​​💀 Deathcare startups are here

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The Hustle

What’s Pac-Man been up to? Well, Nissan just partnered with Bandai Namco — the company behind Pac-Man — to create a new set of warning signals. Nice.

Today’s rundown:

  • Creative cremation: Deathcare gets personalized.
  • Work or play: The future of hybrid work is… a video game?
  • Infodemic: Could a government crowdsource health data like Wikipedia?

Let’s do it.

The big idea
grandma on vinyl

Ashes to… vinyl records? Death startups get creative as cremations rise

Where do we go when we die? In some cases, maybe someone’s record collection.

An increase in cremations and a desire for more personalized ways to store ashes is opening a path for startups to succeed in the $16B funeral industry, per Bloomberg.

Cremations are increasingly popular

They are cheaper than burials, and many families have chosen this route as the pandemic postponed original funeral plans.

Cremations accounted for 56% of US deaths in 2020, according to the Cremation Association of North America. The number is projected to rise to 73% by 2030.

Families looking for ways to store ashes…

… that honor their loved ones have found fresh options thanks to startups.

  • Parting Stone has raised $1.9m to turn ashes into stones. A person yields 40-60 smooth stones that vary in color, shape, and texture.
  • Eterneva has raised ~$10m to turn ashes into a diamond that you can wear. Prices start at $3k.
  • British company Vinyly will press ashes into a record, starting at ~$1.4k.
  • Recompose turns human bodies into soil, a more sustainable and cost-friendly solution than traditional funerals.
  • LA-based artist C.C. Boyce makes “Planturns” that hold both the ashes of the deceased and a live plant. They retail for $250-$600.

But how new is all this?

Not at all! “Mourning jewelry” was all the rage in the Victorian era, made with ashes, hair, and teeth. Or… a glass eye.

Related: The Hustle previously reported on the funeral industry monopoly, with 2 companies accounting for 80%+ of casket production.

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SNIPPETS

Tesla out: The EV giant is pulling its showrooms from several high-end malls and moving into cheaper digs. #ecommerce-retail

Privacy pays: 1Password raised $100m, valuing the firm at $2B. #privacy

From MFM: What’s the next Apple, Amazon, and Netflix? Sam and Shaan weigh in on future iterations of tech giants. #mfm

Tokyo’s urban transformation to host the ’64 Olympics was a major success, but one we’re unlikely to see again. Trung breaks down why. #hustle-picks

Wow: Spotify’s ad revenue from podcasts increased 627% in Q2. #big-tech

Soon to go public: Vicarious Surgical, a health tech company with a goal to use VR and a tiny robot to perform abdominal surgeries. #emerging-tech

Lolli, a bitcoin rewards company, has raised $10m. Its app gives ~7% back in bitcoin rewards, earning users $3.5m+ so far. #fintech-cryptocurrency

State of the art: The Frankenthaler Foundation Climate Initiative will spread $10m across 79 art museums to fund green projects. #clean-energy

Remote Work
Teamflow graphic

Teamflow wants to make virtual collaboration feel more like the office

As head of product for Uber’s JUMP Starter division, Flo Crivello noticed his team struggling to collaborate when working across multiple locations.

His solution became Teamflow — a customizable virtual office platform that just raised $35m, per Forbes.

Teamflow is gamifying virtual collaboration…

…with a 2D office floor plan. Users appear as bubbles and move around like a video game, allowing for spontaneous hallway run-ins and frictionless collaboration.

Crivello believes this sense of presence can boost morale and productivity,  citing a research study from MIT that found:

  • 35% of variation in a team’s performance can be attributed to the number of face-to-face exchanges
  • Social time is “critical to team performance, often accounting for more than 50% of positive changes in communication patterns”

Early customers are loving it, reportedly using the product an average of 5 hours a day, 6 days a week.

The virtual HQ space is heating up

Startups like Gather, Branch, and Outreach have raised money to build virtual office capabilities, validating the need for better remote work tools.

Crivello believes Teamflow’s focus on productivity, with in-app chat and collaborative whiteboards, separate it from the pack.

If successful, Crivello and team may end up creating a virtual office that’s harder to leave than “Fortnite.”

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Free Resource

The truth about user-generated content

Perks of running UGC marketing tactics:

  • Credibility: 92% of people tend to trust other people over brands.
  • Cost-effective: contributors craft content that boosts your visibility.
  • Viral potential: sticky posts can reach the masses on social media.

Great content starts great conversations, plain and simple.

Watch this 3-minute video on the power of UGC

This rundown by HubSpot shares examples from Coke and McDonald’s to explain how to approach these digital campaigns.

Watch this before you try to leverage the world’s rowdy creative energy (it can backfire big-time).

Subscribe to HubSpot’s YouTube for top business tips, tricks, and trends.

Ask the masses →
Food for thought
Wikipedia

Could Wikipedia’s crowdsourcing be the solution to pandemic misinformation?

Renée DiResta is the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, and she writes on internet misinformation.

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, she offered an interesting way to combat public distrust in the CDC’s official COVID-19 press releases.

  • DiResta’s idea: If the CDC launched a crowdsourced site that thousands of knowledgeable people could update and edit anytime, it might just garner more public trust than the CDC’s press releases.

Why would a site like Wikipedia help?

First of all, people use Wikipedia — a lot:

  • It’s the 13th most-visited site in the world.
  • Its articles garnered 266B page views and 585m edits in the last 12 months.

Studies show Wikipedia is highly reliable, and nearly every Big Tech company trusts it as a primary source for search results and flagging misinformation at scale.

  • The COVID-19 Wikipedia page is also the only top-100 Wiki page that did not exist at the beginning of 2020. (Translation: it’s a popular one.)

DiResta thinks a Wikipedia model where thousands of reputable contributors and editors (including folks outside government) can transparently relay and edit pandemic-related info could be the way to go.

What do you think?

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AROUND THE WEB

😮 That’s cool: Ever wonder what the top of an Egyptian pyramid looks like? Then check out this drone footage.

👏 Wholesome: An Oakland mother and her son folded an origami crane for each day of the pandemic. At 400+, here’s what they learned.

💎 Wild story: Workers digging a well in Sri Lanka found a 1,124-pound star sapphire cluster — the biggest such cluster in the world.

🏡 How to: Are you all about remote work? The Harvard Business Review has some tips for negotiating a work-from-anywhere situation.

🎨 Cure boredom: If beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, you might still find something you like at the Museum of Bad Art.

🦕 Hmm: Frozen chicken nugget sales are up ~18% YoY this month (dino-shaped ones are selling better!). Artists have found nugget novelty products to be hot sellers. But making “fun nuggets”? It’s harder than it seems.

Meme of the day
Wikipedia meme

Wikipedia, loved by some… hated by others… (Source: Reddit)

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