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The latest news on Subscription services from Business Insider
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    f52 subscription 1

    Drinking preferences are as varied as people: A glass of port by the campfire at sunset, Coronas and limes in a frat basement every Saturday night, weekly cocktails with hand-crushed ice from the bar that calls itself a House of Mixology, or no drinks at all.

    And more often than not, knowing what your drinking style is — and learning how to navigate the wide world of drinking for yourself — can be confusing. Which cocktail should you master? Which wine is the best wine? What even counts as an artisan brewery? There are just So. Many. Options.

    Luckily for us and our drinking habits subscriptions services are here to help. Here are 6 alcohol subscription service (and one non-boozy service) that take the guesswork — and liquor store runs — out of crafting the perfect bar cart:

    SEE ALSO: The 25 best cocktail bars in America, according to Foursquare

    DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

    1. If you flip to the back of magazines for the personality quizzes: Bright Cellars

    Why it's unique: Once you've completed their online quiz, they'll run it through an algorithm and send wines that match your way.

    Deeper dive: Launched by two recent MIT graduates, Bright Cellars chooses the wine for you — all you have to do is fill out a seven-question quiz (What type of chocolate is your favorite? How adventurous are you?) and they'll send four different wines per month your way. Every month you're given the option to rate the wines you received, so the more you use it, the more it will adapt to your taste preferences.

    2. If you have dreams about quitting your "desk job," getting a couple tattoos, and working at that secret bar that's behind the taco stand: Bitters and Bottles

    Why it's unique: It provides you with all the tools you need (pre-measured booze) to learn how to make a perfect drink at home.

    Deeper dive: Each month, Bitters and Bottles sends four to six ingredients, starting with essential alcohols (bourbon) and moving up to more esoteric spirits (mezcal) so that by the end of their twelve-month program, you'll have cocktail-making tips and tricks under your belt, as well as all the essentials of a home bar (each box builds upon the previous box). You'll be a mixologist in no time.

    3. If you would never be caught dead with a Coors Light — or anything that's served with a free lime wedge, for that matter: Craft Beer Club

    Why it's unique: It sends little-known beers from craft breweries to your door, so you can stay in the know without stalking your craft beer store.

    Deeper dive: Each month, Craft Beer Club sends twelve beers (four different types, with three bottles of each) to your door from small American breweries (here's a look at some of their most recently featured). Beer party, anyone?

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    YouTube unveils their new paid subscription service at the YouTube Space LA in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles, California, United States October 21, 2015. Alphabet Inc's YouTube will launch a $10-a-month subscription option in the United States on October 28 that will allow viewers to watch videos from across the site without interruption from advertisements, the company said on Wednesday.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS5JDH

    There's never a dull moment in the race for dominance of the streaming video market, and we're closing in on the point where the FANG stocks start swinging at one another. 

    Alphabet's YouTube is trying to stand out as a platform for premium subscribers, the market that Netflix dominates at the moment.

    This comes just as Facebook is gunning for YouTube's market leadership among free clip-streaming hubs -- just as the always-dangerous is reportedly readying a push for the same market.

    You don't have to pick sides -- at least not yet. However, with so many subtle and not-so-subtle things going on, it's time to remember that sometimes a Chewbacca mask is more than just a Chewbacca mask.

    Red lights mean "Go"

    Google's YouTube has stumbled badly in previous efforts to get its growing user base to pay up for a premium platform, but that may be changing since last October's rollout of YouTube Red.

    Getting folks to pay $9.99 a month for a service that most continue to enjoy for free seemed like a stretch, but stripping ads, including a free digital music component, and the promise of exclusive content likely sealed the deal for many skeptics. It made a premium subscriber out of me, for starters.

    Then in February it took out the big guns. YouTube rolled out original shows starring some of its most popular personalities. It put those videos behind the YouTube Red paywall. Feature-length films starring Lilly Singh, AwesomenessTV, and Rooster Teeth as well as a reality-adventure series starring gaming icon PewDiePie appealed to the tens of millions of subscribers that many of those channels were attracting. 

    Arming the rock stars of clip culture with the tools and crew to crank out higher-quality productions appears to be working, even if YouTube conveniently leaves out the video view counts for YouTube Red videos. Either way, if YouTube Red is gaining traction at $9.99 a month -- the same price point as Netflix -- it might eat into the seemingly insurmountable lead that Netflix has amassed over the years. 

    YouTube is also in the crosshairs

    One hub's predator can be another hub's prey, and we're seeing that with Facebook's success through video. It's worth noting that the Chewbacca mask video that went viral a few days ago -- the one with Candace Payne laughing hysterically after trying on a mask of the famous Star Wars wookiee -- was posted to Facebook. It was a week ago today that Payne used Facebook's live-streaming feature to broadcast the clip that has gone on to be viewed more than 148 million times.

    Remember when YouTube was where clips went viral? It's not always that way anymore. The only thing missing for Facebook is monetization for the content creator. Payne's clip on YouTube would've made her a decent chunk of change through that platform's YouTube Partner program. However, with Facebook amassing so many users, it's awfully tempting to use it to live-stream to any friends and eventually fans that may be online.

    It's not just Facebook challenging YouTube's dominance. Amazon introduced Amazon Video Direct earlier this month, a platform that lets creators upload their content to Amazon's Prime Video catalog. Folks uploading the videos will generate royalties based on the time spent streaming. It's too early to tell if it will be successful or pay as well as YouTube, but with tens of millions of Amazon Prime subscribers, there's already a substantial built-in audience with access to the videos. 

