🥤 Water bottles are getting weird

The wild evolution of the water bottle industry and more in today's isssue

Good news, Titanic fans. A $300m project has been proposed in Nova Scotia to build a replica of the ship where guests can stay, dine, and enjoy copious amounts of Titanic-themed content, including musicals, symphonies, and ballets — without the risk of catastrophic icebergs.

In today’s email:

  • Water bottles: They’re getting ultra-creative.
  • Chart: Disney’s cricket problem.
  • Microschools: They’re small on purpose.
  • Around the web: A secret shipwreck, a tricky survival game, an excited elephant, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear us discuss the hilarious evolution of water bottles and Disney’s cricket problem, and then taste test the $100m “future of cereal.”


The wild evolution of the water bottle industry

We almost started this piece with a water joke but we weren’t sure if y’all were fans of dry humor. Anyway

It may seem like there’s not much left to innovate when it comes to something as straightforward as water bottles.

But in recent years, that simplicity has proven to be an opportunity, and we’ve entered a golden age for creativity in the space.

Let’s talk about Death

Liquid Death is truly a hilarious business. The company sells water in cans that look like 16-ounce beers, branded with slogans like “Murder your thirst.”

They’ve raised $130.6m in venture funding, which may sound odd — the company sells mountain water, not software. The answer is that Liquid Death is a lot like Red Bull: it’s about the brand, the media, and the stunts.

Those stunts include things like:

  • Cutie Polluties: Adorable $75 stuffed animals “that have been mutilated by single-use plastic.”
  • Kids “breaking the law”: A commercial featuring kids going crazy while drinking Liquid Death, as if they were crackin’ open some tallboys on gameday.

Others have reinvented the bottle model

For instance, FreeWater sells water bottle labels as ad space, then gives the bottles to people for free. Brands can distribute them on their own or pay FreeWater to do so.

  • In the future, the company plans to use the same playbook to expand to all kinds of product lines.

Last year, FreeWater gave away 32k bottles, earning 30 cents each — a third of which goes to charity. In 2021, it expects to distribute between 250k and 1m.

  • To learn more about its founder’s vision for creating a retail giant that gives everything away for free, check out our feature on the company.

BTW: The first commercially bottled water in America launched in 1767, not far from our homebase in Boston, at Jackson’s Spa.


Bear territory: The S&P 500 index fell ~4% to its lowest point for the year, down 21% from its January high. The drop means the market officially entered bear market territory amid fears of a looming recession.

Winter continues: Bitcoin prices dropped 17% over the weekend to below $23k, its lowest point since 2020, amid a market-wide drop in crypto.

Splitsville: Tesla filed for a 3:1 stock split, its first since its 5:1 stock split in 2020. Tesla stock is up ~43% since its 2020 split.

Magic Spoon, a D2C cereal startup that is healthier than traditional alternatives, raised $85m in a Series B round. The company will start stocking flavors in Target for the first time.

Drone deliveries: Amazon says Prime Air will begin delivering packages via drones later this year. Amazon customers in Lockeford, California, will be among the first to get access.

Birthday gift: ​​To celebrate Trends’ third birthday, we’re pulling back the curtain to show how Trends members use our research to launch hot startups and profitable businesses.

Coca-Cola is partnering with Jack Daniel’s distiller Brown-Forman on a new canned cocktail. This will be Coke’s fourth boozy product. #ECOMMERCE-RETAIL

The future of wind: Costs and logistics have slowed offshore wind power development. Popular Science explores how that could change. #CLEAN-ENERGY

Rumor has it: Apple’s AR glasses may be coming in 2024 and will be dependent on iPhones. #EMERGING-TECH

Crypto.com will eliminate ~260 jobs — nearly 5% of its workforce. CEO Kris Marszalek tweeted the decision was to ensure sustainable long-term growth. #FINTECH-CRYPTO

Gamer time: Here’s everything announced at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase for 2022, including “Diablo IV,” “Hollow Knight: Silksong,” and “Overwatch 2.” #BIG-TECH

On MFM: Why you should hire for an “extreme strength.” #MFM

Hotstar subscribers

Singdhi Sokpo

Disney+ has a looming subscriber problem

Disney+ has enjoyed positive optics over the last year as it’s continued to narrow its subscriber gap with Netflix.

However, not all Disney+ subscribers signed up to get Disney content. Roughly 36% of Disney+ subscribers are actually subscribed to Disney+ Hotstar, the company’s Indian streaming service, per Variety.

Disney+ Hotstar…

… is anchored not by Disney classics, but cricket. Specifically, the company holds the streaming rights for the Indian Premier League — the most popular cricket league in India.

But that’s about to change:

  • Disney bought the rights to IPL Cricket in 2018 in a five-year agreement worth $2.1B, and the rights expire in 2023
  • Viacom18 — a joint venture between Paramount Global, Reliance Industries, and Bodhi Tree Systems — purchased the 2023-27 streaming rights to IPL Cricket for $2.6B

On the bright side…

… Disney+ should see a pop in its average revenue per user (ARPU):

  • Disney+ subscribers outside of India pay $6.32-$6.35 per month
  • Disney+ Hotstar subscribers in India only pay 76 cents per month

Some analysts predict losing IPL rights could result in 20m-30m churned subscribers for Disney+. With a goal of 230m-260m subscribers by 2024, hopefully that silver lining is enough to keep investors happy.

children coloring

Microschools are catching on

Edtech startup Prenda recently raised $20m in Series B to help people start microschools. But what is a microschool — a school for ants?

US News described them as the modern-day equivalent of the one-room schoolhouse. They typically serve 15 or fewer students of mixed ages.

Microschools have been around since 1989…

… but their popularity increased amid the pandemic, alongside homeschooling and “pandemic pods,” because students could learn in smaller cohorts.

Advocates like microschooling because:

  • Students can learn at their own pace and receive personalized attention from educators
  • It’s easier to plan group trips or activities
  • They’re often more affordable than private schools

The 74 spoke with Black mothers who found microschooling to be a boon to their children, who could be taught by people who looked like them and who could devote more attention to their needs.

Prenda’s business model…

… is to supply microschools with educational materials, admin tools, and guidance. Accredited teachers oversee students’ progress, while classrooms are run by “guides” (e.g., parents, community members), per TechCrunch.

These efforts are financed by parents, school districts, or other organizations that fund schools.

Another organization, Microschool Revolution, works to connect funders to microschool founders and families.

Not everyone is a fan…

… including the National Education Association — the teachers’ union released a report criticizing several elements of Prenda’s business model and operation. (That report was itself criticized in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.)

Regardless, Prenda’s growing business indicates more parents are looking for innovation in their children’s education.


😢 On this day: In 2016, the Bramble Cay melomys, an Australian rodent, was reported as the first mammal to become extinct due to climate change. The government would officially confirm this in 2019.

📱 Useful: Starting July 16, Americans will be able to dial or text 988 to reach a mental health crisis hotline. It’s designed to be easier to remember than a 10-digit phone number.

👑 That’s interesting: The H.M.S. Gloucester shipwrecked 340 years ago while hosting a party of wining and dining nobles, including a future king. Its discovery had been kept secret until now.

🏕️ Cure boredom: In this simple browser game, you roll dice to collect food and wood for your village. But it’s harder than it seems.

🐘 Aww: And now, do you ever get so excited about birds that you fall flat on your face?

water meme

It does look pretty rad. (Source: imgflip.com)

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