3 Things: NerdWallet for DeFi, Customer Advisory Board Platform, Project Management for Ops

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotions so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:

  • NerdWallet for DeFi

  • Customer Advisory Board Platform

  • Project Management for Ops

1. NerdWallet for DeFi

Founded in 2009, NerdWallet is a content site that helps consumers find the right financial products for their needs, from the best credit cards, mortgage rates, or student loan refinancing options. The company was started by two former Wall Street guys, Tim Chen and Jacob Gibson, in the wake of the financial crisis and was bootstrapped for the first 6 years before taking on venture capital. They provide the content and advice for free and make money as a lead gen site for the financial service providers. These companies are all too willing to pay quite a bit for each qualified consumer as a new credit card holder, as an example, means a lot of money for the credit card company. In May of 2021, NerdWallet filed to go public at an expected $5B valuation. The company generates $150M in revenue annually with more than 39 million monthly visitors.

While NerdWallet focused on traditional finance, a parallel financial world is now emerging in the Web3 sphere referred to as DeFi or Decentralized Finance utilizing blockchain technology to reinvent how traditional financial mechanisms work. From lending to payments to derivatives to exchanges, DeFi companies are tackling every angle of finance to remove middlemen like banks, brokerages, or exchanges, and replace these intermediaries with smart contracts that execute transactions based on programmatic logic. If you thought navigating the existing financial system was complicated and confusing, just wait until you try to understand yield farming, stablecoins, or oracles 😂. Given that DeFi apps now have over $90B of USD locked and users flocking to join the party as fast as they can, there is a gigantic opportunity to become the NerdWallet of DeFi. Create free content to guide consumers on how to earn money and which DeFi projects are right for them. Work with the DeFi companies to drive users and earn tokens from each project when you send qualified traffic. The exchange can be executed using smart contracts and heck, you can then stake those tokens on an exchange and become a liquidity provider to take advantage of yield farming gains yourself!!

2. Customer Advisory Board Platform

As a startup gets off the ground and searches for Product Market Fit (PMF), some of the most valuable insights and feedback will come from early customers. Some companies seek out “design partners” who agree to become customers and use the product for free in exchange for providing insights and using their specific use cases to co-create the early versions of the product. As a company grows, many will opt to pull together a Customer Advisory Board (aka Customer Advisory Council) which typically consists of senior executives within a small subset of customers who get together on a regular basis to advise company management on industry trends, business priorities, and strategic direction.

When assembling and implementing a CAB, it is important to create a group that represents a wide swath of the customer base, consists of executives who have power and insight into their own industry as well as company trends and priorities, and ideally who are influential and aspirational in their field (which helps bolster the startup brand by association and draws other peer execs to the product). Often, a startup will give small amounts of equity in exchange for joining the CAB and appropriately incentivize the members to provide value to the company and also become evangelists within their industry or sphere of influence. Today, the entire process is done ad hoc and inconsistently among startups yet most companies choose to create one. A company can provide an end-to-end platform to manage CABs. A combination of tech plus services, the company would help find the right execs/customers to include, facilitate regular meetings, create agendas ensuring that the content aligns with top priorities and goals, handle all documentation, allot and manage equity and other incentives, run peer-to-peer events to help the members bond with each other, and facilitate marketing activities utilizing the CAB executives. Since CABs are often set up early in a company’s journey and are ongoing, the product would be incredibly sticky and stay with the company for its entire life making this a lucrative business once it became pervasive.

3. Project Management for Ops

Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, Product Ops, BizOps, RevOps, DevOps, Finance Ops; the number of operations focused roles and positions at tech companies has exploded with nearly every company currently hiring for multiple kinds of “Ops” roles. While each type of Ops role is unique, most operations positions involve working on strategic goals and initiatives across functions. They tend to be focused on identifying and driving towards business priorities, aligning teams, and ensuring projects are executed well and in a timely manner. Often, they are dealing with budgets or a P&L. Each Ops function acts as the COO of their business unit and they serve as the connective tissue for both the function and the company as a whole.