    YouTube is aiming at Netflix. Facebook and Amazon are aiming at YouTube. It wouldn't be a surprise if Netflix is hard at work, wondering how it can aim at Facebook and Amazon to keep the hungry stock-eat-stock circle of FANG stocks going.

    Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rick Munarriz owns shares of Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares),, Facebook, and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What happens to your brain and body if you use Adderall recreationally

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    time warner cable

    Americans don't like the companies selling them pay-television and Internet service, but they dislike them less than they have in the past.

    The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Telecommunications Report (register to download the report here) shows that both industries have improved their standing with consumers while still performing poorly.

    Subscription television service saw its score climb by 3.2% to 65 (out of a possible 100) pushing it slightly ahead of ISPs, which inched up 1.6% to an ACSI score of 64 for customer satisfaction

    Despite the improvements, ACSI Research Director Forest Morgeson told The Motley Fool in a phone interview that "cable and Internet are still the lowest-ranked of the 45 industries we measure."

    He noted that the companies that sit at the bottom of the ACSI rankings in these categories have the least satisfied customers of any businesses in the United States.

    "They're the least satisfying," he said of the lowest-ranked company in both broadband and pay-television. "Those two categories are so intertwined -- subscription TV and ISP -- for the vast majority of consumers, they get both of those services from a single providers, so it's not surprising that the low satisfaction would effect both industries."

    Which companies are the biggest offenders?

    The good news for the bottom-dwellers in both categories is that scores have improved across the board. In subscription television, Mediacom, a relatively smaller player, came in last with a 54, which is actually 6% higher than last year's 51. The other 2015 cellar-dweller Time Warner Cable, which is now part of Charter Communications, bumped its score from 51 in 2015 to 59, falling just below its new owner, which dropped from a 63 last year to a 60.

    In the ISP category, Frontier Communications came in last, dropping 8% from a 61 in 2015 to a 56 this year. That put it slightly below next-to-last finisher Mediacom, which scored the same 57 it did in 2015.

    asci subscription tv service

    There is some good news

    Comcast, the largest Internet and cable provider in the U.S., devoted significant resources to customer satisfaction in the past year and those efforts paid off. While its numbers were still abysmal compared with other industries, the company did raise its ACSI score by 15% in subscription television and by 5% as an ISP.

    "Changes do take time to integrate and even though changes can be based on a huge investment in customer service sometimes it takes consumers a long time to forget about the past and past mistreatment that they feel they they've experienced from a company," Morgeson told The Motley Fool. "That investment that you're seeing from Comcast certainly should have a log-term positive effect, but sometimes it's not going to be right away."

    Sort of a silver lining for the industries

    When it comes to restaurants or retailers, consumers can simply opt to shop elsewhere if they are not satisfied with the product or service. When it comes to ISPs and pay-television providers, that's often not possible.

    "A lot of these companies have essentially a monopoly when it comes to cable TV. Obviously people can switch over to the satellite providers and still get subscription TV, but as everyone knows there are some drawbacks to taking that route," Morgeson said.

    "For myself, I am a Comcast customer and I don't really have a choice. I have two homes and in one I'm a Charter customer because that's who I have to be a customer of and in the other home I have to be a Comcast customer," he added. "In those situations where you have monopoly power and lack of choice for consumers we have seen lower satisfaction across the board. "

    In addition, Morgeson noted that even in markets where people do have alternatives, their options may not be an improvement over their existing provider.

    "When you get that kind of dynamic where you have choice, but your choice is even worse, you're just not going to have really pleased consumers," he said. "Frontier comes in at the bottom as an ISP so it's not much of a choice. It's a non-choice."

    In a perverse way the lack of choice gives companies like Comcast, which has been trying to improve, and Charter, which now has to integrate Time Warner Cable, a chance to get better. These are better numbers for the industry across the board, but like a student moving from a D- to a solid D, there's still a lot of room for improvement.

    Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned. He is a relatively happy Frontier customer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Despite the common perception that traditional television is long past its glory days, the average American adult still spends a huge chunk of his or her life watching live television — specifically, over four and a half hours a day, according to a new Nielsen report

    When you add DVR-watching time to this figure, the report shows that the average American adult watches over five hours of TV per day. The study also breaks down weekly time and finds that the average adult watches nearly 35 hours of TV (live and DVR) per week. Or, nearly enough for a whole week of work at a full-time job.

    Nielsen graph1

    Though live TV numbers have been slowly trending downward since the first quarter of 2014, total media consumption has increased significantly since last year, as the graph below shows.

    nielsen graph 2

    The table above demonstrates how the average time spent on tablets and smartphones has increased approximately 63% and 60%, respectively, since last year.

    So, while live TV watching has steadily decreased (-1% between 2015 and 2016), the huge spike in media consumed on these newer platforms suggests that total media consumption will continue to steadily increase over the years, especially as streaming services continue to debut more original content that can only be viewed on new media. 

    Speaking of streaming services, 2016 is the first year that subscriptions to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix have equaled the number of subscriptions to DVR services, as demonstrated in the chart below (wherein streaming services are labeled as Subscription Video on Demand or SVOD). 

    svod vs dvr nielsen graph

    Despite all the technological advances of the past few decades, the medium with the most users reached in 2016 was still radio, with 240 million. Live television was a distant second with 226 million users reached, followed by smartphones with 191 million. 

