💳 How to disrupt credit cards


August 26, 2021

The Hustle

One of our Trends analysts, Ethan, noticed this year’s Inc. 5000 is actually the Inc. 5001 because there are 2 winners listed for 4,807th place. Now this is the kind of hard-hitting journalism we need more of.

Today’s rundown:

  • Ramp ramps up: Meet the $3.9B corporate card disrupter.
  • Ugly chart: The wild numbers behind Kmart’s collapse.
  • Metafabric: The fabric fighting climate change — and sweat.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
corporate credit card

Ramp is using a freemium strategy to disrupt the corporate card game

When you think about using your corporate card, the first words that come to mind probably aren’t “spend less.”

Ramp, a startup that offers corporate cards paired with spend management software, has used this positioning to more than double its valuation in less than 5 months.

The company raised $300m in a new round that values the firm at $3.9B, per TechCrunch.

Ramp launched its 1st corporate card in 2019…

… and gave it away for free. The company only makes money on interchange fees, which differs from the OG of the corporate card world, AMEX.

This freemium strategy has helped drive rocketship growth over the past 2 years, including:

  • 5x increase in customers since the beginning of 2021
  • 10x increase in transaction volume and revenue YoY

Come for the free cards, stay for the software

Ramp pairs its free corporate cards with free software that helps businesses automate expense management, and increase savings with built-in spend limits.

The startup took a step towards offering a holistic spend management platform with its 1st acquisition: Buyer, a negotiation-as-a-service platform that helps businesses save money on software purchases.

The spend management space is getting crowded fast

Since the beginning of 2021:

  • Bill.com acquired Divvy for $2.5B
  • Brex raised $425m at a $7.4B valuation
  • Vendr, a SaaS-buying platform, raised a $60m round

Ramp plans to use its new funding for hiring, marketing, partnerships, and product — all of which should help the startup continue Ramp-ing up its growth.

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SNIPPETS

D2C eyewear company Warby Parker has filed to go public, trading under the ticker symbol “WRBY.” #ecommerce-retail

Lab meat: Vow can grow meat from kangaroo, crocodile, and water buffalo cells. Nourish Ingredients specializes in animal-free fats. Now, they’re working together. #clean-energy

Coming in hot: Wing, Alphabet’s drone company, says it has delivered 10k coffees and 1.2k roast chickens over the last year. #emerging-tech

Face off: A report from the Government Accountability Office that surveyed 24 US agencies found that 19 use facial recognition tech. #privacy

Stocks with friends: European startup Shares has raised $10m to build a stock trading platform with a social media component. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Google launched its 1st messaging app 16 years ago, but it still doesn’t have anything as popular as Slack or WhatsApp. Ars Technica explores why. #big-tech

Now on MFM: How to build a community, user-generated content in digital ads, and more. #mfm

What does it mean to work like a lion instead of a cow? Shaan Puri explains. #hustle-picks

Chart
Kmart infographic

Kmart closed 2k+ stores since 2005. What’s happened with its retail space?

In 2005, Kmart had 2,085 locations. Today, it’s got 17. In all, ~230m square feet worth of Kmarts have shut.

What’s happened with all that space?

A lot. Former Kmarts now house flea markets, labs, dealerships, driving schools, and funeral homes. One site houses a large Baptist church, a bowling alley, and soon, a call center. Another in California will house a weed farm.

On another note, remember Kmart’s “ship my pants” commercial?

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Free Resource

How to win on every first impression

Is your brand recognizable?

Great brands stay above the noise. Nailing down stellar evergreen content is tough, but cross-channel consistency is the money move.

4 out of 5 people buy based on trust. And a strong, steady presence is step number one.

You could hire a copywriter. Or just be the copywriter.

Branding that pulls: by HubSpot and Brandfolder

Here’s 29 pages covering brand strategy, content creation, models, metrics, and actionable steps to success.

We feel obligated to inform you that these things are usually not free in the real world. So apparently we’re a metaverse company now.

Branding blueprint →
Practical Fashion
metafabric image

How ‘metafabric’ could combat climate change and help you shvitz less

For years, some celebrities have used retro-reflective “anti-paparazzi” clothing to ruin unwanted photos.

But now, another reflective textile known as metafabric could regulate our temperatures and fight climate change.

Metafabric is made from synthetic fiber coated in Teflon with nanoparticles of titanium dioxide, the metal used in sunscreen, per Wired.

It works like a mirror:

Titanium dioxide reflects most light but absorbs UV. That would make you hot, except…teflon reflects UV.

Researchers at Zhejiang University found that after 1 hour in the sun, metafabric kept its wearer ~5 degrees Celsius cooler.

Plus, it’s stretchy, durable, and possible benefits include:

  • Reduced injury and death from heat
  • Reduced need for AC
  • Use in tents, buildings, and the transportation of cold goods (e.g., foods, vaccines, etc.)

There are some issues, though, including that the textile might be heavier than other fabrics. It might also be limiting fashionwise, as a material that reflects almost all sunlight would probably have to be white.

Bad news for goths. Great news for vampires, though.

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AROUND THE WEB

On this day: In 1939, the 1st televised Major League Baseball game aired on W2XBS. The game featured the Cincinnati Reds and the Brooklyn Dodgers and was called by announcer Red Barber. Wonder who he was rooting for?

🤸 Wow: This video uses an AI video composition program to seamlessly blend multiple parkour performers into a continuous run across rooftops and mountains.

💰 Haha: “Burn the Runway” is an online game that lets you waste all of a startup’s money on important stuff like hot tubs, company jets, LaCroix, and trips to space.

How to: Breathe, drink water, get moving. CNN has some key steps to a healthy morning routine — and tips for sticking with it.

🚸 That’s cool: In Germany, the Ampelmännchen is a “little traffic light man” who signals to pedestrians. He’s so popular, other traffic lights have their own characters, including Elvis Presley and Karl Marx.

🦅 Wild story: For a bird’s-eye view, check out the footage from this camera attached to an eagle.

TRENDS

How to get in on the “insurtech” boom…

Over 1 in 3 freelancers worked full-time in 2020…

As the gig economy is hitting new highs, VC funding for the insurtech (insurance tech) scene is skyrocketing.

So, our Trends analysts compiled a huge list of opportunities within the space for you to explore.

You’ll learn:

  • What caused VC funding for insurtech projects to recently jump to $12.6B
  • The major players within the new wave of startups
  • Which existing niches could be set to explode…
  • And much more.

If you’re not already a member of Trends, get full access to this and hundreds of other Trends reports when you try your first week of Trends for $1.

Get Access →
Meme of the day
credit card meme

The most classic phone exchange ever (Source: SayingImages)

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