provides professionalism and lots, lots of luxury. Black luxury.
The Premier collection features ten striking statement pieces with timeless beauty, ranging from minimalistic gold cuffs to eye-catching ones with embedded diamonds. Likewise, the pieces come with a screw attachment to safely secure them to locs, braids, or twists.
Each cuff is expertly handcrafted and made to order in 18-karat solid gold, and the diamonds used in some of the pieces are natural and average .37 carats. Of course, all items are sustainable and ethically sourced, created in New York for the rest of the country.
With prices ranging from $990 to $4,250, Zigleys’ artistry is undoubtedly an investment that may seem opulent. However, Dana challenges that notion by highlighting the importance of hair decorations for African-American culture, derived from Black ancestry.
“Our ancestors wore real gold in their hair, among other things,” says Dana to MadameNoir, “but somewhere along the line, something got lost.”
And so, Zigleys is set to reclaim it, creating heirloom pieces that are undoubtedly and unapologetically Black.
Zigleys is a Black-owned and woman-owned business, but also a love letter to the unmatched beauty of African-American hair and culture, made by a POC team with the mindset of elevating protective hairstyles to the next level of luxury.
To know more about the brand, visit the official website at www.zigleys.com. Likewise, you can follow Zigleys on social media by checking their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Kate raises $7.6 million for its electric micro-cars
French startup Kate has raised a $7.6 million (€7 million) funding round from a bunch of business angels. As I wrote in my previous article on Kate, the company has ambitious goals when it comes to everyday mobility. It plans to use the funding to develop an alternative to regular cars (electric or not) by making something smaller, cheaper and easier to maintain.
Investors in the startup include Julien Lemoine (co-founder and CTO of Algolia), Emmanuelle Brizay (AC8 INVEST), Christophe Maurissen (Managing Director at Alcogroup), Romain Afflelou (CEO of Cosmo Connected), Benoît Charles-Lavauzelle (CEO of Theodo) and Antoine Leconte (founder of Cheerz).
And Kate isn’t starting from scratch. The company acquired NoSmoke, a small manufacturer of electric vehicles inspired by the Mini Moke. This way, Kate can reuse some parts and borrow some manufacturing processes that have been used to produce the leisure cars.
But Kate’s next car, which is currently called the K1, will be designed to be used every single day and not just for your vacation house. In Europe, people moving from A to B use a large vehicle — like a regular car — for 84% of their trips. It represents 11% of the CO2 emissions. And yet, 98% of trips are shorter than 80 kilometers (that’s 50 miles).
A rendering of the upcoming Kate K1
Image Credits: Kate
The Kate K1 is going to be a lightweight car that can reach a top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph). It isn’t designed for your long-distance trips. In that case, you’re better off renting a normal car. It isn’t designed for big cities either as public transportation, bikes and shared vehicles work better in this environment.
But the Kate K1 would work well for people living in the suburbs or the countryside. It would work fine to drop off your kid at school, head to work and swing by the supermarket. It will have four seats and the entry level should offer a battery range of 200 kilometers (124 miles).
Kate has an aggressive timeline as it wants to unveil the K1 in the third quarter of 2023. In addition to the mysterious renderings, here’s what the Original, the leisure car that is currently available, looks like:
Japan to end COVID-19 border controls on May 8
Japan will end the current border control measures on travelers from overseas on May 8 in line with its decision to categorize COVID-19 as a common disease the same day, the government said Monday, in a major shift toward normalizing social and economic activities.
The government will simultaneously start a new genomic surveillance program, under which entrants with symptoms such as fever are tested voluntarily, with the aim of detecting new infectious diseases.
Currently, all entrants are required to present certification of three COVID-19 doses or a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of departure.
The end of the COVID-19 border controls, first introduced in February 2020 and considered by some the most stringent among the Group of Seven industrialized nations, is expected to help revive inbound tourism to Japan, where spending by foreign visitors in 2021 plunged to a fraction of the record 4.8 trillion yen ($36 billion) in 2019.
In November 2021, Japan tightened border controls by barring the entry of nonresident foreigners and requiring returning Japanese nationals and foreign residents to quarantine at designated facilities as the country began seeing cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Initially implemented for a month, the control measures were later extended, sparking protests from foreign exchange students and business people. The country started gradually easing the daily entry cap in March 2022 before completely lifting it in October of that year.
Travelers arriving at five major airports — Narita, Haneda, Chubu, Kansai and Fukuoka — will be subject to the new framework, which is set to start when the legal status of COVID-19 is downgraded to the same category as seasonal influenza early next month.
It takes about a few weeks for genomic test takers to get the results, according to government officials.
Ahead of the across-the-board lifting of border control measures, Japan will ease those on all arrivals from mainland China from Wednesday and give them the option of entering the country by presenting proof of being inoculated with three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Currently, visitors from mainland China must present proof of a negative coronavirus test taken 72 hours or less before departure.
“We have decided to alter the tentative measures currently in place in light of the infection status at home and abroad, as well as border control steps taken by other Group of Seven nations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in a news conference, adding the government will continue its sample testing for arrivals from mainland China at airports.
In late December, Japan introduced blanket COVID-19 testing for all arrivals from mainland China amid an explosion in infections in the country after Beijing drastically relaxed its stringent “zero-COVID” policy that had involved lockdowns and quarantines.
In early January, it further tightened border controls for visitors from the region by requiring proof of a negative test.
In March, however, the Japanese government ended the blanket testing for such visitors but started random testing at airports after finding that the number of those testing positive for COVID-19 had dropped.
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