Sweetheart Kitchen Raises US$17.7 Million In Series C Funding Round To Launch New Brands And Kitchen Units Across MENA


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Cloud kitchen operator Sweetheart Kitchen has successfully secured €15 million (US$17.7 million) in a Series C funding round backed by strategic investors, led by the company’s founder and CEO Peter Schatzberg.

As a delivery-only multi-brand virtual kitchen, Schatzberg notes that the Dubai-based company is keen to invest their funding into supply chain technology, food design and hiring talent, as they had previously done, and which they plan to continue to do so. “Scaling units is certainly one important objective for us, but we are also investing in streamlining our processes and systems to achieve profitability.”

As a company that is only 15 months old, it’s noteworthy to point out its impressive milestones. The startup (which, according to a Wamda report, is backed by Germany’s Delivery Hero) has previously raised €21 million ($24.8 million) in a previous round. Thus, as of date, the startup has raised a total of $43 million. The brand boasts a portfolio of 30 brands, such as Wingo, Avocado Bravo and Affordabowls, among others.

That’s not to say that cloud kitchen startup hasn’t had their fair share of hurdles during the pandemic. Schatzberg comments, “Almost overnight, we pivoted from scaling volume and units, to demonstrating profitability through aggressive cost-cutting measures that would ordinarily take place in a mature enterprise.” They had to close live units in Kuwait, as well as make reductions, and lose cash flow as they were waiting to open a number of completed units, but was vacant due to citywide lockdowns. He adds, “Any incremental revenue we might have received as a function of the pandemic was more than offset by the various costs and challenges that the pandemic created.”

To utilize the time, the team focused internally on “controllership, efficiency, quality and profitability,” which Schatzberg says ignited the enterprise’s maturity more rapidly. With the new capital fusion, the team is gearing up to launch five additional brands, as well as have 12 units live in the UAE by the beginning of 2021, with more expansion into the KSA market in the second half of the same year. The team is also excited to scale across the region as they originally planned, starting with its relaunch in Kuwait. He concludes, “We plan on re-opening in January with seven kitchens, and on covering over 75% of Kuwait by the end of Q2 2021 with our new brands.”

‘TREP TALK ME: Peter Schatzberg, founder and CEO of Sweetheart Kitchen

What’s your advice to fellow entrepreneurs who are raising capital during this unprecedented time?

1. Ask yourself if you really need to raise capital right now

“Carefully consider whether you have the capabilities, business plan and determination to raise capital during a global economic downturn. Your time is precious, and rejection can be painful. Do not waste time trying to raise funds in this environment if you are not prepared to face

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Trump taps U.S. Marine Band for White House event and raises questions about employing the military for political purposes

The band has played at every presidential inauguration since 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson gave the group the title “The President’s Own,” according to its online history. The band is called upon when the president is discharging his duties as head of state.

But federal regulations bar the use of government resources for, and the coercion of federal employees into, political activities aimed at a candidate’s reelection — and taxpayer-funded military bands cannot be used for campaign events. Members of the U.S. military are prohibited from wearing military uniforms at political campaign events.

Administration and military officials said the activity on Saturday was an official White House event called, “Peaceful Protest for Law and Order.”

“The United States Marine Band provided musical support for the Peaceful Protest for Law and Order event, an official event on the South Lawn of the White House,” Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said in a statement. “All tasking for U.S. Marine Band support at the White House, including for this event, is generated by the White House Military Office.”

Judd Deere, a spokesman for the White House, said: “The event yesterday was an official White House event and was conducted in compliance with the Hatch Act.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees from using their titles and positions to engage in political activity. The president and vice president are exempt but do fall under criminal provisions that prohibit the coercion of federal government employees to engage in political activity.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and his predecessor, retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis, have sought to protect the military from overtly partisan activity. But their efforts have been challenged by a president who has shown a willingness to defy civil-military norms respected by his predecessors, beginning with his first official visit to the Pentagon, when he used the Hall of Heroes to sign a ban on travel from majority-Muslim nations.

In the years since, Trump has treated troop talks and Pentagon appearances like campaign rallies, intervened in military justice cases and signed “Make America Great Again” paraphernalia on official presidential visits to military facilities overseas. He deployed active-duty forces to the southern border with Mexico before the 2018 midterm elections, taking heat for using the military as a political prop.

