Cashmere isn’t always warm and fuzzy

March 6, 2020

Today, we’re looking ahead to International Women’s Day. That’s this Sunday, March 8th. A new report on the landscape for female startup founders over the last decade shows some discouraging trends, and some reasons for hope — read on for details. Elsewhere:

  • Cashmere goats are as soft as a shawl
  • Vending machines are selling it all
  • Classic-car auctions bring in a haul
Soft wool, hard times

In Mongolia, cashmere is king… but it could cause the economy to slowly unravel

Mongolia is the cashmere capital of the world. The world’s least sparsely populated sovereign country is home to less than 3.3m people… and 27m cashmere goats.

No matter how you spin it, the country’s goats really are the GOAT: They’re either Mongolia’s Greatest Opportunity of All Time… or they’re its Greatest Obstacle of All Time. 

Goats are the fuzzy foundation of Mongolia’s economy

They’ve been an important thread since the days of Genghis Khan.

But cashmere cash got really fluffy in the 1990s, when Mongolia ditched communism and eliminated government grazing quotas. The number of grazing livestock exploded under the looser restrictions. 

Today, Mongolia’s 27m goats account for between 20% and 40% of global ’shmere supply. Their hair is also Mongolia’s 3rd largest export — and goat byproducts including cashmere employ roughly 50% of Mongolians. 

But those same goats also pose a hairy dilemma 

On the one hoof, goats stitch together the cardigan of Mongolia’s economy.

But on the other, overgrazing has damaged 70% Mongolia’s land — and even transformed 25% of its grasslands into desert.

Now, dying grasslands (and related pollution) are leaving goats without enough to eat — which could cause the cashmere-conomy to unravel.

So Mongolia’s making hard decisions about its soft wool

The Mongolian government is focused on finding a way to cash in on cashmere… without causing a catastrophe. 

Its primary focus is keeping more cashmere close to home: Today, 90% of Mongolia’s raw cashmere is sold to Chinese brokers, who then stitch it into a global supply chain, including brands like J. Crew (whose sweaters require roughly 4 goats-worth of hair).

Mongolia’s main strategies are:

  1. Incentivizing the construction of more processing facilities in-country to establish a “Made in Mongolia” premium.
  2. Partnering with a Canadian company to streamline the supply chain so that it prioritizes Mongolian processing facilities and limits overgrazing.

In theory, a higher percentage of cashmere cash in Mongolia could reduce the grazing required to make an average herder feel warm and fuzzy.

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Meals by Machine

A meaty vending machine might be the next defense against coronavirus

You can get practically anything out of a vending machine these days. Need proof? Look no further than South Korea, where an unmanned box o’meat is slinging fresh lamb, beef, and pork cuts to people who might be afraid to visit restaurants in light of the coronavirus.

It’s not clear exactly how much business the Meatbox 365 is dishing out, but a reader of The Spoon said that “in Korea, non-commercial, unmanned fresh food stores” — the beloved Meatbox included — “are popular because of the coronavirus.”

It’s not delivery, it’s vending

The Meatbox 365 hit the streets in October, and The Spoon’s discriminating palates are hailing it as the latest sign of a “golden age of vending machines.”

  • The company behind Bake Xpress and Le Bread Xpress has served up croissants, baguettes, pizzas, and turkey-and-brie sandwiches.
  • Chowbotics promises fresh, robot-prepared salads, with hospitals being an especially lucrative locale.
  • The Applestone Meat Company sells 24/7 cuts like its “Bone-Out Dry Aged Beef Ribeye Steak” from vending machines in 2 NYC locations.

Robots can even pop open a cold one

Two years ago, when the Florida-based La Galere Markets tried to open a boozy vending machine, the state liquor board blocked it.

But in January, an appeals court served the mini-mart with a pitcher of good news: Wine and beer vending machines, the court concluded, are perfectly legal in Florida.

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A pre-IPO investment opportunity that comes with a whole lotta wine? Tell us more… 

Winc, a data-driven winery, has opened their latest investment round to the public. So, what makes them so special? Their unique approach, which has scored them innovation recognition from the likes of Inc. and Fast Company: 

  • Real-time feedback (lots of it): Winc wines have over 3.5 million ratings from 542K active members
  • Leveraging data: Winc identifies purchasing trends to produce wines specifically tailored to consumer habits
  • Diversified distribution: Rather than put all its grapes in one basket, Winc offers D2C online membership while also shipping to national wholesalers and retailers like Whole Foods and Vons

And now, they’re popping their corks for investors

Winc just announced its first online public offering — a Regulation A+ campaign hosted on SeedInvest. 

