Is no-touch tech the key for a business revival?


May 12, 2020

May 12, 2020
The Hustle
TOGETHER WITH
Meltwater

Sometimes, an idea comes along that makes you think, how did this not exist before? That’s what we thought when we heard about snacks.com, Frito-Lay’s new snack-slinging site. As domain names go, snacks.com is an all-timer. Turns out, the company’s been sitting on it for 20+ years, and spun up the new site in 30 days.

We can’t argue with the timing — who couldn’t use a few more ’itos to get them through the day?

Can’t Touch This

The contactless takeover: No-touch tech will be key to reopening businesses

Here’s one sign that Americans might have been a bit slow to embrace contactless payments: Visa had to recruit pro athletes like Zach and Julie Ertz to show us not-jacked humans how easy the tap-and-go is.

It may have once occupied a niche in the US, but contactless tech is about to break out. 

As more businesses reopen, customers will use contactless tools to place orders and buy goods, and companies will use them to put their patrons’ health-related fears at ease.

Mobile payments are already taking off:

  • Mastercard’s CEO said recently that his company saw contactless payments jump 40% in the 1st quarter of 2020. 
  • An American Express survey found that contactless payments were gaining in popularity, with cash and card swipes on the decline.

Here are a few places where you might see contactless options next.

1. In the checkout line

Modern Retail reported that contactless options will be key to stores’ reopening plans. Kohl’s is encouraging customers to pay through its app “to make the checkout experience as contactless as possible.”

Steve Villegas, a VP at the payments company PPRO, told Modern Retail that companies who don’t embrace these types of digital payments “will struggle for consumer adoption.”

2. At the movie theater

Say goodbye to the pimpled teenager who scoops your bag of popcorn. 

A major theater chain in South Korea replaced its human staff with robots and self-serve solutions — think automated snack bars and unmanned ticketing systems.

For all the tweens out there who think it could be the perfect time to sneak into an R-rated flick — it might not be so easy. Audiences may have to scan their IDs to see movies restricted to certain age groups.

3. At your favorite restaurant

Eateries are rolling out digital menus and app-based ordering systems to keep diners safe. 

Fast food could look very different: a McDonald’s in the Netherlands is testing out meal trolleys and thinking about table service. And a table-booking system will be tested at one of Italy’s classic restaurants — Burger King.

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Trends Funding for Bootstrappers lecture

To raise or not to raise, that is the question

When starting a business, most people consider two potential routes:

  1. Raise VC funds and get hitched to the unicorn path, where hyper-growth is your only north star. That is, if your product is sticky enough for the “hockey stick”.
  2. Choose to “ride solo” and bootstrap, building your business with little to no outside capital. We know this grind well, because that’s the route we took at The Hustle.

Both have their pros and cons, but what if we told you that the world doesn’t have to be so black and white? 

This week, we’re bringing in Tyler Tringas (founder of Earnest Capital) and David Perell (founder of Write of Passage) to lead a fascinating discussion about Funding for Bootstrappers

They’ll talk about how founders can adapt during the COVID-19 era, tactics for bootstrappers looking beyond VC funding, and the fundamentals of profitable software businesses — or, in Tyler’s words, “The New American Dream”.

Join us on Thursday 5/14, at 3pm ET (12pm PT).

Grab your spot →
Homebound Improvement

The next stage of quarantine boredom is the redecorating phase

First we hoarded toilet paper. Then we baked sourdough and whipped up dalgona coffee. Next we gave each other some terrible haircuts.

Now we’re ascending one notch on the DEFCON boredom scale: We’ve entered the home-improvement era.

Live from your house, it’s HGTV

Vox has a name for our socially isolated form of interior design: “pandecorating.” 

Those fortunate enough to be working from home are channeling their boredom into DIY carpentry, painting, and perfecting their domestic feng shui.

That means foot traffic and sales at hardware stores are trending up — but you don’t have to leave your house to indulge your inner interior decorator. 

The online home goods retailer Wayfair is known for selling practically anything under the sun (like office furniture, hot tubs, a kitchen mat in the shape of a $100 bill, and… “Real Life Chicken Wall Decal.”) 

Wayfair shares skyrocketed recently after reports of booming sales. Either we really need a good office chair, or we really need chicken decals.

So… why are we all amateur decorators now?

Here’s one theory: You can only sit inside one space for so long before frustration — and the urge to pick up a paintbrush or a hammer — sets in. 

If you’re feeling the itch yourself, be warned: Experts say you should leave anything electrical to the pros. You might try that suddenly popular peel-and-stick wallpaper instead.

