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Body Buliding, Technology

In the past week alone, every single human in the U.S. has gotten a pimple, according to very scientific data I just made up. But seriously, if I’m basing this solely off a dozen frantic, late-night text messages from friends and coworkers, then yeah, virtually everyone I know—including yours truly—has been inducted into the Big-Ass Breakout Club this summer, and we’re all asking the same thing: What the f*ck is happening right now?? Are we under attack? Is this the second (puberty) coming? WILL WE EVER BE OKAY?!

So, with a ZitSticka patch covering the throbbing cystic zit on my jaw and salicylic acid globbed onto the mysterious little whiteheads sprinkling my nose, I begged for answers from dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale University and OG calmer of my skin anxieties. And according to Dr. Gohara, there very much is a reason why you’re breaking out right now. Actually, there are three:

It’s this g’damn stupid heat wave.

Right now, around the country (and even in Europe), record-high temperatures are basically signaling the apocalypse. I mean, the freaking Washington Post is calling it “the hottest month that humans have ever recorded,” and guess what? None of this bodes well for your skin (or for the planet, but more on civilization-ending global warming later).

“When it’s really hot, people tend to sweat significantly more,” says Dr. Gohara. “That sweat then sits on your face, mixing with all the sticky gunk and grime and pollution in the air to create the perfect environment for pores to clog and acne-causing bacteria to grow.” Yay! I love summer!

But the heat and humidity are only half of the problem. You’re the other half. “When we notice, Holy shit, my face is a Crisco pad, we tend to touch our skin more—blotting with shirts or towels or sheets, wiping or fixing makeup with fingers, dusting on more powder to mattify the shine, and feeling for new or growing zits,” says Dr. Gohara. “So not only are you introducing new bacteria and oils to your face, but you’re also irritating your skin barrier with all the wiping and touching.” And an irritated barrier is an angry barrier—one that’ll start breaking out even harder from the disruption.


Hands. Off. Your. Face. Seriously—get your hands off your skin, stop rubbing at it, don’t triple-cleanse during the day, don’t pack on the makeup to cover the grease. Instead, gently soak up the shine once or twice a day with fragrance-free oil blotting sheets (my favorite: Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets), wash your face once or twice a day with a creamy, non-foaming cleanser (see below), and keep your makeup to a minimum on the areas where you tend to break out most. And maybe move to Alaska.

You’re blasting the A/C.

This goes hand in hand with the hellacious heat wave (is it fall yet?), but if you’ve been sitting in front of your air conditioner for three weeks or blasting your car’s A/C or existing only in frigid coffee shops, classrooms, planes, or offices, it could actually be breaking you out.

“Air-conditioning usually removes moisture from the air, making it incredibly drying, especially if it’s blasting you right in the face,” says Dr. Gohara. “So it ends up sucking the moisture from your face, which causes your skin to overproduce oil to compensate for the dryness.”

The result? Extra-oily skin (yup, even if your skin looks matte and dry; your pores produce oil from within, and too much too quickly can clog the pore before it reaches the surface). So while the A/C is kicking your oil production into overdrive, the heat wave is cranking out the sweat and the humidity is mixing it all together and sticking it to your skin.


Adopt an electricity-free life—maybe move to a remote shack on the beaches of Bali? Just kidding. There’s not much you can do when A/C is virtually everywhere in the summer, except try to redirect the air from blowing on your face as much as possible. If you’re traveling, push the air vents in your car away from your face or twist the airplane’s vent above your seat closed. And try adding a portable humidifier (the Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier is honestly great) to your life—keep it on your desk, in the cupholder in your car, wherever. That bit of moisture can help offset some of the A/C’s drying effects.

You’re going crazy trying to fix your zits.

So you got a few zits (and then a few more), and you went bat-shit nuclear on your skin, trying to fix it fast. I get it—the panic is realBut changing up your entire routine, or even adding one new acne-fighting formula, can break the space-time continuum/your face.

“When people break out, they start reaching for more heavy-duty, acid-filled formulas, over-exfoliating their face, loading on the retinol and spot treatments, and basically flip to the extremes in the course of a week or a few days,” says Dr. Gohara. “And all that change creates a disruption in your skin’s equilibrium, causing it to freak out, dry out, and break out.” Think of your skin like a temperamental toddler—change its nap schedule and, IDK, dump some salicylic acid on it, and it’s going to be very pissed.

Also, if you do what I did—which was slather an acne-fighting serum all over my T-zone in a ~genius~ attempt at preventing more breakouts—you could inadvertently be causing the worst freaking breakout of your life: purging. “Purging is definitely a real thing,” says Dr. Gohara. “It’s when skin-resurfacing products, like retinoids and acids, bring your future zits to the surface of your skin all at once.”

It isn’t a surefire thing (you’re more likely to purge if you’re already acne prone or if you’re using a way stronger formula than usual), but it’s something to be aware of and ideally avoid. I knew all these things and yet I, the local idiot, still forged ahead, slapping acids on my face and waking up to whiteheads 48 hours later.


Just…wait. Do nothing. I know, this sounds absolutely insane, but trying to radically alter your routine will bring you nothing but skin sadness. “Resist the compulsion to do anything differently, and try to avoid disrupting your skin as much as possible,” says Dr. Gohara.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use a gentle spot treatment on the zits you already have (try a salicylic-based spot treatment—I’ve been using Murad Rapid Relief Spot Treatment—for red, inflamed bumps or a gentle benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, like Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Spot Treatment, for whiteheads), but make sure to apply sparingly just once a day.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, your skin is under Mother Nature’s cruel, cruel thumb, so know that there’s only so much you can do this summer. Just be cognizant of not deviating from what you normally do and also resist the compulsion to wipe, scrub, or touch your skin more than normal this summer,” says Dr. Gohara. Yeah, it sucks, but hey—fall is just a few weeks away, and if you’re really concerned (like you need that cystic zit gone now), you can head to your dermatologist for a cortisone injection or an extraction.