Going off of my “new titles = new tools” thesis, as we see various Ops titles becoming ubiquitous among tech startups and larger enterprises, these people will need specialized tools to help manage and measure their work. Sure, there are plenty of generic project management apps like Asana, Monday, ClickUp, or Trello, but these tools have been built to the lowest common denominator for any and all project management or task management needs. I’d imagine that if you shadowed a variety of different Ops folks you’d notice a lot of similarities in their workflows as well as nuances in terms of which apps and docs they spend their days in. There are already certain platforms aimed at Revenue Operations teams such as Syncari or Openprise, and I expect to see more Ops specific software. I’d focus on a specific Ops team, understand their workflows, the apps they use, and the way they need to track and report any metrics or KPIs and build a specialized platform for that team. Since Ops tends to have a relatively esteemed role on their teams, I’d imagine they would be able to get budget for a platform like this and it would spread quickly via word of mouth as well as people taking it with them when they leave one company and join the next.

That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please share with a friend or two!

~ Elaine

3 Things: Childproofing as a Service, Retirement Navigator, Metrics Benchmarking

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotions so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:

  • Childproofing as a Service

  • Retirement Navigator

  • Metrics Benchmarking

1. Childproofing as a Service

As a new parent, I’m now learning how many things in a house are absolutely not safe for a small child. I knew that you have to use baby gates on stairs when a kid starts crawling and walking and that you should put covers on electrical outlets, but I had no idea that pretty much everything can be a hazard when a little one becomes mobile and curious. Apparently, a child goes to the ER every 46 minutes due to furniture falling on them! This is mostly due to kids pulling themselves up on it or using drawers as steps to climb on and in the age of cheaper, lighter, ready-to-assemble furniture, I’d imagine this number will only increase.

There are literally dozens upon dozens of items in every babyproofing checklist covering each room of the house. Things like stove knob covers and cabinet locks for cleaning supplies in the kitchen or removing window blind cords to prevent strangulation would not have been immediately on my radar. Since almost every new parent gets their car seat installation checked by a professional (which honestly is not that complicated), wouldn’t it make sense to leave childproofing an entire house to people who know what they’re doing? A company can offer childproofing as a service with options for DIY where they send out a person to check everything and give you peace of mind, to full-service where they send employees to do all of the childproofing for you, including getting all of the necessary items like outlet covers, gates, locks and more. The company could also sell their own brand of babyproofing and child safety products that can be both part of the initial sale as well as future upsells as children hit different milestone or families have new safety needs.

2. Retirement Navigator

The average lifespan of a person in the US has continued to rise from just 48 years in 1900 to nearly 79 years as of 2020. When Social Security was created in 1935, the Full Retirement Age (FRA), the age when workers can first claim full Social Security retired-worker benefits, was set at 65 (you can technically claim benefits at 62 but they are significantly reduced). In that year, the average lifespan was only 60.7 years so people had extremely short retirements if any at all. In 1983, legislation was created to raise the FRA to 67 over the course of 22 years becoming fully enacted in 2022. The FRA increased only 2 years while the average lifespan increased a whopping 18 years meaning millions of people now experience significantly longer retirements, often still with good health and energy. Many studies have shown that retirees who do not have activities to engage them during retirement experience higher levels of depression. It’s also been shown that one of the most important things for longevity and health is maintaining close social relationships.

As 71 million Baby Boomers and 65 million Gen Xers hit retirement, many are still looking for ways to stay stimulated, learn new skills, engage with their community, and volunteer or participate in philanthropic endeavors. You can only play so many rounds or golf or read so many books, right? Humans are creatures of habit so going from years of doing basically the same routine over and over to finding new ways to occupy time and feel fulfilled is a daunting task. We are now at the point where most people who are nearing retirement or recently retired are comfortable with smartphones and the internet so there is an opportunity to create a digital Retirement Navigator service that helps people map out how they want to spend their retirement and then match them with local services, opportunities, clubs, and more. Starting in certain geos with a high number of healthy, affluent, Baby Boomers/GenXers, the company can also offer their own in person experiences similar to the dating site Events and Adventures, ranging from cooking classes to speaker series to hiking excursions in addition to guiding them to 3rd parties. It would be a subscription business model with an upfront cost to match you with a Navigator and help you plan (like a financial advisor) and then ongoing you would have access to their in-house experiences as well as continually updated 3rd party opportunities.

3. Metrics Benchmarking

The metrics that companies measure continue to get more and more robust and also more complex. As the amount of first and third party data being collected increases exponentially, companies are buying tools and hiring teams to makes sense of it and use it to help move the needle on the metrics that matter to their business. While ARR and LTV are important, there are plenty of more nuanced metrics like sales efficiency, cohort retention, or compounding monthly growth rate — all dependent on business model (B2B enterprise, bottoms-up SaaS, B2C subscription, B2C transactional, etc) that need to be closely tracked and improved.

