Tuesday
Dec132016

IFC Invests in NXTPLabs.com

Jake Bright CRUNCH NETWORK CONTRIBUTOR


The first investments from the Startup Catalyst program will go to the Argentine accelerator NXTP Labs, which will receive $3 million, and Egypt’s Flat6Labs, which is getting a $1 million commitment.

Startup Catalyst is a sub-program of IFC’s Venture Capital group, which revealed in June it would expand its investment portfolio in emerging markets tech entrepreneurs and innovation to $1 billion.

IFC VC has already made direct equity investments in a number of digital companies including Indian healthcare venture Portea and Turkish consumer internet company Hepsiburada. The $30 million Startup Catalyst program aims to make 15-20 accelerator and seed fund investments over the next 18 months, according to IFC VC Head Nikunj Jinsi.

“The goal is to develop ecosystems and prime the pump for entrepreneurs in underserved, underfunded markets,” said Jinsi. “The digital economy is real …not only [in] developed markets but more than anything in developing markets [where] funding levels the playing field.” IFC VC’s direct equity and early stage investments are meant to “create a continuum” so that the “accelerated businesses that make it can also go further and attract additional sources of finance,” said Jinsi.

IFC will initially target startups and seed funds in “medium-sized markets” such as Nigeria, Egypt, Mexico, Argentina, and Ukraine, according to Jinsi.

A recent report by McKinsey Consulting estimated that greater adoption of digital finance alone in emerging markets could add $3.7 trillion in economic activity and create 95 million jobs.

mckinsey-em-fintech

Both NXTP and Flat6Labs fund early stage fin-tech startups. NXTP’s seed investments also span ag-tech, media, and enterprise software startups primarily in Latin America.

For its part, Flat6Labs has provided funding, mentorship, and training to 102 startups through its Cairo headquarters and through 2 additional offices in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi, according to CEO Ramez El-Serafy.

“With the Startup Catalyst funds, Flat6Labs will close a 50 million Egyptian pound fund [≈ $5.6 million]…to accelerate more than 100 Egyptian startups over the next 5 years,” he said. The accelerator will open new locations in Tunisia and Lebanon later this year and is “keen to explore the African market at large in the near future,” said El-Serafy.

By expanding its direct equity and accelerator investments, IFC’s VC group aims to play a more prominent role in technology development across emerging markets.

Its $1 billion-dollar-size and a planned team of 30 across 6 global offices will make it one of the larger players in the space. As part of the World Bank Group, IFC also holds a unique position as a profit-focused entity with a social venture mandate.

“We’ve been largely self-funded and profitable for the last  60 years,” said Jinsi. “Technology investing has the ability to provide a disproportionate impact in developing markets across…e-commerce, digital-health, and ed-tech. We feel we have a role to play in building that ecosystem.”

Startups, accelerators, and seed funds interested in IFC VC group’s emerging markets tech activities can inquire directly at their website.

 

https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/19/ifc-makes-the-first-investments-from-its-30-million-startup-catalyst-initiative/

Wednesday
Oct192016

Iovation Acquires PALcapital client LaunchKey to Boost Security, Fraud Protection

 

By Sean Michael Kerner  |  Posted 2016-09-06 

 
iovation acquires LaunchKey

EXCLUSIVE: Password-free technology vendor LaunchKey gets picked up by authentication and fraud protection vendor Iovation.

Security vendor Iovation is acquiring privately held password-free log-in vendor LaunchKey in a bid to improve user security and reduce the risk of fraud.

 

News of the acquisition was provided exclusively to eWEEK, but terms of the deal are not being made public.

 

LaunchKey was founded in July 2012 and has raised $4 million in venture funding. Iovation, in business since 2004, has built out products and platforms to help reduce fraud online.

 

"Up until now, Iovation has been focused on doing two things for approximately 1,500 brands around the world: fraud management and device-based authentication," Greg Pierson, CEO and co-founder, told eWEEK. "Both of those services leverage an underlying data asset that is completely unique and proprietary to Iovation."

 

That data asset is a knowledge base that includes profiles on more than 3 billion unique consumer devices. Pierson said that Iovation's knowledge base doesn't rely on IP or MAC (media access control) addresses to identify devices. Rather, Iovation's goal is to understand where and how a device is used to help establish a reputation for a device and its user. Going a step further, Iovation is able to make connections across related devices that might be used by the same end user, he said.

