Dating, Marriage, and Babies ūüíĖūüíćūüĎ∂

First comes love…¬†ūüíĖ

Valentine’s is coming up, so let’s start with some dating startups. I shared¬†Monet¬†last month, the dating app where you draw (so Gen Z).¬†XO¬†is where you play mini-games with dates.¬†Lolly¬†looks like Tik Tok, but only for singles. For video dates, check out¬†The League¬†or¬†Filter Off. They both have video speed dating too.¬†So Synced¬†connects people based on personality type. If you want to join a community to ask questions about dating, head over to¬†Clarity. In a relationship?¬†Zeta¬†is a joint banking app for couples.

Then comes marriage…¬†ūüíć

Ready to pop the question? With Clarity offers custom engagement rings. Anomalie designs and sells custom wedding gowns. Bloominous has budget friendly wedding flowers. Rock Paper Coin modernizes invoicing for wedding planners. Bustld connects DIY couples w vendors.

Then comes the baby in the baby carriage¬†ūüĎ∂

Modern Fertility and Grip Fertility offer at-home fertility tests for women. Dadi offers fertility tests for men. Looking for a virtual clinic? Kira is for women, Bastion is for men. Legacy is a modern sperm bank. Kindbody offers egg freezing. Overture is advancing the tech for freezing. PairTree connects adoptive parents with expectant mothers. A few communities for those going through this: Peanut (fertility & motherhood), MamaMend (childbirth & post partum), and Chairman Mom (working mothers).

SNOO and CradleWise sell smart cribs. Huckleberry connects you with sleep experts. Store & share photos w TinyBeans. Invite friends & family to invest in their future with EarlyBird. Marketplaces for baby clothes are over at Good Buy Gear or Kidizen. Organic baby food over at LittleSpoon or Raised Real. Finally, these MiniMeis carriers look awesome.

Retail & D2C ūüõćūüď¶

The changing face of retail ūüõć

2020 hit retail hard, and retail is hitting back (with innovation)! Starting with livestream shopping, you have PopShopLive, ShopShop, and NTWRK to name a few. Hero allows e-commerce store owners to video chat with customers on their site. LiveScale and Playback help brands to schedule and host video shopping events. Glamhive is a virtual stylist service that hosts large scale virtual events for stylists and enthusiasts.

Some new eComm tools:¬†Buy Low¬†is a chrome plug-in that automatically runs price comparisons on various sites for you.¬†Route¬†is for tracking all of your eCommerce packages and¬†PorchPod¬†is for securing them when they’re delivered. Use¬†Returnmates¬†for hassle free returns.¬†Alloy¬†helps automate e-commerce stores, and¬†RetentionX¬†is for running quick and powerful analysis on your Shopify (or other eCommerce) data.

Just a few more…¬†Robomart¬†is a convenience-store-in-a-van that comes to you. Shop local with¬†Fast AF¬†(LA) or¬†Sidewalk¬†(Denver).¬†Pulse¬†measures happiness of in-store customers. Finally,¬†Olvin¬†has a crazy looking data tool to understand global retail behavior.

DTC is in the air¬†ūüď¶

Another big change in retail is a growth of beautiful and specialized D2C brands. Just to name a few…¬†Judy¬†sells emergency kits,¬†Windmill¬†sells window AC, and¬†Canopy¬†sells Humidifiers..¬†Raised Real¬†and¬†Little Spoon¬†sell food for kids.¬†Bite¬†sells chewable toothpaste.¬†Tushy¬†sells a bidets,¬†Thinx¬†sells pads/tampons, and you can get TP from¬†Bippy¬†or¬†Who Gives a Crap. Check out¬†Recteq¬†for a smart pellet grill, or¬†Solo Stove¬†for something more oldschool.¬†Away¬†is for travel bags.¬†Ember¬†for heated mugs. Go to¬†Big Ass Fans¬†for well… big ass fans.

Is it Christmas yet? Let’s talk eCommerce tools

Honoring the tradition of talking about Christmas too early, I’d like to share some eCommerce tools. In all seriousness, if you’re selling D2C, you should be starting to think about how to take advantage of the first and hopefully last COVID Christmas.

