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In 2013, Colin Darretta left private equity to start his own company, WellPath, a direct-to-consumer brand of vitamins and supplements. Today, WellPath earns eight figures in revenue annually — and it’s profitable.

Scaling WellPath taught Darretta how to build a successful consumer business from the ground up: Developing products, managing supply chains, and growing marketing funnels. Soon, he and his co-founders began asking, if it could be done once, could it be done twice?

“We came to the conclusion that there were real opportunities to apply the learnings that we’d had at WellPath on a repeatable basis across other brands,” Darretta says. …


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In the fall of 2020, Joanna Shan should have been starting her sophomore year as a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Instead, she and four friends took a gap year, moved in together in Portland, and started working on an idea they thought up over the summer: What would a less awkward dating app look like?

They came up with Monet, a dating app where you send a drawing, sketch, or doodle as the first move. No more DMs that just say: “Hey.”

Shan, along with Daniel Huang, Jonathan Xue, and Marc Liu started brainstorming in June, moved in together in September, launched a beta in October, and deployed a full-fledged app in December. Shan shared videos of the team’s milestones on TikTok, racking up hundreds of thousands of views — and thousands of beta testers. …


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When CUUP Co-Founder and CMO Abby Morgan thinks about the future of fashion in 2021, she predicts two trends: First, a paring down of the wardrobe, with consumers choosing to invest in just a few simple, well-constructed basics rather than frills or flair. And second, comfort.

“I think fashion is becoming more minimal,” Morgan, a former marketing executive at Free People says. “People are investing more in their core wardrobe. The smart retailers are seeing that trend instead of offering these more dressy, impulse purchases.”

CUUP’s bras are designed in that trend. Offered in only five minimal styles, CUUP’s bras are available in a range of 40 sizes — from 30A to 38H — emphasizing fit, support, and the individuality of every woman’s body. With a vertically integrated supply chain, CUUP is uniquely able to invest in variations between cup size and band width. …


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It has been a remarkably difficult year for running a business. Almost 100,000 businesses have permanently closed. But, it has also been a year of ingenuity and resilience.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve asked dozens of founders, operators, and CEOs how they’ve handled big challenges — from halted supply chains to complete brand relaunches. Here are 20 of our favorite pieces of advice from 2020.

  1. From Bob’s Red Mill Chairman Bob Moore: Compassion for should always come first. “People are everything. …


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In the earliest days of the pandemic, Jing Gao worried for her business. It had been an uphill battle since the day Gao launched a Kickstarter for her spicy Sichuan Chili Crisp sauce in 2018: Sourcing precious ingredients from the countryside of China — cold-pressed rapa oil, fermented black beans, fried chilies, and rare tribute peppers — was difficult. Convincing her Chengdu manufacturer to use those ingredients rather than that of typical suppliers was even harder. Ingredient approvals were time consuming and costly. Her jars’ labels, printed in Hong Kong, had to be applied by hand. …


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This week, Roxana Saidi launched Táche, a brand of pistachio milk she first began working on in the kitchen of a studio apartment in 2015. With pistachios sourced from fourth-generation farmers in the middle east, Táche sets itself apart as a more environmentally friendly option than almond milk and a healthier option than oat milk. Earlier this year, Táche raised a $1.1 million pre-seed round with backing from investors like Gary Hirshberg, the co-founder and former CEO of Stonyfield Farm.

But launching a new brand in 2020 is no easy feat.

Here, Saidi shares her playbook for fundraising, navigating a complex supply chain, and launching a CPG brand in the middle of a pandemic. …


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Sunday CEO Coulter Lewis

In 2017, Coulter Lewis bought his first home. It was in Boulder, Colorado, and it had a big backyard for his young children and dog. But homeownership had a learning curve. Lewis found himself shopping for products he’d never considered before, things like fertilizer and weed killer. He was struck by how unhealthy it all seemed.

“It felt so wrong,” Lewis says, remembering a trip to his local hardware store. “You can smell it from 50 yards away. It’s just sacks of industrial chemicals. …


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On July 26, 2019, Marty Bell tweeted, “Did we just drop the hottest website on the interweb?” The thumbnail showed the edge of a palm tree. And a vintage car. It was pink. It was pixelated. The URL was enticing: Poolside.FM.

“It was the most clickable thing ever,” Bell says with a laugh. In minutes, it took off.

“That got picked up by all the big names in tech,” Bell says. “I had Tweetdeck open with a search for Poolside.FM and mentions were non-stop, all day. It was wild.”

Poolside.FM is an online radio station. It’s also a one-way ticket to 1987. Summery pop music curated from Soundcloud and YouTube streams over video clips from 80s infomercials. Every pixel is designed to invoke the analog joys of a pre-iPhone era: There is a text only chat room. Windows within Poolside are closed by clicking a tiny martini glass. …


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In 2016, Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl told Y Combinator his plan to sell furniture online.

Buying a sofa shouldn’t require driving to a store, he said. It shouldn’t require finding friends to heldp carry the sofa up the stairs. Furniture should be sold direct-to-consumer. It should come as modular pieces in lightweight boxes. It should be easy to disassemble and reassemble, in case you need to move.

Four years later — as Americans remain advised to stay at home — that plan couldn’t be more prescient.

“This has rapidly expedited the shift from retail to e-comm in the furniture industry, and that’s something that we’re benefiting from,” Kuhl says today. “Our company is literally built for this. Our stuff is delivered via UPS Ground Shipping. You don’t have to interact with a human being when it arrives. …


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In 2014, Yelitsa Jean-Charles posted a question on Facebook: “To any of my Black female Facebook friends, can you share your experience with dolls as a child? Did dolls influence you in any way? Do you believe that there is a lack of positive representation for young Black girls?”

The answer was a resounding “Yes.”

Every store sold blue-eyed, blonde Barbies. But where were the other options?

Today, Jean-Charles is the CEO of Healthy Roots Dolls. It’s her mission to answer that question. …

About

Ali Montag

Ali Montag, Head of Community at Rho Business Banking.

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