Mundanity Insanity


March 20, 2019

Today, picture frame startups, an extra-glossy Glossier, and some Kentucky fun, but first…
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One zip to rule them all: After years of dominance, YKK now faces competition

Trivia hour… 

Q: Without looking, what brand is the zipper on your pants? 

A: Probably Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, better known as “YKK.” 

That’s because the Japanese giant makes almost half the zippers on earth — more than 7B a year.

But, its Chinese challenger, SBS — which has established itself as the go-to for affordably priced zippers to mass-market brands like Adidas — has further encroached on YKK’s top-tier turf in the last decade.

SBS isn’t the only Chinese company with skin in the (zipper) game

The zipper biz has slowly evolved from local brands to a dominant multinational YKK… and now the company has a target on its back. 

There are a dozen or so smaller, 3-letter Chinese firms (YCC, YQQ…) that compete in the affordable tier markets. 

SBS — founded in ’84 — leads the pack in output, patents, and export share (about 25%). Unlike the other companies, it also doesn’t mince words when it comes to its aspirations of dethroning YKK.

Mundanity insanity

As unsexy as the zipper biz seems, the battle between the two powerhouses has become like the Red Sox and Yankees… of zippers.

With $10B in annual revenue and a 40% global market share, YKK is still ahead in the race, but, as the company struggles to match SBS’s output, the competition is bound to continue.

SBS, which has garnered attention for selling higher quality metal at more affordable prices, has started to imitate YKK’s core strategies of reach, integration (YKK controls every part of its manufacturing process), and innovation by assembling in-house R&D teams.

All zips point to duopoly

YKK, which has long been exclusive to higher-end markets, decided to fight fire with fire as it plans to zip itself into the bargain market to go after SBS’ — and other competitors’ — bottom lines.

YKK’s one-time monopoly is showing signs of becoming a global duopoly as SBS continues to partner with higher-profile luxury brands. But it’s going to take SBS a long time to trounce YKK’s big money advantages.

Zip it. Zip it good
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Glossier becomes the latest female-founded unicorn

Glossier, the beauty business that started out from a side hustle blog just 5 years ago, raised $100m in funding at a $1.2B valuation. The company, which sells direct to consumer, is run by a female CEO and CFO.

Rabbithole: The business of skin is IN.

Framebridge reframes the picture boundary business

The direct-to-consumer custom picture-framing business, which offers an affordable and efficient alternative to tedious traditional framing, is launching 2 physical stores. The company has already raised more than $67m.

Rabbithole: The D2C revolution.

Kickstarter’s workers are the first in big tech to unionize

Although employees at Google and elsewhere are increasingly vocal in protest of certain contracts, unions remain uncommon in big tech. But Kickstarter’s employees finally followed digital media’s lead and unionized.

Rabbithole: Marshmallow workers, however, are covered.

Instagram rolls out a new in-app buying button

The new feature, which enables buyers to discover and pay for a new pair of shoes all within the app, transforms Instagram into a never-ending digital catalog. The launch includes H&M and 19 other brands.

Rabbithole: Social media’s creative when it comes to commerce.

Google goes after gamers

Yesterday, Google announced “Stadia,” an ultra-convenient gaming platform that doesn’t require hardware or bulky downloads. Games for this so-called “Netflix of gaming” are expected by this summer.

Rabbithole: The race to become the first game-streaming giant.

Battle of the booze-delivery companies 

A startup called “Thirstie” raised $7m for its alcohol delivery service. The company is taking aim at existing companies like Drizly, which has raised $69.6m — but couldn’t they have at least made their name a little different?

Rabbithole: Watch out, Amazon wants to sell you hooch, too.

Back on the b-ball beat: March Madness edition

We quantified the time, now it’s time to quantify the dime: Reports show that 47m people expected to put a down a total of $8.5B on the NCAA men’s basketball tourney in pools and elsewhere.

Rabbithole: Upsets ain’t cheap

Hyundai and Kia jump on the EV bandwagon

EV startup Ola raised $300m as part of a partnership with Hyundai and Kia focused on EV development, bringing the company’s total raised to $3.8B.

Rabbithole: The Flipkart founder’s down

Check the stats

Congrats, Kentuckians: You’re the biggest drunk spenders in America!

A few weeks back, we ran a survey asking you all to share your drunk shopping habits (how much you spend, what you buy, where you buy it) and then dug into how it all varies by age, profession, income, and a ton of other variables.

Turns out, you sloppy jabronies spend an average of $444 per year on stuff while under the influence. Those of you in Kentucky nearly double that.

Makes sense — y’all have some damn fine bourbon down there.

A short list of things people don’t remember buying: a full-size inflatable bouncy castle, a WW2-era bayonet, inpromptu tickets to the Cayman Islands, a pan flute, and lots of sex toys.

Be sure to check out the full results in this Sunday’s email. You won’t be disappointed.

Drunk as a skunk
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Partners in wine: bored MIT grads create wine matchmaking algorithm

After picking another bottle of bad wine, MIT grads Richard Yau and Joe Laurendi realized what the wine world was missing: guidance. 

The duo knew nothing about their wine preferences — and learning through trial and error was cutting into their wallets. So, the two MIT grads did as any former mathlete would do: they created a wine matching algorithm and raised $5m to share it with the world. 

Today, that algorithm powers Bright Cellars and delights mouths across the country. 

Dip your toe in the waters wines of sophistication

Instead of asking snobby wine questions about “tannins” and “legs,” the Bright Cellars quiz asks, “What type of chocolate do you like?” or “How do you take your coffee?” 

They ask questions anyone with a tongue can answer — plus, it’s totally free to see your matches. 

Bright Cellars’ algorithm uses your answers to map out your preferences and suggest wines that’ll tickle your t-buds. 

Then, Bright Cellars handpicks four bottles each month and sends them directly to you. It’s like your personal guide through the vineyards of the world, all from the comfort of your apartment. 

Discover wines you’re sure to love and get them delivered directly to you. For the next 48 hours, Hustle Readers can use our link to get $50 off your first shipment. 

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