 

Today, Iovation receives approximately 700,000 reports a month of various types of attempted fraud that occur across the company's customer base, Pierson said. Those reports inform the knowledge base about devices that are identified as being used maliciously. Iovation's customers were telling Pierson that they were also looking for a path for improved authentication that doesn't involve passwords, which is where LaunchKey fits in.

 

Geoff Sanders, co-founder and CEO of LaunchKey, explained that when he started his company, the mission was to create an alternative to traditional password-based authentication.

 

"So with LaunchKey, we created an end-to-end, multifactor authentication and authorization platform," Sanders told eWEEK. "At a high-level, the platform includes an API that enables applications to push authorization requests to end users through their mobile devices."

 

The combined company is building an integrated product called the Iovation LaunchKey MFA (multifactor authentication) platform that extends LaunchKey's existing capabilities.

 

"Imagine everything that both organizations do independently now available as a service," Pierson said. "LaunchKey on its own didn't have the global risk and connected device view that brings visibility."

 

Pierson added that the LaunchKey now isn't just about authenticating an individual user; it can now also extend to understand the global reputation of a given user or device. He also expects that with the addition of LaunchKey, Iovation will now have more customer touch points and opportunities to help build up user and device reputation overall as well.

 

"It's about combining capabilities to make each one better," Pierson said.

 

One of the use cases for LaunchKey today is with the open-source WordPress content management system. LaunchKey has a plug-in for WordPress that can help enable site administrators to deploy password-less multifactor authentication. WordPress is often also an entry point for developers to use LaunchKey, Sanders added.

 

"Approximately a quarter of the internet runs WordPress; so, yes, we want to have a footprint there," Sanders said.

 

He explained that all LaunchKey services use a central REST-based API.

 

There are multiple industry efforts to help create new forms of authentication, including the FIDO Alliance. LaunchKey is a FIDO sponsor, Sanders said.

 

"We'd love to see FIDO gain traction," he said. "With that said, we're not FIDO-compliant yet; it is on our roadmap, and we're keeping an eye on it."

 

Overall, the big challenges for the combined Iovation and LaunchKey business are about speed to market and educating organizations about the password-less future.

 

"Historically, we're all just so used to using passwords that the idea of not using passwords to securely log in is just a foreign concept," Sanders said. "So there is a bit of an education challenge to get people to move beyond the idea of passwords, which are so ingrained in society."

 

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter@TechJournalist.
Wednesday
Oct192016

How to Pitch Like a Super Hero - Pedro Torres-Mackie

An engaging video of leading NYC VC, Pedro Torres Mackie of Quotidian Venture (http://quotidian.co), discussing how to use your time with angel investors and VCs.

 

 

Friday
Jul222016

Bounce Exchange acquires Techstars Seattle grad GoChime

Article Source: Geekwire

 BY: Monica Nickelsburg CONTRIBUTOR (Opinions expressed Martech Contributors are their own.)

 

Bounce Exchange, a New York-based marketing software company, has acquired direct marketing startup GoChime for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was announced Tuesday and though the terms will be kept under wraps, GoChime CEO Austin Evarts describes the cash and stock deal as “a great outcome for all parties.”

GoChime graduated from the Techstars Seattle startup accelerator in 2011, attracting the attention of high-profile investors, such as Pioneer Square Labs co-founder Geoff Entress and former BigDoor CEO Keith Smith. They were among several investors in a $630,000 round that GoChime raised shortly after graduating from the incubator.

“That was a huge role in what got us here,” Evarts told GeekWire via phone this afternoon. “We’re based in New York City now but if it wasn’t for Techstars we wouldn’t have made it this far.”

GoChime is an online marketplace that connects individuals with brands, based on information they post to their social media channels. Under the Bounce umbrella, GoChime will be converted into a product called “Behavioral Audiences.”

 

Bounce Exchange's New York headquarters.

Bounce Exchange’s New York headquarters.

 

The acquisition will allow Bounce Exchange to continue to build out its behavioral marketing offerings. GoChime’s product helps Bounce compete in the business-to-business marketing space.

“We’re fully integrated into Bounce Ex’s team here,” Evarts said. “We’re working on building the new version of the product and integrating our customers over. We have a lot of work ahead of us but we’re able to take what we’re doing with GoChime and really apply it to the massive scale that is Bounce Exchange. That’s something we’re really, really excited about.”

Friday
Jul222016

Markerly Launches New Data-Driven Platform for Influencer Marketing Campaign Management

Article Source: Martech Advisor

 BY: Rohit Roy- CONTRIBUTOR (Opinions expressed Martech Contributors are their own.)

