Enter the Fairphone 3


August 28, 2019

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Today, friendship management startups are taking a page from the sales playbook as Natalist carves out a get-pregnant-quick nook, but first…

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Listen to our podcast 🎧 Season 2 of My First Million is live. Listen here to learn how Moiz Ali built a $100m deodorant business at his kitchen table — and read our in-depth Trends analysis about him while you’re at it.

Inside the world’s most ‘ethical’ phone

The Dutch social enterprise Fairphone just announced the launch of the Fairphone 3, the world’s most sustainable smartphone.

So what makes a smartphone sustainable, you ask?

One of the big things setting Fairphone apart is its repairable design. Whereas other companies go by the “you break it, you buy a new one” model, Fairphone 3 is a sum of 7 modules. 

Something go wonky? Just order a replacement part. Driving the point home: When you unbox one of these bad boys, it comes with a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver. 

Fairphones are not designed to be most cutting-edge on the market… 

But they should last 5 to 7 years, thus reducing CO2 emissions … and maybe saving the world by kicking planned obsolescence in the pants. 

Fairphone has taken big steps toward making sure the people assembling its phones are happy. Rather than punishing manufacturers who fail to make margin, the company pays workers bonuses for increased performance — it’s a carrot, not a stick.

Fairphone looks beyond production to watch out for workers

The company has confirmed its tin and tungsten are conflict-free, its gold is fair-trade, and its copper and plastics are sourced from recycled goods (it’s working on developing a more sustainable system to source cobalt).

Fairphone knows it won’t take over the market — Apple fanboys are gonna fanboy

But establishing a respectable supply chain means other smartphone companies — and companies in other industries — could plug in and do some good.

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Building a $100M business, one armpit at a time

Do you know what aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex is?

How about PPG-14 butyl ether? 

Yeah, us either — and that realization helped Moiz Ali build a $100m business.

See, those are common ingredients in deodorant sticks, and Moiz realized that tons of people want to be able to actually pronounce the names of things they put on their body. So, he sat at his brother’s dining room table and built Native, a natural deodorant company without all the chemical junk. 

Turns out, Moiz was on to something big: He negotiated a $100m sale of Native to Proctor & Gamble just 2.5 years after it launched. 

But it wasn’t always easy breezy — the company almost died. Twice.

Thinking about starting something at your table? Click below to listen to our podcast, My First Million, and learn from Moiz’s successes (and failures) for free. 

P.S. If you want to learn even more, read our Trends team’s in-depth business analysis of Native, here.

A new breed of startups wants to optimize your personal friendships

Tech-heads have long been hell-bent on optimizing their entire existence — from professional productivity, to personal finances and health. But studies show that a big key to health and well-being is having friends.

Now, according to Axios, startups are taking a page out of the digital sales playbook to help create a new personal relationship management trend.

Why? Because, of course they are — and because friend-management has become one of the hottest app markets in Silicon Valley.

Replacing the ‘C’ in CRM

CRM (customer relationship management) software helps salespeople keep tabs on their targets. Now, recent Y Combinator graduates are applying that same practice to friendships.

Monaru’s services manage user relationships with loved ones (focusing on the user’s closest 10 to 15 relationships) by providing data-based suggestions for appropriate gifts and restaurants. 

But the market isn’t only for nonworking hours: A company called Dex bills itself as a tool to turn work acquaintances into actual relationships through constant updates.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, buckos. This sounds like Facebook and LinkedIn territ-ry.

Do these companies have a death wish?

Facebook may have intended to help facilitate personal relationships…

But the loosely regulated social media giant and its competitors caused social issues that make it harder for some people to connect IRL — inspiring the founders of companies like Monaru and Dex to help users reclaim more meaningful personal relationships.

A tall hill to climb
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Digital grim reapers are coming for one of the last main revenue streams of newspapers

Wouldn’t it be ironic if the only thing keeping the floundering local newspaper market from croaking was the death marketplace? Well… according to local online obituary and advertising placement firm Adpay, that’s partly true.

That’s right, obit sections are a $500m yearly enterprise for local papers. But, in order to stay out of a coffin, newspapers are forced to nickel-and-dime customers looking to send their loved ones off gracefully into the night.

Now, Adpay and other digital death-care companies like Legacy.com are stepping in as the local obit’s Grim Reaper.

Desperate times call for desperate measures

Obituaries typically cost around $100 for a standard listing, but, in a large market, the average revenue per obit is around $486+ with up-charges like photos or logos of affiliated organizations. Small and medium-sized markets tend to be around $318.

Some newspapers charge obituaries by the character numbers in a piece, while others charge by the number of lines, square inches, or word count. 

Problem is, because of these desperate upcharges and paywall ransoms, local papes have driven low-income readers away.

As always, that’s where the digital age comes in

Companies like Legacy.com (which claimed to publish 1 in every 3 obits in the US back in 2017) are cornering the market by taking web traffic away from the online portion of local news organizations.

An obit for local obits

The trendiest new subscription box is here to deliver… a baby?

Earlier this week, a startup called Natalist launched a subscription box designed to help women get pregnant.

The brainchild of Halle Tecco (experienced tech founder, healthcare investor, mom), Natalist provides a variety of tools — both physical products and knowledge-based resources — to make the process simpler and more supportive of moms-to-be.

The box changes with the pregnancy experience

The “Get Pregnant Bundle” subscription box — which costs $90 for one month or $81 per month on a recurring basis — features different products for each step in the fertility journey.

The first month’s box features an illustrated Conception 101 book that describes — in jargon-free but specific terms — how conception works. 

Later boxes feature more specific products like ovulation tests or doctor-tested prenatal vitamins.

It’s a medical product… but also a lifestyle brand

Natalist employs a staff of doctors to ensure that all of its products are backed by sound science, but the company also endeavors to bring the process of pregnancy into the new millennium — with slick direct-to-consumer branding, of course.

Natalist redesigned standard pregnancy tools like ovulation tests with what Fast Company calls “a modern feminine look” (think: smooth fonts and soft colors).

The company is just one of several recent startups to launch with the mission of offering specific, female-focused care: A startup called Blume offers products for puberty; Genneve provides menopause resources.

Pregnancy goes millennial
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You’ll learn how to win the algorithm game, drive more engagement, and max out conversions. See you at the top.

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