So next time (tonight) you’re staring at your new crop of zits in the mirror, take a few deep breaths, remember that breakouts are totally normal, and they’ll probs die a quick, painless death in a few weeks anyway.



Well, Actually is a column by Slate’s Shannon Palus. She tests health and wellness products to help readers figure out what they should try, what they should skip, and why.

A new company called ZitSticka is bringing the luxury of skin care to: the acne patch. The brand’s one and only product so far is the “Killa Kit.” The size of a large ring box, it contains supplies to help eight “up-and-coming” pimples become an “ex-zit.” It is millennial pink. The product’s Instagram inexplicably contains photos of a sun-dappled daybed and a white-tiled rain shower. At $30 per a box, or nearly $4 per a treatment, it would be easy to declare the patch just another overpriced addition to the skin care market. It is, kind of—as with so many potions, there’s at least one inexpensive and nearly identical option. But contained inside the cute box is actually some interesting technology.

Acne patches are not new. The first were little more than hydrocolloid bandages, hydrocolloid being a type of wound dressing that was introduced in the 1970s as part of “the moist wound care revolution.” As chemist and educator Michelle Wong explains on her beauty science blog Lab Muffin, hydrocolloid bandages are flexible, made from materials like cellulose and gelatin and then covered in a thin film of plastic. The flexible part sucks up fluid, in the case of a zit, deflating it. It’s essentially a way to pop the thing slowly. Hydrocolloid pimple patches (round versions of the wound bandages) have been used in Asia for over a decade. The first one, Wong estimates, was from a brand called 3M (the same parent company that makes Taylor Swift’s favorite kind of picture-hanging wall tape). You may have heard of the patches via the Korean brand Cosrx, which distributes them in a plain white-and-red envelope, all stuck to the same plastic sheet kind of like pre-cut moleskin or corn cushions.

And they sure work. In addition to glowing review after glowing review for these things, in 2006 a group of researchers in Taiwan ran a (very) small study confirming their utility. Researchers used acne patches from 3M, sold under the clinical and descriptive label “Acne Dressing” on 10 participants. They gave another 10 regular old medical tape. Everyone in the patch group reported that their acne improved at least moderately, while just a fifth of the treatment group said the same, which tracked with the researchers’ quantitative observations.

Some patches can be more sophisticated by including medication like salicylic acid with the hydrocolloid base, like Peace Out Dots and Clearasil spot patchesothers just have medication on a plain plastic dot. Recently, companies like ZitSticka have begun adding spikes or “microdarts” to a hydrocolloid base. A cousin of the microneedle that can allow ingredients to penetrate deeper into your skin (when used by a pro, at least), these microdarts shuttle salicylic acid in the dot beneath the surface. As Wong points out, in a post sponsored by another company that makes microdart zit patches, a similar dissolving needle technology has been explored for vaccines and insulin delivery. (Luxury makeup brand Dr. Jart has a whole line of, essentially, spikey tape designed to banish everything from zits to under-eye circles.) According to ZitSticka, these needles are ideal for early-stage cystic acne, while more straightforward pimples and whiteheads (anything pop-able) could more likely benefit from the cheaper, plainer hydrocolloidal patches.

I ordered a pack of the ZitStickas to see if they’d work for me. They are woefully expensive for an acne patch. (These similar ones, from a brand called Rael, are almost a quarter of the price, at just over a dollar a pop.) But the ZitSticka patches specifically make the process of treating an honest-to-god pimple kind of glamorous. The ring box–like packaging looks cute enough to display on a dresser. This is not an acne patch that you’d expect to find at a drugstore: In addition to the zit stickers, it comes with tiny cleaning wipes (each individual zit gets its own cleaning wipe!). “We got you covered,” an insert white lettering reads, alongside instructions on how to use each part and a stylized illustration of the microdarts dissolving into a pimple.

I wiped the zit area (I was thrilled to have a zit!) and stuck the patch to my face. I will be honest with you—I was so excited to try these that I didn’t even check what kind of zit I was popping them onto, nor am I confident enough in my zit taxonomy to tell you exactly what it was in hindsight. The patch did not hurt in the least, but it did feel very satisfying. To my surprise, the sticker was subtle enough that I then confidently left the house. After a couple hours, it flaked off, having lost its stickiness after the darts dissolved.

What was left in its wake was still definitely a pimple, but a noticeably smaller one. If I’ve ever tried a skin care product with such immediate results, I cannot remember it. Previously, the only instant acne treatment I’d heard of that worked right away was cortisone shots, which can cost$100 a (pimple) pop, which puts the $4 price tag into a little perspective.

In the future, I’ll probably pick a cheaper microdart acne patch—these ones from Rael look extremely similar if not identical to the ZitSticka offering, and are a third of the price. Whether a microdart patch works better than a non-microdart one is hard to say—there just hasn’t been that much scientific research into the acne-patch space. Dermatologists emphasize that acne patches alone aren’t a good strategy for keeping your face clean, and they probably aren’t economical for large breakouts. But acne patches are ideal product with which to do your own experimenting with: It’s fairly easy to see if a zit has gotten smaller within a few hours of wear. It’s also a relief. Even for all ZitSticka’s cute branding, zit stickers will probably never be relaxing or fun the way, say, a face mask is. But the straightforward results take a load off, nonetheless. That’s close to magic. 


Champions, Technology
LOS ANGELESJuly 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Bev, the mission-driven, digital-first and community-centric brand that is redefining the landscape within male dominated spaces, announces Tara Hannaford has been appointed President. As one of the few female industry executives and as a future key player in Bev’s growth, Hannaford will apply her proficiency and knowledge of beverage distribution and innovation to develop strategies for new key markets as well as assist in expanding the brand’s product portfolio.

