Today’s word count: 1,870 (~8 minutes)
Our Trends team is gathered in SF this week to map out our next few months. I flew in early and spent a few days at Yosemite National Park, where I camped out of a bright green JUCY Trailblazer. Have you seen these things? They were all over the park.
JUCY was started by two brothers in New Zealand in 2001 with a fleet of 35 camper vans. Today the company has more than 4,000 vans and cars across Australia, New Zealand, and the US, earning ~$52k/year per vehicle — or more than $200m/year in revenue. We’ll tell you more about them in an upcoming report.
You often ask us how we get ideas for stories. For starters, we talk to lots of people who have their finger on the pulse.
But we want to make sure we’re covering what you want us to write about.
More than 70% of you say you would recommend us to a friend. But we want that number to be way higher.
So let us know — right here — what you like and don’t like, and what you’d like to see in the future. We’re also working on a way for you to earn rewards for referring others to Trends. More on that soon.
Here’s what we’ve got in store for you this week…click the link to jump to the story:
- Chat fiction: Companies are using interactive story games and chat fiction apps to encourage smartphone users to read more.
- Sneaker mania: The sneaker resale market is worth $2B annually; you’ll need a bot with a cool nickname to get started.
- New database: We’re releasing the first iteration of our Private Mergers & Acquisition Database.
- How to win at content marketing: Serial entrepreneur Joe Speiser, who once operated the most shared site on Facebook, dishes on how to repeat his success.
- Plus: What age should you be debt-free? And more…
Here are our best reads from last week: Our most popular stories were on the $33B billboard business and an amazing tool that shows you how rich people make money. (Go ahead, click it again — it’s worth your time.) New readers can see past emails here.
– Brad of The Hustle
PS: After we published a deep dive on the plant industry, some of you were curious about where to buy wholesale plants. Good news: There are several online and regional options where succulents can be purchased for $1 to $2 (The Sill, the popular plant startup, sells succulents for between $9 and $30!)
Many other vendors, such as Altman Plants, sell wholesale plants regionally or require you to register as a company before they’ll sell.
My JUCY in Yosemite
1. How one app won over 100+ million teens
Ever seen a teenager read a book? Yeah me neither. But I’ll bet you’ve seen one with a screen 4 inches from her face.
That mobile-first mindset led Prerna Gupta and Parag Chordia, co-founders of the crazy popular app, Hooked, to modernize the way content creators connect with young adults.
Their invention: a bite-size text message format app that has hooked 100+ million kids on suspenseful stories, enticing them to cough up subscription fees of up to $39.99/month.
The takeaway: Technology has made it easy for companies to connect directly with consumers. But your content better connect if you want to stand out.
Gupta and Chordia used a tried-and-true startup tactic — get early versions of your product in front of customers and make changes based on their feedback — to create a whole new storytelling format.
Check out their story to make deeper connections with your customers.
2. Make millions as a sneaker entrepreneur
The sneaker market is booming — last month, the “sneaker stock exchange” StockX raised $110m at a valuation north of $1B, and some individual shoe sellers make upwards of $250k. As we discussed last week, the resale market in general is expected to double in five years, and sneakers are a major component.
Our report shows you how to become a sneaker entrepreneur, with an exclusive analysis of which shoes are selling the fastest.
Breaking in: To re-sell shoes for thousands, buyers can’t just show up at Foot Locker the day they come out. The best buyers in the biz are ponying up thousands of dollars for sneaker bots with names like “Soleslayer” to snag the rarest kicks faster than human hands.
The takeaway: It’s not all about the timing, of course. The best sneaker entrepreneurs understand the shoes that are all hype — like the Chinese New Crazy BYW — and the shoes that will really resell for $2k+.
Read our full analysis by clicking below.
3. What we’re working on: Private Mergers and Acquisitions Database
Picking the right market is likely the #1 predictor if a company will be a breakout success or a mild win.
So, to help you find your perfect market, we’re releasing the first iteration of our Private Mergers and Acquisitions Database (we’re still workshopping the name).
With this database you will see:
Over the next few weeks, we’ll add dozens (and soon hundreds) of new companies from many different industries as well as analysis of various companies and different benchmarks to shoot for.
- The detailed income statements of privately held internet businesses that recently sold
- The price the companies sold for
- Sales price multiples based on income and revenue
Click below to view the database.
4. News you need to know
Why you should try to be debt-free by age 45 (Marketwatch): You may want to think about paying off your mortgage and those student loans faster than you thought. If you’re still paying off debt when you reach middle age, you won’t be able save and invest enough by the typical retirement age, says Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary. How to shed debt in time? Treat yourself like an early-stage business and keep costs down.
