Summer side hustles for the pandemic era


July 17, 2020

Mailbox revamps, bedtime cookies, sneaker sales — they’re all moneymakers.
July 17, 2020
The Hustle
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I don’t know how I ended up on the “DIY Face Shield” section of YouTube, but this video guide for turning your Krispy Kreme box into a face shield made the journey worth it.

The only thing better than the video? Knowing that the good people over at Krispy Kreme HQ are having a field day with it.  

Michael Waters, staff writer

The Big Idea

Mailbox makeovers, bedtime cookies: Meet the teen entrepreneurs of the pandemic summer

Last summer, Dominic, a 13-year-old in Alpharetta, Georgia, spent most of his time on Fortnite. But this year, he’s rebranding. He’ll repaint your mailbox, add new flags, and replace your faded street number with vinyl lettering. 

Earlier this week, we asked how students were finding work this summer — and Dominic (via his Hustle-reading dad) was one of many creative upstarts to respond.

Talk about bootstrapping

Dominic doesn’t have a Facebook page of his own, so he uses his parents’ accounts to advertise his services. So far this summer, he’s earned about $600. 

Another reader — Angus Timoney, a 17-year-old in Gold Coast, Australia — has made $10k/month reselling sneakers

He buys about 50 new pairs every month, usually within seconds of an online release. He keeps the excess kicks in his house until their value goes up. 

sneakers

What it looks like to operate a sneaker resale biz out of your room. Photo via Angus Timoney

It’s especially profitable in Australia, Timoney says, where there’s less inventory. (Here’s a road map on how to get your start in the biz.)

A few other impressive hustles

  • Madelyn Cohen, a 14-year-old in New York, set up a business — called Sag Harbor Nite-Nite Cookies — where she delivers bedtime cookies and storybooks to young kids in the Hamptons.
  • Phoebe, a 12-year-old in Perth, Australia, designed a deck of 54 cards with ideas for how kids can spend their time in quarantine. 
  • Nygel Jones, a 22-year-old from New York City, is beta testing his startup RE:Locate, which helps college graduates tap into new professional networks when they move. 
  • 14-year-old Liam, based in Tennessee, started asking local businesses if they had old computer parts they needed to recycle. He’s selling the diamonds in the rough — like a vintage Apple IIe computer — on eBay. He’s made $500 so far.

We asked our Trends subscribers about the summer jobs that inspired them. We heard about some classic gigs (lawn care, car washes) and some weird ones — like one aspiring entrepreneur who sold ripped CDs of animal sounds to hunters. 

Wanna take a walk down memory lane? Read their stories to start your stroll.

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Planning ahead

End-of-life startups breathe life into grave situations

Life is full of complicated decisions… so it’s no surprise to learn that death is, too.

Burial or cremation? If the latter, what to do with your ashes? Scatter ‘em? Smoosh ‘em into diamonds? Perhaps you’d like to be a tree.

Startups founded to help people “navigate mortality” have been gaining traction, and they’ve taken off in popularity during the pandemic.

Death, be not proud… or too expensive

Death and money are both taboo topics. Maybe that’s why we don’t discuss the fact that the average funeral cost $7,640 last year.

But Cake and Lantern are free services that help establish end-of-life wishes like who’ll be your designated decision maker, how your possessions will be divided up, and even what you’d like to be your final tweet. 

Cake balances the macabre with mirth — we dig the tombstone generator

Meanwhile, Trust and Will calls itself the TurboTax of estate planning. New Narrative, a funeral event planner, partnered with the online memorial scrapbook company LifeWeb 360 to offer virtual celebrations of life. 

All together now

During the pandemic, younger people have opened up their feelings around death. Lantern’s user base has grown by 123%.

Many industry leaders still keep trade secrets close to vest, but there’s a ~70-member-strong Slack channel for end-of-life service providers called Death & Co. 

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Snippets

😋  Little Free Pantries operate on a “take what you need, leave what you can” principle — and it’s blown up during the pandemic. There are now 1k+ mini pantries across the country. 

🏢  If you’re applying to work in an Amazon warehouse, you don’t have to talk to another person — one worker reported that he watched a video, took a quiz, and got the job 20 minutes later.

😴  The Calm app is… becoming a TV show? HBO Max is adapting the meditation brand’s “Sleep Stories” audio series into a 10-episode series starring Nicole Kidman, Mahershala Ali, and Lucy Liu.

🐦  The Twitter hack could have been way, way worse. WIRED has a good rundown of why security experts are so panicked. 

⏰  A group of urban leaders is recommending that cities redesign themselves around close-knit neighborhoods. That means cutting back on cars and building new bike lanes. Count me in.

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“Can’t tweet help”

The dictionary account that saved blue-check Twitter

On Wednesday night, verified Twitter was in the throes of a crisis. 

After the Great Hack of 2020 made it look like Joe Biden and Elon Musk tweeted out extremely sketchy bitcoin donation links, Twitter blocked many verified accounts from tweeting.

For a few hours, all of your A-to-D-list celebrity faves couldn’t post — but they could retweet. 

To communicate from beyond the virtual grave, they turned to the account @everyword

Flashback to the days of the @everyword empire

If you’d heard of the account before this week, you’ve been on the internet longer than me. 

@Everyword launched in 2007 with the goal of tweeting all of the words in the English dictionary, one at a time. 

