Entrepreneurship tips from the Amish

December 5, 2019

The Hustle

Happy Thursday, people. Today, we’re wishing Larry Page and Sergey Brin luck in their new role as… empty nesters? In a note announcing their plans to step down, the Google founders wrote, “if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost.” Gee whiz, they grow up so fast… Today: 

  • Amish entrepreneurs don’t need internet to make a dollar
  • Bakers are making their loaves of bread smaller
  • Helicopter commuting isn’t exactly blue collar

Have a great day.

The Hustle Daily Email

What can we learn about entrepreneurship from the Amish?

Burgeoning Bezoses, take note: Ruthlessness and cunning aren’t the only attributes that will get you ahead. As The Guardian reports, Amish and Mennonite business owners stay on top of trends while remaining true to their values.

Going from ag to cultural 

Mennonite and Amish community members are known for low-tech — or no-tech — lifestyles. They often dress in modest clothes and drive horses and buggies. Some operate farms that have been in their families for generations. 

But staying in business means adapting with the times, and the foodie movement has been a boon to some.

In Kutztown, Pennsylvania, 3 men transformed a 200-year-old barn into a contemporary farmers’ market where church members sell locally grown produce as well as artisanal items like handcrafted pastries, bourbon-flavored honey, and garlic-flavored cheese curds. Fancy a cappuccino? They’re made with milk produced on nearby dairy farms.  

But there’s more to success than cinnamon buns

A sociologist who studies Amish communities found that 95% of new Amish businesses are still going strong after hitting the 5-year mark. That’s remarkable given only half of startups usually make it that long. 

But Amish values lend themselves to business practices that contribute to a high success rate. These include:

  • Camaraderie with competition. The idea of trade secrets isn’t pervasive among the Amish. One farmer will gladly teach methods to another farmer… even a direct competitor.
  • Flexibility with finances. Community members might make loans among themselves or adjust asking prices to accommodate buyers who aren’t flush with cash. 

Investment in hyper-local economies. Community members will go out of their way to support one another and their local businesses. And because many Amish don’t drive, it’s especially important to have a strong local economy with ample services and products.

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This week’s Signal

Custom mechanical keyboard 

Tired of your butterfly keys falling off? Perhaps you can join the 165k people searching for mechanical keyboards each month. An entire subculture of meetups, kickstarters, and conferences have been built around mechanical keyboards — and there’s plenty of room for niche entrants to design their own versions.

See more

High-flying startups are offering Uber for… flying helicopters over Ubers

Ever fantasize about commuting to work on a lavish helicopter, a la Succession’s Logan Roy? 

Several companies are attempting to make beating traffic (by flying over it) a reality, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle

Most of the flight-share innovation has centered on San Francisco’s Bay Area — where egregious congestion (which grew by 60% from 2010-16) makes even short-distance commutes hours-long headaches — but expansions to several other metropolitan areas are in the works. 

So, who are the main players?  

The biggest provider is BlackBird, an app that connects pilots and planes directly to commuters on an on-demand basis for trips in California at prices as low as $69, without the hassle of security lines. The company has already raised $16m. 

Another startup called Voom, which is owned by aviation giant Airbus, specializes in easing short-distance commutes, with service from SFO to Napa (25 minutes), San Jose (20 minutes), and Oakland (15 minutes). At $200-$270 per trip, pricing remains high for anyone without stock options, but Voom’s speed and range are impressive. 

And in 2023, Uber Elevate will launch a short-haul service (the marketing video makes it look cooler than the Jetsons) in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne.

But there are still significant challenges to scaling up

  • First, there’s the noise. Activist groups, like Residents Opposed to Airport Racket (ROAR), will lobby against increased noise pollution, a proven menace to public health. 
  • Then, there are concerns about safety. Ride-sharing companies haven’t done a stellar job hiring drivers. Will users (or the FAA) trust non-experts to hire pilots?  
  • Finally, they’ve also got to think about emissions. Environmentally conscious consumers will opt out for carpooling, electric vehicles, or public transit. But electric planes, like the ones Uber Elevate is developing, could cancel out these concerns.