    You can read the entire Nielsen study, "Total Audience Report: Q1 2016," by downloading it here.  

    SEE ALSO: Netflix, Hulu, and their peers are now in as many homes as DVR

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Five Four

    There are many subscription services out there competing for the right to exchange their goods for your dollars. Subscription boxes are great for many reasons, too. They are convenient and can save a ton of time and hassle for those tired of shopping every month for shaving cream or wine or assorted grass-fed meats.

    For any guys who don’t like to shop for clothes, Five Four Club might be the subscription service for you.

    There are a ton of reasons you might not like to shop for clothes: you don’t know what you like, you tend to overspend, or maybe you simply hate the act of trying on clothes in the store, liking them, and then returning them the next day when you figure out you only liked them in the store. But your specific reasoning doesn’t matter; if you don’t like dragging yourself out for a fresh wardrobe, Five Four Club will make the process easy for you.

    In its simplest terms, Five Four Club is a monthly supplement to your wardrobe, containing goods of all sorts that change to be relevant to both the trends and temperatures of the current season. For $60 a month, you’ll get a mix of shirts, pants, shorts, jackets, and/or accessories (depending on the season), delivered straight to your door. Customers select from four basic style options — Classic, Forward, Casual, and Mix — to give the curators an idea of what they like, then put in their sizes, and checkout.

    I recently spoke with one of the co-founders of Five Four Club, Dee Murthy. He told me the company started like many successful small businesses do: "14 years ago two college students set out to build the next great American fashion brand that’s accessible to all men."

    june lb desktop 08Since switching over to the current subscription model, Five Four Club has grown over 100% every year and expects to do $60 million in sales in 2016. This growth is due not only to a quality product, but a continuing effort to improve the experience for their customers. "We ask our club members to rate their individual package every month to learn their likes and dislikes, and we have a member-experience staff in-house to take customer calls and record their feedback. We use all of this data collaboratively to inform our designers and curators on how to improve packages for future months and seasons."

    In addition to the monthly box of clothes they’ll send you, Five Four Club also offers you the chance to buy a ton of their products off the site at a major discount. If you find a shirt you are really into and are bummed to learn it’s not in your box this month, you can pay a discounted price and add it to your package for the following delivery. In this way, it’s easy for Five Four Club to cover many, if not all, of your clothing needs.

    Now is a great time to sign up for the service, especially for those in need of some summer gear before the season ends. If you sign up now and use the code "SUMMER60" at checkout, you'll get two months worth of clothes from Five Four Club for the price of one. It's an easy, relatively cheap way to get a feel for the service and see if it's something you'd like to stick with.

    All in all, if you're tired of shopping for clothes that are overpriced or simply don't like the extra effort it takes, Five Four Club could be of great service to you. You'll have a new look to show off every month without the hassle of jumping from store to store to find the perfect combination. Five Four Club has got you covered.

    Get set up for your first two boxes here.

    SEE ALSO: 15 essentials that belong in every guy’s closet

    DON'T MISS: We're obsessed with this American-made clothing company that’s making some of the best jeans and T-shirts out there

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    Screen Shot 2016 07 26 at 12.02.14 PMThe direct-to-consumer market has taken off in recent years, with more and more companies working to cut out the middleman and get your orders delivered straight to your door. And while I have love for many of the companies in this space, few have impressed me as much as MeUndies.

    MeUndies makes great underwear for men and women and sends it directly to their customers. You can buy packs or individual pairs from the site, or subscribe to get a new pair every month. This keeps your selection of undergarments fresh and entertaining, and also helps address the fact that you should probably be getting new underwear more than you currently do.

    "The idea to create MeUndies came to fruition as I found myself packing for a last-minute vacation, and like the average guy, realized I only had a few pairs to throw in my bag," founder Jonathan Shokrian recently told me. "The entire experience of going to the store to buy more made it clear to me that there needed to be an easier way of buying your underwear and basics online." And by the looks of the company's sales figures he was right; CEO Bryan Lalezarian says approximately 90% of first-time customers continue their subscription through the first three months, and an average subscriber purchases about 12-14 pairs of MeUndies over the course of his or her first year.

    Thanks to the company's advertising on podcasts, I'd been familiar with MeUndies before researching them for this article. But, prior to testing out the underwear, whenever I heard the hosts talk about how comfortable they were, I was pretty dismissive; these were just written lines that Marc Maron would repeat to pay the bills. But as soon as I slipped on my first pair, I was sold. These are hands down the most comfortable pairs of underwear I’ve ever owned.

    As Shokrian told me, "Making great underwear is all about sourcing the best materials. We use the finest yarns for our elastic that come from Italy; our fabric is sourced in Austria and derives from the beech-wood trees and is also carbon-neutral; we also use flatlock stitching for a smooth transition and feel between seams.” I didn’t know that any of that was necessary in making great underwear, but after wearing one pair of MeUndies, I believe him.

    Screen Shot 2016 07 26 at 12.49.39 PMMy MeUndies fit perfectly, stay snug in the right places while giving space where they should, and are unfathomably soft. The waistband is one of the most comfortable I've come across, and the designs that come on your monthly pairs are fun and unique.

    Full disclosure: Before this, I never thought that much about my underwear. You wear underwear because you’re a human being and you don’t want to be gross. No more justification is needed. And because underwear was a necessity rather than an indulgence, I didn’t focus very much on what I was buying. Now I know what I want, and I don’t even have to leave my house for it.