On Saturday, the Marine Band provided the musical backdrop as a crowd gathered under the South Portico of the White House, where Trump gave remarks from the balcony due to his coronavirus infection. Despite being billed as a non-campaign event, Trump began his talk by calling on the guests to vote his opponents “into oblivion” and attacked his Democratic opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

Trump’s rallies regularly make use of show tunes, including from “Phantom of the Opera.” Saturday’s event was no exception. One “Blexit” supporter posted a video on Instagram beaming with excitement as the Marine Band played “America” from “West Side Story.”

“We are here at the White House, guys. Look!” the supporter said. “Isn’t it an

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Trump Raises Stimulus Offer to $1.8 Trillion

WASHINGTON — The White House moved aggressively on Friday to revive stimulus talks that President Trump had called off just days earlier, putting forward its largest offer for economic relief yet as administration officials and embattled Republican lawmakers scrambled to avoid being blamed by voters for failing to deliver needed aid ahead of the election.

The new proposal’s price tag of $1.8 trillion, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin presented to Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a roughly 30-minute phone call, was nearly double the original offer the administration put forward when talks began in late summer.

It was the latest indication that the White House was eager to backtrack from Mr. Trump’s decision on Tuesday to abruptly halt negotiations, and it reflected a growing sense of dread both at the White House and among vulnerable Senate Republicans facing re-election about the political consequences of his actions. The offer also highlighted the deep and persistent divisions among Republicans — most of whom have balked at a large new federal infusion of pandemic aid — that have complicated the negotiations for months.

Now, with Mr. Trump pressing to “Go Big,” as he put it in a tweet on Friday, he has raised the prospect of pushing through a plan that his own party refuses to accept, giving Ms. Pelosi and Democrats fresh leverage to dictate the terms of any deal.

On Friday, she was continuing to hold out for more concessions. While Mr. Mnuchin’s latest offer “attempted to address some of the concerns Democrats have,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said it did not include an agreement on a national strategy for testing, tracing and other efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which the speaker has pushed for in recent weeks. “For this and other provisions, we are still awaiting language from the administration as negotiations on the overall funding amount continue.”

“I do hope we will have an agreement soon but, as you say, they keep changing,” Ms. Pelosi said on MSNBC. Referring to Mr. Trump’s tweets that temporarily ended the negotiations, she added that the president “got a terrible backlash from it, including in the stock market, which is what he cares about. And so then he started to come back little by little, and now a bigger package.”

Speaking on the right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh’s show, Mr. Trump conceded that he had changed his position on approving additional coronavirus aid before Election Day, declaring “I would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.” (Alyssa Farah, the White House communications director, later contradicted Mr. Trump’s assertion, telling reporters at the White House that the administration wanted a final package to remain below $2 trillion, which is less than the $2.2 trillion measure Ms. Pelosi pushed through the House this month.)

Such sums are deeply alarming to most Republicans, who are increasingly contemplating their party’s future after Mr. Trump departs the political scene and are determined to reclaim

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“Cook Like a Firefighter” competition raises awareness about kitchen fire safety

Fire departments across Arizona come together to raise money for the Arizona Burn Foundation.

PHOENIX — Firefighters across Arizona are pulling out all the stops for a big cook-off competition called “Cook Like a Firefighter.”

It’s not just about culinary skills, it’s to raise awareness about kitchen fire safety.

“We invited all of the fire departments across the state of Arizona,” said Mik Milem, Chief Operations Officer at the Arizona Burn Foundation, an organization working to help burn survivors and their families and raise awareness about fire safety.

While a lot of their regular community events are on hold due to COVID-19, they decided to improvise.

“We came up with this idea of doing a ‘cook like a firefighter’ competition,” he said.

The competition, a fun and mouth-watering way to get the community involved and educated on kitchen fire safety, shows support for the state firefighters.

Each department put together their favorite station staple recipe to show off and fight for the prize.

More than a dozen fire departments jumped on board and they had a lot of fun filming in the kitchen, cooking up tasty dishes.

“We told them, be fun but also put some fire safety and cooking safety instructions in there… firefighters lived up to that challenge,” said Milem.

Firefighters made everything from simple pancakes to tri-tip sandwiches.

