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Monthly Archives: December 2016

6 Delivery Services That Speak to Your Lazy Soul

Delivery is a beautiful thing. You order, you pay, your item arrives. It’s a novel idea that caters to your efficient side, or the core of your laziness. Regardless of why you love these services, it’s hard to ignore how much they have improved our lives when we need them most (busy, don’t want to move from the coziness of the couch) by bringing our items right to us.

Here are six unique delivery services every [lazy] efficient person will love.

Craving food from your favorite restaurant or need to pick up a few things from the store but don’t feel like leaving your house? Postmates, a Web and mobile app, is a unique delivery service that gives you the freedom to get exactly what you want from stores and restaurants that don’t have their own delivery service. Have a craving at 2 a.m. or need something important? Postmates is available 24 hours a day, every day, and allows customers to order everything from pizza and prescriptions to shoes and tech products and have them delivered in under an hour. Deliveries are made by couriers called Postmates, who travel by bike, scooter, car or truck, and the service charges a delivery fee that starts at $5 and varies based on the distance couriers have to travel, as well as a service fee of 9 percent of the purchase price of your items.

Drizly is a business that can come in very handy if you’re throwing a party and just realized you’re out of alcohol, or if you’re hosting a dinner and don’t have enough wine. The app, which is available on Android devices, iPhones and the Web, allows customers to order items for delivery like wine, beer, liquor, mixers and garnishes; and party supplies like ice, plastic cups and bottle openers, so you can stock up without going anywhere. Simply order what you need, pay for it via the app or website and a driver will deliver your items in less than one hour. Drizly does not charge a markup on products, and you can even use the service to send booze as a gift and schedule deliveries up to 48 hours in advance. If you’re in New York, there’s no additional charge for delivery, but in other cities the service charges a $5 delivery fee.

Now that you have the wine, it’s time to create a balanced menu. If ordering food isn’t your thing, Blue Apron will deliver fresh ingredients to your door weekly to create a delicious, healthy meal. Blue Apron offers a two-person for $59.94 per week plan and family-sized plan for $69.92. Meal options consist of Korean pork tacos, crispy salmon or spiced cauliflower among others, which change week-to-week. The website provides a detailed breakdown of the weekly menu. When you click on a specific menu item, it provides an itemized list of what you need, how to prep and videos on cooking the meal. According to the site, you can skip a week or cancel at any time with a week’s notice, and delivery is always free.

Stitch Fix

Hate going to the mall and going shopping but aren’t sure where to start when it comes to online shopping? Stitch Fix is here to assist men and women looking to be fashionable, without having to ever step foot in a mall. After signing up for the service, fill out a profile with your size, style, shape, budget and lifestyle. Next, choose a delivery date that best suits you. When your Stitch Fix Stylist selects your items, you will be charged a $20 styling fee, which will be credited toward anything you keep from your shipment. After you get your items, you have three days to try on the clothes, keep what you want and send back the rest. You’re only charged for what you keep.

Whether you always forget to drop off your dry cleaning, don’t have a washing machine in your home or just hate doing laundry, Washio can help. Washio is a dry cleaning and laundry service that will pick up your dirty laundry and deliver clean clothes to your door within 24 hours. The service is available on the Web and has an iPhone and Android app, and customers can have their laundry picked up any time from early morning to late at night (though the company does have a slightly longer turnaround for weekends, as the staff works reduced hours.) Simply select a 30-minute time window during which a Washio “ninja” will come pick up your laundry, as well as a delivery window for later. For your first order, Washio will give you bags for separating your items along with instructions, and the bags are yours to keep. Bonus: Your Washio ninja will bring you a cookie when he or she picks up your clothes.