    I’ve reviewed a lot of products in this space that I’m a big fan of, but I don’t think I’ve encountered one that sold me as quickly as MeUndies. This is the underwear I now wear every day. Try out a pair and experience the comfort firsthand.

    Get set up with your first pair of MeUndies here.

    SEE ALSO: 15 essentials that belong in every guy’s closet

    DON'T MISS: We're obsessed with this American-made clothing company that’s making some of the best jeans and T-shirts out there

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Dollar Shave 3Monthly subscription services have changed the way many of us shop. And there are now monthly boxes for almost anything you can imagine.

    Shaving products, groceries, bottles of wine — if there’s a thing that you buy on a semi-regular basis, chances are there is now a company willing to bring it directly to your door for a decent price.

    Since we’ve reviewed our fair share of these subscriptions, and seen even more of them, we figured now would be an alright time to round up a few of our favorites that stand out as deserving of your consideration.

    If you’ve been hesitant to try out a subscription service, these are all excellent places to start. Most of them even have deals available for first-time customers, in case you’re worried about committing to one of these. If we left your favorite monthly subscription off this list, let us know so we can check it out for ourselves.

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    SEE ALSO: I’ve been sleeping on the perfect sheets for the spring and summer, and I’ve never slept better


    While subscribing for underwear may not by the first thing you think of when considering signing up for one of these monthly services, MeUndies is quite possibly my favorite box on this list.

    Before MeUndies, I really didn’t consider the comfort of my underwear; it was just something I wore, because I’m a human and you’re supposed to wear underwear. When I put on my first pair of MeUndies, it was immediately my favorite undergarment in my wardrobe. They’re amazingly comfortable and come is some killer designs.

    You can buy straight from the site for one-off purchases, but the advantage of the subscription service is that you get a new pair every month for $16, which 33% less than the list price. Nothing is better than fresh undies.

    Get set up with your subscription here.

    Wine Awesomeness

    Wine Awesomeness is a subscription service that curates a selection of six wines every month and sends a trio of bottles to your door for $45. Depending on your tastes, you can choose all reds, all whites, or a mix (the ambitious can also opt to have all six bottles delivered every month, if they so choose).

    Along with the bottles comes a magazine featuring recipes to pair with your selections, tasting notes, and additional tidbits of information to complement your wine experience. If you’re new to wine and still trying to figure out what you like and are interested in learning more about what’s in your glass, this is a great place to start.

    Get set up with your subscription here.

    Five Four Club

    In its simplest terms, Five Four Club is a monthly supplement to your wardrobe, containing goods of all sorts that change to be relevant to both the trends and temperatures of the current season. For $60 a month, you get a mix of shirts, pants, shorts, jackets, and/or accessories, delivered straight to your door. Customers select from four basic style options — Classic, Forward, Casual, and Mix — to give the curators an idea of what they like, then put in their sizes, and checkout.

    The company has solid style, and if you see anything on the site that you like but haven’t received one of your deliveries, you can add it to your next box at a discounted rate.

    Get set up with your subscription here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iOS and Android robinhood

    Robinhood, the app that lets you trade stocks without paying any fees, is rolling out a premium tier called Robinhood Gold that starts at $10 per month and gives users access to features like a line of credit and after-hours trading.

    Robinhood launched in December 2014 and quickly became a favorite among younger people looking to invest without paying $7 per trade. The app itself is stylish and simple, which helped lure the first-time investors that made up Robinhood's first big wave of users.

    Cofounder Baiju Bhatt tells Business Insider that about 10-20% of Robinhood's 1 million-plus user base are more sophisticated investors, and Robinhood Gold is for them.

    Here are the three basic things you get in Robinhood Gold:

    • After-hours trading. Robinhood has extended the trading day by 30 minutes before the market opens and two hours after it closes, for a total of 2.5 extra hours. Bhatt stresses this will be particularly useful around earnings, which usually drop at market close.
    • A line of credit. Robinhood thinks about this like a credit card for the stock market, according to Bhatt. Because of federal laws, it will only be available for people who have at least $2,000 in their brokerage accounts. The line of credit Robinhood gives you will depend on a few factors, such as how experienced you are as an investor, but the most you'll be able to get is double your account balance.

      Bhatt says Robinhood actually isn't taking as much risk as you might think, since the company is still the custodian of your account. You can't run up a huge credit card bill and then flee with the assets. There will also be limits on what you can purchase on a per-stock basis — you can't dump your entire credit line into penny stocks, for instance.
    • Bigger "instant deposits." In February, Robinhood fixed one of the most annoying elements of the app, which was that funds had to "settle" before you invested them. Robinhood made deposits up to $1,000 available to invest instantly, but with Robinhood Gold, that's pushed up to $2,000 or more, depending on your account size.

    Vlad Tenev, Baiju Bhatt, robinhood, sv100 2015

    Robinhood Gold will always have a basic tier that starts at $10 and gives you access to after-hours trading, the bigger deposits, and a basic line of credit (at least $2,000). Depending on how much you have in your account and how much extra buying power you want, Robinhood could also make you an offer for two more (variable) higher-price tiers.

    Bhatt says Robinhood Gold is something the company has been planning since the beginning. It was actually in the first release of the app, way back in late 2014, but the company took it out. "It didn't feel done yet," Bhatt said.

    Bhatt hopes Robinhood Gold will be a big step toward making the company profitable. Robinhood's ultimate goal is to become "the savings tool" people use not just for stocks, but for everything, he says.

    "We have a long view on monetization," he said.

