Dear Angel Investor,

First aired in 2009, Shark Tank continues to capture the attention of millions with each new episode.

Heck, I’m guilty of binge-watching a season here and there!

And you’ve probably seen the update shows where they share how the companies are doing present-day.

Let me tell you… the Shark Tank Effect is real. Many of the companies featured have seen HUGE growth in sales.

What if YOU could have invested alongside Daymond John in the deal that took one company’s annual sales from $154,000 to $16,000,000 in 3 short years?

Read on to learn more about this cultural phenomenon… and you learn how you can ride the “Shark Tank bump”, too. 

 

The Shark Tank Effect

 

Investment shows like Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank have become immensely popular in recent years. Audiences across the globe love to tune in each week to see wacky inventions and innovative ideas meet the likes of celebrity billionaires in a reality TV format.

While these shows are good old-fashioned entertainment to most — to angel investors they’re a beacon of opportunity. 

Rising interest in investing and startups means more people are becoming aware of a long-held secret — you too can become an angel investor

That’s right, opportunities like the ones on TV aren’t reserved for the likes of Mark Cuban and team. You can get a chuck of the action. 

Shows like Shark Tank show the potential all angel investors have for big gains. 

Also, these shows churn the startup culture and incentivize entrepreneurs. A booming startup community is an angel investor’s playground.

 

The “A” Factor

 

Top angel investors know — good startups are ready to explode, they just need a nudge.

When angels enter into the equation, ideas go from good to great.

Sure, through funding alone, startups can expand, invest, and improve to reach wider audiences and streamline systems. But, with the guidance of a knowledgeable angel, businesses can unlock entirely new markets or create better products.

For example, clothing startup Tipsy Elves went onto Shark Tank with the singular goal of expanding their holiday sweater business. 

Angel investor, Robert Herjavec, convinced the founders to use their sweaters to capitalize on other holidays and target college football fans. This became a massive hit.

Now, Tipsy Elves sells apparel year-round and has profitability and versatility they never dreamed of. (Keep reading to see how successful Tipsy Elves really became!)

This is the win-win effect angels bring to a startup. 

 

Learn from the Sharks

 

Shark Tank is a reality show, and the reality is, the goal is entertainment. 

Yet, the startups are real and the Sharks are bonafide angel investing geniuses.

So, while the Sharks don’t always give away their angel investing secrets (like we do) there is still much to learn from them. 

Understanding why the Sharks choose to walk away from some deals and pull the trigger on others can help you hone your angel senses.

 

Shark Tank Success Stories

 

Let’s take a look at the top-performing startups featured on Shark Tank. Watch out for the company’s backstory, their team, and their pitch.

We will break down the deals the angels made, and the incredible profits they reaped.

 

Tipsy Elves

 

This is an idea you might chuckle at moments before its sly brilliance clicks in your head.

Tipsy Elves sells whimsical holiday sweaters. That’s all. No fancy new technology or earth-shaking innovation, just sweaters. 

Apparently, this idea really struck a chord with the culture. It turned out to be a major fashion changer.

It perfectly balances between kitsch, nostalgia, and humor. Tipsy Elves feels like one of those ideas that was just sitting there waiting to be picked up for years.

The Deal

Angel investor Robert Herjavec threw down $100,000 that the founders needed to up production in exchange for a 10% stake.

 

The Payoff

So, what were the results?

Before appearing on the show in 2013, Tipsy Elves earned about $600,000 in annual revenue. In 2015, that number shot up to $10 million. Today, the company has generated over $100 million in total sales and is showing no sign of slowing down.

 

GrooveBook

 

This subscription-service startup had incredible success in a dying industry — printing.

Husband and wife team Brian and Julie Whiteman pulled this concept from the ether and slapped it down on the Shark’s desks. The idea goes something like this:

Billions of photos are taken each day. Most people have hundreds if not, thousands of photos sitting on their smartphones or computers collecting digital dust. Why not do something with them?

For only $2.99 a month, GrooveBook will make you a physical photo album and mail it right to your doorstep — no shipping fee, no hassle. You simply select your favorite 100 photos from your phone using the GrooveBook app and the rest is taken care of. 

Each monthly photo album comes with a unique cover and easily removable, high-resolution photos of your favorite moments. The date and location are even added to each photo automatically.

 

The Deal

The couple made a deal with two of the angel investors, Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary, for $150,000 in exchange for 80% percent of the licensing rights.

