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Urmila Mahadev, a UC Berkeley grad student, solves the fundamental problem of finding a protocol by which a classical computer can verify a quantum…

Erica Klarreich / Quanta Magazine : Urmila Mahadev, a UC Berkeley grad student, solves the fundamental problem of finding a protocol by which a classical computer can verify a quantum computation   —  Urmila Mahadev spent eight years in graduate school solving one of the most basic questions in quantum computation …

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Did you score tickets to Startup Battlefield Africa 2018?

In just about two months, the TechCrunch crew will head to Lagos, Nigeria to host the day-long, action-packed Startup Battlefield Africa 2018 . Come join us and watch the founders of Africa’s best early-stage tech startups compete for the glory, cash and investor love that only Startup Battlefield provides. We have a limited number of spectator tickets available for the December 11 event, so don’t waste time — buy your ticket here today. We’re not kidding when we call this an action-packed day. While the Battlefield pitch competition is the crown jewel, we’re also creating a slate of outstanding speakers who will hold forth on vital topics affecting the region. Topics like venture capital investing, something that Kola Aina , CEO and founder of Lagos-based Ventures Platform, will be on hand to discuss. And if blockchain is your bag, you won’t want to miss hearing IIyinoluwa Aboyeji ’s take on that subject. He’s the founder and CEO of Flutterwave, a Lagos-based payment solution startup designed to transfer funds between Africa and abroad. If you haven’t heard, we recently announced that Omobola Johnson , a senior partner at TLcom Capital, and Lexi Novitske , the principal investment officer for Singularity Investments, will take part in a panel discussion. Keep an eye on TechCrunch, because we’ll be announcing even more speakers in the coming weeks. Okay, let’s talk about the main event. Startup Battlefield consists of three preliminary rounds with up to five startups in each round. Each startup team gets six minutes to pitch and present a live demo to a panel of judges consisting of top tech founders and VCs. Those judges then have six minutes to question each team thoroughly. No more than five teams move to the finals for another round of pitches and more probing inquisition.

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It’s official: London-based Stride.VC raises £50M seed fund

Stride.VC , the new VC fund from Fred Destin, formerly a partner at Accel, and Harry Stebbings, producer of the “The Twenty Minute VC” podcast and ex-Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Atomico, is being officially unveiled today, confirming most of the details of my earlier report . The fund has closed at just over its £50 million target and will be used to do seed investments exclusively in U.K. startups (at least for now). The team has been bolstered, too, with Arj Soysa, ex-Atomico and most recently head of finance for LGT Impact, joining as operating partner. The firm also disclosed its first investment earlier this month, backing healthcare messaging app Forward Health . In a call with Destin last week and followed up over subsequent emails with the pair, I got further details on Stride.VC’s LPs and how Destin and Stebbings plan to approach seed investing. Kicking off, I asked if perhaps there was already enough money in the U.K. (and elsewhere in Europe) chasing seed-stage startups. “We don’t think there is too much seed money at work in Europe,” says Destin. “We think tech startups are impacting more and more industries and sectors so the importance and impact of great founders is growing.

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Penta, the German challenger bank account for SMEs, raises €7M Series A

Penta , the German fintech startup that offers a digital bank account targeting SMEs , has raised €7 million in Series A funding. Backing the company once again is Inception Capital, with total funding now at €10 million since Penta was founded in May 2016. Launched in Germany in December , and powered by Banking-as-a-Platform solarisBank (rather than holding a banking license of its own), Penta is designed to meet the banking needs of small to medium-sized businesses, including startups. The premise is that SMEs are currently underserved by incumbent banks, including account opening being cumbersome and much more difficult than it should be and exorbitant fees charged for making payments or international money exchange. Penta is also bringing some much-need innovation and features to the German business banking market. One of those is multi-card support to make it easier to manage company expenses. Dubbed ‘Team Access,’ the recently launched feature lets business owners issue multiple MasterCards to employees who need to make purchases on a company’s behalf. Each card is linked to a business’ Penta account but can have custom rules and permissions per card/employee, in terms of how much money can be spent and where. More broadly, the feature is designed to cut down the time and cost of expense management for SMEs. Notably, I’m told that the Berlin-based challenger bank, which has already grown to a team of 40 and plans to get to 100 over the next year, is seeing 68 percent of new customers switching from their existing business bank account, with the remaining 40 percent newly incorporated businesses. That suggest many German businesses aren’t satisfied with the banking status quo, even if they’ve already crossed the account opening hurdle. Specifically, I understand that multi-card support has been one of the main draw, the kind of feature that older banks with legacy software often struggle to deliver