For each type of businesses model, there are certain north star metrics that the team and investors care about measuring. The problem is, most people are continually at a loss when it comes to the question “what is good for X metric for Y type of company”? In addition, when it comes to fundraising, there is an ever-changing bar that investors are looking for startups to reach for each stage and an investor needs to be able to compare one company to their peers. A data company could collect and monitor real-time data points on thousands of startups across different industries and stages to provide benchmarking data on all kinds of metrics. You’d filter down by industry, business model, and then metric and it would show a range and identify what top quartile, average, and bottom quartile look like at that point in time, very similar to compensation data platforms like Option Impact or new entrants Pave or Pequity . It could be a give-to-get model where startups provide their metrics and get access to the database for free, helping them benchmark against similar companies and identify the areas they need to focus on. The company could charge VC firms for access to help inform investment decisions and also help guide their portfolio companies.

That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe and share with a friend or two!

~ Elaine

3 Things: Drone Delivery Pads, KiwiCo for Adults, Walmart Marketplace Roll-Up

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotions so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:

  • Drone Delivery Pads

  • KiwiCo for Adults

  • Walmart Marketplace Roll-up

1. Drone Delivery Pads

The history of quadcopters goes all the way back to 1907 when brothers Jacques and Louis Bréguet managed to fly their unsteerable contraption just 2 ft above the ground. In the first half of the 20th century, radio-controlled pilotless aircrafts began being developed by the military for combat purposes and were deployed for the first time during WWII. In the 1960s, advancements in transistors brought miniaturization that enabled RC planes at approachable price points and the beginning of the consumer drone market. In the early 2000s, drones continued to evolve and be used for military purposes and by 2010, the Parrot AR Drone became the first consumer ready-to-fly drone controlled with a smartphone. Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of commercial and consumer drones, especially after the FAA started creating legislation and registration processes for drones in 2016. As of 2021 there are around half a million recreational drones and 400k commercial drones registered with the FAA. While it might be fun to take some ariel video with you DJI Phantom, the next phase of non-military drones will be all about last mile delivery.

Last week, the company Wing, part of Alphabet, announced that it had successfully delivered 100,000 consumer packages (including 10k cups of coffee and 2700 sushi rolls 😆) in its first 2 years of operating in Brisbane Australia. They claim to deliver goods like medicine, hardware, small groceries and more in under 6 minutes within a 6-mile radius. The goods are packaged into a small white box and delivered to the ground using a tether. Today, these drones can only carry up to 2.6 lbs and are battery-constrained on distance, but the technology continues to improve year over year and regulatory bodies are more and more willing to work with drone delivery companies. Another company Zipline has been operating successfully for years in Rwanda and Ghana and more recently has deployed their drones in the US enabling companies to deliver products to consumers in a matter of minutes. They were originally focused on healthcare but have now branched into retail/e-commerce and even disaster response and have delivered over 1 million products to date. As we see more adoption of drone delivery, there needs to be a place for these drones to safely land and deliver their parcels at residential and commercial locations. An independent company could create the landing pads that is agnostic to drone delivery company. There is a B2B play where you sell to these companies who can offer consumers an Amazon Prime-type experience and provide them this landing pad. Or, you could go direct to consumer and business and work with each delivery company to ensure compatibility. This feels like a winner-take-most market but to date, there is no standard or company that has won the market yet.

2. KiwiCo for Adults

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), now known as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) started being a common term in the 1990s and became popularized by administrators from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2001. It has now become core curriculum for most schools and there are dozens of organizations devoted to helping teach kids these disciplines. Having skills and training in these fields is critical for young people to be able to solve problems, make sense of information, and gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions — all competencies necessary to thrive in the modern world.

STE(A)M efforts have been almost exclusively focused on the youth population and companies like KiwiCo have become popular, providing a monthly subscription box for kids 0 to teen that contains different STE(A)M-based projects to engage and inspire children. While it totally makes sense to ensure kids get access to this type of education, most adults are severely lacking when it comes to STE(A)M knowledge and competency. An education-focused company could focus on the adult population with a monthly subscription that is a combination of digital and physical products teaching adults science and technology concepts in an interactive, fun, and age-appropriate way. For older adults, each month could focus on gaining comfort with a specific tech concept to help them adapt to the digital world. For young adults, it can teach a combination of skills that will help in the workplace (think data science related) as well as more fun activities like learning to solder, blinking an LED, or creating a spherified liquid. There can also be a community component to the company where people can share projects, help each other, and generally socialize with like-minded folks.