    Expect Robinhood to continue rolling out products that push it to a more lucrative space than no-fee trades.

    SEE ALSO: How to use Robinhood, the popular app that lets you trade stocks without paying any fees

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Virtual reality could help the stock market reach all-time highs in 2016 and 2017

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    Subscription boxes with a random assortment of goodies inside have become very popular over the last few years. Loot Crate — a subscription box service that made more than $160 million in 2015 — is one of the biggest, sending various boxes full of pop culture fandom to its customers every month. We talked to founder Chris Davis to gain some insight into why these boxes have become so popular

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    Rent the Runway

    The "Netflix for dresses" startup, Rent The Runway, has proven it can make a profit — an achievement rewarded with a $60 million investment from Fidelity meant to accelerate its growth, the company told Recode's Jason Del Rey

    According to Recode's report, the company finally achieved profitability on an EBITDA basis on its $100 million revenue run rate this year. It's in large part due to the success of its unlimited subscription service, a $139/month program that lets women rent three items at a time and exchange them as often as they'd like. 

    While Rent The Runway had struggled with the launch of its unlimited subscription service, it now accounts for more than 20% of the company's revenue. The company also eliminated performance bonuses and instead incorporated previous bonus potential into each employee’s salary, raising the base salaries for its 1,000 employees.

    This newest round of funding at the end of 2016 — a successful year for Rent The Runway — came after a rocky 2015 in which Fortune spoke with former employees and investors to investigate the “exodus” of several top-level executives at the company, who were either fired or left over the span of 10 months. Investors, though, are looking at the bottom line and seem to be pleased with Rent The Runway's financial health. Its CEO, Jenn Hymann, told Recode that its valuation is a "significant step up" from its last round in 2014, which valued the company at $520 million.

    SEE ALSO: These 15 startups didn't exist 5 years ago — now they're worth billions

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    NOW WATCH: A Silicon Valley startup is using robots to make pizza

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    9k=You can get almost anything you want delivered to your door on a monthly basis.

    Whether you need a few bottles of wine, perfectly portioned meals, or fresh razors delivered at regular intervals, there is a company out there ready to provide you with the service.

    These services taking off makes a lot of sense — they’ve identified an inconvenience in the lives of many and given people one less chore to do after work.

    Other subscriptions have popped up to resolve similar issues people have with clothes.

    In some cases, companies are ready to make it easier to keep your undergarments stocked and fresh, so you don’t have to think about it. Other hope to help give a bit of style to anyone who doesn’t have the time or fashion-focused mind to go out on their own a put together a look.

    Below we put together a collection of our favorite subscription clothing services we’ve come across so far. If you’re looking to add a bit of convenience to your life, or are tired of shopping for clothes altogether and searching for a better way, this list is a solid place to start.

    READ MORE: A former investment banker designed sweatpants that are nice enough to wear in public

    SEE ALSO: This is the perfect watch brand for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves a watch person

    DON'T MISS: These are hands down the most comfortable dress shoes you’ll ever wear

    Five Four Club

    While there are those out there who love the thrill of finding their own style and going from store to store in search of the perfect outfit, there are others who simply want to look good and might not know where to start. As I’ve written before, Five Four Club makes it easy for guys to keep up with trends and keep their closets ready for every season by delivering customers a package of clothes and accessories every month.

    After answering a few simple questions to determine your style profile, Five Four Club will ship you a set of three items a month that match to your preferences. The packages go for $60 a month, and can have everything from button-downs to pants to hats to jeans to other accessories in them.

    Additionally, if you see any items in the store that you like but didn’t receive in your package, you can get them at a great discount because you’re a member of the club. For any guys looking for a one-stop shop for stylish clothes and complete outfits, Five Four Club is a great option.

    Learn more about Five Four Club here.

    Trunk Club

    I haven’t gotten to try out Trunk Club yet, but my coworker Brandt was a member for a while, and agreed to help me out here:

    I don’t have much fashion sense, but I had even less before I gave Trunk Club a try.

    The premise is pretty simple: You get set up with a stylist, they ask you questions about what you’re looking for, and they send you a trunk full of clothes. Once your trunk arrives you have 10 days to try the clothes on, and send back the clothes you don’t like. Postage is prepaid and you send the clothes back in the same trunk they came in on.

    I was very happy with the service; my stylist helped me quite a bit and when I told her what I didn’t like about the clothes I sent back, she sent me a follow-up trunk with better-tailored recommendations. If you’re looking for a professional’s touch to improve your wardrobe, Trunk Club is the way to go.

    Learn more about Trunk Club here.

    Nice Laundry

    While some guys prefer to stick to simple solid colors and consider argyle an adventurous break from the norm, I am a firm believer that your socks should always be fun. 

    The process of buying Nice Laundry socks is a welcome change for someone who never thought about buying socks before. There are a lot of options; so whether you want stripes, zig-zags, dots, solid colors, or camo, you're covered. A majority of their selection are dress socks, but they also have a handful of no-show and athletic socks. You can mix and match styles as you please. It would be one thing if these socks only looked good, but they're also extremely comfortable.

    Nice Laundry sends you six pairs of socks plus one special edition pair every quarter for just $49. It’s a great way to keep your feet looking their best.

    Learn more about Nice Laundry here.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    9k=I’ve covered a few men's clothing subscription services in the past, but recently I got the chance to try out Stitch Fix

    It might be the best of the bunch, especially for guys who are a bit more selective when it comes to their look. Like other services, Stitch Fix delivers customers a box of clothing options based on a style profile they fill out while signing up for the first time.

