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How a cheap LA hotel became one of the most beloved in the city
The Magic Castle Hotel looks like any other cheap LA stopover.
At $250 - $300 a night, this converted two-story 1950’s apartment complex, painted canary yellow, with its tiny backyard pool, is hardly the place dreams are made of.
And yet, The Magic Castle is routinely ranked in the top 10 hotels in Los Angeles on TripAdvisor.1 They’re batting away competition like the Hotel Bel-Air ($1,500 a night) and the Four Seasons Beverley Hills ($1,200 a night).
What is their secret?
According to Chip Heath, a Stanford Business School professor, it is their ability to create what he calls “defining moments”2 - moments that bring meaning to our lives and linger long in our memories.
The most famous of these defining moments is the Popsicle Hotline.
At any time, visitors at the hotel’s pool can pick up a red phone on the poolside wall. At the other end, someone responds: “Hello, Popsicle Hotline.” They request an ice lolly in their favourite flavour, and a few minutes later, a hotel employee wearing white gloves delivers it on a silver platter, free of charge.
Kids get immense joy from this. They never forget it - and neither do their parents. This is what makes the Magic Castle such a hit.
My colleague Haroun, who joined Odin recently as our head of customer success, told me this story. It’s such a great insight, for founders and investors. The best technology products are also chock-full of popsicle moments.
As a team, we’ve been thinking hard about how we create more of them.
Did someone mention AI?
My colleague Barney pulled some interesting data on Friday.
It shows the number of deal memos that mention AI on Odin, by quarter.
Our deal volume this year will be about 1.7x higher than last year, but even accounting for that, we’ve seen an 8x increase between Q2/Q3 last year and Q2/Q3 this year. We’re expecting Q4 to be even bigger. I’d say 80%+ of the latest Y Combinator and Entrepreneur First batch companies mention AI as a key part of their strategy.
The big question, of course, is “which companies will win?” Because if we look at history, the winners concentrate dramatically.
About 3,000 automobile companies have existed in the United States3 - most were started in the early 20th century. By the 1950s the Big Three - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - controlled >80% of the market.
Best of the Internet
That film should be called “him”, not “her”
The argument here is that women read erotica and crave mental / emotional stimulation, whereas men are more visual (let’s not talk about the AI porn TAM).
Obviously the take could be better phrased (it doesn’t include gay people), but it’s an interesting point.
On a related note, I wonder whether AI will help us address the loneliness epidemic.
“60% of Americans are lonely. As disturbing as it may be, what used to primarily be an issue for seniors is now spread over all generations: The younger you are, the more likely you are now to feel lonely.
Loneliness isn’t just making us unhappy, it’s silently killing us: Social isolation is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
I enjoyed this piece from Hugo Amsellem on the problem and opportunity that is the Loneliness Economy
Mole rat genes make you live longer
4.4% longer, apparently.
“In a groundbreaking endeavor, researchers at the University of Rochester have successfully transferred a longevity gene from naked mole rats to mice, resulting in improved health and an extension of the mouse’s lifespan.”
Makes you wonder what humans of the future are going to look like.
I would 100% watch this
That’s it for this week. As always, if you’re thinking about setting up a fund, starting a syndicate or raising a round, you can do all three on Odin - get in touch!