“Energy balls, I think there’s two different kinds of burgers,” he said.

It’s easy to get involved and vote for your favorite recipe too, by donating to the Arizona Burn Foundation.

“All the money goes back to the fire departments by providing them free smoke alarms and free children’s education programing for them to go out into the community with,” he said.

The event is based on learning new recipes while providing necessary safety tips.

“To help prevent injuries from ever taking place,” he said.

To check out the recipes and vote for your favorite, visit the competition website.

Source Article

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Trump’s Doctor’s Briefing Raises More Questions COVID-19 Diagnosis

During a press conference Saturday from Walter Reed National Military Center, where President Donald Trump was admitted Friday, White House physician Sean Conley said he and his medical team are “extremely happy with the progress” Trump has made since he announced he tested positive for COVID-19 early Friday morning.

However, some of the information provided at the briefing raised even more questions about the state of the President’s health and the timeline of his illness.

Conley said that the President had “a mild cough and some nasal congestion and fatigue” on Thursday, “all of which are now resolving and improving.” The President had a fever Thursday into Friday, but has been fever-free since Friday morning, he said.

Dr. Sean Dooley, another member of the President’s medical team, said the team is also monitoring President Trump’s cardiac function, kidney function and liver function, all of which are currently healthy. He added that the president is in “exceptionally good spirits” and told the team that he felt like he “could walk out of here today.” When asked about the President’s risk factors, Conley said that Trump is a 74-year old man who is “slightly overweight,” which puts him at a greater risk of complications from the virus. But Conley said both the President’s cholesterol and blood pressure are healthy.

However, shortly after the conference ended, the White House press pool received a much more alarming statement from a source familiar with the President’s health. “The President’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care,” the statement said. “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”

Conley also said the President is currently not on supplemental oxygen, and is not currently having difficulty breathing or walking around the White House medical unit. He stressed that the President’s admittance to the hospital was a “precautionary measure to provide state of the art monitoring and any care that he may need.”

But Conley dodged questions about whether Trump was ever on supplemental oxygen during the illness, only saying that he was not on oxygen Thursday and “while we were all here, he was not on oxygen,” on Friday. The Associated Press and the New York Times reported shortly after the Saturday briefing that the President received supplemental oxygen while in the White House on Friday, before he was flown to the hospital.

A member of the medical team said the President was given the experimental antiviral drug remdesivir Friday night, and the team plans on giving him a five day treatment course. (The FDA has authorized the use of remdesivir on hospitalized COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms.) When asked if the President would complete the course of treatment at the hospital, Conley said the President would leave the hospital when the team agrees it’s “safe and appropriate.”

The team also said the President received an experimental drug treatment of “antibody therapy” 48 hour ago, and

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Kbox Global: Ghost kitchen startup raises second funding of the year

  • Ghost kitchen startup Kbox Global has raised £12 million ($15 million) in a fresh funding round from Balderton Capital. 
  • The London-based company raised a seed round earlier this year but has opted to raise further funds amid a continuing boom in growth for food delivery and restaurants. 
  • “There’s a movement towards people understanding that you can get great food at home and we as a company have benefited from that,” Salima Vellani, Kbox founder and CEO, told Business Insider in an interview. “Sales went up 300-500% during lockdown, you can survive and excel if you know how to deliver food in the right way.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The popularity of food delivery apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo has led to a surge in investment in startups providing complementary services, be it rentable kitchen space or virtual restaurant brands.

The global food delivery market is estimated to be worth $365 billion by 2030, with delivery unicorns like Deliveroo already valued at over $2 billion. Similarly, the market for ghost kitchens (kitchens which exist predominantly for food delivery) could be worth $1 trillion by 2030 according to Euromonitor. 

London-based startup Kbox Global has raised its second funding round of the year, a £12 million ($15 million) deal with VC investor Balderton Capital amid a claimed boom in growth. 

“There’s a movement towards people understanding that you can get great food at home and we as a company have benefited from that,” Salima Vellani, Kbox founder and CEO, told Business Insider in an interview. “Sales went up 300-500% during lockdown, you can survive and excel if you know how to deliver food in the right way.”