Want packaging? Lumi. Need help with ops and fulfillment? Take a look at Airhouse or Outerspace. Then, ship faster with Shippo or EasyShip. Bringing stuff in from abroad? Look at Terminal 49. Managing supply chain risk? Use Alloy or Calico.

Hyloq is for running geo-fenced hyper targeted ads. AutoOptimize and Privy are for increasing conversion rate on your site. LiveRecover is for recovering abandoned carts. Increase referrals with ReferralCandy. Power up your product search with Constructor. Make post-purchase offers with CartHook. If your items are expensive, make sure to offer financing with ViaBill. Sales Tax compliance can be done with TaxJar.

One-click no log-in check out? Fast.com. Shop with Hashtags? Use Boost.

Don’t have any merch to sell?¬†Merch38¬†is a tool for doing this with No-Code and no inventory.

Ayo for Productivity

Every few months, a new tool increases my productivity so much I can’t wait to share it. It was¬†Superhuman¬†a few months ago, increasing my email speed by more than 2x. This month, I started using¬†Silent Inbox: a simple gmail plug-in that holds all of your newsletters and delivers it once a day.

Seems email is something on top of everyone’s mind. That’s why the Basecamp team launched¬†Hey, which honestly is a bit much for me. Want to clean up an already messy inbox? Take a look at¬†Mailstrom¬†or¬†LeaveMeAlone. Want to make sure it stays clean? Use¬†Mailbrew¬†to create your own digest of multiple newsletters. Want to write emails quicker? Check out AI-based writing tools like¬†Compose.ai,¬†Lavender, or¬†Otherside AI. Take that one-step further and you’ll have¬†Kriya¬†auto-writing mass emails for you.

Maybe it’s not emails, but DMs that are driving you crazy. The newest tools to manage all of your messages in one inbox are:¬†Texts,¬†Compose,¬†Franz, and¬†Nova Chat.

Want more efficient Calendaring?¬†CommandDot¬†is Superhuman for calendars (shortcuts galore!).¬†Calendar.com¬†gives you analytics on your schedule (kind of like¬†Email Meter¬†for email).¬†Reclaim¬†is great for syncing multiple calendars or making sure you save blocks of time to do work.¬†Workomo¬†will show you relevant info about people you’re meeting with, right in your browser.

Looking for a personal CRM? Check out Dex for something powerful, and Clay for a minimalist one. Folk is for organizing contacts with your team.

Other new productivity tools include Command E for searching across all your cloud apps at once, Mighty for speeding up Google Chrome, Motion for organizing tabs and browser short cuts, and Akiflow for shortcuts that work with all of your web apps.

While there’s a ton of task lists out there,¬†Centered¬†caught my attention due to it’s focus on helping you achieve Mindfulness. (In case you’re curious, I use¬†Todoist).

New & Interesting Startups: September Edition

For the uninitiated, I like to ramble about interesting startups I’ve come across recently. Sometimes there’s a theme, but other times it’s random.

Let’s start with the “unbundling of colleges”, since¬†Lambda School¬†recently raised a $74M C round. You’re starting to see this model across a wide range of skillsets. There’s¬†OnDelta* for marketing,¬†Reforge¬†for growth,¬†ProductSchool¬†for product,¬†Skillfull¬†for strategy & ops,¬†Uvaro* for sales,¬†Insight Fellows* for data science,¬†Microverse* for becoming a remote developer,¬†Acadium¬†offers apprenticeships, and¬†Talent Accelerator¬†is for leveling up freelancers. The ones with an asterisks allow you to pay only after you get a job. The impact of training people for practical and in-demand jobs for no upfront cost will be great for the ecosystem (and hiring managers).

Two projects that tickled my geekier side are¬†Wolfram Physics, tackling the fundamental laws of physics,¬†and¬†Hugging Face, democratizing NLP research. I’m also pretty excited about tele-operated machinery like¬†Reliable Robotics¬†(cargo planes),¬†Einride¬†(trucks),¬†Phantom Auto¬†(forklifts and delivery robots), and¬†Mira Robotics¬†(butler robots).

