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Attack Trumpism, dance awkwardly, and use star power.
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There’s a difference between a “good business idea” and a “good idea.”
Lots of wasteful, bad, or evil ideas may, in fact, be good “business ideas.” Back when I was in college, a few of my classmates became reps for the predecessor to Keurig. You know, the little circular pods you see at low-rent hotels or in newsroom breakrooms.
I thought it was stupid and would never take off. But I was only thinking about it in the mind of a college student. After all, you’re paying more for a relatively cheap product that is easy to make, and adding a new device that can basically only do one thing. (You can do a lot of things with a $17 Mr. Coffee maker!)
Keurig, which now owns Dr. Pepper and is worth $50 billion, came into the single-serving coffee industry and dominated. I was quite wrong. While the industry has gotten better about plastic waste and making the K-Cups recyclable, we have no information as to whether people actually go through the motions to actually do it.
So, imagine something just as wasteful as Keurig, but more so. May I introduce Cometeer, which sells flash frozen pucks of coffee in aluminum containers that are delivered to your house in dry ice. A Twitter friend keenly observed: “This is literally just instant coffee but flash frozen instead of dehydrated.” Oh, it also works in Keurig machines.
This makes it akin to the Keurig, of course. Though Cometeer’s makers would probably blanch at the comparison, through its sheer Rube Goldbergian stupidity it is also a cousin to Juicero, the infamous juice-press startup that sold $400 internet-enabled countertop machines engineered to squeeze fruit juice out of Juicero-branded bags of fruit juice, and which collapsed utterly once some of its early adopters discovered that they could just squeeze fruit juice out of bags of fruit juice with their own analog hands. But it belongs much more authentically to the ever-growing horror-genre of companies that, whatever their nominal product or service, at heart sell the bourgeois dream of outsourcing all human life’s vulgar labors to the far, unseen side of that transactional curtain—or the even bleaker 21st-century striver-class fantasy of being always too busy, too motivated, too psychotically optimized for achievement to spare a few extra minutes brewing your own fucking cup of coffee, yet also possessed of such a severe and unyielding entitlement to “high-quality coffee, similar to what champion baristas can create” that you must deploy teams of MIT, Apple, and Tesla scientists to brew it for you.
Yes, this idea is stupid, but it has raised tens of millions of dollars. Lots of times, stupid ideas get lots of money. And sometimes, stupidity in the name of convenience succeeds.
Leading The Bulwark…
JIM SWIFT: Attack Trumpism, dance awkwardly, and use star power.
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