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that is perfect if you don’t have time to go to the store yourself or can’t get to the store for other reasons. You can shop online via the Web or mobile app at a variety of stores, from small local shops to big stores like Whole Foods and Costco, and Instacart will then connect you with a personal shopper who will pick up the items on your list and deliver them to your door in less than an hour. The service operates between 9 a.m. and midnight every day, though that can change depending on the operating hours of the store you order from. Instacart uses special tote bags that you can keep or return to your next personal shopper to be reused. If you’re interested in trying out Instacart, you can get your first delivery for free when you sign up. You can also purchase Instacart gift cards for others, or sign up for the service’s annual membership, Instacart Express.

6 Businesses That Put a Unique Spin on Fitness

Getting in shape can be a challenge. It’s not always easy to craft the perfect workout that targets the right muscles and keeps you engaged. Entrepreneurs have been taking new approaches to the way people see fitness and health, encouraging them to embark on a healthier lifestyle by providing fun ways to workout.

These six cool and inspiring businesses are helping people get a better workout and improve their overall health and well-being.

Tone It Up, started by real-life besties Karena and Katrina, offers a lifestyle change for people looking to tone up. They offer a full plan eight-week plan, which includes meal prep and recipe suggestions. If you’re not inclined to pay for a plan, there are simple free daily workouts on their site. The girls encourage a high intensity “Booty Call,” which suggests you do an early morning workout to jumpstart your day. There is also a community to chat about your TIU journey, engaging lifestyle content, and even workout clothes to make you feel confident while you reach your goals.

Wish you could take your workout back to basics? Throwback Fitness, located in New York City, might just be the gym for you. Throwback Fitness takes inspiration from your favorite recess activities like dodgeball and capture the flag to create a fun, more social way to exercise than what’s offered at the usual fitness franchise. You can also participate in fitness takes on college party games like flip cup. For a real feeling of nostalgia, the gym is decorated with retro movie posters and plays music from the ’80s and ’90s.

You’ve probably never thought about attending a rave before heading to the office, but that’s what Daybreaker is all about. The business has locations all over the world, and throws regular dance parties from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. The events are alcohol-free, but they do serve coffee and juice, and they’re a great alternative to your usual fitness routine.

If you’ve ever wished you could combine yoga and water sports, Paddle Into Fitness is the answer to your prayers. This business offers yoga classes on paddleboards, which makes this activity a total-body workout as well as a calming, healing experience. Paddle Into Fitness is based in San Diego, but has instructors all over the world, from Ontario and Oahu to South Africa and Hong Kong. Paddle Into Fitness also offers certification classes for those who want to teach classes.

If your usual trips to the gym are starting to feel boring and predictable, try a visit to Brooklyn Zoo, a facility in New York that offers training services in parkour (a discipline involving movement past obstacles and everyday structures), trampoline, tumbling, dance and even ninja warrior training. Some of the classes Brooklyn Zoo offers include breakdancing, aerial silks, contortion and circus class, which includes juggling and unicycling. Brooklyn Zoo spans two floors and there’s something interesting for everyone, whether you’re a total beginner or an exercise expert.

Pound puts a rock-star spin on fitness by including drumming in its workout routines. The business created its own lightly weighted drumsticks, called Ripstix, which are specially designed to amp up your workout. The workouts themselves consist of cardio moves and strength training to go along with the drumming, and sessions set to music that is carefully chosen to go along with the exercises you’re doing. Pound has several locations across the United States and has franchising options for those interested in opening their own Pound venue.

8 Inspiring and Creative Cosmetics Companies

The beauty business is a huge industry, and with a seemingly endless supply of brands large and small covering hair, nails, makeup and skin care, it can be hard to stand out. But some companies find a way to make a name for themselves or do what no one else has done before. Whether they’re taking products typically laden with chemicals and turning them all natural, putting a scientific spin on skin care or creating products more colorful than you’ve ever seen, these eight creative beauty businesses are sure to inspire you.

Manicure lovers know that most nail polishes contain some not-so-natural ingredients. Habit aims to change that so you can enjoy beautiful nails without all the toxic ingredients. According to the company’s website, Habit’s polishes are vegan, cruelty-free and free of toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and camphor. The polishes are made with myrrh, an extract that helps strengthen nails, and the bottles are made with a bamboo overcap to be more sustainable.