With more than 10 years of industry experience, Hannaford comes to Bev from Casamigos where she was the Vice President of Sales and played a pivotal role in the company’s exit for $1 billion. Hannaford has helped businesses successfully launch products in major U.S. markets, expand distribution, develop tailored sales programs as well as help build and grow talented teams. Beyond Casamigos, she brings experience across the spirits category, including positions with Stoli Group, DeLeon Tequila, Peligroso Spirits and Hawaii Sea Spirits.

“Bev is what I’ve been waiting for,” said Tara Hannaford, President of Bev. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to affect change in an industry that has often been insulated from it and to do things better than they’ve been done before, all while inspiring and elevating female leadership and community in wine and spirits. It is an honor to work alongside Bev’s Founder, weaving Bev’s core mission with an effective commercial strategy for authentic brand affinity and long-term growth.”

“Tara is a dream hire for a company at any stage, her track record speaks for itself,” said Alix Peabody, CEO and Founder of Bev. “The fact that she’s joined us speaks volumes not only about the culture and community we are building, but also how important our mission is for the industry as a whole.”

For more information on Bev, please visit

About Bev
Founded by Alix Peabody in May 2017Bev is a beverage company out of Venice, California.  They are breaking the glass by challenging male-dominated industries and building a more inclusive, respectful drinking culture. Bev wants to create a mission-driven community that encourages everyone to experience fun on their own terms. Their first product is the refreshingly crisp and dry, canned California rosé wine made with the highest quality grapes from the central coast of California. This proprietary blend has bright aromatics of strawberry, raspberry, white peach and watermelon. Made specifically for a can, every can of Bev has 11.9% ABV, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of carbs. Bev is currently available in California and Nashville as well as available online nationwide. For more information about Bev, please visit 




onday was a big day for the internet, thanks to the photo that Ashley BensonInstagrammed featuring a tattoo of the letters “CD,” which just so happen to be the same as her girlfriend‘s initials. But it was an even bigger day for Benson; to her, the photo marked her official announcement that first-ever sunglasses collection, Privé Revaux X Benzo, had finally launched—a moment she’d been anticipating for months.

The 29-year-old actress has been working with Privé Revaux for a few years now, but this is the first time she tried her hand at design. Still, Benson knew exactly where to start: with Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, whom she’s worshipped since, as she put it, “day one.” From there, she came up with three different styles: The Victoria, which is an oversized take on “everyday”; the Olive, a cat eye named after her dog; and the Planco, a “unique” rectangular pair complete with side panels, which, naturally, was inspired by Rihanna. It’s only been about 24 hours, but thanks no doubt in part to Benson’s 19 million Instagram followers, two of the three are already almost out of stock.

And yet, Benson is still getting used to the idea that she has an eye for style. The era of Pretty Little Liars took up the bulk of her twenties, but it wasn’t until after the show wrapped that she got her first-ever stylist—and stopped wearing red carpet looks that she now considers not only “horrible,” but “horrendous.” Then again, Benson might just be her own worst critic: “I don’t make good choices with clothes,” she insisted when she dropped by W‘s office last week—never mind that she looked impeccable. Still, after laying out her sunglasses designs—and kicking off her Chanel pumps—Benson obliged to share her style notes with W. Read on for more about each and every one of her obsessions, from the Olsens to escape rooms.

What are three words that describe your style?

Black, simple, and chic—at least, when I try to dress. Usually I’m just in, like, sweats. But when I try, to be honest with you, I base my looks off the Olsen twins. I’ve been their biggest fan since I was born.

Have you ever met them?

Yeah, twice. They’re really nice, but I got weird about it. I was like, “I can’t hang out with you guys.” I grew up watching all their movies, and they started doing fashion, first with this line for Walmart, when I was 12. Funnily enough, I ended up being the model for all the clothes. I went to set pretty much every week, but they only came once. I only got to see a glimpse of them, with their little butterfly clips in their hair, but I was still like, “Oh my god.

I guess that answers my next question, about your ultimate style icons?

Yeah, 100 percent. I follow at least 20 different Mary-Kate and Ashley accounts on Instagram, just for their fashion. I love it.

What’s your go-to outfit for a day off?

Just jeans and a t-shirt, or cut-offs in the summer. I get way too hot, because I live in New York in L.A., and it’s so hot. This summer, I was like, I want to start doing more slip dresses—kind of ’90s Courtney Love vibes. But I have to see where I can find those.

What’s the best fashion advice you’ve ever received?

To just be comfortable. I know that when I go to events and I’m uncomfortable—whether because of shoes or something’s too tight—it really does ruin my day or night. So this, what I’m wearing right now, is very comfortable. I mean, I took my shoes off—I’m like out my house right now. [Laughs.]

How do you feel about flats versus heels?

I hate heels, because they’re really hard to walk in and make my feet hurt. But these ones I’m wearing are just the smallest heel. They’re like little slides, almost. So they’re doable, which is great; I found them and I was like, “These are heels that I can wear.” Otherwise, I wear high-heeled boots every day, or just a pair of Converse.

How about tiny Matrix-style sunglasses? You kind of have a pair in your collection.

I can’t pull those off, for whatever reason. These [“The Olive“] are the smallest that I can go, and they actually look really good. But the other ones are so small. Like, are they reallyprotecting your eyes?

Ashley Benson wearing sunglasses

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever worn on the red carpet?

I just went to the Trevor Project gala, and I wore this dress, which of course is black:

Do you typically look at your fan accounts, like the one you just pulled up?

I follow some, just to see if the paparazzi have been taking photos of me. But also, they seem to know more about my life than I do, so I also follow them to be like [scrolls through phone] “What’s going on in my life? Let me see what everyone’s talking about.” [Laughs.]

