Like so many others, Homejoy is a startup of the past
Homejoy, a company that helped connect homeowners with house cleaning and home service providers, will shut down at the end of this month. Homejoy was like the Uber of home services, “from cleaning to carpentry,” providing a platform for home owners to find service providers in 35 cities across North America and Europe.
According to chief executive Adora Cheung, legal action against the company was a “deciding factor” in Homejoy’s move to call it quits. In a class action lawsuit, Homejoy was sued for mischaracterizing its service providers as independent contractors, rather than regular employees. Similar lawsuits have been brought against the app-based delivery services Postmates and Try Caviar. By classifying workers as independent contractors, companies can skimp on the benefits they would be expected to provide for regular employees, such as guaranteed overtime and minimum wage, or reimbursement for job expenses.
However, it is unlikely that legal troubles alone led to Homejoy’s demise
After all, if it was feasible for the company to start providing benefits for full employees, they might have tried. Realistically, there aren’t huge profits to be made as a go-between in the home services marketplace, as the average house cleaner earns less than $20K per year. In a way, Homejoy was skimming profits off of workers who are already barely hovering above the poverty line.
In the words of an anonymous commenter on Quora, Homejoy was also a failure because their idea “requires significant change in user behavior on both sides of the marketplace.” Homeowners are accustomed to finding help at home through internet sites like Craigslist, or even more commonly, through personal referrals. Home service professionals like house cleaners and carpenters find plenty of jobs this way without the assistance of a third party. What’s more, housekeepers and the like are used to accepting cash, whereas Homejoy relies on credit cards, which mean that workers will have to report a higher income and pay higher taxes. Once a Homejoy user establishes a working relationship with a housekeeper, they have no reason to keep using Homejoy, since they can easily cut out the middleman, skip an unnecessary step, and save money.
The state of disruption
In the age of on demand services, some things are just easier and cheaper to arrange without an intermediary. This lack of profit potential, combined with the questionable legality of hiring “independent contractors,” spelled doom for the short-lived startup. Other startups with similar models will be examining the impact of this closing and considering how the Homejoy speed bumps might alter their own future.
$100m reimagined convenience store startup to open 25 stores in 2022
(BUSINESS) Foxtrot is looking to redefine the convenience store as we know it. This startup is looking to make it a whole new experience.
Move over 7-11, there’s a new player in town! There’s always room for competition, even in the world of convenience stores. Yes, you read that right, Quick Trip has some serious competition from a newcomer, Foxtrot.
Foxtrot is a curated, modern convenience store offering a brisk 30-minute delivery and 5-minute pick-up. It was created by Mike LaVitola and Taylor Bloom in 2014. These stores will undoubtedly be popular in walkable areas, but also with their online ordering convenience. This modern version of a convenience store offers the combination of an upscale corner store with a digital-first e-commerce platform. Sounds pretty glorious, right?
However, the original convenience store is safe as long as people are traveling and need to stop for gas or a restroom break. If you’re from Texas, then you know and love, Buc-ee’s, the Texas-born chain. Buc-ee’s have been creating their own in-store products garnering a cult following among their customers. Still, Buc-ee’s doesn’t have an online ordering or delivery option unless it’s offered through a third party.
Foxtrot has raised $160 million in Series C funding and they are expecting to open 25 locations in many cities in 2022. There are a few different levels of funding. If a company makes it to Series C funding, they are already successful and looking to expand or develop new products per Investopedia.
According to Retail Dive, “About half of the new stores will be in Chicago, Dallas and Washington, where all of the 16 stores Foxtrot currently operates are located, LaVitola said. The tech-focused retailer is also planning to begin operations in Boston and Austin, and intends to open four or five new stores in each of those cities during the next year and a half, he said.”
Foxtrot is testing out technology equipment that would allow customers to leave the store without stopping to checkout at the counter. They plan isn’t to go entirely self-service, but as the creator LaVitola stated, “the more hours we can allocate towards sampling and storytelling and interacting with customers and less [on] tasks that don’t add on to value, like checkout, that’s great.”
Foxtrot is redefining convenience by including carefully curated products. They aim to offer local popular products as well core pantry items. They aim to make the commonly unpleasant experience of convenience stores enjoyable. Let’s hope they succeed.
What small business owners can learn from Starbucks’ new D&I strategy
(BUSINESS) Diversity and inclusion have been at the forefront of Starbucks’ mission, but now they’re shifting strategy. What can we learn from it?
Starbucks was one of many companies that promised to focus on diversity and inclusion efforts after the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020. What sets Starbucks apart from other companies were its specific goals.
How It Started
They began with hiring targets and have now added goals in corporate and manufacturing roles. Starbucks’ plans and goals revolve around transparency for accountability. They released the annual numbers for 2021 as a way to help hold themselves accountable. The data they’ve released so far show that they’ve met nearly a third of their 2025 goals according to Retail Brew. Because of this information, we can see why they are choosing to move in the direction of manufacturing and corporate jobs. In 2021, POC’s fell to 12.5% of director-level employees from 14.3% in 2020 in manufacturing.
How It’s Going
Per Starbucks’ website stories and news, “[I]t will increase its annual spend with diverse suppliers to $1.5 billion by 2030. As part of this commitment, Starbucks will partner with other organizations to develop and grow supplier diversity excellence globally.” To put that into perspective, they spent nearly $800 million with diverse suppliers in 2021. With these moves, by 2030, it will increase by almost double.
As part of their accountability and progress, they plan to partner up with Arizona State University to give out free toolkits to entrepreneurs on fundamentals for running successful diverse-owned businesses. Another goal they’ve listed is to boost paid media representation by allocating 15 percent of the advertising budget to minority-owned and targeted media companies to reach diverse audiences.
At the heart of all this information on their goals and future plans, data transparency and accountability are what’s forcing them to look at the numbers to make specific goals. They are doing more than just throwing money at the problem, they are analyzing how they can do better and where the money will make a difference. Something that, as entrepreneurs, we should all do.
Peloton is back-pedaling: Reports of price increases, layoffs, and cost cuts
(BUSINESS) After a recording of layoffs leaks, ‘supply chain’ issues cause shipping increases, and they consult for cost-cutting, Peloton is doomed.
Is Peloton in Trouble?
According to many reports, Peloton had success early in the pandemic when gyms shut down. Offering consumers a way to connect with a community for fitness along with varying financing options allowed the company to see growth when many other industries were being shuttered.
After two years, CNBC reports that the company is “being impacted by …supply chain challenges” and rising inflation costs. According to the report, customers will be paying an additional $250 for its bike and $350 for its tread for delivery and setup.
As demand has decreased, Peloton is also considering layoffs in their sales and marketing departments, overheard in a leaked audio call. The recording details executives discussing “Project Fuel” where they plan to cut 41% of the sales and marketing teams, as well as letting go of eCommerce employees and frontline workers at 15 retail stores.
Nasdaq reported that the stock fell 75% last year, after a year where it soared over 400%.
Peloton reviewing its overall structure
According to another report from CNBC, Peloton is working with McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm, to lower costs as revenue has dropped and the growth of new subscriptions has slowed since the pandemic. Last November, according to NPR, Peloton had “its worst day as a publicly-traded company.” It also anticipates greater losses in 2022 than originally predicted. It makes sense that the company would reexamine their strategy as the economy changes. They aren’t the only one that is raising prices amid supply chain issues.
It will be interesting to watch how Peloton fares
Peloton has a large community that pays a monthly fee for connected fitness. While growth has slowed, the company still has a strong share of consumers. Although it is facing more competition in the home fitness market and more gyms are reopening, as Peloton adjusts to the new normal, it should remain a viable company.
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