Science nerds will love NER:D Skincare, a company that grows — yes, grows — bio cellulose face masks. Bio cellulose is a thin woven structure of polysaccharides (aka sugars) that develops from acetic acid bacteria (AAB), which can be found naturally and in products like balsamic vinegar. NER:D Skincare’s masks use an AAB family called Acetobacter xylinum, and the company has bred this strain to create a smooth, even pattern of microfibrils, or fiberlike strands that adhere easily to the skin. The masks have a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) rating by the Food and Drug Administration and are marketed by the company as having hydrating, soothing and anti-aging effects.

Many cosmetics come in containers that are too big to travel with, and expire before you can use up all the product inside. Stowaway Cosmetics is a brand looking to change that. With essential makeup products ranging from beauty balm and concealer to mascara and lipstick, Stowaway Cosmetics has everything you need in minimalist containers, all of which are small enough to travel with and use up before the expiration date, so you never have to toss out a half-empty bottle again.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is a perfume company that creates handcrafted scents with a dark, romantic, Gothic tone. According to the company’s website, the company specializes in scents that are inspired by pagan and mythological blends, as well as medieval, Renaissance and Victorian formulas. All of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s perfumes are hand-blended and cruelty-free, and though some products are honey-based, the rest are completely vegan. All of their products use essential oils that are safe, therapeutic and as natural as possible. The company also works with charity programs like Green Power for a Green LA, the Red Cross and the Humane Society.

Your favorite bath products might smell good enough to eat, but what if you had soap that looked as delicious as it smelled? Soapopotamus — an Etsy shop that sells soaps, body lotions, perfumes and other handmade skin care products — can help. Soapopotamus is known for its incredibly realistic food-shaped soaps, with bath products in everything from cinnamon rolls and donuts to sushi and pizza. You can even buy mini soaps that look like roasted chickens, carrot cake, toast with jam, macarons, Rice Krispies treats, fortune cookies and gummy bears.

Shaving creams and other hair-removal products can contain a lot of chemicals, but Pacific Shaving Co. is all about keeping things natural and sustainable. The company makes affordable shaving essentials that are all-natural, eco-friendly and good for the skin. Pacific Shaving Co. has products for men and women made with ingredients like avocado oil, aloe, shea butter and green tea, and sells everything from shaving creams and postshave moisturizers to exfoliating scrubs and blade oil for razors.

Looking for makeup to express your personality beyond the usual red lipstick and black mascara? Lime Crime is the brand for you. With unapologetically colorful makeup options that are highly pigmented for the lips, eyes and nails, Lime Crime has a shade for everyone. (That even includes mint-green lipstick!) According to the company’s website, Lime Crime is run by an independent team of makeup lovers from Los Angeles, and all of their products are true-to-color and cruelty-free. Lime Crime also makes it a point to give back some of their proceeds to charity.

Melbourne, Australia-based Frank Body harnesses the power of coffee to create skin care products that target stretch marks, scars, cellulite and skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis. All of the brand’s products are formulated without parabens, phthalates, sulfates, silicones, mineral oils, glycols or other additives. Rather, the products are made using natural and naturally derived ingredients like coconut oil, mint extract and cinnamon — along with coffee, of course. According to the company’s website, because coffee has the same PH as your skin, it won’t dry it out — plus, ground coffee is a natural exfoliator, and caffeine helps stimulate blood flow when applied topically to the skin, which aids in the treatment of many of the aforementioned skin conditions.

6 Gaming Startups Poised to Be the Next Big Thing

The video game industry is seriously big business. If you have any lingering doubts about that, Amazon.com’s $1 billion purchase of Twitch — a video game streaming website that’s one of the Web’s most-visited pages — should put that argument to rest. But even in a multibillion-dollar industry that has already eclipsed music and movies as the top-grossing entertainment medium, there’s still plenty of room for the little guys. With the advent of crowdfunding and online video game distribution services like Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network, even a sole entrepreneur has a chance to break into the gaming industry — at least, if they can make a great product. Here are six up-and-coming video game startups to watch out for.

