These days most shopping happens online. You can find just about anything—then click, type, ship, and you’re done! It’s no surprise eCommerce startups are on the rise.
This month we’re looking at 8 eCommerce startups that illustrate how solutions to common problems can be translated into successful online businesses.
Money: $1.9 million raised in funding
Hooked is an innovative mobile app that makes reading addictive for teens. This startup believes there is a billion-dollar opportunity in bringing “lean” principles to the development and distribution of mass-market fiction, and in presenting stories as a mobile-first experience. The founders are Prerna Gupta and Parag Chordia, veterans from the mobile app world. They’ve built music apps like AutoRap, that have helped over 150MM people experience the joy of music creation. You can read more about journey that led founders to creating a storytelling startup in this piece, written by them for Vogue.
Money: raised $47.5 million, following its prior $12 million Series A and $5.5 million seed rounds
So. Much. Good. Stuff. Meet Hollar—your destination for thousands of awesome gifts and goods starting at just $2. Score 50-90% off a never-ending selection of categories: toys, apparel, electronics, beauty, accessories, party supplies, home essentials, and so much more! We’re here to make shopping insanely fun—and keep wallets happy.
Money: since starting the company, Swag has done more than $1 million in sales
Swag.com offers products like water bottles, umbrellas, shirts, jackets, USB drives, bags and other items from brands like Patagonia and Case Logic. Once you pick the product, you upload your designs, specify how many you want printed and then wait for Swag to send you the production mock-up for approval.
Standard production time takes about 15 days, while priority production takes 10 days and costs a bit more. Production doesn’t start until the customer has approved the mock-up. Because Swag works directly with the manufacturer and vendor, it doesn’t have to hold any inventory.
Since starting the company, Swag has done more than $1 million in sales. What differentiates Swag from the likes of CustomInk and other competitors, Jeremy Parker, Swag co-founder said, is its attention to detail and ease of use. For example, Parker pointed out that Swag guarantees each brand’s colors will be spot on, Pantone-matched. Though, CustomInk also seems to do the same thing.
Money: raised more than $50 million over three rounds of funding prior to launch.
Based in San Francisco and Minneapolis, Brandless was brought to life on July 11. 2017.
Brandless, the brainchild of serial entrepreneurs Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler, hopes to take advantage of this new environment and change the way consumers buy everyday essentials. It’s hoping to make going to the grocery store to stock up on pantry items a thing of the past with its direct-to-consumer business model and $3 price point for every product it offers.
Their mission is deeply rooted in quality, transparency, and community-driven values. Better stuff, fewer dollars. It’s that simple. They’ve created a thoughtful, irresistible selection of the food and household products you reach for every day. Searching far and wide for high-quality materials and healthy ingredients, everything that’s Brandless is also bad-stuff-less and goodness-ful.
Over the last three years, Sharkey and Leffler have set out to build a collection of products that span categories including non-perishable food, cleaning supplies, health and beauty products, personal care items and office supplies.
In the food category, for instance, it sells everything from canned goods to salad dressings and sauces to snacks and candies to coffee, all priced at $3 a piece. Housewares include measuring spoons, can openers, corkscrews and a selection of knives, while cleaning supplies include all-purpose cleaner and dish soap. And on the health and beauty front, Brandless sells everything from toothpaste and mouthwash to hand soap and body lotion.
The big innovation at Brandless was to make a wide range of household staples and sell them all at a single price. By stripping away what it likes to call the “brand tax” — i.e., all the costs related to the traditional consumer packaged goods distribution model — and going straight to the consumer, Brandless can offer its goods at 40 percent less than comparable products on average.
Money: raised $7 million dollars in funding
Rothy’s, a shoe startup based in San Francisco, turns plastic water bottles into trendy ballet flats. Since its launch in 2016, the company has gained a ravenous following, including venture capitalists and the editors of Vogue. While the shoes aren’t the most environmentally-friendly in existence (check out these future Adidas kicks that will be 100% biodegradable), Rothy’s has diverted more than 10 million plastic bottles from landfills since its founding.
“Stephen (“Hawthy”) and Roth, our co-founders, realized something was missing from the market. Sustainability was growing in importance but was not yet stylish, and style and comfort rarely coexisted. Women needed a stylish, comfortable, sustainable shoe they could wear all day every day, no matter where their busy lives took them. Their mission was to create the most stylish, comfortable shoe for today’s on-the-go woman. And do it with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. Hence Rothy’s was born.
The Rothy’s founders, Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin, are quick to highlight the eco-friendliness of their shoes, which minimize waste in the production process and use recycled plastic. And they like to tout how practical the shoes are: they’re even machine washable.
At $125 a pair, they’re not cheap, but they may make you feel better the next time you forget to recycle.
Money: raised $33.75 million in funding
Modsy isn’t an augmented reality company as much as they are a 3D imaging startup that’s aiming to help you augment your living space’s style. Users can snap a few photos of a room in their house with any basic phone camera, then a short bit later Modsy reconstructs the space in 360 3D and sends you a couple totally new designs based on your “style genome,” which it calculates via a short questionnaire.
Since launching to consumers, Modsy has spent more and more time automating steps in the process related to both crafting the 3D space and designing it. They’ve been able to decrease the amount of time that humans are needed in the process by an impressive 90 percent and have accordingly been able to slash the price of their service from $99 to $69.
The startup people to get a more definite photo-realistic look into how specific furniture would look in their house than current AR tech is really capable of. Better yet the entire redesigned digital space is entirely shoppable and allows users to click and purchase things that catch their eye for the room. With the 3D Modsy Style Editor (in beta) you can then swap out items based on what you’ve purchased and update the overall look before progressing.
Money: $14 million Series A led by New Enterprise Associates (funding)
Burrow, a startup bringing a Casper-style approach to manufacturing and delivering sofas, is announcing that it has raised $4.3 million in seed funding.
This might not sound like the most obvious area for a startup to tackle — unless you’ve had the experience of trying to carry a couch up a twisty flight of stairs, or attempting to squeeze it through a narrow doorway.
Burrow’s sofas are delivered in a compact box, and assembly is only supposed to take 10 minutes, no tools required. They also have a modular design that makes them easier to move from house to house or apartment to apartment, and to expand with more seats when you have a larger living space.
You can buy Burrow’s sofas in one-, two-, three- or four-seat configurations — the three seater currently costs $1,095, with free shipping and a 30-day trial.
Stephen Kuhl explained via email that he and his co-founder Kabeer Chopra came up with the idea while they were studying at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, after they both had negative experiences buying couches — Chopra had to wait weeks for his West Elm sofa, which he carried home to avoid the shipping cost, while Kuhl spent hours assembling his Ikea sofa.
Money: Kit is one of a few recent projects out of Expa, the startup studio that has raised more than $150 million to help grow new startups.
Kit, the Expa-backed platform for product recommendation. Kit lets users choose and review products they’ve used and owned to build ‘kits’. These kits normally focus on a certain theme or category like “My Desk Setup” or “My Photography Bag”. But here’s the real kicker: Kit lets users make money off of Kit using their own Amazon Affiliate ID for each product in their Kit.
What’s more, the company isn’t taking any revenue off of the affiliate model and has instead given that fully to their users.
Kit is the brainchild of Expa partner and Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai and Kit CEO Camille Hearst.
Kit’s user acquisition strategy has focused primarily on experts and influencers (those who already have a social media following who will join them on Kit).
Categories that have already taken off include gear (photography, videography, gaming and desk equipment) and holistic, natural products (healthcare, skin care, beauty products).
Kit has yet to turn on monetization and is instead focused on growing the user base and focusing on experience of those discovering products.