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Sponsored

Take it from Selena Gomez and T-Swift: Mastering PR pays off

Download this free Ultimate Guide to PR in 2020

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, both of these pop stars’ long-term commitment to fan engagement, relationship building, and carefully crafting their public image has done wonders for their brands (and careers). 

Now, just imagine what that same commitment to PR could do for your business… *cue mouth watering*

This Ultimate Guide to PR in 2020 from Meltwater will give you a head start on the competition with all the details you need to win at PR this year.

It covers:

  • Key elements of modern PR strategies
  • The 14 must-have KPIs for your PR team
  • The best PR tech to help your business monitor coverage 

Download it here and be the Taylor Swift of [Insert Your Industry Here] in no time.

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IP-Whoa

An IPO in this economy? A used-car dealer is revving up for its big debut

Car sales might be at record lows right now, but Vroom — a digital used-car marketplace — filed confidentially for an IPO that it wants to hold next month

It may sound crazy, but there’s some logic to it: Vroom sells many of its cars online, and with the pandemic poised to reshape how we shop, Vroom is all gassed up about its future.

The roadblocks? First, the company’s main competitor, Carvana, already rules the digital car-sales market. In 2019, it earned ~6.6x more in gross profits than Vroom did.

And second, IPOs right now are riskier than ever. As one venture capitalist explained to CNBC, a weak market cuts into a company’s valuation.

Big yikes to this year’s Wall Street hopefuls 

2020 was supposed to be Airbnb’s year. As late as last September, the company promised that it would finally roll out of bed and head over to the trading floor. Now, however, it’s laying off large segments of its staff.

Airbnb’s IPO future looks bleak, but so does everyone else’s: Many big companies — like the footwear brand Cole Haan — delayed their Wall Street blitzes back in March. 

But there’s a silver lining for the markets. Members of the IPO Class of 2019 are actually doing… really well right now. 

Underlying concerns about unprofitable business models persist, but Zoom, Beyond Meat, Slack, and Peloton are all having big years. That might be making some newcomers unusually optimistic. 

A few brave companies are still greenlighting their IPOs 

Here’s a quick roundup:

  • Biopharma is where you’d want to be if you had to launch this year. Four companies had successful debuts during the pandemic, and another is gearing up for an IPO later this month.
  • Sports gambling companies, even though there are basically no sports to bet on right now. On April 24, DraftKings went public in a nontraditional way — through a merger. GAN followed on May 5.
  • Kingsoft Cloud: The Chinese cloud computing company had a big public debut on US markets last week, despite icy US-China relations.
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The Hustle Says

It’s our very own account manager Cayla’s birthday today! Treat yourself to a Milk Bar cake (her favorite dessert) to celebrate. As if you needed an excuse…

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A Fair Trade?

2020 or 1320? Meet the new bartering craze

Medieval peasants are getting the last laugh. With a disrupted supply chain turning the likes of Lysol wipes and face masks into rare delicacies, towns across America are forming their own barter economies.

Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor are awash with people swapping lemons for marmalade, toilet paper for dish soap, wheat grinders for finished bread. 

Bartering groups are no joke 

One Ventura, California, bartering group — which launched on Facebook about 7 weeks ago — boasts 4.6k+ members. 

Across posts in public Facebook groups, the words “barter” and “trade” have gotten a 250%+ boost over the last 2 months. 

It’s an especially big moment for Facebook’s “Buy Nothing” movement — a patchwork of local groups that have popped up in cities and towns since 2013 in hopes of reducing waste. 

Buy Nothing says it aims to create a “gift economy”: Instead of turning to Amazon or eBay, you should find ways for you and your neighbors to help each other first. 

Let this trend warm your cold, cold heart

The new bartering economy isn’t just about the supply chain, nor is it necessarily selfish. Many people just want to spread some kindness right now. 

One Providence, Rhode Island, resident, Ari Koontz, decided on a whim to leave chocolate chip cookies outside some neighbors’ houses. Soon after, someone left Koontz cornbread and cookies.

According to Eater, a gifting system soon flourished across Koontz’s neighborhood, with herbs, sourdough starters, and beans flying all across the block. 

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Snippets

👀 Elon Musk said Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California is reopening — over the objections of Alameda County officials.

🤖 Our habits during the pandemic have gotten so strange that they’re screwing with AI models trained to learn from normal human behavior.

📎 The latest drop from the mischief-makers at MSCHF: every episode of The Office, re-created in Slack.

🎧 Fire up the Spotify party: A new feature will let Premium users share control over what’s playing.

📺 “The Simpsons” has a weird tendency to predict real life. A fancy visualization lays out every time the show got it right.

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

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