    Each box contains five items that customers can then try on and see what fits and what doesn’t, or what matches their style and what’s not for them. From there, you can choose to keep what you want and return the rest of the clothing in a prepaid and pre-addressed return package.

    What sets Stitch Fix apart from other services I’ve tried in this vein is its specificity and service.

    The style profile you fill out is quite detailed — asking questions about style, fit, and why you wear what you wear. After each box, customers are asked to rate each of their items based on how it matched their style, how it fit, and what its value was in terms of cost versus quality. Answers to these questions allow for your style profile to become more detailed over time. The idea is for your next delivery to match your tastes even better than the last one.

    In my delivery that the company sent me for reviewing purposes, I received two shirts, a sweater, a pair of jeans, and a pair of dress socks. To my surprise, the fit on everything was either great or relatively good, which is much better than I often do shopping for myself.

    Specifically, the first thing I tried on was the red flannel you see above from Hawker Rye (a brand exclusive to Stitch Fix), and I immediately fell in love with it. The jeans had a bit of a tighter fit than I would normally choose on my own, but in a way that was more "stepping a bit outside my fashion comfort zone" than "these are too tight and impossible to move in." This is one of the values I see in services like Stitch Fix— it might encourage you to try on something you wouldn’t have tried out otherwise, allowing you to slowly expand your style.

    StitchFix Delivery

    While I was impressed with the clothes that were delivered to me, the standout feature of Stitch Fix has to be the interaction between customer and stylist, and the flexibility the site allows.

    Customers can choose how often they receive deliveries, so whether you are looking to rebuild your wardrobe month by month or only want a few new items for each season, Stitch Fix has you covered. You can also add detailed notes to each of your items, giving your stylist a better idea of how to find a match next time around if the first pair of jeans they sent weren’t the perfect pair for you. If you know what you need, you can let them know, whether it’s a new pair of chinos, or maybe an entire box filled with slightly higher-end options than you normally go for, because you’re about to start a new job.

    Altogether, my five items came in at almost $400. But since customers who keep all five items get a 25% discount on their order, the total at checkout was $300, which is a solid value for a full wardrobe refresher for the season.

    It’s a more expensive option than counterparts such as Five Four Club, but Stitch Fix provides more personalized clothing options and a stylist who will react to your needs in real time. 

    You can get started with Stitch Fix here.

    This article was originally published on 11/16/2016.

    SEE ALSO: Why we think this dress shirt company is one of the best values for guys

    DON'T MISS: We tested what might be the best dress shoes out there

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    blue apron

    Nikhil Basu Trivedi is a principal at Shasta Ventures. He has no financial stake in Blue Apron, but invests in other consumer businesses as disclosed in this article. His post originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

    When Blue Apron’s S-1 dropped at the beginning of the month, there was a lot of excitement, and rightly so. This is one of the fastest growing consumer businesses in the United States over the last few years, poised to do over $1 billion in revenue in just its 6th year since launch.

    It should go without saying that the team at Blue Apron has executed at a very high level to get the business to where it is today. The company has improved the way so many people cook and eat!

    Othershavedone a great job summarizing the details about the business revealed in the S-1, including honing in on the key set of questions: what is the true customer lifetime value (LTV) and cost of acquiring a customer (CAC)? How are these key metrics changing? And what does that imply about the business’s long-term prospects? Blue Apron’s filing reveals limited data to answer this question. One helpful analysis indicates an implied LTV:CAC ratio of 3:1.

    What most intrigues me, though, is the language that Blue Apron uses to describe its own business. As investors at Shasta Ventures in several consumer transactional businesses that have subscription models (e.g. The Farmer’s Dog, Imperfect Produce, Dollar Shave Club, Smule, Canva,, Zwift, Hinge), the Blue Apron meal kit business model and metrics associated with it are of particular interest. One surprise?

    The words “Subscription” and “Churn” just don’t get used in the S-1!

    Of course, customer retention is key to understanding the long term prospects for Blue Apron’s business. A cohort analysis is a very helpful way to understand how customers subscribe and are retained over time, but the S-1 does not include such analysis.

    Fortunately, we have tools like Second Measure, which uses anonymized credit card transaction data to gain visibility on the performance of public and private companies.

    Here’s a comparison for what Blue Apron’s customer retention looks like (in blue) versus that of Hello Fresh (green), one of its competitors, versus subscription services Dollar Shave Club (orange) and Netflix (red):

    blue apron contrib

    I find this data very revealing. There is a large amount of churn in the first six months for Blue Apron, albeit at a less stark level than that for Hello Fresh. About 1/3 of subscribers are retained at month 6 for Blue Apron versus over 3/4 for Netflix and Dollar Shave Club. It’s important to note that where Netflix and DSC customers typically make one transaction per month, the average Blue Apron customer is purchasing 2–3 times per month, which makes the stark contrast in retention a bit more palpable. There is some leveling off in churn, but the retention asymptotes at a much lower level for Blue Apron and Hello Fresh versus for Netflix and DSC.

    So maybe this is why Blue Apron doesn’t use the word “subscription” to describe its business in its S-1. Given its retention versus other subscription businesses, Blue Apron likely won’t get valued by the public markets at the kind of multiples that subscription businesses command. For example, Netflix is valued in the public markets at 6–7X trailing twelve month revenue. We can reasonably expect Blue Apron to be valued at a lower multiple than this given its retention vis-a-vis Netflix, despite its higher annual growth rate and very impressive early traction.

