The Hustle

🚘 What’s up with flying cars?

Plus: ESPN in scores of trouble, a pricey pasta purchase, the wild world of competitive eating, and more.

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The Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Nebraska welcomed two new cheetah cubs in June. Lovely. Then they opened up an online naming competition. Oh, no. We’ve been bracing for some Cheetah McCheetahface situation — but this one somehow had a happy ending last week. Have a nice life, Sasha and Zuri!

In today’s email:

  • AI, but make it fashion: A startup’s quest for the perfect fit.
  • Disney: CEO Bob Iger’s got a lot on his plush Mickey-Mitted hands.
  • Need a lift? Startup Alef moves flying cars closer to reality.
  • Around the Web: The world of competitive eating, how to build a naturalist kit, shadow mentoring, and more.

👇 Listen: ESPN, “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” is losing its lead.

The big idea

Using AI for the perfect fit

Hate online shopping? TrueToForm’s AI avatar helps shoppers and designers find the perfect fit.
2023-08-08T00:00:00Z
Juliet Bennett Ryla

Ever leave a dressing room feeling defeated after not a single item works? Yeah, you’re not alone.

Even two people who typically wear the same size can be proportioned much differently. Plus, sizes have become increasingly meaningless over time and can vary dramatically across brands.

TrueToForm, an AI/machine learning startup founded by sisters Janice and Margaret Tam, creates personalized avatars for designers and shoppers alike to achieve the perfect fit.

How it works

TrueToForm’s app (currently available for iOS) takes torso and full-body scans to make a digital avatar of a specific person. It can be shared with or used by:

  • Businesses that create or find clothes for individuals (e.g., made-to-measure, custom suiting, costume designers, personal stylists)
  • Activewear brands, which can use scans of fit models to produce new collections
  • Shoppers, who can use TrueToForm’s forthcoming search platform, Fitsearch, to find and purchase clothes across brands

“When you take a scan, we automatically track over 40 different measurements that we’re using as part of the matching algorithm, so your search [becomes] a lot more precise and personalized,” CEO Janice Tam told The Hustle.

Why it matters

Tech like this can have lasting impacts on inclusivity and sustainability, two issues common in the fashion industry.

  • Users enjoy a personalized shopping experience and can discover brands that design for their body type.
  • Students designing digitally don’t have to cut samples and waste fabric.
  • Design can be done remotely (e.g., an NYC costumer can fit an LA actor without one of them flying across the country).
  • Americans return 24.4% of apparel purchased online; 53% of returns are due to size or fit. That eats into companies’ profits and isn’t great for the environment either.

TrueToForm’s B2B platform is up and running here. To get on the waitlist for Fitsearch — expected to launch this fall, starting with women’s denim — click here.

TRENDING

Campbell Soup Co. will buy Sovos Brands, maker of Rao’s pasta sauce and Noosa Yoghurt, for ~$2.7B. Adding Rao’s to a portfolio that already includes Prego will strengthen Campbell’s hold on the “25-year-old dudes trying to cook to impress a date” demo.

SNIPPETS

Even more beef: MrBeast recently sued Virtual Dining Concepts, the ghost kitchen company he partnered with on MrBeast Burger, for allegedly serving “inedible” food. Now, VDC is suing the YouTuber for $100m, alleging breach of contract.

PayPal’s new PayPal USD is a USD-backed stablecoin redeemable for dollars or crypto. Users can make purchases with it and, eventually, transfer it between PayPal and Venmo.

Neat: Startup Array Labs wants to scan the Earth with radar satellites to build a 3D map that autonomous vehicles, AR headsets, and other tech can use.

How’s this for bureaucracy? Atlanta officials demolished a home on Lawton Street, not the Lawton Avenue house slated for razing. Now, the homeowner says the city is suing him $68k+ in demolition fees.

The PlayPlace at your local McDonald’s is collecting dust — dine-in customers now make up less than 10% of visits to US locations, compared to ~25% pre-covid.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway reported an obscene amount of cash on hand — $147.38B — last quarter, leading its shares to a record high Monday. Meanwhile, we still get excited to find a $1 bill tucked in an old pair of pants.

Tesla will lose its CFO, Zach Kirkhorn, at the end of the year. “He’s done a 13-year tour of duty working for Elon, which is like working 50 years for anyone else,” one analyst told Bloomberg.

Make beautiful PowerPoints: Time to ride the slides. Use these 10 templates to posterize your speeches, pitch decks, and presentations.

FROM THE BLOG

Is it possible to do well and do good? It might be. Three social entrepreneurs share their expertise on how organizations of any size can balance sustainability and profitability.

