Retailers Discover Muslims, Startups Serving Startups, and What You Don’t Know About Your Food Delivery

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HUMAN RESOURCES

One in five food-delivery drivers admit to stealing some of the food they deliver: “The survey conducted by US Foods, which supplies food to restaurants, gathered information from about 500 food delivery drivers and more than 1,500 customers in America who order through apps such as DoorDash, Postmates, Grubhub and UberEats. Respondents ranged from 18 to 77 years old, with a median age of 31. Drivers who reported working for at least one food delivery app had a median age of 30. In an effort to better understand the process of ordering and delivering meals, the company asked both groups about their ‘habits and pain points.’ Of the drivers surveyed, 54 percent admitted to being tempted by the smell of a customer’s food, and about half of those people actually took a bite.”

FedEx and UPS will soon be delivering packages on Sundays by employing a fleet of lower-paid drivers: “The bulk of deliveries will be residential, which are more costly than deliveries to businesses. Both companies recently disclosed the new seven-day-a-week schedule, which starts in January after the busy holiday season. FedEx will deploy Sunday delivery through its Ground unit, which uses an independent-contractor model under which drivers tend to make less than the company’s Express drivers. UPS’s newest labor contract, enacted last year, created a two-tier wage system for drivers, and the company will mostly use the lower-paid workforce during the weekends.”

In June, a cohort of formerly incarcerated individuals celebrated graduation from Georgetown’s entrepreneurial Pivot Program: One of those graduates was Jermaine Dory, who had been incarcerated only a few weeks before applying to the program. After he was accepted into Pivot, he focused on founding his own software company. He contributed work to FlikShop, an app designed to connect families to their loved ones during incarceration, and started an internship with a software engineering firm.”

RETAIL

Banana Republic, the latest consumer brand to create products for Muslim women, has started selling hijabs: “The company this week began selling four styles of the religious headscarves, including satin fabrics and leopard prints, on its website for between $40 and $50. It added the products to the ‘accessories’ section of its site on Tuesday as part of an effort to ‘to reflect the rich diversity of customers and employees,’ a company spokeswoman said in an email. The growing popularity of ‘modest’ clothing lines and hijabs at mainstream stores signals a shift, analysts say, in retailers’ attitudes toward inclusion and diversity.

“The apparel industry is undergoing massive change, and analysts say companies are having to rethink their products to attract new shoppers. Many are using their websites as a way to reach groups they might have ignored in traditional stores, where the focus has long been on stocking shelves with items that will appeal to the largest swath of consumers. Major retailers, including Macy’s and Uniqlo, have begun courting Muslim shoppers in recent years, with the addition of hijabs and other modest fashion items like high-neck tunics and floor-length cardigans. Nike markets its Pro Hijab to Muslim athletes, while American Eagle briefly sold a $20 denim hijab.”

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STARTUPS

Startups like Brex, which provides charge cards, are raising capital to sell services to other startups: “The two-year-old start-up moved into the sun-filled space this year as investors poured in tens of millions of dollars, valuing Brex at $2.6 billion—and making Mr. Dubugras and Mr. Franceschi worth roughly $430 million each on paper, according to EquityZen, a marketplace for private stocks. Brex is an example of Silicon Valley’s unflagging startup exuberance, even amid the Big Tech backlash. Startups raised $55 billion in venture capital in the first half of this year, the most since 2000, according to CB Insights and PwC. …

“Brex then went on an advertising blitz, covering San Francisco’s bus stops, billboards and airport terminals with its logo and tag lines like ‘The corporate card that actually lives up to the hype’ and ‘Don’t charge it. Brex it.’ In November, Mr. Dubugras showed off the billboards at a conference, saying they were a cheaper way to reach potential clients and employees than digital ads. Afterward, San Francisco’s billboard prices rose, he said. Now he has a new rule: ‘Don’t talk about advertising that works.’”

