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October 1st, 2019

💹 $100 million in Year 1…💸

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We look inside the world’s fastest-growing museum, and explore technology that helps slow aging.

You’ve probably seen the question Trends member Chris Luck posted in our Facebook group a few months ago––“What do you do?”––which more than 500 people have responded to.

In the survey we sent out last week, we found a more quantitative answer:

  • 50% of Trends members are builders

  • 25% are investors

  • the rest of you mostly just like to stay up on trends

A majority of our community wants one thing when they open this email every week: actionable insights. You also want a greater focus on global business opportunities. We’re on it!  

New this week:

  • The anti-aging industry: We’ve written about technology that makes people’s lives more comfortable as they age. But what opportunities exist if we never have to age?

  • Digital museums: Tokyo’s Borderless museum made an estimated $100m in revenue in its first year. These low-overhead spaces are virtually unheard of in the West.

Now, let’s get to it!

– Mark

PS: Thanks to everyone who responded to our 2-minute member survey. If you haven’t had a chance, please click here to take it. And don’t forget to hit the smileys at the bottom––we crave your feedback!

01  Signals
Quick snapshots from across the internet of potential trends before they happen.
Avani Eco graph

Avani Eco
Avani Eco has developed cassava starch bags, completely petroleum-free products which compost in 30 to 90 days or even dissolve in water within a few months. They’ve already partnered with large brands, including Heineken and Hyatt.

Next steps: Nearly 300m tons of plastic are produced annually, of which an estimated 50% is single-use. Bali recently banned single-use plastics, and new solutions will likely emerge worldwide.

Collagen graph

Collagen, a protein best known for plumping and smoothing skin, now has a secondary use: a health ingredient in food and drink, including in protein bars and smoothies. After years of steady search interest, interest for collagen has rapidly increased this year.  

Next steps: The increasing popularity of collagen highlights the growing intersection of food and beauty. Ingredients associated with cosmetics are being used in foods, such as activated charcoal in drinks. And food ingredients are being used in cosmetics, such as oat milk shampoo and matcha antioxidant masks.


Fast fashion is getting even faster. URBN, the company behind Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People, recently launched its subscription rental service, Nuuly. The service allows customers to pay $88 a month and get 6 clothing items in return.

Next steps: Combining the beloved subscription-based recurring revenue model, we’ll likely see other top brands hop on the CaaS (Clothing as a Service) bandwagon. Le Tote and Menlo Club already offer similar services.

See the archive of our Signals here and browse through dozens more Signals related to Inc.’s 5000 fastest-growing companies here.


02  The end of aging

What would it be like if we never had to deal with the problems of getting older? 

What’s happening: In the near future the average life expectancy will be over 100 and our bodies won’t decline like they do now. 

What will change: Scientists have already worked to stop tissue degeneration and stave off everything from eye issues to baldness to Alzheimer’s.

Here are 3 opportunities related to a future without aging:

  • The next stage of wearables: For now, wearable devices are used for tracking. The next stage will go a step further and, after tracking data, will signal to individuals diet and medication choices that will improve their health and longevity. These devices will be implanted in the skin.

  • An exercise boom: Scientist David Sinclair has identified dieting and exercise as two of the biggest components for prolonging life. With more people able to stay active into their 90s and 100s, the potential number of exercisers will increase.

  • Entrepreneurial groups for seniors: People over 50 are already more likely to start businesses than millennials. Wait until we’re living for decades longer. The opportunities for co-working spaces and incubators geared toward seniors, like Senior Planet, will grow.  

Read the full report.


03  The viral museum

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Tokyo is an empty warehouse covered in black and fitted with moving lights, sensors, and 3D-modeling computers.  

It’s the teamLab Borderless digital art museum, one of the fastest-growing museums in the world. And you heard about it here first.

How it works: Rather than standard paintings, the museum features interactive digital exhibits, including a coloring room with visitor-generated digital fish and a space where digital screens respond to your movement.

How fast is it growing? In a year of operation, the museum has seen 3.5m visitors (more than the Van Gogh museum in the Netherlands) and made an estimated $100m.

Context: Not many companies hit $100m in Year 1––or ever. A few years ago, McKinsey analyzed 3,000 fast-growing tech companies. Fewer than 30% ever made it to $100m.

The opportunities: 

  • Digital museums are nearly unheard of in the West. Entrepreneurs could team up with digital collaboratives to start similar experiences or bring the same idea to new concepts, such as concerts or education. 

  • Companies could also create tech and sell or license it for similar digital spaces in the US.   

Read the full report.


04  News You Should Know

Box CEO Aaron Levie’s biggest tips for startups (Twitter): “Aim to get cash flow positive early; don’t overly optimize for private market valuations; build a great team and culture; make sure the business model works; focus, focus, focus. Dilution of effort will crush you.”  

Reclaim wood at 30 to 40% margins (WSJ): People want antique wood touches in their new homes, but old-growth timber is no longer available. Entrepreneurs who purchase old structures for the wood are making 30 to 40% returns.

Former ESPN exec. on how to stand out in streaming (The Information): John Skipper, the former chief at ESPN, shared strategies for how he’s building streaming service DAZN to excel in a crowded streaming market—and his advice applies to other markets and industries.

05  How to make your company attractive to buyers

In our Facebook group, Trends member Kevin Cash asked how he could prepare his business for the best possible exit.   

His company is 5 years old and in the natural pain-relief market. He expects income to increase 200% this year. About 95% of the company’s revenue comes from wholesale from one online retailer.      

The Trends community offered 2 major strategies: 

  1. Hire a GM to focus on the most important attribute of the business’s growth

  2. Diversify across multiple channels

The community also shared three resources for collecting more info on exits:


06  The Ridge’s Daniel Kane on how to build a moat around your business

In 2013, Daniel Kane cobbled together $1,500 and launched a Kickstarter for a skinny wallet company called The Ridge. Last year, its revenues totaled $20m. 

Facing a rising number of competitors, much of Kane’s success has hinged on these 3 strategies:  

  • Capitalize on early successful channels. 90% of all of The Ridge’s sales come from its website. It’s important to own your channels, Kane says. 

  • Build for the long-term. The Ridge offers a lifetime guarantee on all of its products. Less than 2% of them are returned.

  • Understand your customer base, iterate, and expand. The Ridge launched bags and phone cases in late 2017. Each new product category is on track to do $1m+ in 2019. 

Read our full Q&A with Kane. 


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