To hear 2016 winner Mat Hayman affectionately describe Paris-Roubaix’s brutal cobble stoning of bike and bone as “a bit special”, is to comprehend a little of the reverence in which the toughest of cycling’s five one-day monuments is held among (most of) the cycling community.
“Some riders get really hooked on it,” the 43-year-old Australian tells The Draft. “It’s the one race of the year they live for. It’s a bit special, it’s a bit out there but I fell in love with the it.”
The same can’t be said for all who’ve attempted Roubaix. Even though the Frenchman Bernard ‘the Badger’ Hinault, was in 1981 one of the few Grand Tour GC (general classification) riders to raise the famous mounted cobble trophy in the Roubaix velodrome, he only rode the race three times and later declared it “une connerie” – a bullshit race basically.
The Badger, like many others who have given Roubaix the swerve over the decades, turned his snout up at the random way 50+ kilometres of roughhewn, cobble stone farmer’s paths could cause punctures, mechanicals and crashes, not to mention a bodily jackhammering from hell.
Not Hayman, who even in Roubaix pavé royalty terms, is a bit special, sharing the record of 16 completed ‘Roubaixs’ (pl. Roubeaux?😬) with the Belgian Raymond Impanis (1947-1963) and Dutchman Servais Knaven (1995-2010).
“I liked it,” the Belgium-based Bike Exchange sporting director says by phone as he prepared to recon some of the pavé sections of this year’s 258k jaunt north to the Belgian border with his 7-man team this week. “But then I tended to be better at it than most.”
Africa-focused neobanks are riding the wave of online banking’s growing global influence and are attracting big investment, creating another challenger beyond mobile money for legacy banks. But can they be any more successful in serving the unbanked than traditional counterparts?
Two of the biggest African neobanks are taking big strides: Kuda in Nigeria and TymeBank in South Africa.
South Africa founded TymeBank, which recently moved its headquarters to Singapore, in February won $109 million in funding from British and Philippine investors, including Apis Partners and the Gokongwei Group. In August, Kuda received $55m in a third funding round that valued the neobank at $500m – making it the 7th biggest among all Nigerian banks.
|Africa’s fintech funding frontrunners Other payments and loan-focused fintechs attracting investment are: Nigerian payments operation OPay ($170m);Ugandan firm Chipper Cash ($152m); Cellulant (payments, Kenya, $54m); PalmPay (payments, Nigeria, $40m), Migo (loans, Nigeria, $37m); Paga (payments, Nigeria, $32m); OneFi (loans, Nigeria, $16m) and Paystack (payments, Nigeria, $12m). Between them, the Nigerian-dominated top-10 have raised almost $750m in 36 unique funding rounds. Source: Digest Africa|
The intersection of high mobile phone penetration and mass numbers of unbanked or underbanked Africans are key drivers to neobank and fintech customer growth.
But Africa still lags other continents in neobanking exposure – less than 20 of the world’s 300+ neobanks are African-focused.
“The top funding guys in Africa are still behind some of the numbers you’re seeing in Europe, in Asia, in South America,” said Barcelona-based Exton Consulting analyst Lance Daniels, who co-authored a recent report on global neobanking movements.
African neobanks, he said, are attracting many first-time banking clients compared to Europe where the focus is converting customers to digital-only. “It’s still ramping up in Africa whereas a lot of other markets are reaching neobank saturation,” he added.
With the global sports nutrition market worth something in the vicinity of €15 billion and personalized nutrition around €2-3bn, according to market analysts – the cross-over of personalized sports nutrition in 2021 is relatively niche.
Philipp Merk, co-founder and managing director at German personalized nutrition firm Loewi, says sports nutrition accounts for the biggest slice of his firm’s business – about 40% (immunity being the next biggest chunk).
Loewi was founded in early 2019 as a spin-off from a Technical University of Munich, Olympic athlete-focused personalized nutrition project. Its model feeds blood sample biomarker data and questionnaire responses through algorithms to make its mostly food supplement (but also food recommendations) that typically cost users about €75 a month.
“We have basically combined this super-laborious method with my background in data science and artificial intelligence to make it scalable,” Merk says. “So we have a blood test you do at home independent of a doctor and a database of over 15,000 medical studies.”
“We have thousands of interactions between nutrients, diseases, medications, allergies – really everything that is known – and this is also how we can make sure we are never harming any of our customers.”
Merk says Loewi’s ever-growing data set was driving evermore refined recommendations.
“We have algorithms calculating the individual dose for each nutrient and with each blood test that we conduct we use machine learning to build a mathematical model of their metabolism. We basically have a curve where we know which dosage we need to achieve which blood value. The cool thing is with each customer that comes through the system our model gets better and better. It’s like self-improving machinery.”
The ITC 2020 Global Supplement Buying Habits Reports take a deep dive into supplement users in the US, UK and Germany (2,000 respondents). The 28-page detailed report covers:
Supplement consumer demographics
What supplements they’re buying and using
Shopping habits – what and where they buy and purchase enhancers and detractors
Data on the influence of trust, transparency and sustainability on purchase habits
To see a preview, please click here to download the Table of Contents and Executive Summary.
Sports nutrition firms and researchers are continually tweaking formulations to solve the perennial paradox of endurance sports: the fact the human gut can struggle to process the sugar load required to fuel efforts over multiple hours.
Gastro distresses bound across the endurance sports spectrum for this reason.
The likes of alginate hydrogels and shifts from the somewhat standardised 2:1 glucose to fructose ‘dual fuel’ ratio attempt to address the issue.
COVID and climate crisis-shaken consumers demand more from beauty, experts believe there remain hurdles in packaging, brand communication and supply chain logistics before industry reaches the zero-waste dream.
But ratcheted-up recycling, reuse and circular systems, joined-up communications and materials innovation (wood anyone?) are offering plenty of hope.
“Wood is natural by definition. It’s refillable,” said Pierre-Antoine Henry, head of categories at Spanish beauty packaging specialist Quadpack, at last month’s WeCosmoprof International’s Sustainability, For Now and Next CosmoTalks webinar elegantly moderated by CosmeticsDesign-Europe editor, Kacey Culliney.
“Of course, if you refill, it means you can go for packaging that you bring more time, love and durable materials to because you are keeping the initial pack. So, it could open up a lot of creativity because you can invest a bit more money in the initial packaging,” Henry said during the expert panel debate.
Reusable packaging, he said, offered the golden path to waste reduction.
“The more you reuse, you have the impact on the environment of a single-use. This, for me, is the dream. Start from the dream and work backwards.”