3. Walmart Marketplace Roll-up

E-Commerce roll-ups are all the rage right now. After Thrasio, a roll-up of FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) merchants went from unheard of to unicorn in a matter of months, others quickly began taking note and we’ve seen dozens of other Amazon roll-ups like Heyday, Perch, and Branded follow suit. Recently founder and investor Keith Rabois and Atomic co-founder Jack Abraham launched OpenStore, a roll-up of Shopify merchants. This summer, Una Brands raised $40M to roll up e-commerce brands across the Asia-pacific platforms like Tokopedia, Lazada, Shopee, and Rakuten. The play is very consistent; find brands with between $500k and tens of millions in revenue in non-seasonal popular categories, buy them, and create a PE style operational model leveraging shared resources to reduce operating costs and excelling at marketing and growth across the distribution platform of choice.

While you might not think of Walmart as a massive player in the e-commerce platform space for 3rd party vendors, they’ve been quietly growing Walmart Marketplace, their curated list of 3rd party sellers that they launched in 2009. Sellers can leverage the world’s largest retailers for international distribution, and Walmart has maintained a simple pricing structure taking between 8-15% commission on each sale. In 2020 alone, Walmart Marketplace doubled to over 50,000 sellers and they announced a partnership with Shopify enabling Shopify merchants to have access to Walmart Marketplace and their 120M monthly visitors, taking a run at Amazon. There is an opportunity to take the roll-up model that is being applied to Amazon and other platforms and do the same with Walmart Marketplace. There is not yet a ton of sophisticated competition on that platform today so it’s a good time to identify the right type of merchants and create a scalable roll-up model and beat others to market.

That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe and share with a friend or two!

~ Elaine

3 Things: JDs as-a-Service, Foreign Nurses on Demand, Gifting Using Email

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotions so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:

  • JDs as-a-service

  • Foreign Nurses on Demand

  • Gifting Using Email Addresses

1. JDs as-a-service

For some reason, writing job descriptions seems to be both a huge burden and an extreme challenge for pretty much every startup I’ve ever come across. After a company raises money (or if they are bootstrapped and have cash flow to enable growth), the most pressing need is hiring the right people and skill sets to grow the business. If you’ve never done a specific role before (which will be 90% of the roles you need to hire for) it’s hard to know exactly what qualifications and skills you’re looking for. It’s also incredibly challenging to figure out what the correct level and title should be, let alone salary and equity compensation. Hiring is a never ending process for a growing company, which is why many early startups end up hiring both in-house recruiters as well as working with agencies to help fill open roles. While most recruiting software today focuses on the candidate experience, for any open position, before you can even start finding, vetting, and interviewing candidates, you need to first solidify what you’re looking for and distill it into a coherent and succinct job description.

For most startups, and quite frankly even large companies, the hiring manager typically goes on LinkedIn, AngelList, or other hiring platform, does a search for the title they’re looking to hire, finds an existing post from a different company, and uses that as a template that they slightly modify for their own role. This means that every JD looks essentially the same and most of them are absolutely horrible and do not accurately represent either their company or who they are really looking for. The idea is to create a tech-enabled services business where each hiring manager is guided through an automated intake process that asks questions about the company, industry, org structure, business challenges, and personnel needs. After inputting the company URL, the software can scan the site for things like the “About” page, company mission/values, etc to automatically generate the relevant sections of the JD. From there, based off of the answers around challenges and needs, the product would create a highly accurate job description by asking the hiring manager a series of simple, mostly yes/no questions. Once the initial software-generated JD is complete, a human recruiter would go through it, making small improvements and additions until it is ready to post. The software could also handle listing across a variety of job board platforms and can integrate with a company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to make the end-to-end hiring process as seamless as possible.

2. Foreign Nurses on Demand

Nurses are an absolutely critical component of the US healthcare system. They’re quintessential in ensuring successful patient outcomes and efficient care within hospitals, clinics, and home health situations and have been lauded as heroes during the Covid-19 pandemic. The last 18 months have put a tremendous strain on the nursing profession which had already been experiencing a shortage of skilled labor for the past decade. It is estimated that the US will have a shortage of over 1 million nurses by 2030. As the 71 million Baby Boomers, who are currently between 57 and 75, continue to age and as more people get insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the need for all kinds of nurses (Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Midwives) will continue to grow.