I’m sure you’re often in for a surprise.

Always. So many people make things up or start stories and I’m just like, “Ugh, god.” I message them all the time and I’m like, “Can you not put this stuff up?” And they’re like “Oh my god, yeah”—they’re so sweet. I literally talk to them on Messenger, like, “You need to take those photos down. You need to have this person do this.” I’m trying to control everything. [Laughs.] But for the most part, they’re amazing and great, and I love their pictures that they post of me; sometimes I actually message them asking if they can send me the red carpet ones so that I can post them. They give me so many options—and they edit them! They’re the best.

What’s the most prized possession in your closet?

The Chanel shoes that I’m wearing. I just bought them, kind of on a whim. But I don’t spend money on clothes. I wish I could.

Where do you get your clothes from, then?

Usually either vintage stores or Brandy Melville. I’ve been loving Brandy Melville for probably eight years now. It’s easy, it’s cute and their stuff actually holds up. And it’s cheap, and that’s what I like.

Do you have any favorite thrift stores in New York?

There’s one place that my friend Morgan owns, called the Vintage Twin. She always has the best stuff, especially shirts and jumpsuits. Though sometimes I check out and I’m like, “Oof, I didn’t know that was that expensive!” [Laughs.] But if it’s vintage, it’s like, fine.

What was your style like as a teen?

Emo. Black eyes—like, so black—that went all around, like circles. Then I wore band t-shirts. I wanted to be like Avril Lavigne, so I always wore a tie and different colored Converse. I tried to copy Hayley [Williams] from Paramore’s style, too. I’ve always loved ’90s grunge style. And I tried to do that—I just didn’t do it right. I mean, I’ve gone through so many phases in my life, clothes-wise—enough to know that I don’t make good choices with clothes. Those were definitely not the best days, but I thought I looked amazing.

I wore a tie, too—Avril Lavigne was my first concert.

That’s amazing. Mine was Tina Turner, but I was so young that I didn’t even know who she was. My second one was NSYNC, and I was crying. I was crying my eyes out, and I had paint all over my face, because me and my sister painted our faces. I was wearing all their merch, too, like 10 different things.

Ashley Benson wearing sunglasses

Do you have a biggest fashion regret?

Probably my style on every red carpet when I was younger. It was horrible. Horrendous. But I also never used a stylist. I didn’t know what stylists were back then. I mean, I knew people were getting dressed and stuff, but there wasn’t really a need for me to have one, because I was on a soap opera. I just always bought weird clothes to wear to premieres. But after PLL [Pretty Little Lies], my publicists were like, “You need to get a stylist.” And I was like “Okay, this is great,” because I finally started looking nice on the red carpet.

What do you always keep in your bag?

Chapstick, powder, sunglasses a little thing of perfume, a charger—speaking of…. [plugs in phone] sorry, it’s at eight percent. Anyways, I also always have my passport—I probably shouldn’t, but just in case!—and eyebrow gel, weirdly. I never leave the house without it.

Do you have a song of the summer?

“Señorita” by Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes. I listen to it every morning, all day, every day. But I’m also obsessed with Lizzo. “Truth Hurts” is one of the best songs, and just so powerful. She’s so badass and so cool—I can’t.

Ashley Benson

Do you have any vacation plans?

I was just in Paris for a wedding, and then I went to Saint Tropez for the first time and did a spa weekend, which was really cool. I’m hoping to go back to Italy, to my favorite place ever, Positano, in August. Though I feel like I’ve basically been to every country this year.

What’s been the highlight so far?

Amsterdam is becoming one of my favorite places. I was there two months ago, and then last October, and every time I go, I always extend my stay by like five days. I never get in a car when I’m there—I’m always on my bike. Last time, I took a little boat ride at night and had dinner on there, and I felt like I was in a movie. And I did glow-in-the-dark mini golf and just smoked weed and ate and biked everywhere. And they have the best escape rooms. One of them was in the catacombs; it was two-and-a-half hours long, and I went at midnight, right before Halloween, and I was terrified. I went with three other girls, and we were literally crying in there. My friend got stuck in a coffin for like 10 minutes, and there were all these actors popping out so were all huddling in a corner. It’s really next level, but so fun. So fun. I do escape rooms everywhere I go.

Is there anything else left on your to-do list?

Keep tanning—I’m trying to enjoy it while I can. And keep wearing my sunglasses!


Believe it or not, we have President Ronald Reagan to thank for National Ice Cream Day. Back in 1984, which shall henceforth be known as the Stranger Things Era, Reagan declared July 15 to be National Ice Cream Day, probably at the behest of dairy farm lobbyists. It wasn’t necessarily meant to be an annual occasion, but that was before marketers discovered the advantages of a good made-up holiday. On July 21 (the holiday is now on the third Sunday of the month), we can reap the benefits with discounts, extras, and so many excuses to indulge in an extra scoop.

Besides getting more sweet treats for our dollar on National Ice Cream Day, we love how searching on the hashtag reveals the great variety of local restaurants and regional chains we’ve never heard of before. It’s enough to inspire a future road trip.
Here are some of the best deals we discovered at ice cream stands big and small:
Baskin-Robbins: You can get two pre-packed pints for just $7.99 through DoorDash, but if your purchase is $10 or more on July 21, you can use the code FREE SCOOP for a, um, free scoop. The code STRANGERTHINGS will also get you free delivery.
Carvel: Buy one soft-serve cup or cone and get one free.