 


Markerly, a leading provider of technology for influencer marketing based on identity and tracking, has announced the launch of a new platform. Based on its proprietary technology, it leverages Markerly’s influencer index, which is the industry’s largest, as well as the company’s technology for workforce automation. With ‘do it yourself’ campaign management capability for enterprises and agencies, the platform facilitates running in-house influencer marketing campaigns.

Sarah Ware, Chief Executive Officer, Markerly, said about the launch, “This launch has created stronger partnerships by allowing our clients access to our proprietary software to streamline their efforts internally. Agencies and brands can choose to outsource campaigns to us, use our platform for in-sourcing, or call upon us on an as-needed basis for last minute muscle should they need assistance with specific campaigns.”

The offering is constituted of two components – Influencer Search and Campaign Manager. Influencer Search enables businesses to access the most relevant influencers for their respective audiences. It analyzes over 30 million posts per month in order to provide freshest data. It tracks over two million influencers, and applies predictive analytics to identify influencers who are most impactful for specific verticals and target audiences. Using Influencer Search, brands can browse top profiles on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine by keywords. The data can be filtered by engagement percentile, follower-count, location, and check-ins. The search result features a look-alike button to make search for similar profiles easy.

Campaign Manager provides numerous email addresses, and facilitates campaign creation, influencer activation and tracking through a real-time dashboard. Instructions, performance forecasting, media assets, payment management and negotiation, contract management, Federal Trade Commission compliance review, and content and influencer approval processes can be taken care of with just a few clicks. It is the only of its kind platform that tracks multiple datasets while comparing performance ofinfluencers for each campaign.

Friday
Jul222016

LaunchKey Next-Generation Authentication Selected by MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank

Article Source: PRNewswire


LAS VEGASFeb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- LaunchKey, the leading mobile authentication platform, today announced that Silicon Valley Bank and MasterCard have tapped the company to develop and test ways to employ their next-generation authentication within the growing consumer financial services sector. As part of this partnership, LaunchKey has been selected to participate in the fourth class of Commerce.Innovated., a bi-annual virtual accelerator limited to a handful of select early stage companies seeking to break into the financial technology (Fintech) space. LaunchKey will go through a four-month virtual program that provides resources to help refine and enhance business ideas through access to operational expertise from Silicon Valley Bank, MasterCard and their respective networks.

"Our multi-factor authentication approach is a viable alternative to traditional passwords, even for highly-regulated and secure sectors such as banking and finance," said LaunchKey CEOGeoff Sanders. "The password-based systems presently in use are inadequate for next generation financial services and the needs of consumers. We look forward to working with both MasterCard and Silicon Valley Bank though the Commerce.Innovated. program to place a higher value on security, privacy and user experience in the banking and consumer financial services industries moving forward."

"The security of account information and payment apps are top of mind with consumers, retailers and financial institutions," said Stephane Wyper, vice president of startup engagement and acceleration for MasterCard. "The Commerce.Innovated. program will help LaunchKey build on its commercial traction and scale its business to meet the evolving needs of security across financial services and the broader industry."

"We're pleased to welcome LaunchKey into the fourth class of Commerce.Innovated.," saidReetika Grewal, head of Silicon Valley Bank's payments strategy. "LaunchKey aims to drive important advancements to the authentication space. We are excited to work side by side with them and share our knowledge and networks to help them develop the infrastructure and operations that they need to accelerate their growth."

The pace of security breaches directly related to stolen passwords and bypassed authentication in the consumer financial services sector is significantly increasing, along with the severity of their consequences.  LaunchKey's multifactor authentication and real-time authorization solution provides an easier, yet more secure, alternative to traditional password-based offerings.

Key benefits of the LaunchKey solution include:

  • Fully decentralized, thereby removing the vulnerable central repository of credential that hackers are after, and reducing the attack vectors hackers can use.
  • Does not rely on passwords, thereby eliminating the primary target hackers and malware are after, and immunizing an application against past and future password breaches, while making it quicker and easier for end users to authenticate.
  • Can be leveraged through a public API or self-hosted in a private cloud or on-premise.
  • The first multifactor solution to offer a white label mobile authenticator client.

For more information about LaunchKey and multifactor authentication solutions, follow the company on Twitter at @LaunchKey or visit the company on LinkedIn.

