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🚕 Yellow cabs are back (kinda)

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The Hustle

Tomorrow, we’re recording The Hustle Daily Show live from HubSpot’s INBOUND conference, and we’d love to answer your burning questions. Got something you wanna ask? Let it rip.

In today’s email:

  • Exotic Pop: A $6m soda boutique.
  • Chart: NYC’s taxi medallions.
  • Digits: Solar sheep, Pornhub ban, and more.
  • Around the Web: How to fall asleep, the Daft Punk Cafe, bread tag research, and more cool internet finds.
The Hustle Daily Show

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear how the rise of solar energy has increased demand for sheep, “The Rings of Power” vs. “House of the Dragon,” $3 movie tickets, and more.

The big idea
vending machine

How a soda reseller built a multimillion-dollar empire

In 2016, a Houston barbershop owner asked Exotic Pop founder Charleston Wilson to bring back some sodas only available in Louisiana, where Wilson attended college.

The sodas were in demand thanks to the Screwed Up Click, a Houston hip-hop collective, and the barber could easily sell them at a markup.

But one day…

… Wilson returned, his ‘99 Camry crammed with soda, and the barber didn’t want them. So, Wilson made an Instagram account — @ExoticPop — to offload them. Eventually, it exploded on social media.

“At first it was a slow start. People didn’t want to pay $3-$6 for a 99-cent soda,” Wilson told The Hustle. “But as soon as it became a status [symbol] and was bounced off these major influencers, it was an American love story.”


… Exotic Pop sells dozens of sodas, including collabs with musicians like Soulja Boy, DJ Screw, and Too Short. They sell for $5-$50, online and in retailers nationwide, and are considered exclusive collectibles. In 2021, Exotic Pop claimed $6m in profits.

For Wilson, it’s crucial to reinvest that money in his business and community.

So far, that’s included a covid rental relief program, free swimming lessons for kids, and life skills workshops in Houston. Next up, Exotic Pop will build a bottle facility in Texas and expand its line of original flavors.

BTW: It’s not just soda — people will pay a premium for rare cereals, like WWE’s Booty O’s.

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National Cinema Day’s $3 ticket promotion earned $24.3m across participating US theaters, a 9% bump from the week prior.

Oops: The IRS admitted 120k taxpayers’ confidential data was made public for about a year due to a coding error.

Amazon says “LOTR: The Rings of Power” scored Prime Video’s biggest premiere ever with 25m+ viewers on its first day.

Speaking of, Amazon will also pause reviews on all new content for three days after it drops to curb review bombing.

OpenAI introduced “outpointing,” a DALL-E feature that allows the text-to-image generator to create visuals that expand beyond the original border of a given picture.

Apple’s fall event begins tomorrow, where the company is expected to release the iPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8, and possibly new AirPods and iPad models.

Netflix’s “Arcane” won the Emmy for Best Animated Program, making it the first streaming series to do so.

EU regulators fined Instagram €405m for its handling of children’s data. The fine is the largest GDPR penalty to date.

Job hunters and hoppers: No need to write resignations, resumes, and cover letters from scratch. Use these 22 job-seeking templates for a huge head start.

value of a NYC taxi medallion

Singdhi Sokpo

The ups and downs of NYC’s taxi medallion

For better or worse, pretty much anyone can drive for Uber.

But to legally operate a yellow cab in NYC, a driver must own one of the city’s ~13.5k taxi medallions, making it a much more exclusive club.

Taxi medallions…

… are regulated by NYC to manage cab supply, establish rates, and monitor routes.

  • Medallion owners can make ~$80k per year driving or leasing their cab, which traditionally made medallions a sound investment.
  • But when Uber launched and flooded the supply of rides in NYC, it tanked medallion values.

Many drivers who took on debt to purchase their medallion have been unable to pay it back, subsequently causing a mental health crisis among NYC taxi drivers.

But there’s good news

This month, NYC is kicking off a relief program to cap medallion debt. In May, the value of a taxi medallion in NYC also increased for the first time since 2014.

So while Uber’s not going anywhere, things are looking up, ever so slightly, for NYC cabbies.

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Free Resource

‘Build your own agency’ events this month

Beyond a certain level of expertise, starting your own agency makes a ton of sense.

We won’t sugarcoat the leap from employee to entrepreneur. Go read The 4-Hour Workweek or some shit.

But if you’ve got the chops… we want to help you succeed. Here’s how:

September agency-launching master classes, by Trends

These seminars feature the founders of GrowthHit, SwitchFrame Media, and more.

Oh yeah, we’ve also got an ocean of content and a community of 15k people to learn from.

Startup September, y’all →
solar sheep

Karoline Thalhofer / Getty

Digits: Solar sheep, a PornHub ban, and more

1) Sheep now clear weeds on tens of thousands of US solar fields that pay shepherds up to $500/acre annually. Sheep are more versatile than horses, cows, and power mowers, and better behaved than goats.

2) In India, automakers sold 430k electric vehicles in the year ending in March, a 3x increase YoY. Cars accounted for just 18k of those, with two- and three-wheeled vehicles making up the rest.

3) A month after Visa and Mastercard suspended card payments for advertising on PornHub, the site’s 13.1m-follower Instagram account was taken down.

4) Researchers have developed a cheaper process for manufacturing pheromones — used by some farmers to confuse bugs and prevent reproduction — that could cost $70-$125 per kilo, down from $1k-$3.5k per kilo.

5) Saudi Arabia plans to invest $1T over the next decade into its tourism industry, aiming to draw 55m tourists annually by 2030. In the first half of 2022, 6.1m paid a visit.

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🪖 On this day: In 1915, the first tank was made in England. The 14-ton prototype was known as “Little Willie.”

🍞 That’s interesting: The Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group is one man’s quest to create a meticulous database of plastic bread tags.

😴 How to: Tips for falling asleep the night before an early morning.

🤖 Cure boredom: Welcome to the Daft Punk Cafe.

🦌 Aww: These deer would like to know what you’re working on.

big tech app elements

Seems legit. (Source: imgflip.com)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Medallions on my mind” Wang.

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