Putting People in the Hot Seat Pays Off

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Eunique Jones Gibson had an incredible idea for a game called CultureTags that tests players’ knowledge on Black culture. All things considering, the game is pretty timely and is made up of 350 cards that have acronyms which you guess the meaning of. Players win by guessing the most correct answers for what the acronyms stand for in under a minute. They stand for topics like Black phrases, songs, movies and dances. 

Eunique is no newbie business owner. She created a multimedia platform called Because of them We Can, which just started as photos going viral in 2013, and is the owner of Dream Village, a coworking space focused on helping Black community find supportive workspaces. Ironically enough, members of the coworking space inputted their ideas and helped come up with 300 of the 350 acronyms in the game!

CultureTags started its development last year and was launched just a month before the pandemic hit.

How’d she fund this? With a Kickstarter campaign that brought in $15,000 to get the ball rolling. Eunique didn’t want to self-fund this project because she’s lost money going that route with other business ideas in the past. She also got smart about growing a following by documenting the entire process to develop CultureTags, starting from the moment she sketched out her ideas on a pizza box. By bringing people into the experience and the journey, she created a solid following on social media eager to buy when CultureTags launched.

Gibson then went on a multi-city tour starting in February (which was put on hold just a few weeks later thanks to COVID-19). To pivot, she created a digital download version of the game and got celebrity influencers like Yvonne Orji and Mack Wilds to market it to their following. Thanks to all that, her game launched in Target this fall, a big win for Gibson.

Barking Their Way to an IPO

BarBox, the subscription service for dogs, er, their humans, just announced they’re going public with a SPAC last week. Northern Star Acquisitions Corporation is the blank-check company that is merging with Barkbox for a deal worth about $1.6 billion (including Barkbox’s debts) and will rake in about $454 million in cash proceeds. 

Never heard of ‘em? Barkbox has been around since 2012 and originally was a DTC (direct to consumer) subscription box that sent dog toys and treats, but now has morphed into a nationally known pet goods brand. The company has products at PetSmart, Petco, Target and Costco. On top of retail sales, they serve about 1 million monthly subscribers. 

Considering the year we’ve had, it’s no wonder Barbox will close out 2020 with about $365 in revenue. Pet adoptions have been up by shocking numbers and, with everyone WFH, pet supplies, treats and toys have been top of mind for all pet owners. Even Petco saw an increase in sales by about 10% since 2019.

What other subscription box companies do you think might go public soon? Hit reply and share with us your thoughts!

Jack and Jay-Z Ran Up the Hill

Do we smell a potential acquisition from the digital payment app Square (Jack Dorsey’s company) of Jay-Z’s music-streaming company Tidal? Square has been looking to diversify for quite some time now, especially considering the amount of competition they now have. 

Not familiar with Tidal? It isn’t as well known as bigger players in the music streaming world, but Jay-Z acquired it in 2015 for $56 million and hasn’t done much with it since. Jay-Z and Jack have been discussing a potential deal, but neither has confirmed a transaction is in place yet.

Tidal started in 2014 (one year before being bought by Jay) and was once one of the only places you could find Jay-Z’s music. Clearly losing hope in the company he bought, Jay-Z has put his music back on Spotify last year. Tidal hasn’t shared its current subscriber base since 2016 when they had 3 million at the time.

Jack Dorsey has wanted to build Square into a multi-service company for quite some time now, even though Square Seller and Cash App are still the two main products of Square Inc. 

Coronavirus or no coronavirus, the reason we know talks might be in place is Jack and Jay-Z have been spotted together in the Hamptons in August and also in December in Hawaii with Sean Penn (the actor). Tidal is owned not just by Jay-Z, but also big names in the music industry like Alicia Keys, Madonna, Rihanna, Coldplay, and of course Beyonce… so they’d have to agree to Jack’s negotiations too before a deal is made. 

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