The account was so popular that The Atlantic and The Washington Post covered its final tweets in 2014. The New York Review of Bots (not a typo) called it “the best” bot on the internet. 

But on Wednesday, the account re-entered the mainstream — blue-check users started retweeting old @everyword posts, one at a time, to talk to their followers.

What were their all-important messages?

  • The Ringer writer Shea Serrano used @everyword to spell out “I will not be silenced.” 
  • Video game developer Rami Ismail wrote “let me tweet again.”
  • Nate Silver stuck with “poll shows democrat leading.”

The whole mess felt a lot like that scene from Arrival, where Amy Adams tries to communicate with an alien species using a sign that says “Human.”

Do you have a favorite weird or essential Twitter account you follow? Hit us up @TheHustle and we’ll make a list of ‘em.

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THE BIG NUMBER
Here In My Pier 1…

A buzz-worthy buyer is snapping up the IP of one of America’s many troubled retail chains

A company called Retail Ecommerce Ventures is buying the online assets and IP of Pier 1 Imports, which filed for bankruptcy protection in February, for a cool $31m

Sooo… who is REV, anyway?

As our own Sam Parr pointed out to our Trends group: Two of the brains behind Retail Ecommerce Ventures are serial entrepreneurs, and one of them’s controversial.

Tai Lopez is an investor and social-media influencer (with 2.9m Instagram followers and 1.3m+ YouTube subscribers). You might know him better as the “here in my garage” advice guy — Vice once called him “the internet’s most hated self-help guru.”

Alex Mehr is a former NASA scientist who sold the online-dating platform Zoosk in a deal valued at $250m+.

REV’s MO?

Take failing retail chains and spin them into ecommerce success stories. 

Dressbarn, another troubled chain, went out of business and closed all 544 of its stores last year. A subsidiary of REV bought Dressbarn’s IP and kept the brand alive through an ecommerce business.

Lopez is courting partners on his Instagram account. All you need? $400k.

We asked our Hustle insiders for their takes on REV’s move.

From Joe Speiser, founder of Brax.io:

“I thought the allure of Dressbarn was sifting through the bins to find the hidden gems (hard to do online). Pier 1 was also a very hands-on store, all knick knacks you wouldn’t necessarily specifically look for on your own unless you were in-store. Curious how well this will translate to online-only.”

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The Hustle Says

Cool regular-sized pool float ya got there. Would be a shame if someone… bought a 20 foot inflatable parrot and made yours look like a little baby toy 🤔 (good luck blowing it up though).

Mr. President of The Hustle himself will be sitting down with Salesforce on 7/23 to talk future-proofing your biz. Join Adam Ryan, Salesforce VP of Sales Laura Dieden, and Brideside Co-Founder Sonali Lamba at this free webinar by registering here.*

This free Sales Incentives Planning Guide from Blueboard will show you how to hook your top-performing sales reps up. We’re talkin’ sweet rewards like learning to DJ, zenning out at a luxury spa, or chasing the Northern Lights (yes, those Northern Lights). *

SoulCycle, Home Depot, and 37k+ other companies use this remote teams tool. But it’s not just for remote teams — it’s for everyone. The Meeting Owl by Owl Labs was built as a tool to help in-office and remote employees stay in touch better, wherever they may be.*

*This is a sponsored post.

Conversation Starters

Is FAATMAN a great Big Tech acronym… 

… or the greatest Big Tech acronym?

In case you don’t know what it stands for: Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, Tesla, Microsoft, Apple and Netflix.

Chartr broke down the boom times for Silicon Valley’s biggest fish:

What’s your best secret to a successful relationship?

Congrats to Trends contributor Polina Marinova, founder of The Profile newsletter, who got married last week. When she broke the news to her readers, she asked for their advice on how to have a happy marriage.

Based on feedback from 100+ readers, Polina cobbled together The Profile’s “ultimate guide to successful relationships.” It’s well worth reading.

Level up your ecommerce know-how

Last week, Sam quizzed his Twitter followers:

  • This 8-year-old bootstrapped ecommerce clothing company had £176m in revenue in 2019, with £18m in operating profit and £30m cash in the bank.

Can you guess who it is?

It’s Gymshark. And if you’re wondering how a bootstrapped business grew so fast while stockpiling so much dough, read this thread and be amazed.

If you had $10k to invest right now, where would you put it?

Read some market veterans’ advice. Then challenge your Robinhood rivals to come up with a better idea.

Stocks Section Header Hustle Horoscope

A super-serious look at what’s coming your way, if stars align.

Trader Joe’s will release a line of cookie butter beer in September.

Prediction: This is going to enter the “blood orange chocolate chip ricotta” school of Trader Joe’s things we will never understand.

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Shower Thoughts

Did you know? The first Shower Thought was conceived in 1821 by Professor Margaret Showerton, who was mid-shampoo when it occurred to her that “if a sloth were to clap, it would always sound sarcastic.”

We owe ya one, Marge.

1. If everyone on earth was to compete in a global game of Rock Paper Scissors, the winner will only have to play 32 times

2. 12 AM doesn’t feel like the middle of the night anymore but 3 AM does

3. If dogs understood peanut butter cups, they would find it cruel that we took one of their favourite people foods and stuffed it in a shell of poison

4. The answer to the age old half empty or full glass question: It depends on your last action with it. If you drank from it it’s half empty, but if you filled it it’s half full.

5. People with hearing aids can mute you in real life.

via Reddit
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