(Source: Google Images)

…but don’t be fooled, you can create some amazing arts & crafts with it (e.g., metal sculptures and jewelry).

(Source: Google Images)

The Opportunity: Electroforming goes back centuries and has been practiced by notable figures such as Thomas Editon and Michael Faraday. Today, the art echoes other “hipster”-inspired artisanal trades (e.g., woodwork, leatherwork), which consumers value for their distinctive and non-mass produced look. Opportunities around electroforming include: 1) creating electroforming kits; 2) selling electroform art and jewelry; 3) building an audience through how-to guides — and then selling people your kits and art. 7. The $600 massage gun hitting the spot

The Signal: Over the second half of 2019, a popular massage gun brand (www.theragun.com) saw a marked increase in the number of referring domains. The product is shaped like a futuristic laser blaster and is not cheap ($600). But its oscillating motion helps improve blood circulation and speed up workout recovery.

The Opportunity: The product had a viral moment in 2017, when then-Cleveland Cavs superstar Kyrie Irving received a Theragun treatment during the NBA Finals. In 2018, it was endorsed by the controversial NFL player Antonio Brown.

But site traffic has exploded in the past year. The massage gun space is seeing increased competition from the likes of Tim Tam, Hyperice, and Achedaway, among others. Opportunities in this space include: 1) affiliate ads via demand generation (blogs, reviews, how-to’s); 2) selling massage guns in Asian and European markets (where the trend has not taken off); 3) selling white label massage gun replacement parts and accessories (e.g., charging stands, batteries, balls). 8. The Anti-Signal*: Obstacle course racing faces a new obstacle

(Source: Google Trends)

* Lots of you have asked for a breakdown of products or services whose popularity is in retreat. Here’s our first attempt at that.

The Anti-Signal: Last week, creditors of Tough Mudder filed an involuntary petition to push the obstacle course race (OCR) into bankruptcy. Founded in 2009, the firm has had over 5m people participate in its popular OCR events but has lost money in every year other than 2015, according to court filings.

Tough Mudder’s search interest in Google Trends has seen a steady decline over the past 5 years, an indicator of waning interest in its events. One of its competitors, Spartan Race, was in talks to potentially acquire Tough Mudder, but those plans are now on hold.

The Opportunity: The OCR space certainly has fervent fans (as your social media feed will happily tell you), but the sudden closure of Warrior Dash in 2019 and Tough Mudder’s plight does beg the question: Has OCR run its course?

If so, what will be the next competitive activity to capture our leisure imaginations? Something new like competitive gaming? Or variations on popular multi-sport endurance events (e.g., sprint triathlons, acquabike, duathlon relays).

Around the Web

How Credit Karma has built a $4B business by wooing Gen Z (Business Insider): The company best known for its free credit scores has built a powerful affiliate marketing arm and recently began offering high-yield savings accounts. Where’s it going next?

Fintechs target the world’s 1.8B Muslims (Sifted): Companies are rolling out new apps that adhere to Sharia law. They have their eyes on the massive Muslim population (20% of the world’s people, if you’re counting).

How founders are raising money outside of traditional VC (TechCrunch): There’s a growing list of alternative financing firms looking to invest in fast-growing startups, including Capital, Earnest Capital, and RevUp Capital.

Can BlackRock go green? (Axios). The world’s largest asset manager announced a bold plan to “place sustainability at the center of our investment approach.”

Inside the numbers of American beverage consumption (WSJ): Wine consumption fell in 2019 for the first time in a quarter-century. What did well? Mainly ready-to-drink beverages (up 50%), including spiked seltzers and canned cocktails. Craft beer consumption was up 4.1% and non-alcoholic beer 6.6%. Hard liquor sales climbed 2.3%, with mezcal, tequila, cognac, and bourbon especially on the rise.

Another reason to be bullish about plant-based meats (The Atlantic): This is an argument “that plants are becoming the fourth meat” if innovation continues at a fast enough pace to keep giving Americans enough new choices of plant-based meat substitutes on the menu.

Are Lime layoffs a worrying sign for micromobility? (TechCrunch): Lime announced it was laying off about 14% of its workforce and withdrawing from 12 markets, including Phoenix and Atlanta. This comes after Bird laid off 5% of its employees last March and other Lyft scaled back its micromobility. These moves have been made to get the companies closer to profitability, but their success hinges on various public factors, too.

Away CEO, who resigned under controversy, will return (NYT): Steph Korey left her job at Away last month after The Verge published an article in which employees accused her of creating a toxic workplace. The company has announced Korey will now return as co-CEO, with board members saying the story was inaccurate and the company gave in to the “Twitter mob.”

San Franciscans aren’t ready for robot restaurants yet (Business Insider): With a wealthy population, vaunted culinary scene, and VC money galore, SF would seem to be the best place to launch restaurants where robots act as line cooks and other positions. But several of these restaurants are already failing, with some, like Eatsa and Zume, pivoting to businesses focused on tech services for the food industry. This week’s Trends send was brought to you by Mark Dent, Steph Smith, and Brad Wolverton. Let us know what you think by hitting the Smileys below.

Mark Dent
Mark Dent
Steph Smith
Steph Smith
Brad Wolverton
Brad Wolverton
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