Magic tricks
Singdhi Sokpo

On Bob Iger’s to-do list: Fix ESPN, TV, Pixar, and more

Think your to-do list is packed? Try running a ~$158B entertainment conglomerate.
2023-08-08T00:00:00Z
Jacob Cohen

Bob Iger would probably be the first to tell you he’s bad at retirement.

Part of the problem is that he’s really good at his job, with Disney stock multiplying in value during his first stint as CEO. Another part is that there are few people, if any, better suited to tackle the company’s growing list of challenges.

Just over half a year since he reclaimed Disney’s top spot, here’s what we imagine Iger’s to-do list looks like:

Steer ESPN: As cable cords continue to get cut, live sports rights are becoming increasingly fragmented and expensive — a bad recipe for ESPN. Disney sees a future where ESPN offers the flagship sports streaming service, but getting there will mean cutting lots of complex deals and potentially short-term profits.

Figure out, uh, the entire future business model of TV: Looking beyond the writers’ and actors’ strike (hard to do at the moment), Iger has tapped former Disney execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs to help think through what to do with — and possibly where to sell — ABC and Disney’s other legacy TV properties.

Redo succession: Not the TV show. “Succession” as in who will succeed him, and the pressure is on to make a better choice this time around after his last pick, Bob Chapek, lasted less than three years.

Fix Pixar: In 2006, Iger revamped Disney Animation with his $7.4B acquisition of Pixar. Now, facing underwhelming box office performances, Iger must try to find Nemo’s groove again — and with another box office dud in Haunted Mansion, the same could be said about Disney films in general.

Merge with Apple? Definitely don’t count on it, but Iger has said it’s what Steve Jobs would’ve wanted, so ya never know.

With Disney earnings coming up tomorrow, and shares down moderately since his return, expect Iger to face some heat — and to add a few more gargantuan tasks to his docket.

Watch Now

The HubSpot inbound marketing playbook

Once upon a time, we basically wrote the book on inbound marketing. That means, “creating valuable content and relatable experiences to reach new customers.”

It’s a business philosophy that demands delighting your people… which is easier said than done. Cue this excellent explainer video, which cracks the whole thing open.

Let the marketing jargon augment your mind.

What is inbound marketing? →
Flight of fancy

$750m reasons we’re getting ever closer to flying cars becoming a reality

Alef Aeronautics is inching ever closer to a viable flying car. Now what?
2023-08-08T00:00:00Z
Ben Berkley

You’re going to hear a lot about Alef Aeronautics over the next few years.

The Bay Area startup hopes that’ll take the form of breathless headlines about “The Jetsons” come to life, marking steady progress toward its ultimate goal: building and selling the world’s first flying car.

We’ll be happy with anything that doesn’t involve the words “accident” or “collision.”

What’s new with Alef?

Eight years into its development, Alef has had a momentous summer, per the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • It has banked $750m+ in preorders for its ~$300k flying cars. (Customers can make a $150 deposit today — or $1.5k for a better spot in line.)
  • In June, Alef logged a landmark in flying-car history, gaining Federal Aviation Administration approval to run flight tests in limited locations.
  • The company anticipates a public demonstration by year’s end.

What you’ll see

Alef’s vehicle is fully electric, can fly 110 miles on one charge, and — with apologies to designer Hirash Razaghi, of Bugatti and Jaguar fame — looks like a giant wireless mouse born of Logitech’s wildest dreams.

One big differentiator from other flying vehicles in development: Alef’s Model A doesn’t need to be airborne to get around — it can operate on most roads (limited to ~25 mph) and fit into standard parking spots.

It has two seats, four motors, and achieves vertical liftoff through its eight propellers and retractable mesh wings.

What’s next?

Alef plans to start selling cars in 2025, but some big questions will need answering first:

  • Will a regular driver’s license suffice to operate one?
  • Will cities allow them? And with what rules governing their aerial roadways?
  • How many times will Alef need to confirm that, yes, each car has a parachute for emergency landings before we get in one?
AROUND THE WEB

🌎 On this day: In 1975, the term “global warming” appeared in print for the first time in Wallace Smith Broecker’s paper “Climate Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” published in Science.

🌭 That’s interesting: A deep dive into competitive eating.

🎧 Promo: On this episode of AugMentors, Julie and Jimmy are joined by Troy of the iDigress podcast to discuss connecting with others, shadow mentors, and his branding journey to earn $175m+ in client revenue.

🌿 How to: Build a junior naturalist kit for outside exploration.

🦌 Aww: And now, just a couple fawns in a flower bed.

meme

No thank-yous necessary, but we wouldn’t turn down a national holiday and ticker-tape parade. (Link)

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “Survival of the fitting” Berkley.

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