Kbox raised a £5 million seed round from Hoxton Ventures in July but was subsequently inundated with investor interest, according to Vellani, who said the company’s seed round was already three times oversubscribed. 

“After we announced the round, twenty to thirty VCs from around the world came to us,” she added. “We knew we would grow fast and needed some money. The process took two weeks to term sheet and investors needed to bend over backwards to make it work because I have a business to run.”

The company is expanding its UK presence and also plans to enter the US market in the coming months. “The US is a tough nut to crack but food is universal,” Vellani added.

Check out Kbox’s (redacted) pitch deck below:

Source Article

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Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China’s role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.



a sign on the side of a building: Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China's role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime


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Hillicon Valley: Murky TikTok deal raises questions about China’s role | Twitter investigating automated image previews over apparent algorithmic bias | House approves bill making hacking federal voting systems a crime

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

TIKTOK TUSSLE: A deal to avert a U.S. ban on TikTok appears to have been reached over the weekend, but several questions remain about the contours of the pending agreement.

The most pressing is what role the short-form video app’s China-based parent company, ByteDance, will have in the newly formed entity TikTok Global.

President Trump suggested Monday that the deal could be in jeopardy if Oracle and Walmart – the two American companies involved in the proposal – do not have full control of the new TikTok.

“And if we find that they don’t have total control, then we’re not going to approve the deal,” he said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.”

One of the next steps in the approval process includes a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Without a term sheet being public, it is difficult to know the exact breakdown of the agreement, which was tentatively approved just before a Commerce Department order would have barred TikTok from appearing in U.S. app stores.

But from what is known, it appears that the deal falls far short of the full-on sale of TikTok to an American company that Trump originally called for in August.

Together, Oracle and Walmart will take only a 20 percent stake in the new company, TikTok said in a statement over the weekend.

According to ByteDance, other U.S.-based TikTok investors like Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic will stay on in the newly formed company, which has an estimated value of between $50 billion and $60 billion.

Even with the financial stakes of four U.S. companies, it is difficult to envision a scenario where ByteDance entirely removes itself from involvement in such a successful video app.

In a statement Monday, ByteDance emphasized it will remain in control of the new TikTok business and, crucially, the recommendation algorithm that makes the platform so popular.

That position was directly contradicted by Oracle executive vice president Ken Glueck, who said Monday that “Americans will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.”

The discrepancy may be explained by ByteDance’s ownership of TikTok Ltd., a business incorporated in the Cayman Islands that currently owns TikTok’s American operations.

Read more here.

ALGORITHMIC BIAS TEST CASE: Twitter is investigating the algorithm it uses to crop pictures for its mobile platform after several users pointed out a tendency to zero in on white faces.

Controversy over

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SC House leader wants raises and bonuses, but not now

Updated


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The chairman of the House committee that writes South Carolina’s budget said he also wants a small raise for teachers and a $1,000 COVID-19 hazard pay bonus for lower-paid state workers, but now isn’t the time to spend that money.

Instead, House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith said Wednesday he wants to wait until January and make sure COVID-19 hasn’t wrecked the economy even more than state economists have predicted.


The Senate approved the raises and the hazard pay, totaling about $70 million in the state’s roughly $9 billion budget, on Tuesday. They then attacked House members a day later for not taking it up.

Those workers and teachers “received as a thank you from the House of Representatives a big fat zero,” said state Sen. Greg Hembree, a Republican from Horry County on Wednesday.



Smith said he is almost certain the House won’t take up the Senate’s proposal during the special session that ends Sept. 24, but the Sumter Republican is willing to talk about it with senators when the next session of the General Assembly starts in January and Smith hopes economists have a better handle on the COVID-19 economy nearly a year after the pandemic started.


“The only disagreement we have is they are rushing head in to a storm and they don’t know whether the storm is going to last for a month or is going to last for years,” Smith said after Wednesday’s House session.

Smith said he would rather be prudent and wait than spend money the state could have saved and later end up furloughing state workers or make deep cuts in budgets. Smith entered the House nearly 20 years ago and remembers what happened in the Great Recession of 2009 when $1 billion of budgeted revenue evaporated and the state agencies had to make huge cuts that caused damage that many said it took a decade to reverse.