Until 2023, enjoy rush hour.

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Still in a turkey coma?

Let’s be honest, working during the holiday season is H-A-R-D

The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years are packed with so much eating, drinking, and merriment that hittin’ the ol’ keyboard can feel less than exciting.

Why not make things easier for yourself?

Just use Copper, the CRM made for Google

As a CRM designed specifically for G Suite, Copper easily syncs with Gmail and lets you do everything — from within your inbox. 

Imagine managing leads and deals from the same place you read and write emails. Or seeing all your business info in one place. Or simply being as organized as a multinational corporation, even though your headcount is a fraction of theirs. 

Copper is the kind of CRM that helps small businesses become big ones — and makes the holidaze a bit easier to manage.

Try Copper →

Smaller loaves are coming to a bread aisle near you

The bread eaters have spoken, and they want smaller portions. The Wall Street Journal reports that bakers are responding to new data about American bread preferences and designing smaller products: half loaves, more thinly sliced. 

Why would consumers prefer less of something delicious? 

After decades of campaigns against food waste by environmentalists, consumers are finally beginning to worry about throwing out stale bread. 

According to a survey by the American Bakers Association, 75% of Generation Z and millennial consumers (ages 18 to 41) surveyed don’t enjoy putting bread in the trash can (our team is actively investigating the other 25%). More than half said they would buy more bread if there were smaller options. 

Dietary concerns about calories, carbs, and gluten have also contributed to demand for smaller loaves. And interest in smaller bread is strong among people who live alone — a demographic that has begun to wield major power over other markets, including those for large appliances and paper goods. 

It turns out that people are weird when it comes to bread

Here are some other curious, generational bread stats:

  • 27% (!) of younger millennials freeze their bread (the highest percentage of any generation). 
  • 65% of Gen X-ers store their bread at room temperature, meaning Gen X also has the highest percentage of normal human beings.
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Things you should…

PLAY: Candy Box with us, Free

We’re exhausted after two days of Hustle Con, so we’re all gonna play this game instead of doing our work today. (Except the writers… sorry, writers.)


CLEAN: Your face with this frighteningly good skincare Starter Kit, $66

Smearing chemical-based products on your face in an effort to look and feel good? Something about that doesn’t sound quite right… which is where Ghost Democracy comes in. Their exceptionally clean skincare products are non-toxic and chemical-free, so you can feel good about what you’re putting on your skin. Clean looks good on ya.


SCORE: An Amazon gift card when you attend a demo of Lola.com, $50 gift card

From the innovators at KAYAK comes Lola.com, the new way to book your business travel. Lola.com pulls double-duty, helping you save time and money when booking flights, hotels, and transportation. It could save your company an airplane-load of cash, and you get a nice little gift when you attend a demo. That’s what we call a win-win. *Terms apply

What Else…

Retail today is as cold as ice. This week, Canada Goose will open a new store in Toronto that’s filled with real snow and kept at the arctic temperature of 10 degrees Fahrenheit — but doesn’t actually sell any clothes. LIke other retailers, Canada Goose will use the store to facilitate brand engagement and let visitors try on inventory, then purchase items online.

🚂 Richard Branson’s too-fast train. According to the Associated Press, 41 people have been killed by high-speed trains operated by a company called Brightline since it started testing trains in 2017, giving the Richard Branson–backed business the dubious distinction of “the worst per-mile death rate of the nation’s 821 railroads” 

📳 Pablo Escobar’s brother is selling what? Roberto Escobar, the brother of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, just released the “Escobar Fold 1,” a foldable smartphone. The phone, which Escobar advertises on his website with a bunch of barely clothed lingerie models, is available starting at $349.

🍖 A vegan butcher fights back. A small Minneapolis market called The Herbivorous Butcher was denied the trademark “vegan butcher” on the grounds the phrase was “merely descriptive.” But then a Nestlé-owned plant-based food company called Sweet Earth trademarked the exact same phrase. Now, The Herbivorous Butcher is out for blood — and it’s filing opposition to prevent Nestlé from winning exclusive rights to the phrase.

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