Image for post
Image for post

Marketers love subscriptions.

We love knowing that, whether you use our product twice a day or twice a year, we’ll collect our monthly rent.

We love knowing that you’ll probably forget you’re even paying it.

And we love knowing that when one day you do remember… well, is figuring out how to cancel even worth the bother?

We’re sure you’d understand — we really have no choice. We need to keep raising that customer lifetime value because, you see, customer acquisition cost keeps going up. So believe us when we say: This is what you want.

We invited you over for a couple drinks a few decades ago — a newspaper subscription, maybe a magazine or two. But the drinks turned into a bit of a party, and we kept handing you solo cups. Xbox Live, Netflix by mail, Office Online. Now it’s well past midnight, and your liver is being assaulted by Hulu, Prime, Washington Post, Birchbox, BarkBox (really?), sixteen shots of SaaS, Hinge, The New York Times, Bumble, the HBO you split with your friend, Spotify, Quip, Blue Apron or whatever meal kit is still in business today, Huel, Harry’s, plus four hardware devices that will stop functioning if you stop paying their makers every single month. Yeah, you don’t look too great, you keep mumbling that you should probably stop — and maybe we think twice about putting another beer in your hand. But then we look around and see that, hey, everyone else at this party is still drinking more. And who cares, anyway? …

Image for post
Image for post
David (right) and me on a recent visit to our manufacturing plant

The best decision I ever made was choosing to work with my cofounder.

It was a late, damp hour in uptown New Orleans when David pitched the idea of Carpe to me. “It’s a brilliant concept, man — we’ll be selling three versions of this by fall. We’ll have one for men, then one for women, and one for the athletes!”

It was a terrible concept, I thought to myself, but I listened to him. The lights were out in our apartment, the flat we were sharing with 9 other Robertson Scholars across three bedrooms. …

Image for post
Image for post

The startup “pitch” has become a trope — like marriage proposals, diaper changes, and employee firings, almost all of us think we know how to do one… until we actually need to.

That’s when we realize that no matter how many times we thought we’ve seen them before, we have no idea how to make them great when it’s our turn. If we’re lucky, we come to that realization before we get down on one knee and present the ring. …

Image for post
Image for post

Meltwater is a company with a simple product: A database of media contacts. These contacts are otherwise hard to find, as most reporters don’t want every “disruptive” startup out there calling them to beg for a story. Yet for a few thousand dollars a year, Meltwater will give you reporters’ emails and phone numbers — placing you one step closer to that elusive “Featured On:” banner.

It’s a simple product. It has a simple value proposition. It should not be difficult to explain to potential customers.

And yet, the first thing you see on Meltwater’s Web 20.17 parallax-ed bootstrap-ed responsive home page is the title card confidently declaring “Welcome to Outside Insight”. Behind it, a video plays, showing, in order: A laptop being placed on a desk. A globe resting on a shelf. A coffee cup being set down. …

Image for post
Image for post
My cofounder David Spratte (right) and me (left)

Why should you start a company as an underclassman? In short, because you don’t quite have to get it right.

The summer after my freshman year at Duke, I cofounded Carpe Lotion with my friend David Spratte. We developed an antiperspirant lotion, a solution to sweaty hands and feet, and have been selling it with growing success since the summer of 2015. The better Carpe does, the more people ask me for advice about their own companies — and unfortunately, in most cases, the honest reply to their questions is “I have no idea. I think our business is somehow kind of working right now? I’m trying to figure out why that is”. The reality is, growing a company is a messy and confusing affair, full of squishy math and gut calls, even when you try to approach everything as empirically as I do. It’s only after you’ve done something and seen the consequences play out over months or years that you can even begin to speak to whether or not that was a good decision. …


Kasper Kubica

Co-founder, Carpe

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store