A Cannonball run makes a big splash

April 14, 2020
The Hustle

Amazon giveth, and Amazon taketh away. Over the last 48 hours, a flurry of announcements have come from Planet Bezos:

  • The ecommerce giant is planning to hire 75k more workers (beyond the 100k it already announced).
  • This week, it will allow 3rd-party sellers to resume sending nonessential products to its warehouses.
  • But you might have to get in line for groceries. Amazon is putting new grocery-delivery customers on a waiting list.

This is all to say: If you’ve got any doubts about Amazon’s iron grip over our economy, wonder no more. It’s controlling everything, from real chicken to… uh, rubber chickens

A Rogue Race

The pandemic makes room on the roads for a record-breaking Cannonball run

The goal of the stunt is simple: Fire up your engine at the Red Ball Garage in midtown Manhattan and burn rubber to the other side of the country as fast as your outlaw ride will take you.

It’s called the Cannonball. It’s VERY illegal and pretty famous — thanks to Burt Reynolds and other movie stars who enshrined it in American pop culture back in the ’70s and ’80s.

And because of the pandemic, it just made a record-breaking comeback. 

This Cannonball made a BIG splash

A crew of Cannonballers recently made it all the way to the finish line — an oceanside hotel in Redondo Beach, California — in just 26 hours and 38 minutes, averaging 100+ mph over 3k miles.

Their ride — a 2019 Audi sedan with huge red fuel tanks strapped into its trunk — broke the 27:25 mark set last year.

But people want them to pump the brakes

The nation’s empty highways might tempt any daredevil to stomp on the gas. Traffic levels are down 90+% in some major cities.

But when word of the new record leaked out on Facebook, many people said the timing was pure idiocy, not pure genius. What happens if a driver crashes and ends up taking valuable space in a hospital?

Even some Cannonball aficionados appear to have gotten the message.

  • Road & Track reported that a few drivers had planned to run a version of the Cannonball race during the first week of April, but scrapped it with state governments issuing stay-at-home orders.

Some people want the new record to get an asterisk. Seems unlikely, since… the whole thing is illegal anyway.

PSA to aspiring Speed Racers out there

You might want to keep your wheels in park. Most joyrides DO NOT seem to be ending well these days:

  • The owner of an ultra-rare Porsche was arrested after smashing his ride into cars in Manhattan.
  • In California, the number of tickets handed to drivers going 100+ mph on freeways jumped by 42% in March compared with last year. The increase came even as the overall number of speeding citations fell by ~18%.
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Tweet of the Day

This one sparked a spirited debate on our Slack about what actually flows in the fountain of youth.

Bag It Up

Get dumped? The coronavirus creates a tale of 2 trash heaps

We salute the essential workers who are collecting our garbage. They have a very tough job, but there’s at least some good news: In Manhattan’s toniest neighborhoods, trash collectors have noted significantly lighter loads

Have denizens of the Upper East Side embraced a new ethos centered on thoughtful consumption? Orrrrrrrr might they be decamping for second homes in the Hamptons and the Hudson Valley?

Here’s the dirt …

The City crunched the numbers and pounded the pavement and found that it’s likely the latter. In other NYC neighborhoods (not to mention other parts of the country), residential trash volumes are way up.

  • Republic Services, one of the nation’s largest garbage collection companies, expects neighborhood trash tonnage to spike as much as 30%.
  • Many companies are redirecting collection routes to focus less on commercial areas and more on the places people make their homes… and their messes.
  • According to the Solid Waste Association of America, some communities are attempting to slow the roll of refuse by pressing pause on recycling and yard-waste collection.

And some companies are asking customers to procrastinate spring-cleaning projects to help limit the amount of waste placed curbside. (Yessssssss!)

But let’s think about the safety of sanitation workers

Absenteeism is now a huge challenge for waste management companies. 

Sometimes a worker must quarantine after possible exposure to the virus. Other times, they’re caring for children who are out of school. Some companies have hired additional workers to meet increased demand for services… and as a contingency for when other workers get sick. 

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The #1 key to DTC success in 2020? 

A killer product launch. 

Our next Trends Lecturer Nik Sharma knows great product launches. See, he’s fast becoming a DTC marketing legend.

At 16, Nik was running Pitball’s social media, later graduating to A-list celebrities Priyanka Chopra and MAGIC!.

Now, Nik has his own agency to advise, invest in, and launch DTC brands like JUDY, Haus, Dreampop and Twice.

The secret to his success? A great “Day Zero”

Join our next Trends Lecture, Product Launch 101, as Nik walks you through his framework for a modern-day brand launch. You’ll learn:

  • His day-of checklist for a successful launch. 
  • The content and assets you must have to have the most impact. 
  • The keys to garnering attention for your brand. 
  • Real-life examples from his past launches

Not a Trends subscriber? Start your trial today for $1 and get immediate access to Trends and an invite to this lecture. 