Cold Stone Creamery: Sign up for the My Cold Stone Club Rewards card by Saturday to get a buy-one-get-one free coupon for Sunday. You can also get a $10 ecard if you buy $30 in gift cards online.
Chaney’s Dairy Barn: This farm and ice cream shop in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is holding a sweepstakes for the grand prize of 52 free scoop coupons (plus a T-shirt!). If you live anywhere near there, just visit this Facebook post, tag a friend in the comments, and share the post.
Chuck & Don’s: Make a donation at any of this pet supply chain’s stores and get a free ice cream sundae for your hot dog.
Dream Pops: Vegans and lactose-intolerant folks can get in on the fun too. Use the code #ICECREAMDAY on July 21 for 25% off these plant-based desserts.

Dylan’s Candy Bar: Say the secret password, “National Ice Cream Day,” at the register for a free scoop from 2-4 p.m.

Godiva: Visit a boutique or cafe for buy-one-get-one 50% off on parfaits and soft-serve ice cream.
Graeter’s: The 149-year-old midwestern chain is selling single-dip sugar cones for just $1.49.
Halo Top: Bumble is partnering with the low-calorie creamery for some convoluted deal involving swiping to “match” with the coupon. It’s for a free box of Halo Top Pops, so that’s probably worth the effort.
Ice Cream Delight: This Wilmington, Delaware, ice cream shop turns National Ice Cream Day into a real celebration, so we’re sure their offer of free sprinkles is just the beginning.
Insomnia Cookies: Get a free scoop of ice cream with any in-store purchase all day long.
Johnny Rockets: Get a free milkshake with the purchase of any entree on Sunday.
Nutella Café: Be one of the first 50 customers to visit the Chicago or New York location, and you’ll get a frozen Nutella pop. Everyone after that still gets a free scoop of gelato.
Petsmart and PetsHotel: Get a free doggie ice cream topped with biscuit treats on July 20 and July 21, while supplies last.
Potbelly: Say the magic words, “National Ice Cream Day,” for a free large hand-dipped milkshake with the purchase of an entree.
Uniqlo: Stop by one of these Japanese clothing chains and get a free My/Mo Mochi Ice Creamon Sunday.



Looking for a place to go on your summer holiday? Travel tech startups throughout Europe can help you find your ideal destination, and plan your perfect trip. From startups uncovering Europe’s hidden gems, to social networks that allow you to connect with other travellers and document and share your travels, and trips with a medical or educational purpose, these 10 startups will surely have something for you:

itinari-logoBased in Brussels, itinari’s goal is to bring travellers to off-the-beaten-track destinations. Itinari features thousands of exclusive travel stories, written by more than 50 local European experts to unveil all the best kept travel secrets in more than 40 countries across Europe, and now available in eight languages. Articles include very niche topics like horseback riding in Kazakhstanvisiting an 8,000 year old sanctuary in Bulgaria where Thracian tribes worshipped the sun god, or discovering a Parisian pet cemetery. Additionally, itinari offers B2B solutions for travel and tourism businesses that need qualitative content to attract and satisfy customers. Founded in 2017, itinari has raised €830k over two rounds.

mapify-logoFounded in 2017 and based in Berlin, Mapify is a social platform for globetrotters, where they can find, plan, and record their travel experiences. On its website and app, travellers can upload pictures, make a map of their travels, create a bucketlist, plan their trips, and follow other travellers that share similar interests. Since launch, the startup has attracted users worldwide to share trips and spots in over 190 countries, and has already raised $1.5 million from MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund and private investors.

ferryhopperFerryhopper – Greece is known for its many mythic islands, and now there’s a startup that lets you easily explore them. Based in Athens, Ferryhopper works with 39 ferry companies to allow you to seamlessly book ferries and go island hopping throughout the Mediterranean, with 160 destinations across four countries – Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Spain. Aside from letting you book tickets to one or multiple destinations, Ferryhopper’s platform provides full trip information, including the length of the journey, travel tips, and descriptions of its many destinations. Founded in 2016, the startup has so far raised a round of €600k.

questo-logoLooking for a fun way to discover a new city? Download Questo, a mobile app that turns any city into an exploration game. With Questo, tourists can explore cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome or Berlin by solving clues in order to discover new places and stories about them. Each quest is based on a specific theme, which can be inspired by a movie, a book, a historical fact, or a local legend. Founded in 2017 in Bucharest, the app is already available in 40 cities, and over 35,000 people have already completed “quests”. In February 2019, the startup raised a seed round from two angel investors, and we included it on our list of Romanian startups to look out for in 2019.

heal2goHeal2Go – A range of medical services from dental care to plastic surgery might be very expensive in your country, and surprisingly low cost in others, leading to the burgeoning medical tourism industry. Heal2Go is a medical tourism startup that connects you with the treatments you need in the right destinations. On its platform you can find treatments abroad, compare prices, read reviews and book appointments online for everything from dental implants to fertility treatments, sleep medicine, neurology, hip replacements, and even butt implants. Founded in 2018 and based in Amsterdam, Heal2Go has raised €119.6k to date.

tourlaneTourlane is a growing travel tech platform to help you plan your perfect holiday. Founded in 2016, the Berlin-based startup is a full service online travel agency, combining technology and data with professional travel consulting to create personalised, multi-day getaways. The company works directly with service providers to offer customers flights, accommodations, tours, activities, and transfer options all in one place, and its platform provides real-time pricing, availability, instant trip visualisation, and drag-and-drop adjustments to make multi-day trip planning easy. The startup just raised $47 million in May 2019 to spur its international growth, and we featured it as one of our German startups to watch in 2019.

bmy.guideBased in Ghimbav, Romania, bills itself as ‘the first social network for travel and tourism’. Its all-in-one social platform was created with the intention of connecting travellers with each other, and changing how they plan, book, journal, and share their trips online. Users create and share ‘postcards’ of their travels, which can range from simple photos to full photo essays, allowing other users to discover new places, and can chat with each other to get tips and suggestions from other travellers who have already been to their destination of choice. Just founded in 2018, so far most of the users are based in Romania, but the platform is gaining traction with travellers throughout Europe.