I saw a handful of health related companies that peaked my interest this month.¬†Soter Technologies¬†has a suite of tools helping places (like schools) open up.¬†Ready¬†is helping restaurants go contactless.¬†Pathspot¬†makes sure employees are washing their hands correctly.¬†Patient Orator¬†and¬†Medcorder¬†help patients communicate with doctors.¬†Levels¬†is a constant glucose monitor for athletes.¬†Ghost Pacer¬†let’s you race yourself with AR glasses.

On the crazier side of things, I’ve been interested in DNA for data storage like¬†Catalog,¬†Twist, and¬†Helixworks. Then there’s these guys at¬†Pipedream Labs¬†building technologies for an underground network of tunnels for physical delivery of things.

Voice is Hot

Likely because of the recent Clubhouse investment, I’m noticing a lot of activity in the voice space. I’m seeing more of Chalk, which is similar to Clubhouse but open to all. Clubhouse feels more like a media play, where they focus on courting influencers to become what I’d call the Twitch for conference calls, where as Chalk feels more like a virtual Meetup tool for voice.

Another cute new comer is¬†Cappuccino, which they call a ‚Äúa daily personal radio show‚ÄĚ. It‚Äôs kind of like Twitter for audio with the rule that each person can only post one 3 min clip a day.¬†Gossip¬†is another brand new one that’s in¬†beta¬†that’s similar to Cappucino.¬†Eternal¬†is a slick looking game that‚Äôs also in beta (download Testflight from mobile) where you jump and fly through a beautifully designed world as an avatar and communicate amongst friends via voice. The closest thing like this for events I‚Äôve seen is¬†High Fidelity, which drops attendees on a 2d map and you can hear people‚Äôs voice based on your proximity to them on the map.

On the more professional side of things, there’s a great tool for Podcasters called Descript. It let’s you edit your audio clips simply by editing the auto-transcribed text. For the workplace, Voxer has been around for a bit with their voice messaging app, and Yac seems like a promising update to that concept.

Opening up the Workplace and the Future of Work

We’re starting to open up the workplace. Are self-reported health symptom tools like¬†Tamarin Health¬†and¬†TeamSense¬†enough? Maybe your workplace won’t reopen and you’ll go full remote. You might negotiate a work-from-home office package through¬†Firstbase, and get better home security through¬†Clario. Maybe use¬†Avvinue¬†to relocate to another country. Now that all the meetings are on Zoom, perhaps you’ll use tools like¬†Navigator¬†to plan the meetings and ask¬†Fireflies,¬†Otter, or¬†Symbl¬†to take your notes. Even web-based customer support could move to video with¬†Liveweb.¬†Loom¬†is a recent favorite for avoiding unnecessary Zoom calls.

In hiring, you can go the AI route and use Seekout to find candidates and Humanly to screen and engage them. Alternatively, you can lean in on remote and use Symba to find and manage your remote interns and Pangian to connect with 2M workers seeking remote jobs. Tools like Remote, Panther, and Deel make hiring international employees and contractors easy (they handle employment laws, insurance, etc.). Speaking of insurance, should your health insurance be tied to your job? Catch handles benefits for gig workers, but I can see use cases beyond that.

It would be a miss to not mention GPT-3 announced this month, there’s¬†Debuild¬†that writes code and¬†Otherside AI¬†that both summarizes and writes email for you. (Lavendar¬†also helps you write better emails, though not with GPT-3).

Startups Tackling the Future of Education

As we look to opening up schools, I’ve spent an increasing amount of time thinking about the future of education. Within 5-10 years, I believe parents will be able to move anywhere in the world and provide world-class education for their kids at any age. We’ll start below with startups supporting more traditional schooling, and then move onto more disruptive solutions.

Roughly 56M kids in the US go to school K-12 (50M public, 6M private). Tools like¬†ClassDojo¬†and¬†Clever¬†have been helping these schools digitize and it will be important for them to understand how to leverage these as they try to manage virtual learning. Schools should also look at tools like¬†Panorama¬†that help collect and analyze data to understand what’s working vs not. As we adjust to remote, we’re suddenly in need of tools like¬†ProctorU¬†for remote proctoring. High school students are finding ways to study for AP courses online with friends new and old on¬†Fiveable. Parents are supplementing their kids education with¬†Outschool, that provides live in-person classes for kids – and also supplemental income for teachers.