About LaunchKey 
Formed in July of 2012, LaunchKey is a next-generation authentication and authorization platform that removes the liability and insecurity of passwords by decentralizing authentication through mobile smartphones and tablets that people already own. Through a REST API and suite of developer tools, LaunchKey can secure virtually any online or offline application such as websites, mobile apps, kiosks, vehicles, industrial control systems, physical access control systems, smart locks, and more. In 2013, Inc. Magazine included the founders in its prestigious "30 Under 30" list. For more information about LaunchKey and multifactor authentication solutions, please visit the company's website and follow the company on Twitter at @LaunchKey.

About Commerce.Innovated.  
Commerce.Innovated. is an accelerator jointly run by Silicon Valley Bank and MasterCard that is designed to help early stage commerce startups grow their businesses. Commerce.Innovated. was launched in 2014 and is a virtual program that provides access to operational expertise from Silicon Valley Bank, Mastercard and their respective networks. For more information, visit https://www.commerceinnovated.com/.

Friday
Jul222016

Drone startup backed by Allen, Yang to deliver medical supplies in Rwanda

SAN FRANCISCO— How's this for a flight plan to get a drone delivery service financially aloft?

Carry cargo that's of live-saving importance, fly long-range fixed-wing aircraft in uncongested skies, and score a government as your first client.

That's the atypical approach being taken by Zipline, a Bay Area startup that has raised $18 million in funding from Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and others.

Companies such as Amazon and DHL are testing four-propeller helicopter (or quadcopter) drones for consumer goods deliveries in first world countries as lawmakers debate regulations governing such craft. Zipline founder Keller Rinaudo, in contrast, set his sights early on helping save African lives with a drone that looks like a small airplane.

"Getting medicine to remote places is both a huge market and a global challenge," says Rinaudo, 29, a Harvard-trained scientist who before starting Zipline in 2011 was a professional rock climber. "About half the cases the doctors we spoke with see are mothers hemorrhaging after child birth and 30% are kids with malaria. There's nothing more precious than blood and medicine."

Starting in July, Zipline, which came out of stealth mode Monday, will begin shuttling blood and other vital medical supplies via its 22-pound, battery-powered Zip aircraft to remote clinics throughout the central African nation of Rwanda. The planes can carry a payload of up to 3.5 pounds and have a roundtrip range of 75 miles, or about triple that of the average quadcopter.

Zip planes also can handle inclement weather much the way a traditional aircraft might, Rinaudo says, while quadcopters don't fare as well flying in stormy skies.

Most intriguingly, Zip planes drop their parachute-carrying payloads into predetermined landing zones, eliminating the need to land at the delivery site. Onboard computers compensate for wind to ensure accurate drops. The planes are launched via a high-powered catapult. The pre-programmed flights are monitored on the ground via tablets.

Typically, the rural Rwandan outposts served by Zipline are only reached a few times per year for resupply due largely to weather-ravaged road conditions, says Rinaudo. Zipline plans to have up to 150 flights per day, each one paid for by the Rwandan government.

Deliveries will consist largely of blood and small vials of medicine to Rwandan clinics, but eventually the payload is likely to broaden and service to other African nations will begin later this year.

While Rinaudo says he can envision demand for his service in Europe and the U.S., stringent aircraft regulations in those parts of the world makes those markets more difficult to navigate for drone delivery services. And first there's a small matter of making money.

"We're not a charity and we hope to reach profitability very quickly," he says.

Sequoia Capital partner Alfred Lin invested in the previous incarnation of Zipline, Romotive, which focused on toy robotics before pivoting to drone delivery. He says the Rwandan deal will allow Rinaudo and his team — who hail from companies such asSpaceX, Boeing and Google — to build a data-driven case for bringing the service to more densely populated areas.

Unlike quadcopter drones that lower their cargo to

Unlike quadcopter drones that lower their cargo to the ground, Zip drops its parachute-equipped payload from low heights. (Photo: Zipline)

"There's a broad ambition here with Zipline, one focused on using machines to better human lives," says Lin, who held top positions at Zappos before going into venture capital. "They're looking at applications that others in the space aren't focused on."

Last week, Zipline held a demonstration of its technology through an invite-only Periscope broadcast. Rinaudo and his team, who are based south of San Francisco on the Pacific Coast but asked that their test facility not be disclosed, sent a Zip rocketing into grey skies with a mission to drop a payload along a nearby bluff.