    Blue Apron has clearly struck a chord with consumers, and many people love the service. But they get tired of being subscribers, and the majority move on after a few months.

    The big question for its long-term performance is how Blue Apron will address this significant churn. At some point, many U.S. consumers will have tried it out, cooked a bunch of meals, and no longer be subscribers. What happens then? It will be fascinating to see the story of Blue Apron unfold.

    SEE ALSO: Blue Apron plans to raise up to $587 million as it goes public

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What it's really like to cook a Blue Apron meal

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    On Tuesday, MoviePass announced it slash its rate to $9.95 a month. The service, which allows subscribers to see one film a day in theaters, saw such a spike in interest that its website crashed because of the traffic.

    As someone who has been using the service for over a year and saw his rate cut from $50 a month, I was thrilled. I love going to the movies, and I'm happy to know that now more people will be making their way to their local cinema.

    For those who just signed up, or for anyone who is still on the fence about joining the service, here's how seeing a film through MoviePass works.

    SEE ALSO: The world's largest movie-theater chain is trying to block MoviePass' new $10-a-month plan

    There are two components to MoviePass: the smartphone app and the physical card it sends you once you sign up. After you receive your card, you can create an account in the app and begin watching movies.

    When you open the MoviePass app, you'll find a list of theaters near you. If you want to see other theaters available through your subscription, simply change the ZIP code to your desired location.

    Selecting a theater brings up a list of showtimes. MoviePass does not let you look at different dates, so you can browse only the current day's times.

    MoviePass works for only standard films, so any Imax or 3D showings will be grayed out, and you will not be able to select them.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Though MoviePass has been around since 2011, it didn't break into the mainstream until Tuesday, when the company announced it would slash the price of its all-you-can-watch movie buffet to a mere $9.95 a month.

    As someone who has been a MoviePass subscriber for the better part of the past two years — and who until this week was paying $50 a month for my unlimited moviegoing privileges — I was thrilled to hear the news.

    Over the past few days, however, I've found myself fielding countless questions from friends, colleagues, and Business Insider readers about the service and whether it's as good a deal as it sounds. With that in mind, here are the answers to the most common questions:

    SEE ALSO: Here's how to use MoviePass, the $10-a-month service that lets you see one movie per day in theaters

    What exactly is MoviePass?

    MoviePass is a subscription service that allows you to see up to one movie a day in theaters.

    How much is it?

    As of Tuesday, MoviePass costs $9.95 a month.

    Can I really see as many movies as I want for $10? Or does that guarantee a price of $10 per movie?

    Nope! You really get to see as many movies as you like — one per day — for the flat monthly rate.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    amazon boxesAs a member of Amazon Prime, you get a convenient and well-publicized perk: free two-day shipping on almost any item on Amazon. 

    But the $99-per-year membership actually gets you a lot more than expedited shipping. In fact, signing up for Prime unlocks features like Amazon's vast digital library of music, movies, television, and books; one-hour restaurant delivery; and unlimited cloud storage for your photos. 

    And starting soon, Prime members will get special discounts at Whole Foods, thanks to Amazon's acquisition of the grocer, which is expected to close on Monday.

    Here are 18 of the coolest benefits of Amazon Prime

    SEE ALSO: Amazon Prime members can upload their outfits and get a fashion expert's opinion — here's what it's like to use in person

    1. Free two-day shipping

    Most things you buy on Amazon are eligible for free two-day shipping, but there are a few exceptions:

    - Some items that are fulfilled by Amazon Marketplace sellers

    - Magazine subscriptions

    - Personalized gift cards

    - Items sent to international addresses and addresses in US territories, possessions, or protectorates (except for Puerto Rico)

    2. Amazon Restaurants

    For a $20 minimum order, you can get restaurant food delivered in less an hour in Manhattan, Orlando, Los Angeles, and 17 other metro areas. 

    3. Prime Photos

    A Prime membership also gives you access to Prime Photos, Amazon's cloud storage feature. Members get unlimited storage for photos, plus 5 GB for videos and documents. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Plated v Dinnerly

    The INSIDER Summary:

    • Subscription meal kits promise an easy and inexpensive way to make dinner. 
    • You just subscribe and get the ingredients and recipe for a meal sent to you.
    • To see if the meal kits are worth the cost, I tried out Plated, the most expensive service, and Dinnerly, the cheapest one.
    • After making several meals with each service, I decided that the recipes were not as simple, fast, or cheap as they promised to be. 
    • I don't plan to use a subscription meal kit again.

    I've always liked the idea of subscription meal kits — the services that mail you ingredients and recipes — but I had never used one before.

    As someone who gets home from work after 7 pm and rarely feels like putting together a homemade meal — even a simple one — I have to admit I'm drawn to their convenience (bye-bye complicated shopping list!)

    And while subscription meal kits are everywhere these days with everyone from Amazon to Martha Stewart  getting in on the trend, studies show that people are not actually using meal kits, or they're signing up and ditching the service really quickly.

    Meal kits promise to make cooking cheaper, but is this actually the case?

    I decided to test out whether or not meal kits are worth the subscription costs by giving the most expensive and cheapest meal kits a test run. 

    Plated is one of the most expensive non-vegan meal kits you can get starting at $12 per meal. The new Dinnerly subscription kit (from Martha Stewart's Marley Spoon) meanwhile, is the cheapest on the market at $5 per meal.