Sustainable Green Technologies, an Israeli agriculture startup, converts cow manure into clean energy: “‘You can take cow manure and use the material as fertilizer without any prior treatment, but when you turn the material into biogas, you get two or three products out of one raw material. When you take the manure and treat it, you solve the problem of smell and contamination, and then you get energy and also fertilizer,’ says Daniel Madar, a reusable energy specialist … While SG Tech is certainly not the first company to use bovine waste as a source for fuel, most conventional methods for biogas production generally take a lot of time and produce large amounts of digestate—wastewater containing high concentrations of nutrients and salts. … Based in Netanya, SG Tech claims to have developed ‘the only complete solution for the treatment of livestock waste–one that produces clean energy, clean water, and nutrient-rich organic compost.’”

Researchers and entrepreneurs are trying to create cows’ milk without cows: “Dairy tastes like dairy thanks to two key proteins, casein and whey protein. Researchers at several startup companies, including New Culture, have begun producing these proteins in the lab, with the aim of creating a new grocery store category: cow-free dairy. Their process is loosely comparable to the way Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat makes meatless burgers. …

“The quest for cow-free dairy is expanding. In Oakland, scientists at a community science lab are trying to make their own open-source recipe for lab-made cheese. And a startup in Boston called Motif Ingredients is engineering a variety of ingredients to replace traditional dairy, eggs and meat proteins. Another company, Perfect Day (originally Muufri), may be the furthest along in perfecting a recipe for lab-made dairy. The company produces whey protein and mixes them with other ingredients found in traditional dairy—fats, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphates. In early July, a limited-edition batch was released, with flavors including chocolate, vanilla salted fudge and vanilla blackberry toffee; it quickly sold out. The challenge is scaling up.”

MARKETING

Napa Valley vineyards are attracting visitors of all ages by offering more non-drinking activities: “[Me and my 13-year-old daughter] kicked off the trip at Skyline Wilderness Park, hiking through wildflower and chaparral-speckled woodland where clusters of butterflies and hummingbirds made frequent cameos. Then, we zipped over to Clif Family Winery (of Clif Bar fame), which was of no interest to Brette until I mentioned their food truck. Over chive-dusted bruschetta and arancini balls, I had three sips (I was driving) of a perky Viognier that elevated the carbs to heavenly heights. … Tamber Bay and Raymond Vineyards are among the other child-friendly wineries in Napa, as is Castello di Amorosa, which—modeled after a medieval castle—has a drawbridge, a dungeon cell and secret passageways. Activities you can expect at these sites include playing horseshoes and interacting with farm animals.”

Can Playboy be rebranded for the Me Too era? “This is a newer, woke-er, more inclusive Playboy—if you believe what company executives tell you, and if you are inclined to give an aging brand yet another chance at reinvention. … Early last year, Ben Kohn, a financier who had helped take Playboy private in 2011 and is now chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal that he was considering getting rid of the magazine, in order to focus on licensing and joint ventures. But instead, Playboy was quietly relaunched this year—this time as a thick-stock, matte-paper, ad-free quarterly. It is edited by a Millennial triumvirate: the openly gay Mr. Singh, 31; Erica Loewy, 26, the creative director; and Anna Wilson, 29, who oversees photography and multimedia. There had been women in the latter two positions before, but never both at the same time. The result is a magazine that is virtually unrecognizable from the one Mr. Hefner created …”

COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE

The Wing is building a co-working space for women and non-binary people: “Bianca Harris moved to Boston from New York three years ago. For the first time ever, she found meeting people challenging. ‘I feel very out of place. I’m a female founder so all of the events and spaces I go to, typically I don’t see people who look like me,’  says Harris, 30, founder of Skinary, an app to track skin health. ‘It can be a little weird when I come in and sometimes there’s looks. I’ll ask for more information or where I can sit and people are very accusatory as to why you’re there. Why wouldn’t I be?’

“She joined The Wing in search of camaraderie. A month and a half into her Wing membership, she’s already made a few new friends. ‘It’s nice to go into that environment full of women and know I have the potential to connect with them on a different level,’ she says. ‘It takes more than saying you want to have diversity and be inclusive.’”

And that’s what’s ahead.

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