Mindfulness means money


December 18, 2018

Competition is so not Zen in the meditation industry.
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Not so Zen: Calm and Headspace battle for market domination

When you think of meditation, certain words come to mind: Peace. Tranquility. Bliss.  But lately, the $1.2B meditation market isn’t so harmonious.

Per the WSJ, two of the industry’s leading apps, Calm and Headspace, are in what Calm’s co-CEO calls “a mindful competition with each other” — and let’s just say the Chakras are a little out of balance…

We see the flex, you sneaky digital guru, you

Headspace has dominated the meditation industry since it hit the app-mosphere in 2010. But this year, Calm — a company with 1/6th the employees — powered itself to the front of the pack.

Since winning the 2017 iPhone App of the Year award last December, Calm has pretty much been mantras and oneness ever since: According to Sensor Tower, the company raked in $50.7m in revenue this year through October — $16.4m more than Headspace.

The explosive growth of meditation

In the past 5 years, the national meditation rate has tripled. In the past 3 years, we’ve seen more than 2k new meditation apps hit the market.

Still, Headspace and Calm account for about 90% of the market’s revenue generated by the top 10 apps in the category. Collectively, they’ve seen 38m+ downloads, and this past June, they both hit 1m subscribers.

The biz gonna biz

“Healthy competition” reads like an oxymoron in the meditation industry, but business is business, and it’s fair to say that some folks closely associated with Headspace are a little sore over Calm’s award.

“It’s good PR, but it’s not determinative,” says Headspace investor Ben Spero. “It’s not Apple saying Calm is the better app -— they’re big fans of Headspace, too.” 

Like… what are awards anyway?!
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RightHand Robotics raises $23m to build robots with better hand-eye coordination

A warehouse automation startup called RightHand Robotics raised $23m to get its robotic paws on some new business in Europe and Japan. 

The Massachusetts-based robotics startup is one of several companies working to create precise ‘pick and pack’ robots that will help factories get a grip on automated e-commerce.

E-commerce operations could use a hand

Online e-commerce giants like Amazon already use robots to move boxes and bins around. Ultimately, though, they would like to automate every step in the fulfillment process. 

Thing is, picking and packing is one of the most difficult tasks to automate, and because it requires — gasp — humans, it can be expensive.

The RightHand system uses machine learning and computer vision to mimic a human’s hand-eye coordination, enabling the system to ‘pick’ up to 900 items an hour, even if it hasn’t seen them before.

Picking up where other robots left off

RightHand isn’t the only startup that makes ‘pick and pack’ robots. Competitors include Fanuc, ABB, and Kiva (which was acquired by Amazon, and whose founder is now on the RightHand board). 

But other robo-hands require expensive and time-consuming customization. In contrast, RightHand is designed to be a one-size-fits-all solution that easily adapts to a variety of warehouse tasks.

RightHand is still flexing its fingers: Though it plans to build brawnier robots, its machines can currently only pick up items that weigh less than 4.4 pounds.

» Pickin’ winners

Demand for American dairy has curdled, and now farmers are crying over spilt milk

When trade turmoil spoiled global demand for American dairy, cheesemakers stockpiled 1.39B pounds of cheese in hopes that demand for cheddar would soon get better. 

But markets remained lactose intolerant — and now, American farmers are putting their dairies out to pasture: In Wisconsin alone, 600 farms have closed this year. 

How American cheese became Frankenstein’s Muenster

Times weren’t always scary for American dairy. In 2014, demand was so grate that many dairy farmers invested in extra dairy cows. 

But dual dairy disasters soon proved farmers were too bullish on cash cows. First, domestic demand for processed, ‘American-style’ cheeses dropped as consumers favored foreign cheeses. Then, tariffs reduced American exports (Chinese exports fell 63% this year; Mexican, 10%). 

As a result, US milk prices have soured 40% and cheddar prices have spoiled 25% since 2014.

Where there’s a will, there’s a whey

Americans are eating more cheese than ever (a record 37 pounds per capita last year). Buuuut… it’s not American cheese. 

Instead, they’re choosing gouda, havarti, and fontina. It’s good news for foreign cheesemakers: Planning to double US revenue in 3 years, a Dutch gouda giant recently bought a NJ-based importer. 

For American dairy, it’s a come to cheese-us moment. To avoid udder destruction, farmers are diversifying dairy portfolios: Sargento recently added gouda and havarti, and Schuman Cheese added parmesan, asiago, fontina, and alpine (hey, ricotta do what ricotta do).

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

With American cheese makers singing the bleus, the big question is: To brie or not to brie?
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» Scary dairy

The Mom Project raises $8m as it strives to keep moms in the workforce

The Mom Project, a leading job site for moms, announced an $8m Series A funding round led by Grotech Ventures and Initialized Capital.

Using a system of algorithms, its platform pairs new mothers (and fathers) with jobs better suited to a parent’s new cooing change in priorities. The world is a baby’s bathroom, and parents are the last (and only) line of defense — but that doesn’t pay the bills. 

For moms, by moms

The Mom Project was birthed in 2016 when CEO Allison Robinson (who was on maternity leave from Pampers at the time) read a study showing that 43% of skilled women leave work after having kids.

Cut to today, and the company has 75k registered moms, and 1k companies on its roster, including giants like AT&T, Procter & Gamble, and BP.

Diversity is key

Businesses have been forced to do some soul-searching when it comes to hiring and keeping good people over the last few years, and studies show that having a diverse workforce, including women from all different backgrounds, is a key factor in creating a better company culture. 

The new round brings the company’s total funding to $11m and will help expand the Mom Project’s services as well as its footprint into more cities.

Needless to say, the Mom Project is closing out 2018 with a big ol’ family-sized bang.

» A mom-strous opportunity
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