Personally, I’m more intrigued by solutions turning education on its head, allowing families to move anywhere in the world while (hopefully) receiving equal or better education. On the homeschooling side of things (~2M kids today in the US), you have exciting communities and solutions like¬†Prisma¬†(4th-8th grade),¬†Primer¬†(age 7-12), and¬†Galileo¬†(age 8-18). For parent’s who want a more intimate school setting for their children, maybe even in their backyard with a few friends, there’s a growing trend of micro-schools like¬†Prenda¬†(k-8th),¬†Wonderschool, and a new comer called¬†SchoolHouse. You also have fully virtual schools like¬†Sora¬†(high school). Combine these with¬†Winnie¬†that helps parents find day care and activities or the increasing number of¬†coworking spaces that also offer childcare.

I’m loving No Code

I recently migrated a custom CRM from code (MySQL/PHP/HTML/CSS/Javascript) to No Code, so I naturally look at a lot of these tools. For those unfamiliar, there are an increasing number of tools that allow people to create full blown apps without writing a line of code.¬†Webflow¬†is the king¬†today, they provide both front end and back end functionality for creating an app. You can integrate this with¬†Memberstack¬†or¬†Memberspace¬†to add user functionality to this.¬†Parabola¬†is like¬†Zapier, but for large swaths of data at a time – it can grab a MySQL table, merge it with your Mailchimp data, add columns, do some math, and spit out results in Google Sheets. Use these piping tools to add functionality like enrichment (Clearbit,¬†Norbert,¬†Snov) and machine learning (Intersect Labs,¬†Obviously AI,¬†Colabel,¬†Lobe AI). For building internal tools, there’s also¬†Notion,¬†Coda,¬†ClickUp, and¬†Retool. It’s probably worth noting that Amazon jumped into this space with¬†Honeycode. You can educate yourself at¬†Makerpad¬†or hire a no code agency like¬†8020.

Is Shelter in Place Political?

Following the news cycle, it seems Shelter in Place is driven politically, with conservatives itching to get out and liberals sheltering in place (I’m overgeneralizing). We also know that urban environments help spread the virus, so it would make sense that these people would support shelter in place. Finally, we also know that urban areas tend to be more liberal. So is Shelter in Place really a political issue, or are we seeing urban areas hit hard, and therefor people in those areas (who happen to be liberal), support sheltering further?

If you know me, you know I like to play around with data, but to all of you a warning that I am not a data scientist, and this is really just me playing around. Please share any and all thoughts and resources to further this thought if of interest.

First thing I did was pull together some data around Shelter-In-Place, for this I used the SIP index provided by Safegraph, followed by political ideology, and urbanization. For ease, I did this by state as opposed to county, which would likely show more granular results. What I have looks like this:

The first thing I looked at was deaths per 100k and plotted them against the SIP index:

Not surprising to see a clear trend where the more deaths you see, the more likely you are to stay at home. The correlation coefficient we’re seeing here is 0.645.

Then I looked at % of conservatives in a state vs SIP Index:

Again, not surprising to see, but it’s pretty clear that the less conservative a state is, the more likely they are to shelter in place. Correlation coefficient here is -0.804.

Taking a look next at liberal % vs SIP Index:

Again, not surprising to see that the more liberal states are sheltering more. Correlation coefficient here is 0.658.

Now, let’s look at urbanization rate vs SIP Index:

Again, not surprising to see that the higher percentage of people living in urban areas show a higher shelter-in-place index. Correlation coefficient here is 0.788.

If you want to see these combined, it looks like this:

It looks very similar to when you compare against deaths/100k:

Of course, that’s because we saw that SIP Index and Deaths/100k are correlated.

Here’s where I get a little fuzzy. Can I normalize the percentage of people who are conservative against the percentage of people who live in urban areas and compare agains the SIP index to see a correlation? A high correlation would suggest that SIP index is driven by conservative values (or media) beyond simply their exposure from living or not living in urbanized places.

For this, I multiplied the percentage of conservatives against the percentage of people living in urban areas and compared against the SIP index.

What you see here is the correlation disappearing, with a correlation coefficient of -0.076.

This shows that perhaps Shelter-In-Place isn’t based as much on political values as the media might suggest, but just as much a function of people’s exposure to the virus due to proximity to urban areas.