At the same time demand for nurses is surging, nurses are experiencing more burnout than ever before. On top of that, around 50% of all nurses in the US are 50 years or older and will hit retirement soon. As the gap between demand and supply continues to widen, the healthcare system will be stretched thinner and thinner resulting in even more nurse burnout, longer patient wait times, and increases in medical errors. While doctors from foreign countries cannot legally practice in the US without essentially repeating medical school and residency, the requirements for nurses are much less punitive. If you are a registered nurse in your home country (meaning you’ve completed the required nursing training and are licensed), have practiced for 2 or more years and are proficient in English, you’re eligible to work in the US after passing the state’s exam. The other requirement is getting a visa. A company can recruit nurses from foreign countries (Canada and Mexico are good first places given their special treatment through TN visas) and act as the intermediary between the supply and demand in the US. They can facilitate visas, job placements, housing, community, and more. Given the rise in telemedicine companies who leverage RNs for the majority of the labor, there is also an opportunity (potentially a bigger one??) to match these foreign nurses with digital health companies in need of nurses and looking for a slightly cheaper labor. There is also the added benefit of varying time zones to cover off hours.

3. Gifting Using Email Addresses

I’m truly dumbfounded why it is still so complicated to give people gifts. Almost nobody has my physical address, and quite frankly, that is probably a good thing. Also, as we learned in last week’s newsletter, ~10% of the US population moves each year. Whenever someone wants to give you a gift, they have to ask for your address which puts everyone in a slightly awkward situation. It feels weird offering it and essentially saying, “yes, please send me a gift” and equally weird saying “no” or avoiding the question. Many people revert to digital gift certificates to places like Amazon or Doordash because that is the easiest thing to give without an address and allows the recipient to select whatever they want

In the corporate world, companies like Sendoso or Loop & Tie help facilitate easy and seamless gifting to prospects and customers and newer startups like Goody enable consumers to send gifts using only a person’s phone or email. When you send the gift, the recipient receives a notification and can enter their own address, removing a lot of the friction and weirdness. While the Goody model is interesting, I think the larger opportunity is to create a widget that enables any e-commerce company to do gifts without a physical address. Imagine being able to go through any checkout flow and, just like you now see the ubiquitous buy-now-pay-later options, you can select “This Item is a Gift” and enter either a phone number or email address and the company handles the personalized gift message, collects the physical address, and fulfills the order for delivery. While this could be applicable to any e-commerce site or store, a natural place to sell this would be through the Shopify App Store as there are over 1 million Shopify sellers who rely on 3rd party apps to create their e-commerce experience. This is definitely more feature than full product but charging a few dollars a month plus a small % of each order that uses the functionality (or heck, make it free and only charge when its used) can add up quickly given the market size and would make for a nice business.

That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe and share with a friend or two!

~ Elaine

3 Things: Digital Museum, Town Onboarding, YouTube for Furniture Assembly

Happy Sunday and a very warm welcome to all the new subscribers! I’m thrilled and honored to have you as readers and truly appreciate your thoughts and feedback 🙏. Each edition of 3 Things will contain a dive into 3 rabbit holes I’ve found myself going down recently. Subscribe to get each week’s edition straight to your inbox and if you enjoy it, please share (I suck at self-promotions so can use your help)! This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about:

  • Digital Museum

  • Town Onboarding

  • YouTube for Furniture Assembly

1. Digital Museum

As we get closer and closer to the metaverse, more physical goods and traditionally brick and mortar activities continue to move online. In the early days, mail became email, the Yellow Pages became a variety of web directories, games moved online, and digital communities began to form. More recently we’ve seen a massive shift from in-store shopping to e-commerce for everything from clothes to groceries to furniture and household goods. Healthcare continues to shift from being delivered at a hospital or clinic to at the point of the patient via telemedicine. Instead of relying on bars, parties, physical clubs, or setups, we meet friends, significant others, and activity partners online.

One of the newer spaces to be brought to the internet is art, primarily driven by the boom in NFTs. Even traditional auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s have embraced the digital art trend and are each clamoring to become the place where high-end digital art is bought and sold. We are even seeing curated exhibits of this digital art displayed in museums and other physical venues around the world. But what about building the virtual world version of a museum in VR (or AR)? Just as a curator creates an exhibit concept and then acquires the art that they want to display, internet curators can identify the NFTs that they want to showcase, borrow the pieces using smart contracts, and create immersive experiences in virtual worlds like Decentraland that are intended to be experienced in virtual reality (ubiquitous consumer headsets have to become a “thing” at some point, right? 😆). They can charge admission fees, create in-exhibit concerts similar to the Marshmellow concert in Fortnite, and innovate on additional immersive experiences. The first step in this direction was what is now know as Google Arts and Culture where they digitized famous museums from around the world and created a way for anyone to experience it online. Extending this to digital art, mixed reality, and online worlds, a company can take this to a new level and ride the tailwinds of NFTs, gaming, creator economy, and VR.