This pre-IPO investment round is a chance for cork dorks like us to get in on a sweet investment deal that also comes with plenty of wine… talk about a win-win. 

The last day to invest is March 27th, so secure your place in the round by heading over to SeedInvest before then. 

A grape investment →
Life in the Fast Lane

Classic-car auctions hit a speed bump. An upstart raced to the front of the pack crossed the starting line in classic-car auctions almost 6 years ago, listing all of 3 rides. Today, the site known as “BaT” boasts 2m monthly visitors and 100k registered bidders.

How did BaT go bananas? It burned rubber and made a few sharp turns.

Meanwhile, old-school auctions sputtered in neutral

At Arizona Auction Week, one of the industry’s major events, sales were down 3% from last year. Experts say sales have stalled because too many players flooded the market’s engine. (Dang rookie drivers…)

Bring a Trailer is waving to the suckers in the slow lane:

  • Sales hit more than $230m last year — a $41% jump over 2018.
  • The site listed some 11k cars, with a sell-through rate of 70%.

BaT relies on strict quality control, top-notch listings, and a staff that knows its stuff. One worker discovered that a version of an Austin Mini auctioned on the site for $230k had once been presented to Queen Elizabeth.

And BaT’s got something rarer than rides fit for royalty…

…a comments section that’s actually… good! The car-crazed commentariat’s boffo backseat banter convinced BaT to host barbecues for the most prolific yakkers.

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The Hustle Says

Brushing your dog’s teeth has never been easier. Introducing, chicken paste.

Speaking of dogs… if Fido has been getting hair and drool all over your sheets, it’s time to swap ‘em out for Bed Threads. Natural, 100% pure French flax linen, baby. 

Want to hustle smarter? Ditch the coffee for MatchaBar Hustle. Plant-based matcha energy, no crash, no jitters. Use code TheHustle for 25% off at MatchaBar.*

*This is a sponsored post.

Equity Problems

Sunday is International Women’s Day. Here are 3 new insights on female founders

There’s a stubborn problem in Startupland: Female-founded companies still see just a sliver of the monetary pie.

In the last decade, the share of invested dollars that went to companies founded by women stayed flat at 3%.

That’s one insight from a fresh CrunchBase report on the landscape for female founders. As we look ahead to International Women’s Day on Sunday, here are 3 more:

1️⃣ Companies founded by women only raised significantly less than those founded by men only. An average of 13% less, that is.

2️⃣ But the share of funded startups with at least 1 female founder is growing. In 2019, it was 20%, compared to 10% in 2009. And on average, companies co-founded by men and women raised more than those founded by either group alone.

3️⃣ Also growing: The pack of unicorns with a female founder. There were 21 in 2019, compared to just 5 in 2016.

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🚦 “Cousin Eddie Says Twitter’s Full: Put The Phone Down.” Highway honchos are cracking jokes to capture your attention.

🎒 The inside story of the iBackpack, a crazy crowdfunding fiasco.

📸 Before Clearview AI was a favorite tool of the police, its investors used it like a toy to identify strangers.

🗺 All about Locate X, the secretive product that lets government agencies zero in on phones and track where they’ve been.

💅 Regular pedicures are out. VR pedicures are in.

Want snippets like these in your browser? Download our Chrome extension here.

Shower Thoughts

Did you know it’s National Cereal Day??? Dip your spoon into these ceriously tasty Shower Thoughts to celebrate… 

1. Lucky Charms should make “trick or treat” boxes that are either all cereal or all marshmallows.

2. Somebody had to come up with a jingle for Frosted Flakes, and out of all the possible entries, they settled on “They’re great!

3. Why don’t bags of dog food have dog toys at the bottom like cereal boxes do?

4. It’s 2020, and not one cereal company has created zip-locked bags for the cereal.

5. If khakis were a breakfast cereal, they’d be Kix.

Via Reddit

Want thoughts like these dropped straight on your desk every day? Snag The Hustle’s 2020 Daily Shower Thoughts Calendar

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