As Rinaudo walked to the spot, the drone could be heard buzzing noisily overhead. Suddenly, it went quiet as it started to descend and, calculating for the wind, dropped its cargo — two small pouches of blood wrapped in insulation — on target. The Zip then flew back to its base area and landed much the way a traditional remote-controlled plane might end its flight.

"What we're providing the Rwandans costs about the same as delivery by truck or motorcycle, but it's 10 times as fast and not subject to any weather restrictions," says Rinaudo, who says his aircraft can fly in conditions that would ground most quadcopters.

He launches into a story told by a Tanzanian doctor, who showed the entrepreneur long logs listing urgent requests for blood and medicine sent by remote doctors via cell phone text message.

"Most of those people on those lists were not being saved, so those were really just databases of death," says Rinaudo. "We felt we could build the other half of that system, the one that says help is on the way."

Friday
Jul222016

500 Startups’s Markerly Makes Your Website Tweetable

Article Source: Tech.co

BY: Kira Newman- CONTRIBUTOR (Opinions expressed by Tech.co Contributors are their own.)


The month before Markerly entered 500 Startups, they saw a big opportunity waiting if they just made a shift – a little scooch, really – in another direction. So they hit pause on the idea that got them a spot in the selective startup accelerator, and hacked out a new one.

Now, they sell their software to website publishers to make their sites tweetable, Facebookable, and pinnable. When a reader highlights some text – which they would normally copy and paste to share elsewhere – Markerly prompts them to share automatically. You can send straight to email or Evernote, too.

Markerly used to be a little software tool that would let you save snippets of text from the web. According to CEO Sarah Ware, they just repackaged the technology with a different logo and cleaner branding, and voila: a product for publishers.

Working with publishers rather than users makes intuitive sense: instead of convincing a thousand people to download their product, they just convince one and it reaches the same readership. And publishers seemed anxious to get their hands on it: they wanted to know what snippets of text and photos readers were sharing and engaging with. It could give them a hint into why some articles do well, and others do poorly – was it celebrity names that stood out, or witty jokes, or something else?

“One article gets shared more than another, and you can guess as much as you want as far as why, but there’s this whole dark web of what people are engaging with inside an article,” says Ware.

But that doesn’t mean the switch was easy. It meant three months of work in the wrong direction, and shutting down a service that some people were avidly using. “It’s always a really tough call to do that,” says Ware. “You have to not be married to an idea, and just go with what’s going to work.”

Even if they’re not married, this is the second idea that Markerly has been courting. We’ll see if it’s the one.

Markerly was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail DCWEEK mixer.

Friday
Jul222016

HubSpot announces GoChime as top-performing partner in HubSpot Connect

Article Source: PRNewswire

 

NEW YORKSept. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Yesterday, HubSpot announced HubSpot Connect, a collection of new partnerships to help clients get more out of their marketing toolset. GoChime is proud to be considered part of the featured set of partners comprising HubSpot Connect.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150909/265171

"HubSpot is on a mission to bring inbound to everyone and part of that is helping our customers focus on the quality of interactions with their customers company-wide," said Brian Halligan, CEO & co-founder of HubSpot. "HubSpot Connect extends the power of the HubSpot platform by integrating with top-performing tools used across departments to attract, engage and delight customers. It's about building seamless connections between technologies so that companies can focus on building seamless relationships with their customers."

HubSpot and GoChime work together to make customer nurturing and lifecycle management truly multichannel across email, Facebook, and Twitter. The integration matches leads in HubSpot smart lists to their social profiles in real-time, so that customers can serve Facebook and Twitter ads at the same time emails that are delivered.

In just the first month of using GoChime in combination with HubSpot, HubSpot Partner Agency Prism Global Marketing created a 495% lift in leads for client Agricen's customer education-focused webinar.

"By combining HubSpot's internal marketing sophistication with GoChime's real-time data bridge, this partnership allows our mutual customers to achieve unparalleled cross-channel personalization with their inbound marketing campaigns," said Austin Evarts, CEO of GoChime.

About GoChime:
GoChime is the global leader in social marketing automation, enabling paid-social ads that fit seamlessly into a greater marketing automation strategy, driving customer retention and acquisition. GoChime's automated customer data bridge sits between leading marketing automation providers and social advertising channels like Twitter and Facebook. In addition to its real-time data bridge, GoChime provides a paid media planning and placement platform tailored to marketers. Learn more at www.gochime.com.