klazzKlazz wants ‘to revolutionise the mainly offline language travel industry by matching international students and domestic teachers’. Based in Berlin, Klazz’s website currently markets English language courses to Spanish, French, Italian, and German speakers traveling in London at a rate of about €60/half-day class. Klazz teachers are certified teachers and are background-checked and personally interviewed by Klazz. The startup raised $800k in an October 2018 pre-seed round, which it will use to expand to further markets and destinations.

instaroomInstaroom is a concierge platform that helps hotels to improve the customer experience and boost revenues by more quickly answering customer questions and requests. The platform offers a white-label messaging widget for hotel websites, secure payment functionality, multiple channel integrations, FAQ chatbots that automate 40% of responses, and provides statistics to help hotels optimise revenues and manage complex bookings. Instaroom was founded in 2017 and is based in Berlin.

triporateFounded in 2017, Triporate is a business travel platform based in Madrid that uses AI to plan trips efficiently, saving companies both money and time. Businesses can simply send Triporate an email specifying what they need, and the startup will respond with personalised trip proposals that follow company policies. Companies then choose the most appropriate option, and can pay for multiple trips all in one bill. The startup has raised a total of €380k across two funding rounds.



Billie Eilish isn’t afraid to stand out when it comes to her wardrobe, especially when it comes to millennial nostalgia. Billie Eilish wore a Powerpuff Girls suit, paying homage to one of the best Cartoon Network shows from our childhood.

Eilish wore the suit to the ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Beverly Hills, where she was presented with the Vanguard trophy by Julia Roberts. The award is given in recognition of “the impact of new and developing musical genres, which help shape the future of music.” The first two musicians to be awarded the honor were Björk and Soul Asylum back in 1996.

To receive the award, Eilish decided to wear a suit that was decorated in millennial pop culture relics. The Powerpuff Girls might have been before the 17-year-old’s time, but that doesn’t mean Eilish can’t appreciate Cartoon Network reruns. The suit in question consisted of a khaki utility vest and beige cargo pants. The two items were stamped with over-sized motifs of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup. The superheroes looked like they were in fight mode on Eilish’s outfit, where the characters appeared to be jumping into action — probably to fight Mojo Jojo or the Gangreen Gang.

The nostalgic suit was then paired with an oversize white button-up shirt, a Gucci messenger bag, and retro cat eye sunglasses. The white sunnies came from Privé Revaux, and they were the Bermuda sunglasses that cost an affordable $29.95.

Eilish is known for her baggy suits, preferring to wear eye-catching and shapeless pieces. Part of that has to do with fashion, and part of it has to do with having one’s body scrutinized by the public.

In a recent campaign video for Calvin Klein, Eilish shared, “I never want the world to know everything about me. I mean, that’s why I wear big, baggy clothes. Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath. Nobody can be like, ‘Oh, she’s slim-thick, she’s not slim-thick, she’s got a flat ass, she’s got a fat ass. No one can say any of that because they don’t know.”

Ari Perilstein/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Scrolling through the artist’s Instagram, you will see a grid full of hoodies, tracksuits, and baggy suits, much like the Powerpuff Girls one. But that’s not to say Eilish also doesn’t wear those silhouettes for fashion purposes. Eilish enjoys that the aesthetic pushes boundaries.

“I just like dressing out of my comfort zone. I want to dress in a way that if I was in a room full of people wearing regular clothes, I would be like, ‘Oh, I bet everyone’s looking at me.’ I want to feel that way. That’s my casual,” Eilish shared in an interview with Harper´s Bazaar.

Ari Perilstein/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

“I am not comfortable when I’m wearing just some jeans and a shirt. I just feel wrong…” Eilish said. “So my friend said, ‘Billie just likes to feel super judged.’ I love being judged. I’m here for it.”

When it comes to the Powerpuff Girls outfit, there will be nothing but appreciation — especially from those who grew up with the Cartoon Network staple.




…while I was running Techweek that I came up with the idea to launch Codeverse. The idea came from a documentary I saw, called “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap”, which focuses on the lack of women and minorities in STEM fields. After viewing the documentary, Craig and I did a ton of research, over the course of two years, on the various camps, schools, tools, apps, games and resources that exist today to teach young children how to code. In July 2017, we officially opened the doors to our beautiful, state-of-the-art coding studio in Chicago!

I had the pleasure to interview Katy Lynch. Katy is the Co-Founder of Codeverse, the world’s first fully interactive coding school and educational tech platform that teaches kids to code. Codeverse is built with intuitive tools to make learning code approachable and fun, and most of all, rewarding. The self-guided curriculum is designed for learners as young as 6 and introduces all the foundations of computer programming while incorporating common core subjects including art, history, science, and math. Their mission: Teach a billion kids to code.

Thank you so much for joining us Katy! What is your backstory?

I moved to Chicago from the U.K ten years ago. In 2008, I landed my first startup gig, working for Facebook’s largest travel application, called Where I’ve Been (which was founded by my now husband, Craig Ulliott.) For two years, I single handedly managed their online community, helping them grow from zero to almost 10 million active members. Where I’ve Been eventually sold to Tripadvisor in 2010, and I decided that I wanted to help other startups, like WIB, with their social media strategy full time. So, I spun off and started SocialKaty, a full service social media marketing agency in August 2010. I ran SocialKaty for 4 years until it was acquired by Manifest in July 2014 — exactly a week before my 30th birthday! After the acquisition, I left Manifest to become the CEO of Techweek, the nation’s largest traveling technology festival. Interestingly, it was while I was running Techweek that I came up with the idea to launch Codeverse. The idea came from a documentary I saw, called “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap”, which focuses on the lack of women and minorities in STEM fields. After viewing the documentary, Craig and I did a ton of research, over the course of two years, on the various camps, schools, tools, apps, games and resources that exist today to teach young children how to code. In July 2017, we officially opened the doors to our beautiful, state-of-the-art coding studio in Chicago!

