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The Hustle

A man in Kentucky allegedly shot his roommate in the buttocks last week. The roommate’s crime? Eating the last Hot Pocket in the house. The actual crime? Assault, with bond set at $7.5k. Or, in the only currency that truly matters here, ~5.5k Hot Pockets.    

In today’s email:

  • Cruise outta control: Overbooking, overcrowding go overboard.
  • Video: The economics of vending machines.
  • Fungi funerals: Mushrooms make for sustainable coffins.
  • Around the Web: Houseplants for mental health, the history of Guinness records, a bully goat, and more.
  • Listen: How Instacart’s new AI tool can save you from dinner decision drama.
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Cruise boos
cruise ship

Not to ruin your cruise vacation, but…

When you booked your cruise, you imagined your arms stretched wide, the Leo to your Kate at your side, carefree in your “I’m king of the world” moment.

You can definitely still go for it, but maybe don’t plan on stretching your arms too wide?

Cruise lines are overcrowded. And that undersells how much they’re, well, overselling — many ships are reporting 100%+ occupancy levels this summer, per The Wall Street Journal.

Uh, 100%+… how?

Cruises base occupancy rates on the assumption of there being two people per cabin. As passengers take advantage of post-covid discounts and promotions and flock back to ships, cabins are filling up fast, sometimes with three or four people per room.

  • Royal Caribbean averaged 102.1% occupancy in Q1 this year.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line averaged 101.5% in Q1, and expects a full-year rate of 103.5%.

Off-boat excursions are selling out and getting into premium activities is an ordeal. One passenger told WSJ: “Every time you went out of your room, it felt like you were in a Disneyland line.”

Customers can rebook, but to when? Many 2023 cruises are sold out and demand into 2024 is already strong, according to booking sites.

In fairness, land isn’t any better

Pent-up demand has tourism hot spots everywhere scrambling to keep up.

  • South Tyrol, in the Italian Alps, has capped tourist numbers.
  • Roads in Japan’s hot spots, like Tokyo and Kyoto, are “rammed” with visitors.
  • An overabundance of African safaris has endangered the very animals tourists are there to see.

Sorry, penguins: Even Antarctica isn’t spared from overtourism.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Well, well, well: The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) recently decided to replace human workers, who unionized in May, with AI. However, chatbot Tessa had to be taken down after offering “harmful” info that, experts say, encouraged eating disorders.


TodAI in AI: Instacart added a new AI search tool to answer grocery or meal-planning questions and recommend products.

Amazon warehouses will increasingly employ AI to screen for damaged items, with the company saying its tech is 3x more effective at identifying wear and tear than human workers. Could be a nifty dodge from Amazon, as you can’t come under fire for worker conditions if you don’t have any workers.

IMDb changed its rating system for The Little Mermaid after an influx of 13k+ one-star reviews. It previously did this with The Kasmir Files, a Bollywood film flooded with positive reviews.

Dreck the Third: Fidelity marked down the value of its Twitter equity for a third time since Elon Musk’s $44B takeover last fall. The latest adjustment values the social network at ~$15B.

Add Apple to the G20? Tim Cook not only presides over a company with a ~$2.8T market cap, but also one of the biggest economies in the world: the App Store, which Apple says generated $1.1T in commerce last year.

That’s a pricey meatball: Ikea is buying Made4net, a US supply-chain software provider, as part of its expansion plans. The retailer promised $5B+ in investments this year to open new stores, improve customer experience, and grow its ecommerce operations.

Soup to nuts no more: Campbell Soup Co. sold its Emerald nuts business to food manufacturer Flagstone Foods. With Campbell’s snacking business led by brands like Pepperidge Farm, Snyder’s of Hanover, and Pop Secret, nuts made up a negligible part of the company’s $8.6B in net sales last year.


​​​​Do you feel like there’s never enough time in the day to get your work done? Learn to overcome time anxiety with our collection of expert tips.

vending machines

Watch: The economics of vending machines

Brace yourselves for an eye-opening expose on how these sly snack-slingers master the art of extracting $2.99 from your pocket for a bag of air and some chips.

While you should be grateful we won’t be coining the term “snacktivate” in this Hustlenomics episode, we will be peeling back the wrapper, crunching the numbers, dispensing the insights — OK, you get it — on vending machine businesses and the people behind them.

Remember, when it comes to snack-based supply and demand, it’s all about turning your innocent cravings into cash cows faster than you can say, “Insert coins here,” leaving you questioning your life choices and contemplating the meaning of your existence.

Bon appetit.

Watch the quick clip →
Free Resource

The Million Dollar Pitch Competition*

This contest is for US-based, pre-seed to B-round startups. If you run one of ‘em, here’s a chance to win an investment up to* a million bucks.

This September, we’re flying out six lucky startup leaders to INBOUND in Boston. They’ll pitch their winning product to a panel of VC and C-suite legends for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Here to judge you:

  • Arlan Hamilton, founder of Backstage Capital
  • Lily Lyman, GP at Underscore VC
  • Kipp Bodnar, CMO at HubSpot
  • Sarah Hodges, GP at Pillar VC
  • Howard Wright, VP at AWS Startups
  • Brandon Greer, head of ventures at HubSpot

Want in on the competition?

Pitch for a milli 💸 →
Underworld is your oyster
mushroom coffin

Can ‘shroom tombs bring a bloom boom?

Between “The Last of Us” and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, we’ve heard a lot about ‘shrooms this year — but did you know you can literally be buried in them?

Traditional wooden or metal coffins and caskets can lead to soil and water pollution near cemeteries. Dutch company Loop Biotech makes coffins and cremation urns from fungi, which biodegrade in just 45 days.

How it works

Products are made from hemp fiber and mycelium, the underground, thread-like root structure of fungus. Mycelium is especially good at breaking down waste and cleaning soil, meaning bodies essentially become compost for new life.

Loop offers three products, each grown in seven days inside a mold:

  • The Living Cocoon: A lidded coffin lined with a bed of moss.
  • The ForestBed: A funeral carrier for use in wakes or funerals.
  • The EarthRise: A living urn for cremated remains. It can be buried with a sapling that will eventually grow into a tree

They range between ~$212 and $1k — significantly cheaper than the ~$2.5k average for a metal casket. The company currently has capacity to grow ~500 products/month, and ships across Europe, per The Associated Press.

It’s also partnered with Natuurbegraven Nederland (Nature Burials Netherlands), which opened in 2012 and now has six nature cemeteries — including one where a rare bee species was found.

Not for you? Have you considered being turned into a playable vinyl record?

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🔥On this day: In 2008, a fire at Universal Studios Hollywood destroyed numerous irreplaceable music recordings and the theme park’s King Kong Encounter attraction.

🐄 Cure boredom: Can you find the invisible cow?

🪴 How to: Choose the right houseplant to brighten your space and your mood.

📖 That’s interesting: The history of the Guinness Book of Records and how it’s changed since its first publication in 1955.

🐐 Aww: When you try to be intimidating but you’re just really cute.

Our AI crystal ball

When tourists crowd Antarctica, what choice will penguins have? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. (Created with Midjourney)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Morel support” Berkley.

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