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June 11th, 2019

Would you recommend Trends to your friends? 
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 
(1 is hell no, 10 is absolutely)


Case Study

The Big Business of Expired Drug Patents

The online healthcare business is exploding, expected to grow to more than $90B by 2026, a more than fourfold increase from 2017.

One of the biggest opportunities: Expired pharmaceutical patents.

We tracked down hundreds of drugs that are set to go off patent in coming years as part of our deep dive on Hims, a fast-growing men's health brand that sells generic ED and hair-loss drugs.

Hims went from a $7m funding round to a $1.1B valuation in under 2 years...Yeah, I'll take some 'o that.

The opportunities:
  1. Follow Hims' path. The company focuses on answering men's medical questions online, capturing search traffic through thousands of organic posts. hims captures twice as many customers each month as two of its biggest competitors.
  1. Reimagine the doctor-patient relationship. hims partners with physicians for online consultations, allowing patients to skip the office visit. In a business full of upsides, that one might be the biggest one of all.
Read the report →


A lucrative opportunity: VPN companies

Call me crazy, but I'm fascinated by virtual private network (VPN) companies after seeing them sponsor Casey Niestat videos, a viral glitter bomb prank, and commercials on ESPN.

The VPN business checks all the boxes for why new entrants can win:
  • massive margins
  • little upfront costs
  • untrustworthy competition
We spoke with a few VPN insiders to find out how the business works. Here are a few highlights.

First off, what’s a VPN?

VPNs let users search and browse anonymously, and better secure their work when using public networks.

If you don’t use a VPN, it’s like pasting all that information on a billboard in front of your house, Justin Antonipillai, CEO of WireWheel, told us.

Three of the biggest VPN players are:
  1. NordVPN: Based in Panama. Very little info on their team is out there (most employees on LinkedIn don't even have a picture or last name).
  2. ExpressVPN: Based in the Virgin Islands.
  3. Private Internet Access: Spitting off so much cash that they've started a private equity group and bought a UFC competitor.

According to Michael Gargiulo, founder of the popular VPN review site,, two of these companies do ~$250m in annual revenue with the third at $80m. And they’re all bootstrapped.

How fast is this growing?

The rise of data breaches is driving demand. VPN-related searches grew from 1 million a month to 17 million in the last 5 years.

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, told me he saw this same trend among the average Pandora user.

“Consumers are beginning to get more upset about feeling their data’s being exploited,” Westergren said. “We're gonna start seeing alternatives pop up that give consumers ownership.”

The opportunity we see:

VPNs for small and medium businesses.

“We get about 20% of our traffic inquiring about a [small to midsize business] solution,” Garguilo told us. “There's really no widespread adopted VPN product in the SMB world.”


The barrier to entry:

Acquiring customers: For most newcomers, advertising on Google and Facebook is prohibitively expensive. Cost-per-clicks average ~$8. With a 2% conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer is $400...quite high for a $3.99/month product. And ranking organically will take years and millions of dollars, so founders need to find a more cost-effective way to get customers.

Building a quality product: “It's not too difficult to build a VPN,” Gargiulo said. But making it work well, specifically making it fast, is a huge challenge. “How fast does it go at night or at peak times -- that’s complex.”


Want a more in-depth case study on this business including a closer look at where the opportunities are?

Click yes. If 300 people click, we’ll write it: Yes, I want more!

From Around The Community

Will Green (link): Will’s a copy executive at a controversial publisher that you’ve most likely never heard of: Agora. This company makes $1.2B a year through paid newsletters. Their secret sauce? Longform sales copy (example) on shockingly ugly websites. This business in incredibly fascinating and we’ll most likely do a case study on them soon. Click the link above to add to the discussion.

Keith Wasserman (link): Keith’s a venture capitalist at Gelt, a firm he founded. He’s an early investor in Lambda, a revolutionary startup that hosts a 9-month coding school but doesn’t charge tuition -- instead taking a percentage of the student’s future income. College debt is a huge problem, so this company will be fun to watch. We asked Keith why he invested in Lambda. Click the link above to add to the discussion.

How much money do conferences make? (linkCommunity member Anindya Lestari posted a picture of revenue for 10X Con (source), a conference hosted by Grant Cardone. The Hustle hosts a bunch of events, so we know how they work. So, next week we’ll publish a report on the conference industry, how it makes money, and where the opportunities are.
"One of the best business books I’ve read in many years is a Google Doc." (link) That's a tweet from Ryan Peterson, CEO of $3.2 billion logistics startup Flexport. His tweet refers to Founder to CEO, a fantastic 48,000-word document by executive coach Matt Mochary that shows the system and processes needed to scale a company. Super in-depth and authentic. Talks about how execs should manage money (both personal and company), how to handle conflict, and more.
A $1.6B fund fantasy portfolio (link) Turner Novak is an analyst at a $1.5B fund. Each year he puts together a fantasy portfolio. He says which companies he wish he invested in and how much. A few highlights: WeMaintain, a platform that connects building owners with elevator mechanics (I LOVE "boring" businesses like this). ApisProtect, which creates tech that let beekeepers track data on their hives. Don't laugh. Crop pollination adds ~$175B in economic value per year.

Trends Interview

How Moiz Ali grew Native Deodorant from $0 startup to $100m acquisition in 2 years

Moiz Ali knows how to build successful businesses -- and fast.

Three years after Moiz and I were hanging out in the Founder's Dojo, an infamous free San Francisco business incubator, brainstorming new business ideas, he had started one successful business (Caskers) and sold another (Native Deodorant) for $100m in cash.

Moiz is instinctive, blunt, and ruthless. (Sometimes, maybe a little too blunt and ruthless, like when he lashed out at a competitor that sent him a cease-and-desist letter.)

What you can learn: When Moiz sold Native Deodorant, he only had 8 employees -- and 7 were in customer service. Moiz focused on one thing: acquiring new customers via Facebook ads. He also discusses opportunities he's looking at now.

Want more? I spent an hour with Moiz. He let me look under the hood to see how he built his business.


Read the interview →

Coming next week

8 years to $1m in annual revenue...but now $1m a day.
A friend of mine sent me a great email last week. "It took me eight years to get to 1 million in revenue and now we do $1m in revenue on a given day." He went on: "It took me about 15 years before I was able to generate a really good salary and dividends." Next week we'll release an interview with this mysterious email sender.

Also coming soon

Help us capture trends before they explode

We're building a few dashboards and databases designed to track exploding business trends. They're all in early stages, so we'd love your feedback on what would help you the most.

Here's what we're playing around with:
  1. Industry Insights. Which has bigger margins: prepaid cell phones or used clothing? What business offers the fastest route to $10m in annual sales -- along the lowest barriers to entry? Tell us the 3 most essential things you'd want in an industry outlook.  
  2. Small Business Database. How much money does your company make, and how long did it take you to be profitable? What are your biggest pain points and how have you overcome them? If you could learn 3 things about a business you were considering investing in, what would you ask?
Click to tell us what you want!

Would you recommend Trends to your friends? 
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 
(1 is hell no, 10 is absolutely)