Which person or which company do you most admire and why?

Elon Musk. He is an inspiration to me for various reasons. He’s a self-made billionaire, intellectually curious, a huge risk-taker, and a total badass! What he has done with PayPal, SpaceX, The Boring Company, SolarCity, and Tesla is absolute genius. He is disrupting multiple industries at once with his innovative ideas, and truly is a great role model for any aspiring or serial entrepreneur.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve been in the tech community for almost 10 years, and everything I have done has led to Codeverse. This is mine and Craig’s legacy company. Our mission is to “teach a billion kids to code”, and we’re making sure that we bring the Codeverse experience to kids in underrepresented communities. In fact, we’re actively working with AfterSchool AllStars Chicago, Boys & Girls Clubs Chicago, Little Village Academy, and other organizations to make sure that all kids are equipped with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in this digital day and age.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started?

You’ll fail a lot, and that’s OK — You’ll constantly make mistakes as a startup founder. What determines your fate is how you handle these mistakes. My biggest advice is to learn from your mistakes, pick yourself back up, and swiftly move on.

Ultimately, it takes passion, perseverance, and a willingness to work really hard every day to be successful.

It’ll change your life — The media glamorizes entrepreneurship, making it sound easy, sexy, and fun. But, it’s actually quite the opposite. Entrepreneurship is extremely difficult and rips you out of your comfort zone. It challenges you, and forces you to make hard, life-altering decisions. You will experience the highest highs (as you become successful and celebrate “wins” with your team) and the lowest lows (as you make countless mistakes) and you will quickly learn to adapt to the good and bad situations that happen on a daily basis.

Take risks and trust your gut — This is so important, When you are young, you can afford to take a lot of risks. When I was much younger, I used to double-guess myself, or take too much time making decisions. I’d say “no” to great opportunities because I felt that I wasn’t qualified enough to do the job. I lacked confidence.

Say yes to interesting opportunities. Be inquisitive and open-minded. Challenge people and ideas.

Stop thinking about what you wantto do. Take action and actually do it!

Your biggest champions will be other entrepreneurs — When you become an entrepreneur, you experience a shift in your mindset. You will only want to surround yourself with positive people who understand you, your profession, and the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a business owner.

As you become more successful as a startup founder, it becomes harder to relate to those who are not business owners. This is a tough pill to swallow initially (because you want your friends and family to be as passionate as you are about your business!), but the reality is that you will receive more support, guidance, and feedback from individuals who are on the same startup journey as you.

Learn every aspect of your business — You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to have a general understanding of what is happening in each department. Learn about the technology you use, your product, the financials, your marketing strategy, your PR efforts, and sales.



A new sell out product for spots, which is now back in stock, has been getting five star reviews.

ZitSticka is a transparent sticker perfect for when you get a spot out of the blue – as you can place the circular sticker over the spot and let it do its magic. 

Containing 24 microdarts it dispenses a blend of spot-combatting ingredients, including Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide: (B3), beneath the skin’s outer layer.

The product, costing £27 for a pack of eight, which has just come back into stock, sold around 250,000 previously and those trying to get rid of spots are raving about how great the product is, with one even calling it ‘life changing’. 

ZitSticker is a transparent sticker perfect for when you get a spot out of the blue - as you can place the circular sticker over the spot and let it do its magic

ZitSticker is a transparent sticker perfect for when you get a spot out of the blue – as you can place the circular sticker over the spot and let it do its magic 

Containing 24 microdarts it dispenses a blend of spot-combatting ingredients, including Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide: (B3), beneath the skin’s outer layer

Containing 24 microdarts it dispenses a blend of spot-combatting ingredients, including Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide: (B3), beneath the skin’s outer layer

The spot sticker which is water resistant and dermatologically endorsed can be worn over night or even when you’re getting ready for a night out.  

Beauty fans are so happy with the product they’ve been giving it five star reviews, one, who titled her review ‘life-changing’ said: ‘I don’t usually write product reviews but this has completely changed my life!  

‘My skin is very sensitive and I have cystic acne (the one that is under the skin and you can’t pop!) which I have been taking various prescribed antibiotics and treatments to try and calm down for about four years now. 

‘I was pretty skeptical about this product, it’s expensive for only 8 uses and as a student I don’t have much disposable income, but I decided to try it out. Well folks, my skin hasn’t been so clear since I was a preteen!’

The sell out product, which has just come back into stock, sold around 250,000 last time and those trying to get rid of spots are raving about how great the product is, with one even calling it 'life changing'

The sell out product, which has just come back into stock, sold around 250,000 last time and those trying to get rid of spots are raving about how great the product is, with one even calling it ‘life changing’

‘The patches are clear and very subtle, none of my friends noticed them until I pointed them out! If the idea of the darts freaks you out (same) just know that it doesn’t hurt at all!’

Others said that it was a game changer for their spots and was on their SOS list. One also said: ‘Worked SO well, and quickly. Let’s just say I’m not excited to get another zit, but I’m not that worried either!’

Another admitted: ‘I was aware of the hype around this product after reading about it but wasn’t expecting them to be that different from other zit patches. 

‘Turns out they are quite different and while the microdarts stung slightly (maybe i’m a wimp?) they definitely helped to get the product into the core of the zit!! My pimple felt like it had been fast-forwarded.’

Others said that it was a game changer for their spots and was on their SOS list. However another reviewer said that it had changed her skin forever

One reviewer said she thought the  stickers would juts be like zit patches she tried before but she quickly realised they were more effective

 However another reviewer said that it had changed her skin forever. She explained: ‘I had suffered with moderate-severe acne throughout my teenage years. 

