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A Few Pre-Pandemic Start-Ups that Didn’t Quite Pan Out

By Marty Barry

Dear Insiders:

The investment professionals at Tarot Capital Partners hope you are all surviving the Covid-19 lockdown with your health and sanity intact. Remember to wash your hands and wear your masks!

Formalities aside, we acknowledge that we faced some uphill challenges in the first four months of 2020. Recent aggressive investments in edgy, disruptive startups imposed rather severe losses on our portfolio, as we encountered unforeseeable downturns due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent social distancing measures. For the sake of full transparency and disclosure we will review them here.

Handshake Bootcamp

Sensing high demand as the country geared up for the 2020 elections, we set out to save the great American handshake with these intensive weekend handshaking bootcamps for up-and-coming politicians and lobbyists. We recruited dozens of award-winning professional hand-shakers from across the country, and locked in great rates by booking six months of nonrefundable event space at top corporate hotels for our seminars. Initial registrations have been softer than expected. Silver lining: we were able to pull the plug on our baby-kissing subsidiary before we had committed much capital to its expansion.

Survivor: Subway

It seemed like a no-brainer that people were getting bored of the exotic and remote locales featured in this long-running TV franchise. Our pitch to the network bigwigs: we sponsor a season that takes place entirely on a crowded 7 train shuttling back and forth between Manhattan and Queens. We outfitted two subways cars with cameras, lights, fire pits, and outhouses. Taping, originally set to begin in March, is on hold indefinitely.

Gesundheit ™ Group Sneeze Therapy

This avant-garde emotional relief therapy gained traction in Italy in 2018 and exploded in popularity among people looking to let it all out in a sympathetic group setting without handkerchiefs or social judgment. We immediately grasped the natural synergy with our popular Pop-It-Forward group zit-squeezing therapy, and won a savage bidding war to purchase expensive intellectual rights to expand into the United States. Negotiations with Dr. Anthony Fauci to serve as our spokesperson stalled when he served our Chief Marketing Officer with a restraining order.

Wipeout! Free Toilet Paper

Our market studies showed that toilet paper was such an abundant commodity we could just give it away for free by printing advertisements on each square. Marketers of natural foods and health supplements lined up to get in on the ground floor of this program. Things looked good until we hit some recent supply chain hiccups, and our advertisers slapped us with millions of dollars in lawsuits for breach of contract.

Hot Twister Yoga Studios

In retrospect we may have been pushing the envelope a bit when we invested in a national chain of studios where traditional yoga lovers get to mix with fun-loving Twister fanatics for a sweaty contact-yoga experience. Right foot chataranga! Warrior pose on yellow! Unfortunately we bet the farm on exclusive rights for five years from Hasbro. It’s not clear at this time when we can legally open our doors again, or whether interest in the concept will revive among our target audience.

The I❤︎NY Tourist Kissing Booths

Staffed by attractive twenty-somethings, these kiosks are strategically positioned throughout bustling tourist districts like Times Square and the High Line. Instead of posing with a grubby Elmo or Spiderman, visitors can pay $10 for a wholesome old-fashioned county-fair kiss. Although currently shuttered by the Health Department, we are investigating the possibility of renting the kiosks out to evicted millennials who can’t stand another day of living at home with their parents.

CraftMail ® Artisan Envelopes and Stamps

A year ago, predicting that technologies like Zoom and FaceTime had peaked and would likely fade into obscurity, our savviest trend analysts foresaw the rise of retro letter writing with the comforting tactile enjoyment of lickable stamps and envelopes. Our stationery is handcrafted by artisan papersmiths in a workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, using recycled sandwich wrappers and doctor’s office magazines. Each stamp and envelope has a hand-applied natural adhesive with exciting natural flavors for licking enjoyment. The market for these upscale products has not developed as we hoped, and we have currently renting the workshops out to a company that stores unused tour-guide batons and selfie sticks.

Infectious™ Perfume.

The the idea began with a tagline: “Your smile is infectious. Your laugh is infectious. Why not your scent? Infectious perfume: spread the fever.” You have to admit it’s catchy. We had just begun taking advance orders from retailers when, well, you know the rest of the story. We plan to re-introduce this product again in a few years, after we convince U.S. Customs to release the first shipment of 50,000 bottles that they confiscated and locked in their secret hazardous materials warehouse.

In closing, remember that past performance is no guarantee of future results! We are adjusting to the market conditions, and have already entered discussions with the developers of an app that will calculate estimates of your pasta inventory, hair length, and checking overdraft based on daily news updates of when the lockdowns will end.

Marty Barry is a business manager living in Harrison, NY with his wife and children, who all came home for lockdown.



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