Want to get paid more? Move abroad (Quartz): Average salaries in the US have increased by about 2% and 3% the last two years. The real salary bumps are abroad. According to a report for HSBC, average workers under 35 who moved abroad in the last year saw a 35% jump in salary. Those between 35 and 54 experienced a 24% increase. The top two countries for salary gains were the UAE (50%) and Hong Kong (41%).
Is India the next hot market for tech IPOs? (TechCrunch): India has had its fair share of unicorns the last few years, including Flipkart and Paytm. But it has rarely had a big tech IPO. Last week, 23-year-old B2B selling platform India Mart raised nearly $70m during a rare tech IPO for India. Insiders think this could be a bellwether. “[The] Indian market is ready for more tech stocks. We just need to get more companies to go out there,” investor Rajesh Sawhney says.
The German case for reining in Google and Facebook (NYT): American regulators have been circling Big Tech the last few years without asserting control. Germany’s leading antitrust lawyer may have the answer. He is building an antitrust case against companies like Google and Facebook, which essentially mandate users turn over personal data, by arguing the data gives them an unfair advantage against potential rivals, creating an uncompetitive atmosphere.
Mark Zuckerberg, “former innovator”? (Bloomberg): Inside a fascinating story about Facebook’s battle to fend off negative PR is a nugget about its founder discovering that the public no longer considers him a “current innovator.” Instead, he was viewed by a Facebook focus group as a “former innovator,” someone who “once pushed the envelope.” When Zuck heard the news, Bloomberg says he was “incredulous” and concerned about whether that same reputation applied to Facebook, which has long been losing cache among young people.
5. Companies to Watch: Webflow, Relationship Hero
Each week we canvas the country interviewing industry experts.
Here are a handful of interesting companies our experts have told us about recently.
- Jason Lemkin: Founder of SaaStr, a popular SaaS blog and conference. Started/sold hundreds of million of dollars of SaaS startups and runs a $60m SaaS fund.
- Eric Bahn and Elizabeth Yin: Serial entrepreneurs. Started Hustle Fund, an early stage investment fund.
- Jack Smith and Zain Jaffer: Started Vungle, a mobile ad network that makes over $1m a day.
- Ryan Holiday: Popular author and investor.
- David Hauser: Serial entrepreneur and investor. Sold over $100m worth of companies.
What companies are big today that you didn’t expect to work out when you first heard of them?
Jason Lemkin: I knew Carta would be very successful as a very happy customer, but I didn’t realize the vision and market were so aggressive. I also didn’t see that amazing design-led apps like Webflow that we use all the time would be so big in terms of annual recurring revenue.
What companies or industries are small now but you think will be large soon?
Zain Jaffer and Jack Smith: Relationship Hero.
Eric Bahn and Elizabeth Yin: Webflow. They are in the forefront of the no-code revolution, allowing non-technical people to build complex web apps through just visual design. They have been under the radar for many years but they are breaking out in a big way.
Jason Lemkin: Everyone leveraging Next Gen e-commerce is seeing explosive growth, from Klaviyo in email to Gorgias in contact center.
Notes: Webflow, mentioned twice, has revenue of $1.2m a month. They are among a handful of software companies designed for non-techies that are exploding. Instapage ($12m ARR) and ClickFunnels ($100m ARR) are other examples.
Additionally, for information on e-commerce tools, read our in-depth Q&A with Moiz Ali. He mentions a few tools he wished existed while running his $100m e-commerce brand.
6. The King of Content Marketing
Joe Speiser started his first company when he was 12, and has made millions writing blogs and creating affiliate partnerships.
We sat down with him to discuss some of the five businesses he’s started and what’s led to his success.
On his highlight reel:
Speiser’s first big splash — Ezoogle, one of the first affiliate networks — did $200m in revenue by the time he was 25.
He started a pet blog that would become one of the most popular sites on the internet, growing to $5m in monthly revenue.
But it hasn’t been all roses. Like any content creator, he faced strong headwinds when Facebook changed its algorithm.
And the pet-food business attached to that pet blog? It went up against Chewy, which raised 10x more money before getting snapped up by PetSmart.
But Speiser has made a career pivoting into bigger and better things. Read our full interview to see what he’s up to next.
Click below to read.
Events from The Hustle
7. Join the Trends team at Hustle Con: December 2-3, 2019
As a Trends subscriber, you get first dibs for The Hustle event tickets — and here’s your first chance. Hustle Con 2019 Presale tickets are now open to Trends subscribers. Use code: TRENDS150 to get the lowest price of the year.
Buy tickets here.
What’s Hustle Con? Think of it as a 2-day business school where some of Silicon Valley’s most prolific founders come to share their knowledge. This year we have founders from Hims, Lime, Calm, Strava, and more teaching attendees the tactics, insight, and strategies they used to grow. You can learn more here.
Join 2,500 entrepreneurs and other business leaders December 2-3, 2019 in Oakland, CA. Remember, use code: TRENDS150
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