    I compared and taste-tested two recipes from both kits to see which service — if any — was worth it. 

    Day 1— Plated, Meal One: Garlic basil shrimp and grits in cherry tomato sauce

    Plated_grits !

    Plated allowed me to choose my meals for the week from a variety of options. I went with shrimp and grits (one of my favorite meals). The Plated box came in the mail with ingredients for both of my meals inside. 

    The recipe instructions came printed on beautiful recipe cards that were meticulously detailed (sometimes overly so — I don't really need to know exactly how much olive oil to put in my pan).

    Plated shrimp grits 2

    The cooking process was not too complex, but the timing of individual steps were off.

    The recipe says it should take about 30-40 minutes to prepare but it took me just under an hour from start to finish. This is not a dish I would prepare in a hurry, but might be something to serve at a dinner party.

    plated comparison shrimp

    The shrimp and grits were easily my favorite dish of the four I made that week. (I'm sure that had something to do with the softball-sized gob of cheese that goes into making the grits). The dish was very heavy for summer however. But there were plenty of delicious leftovers!

    Day 2—Dinnerly, Meal One: Chorizo-spiced chicken chili

    Dinnerly 1

    My Dinnerly box came with three meals and was almost too bulky to handle carrying. One recipe that was sent (sausage pasta with sweet potatoes and rosemary) was impossible for me to make because it required a microplane/zester, which I did not have. 

    The recipes were sent digitally to be more eco-friendly, but I ended up printing them out anyway because they were easier to read that way. (With all of the packaging involved, none of these meal kits are really eco-friendly anyway). I really appreciated that there allergy warnings on the recipes, which Plated did not include. The ingredients were not all sorted and labeled, so it took awhile to find which ingredients went with which meal.

    Chili 2 Dinnerly

    When I started assembling the meal, I was confused because it appeared that some of the ingredients were doubled, like the chicken, while others were not, like the seasoning packet. 

    I ended up tweaking this recipe quite a bit: the amount of olive oil they suggested for the bottom of the pan was too little so I doubled the amount so it would not burn and I used only half of the onion that they gave me because the size was too large for the dish. 

    dinnerly chili compare

    The recipe would have been easy to follow, but it needed some proofreading in terms of timing and measurements. When I first tasted my chili creation, I was a little underwhelmed: It was too watery and I would have preferred to put together my own spice mix, rather than use the given flavor packet. But then I remembered that this meal only cost me $5 to make — $7 less than Plated.

    Day 3—Plated, Meal Two: Lamb shakshuka with parsley rice and pistachios

    shakshuka pics 1

    I was nervous about attempting the lamb shakshuka. This was by far the hardest recipe of the four that I tried this week and required exact timing. Instead of taking me 40-50 minutes to finish, I finished in just under an hour and a half. The ingredients, as with the other Plated dish, were high-quality: the tomatoes were plump and bright-red, and the ground meat tasted like it came straight from the butcher's. 

    shakshuka compare

    This  version of shakshuka is absolutely not a dish for beginners. I personally overcooked the over-easy egg in the middle of the shakshuka because I was trying to time the rest of the dish perfectly. The flavors of the dish are complex and nuanced, and it was filling, but when I come home from a long day of work and a lengthy commute, this would not be my go-to recipe. The cooking process actually made my early evening more stressful rather than easier.

    shakshuka 3

    Also, in comparison with the chili, the shakshuka was a very messy cleanup and the dirty dishes filled my entire dishwasher. 

    Day 4—Dinnerly, Day 2: Grass-fed stuffed cheeseburgers with homemade potato chips

    dinnerly burger 1

    This was the only real summer recipe I was sent. All three of the other meals were too heavy for a hot August day, so I was looking forward to making some good old-fashioned cheeseburgers.  This would have been a quick meal if not for the tedious potato-slicing to make the chips. I would have preferred just to whip up an easy pasta salad. 

    dinnerly burger

    My burgers came out perfectly medium-rare, but the timing on the instructions was off. Instead of cooking the suggested 3-4 minutes per side, I ended up pan-frying them for seven minutes per side. I also think it would have improved the burgers to put the scallions in the ground beef mix instead of as a topping. Overall, the burgers were delicious: they were moist and filled with gooey cheese.

    burgers compare

    Making homemade potato chips was the most tedious aspect of this meal. Unless you have a mandolin, it's impossible to cut the potato slices evenly or thin enough to create the desired potato chip crunch. As a result, my thinner "chips" came out overcooked and the thicker potato slices tasted more like classic oven-roasted potatoes than chips. They were not worth the effort.  

    After making meals with both Plated and Dinnerly, I decided that neither service was worth the cost. 

    Even though the process was fun and the results were more than appetizing (my favorites were the shrimp and grits from Plated and the cheeseburger from Dinnerly), I would not sign up for a subscription meal kit again. 

    My biggest gripe with Dinnerly was that the recipe instructions needed proofreading. I often found myself cooking the food a lot longer than the recipe called for.

    My main criticism of Plated came down to complexity of the recipes: These dishes—although undeniably high-quality— were not for novice cooks, nor were they quick and easy. And isn't the whole purpose of a meal kit subscription to make my life easier?

    Meal kits are a great idea for a fresh-out-of college young professional who wants to transition from takeout and ramen to actually learning how to cook. 

    But for those who already know how to cook, or are already making dinner for a family of four or more, subscription meal kits could add more stress and uncertainty to your already busy schedule. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here’s why your jeans have that tiny front pocket