Business school grads and quants are winning the battle to create the next P&G

These days my Instagram feed feels more like QVC than a social network.

And many of these companies are enjoying tremendous success pitching natural deodorants, unique underwear, creative candles, glam glasses, stunning shoes — all manner of well-crafted microbrands. We’re witnessing a Cambrian explosion of new consumer startups.

For the last couple of years, building a successful startup has seemed as simple as picking an out of favor category like ketchup and turning the most mundane of condiments into a $100M+ exit! Why try to build a robot or AI company when you can just modify and repackage a topping?

But how should founders evaluate the markets for mattresses and men’s health? What heuristics should an investor

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Amazon opens its largest Amazon Go convenience store yet

Amazon is picking up the pace when it comes to unveiling its line of “stores of the future,” today opening its second cashier-less Amazon Go convenience store in the last week. More Amazon Go locations are expected to land in other cities soon, though the company has yet to confirm any plans. The latest location is its third overall and third in Seattle, where it’s headquartered. The 2,100 square feet store sits on the corner of Boren Ave. and Thomas St. and is its largest yet. The first iteration of the Amazon Go store was 1,800 square feet; it opened its doors to the public in a surprise opening in December 2016. The second, measuring 1,450 square feet, began doing business last Monday. In case you’re unfamiliar, Amazon Go stores cut out the check-out process by charging customers for what the pick up in-store using the Amazon Go app. The
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Kencko wants to help you eat more fruit and vegetables

People don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, that’s despite an embarrassment of options today that include fast grocery delivery and takeout services with a focus on health. A study from the U.S-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last November found that just one in ten adults in America “meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations” each day. The bar isn’t that high. The recommendation is just 1.5-2 cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day, but failing to meet it can put people at risk of chronic diseases, the CDC said. The problem is universal the world over, but perhaps most acute in the U.S, where finding healthy food is easier than ever. Amazon’s same-day grocery deliveries, make-it-at-home services like Blue Apron and various healthy takeout services have helped some people, but no doubt there’s much more to be done for
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Blue Apron will start selling its meal kits in stores

Blue Apron announced today it will bring its meal kits to stores. The news arrives at a time when the meal kit subscription company is struggling to grow and retain its users, who are often put off by the expense of the direct-shipped meal kits and the need to commit to an ongoing subscription. In recent months, Blue Apron has also laid off hundreds, lost its CEO, and has continued to post disappointing earnings. In February, the company reported its subscriber base had fallen to 746,000, down from 856,000 the prior quarter, and down from its peak of one million last year. Earlier this month, its stock took another hit as Weight Watchers announced its own plans to sell meal kits in stores. Walmart had also said the same, adding that its meal kits would be available via its online grocery service for curbside pickup or delivery. Other
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These startup exits delivered the biggest bang for the buck

 Big IPOs by the best-known brands tend to dominate attention in startup circles. But when it comes to delivering significant returns on invested capital, it’s often lower-profile companies that come out on top. We look at some of the top-returning large exits, first for tech and Internet companies, and then for life sciences. Read More

US & Canada VCs favor late-stage giants over upstarts in Q4

 Startup investors in the U.S. and Canada have been putting a little less money to work across a lot fewer deals in recent months. After three quarters of rising investment at early through growth stage, VCs have cut back in the fourth quarter of 2017. We look at some of the key data points for the just-ended quarter and year, including early and late-stage funding, round counts, M&A and IPOs. Read More

Blue Apron loses its CEO

 Blue Apron founder Matt Salzberg is stepping aside as the company’s CEO, the company announced Thursday. CFO Brad Dickerson has been promoted to take his place. It’s been a volatile past few months for the cooking kit company, which went public in June. Shares closed Thursday at just $2.99. Blue Apron had gone public at $10 per share, after originally hoping to go public between… Read More

What it’s like cooking with meal kit startup Chef’d

 I’ve tried both Blue Apron and HelloFresh before, but I don’t like being locked into some subscription, so I decided to go with Chef’d this time around. Chef’d, which raised $35.2 million in August from strategic investors like pork producer Smithfield Foods and online grocer Fresh Direct, is different in that you don’t need to subscribe to anything, ever. There… Read More

Blue Apron shares trade down 9% after disappointing earnings

 Blue Apron just can’t catch a break. The New York-based cooking kit business released its third-quarter earnings before the bell on Thursday. The results were mixed. The company handily beat revenue expectations, but its losses were also worse than expected. Revenue was $210.6 million, a 3% increase from the same period last year. Analysts surveyed by Yahoo Finance had been… Read More

Blue Apron competitor HelloFresh prices IPO, raising up to $369 million

 HelloFresh, the Berlin-based cooking kit delivery company, priced its IPO at the middle of its expected range at €10.25, or roughly $11.91. This means that the company could raise up to €318 million in the offering, or $369 million. The timing of the IPO may come as a surprise to some, given that competitor Blue Apron recently had a lackluster public debut. Read More

Blue Apron is laying off a quarter of its staff

 Blue Apron is planning to lay off 24 percent of its staff, Bloomberg reports. The layoffs are aimed at Blue Apron’s facility in New Jersey, where it will cut 1,270 jobs. As of March 31, Blue Apron employed 5,202 people. These Blue Apron layoffs come about a month after the company’s lackluster initial public offering, its co-founder and COO Matthew Wadiak stepping down and… Read More

Blue Apron COO Matthew Wadiak steps down in post-IPO shakeup

 Blue Apron announced several changes at the executive level today, including co-founder Matthew Wadiak stepping down from the COO role to become a senior advisor. Wadiak’s changing role comes after a painful IPO for the meal kit delivery service, which first had to reduce its original IPO price and has since seen a significant drop in its share price. Read More

Amazon is already selling some prepared ‘Amazon Meal Kits’

 Based just on trademark filings and reported plans, Amazon’s potential entry into the prepared meal kit market has had a significant impact on freshly-IPO’d Blue Apron’s stock price. Now, however, we know that Amazon is actually already testing its own “Amazon Meal Kits,” thanks to a customer in Seattle who has already ordered and prepared one. Seattle resident… Read More

Blue Apron is having another awful day and its shares are crashing

 Since going public last month, things have not gone particularly well for Blue Apron thanks to the specter of Amazon and its $13.7 billion acquisition bid for Whole Foods. The bad news, again, continues to roll in as what may have been a competitor in theory now seems more and more like an existential threat. Blue Apron’s shares are down another 10% today, continuing a streak of mistrust… Read More

Trademarks show Amazon has sights on meal-kits, “single cow burgers” and other fast food options

 Amazon has made no secret of its ambitions to expand into more fresh food services, from its own, homegrown efforts like AmazonFresh for groceries (first launched in 2013) and Amazon Restaurants for restaurant delivery (first launched in 2014), through to its most recent plan to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. In fact, the company has its sights set on a number of other culinary areas,… Read More

Trademarks show Amazon has sights on meal-kits, “single cow burgers” and other fast food options

 Amazon has made no secret of its ambitions to expand into more fresh food services, from its own, homegrown efforts like AmazonFresh for groceries (first launched in 2013) and Amazon Restaurants for restaurant delivery (first launched in 2014), through to its most recent plan to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. In fact, the company has its sights set on a number of other culinary areas,… Read More

You can buy Tovala’s $399 smart oven starting today

 Tovala, a $399 smart oven out of Y Combinator promising to perfectly cook ready-made meals in under 30 minutes is finally available for purchase. It can bake, boil and steam meals at up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit in 10 to 30 minutes and works with either prepackaged Tovala meals or your own food. However, the real money maker for the startup will be in the meal delivery service. It’s a… Read More