About HubSpot:
HubSpot ($HUBS) is the world's leading inbound marketing and sales platform. Since 2006, HubSpot has been on a mission to make the world more inbound. Today, over 15,000 customers in more than 90 countries use HubSpot's software, services, and support to transform the way they attract, engage, and delight customers. HubSpot's inbound marketing software, ranked #1 in customer satisfaction by VentureBeat and G2Crowd, includes social media publishing and monitoring, blogging, SEO, website content management, email marketing, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics, all in one integrated platform. Sidekick, HubSpot's award-winning sales application, enables sales and service teams to have more effective conversations with leads, prospects, and customers. Recognized by Inc., Forbes, and Deloitte as one of the world's fastest-growing companies, HubSpot is headquartered inCambridge, MA with offices in Dublin, IrelandSydney, Australia, and Portsmouth, NH. Learn more at www.hubspot.com

 

SOURCE GoChime

Friday
Jul222016

UPS Experiments With Drone Delivery In Partnership With Zipline

Article Source: FORBES

BY: George Anders - CONTRIBUTOR (Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.)

It’s likely to be a while before Amazon drops off a pair of socks at your front door using a drone, but that’s not stopping other companies from embracing drone delivery in different ways. Zipline is setting up a network of autonomous drones in Rwanda to deliver blood, vaccines and medical supply to remote areas of the country. The startup said it will be able to deliver packages to the country’s 12 million citizens in 30 minutes once it begins rolling out its network in July.

Now shipping and logistics giant UPS wants to get involved. On Monday, the foundation arm of UPS announced it’s teaming up with Zipline and the Gavi Alliance, a public-private partnership group focused on immunizations in poor countries. The organizations said UPS will bring its expertise in logistics to help Zipline deliver temperature-sensitive vaccines and blood to remote areas. UPS will also be using the opportunity to closely observe Zipline’s approach to drone delivery.

At Zipline’s headquarters not far from the Pacific Ocean south of San Francisco, a group of reporters was invited to see the drones in action. The startup is testing its drones on expansive farm land of rolling grass fields dotted with cows. For now, it’s also doing all the manufacturing on-site and is building about 40 drones for the July launch in Rwanda.

Unlike the popular quadcopter drones, which rely on four propellers, Zipline’s drones are ”fixed-wing,” meaning they glide on two wings. The drones fly autonomously by following a set path using GPS to track their position. They’re launched with a car-sized slingshot contraption from the ground. The Zipline drones make deliveries by dropping cargo with a parachute attached. Each drone can carry up to 3.3 pounds. The company plans on making up to 150 deliveries a day in Rwanda. Communities will be able to request deliveries through their phones — with either an app or a simple text message.

“It doesn’t matter if there’s washed-out roads, bridges or mountains in the way,” said Zipline cofounder and CEO Keller Rinaudo. “None of those are challenges to a system that can fly.”

Rabies is a prime example of a vaccine that could use rapid drone delivery, said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley. The vaccine is expensive and unlikely to be stored locally. But when someone is exposed to the disease, it’s critical they’re treated quickly. “Unless that vaccine is stocked in the community all the time — which is expensive and wasteful — that person has to travel to a city center, and in the rainy season, that can take days,” Berkley said.

While Rwanda isn’t known for the strength of its democratic institutions (the country is 161st out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index), president Paul Kagame is has been trying to attract businesses to the country. Zipline is a clear beneficiary of the regime.

“One of the biggest challenges people don’t think about is community acceptance,” Rinaudo said. “In launching this system, we’re not a high-tech company trying to find use cases where we’re needed. This is really the government of Rwanda’s thing. The key thing is to make sure the people of Rwanda feel comfortable with a vehicle flying around delivering medicine.”

Zipline is also working closely with Rwanda’s aviation agency. ”You might think that technology like autonomous aircraft will first happen in the US or Europe,” said Rinaudo, “but the reality is that Rwanda will be at the forefront for using technology like this to save lives.” 

Rinaudo said making a delivery using Zipline will cost about the same as making it with a motorcycle.

Zipline and UPS plan to continue working together to bring the technology to other countries. ”If we’re successful in this pilot, we have a vision of taking this solution to save lives in other parts of the world,” said UPS Foundation president Eduardo Martinez. “There are infrastructure challenges here in the US and a lot of other parts of the world. We’re losing lives every day because of that. Our vision is to look beyond Rwanda.”

Zipline has raised $18 million from investors like Sequoia Capital, GV (formerly Google GOOGL +0.43% Ventures), Subtraction Capital, Stanford University and Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang.