A Bug’s Life 2 wasn’t supposed to end like this


November 29, 2019

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Happy (Black) Friday, folks. Our Trends fam put together this special edition of The Hustle today so you have something to read while you’re OOO. Today, learn more about how…

  • Edible insects pack legit protein
  • WhatsGood is reinventing the farmers market scene
  • Everything-as-a-Service is taking over, well, everything

And hey, if you like what you read, you can use the code BLACKFRIDAY to get $50 off Trends. Happy holidays, y’all!

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If you’re itching to spend a little cash on Black Friday, treat yourself to Hustle Con and take 50% off two-day tickets for the next 24 hours. Use code BLACKFRIDAY, baby!

Excuse me, Miss. There’s a bug in my drink

Remember when lobster was poor man’s food? Since none of us lived in the mid-19th century, the answer is no. But, some 200 years later, as we prepare for a population of nearly 10B, people are opening their minds (and mouths) to new possibilities: edible insects.

Insect snacking goes beyond the cockroach street stall in Bangkok. It’s estimated that up to 80% of people around the world already eat these not-so-creepy crawlies.

Why? When you really boil it down, crickets have:

  • An environmental impact that would make Greta Thunberg sing. We’re talking 1% of the greenhouse gases that beef produces.
  • A nutritional profile designed by the gods: amino acids, packed with more protein, calcium, iron, fiber, and magnesium than a steak could ever dream of.
  • An upside that has entrepreneurs licking their chops, with growth of insect protein expected to 10X in the next decade.

So what’s stopping us all from hopping on the six-legged train?

The yuck factor, for one. Companies get the stigma — and while they work to change it, they’ve also focused on products that are, umm, more digestible. From bug burgers to cricket-flour pancakes, people are searching for ways to embrace the trend, but mask the ick.

Will more people risk it for the cricket?

The jury’s still out, but some restaurants, investors, and grocery conglomerates are placing their bets:

  • Restaurants like Linger (in Denver) are serving up Thai Sausage Mi Krop incorporating black ants and crickets. El Catrin (in Toronto) lets you add crickets to your guac.
  • Ÿnsect — a French insect-farming startup — raised their Series C at $125m.
  • Entomo Farms raised their Series A directly from Maple Leaf Foods.
  • Grocery conglomerates are saying “crawl on in,” with Eat Grub (UK) finding its way into 400 SOK stores, while Jimini (France) managed to score 300 Carrefour stores.

Who else wants a taste?

Your furry friends aren’t turning their noses. The $442B animal feed market is open to some insect-based disruption, with bigwigs like Nestle Purina starting to experiment with crickets.

So whether for man or man’s best friend, it looks like it might be a Bug’s Life after all.

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Where in the world is Steph? Our intrepid correspondent digs the digital nomad life, and you’re all better for it

There’s remote work, and then there’s Steph Smith’s version of remote work. Our Trends senior analyst has lived and worked in more than 50 countries in the past 2 years, including Portugal, Japan, Nicaragua, and Scotland.

Since joining us full-time in September, she’s spent time in a half-dozen countries finding inspiration for stories in unusual places. We asked her to break down a few of her faves:

🌿Kava bars and Avani Eco: I spend most of my time in Bali. This island is known for its “Eat Pray Love” vibe, but it’s also grounds for a lot of innovative thinking — particularly around plant-based products. It’s common to attend “sober” parties or see people opting out of alcohol and into things like kratom. When I dug into this, it seemed like both kratom and kava are gaining attention in the West. Similarly, Bali banned single-use plastics, which resulted in these amazing cassava starch bags.

🎆 Digital Museums: On a visit to Japan this year, I was drawn to a new attraction at the top of everyone’s must-see list — a digital museum called teamLab Borderless. Unlike traditional museums that focus on a single-asset model (there’s only one Mona Lisa), these museums were so interesting because of their potential to be “copied and pasted” around the world. Check out my tweets showing my experience up close.

✈️ Airplane cocktail kit: On a flight from YYZ to TPE a few months ago, I ordered a Bloody Mary. Unfortunately, my economy ticket afforded me only a little tomato juice with a splash of vodka. That got me thinking… do you really have to pay big bucks for a business-class ticket just to get a decent mile-high cocktail? When I did a simple Google search, it looked like others were asking a similar question — and one company was actually serving one up — at $24 apiece! That’s when I knew there was room for someone to swoop in at a lower price.

Steph filed this piece while flying from Sydney, Australia, where she’s spent the past month, to San Francisco, where she’s joining us for Hustle Con next week. We’ll keep you posted on her travels.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear where in the world you read The Hustle. Send your stories and pics to us at [email protected]

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Life is all about choices, and I choose to be rad as hell

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WhatsGood brings farmers markets into the 21st century

On his way to work at a restaurant in Rhode Island, Matt Tortora always passed local farms. He wondered: If farm-fresh goods abounded, why did his restaurant always source food from a distributor with no local connections? 

Now, Tortora’s company, WhatsGood, pairs farmers with restaurants and average consumers to make “fresh and local” truly fresh and local.

WhatsGood started by solving a problem

Restaurants wanted farm-fresh goods. Farmers wanted to sell more of their products. But neither had time to foster connections.  

Tortora leveraged his restaurant connections and visited farmers to get the first parties on his platform in 2015. In the first 2 years, WhatsGood made about $1m.

Then came the big idea 

After Tortora and his co-founders Erin Tortora and William Araújo realized that they and their friends never had time to attend farmers markets but still wanted fresh foods, WhatsGood launched a new service. 

Their new subscription product lets consumers buy vegetables a la carte directly from farmers, while WhatsGood delivers the purchases. So far about 20k people have signed up in the DC, Boston, and Rhode Island markets. That number is growing about 30% each month.

“I think if we had just been beholden or tied ourselves to ‘this is what we’re going to do and only what we’re going to do,’” Tortora says, “I don’t think we would’ve found the successes that we’ve found.”  

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Why it pays to compliment the chef, and other takeaways from the anything-as-a-service economy

In the business jargon landscape, “anything-as-a-service” (XaaS) is zooming past “Uber for X.”

The OG of the XaaS model is, of course, software-as-a-service (SaaS). The SaaS model revolutionized the tech industry by delivering software via the internet rather than on premises.

This change created benefits for both consumers (who got cheaper and more flexible services) and software creators (who could earn recurring revenue while accessing global markets).

Microsoft Dominates SAAS. AWS Dominates IaaS. You Dominate XaaS?

Other concepts that have adopted the X-as-a-service playbook include platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Amazon Web Services (AWS) is considered a trailblazer in both spaces.

The economics of the PaaS and IaaS models are so strong that while AWS accounted for only 13% of Amazon’s total revenue ($9B) in its previous quarter, it delivered 71% of the company’s operating income ($2.3B). 

Now, dozens of business functions are ripe for X-as-a-service treatment

In all of our post-turducken hangover generosity, the Trends team has compiled a list of 100+ XaaS opportunities for your perusal. Among our favorites:

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