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Avoid the price hike on tickets to Disrupt Berlin 2018

If you’re as serious about saving money as you are about startups, it’s time to handeln sie — take action! TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place on 29-30 November, and you definitely want to attend this conference at the best possible price. That means you need to buy your pass now before the price increase goes into effect on 24 October. We’re serious about rewarding action, and you’ll save up to €500 simply by breaking free from procrastination’s expensive grip. Speaking of action, you’ll enjoy an inordinate amount of it packed into your two days at Disrupt Berlin. Let’s start with a sample of just some of the incredible speakers we have on tap: You’ll hear Denys Zhadanov, VP at Readdle , talk about the mobile app company’s bootstrapped success —100 million downloads and counting. Mike Collett, founder and managing partner of Promus Ventures , will talk about why there’s a lot more to space tech than just SpaceX. Taxify’s Markus Villig and Via Transportation’s Daniel Ramot will take the stage to talk about the challenges of challenging Uber. Then there’s Startup Battlefield , the thrilling pitch competition where 15 of the best early-stage startups across Europe will go head-to-head for glory and a $50,000 cash prize while they launch their startups on a global stage. You’ll find even more outstanding startups in Startup Alley . Our expo floor will be home to more than 400 early-stage startups showcasing their tech products, services, platforms and talent. Whether you’re searching for funding, recruiting technologists, looking for your next job or to invest in the next big thing, Startup Alley is a breeding ground of opportunity. If the thought of wading through a crowd of thousands looking for the right people to meet sounds daunting, you’ll want to check out CrunchMatch , our free business match-making service. Last year, investors and founders used it to connect and discuss potential funding opportunities based on similar goals and interests.

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Study analyzing 32 biggest bitcoin holders, known as "whales", suggests they may be stabilizing the market rather than destabilizing it and…

Chainalysis : Study analyzing 32 biggest bitcoin holders, known as “whales”, suggests they may be stabilizing the market rather than destabilizing it and driving volatility   —  New data shows that bitcoin's largest holders are a diverse group that may be stabilizing, rather than destabilizing, the market.

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Indian restaurant discovery and food delivery service Zomato raises $210M from Ant Financial, at an estimated ~$2B valuation (The Economic Times)

The Economic Times : Indian restaurant discovery and food delivery service Zomato raises $210M from Ant Financial, at an estimated ~$2B valuation   —  BENGALURU: Alibaba's payment affiliate Ant Financial has pumped in another $210 million in restaurant discovery and food-delivery platform Zomato …

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A look at the growth of drone journalism and the federal and local regulatory hurdles that drone journalists face (Travis Fox/Columbia Journalism…

Travis Fox / Columbia Journalism Review : A look at the growth of drone journalism and the federal and local regulatory hurdles that drone journalists face   —  Josh Haner flies a drone on the Greenland Ice Sheet.  Photo: Gavin A. Sundwall, courtesty of The New York Times.  —  The images, taken by photographer Josh Haner …

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Entrepreneur First, the company builder backed by Greylock, lands in Bangalore

Entrepreneur First (EF), the London-HQ’d company builder that invests in individuals “pre-team, pre-idea” to enable them to found new startups, is scaling up rapidly, as it promised to so. Already running programs in Paris , Berlin, London, Singapore , and Hong Kong, the so-called talent-first investor is setting up shop in Bangalore, India. Although referred to as the “Silicon Valley of India,” Bangalore fits the EF bill quite well in terms of being a tech hub with latent potential, especially when measured by the small number of truly international startups it has produced. What’s also interesting — and something EF co-founder Matt Clifford noted on a brief call with me on Friday — is that India has long-been a source for tech talent generally but this has often been an export industry, spanning prominent leaders of major U.S. tech companies, right down to traditional development outsourcing. “It’s out chance to help reverse the brain drain,” is one way that Clifford framed it. With that said, EF also notes that, according to Startup Genome, Bangalore’s startup ecosystem is valued at $19 billion, with an estimated 1,800-2,300 active tech startups. “The past decade has seen it shift from a purely skill-based factory model to a more startup mindset. There is a genuine interest in tech and an ability to attract highly skilled tech workers,” says the company builder. To that end, EF will invest around $55,000 in each of the companies developed during its bi-annual Bangalore program, while also providing cohort members a monthly stipend of $2,500 as they develop their startup ideas in the first three months.

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