Wake up little Susie
Today’s Itinerary: Drive-ins making a comeback; females leading the
entrepreneurial charge; flyover cities using AI to solve problems; Madison, WI, loves you
August 16, 2019
You can't just walk out of a drive-in
One advantage Flyover Country has over our coastal brethren is the availability of land. And what better use for that land than the cherished drive-in?
So of course, FOC is leading the resurgence with Drive-in 3.0
Here’s the drive-in’s backstory.
On June 6, 1933, car parts salesman and movie fan Richard Hollingshead opened America’s first drive-in, called Automobile Movie Theater, in Camden, NJ. The name just sings, doesn’t it? But to be fair, “automobile” was probably the SEO keyword of its day. Besides, his slogan definitely got the value prop across: “The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are."
In 1950, Hollingshead’s patent was overturned, opening the door to a deluge of new theaters across the country. The next two decades saw their number grow to more than 4,000 before tailing off (and then declining) as Daylight Saving Time reared its ugly head, VHS and color TV arrived, and urban sprawl jacked up land prices, making it more profitable for theater owners to sell to developers than thread up the reels.
Drive-ins began to wink out. The movie industry’s switch from film to digital sank even more of them, especially those in smaller communities, because the cost of digital projectors was out of reach.
So why is this still a thing?
Even though the number of drive-ins in the US has dropped to around 325, Americans are still embracing the concept. In fact, there’s been something of a resurgence, with new drive-ins springing up and shuttered ones being restored and revived.
Thriving drive-ins have gotten creative, too. It’s not just about the screenings these days. Here are some of the features that drive-ins have parlayed into business success:
Sand volleyball, badminton, Ferris wheels, gourmet and locally sourced concessions, mini golf, beer patios, in-car heaters, theme-based movie festivals, concerts, flea markets, and camping facilities. Also, some drive-ins are dog-friendly. In short, drive-ins have caught up with cultural trends.
And because the magic of the drive-in is a natural fit for small-town America, many theaters are situated in the heartland. For instance:
- Strasburg, OH: The Lynn Auto Theater, built in 1937, is the second oldest operating drive-in in the US.
- Georgetown, IN: Originally opened as a single screen drive-in theater in 1951, the Georgetown Drive-in is now a two screener showing double features on both screens (and sometimes 3 movies per screen) while seasonally open.
- LaGrange, KY: Completed in 2018, the brand new Sauerbeck Family Drive-in was open 28 days before a windstorm destroyed its screen, forcing the theater to close for six months. It’s back up and running.
- Dearborn, MI: The Ford-Wyoming Theatre (renamed Ford Drive-In) once had nine screens and room for 3,000 cars. Now it’s down to five screens and 2,500 cars.
- Springer, OK: Another recent entrant, the Cool Breeze RV Cinema and Resort, is sort of “chocolate meets peanut butter,” merging a drive-in theater with an RV campground.
- Jesup, GA: Opened in 1948, Jesup Drive-In has had its ups and downs. But the current owners have been exploring various innovations to create a “nostalgia ambience.” Like letting patrons order food via mobile phone and having it delivered by servers dressed in carhop outfits. There’s a summer dream job.
- Terre Haute, IN: The Moon-Lite Drive-Thru Theater just opened in the site of the original North Drive-In, which closed in 1988.
We’re watching this phenomenon and we’ll let you know about its progress.
Artificial Intelligence to the rescue
When most people think about artificial intelligence they think chess-playing computers and self-driving cars (or anything that made an appearance on The Jetsons). While those are good examples (sorry, Kasparov), AI is being used in all facets of life, from making us safer to improving supply chain management. Here are a few examples of AI tech going on in the heartland. Stay tuned for many more!
AI in bus safety
According to Safe Fleet, a Belton, MO, company that provides safety solutions for vehicles, outside the bus is where students are most at risk. Safe Fleet created a solution that uses AI and predictive analytics to proactively alert the bus driver and students of possible dangers outside the bus. If risks are detected, the students will be notified not to cross the street until the threat is clear.
AI in pharmaceuticals
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) recently developed an AI-based pharmaceutical supply chain platform. The platform will help reduce the risks involved in supply disruption, allowing drugs to reach their final destination faster.