Alien Trap

Who says a team of two can’t produce some of the most anticipated and visually striking indie games of the year? Alien Trap was originally founded in 2002 by Lee Vermeulen, but didn’t really get off the ground until 2009 with the release of “Capsized,” a 2D sci-fi shooting game with lush, hand-drawn graphics. Now the studio is prepping “Apotheon,” an action-platforming game set in Ancient Greece that’s also notable for its art style, which is inspired by the painting style of ancient Greek pottery. Vermeulen and artist Jesse McGibney, who met in college, are getting ready to launch Apotheon later this year.

Sean “Day[9]” Plott

Here’s a gamer who turned his passion for competing into a thriving business. Plott, known on the Internet by his gaming handle Day[9], got his start as a professional gamer playing a sci-fi strategy game called “StarCraft” on his PC, raking in cash prizes for winning big matches. He later turned his focus to commentary, providing in-depth analysis for the game’s biggest tournaments and becoming one of the most-recognized voices in competitive gaming. Later he launched his own channel on Twitch.com, where thousands of players pay for subscription access to “Starcraft” strategy video. And last year, Plott announced that he had joined a small game company called Arillery, where he’s helping develop a browser-based strategy game. With someone of Plott’s expertise at the helm, the new game — titled “Project Atlas” — is one to watch.

Pillow Castle

Pillow Castle’s mind-bending new puzzle game is one of the most unique video games of the year. The tiny development studio created “Museum of Simulation Technology,” a game that’s all about forced perspective. If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to the way that objects look bigger when you’re close to them, and smaller when you’re farther away. The game challenges you to solve puzzles by manipulating camera angles to create optical illusions, which you can use to reach previously inaccessible areas. “Museum of Simulation Technology,” created by five students from Carnegie Mellon University, raked in a slew of awards in the past year when it appeared as a demo at big game shows around the world. The Pillow Castle crew is currently developing another first-person puzzle game called “Muse,” but not much is known about it yet.

Virtuix

What if playing games could give you a workout? They can if you’re playing with the Virtuix Omni, a special gaming apparatus that lets you actually walk or run to control your character in a video game. Virtuix founder Jan Goetgeluk launched a Kickstarter for the project last year and raked in more than $1 million to create a mass market version of the device. To use the device, gamers strap themselves into a special harness, then walk, run and turn while their game character mirrors their movement.  But it’s not a treadmill — players wear slick-soled shoes and essentially slide about on a fixed ramp. With plenty of upcoming games to support the device, and native integration with Oculus Rift, the Virtuix Omni is one device to watch.

Campo Santo

This small team of seven developers and artists is preparing to launch “Firewatch,” an eerie first-person mystery with a strong narrative hook. The player takes control of Henry, a man working as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness who wanders into the woods one day. He must rely on help from one person on the other end of a radio to guide him to safety in the new game, which puts the focus on exploration and story instead of action or combat. The small Campo Santo development team, based in Portland, Oregon, is composed of developers with a strong track record in the industry, having worked on popular games like “The Walking Dead” and “Mark of the Ninja.” Now that they’ve set out on their own, they’re producing what looks to be one of the most promising and hotly anticipated indie games of the year.

Oculus VR

OK — Oculus VR isn’t exactly the scrappy startup it once was, after the company was acquired by Facebook last March for $2 billion. But founder Palmer Luckey might be the poster child for how a good gaming idea can pave the way to serious success in a very short period of time. Luckey founded Oculus VR in 2012 to develop a head-mounted display for immersive “virtual reality” gaming.  The headset, dubbed Oculus Rift, racked up nearly $2.5 million in a 30-day Kickstarter campaign for the project, allowing for the development of the first device that could display PC games in full HD right in front of your eyes, and react dynamically to your head movements. Now that Facebook owns Oculus VR, the company has nearly limitless resources to push the tech in new directions.