Can a robot pick the next Oscar winner?


January 13, 2020

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Sure, it may be Monday… but at least you’re not one of those furry cat-human hybrids from the recently released Cats movie. The director of Cats overhauled the entire movie’s computer generated imagery — but people still freaked out.

Meanwhile, a startup called Cinelytic that was just acquired by Warner Bros. uses AI to predict what fans will like… and signs are pointing to less cat fur. Today:

  • AI thinks it can predict your music taste
  • A startup extracts water from thin air without the waste
  • A working mom cranks out a $2.9m/yr. salon chain posthaste
The Hustle Daily Email

And best director goes to… AI?

When cash and ego are on the line, a box-office bomb is a true catastrophe. 

In an effort to ensure films’ profitability, Warner Bros. acquired the startup Cinelytic, which uses AI to predict which creative variables will lead to box-office success. It’s like fantasy football… but can it work?

Nobody wants to be the next Cats

That’s where Cinelytic’s machine learning program might help. The algorithm examines data sets to pinpoint which factors contribute to commercial success. For example:

Would it make sense to 86 Leo and sub in Zac Efron to appeal to the under-25s?

How would that affect box-office revenues in Europe?

I minored in film studies, and THIS IS NOT ART

Chill, baby. Cinelytic CEO Tobias Queisser says AI’s purpose is to find patterns that might not be immediately apparent to humans. “But for creative decision-making, you still need experience and gut instinct,” he told The Hollywood Reporter

Many experts have expressed doubt about the algorithms’ ability to predict success in a complicated craft. Among their concerns:

  • Machine learning relies on historical data, so its insight could overlook important new information.
  • Algorithms may be limited to predictive gains, which produce tidbits like “Scarlett Johansson is a bankable film star.” No doy.

Still, these tools can churn out analyses faster than our little brains can, which helps in high-stakes situations like film festivals, where bidding battles for distribution rights require studios to act quickly. 

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Zero Mass Water image

Panels that pull water out of thin air could address shortage issues

Last week at CES, the startup Zero Mass Water introduced a water-as-a-service model that could sustainably quench the thirst of communities where water is scarce or unsafe.

Make it rain… or something like that

In the US, some 2m people don’t have running water. Problems with access and potability are so pervasive that some investors have started snapping up water rights.

In 2017, Zero Mass Water introduced its Source Hydropanels, which use solar power to extract water from captured vapor. Hydropanels require no electricity or public utility infrastructure, meaning they can be installed anywhere in the world for an off-grid, sustainable solution.

Want a drink?

There are two business models:

  • Buying a Source Field — large Hydropanel arrays that can produce millions of gallons annually — gives the customer ownership of all water produced, whether it’s for a community or a business.
  • In a Water Purchase Agreement, customers contract to buy a set amount of water each month from a Source Field.

There’s also an option for people wanting to go the DIY route. Also at CES, Zero Mass Water introduced its new Source Rexi Hydropanel, a smaller version of the OG meant to mount onto roofs of homes, businesses, and schools. These retail for $2.5k.

Zero Mass Water won the 2019 Lemelson-MIT Prize, and has raised $65m in two funding rounds since 2017.

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Are you ready to hack sleep for a successful 2020?

So, you’ve finally realized the value of high-quality sleep? Welcome to the RESTolution.  

Yep, it’s no secret anymore. One of the best things you can do for your body is get more — and better — sleep. Why? Because it aids recovery, supports your heart and your immune system, and sets a rock-solid foundation for you to perform your best each day. 

But we promised you a life hack, not a lecture, so here it is: Make a RESTolution to get better sleep this year with The WHOOP Fitness Tracker.

Howzit work?

The wrist-worn tracker collects crucial biometric data 24/7 — things like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and, yes, sleep. This mountain of data is analyzed by their algorithms that pluck out the most important nuggets to help you change your daily behavior. 

The end result? Better sleep, a better lifestyle, and feeling good enough to pick up a dumbbell instead of a fourth cup of coffee. Yep, that’s the RESTolution at work, baby. 

Whatzit do? 

What doesn’t it do? Ok, slightly dramatic, but bear with us here. 

Like we mentioned before, sleep is the foundation on which a healthy body is built. Bad sleep means poor recovery, high stress and strain, and decreased mental and physical performance. In other words, all the things that go-getters need to make the most of their days. 

If we had to boil the whole thing down to a single thought? 

Tough question, but here it goes: A healthy lifestyle starts with — and thrives on — proper maintenance. Take care of your body by taking care of your sleep, and the rest will take care of itself. After all, that’s what a true RESTolution is all about.

Check out WHOOP’s Fitness Tracker and start hacking your sleep before RESTolution season slips away.  

Hack your sleep →
Whip image

Working mom ‘whips’ together a salon chain by focusing on experience 

How do you make the salon of the future? By focusing on the favorite word of anybody who has studied millennials’ spending habits: experiences.

In 2016, Amy Pal — after working many, many corporate jobs — founded Whip Salon, which is a hybrid salon and blow dry bar. It offers blowout memberships alongside cuts and coloring. And plenty of client experiences. 

Whip Salon has phone chargers at every station, complimentary bevs, and a music app that lets clients turn their chair into a modern jukebox. It differs from various other salons that Pal said had lackluster customer service. 

Since launching, in Ridgefield, Conn., Whip Salon has won numerous awards for haircuts, eyelash extensions, and hair color, in addition to the Top Workplaces in Connecticut Award. The salon now has 3 locations, including its first franchise. Pal says multiple franchisees are slated to open in 2020.

Her advice to first time founders? Opening and running your own business is really fun, but you need to be running your business. Your business should not be running you.

  • Founder: Amy Pal
  • Employees: 62
  • Cost to launch: $70k
  • Funding methods: Personal savings
  • 1st-year revenue: $636k
  • Current annual revenue: $2.9m

Want your story featured? Fill out our Small Business survey. See financials of 600+ companies by subscribing to Trends.

Snippets

💤 There’s not much money under Casper’s mattress… The mattress startup Casper filed to go public at the end of last week and revealed that it’s still losing money. From the company’s own filing: “We have a history of losses and expect to have operating losses and negative cash flow as we continue to expand our business.”

📺 Netflix isn’t happy that you’re still using your ex’s password… According to recent reports, streaming companies lost an estimated $9.1B to password sharing in 2019.

🧬 23andMe is making drugs now. The DNA testing company 23andMe announced that it will produce dermatological treatments in partnership with a pharmaceutical development company. 23andMe developed the treatment using data it collected from the 80% of its 10m customers that consented to allow their DNA to be used in drug development.

🌮 Taco Bell is testing a $100k salary for general managers. Currently, most managers at Taco Bell make between $50k and $80k. But Taco Bell’s parent company, Yum! Brands, hopes that increasing compensation will help the company retain talent in a tight labor market.

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