Startup Roundup: September 24, 2020
Bringing a product from idea to the marketplace takes a lot of work. Most products take years to actually begin creating revenue, when you consider development and testing to manufacturing process. Today, we commend four companies that have recently introduced innovative products and take a closer look why their business plan strategies piqued the interest of their investors.
These products share some noteworthy commonalities despite being very different. First, a subscription revenue model is embraced by three of the four products. Memberships are more common then ever before; it seems like just about everything is available via subscription, from Netflix, to Amazon Prime, to meal kits. This Forbes article discusses what started the recent expansion of the membership model (#spoiler: Costco). We can assume that its popularity stems from two main factors: consumer convenience and recurring income. While most of us surely enjoy convenience, you can bet it's the latter that an investor finds compelling.
In these four companies, the second common thread you'll find is that three of them are "smart" products. In reality, each delivers varying degrees of "smart"; for one of them, its function is moot without it, while it is more about ease-of-use for another. But either way, going forward, there will be some kind of app and/or device tie-in as a key feature for consumer goods.
Smart indoor gardens are extremely popular, probably bolstered by so many of us being homebound these days. Edn recently announced a funding round for its indoor "SmallGarden." The soil-less system uses hydroponics to provide time-released plant food and optimal lighting schedules for growing anything from basil to marigolds to cherry tomatoes, all monitored from its app via WiFi. And it's stylish, of course, with walnut and aluminum finishes. The complete system retails for $199 (including planter tray, sensor system, LED lights, and intro seed pods). The company offers a subscription for new plant types using a proprietary "SeedPod" system. Their recently completed funding round was led by Techstars and Right Side Capital.
Cloud Paper announced recently financing for its tree-less toilet paper brand. It is certainly not the first bamboo paper product to hit the market. What is different about Cloud Paper is that it is subscription-only. Greycroft led their $3 million seed round and supported by numerous personal investors such as Mark Cuban, Ashton Kutcher, and Gwyneth Paltrow.
"Luma," an Ultraviolet-C light cleaning box which disinfects 99.9 percent of germs, including coronavirus, was recently introduced byViolux. The small box is designed for 360-degree disinfecting of the small items that you handle most: cell phones, keys, cash, etc. The company is currently running an early-bird $249 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which is half the retail price. The company announced $1.2 million of seed funding this week, led by Okapi Venture Partners and Unlock Ventures.
A new personal safety device has been brought to market by Pom Partners. The POM is a smart keychain-sized button that ensures help is but a finger-press away. The POM has Bluetooth connectivity to your phone and can be used with an auto-call auto-text function (via a single tap) or for emergency alerts via a triple tap. With a $9.99 subscription service, the POM Personal sells for $59.99 and the company offers an enterprise level targeted at universities. Series A financing was led by Cayuga Venture Fund.
Ben Worsley is Marketing & Creative Director at Masterplans