Reserve your spot →
Survive and Thrive

3 ways businesses weathered the Great Recession

Be ruthless about your spending — and your debt. Find new partners. And when the market leads you to something new, follow it.

Those are a few of the lessons we learned from poring over your stories of strategies that companies used to weather the Great Recession a decade ago. 

Our Trends team analyzed hundreds of responses to our recent survey and turned them into a database that can help your business navigate difficult times. Here are a few of our biggest takeaways.

Cut as much fat as possible. This one sounds obvious, but it was by far the most common strategy among businesses that survived the turmoil. Look everywhere, and be certain you’re not buying more materials or spending more than you need to.

Technology can help. Amazing Blades Landscaping, in South Carolina, cut expenses by tracking its workers’ whereabouts, which helped eliminate unnecessary stops.

Strategic partnerships are your friend. Teaming up with other businesses — even your direct competition — can keep you and your peers afloat. FairCoProcess, a legal services business started in 2003, formed a professional referral network with other businesses in its industry. 

If your competitors are really struggling, it might even be time to think about a strategic acquisition.

Be nimble — that often means putting your ego aside. Brad Emerson, owner of FixYourOwnBindery.com, attributed his survival of the recession in part due to “follow[ing] where the market took the business.”

Trends subscribers get access to the whole database of Great Recession stories and our exclusive analysis of the responses. Start your trial today to begin browsing.

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Here’s how to get your PPP loan in as fast as 72 hours after approval

Fintech unicorn Divvy is using its superpowers for good: super fast PPP loan processing with no application fees.

Under the new CARES Act, small businesses and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees can use PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans to help cover everything from payroll and benefits to rents and mortgages and more.

Step 1: Fill out this form.

Then, Divvy will send you an email with a link to an application, and their team will answer any questions you might have.

Once your app is complete, they’ll help you get your loan serviced ASAP and will also help you prepare docs along the way.

Funding happens within 72 hours of approval — about 5 business days in total.

Do I need to be a Divvy customer?

Nope. Any business can apply through Divvy.

Over 5k businesses have done it, and they’ve helped to process nearly $2B already.

What if I’ve already submitted an app with another bank?

If you’ve been waiting on another bank who’s gone dark on you, simply cancel your app with them and reapply with Divvy.

We’ve submitted our app. What are you waiting for?

Submit your app →
The Hustle Says

This guy took Native from $0 to a $100M exit in 28 months. How? Listen to Exit Strategy to learn from the most successful eCommerce entrepreneurs in the world.

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On Animal Crossing, the economy never stopped

The new public square is an anthropomorphic animal village called Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The Nintendo Switch game, which rolled out its latest version on March 20, is hosting island parties, weddings, and Easter celebrations — under the watchful eye of a controversial raccoon shopkeeper.

Couples stuck at home are crediting their in-game interactions with saving their marriages. If you see someone musing about turnip prices? It’s safe to assume they’re talking about whether they can finally turn a profit out of their root fields.  

Animal Crossing is an advertiser’s paradise 

For some businesses — especially fashion brands — Animal Crossing is finding a niche where the ad market left off. 

Companies like Net-a-Porter, Gucci, Dior, and Burberry are seizing on a feature that lets people dress their avatars in custom clothing — and they’re offering up some ritzy fashion pieces for a small price. 

The exclusive fashion line 100 Thieves had a full apparel drop in the game this month.

The frenzy for branded add-ons has gotten so intense that Animal Crossing influencers are a thing now. The Instagram account AnimalCrossingFashionArchive shows off all of the best in-game pieces to its 24.2k followers.

But even an island paradise can’t escape geopolitics 

The game’s newfound clout is making some powerful people nervous. China, for one, would really like to ban Animal Crossing. 

Unable to gather in person, activists in Hong Kong have been staging protests against the mainland within Animal Crossing’s custom, user-generated worlds.

After activists posted banners that said “Free Hong Kong, revolution now,” the mainland forced Animal Crossing off ecommerce platforms like Taobao and Pinduoduo — shutting down the idyllic village and all of its beloved turnip plots.

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🤝 Two groups of states — one in the Northeast, and one out West — are forming alliances to figure out when to lift their coronavirus-related lockdowns.

📦 How to be a more conscientious online shopper.

⏳ With demand surging, puzzle makers are straining to keep the pieces together.

🏆 A landlord in New Jersey canceled his tenants’ rents for 3 months.

🍪 Big brands are releasing some famous recipes: Chow down on DoubleTree’s chocolate chip cookies and Disney’s Dole Whip.

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