2. Town Onboarding

According to census data, nearly 10% of the US population (over 30 million people) moves each year. During the last year and a half that number increased as more people were able to work from home and many people wanted to be closer to family or in a location with a less expensive cost of living. Around 31% of GenZ and Millennials picked up and moved during Covid which is a staggering statistic. In general, over the last few years, the trend is that people are moving from bigger cities to suburbs or smaller cities and towns, reversing the trend towards urbanization of the last few decades. Moving is both stressful and expensive. The average interstate move costs over $4000… and that’s not including all of the time it takes to plan the logistics, pack up your stuff (hopefully getting rid of a good amount 😅), deal with cancelling out old accounts for internet, utilities, garbage, etc. It’s definitely a time for optimism and celebrating new opportunities but it’s also an extremely anxiety-provoking experience that never goes as smoothly as anticipated. You are uprooting your life and changing all of your routines, habits, and people that you regularly interact with. And, let’s face it, making friends as adults is HARD!

When you get to your new location, there are a million things you need to deal with like the obvious unpacking and setting up your wifi (priorities 😉), but pretty quickly you realize how many other things need to get done or seem foreign and unknown. A company could provide cities and towns with an onboarding experience, similar to how startups think about product onboarding for new users. When you move, you register an account and are immediately matched with a “town ambassador” of sorts who are volunteers that help welcome new residents. The software can maintain up-to-date resource lists including information about clubs, activities, events, safety information, and more that the user is guided through with a WalkMe or Pendo type experience. There can be guides for different demographics like children where you would find materials on things like childcare (daycares, nannies, au pairs, etc), schools, new parent groups, classes, camps, and more. Various Slack-like channels can provide ways for like-minded people to connect, engage, and message each other. It can also facilitate a local marketplace to buy/sell or gift items. Selling to local government is not the most fun buyer, but starting with affluent suburbs with slightly younger demographics should make monetization relatively straightforward and this would become an extremely sticky product.

3. YouTube for Furniture Assembly

You might associate ready-to-assemble furniture with IKEA but the history goes all the way back to 1859 with the Thonet No. 14 bentwood chair which was the world’s first mass-produced piece of furniture. It was a wild success selling over 50 million units between 1859 and 1930 (and continued to sell millions more in the decades following). In the 1950s, Swedish technician Gillis Lundgren created the concept of the furniture kit after struggling to transport a table in his car. He was the 4th employee at IKEA and discussed the concept with his boss which led to IKEA selling furniture kits that required self-assembly beginning in 1956. Today, the bulk of furniture for sale across nearly every store or marketplace requires assembly and there are entire companies and categories on platforms like Thumbtack or TaskRabbit (which was acquired by IKEA in 2017) devoted to supplying labor to assist with furniture assembly. Ready-to-assemble is already a $14B market and helps bring the price down and dramatically simplifies the shipping and logistics, but it brings with it a bunch of challenges related to quality, assembly, and user satisfaction.

If you’ve tried to assemble your own furniture in the recent past, you’ll know that the instructions are… lacking. Most consist of only cryptic pictures with drawings that make it extremely hard to tell which piece is which and what goes where. If you read reviews of most furniture items, you’ll see that the #1 topic of discussion is around assembly (mostly people complaining that it took 5 hours or was nearly impossible, etc). If you opt to hire a professional, you’re now paying $100+ on top of the cost of the item. Someone should create a high-quality YouTube channel that shows how to assemble thousands of the top selling ready-to-assemble pieces of furniture across a plethora of brands. Many videos exist but most are horrible quality, focused on IKEA furniture, and there is no single trusted place for all brands and types of furniture assembly. In addition to earning revenue from YouTube itself, the furniture companies would be highly incentivized to provide free furniture, sponsor these videos, and also drive traffic to them when consumers make a purchase as this will help improve their NPS (as well as improve their online reviews) and reduce the number of returns or requests for discounts.

That’s all for today! If you have thoughts, comments, or want to get in touch, find me on Twitter at @ezelby and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe and share with a friend or two!

~ Elaine

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