‘Now in my 20s, a combination of dietary changes and good skincare had helped to ease the most of it, aside from the painful cystic acne that would appear on my chin and cheeks the week before my period was due or when I had eaten something containing dairy. 

‘I decided to give these patches a go out of sheer desperation – I had several important events coming up and I could feel that the spot brewing was going to be HUGE. 

‘While that particular spot was too far gone for the dramatic effects of the patch to take place, the redness, size and longevity of it was severely reduced.’



Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s most noteworthy venture deals, fundraises, M&A transactions and trends. Let’s take a quick moment to catch up. Last week, I wrote about an alternative to venture capital called revenue-based financing and before that, I jotted down some notes on one of VCs’ favorite spaces: cannabis techRemember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

This week, I want to share some thoughts — questions, rather — on beverages. Just as my inbox has been full of cannabis-related pitches, it’s also been packed with descriptions of new…drinks. Perhaps the most noted so far is Liquid Death, canned water for the punk rock crowd, because why not? Liquid Death has attracted nearly $2 million in funding from angel investors like Away co-founder Jen Rubio and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. Before I tell you about a few other up-and-coming beverage makers, I must beg the question: Does the beverage industry need disrupting?

Founders say yes. Why? For one, because millennials, according to various studies, are consuming less alcohol than previous generations and are therefore seeking non-alcoholic beverage alternatives. Enter Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirits company, for example. Or Haus, launching this summer, an all-natural apéritif distilled from grapes that has a lower alcohol content than most hard liquors. Haus, like any good consumer startup in 2019, is shipped directly to your door.

Bev, a canned wine business that recently raised $7 million in seed funding from Founders Fund, thinks marketing in the alcohol industry is the problem. Founder Alix Peabody designed a line of female-focused canned rosé. If you’re wondering why alcohol needs to be gendered in such a way, you’re not alone. Peabody explained most alcohol brands cater to men, and that’s a problem.

“The joke I like to make is there’s a go-to type of alcohol for every type of bro and we just don’t have that for women,” Peabody told TechCrunch  earlier this year.

Finally, the wellness movement is taking over, driving VCs toward some odd upstarts. From wellness chat and journaling apps to therapy substitutes to fitness companies, stick wellness in a pitch and investors will take a second look. More Labs, for example, is backed with $8 million in VC funding. The company is readying the launch of Liquid Focus, a biohacking-beverage that claims to “solve modern-day stressors without the negative side effects.” Finally, Elements, “an elevated functional wellness beverage formulated with clinical levels of adaptogens to give your body exactly what it needs in four categories (focus, vitality, calm, and rest) for specific cognitive functions” (damn, what copy), recently launched. It doesn’t appear to be funded yet, but let’s just give it a few months.

There’s more where that came from, but I’m done for now. On to other news.

IPO Corner

I almost skipped IPO corner this week because no big-name companies dropped or amended their S-1s or completed a highly anticipated IPO, as has been the case basically every week of 2019. But I decided I better give a quick update on Luckin Coffee’s  tough second week on the stock market. Luckin Coffee, if you aren’t familiar, is Starbucks’  Chinese rival. The company raised more than $550 millionafter pricing at $17 per share a little over a week ago. Immediately the stock skyrocketed 20 percent to a roughly $5 billion market cap; then came concerns of the company’s lofty valuation, major cash burn and uncertain path to profitability.  Luckin has dropped around 25 percent since closing its debut trading day. It closed Friday down 3 percent.

More changes at Y Combinator

Y Combinator, the popular accelerator program and investment firm announced this week that it has promoted longtime partner Geoff Ralston to president. This comes two months after former president Sam Altman stepped down to focus his efforts full-time on OpenAI. The promotion of Ralston is an unsurprising choice for YC, an organization that employs roughly 60 people, many of whom have been affiliated with it in one way or another for years.


Automattic acquires subscription payment company Prospress

Shopify quietly acquires Handshake, an e-commerce platform for B2B wholesale purchasing 

Streem buys Selerio in an effort to boost its AR conferencing tech

As Amex scoops up Resy, a look at its acquisition history 


The Los Angeles ecosystem is $76 million stronger this week as Fika Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm, announced its sophomore investment fund. Fika invests roughly half of its capital exclusively in startups headquartered in LA, with a particular fondness for B2B, enterprise and fintech companies. The firm was launched in 2017 by general partners Eva Ho and TX Zhuo, formerly of Susa Ventures and Karlin Ventures, respectively. The pair raised $41 million for the debut effort, opting to nearly double that number the second time around as a means to participate in more follow-on fundings.

Startup capital

DoorDash raises $600M at a $12.7B valuation
TransferWise completes $292M secondary round at a $3.5B valuation
Auth0 raises $103M, pushes its valuation over $1B
Canva gets $70M at a $2.5B valuation
Payment card startup Marqeta confirms $260M round at close to $2B valuation
Modsy scores $37M to virtually design your home
Sun Basket whips up $30M Series E
Zero raises $20M from NEA for a credit card that works like debit
Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M for its motorcycle ride-hail biz

Extra Crunch

Our premium subscription service had another great week of interesting deep dives. This week, TechCrunch’s Lucas Matney  went deep on Getaround’s acquisition of Drivy for his latest installment of The Exit, a new series at TechCrunch where we chat with VCs who were in the right place at the right time and made the right call on an investment that paid off. Here are some of the other Extra Crunch pieces that stood out this week:


If you enjoy this newsletter, be sure to check out TechCrunch’s venture-focused podcast, Equity. In this week’s episode, available here, Crunchbase News editor-in-chief Alex Wilhelm and I discuss how startups are avoiding IPOs and VC’s insatiable interest in food delivery startups.