"Humans are tactile creatures."
Tim Ferriss is explaining why he—of 4-Hour Workweek, Body, and Chef fame—has joined up with Quarterly.co, the curated subscription business that provides real-life awesomeness in a startup scene crowded with messaging apps.
But unlike the subscriptionistas sending you smatterings of makeup samples, Quarterly.co's mailings spring from their stable of tastemakers. Founded by former GOOD editor Zach Frechette, the startup is a way for admirably cool people like Pharrell or Joshua Foer to share the things they love with the startup's 8,000-plus subscribers. Things like gaming dice from Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and a pinhole camera from Jason Kottke. Crucially, this is not curation via hyperlink.
"We’re living in this moment where we’re stepping back and assessing how much of our lives we’ve brought online and realizing that some sort of correction or rebalancing is needed," Frechette once told Co.Design. "We hope Quarterly.co can be a bridge between the digital and the tangible."
The bridge saw such serious traffic last year the startup had to put off adding new users until it could catch up on its original subscriptions. To help with the scaling, they brought in $1.25 million in investment from True Ventures and Collaborative fund. And a new executive.
Mitch Lowe has been in the subscription space for a while now: he was a cofounder of Netflix and the former president of Redbox. To help with the billing and shipping problems Quarterly ran into last year, he brought in the same fulfillment company he used at Redbox. Lowe joined Quarterly, he says, because he saw a vision of "business about amazing people that needed an execution strategy."
That goal to be executed, he says, is to deliver packages that feel like they were put together by someone you admire—the athletes, actors, writers, and chefs he's trying to bring into the Quarterly.co fold.
This, it seems, is the sticking point for Ferriss. He says that there's only so much that can be shared through his blog—and he says his readers have been asking for a box since 2007. But he couldn't make those shipments happen until Quarterly figured out procurement and fulfillment.
Ferriss is modest about where his ideas come from: just your average gadgets and gear from Cirque du Soleil performers, chess prodigies, Fortune 500 CEOs, and military snipers. From that array of amazingness, Ferriss says he's selecting the things he'd give to his friends as a gift, and in so doing, he's turning the connections with his audience from "online relationships into offline relationships."
To get an idea, check out his contributor page: There's an easel for Zen-style brushwork; an athletic greens powde; and a copy of Bird by Bird, the beloved writing guide by Anne Lamott.
For Ferriss, Quarterly.co provides a tangible way for his readers to join his experiments in lifestyle design:
All the items are, on some level, about crafting a better life. Whether that's improving physical performance, dramatically changing business or creativity, or creating adventures with the right tools. Most of the things I include are vetted from the happiest top performers I know and meet. Olympic athletes, check. Founders running startups worth $1 billion? Check. It's like a physical diary of the coolest things I find in the world.
A physical diary of the world's coolest things? Might make a nice gift.
[Image: Flickr user That Other Paper]