The platform, called CognitiveRx, utilizes machine learning to monitor the demand for drugs, predict the risks involved with shortages, and recommend
the best inventory levels.
AI in business productivity
ScheduleMe, a Kansas City tech firm, is tapping into the power of data science and artificial intelligence to help businesses sort out scheduling issues, ensuring that the entire process, wherever and however it is used, becomes more natural. The ScheduleMe platform will help enterprises implement better time management practices across all of their various functions and verticals.
AI is touching on all aspects of life.
You’ll be hearing much more about it and the companies and people in flyover cities involved in future issues.
Female entrepreneurs are winning in Ann Arbor and Memphis
A recent study on the state of venture-backed, female-founded startups in the US features geographic data that startup leaders in the heartland might want to take note of.
The study, from the Center for American Entrepreneurship, looks at how many female-founded startups reached significant funding and exit milestones over roughly the past 20 years. A company qualified as “women-founded” if it had at least one female founder.
In Ann Arbor, 29 percent of startups that secured a first round of funding between 2005 and 2017 had a female founder, compared to 16 percent nationally. Between 2016 and 2017, that number was 58 percent, compared to 21 percent nationally. In Memphis, the share of female-founded startups raising a first round of VC was 20 percent and 45 percent, respectively, while in Boulder, it came in at 19 percent and 41 percent, respectively.
The research points to consumer products and services, health care, and software as being among the industries with a larger share of female founders raising venture capital.
Three women leading the entrepreneurial charge in the heartland
Warning: If you have a beloved pet, you’re going to want to have your credit card handy when you read this item.
Innovation is alive and well in the flyover states and women are increasingly leading the charge. Endeavor Louisville recently profiled three women who are putting the heart in heartland, as all three innovations have healthy doses of compassion.
You know you want one
Animal lover Jennifer Williams created Cuddle Clones, a company that makes stuffed animals that look just like family pets. The clones are simply festive and fun for pet lovers, but there is also a large market for people who have to be away from their beloved pets, including college students, military personnel, seniors moving into assisted living, and more.
A caretaker's tool
Caitlin Coffman, founder of Indianapolis-based MomentPath, saw the need for people to be more involved in the care of their loved ones in preschool, child care, daycare, senior living, and elderly care facilities. So she created software and an app that gives people a window into the care they’re receiving. The system streamlines billing, scheduling, curriculum planning, reporting, and tracking. Coffman has landed $1.3M in seed capital to launch MomentPath.
Also in Louisville, Maggie Galloway and her business partner Adam Casson invented a laryngoscope with integrated, controllable suction. The innovation came to her after she heard of a colleague’s struggle to intubate a car accident victim due to fluid blocking the airway. Their technology is credited with revolutionizing endoscopy and has raised $2.3 million in seed capital.
Photo via Good Free Photos
What makes a city great? Low cost of living? Low unemployment? Those are certainly at the top of the list. But to get the best idea of how great a city is, you have to look beyond the numbers. Well, sort of.
WalletHub analyzed the 100 biggest US cities based on 36 kindness metrics that fell into one of three categories: caring for the community (e.g., percentage of residents who do favors for their neighbors at least once a week), caring for the vulnerable (e.g., percentage of homeless persons with shelters), and caring in the workforce (e.g., number of special-education teachers per school-age person with disabilities).
While none of the cities got a perfect score (100), Madison, WI, came up on top with a 68.73 score. The city also claimed the top spot in the “caring in the workforce” category, which includes metrics like residents who work in community and social services per capita, physicians per capita, and mental health counselors per capita.
You can find out more about the methodology used and see the main findings of the analysis here.
Cool Pub of the Week
Next time you're in Indy, check this place out
Indiana’s oldest bar, currently named the Slippery Noodle Inn, is located on S. Meridian Street in downtown Indianapolis. There has been a bar at that location since 1850!
During Prohibition, it was frequented by gangsters, and a few bullets from their target practice remain lodged in one of the building’s walls. It has a rich history, including a link to Union Station by secret underground tunnels helping to form the Underground Railroad.
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