“Let’s be careful. Let’s make sure we don’t make

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Socially-distanced ‘Sip ‘n Stroll’ raises critical funds for the Ballard House

Updated


The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop the Ballard House from offering free housing to patients seeking medical treatment in the area. It did, however, leave the nonprofit critically low on funding.

The Ballard House, a 501(c)(3) charity, has 40 living suites. Each suite is fully-furnished and features a private bath and kitchenette.

In an effort to raise funding for their mission of providing temporary housing free of charge for the individuals or caregivers seeking medical treatment in Katy, the Ballard House resumed its most popular fundraising event, the Katy Sip n’ Stroll at The ARK event center on Sept. 12.


Safety precautions abounded at the event as visitors sampled wines and bites from top wineries and local restaurants. The crowd was limited to 200 people. Each vendor wore masks and gloves. Visitors were asked to remain with their group and practice social distancing. Masks were required and could only be removed to eat or drink.



“Our biggest goal was to keep everyone safe,” said Kathy Alt, executive director of the Ballard House. “So we’ve taken every precaution, but it’s still a fun event.”


While funding fell short of the event’s typical $20,000 income, founding board member Chris Hiller was quick to note that any income from the event is beneficial to the charity. In addition to ticket sales, the Ballard House generated income from vendors, and the event featured a “wine pull” whereby guests could purchase a mystery bottle of wine for $10.


“This event is so important to us, because the Ballard House never shut down,” explained Alt. “We continued our mission throughout COVID. We have people there that are still pursuing their life-saving treatments, and without fundraising events, our funding is depleted.”

For the extra-cautious wine lover, the Ballard House also offered a “Virtual Sip n’ Stroll” on Sept. 11. Sommeliers live-streamed tastings for patrons who sipped along from the comfort of their homes.

While Alt hopes that fundraising events for the Ballard House will start to gain momentum as the community reopens, she emphasized that the organization is struggling to maintain operations as a result of financial setbacks from the pandemic.


“Donations are so important for us so we can continue to offer a

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SC House Leader Wants Raises and Bonuses, but Not Now | South Carolina News

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The chairman of the House committee that writes South Carolina’s budget said he also wants a small raise for teachers and a $1,000 COVID-19 hazard pay bonus for lower-paid state workers, but now isn’t the time to spend that money.

Instead, House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith said Wednesday he wants to wait until January and make sure COVID-19 hasn’t wrecked the economy even more than state economists have predicted.

The Senate approved the raises and the hazard pay, totaling about $70 million in the state’s roughly $9 billion budget, on Tuesday. They then attacked House members a day later for not taking it up.

Those workers and teachers “received as a thank you from the House of Representatives a big fat zero,” said state Sen. Greg Hembree, a Republican from Horry County on Wednesday.

Smith said he is almost certain the House won’t take up the Senate’s proposal during the special session that ends Sept. 24, but the Sumter Republican is willing to talk about it with senators when the next session of the General Assembly starts in January and Smith hopes economists have a better handle on the COVID-19 economy nearly a year after the pandemic started.

“The only disagreement we have is they are rushing head in to a storm and they don’t know whether the storm is going to last for a month or is going to last for years,” Smith said after Wednesday’s House session.

Smith said he would rather be prudent and wait than spend money the state could have saved and later end up furloughing state workers or make deep cuts in budgets. Smith entered the House nearly 20 years ago and remembers what happened in the Great Recession of 2009 when $1 billion of budgeted revenue evaporated and the state agencies had to make huge cuts that caused damage that many said it took a decade to reverse.

“Let’s be careful. Let’s make sure we don’t make rash decisions we regret later,” Smith said.

The House is following the course recommended by Gov. Henry McMaster, who also wanted to copy and paste the 2019-2020 budget, spending at the same levels this budget year at least until January.

The Senate’s budget bill also mostly copied last year’s spending with a few exceptions. They said they answered fears of mid-year cuts if the economy gets worse because of the pandemic by setting aside $500 million of the $775 million left over in previous budgets in case revenue estimates are too high.

The Senate proposal set aside $50 million for education, most of it going toward funding small “step increase” raises for teachers, which amount to several hundred dollars a year given annually as teachers gain experience.

Smith said the House will give teachers those raises in January and included the six months of extra money they should have gotten if the raises were in place when contracts started July 1.

The Senate addition to

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