The Hustle

📱 Vaccine here. Now what?

PLUS: Pepsi’s Super Bowl show gonna be lit.


Of all the news coming out of SpaceX’s successful launch of 4 NASA astronauts into space, our fave bit is that a plush Baby Yoda joined the trip. The toy was used as a “zero G indicator,” which signifies when the ship has reached a microgravity state.

In related news, this development is — by far — the best part of The Mandalorian’s 2nd season.

The Big Idea

With a vaccine in sight, these startups will help offices reopen

Last week, the pharma giant Pfizer claimed that its in-development COVID-19 vaccine has been 90%+ effective in early tests.

Tired of hearing everyone say, “If I had to grab a beer with a pharma firm, it would be Pfizer,” Moderna Therapeutics just placed the efficacy of its own vaccine test at 94.5%.

To be sure, both companies still face a number of big challenges, ranging from replicating the results in the real world to the logistics of delivering the vaccines.

Pfizer estimates it can produce 1.3B vaccine doses by the end of 2021

This is all still extremely tentative, of course. But there are organizations already bracing for some semblance of a return to normality.

Pitchbook highlights a number of companies that are expanding their startup offerings into enterprise contact tracing.

“Previously, contact tracing was a manual, time-consuming process that relied on spreadsheets, pen and paper, and telephones,” writes the private market data platform. “COVID-19 exposed the need to digitize tracing.”

While many countries are working on nation-scale contract tracing, there may be opportunities for more narrow use cases.

Workplace-specific contract tracing is on the rise

Among the players:

  • Envoy is an office management platform primarily known for its visitor tracking and conference room booking solutions. The company has rolled out Envoy Protect, a system to track which employees are sick, and manage crowded workspaces.
  • CareValidate creates proximity tracking for senior homes but has expanded its workplace offerings to include daily mobile health screenings, badge tracking, and at-home testing apps.
  • Hipla Technologies is known for its visitor management system, including touchless office access. In response to the pandemic, it rolled out Contatrack, which uses video to monitor offices, schools, and warehouses to track social distancing and mask wearing.

TBH, this all sounds a tad… dystopian.

On the bright side, though, this GIF from Hipla’s website suggests the post-COVID workplace may also be the greatest game of Pac-Man ever:


Baby Steps

The pandemic has slowed the birthrate — and baby product companies are hurting

Birthrates in the US and China have been falling for years. But COVID-19 has decelerated baby-making even more.

Citing research from the Brookings Institution, the Wall Street Journal reports there will be 300-500k fewer US births in 2021 than if the pandemic never happened.

Throw in China’s projected 8% birthrate drop this year, and things are looking a little poopy-in-the-diaper for one sector in particular:

Baby product makers are pivoting

The US and China account for more than half of the world’s baby formula consumption. To compensate for the coming baby bust, top baby-focused companies are launching pricier products and expanding to other markets:

  • Nestle launched an upscale milk powder brand (Belsol), a new formula for babies allergic to cow’s milk, and a line of products for a baby’s “first 1k days.”
  • Reckitt is using its formula expertise to launch supplements for adults, noting that it sees “real tailwind in seniors” (now, THAT is dystopian sounding).
  • Pampers (owned by P&G) is making up for lower volumes by luxxing up its diapers with shea butter and premium materials.

Holding out for the baby boom

In the US, the birthrate is tied to the labor market, and has been on a slow decline since the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Some companies are looking for relief abroad: The baby goods producer Kimberly-Clark spent $1.2B to acquire a diaper maker in Indonesia, where people are still getting busy like old times.

But for most folks in the baby biz, a vaccine can’t come fast enough.


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Pepsi is doing a 2021 Super Bowl halftime show — with or without a game

While people like to rag on Canada for a variety of groundless reasons, the country is undeniably good at producing chart-topping artists. Among the exports:

  • Celine Dion
  • Shania Twain
  • Drake
  • Justin Bieber

Recently, another top Canadian music act, The Weeknd, got picked to be the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show performer (in a follow up to last year’s show with Shakira and J-Lo breaking the internet).

No one knows what the next Super Bowl will look like

Scheduled for February 7, 2021, in Tampa Bay, Florida, Super Bowl LV will have to contend with the 400-lb. offensive lineman in the room: COVID-19.

The NFL has already had to postpone games this year and cancel its all-star event, the Pro Bowl.

But even without a Super Bowl game, halftime sponsor Pepsi says it’ll go on with the show.


According to Pepsi’s CMO (North America), Greg Lyons, there are several reasons the brand will do this:

  • Marketing: Pepsi had a $40m ad spend for 2020’s Super Bowl. In general, it’s the company’s biggest one-day marketing spend of the year.
  • Logistics: Production is planned around the Super Bowl: 20% of the company’s snacks are made 6 weeks prior to the big event.
  • In-store sales: The Super Bowl typically gives a sizable boost to Pepsi products at brick-and-mortar stores.

So, a Canada-infused halftime show is happening whether we like it or not. In the words of our resident Canuck, Trung: “Deal with it 🇨🇦.”

The Hustle Says

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If you gift yourself one thing this holiday, make it the Sunday Performance Joggers. These insanely-soft, crazy-comfy joggers from Vuori are a great present… especially if you get them for yourself. Buy ’em here.*

*This is a sponsored post.


Not so Tiny after all

In 2014, Andrew Wilkinson and Chris Sparling stopped founding their own companies and started buying profitable internet businesses as Tiny. Fast forward to 2020, and they have a pretty impressive report card:

Unlike traditional VC, they’re not in it to find one unicorn. In fact, they haven’t had a single acquisition go under. But, the only way to build and scale 25+ businesses is to have wonderful CEOs at the helm.

Sam recently interviewed Andrew in an exclusive podcast where they discuss the best business hack ever: hiring incredible CEOs. They discuss:

The pod is only available for Trends subscribers, but you can listen to the first 15 minutes for free, or jump right in.

Your $1 trial will get you the entire episode, plus weekly Trends reports and access to our community, full of builders just like and including Andrew himself.

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