 

The Payoff

Just 11 months after receiving their investment from the angels, the company was purchased by photo printing and sharing giant Shutterfly for a whopping $14.5 million.

Had you invested $1,000 in this deal when the Sharks did, you’d have seen a 7,733% gain, turning that $1,000 investment into $77,333.

 

 

Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs

 

Another tasty startup, Bubba’s-Q grew from nothing into a national brand. You can find its products in Costco, on QVC, at Yankee Stadium, on the Carl’s Jr. menu, and in more than 5,000 retail stores.

But when Al “Bubba” Baker, 1978 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, walked into Shark Tank, he had nothing but a patent for pulling the bones out of a rack of ribs and a nice sauce recipe. 

So, what happened?

Bubba got the funding and guidance he needed from an angel investor who saw the tremendous potential on the plate in front of him.

You see, as simple as the idea is, there wasn’t another product like it on the market. 

Pre-sauced, boneless ribs didn’t exist. Bubba took an American favorite and flipped it on its head. Now, people like Bubba’s wife, who served as inspiration for the boneless ribs, can enjoy them with a fork and knife.

 

The Deal

Despite making his fortune in clothing, angel investor Daymond John took a calculated chance on Bubba’s-Q Boneless Ribs. Whether he was a master of packaged food products or not, the key factors checked out, and the idea excited him.

Daymond John agreed to a $300,000 investment for a 30% stake.

 

The Payoff

Before earning an angel investment, Bubba’s-Q was doing about $154,000 per year. Just three years later, it was pulling in $16 million a year. John believes he can help the company achieve $200 million lifetime sales in no-time.

This turned out to be John’s most profitable investment ever on the show. 

 

Scrub Daddy

 

Finally, we have a quintessential infomercial product. The Scrub Daddy is a simple household cleaning product — a sponge.

This deceptively basic product became the number one most successful product to ever appear on Shark Tank

How? Through the innovation of a stagnant product, an incredible pitch, and a smiling face.

The founder may be smiling now, rolling in dough, but the face I’m referring to is actually on the sponge itself. Scrub Daddy has two eye holes perfect for gripping to clean inside glasses, and a mouth for cleaning utensils. 

But, the real innovation is that the sponge drastically changes textures depending on the temperature of the water you use. When put under a cold tap, the sponge becomes remarkably hard and dense, making it perfect for baked-on messes. When placed in warm water, the sponge becomes soft and pliable, perfect for standard kitchen cleaning jobs. 

 

The Deal

“The Queen of QVC”, Lori Greiner, jumped on this product right away. As an expert in televised home shopping — Lori saw big potential in this little sponge.

Because she operated within her wheelhouse and understood Scrub Daddy’s strengths, weaknesses, and marketing strategy, she was able to make an incredible deal that undoubtedly made her millions. 

She paid $200,000 in exchange for 20% of the company.

 

The Payoff

Before enlisting the help of an angel in October 2012, Scrub Daddy had managed a total of $100,000 in sales.

By January of 2017, Scrub Daddy’s total revenues surpassed $100 million — the highest of any Shark Tank product, ever.

Today the company is valued at over $170 million. Scrub Daddy may be the number one sponge in the world.

Had you invested $1,000 in this deal when the Lori did, you’d have seen a 17,000% gain, turning that $1,000 investment into $170,000.

 

A Good Time for Sharks, A Good Time for Angels

 

The general public is more interested in investing and startups than ever before. This popularity has already sparked the dreams of thousands of entrepreneurs, who saw an avenue for investment for the first time.

The other side of the coin is that more investors are waking up to the realization that they can get involved. They can be the one lending the money and getting big returns for it. 

That’s why we’re here — to show you that you can play with the big boys.

Even with a modest sum, anyone can become an angel. The billionaire’s secret is out.

So, take what you can from investing shows. See the startups and deals. Get inspired. When you’re ready to take the next step, you know where to come. StartupCamp.

Ready to be The Shark? Learn how you can invest alongside The Boardroom… And jump in for the ride of the next Shark Tank-bump!

Author: Chris Graebe

Dear Angel Investor,

As you may know, I’m Chris Graebe.

Father of five. Director of The Boardroom. And yes, a Millennial. Don’t let that gray hair fool you!

If there is anything I can tell you about Millenials, it is that they demand speed and flexibility—in all aspects of their lives. 

Millennials and Gen Z’ers don’t have the same ideas about settling down as previous generations — geographically or professionally.

Why does this matter?

Because startups that cater to these demands gain huge attention and present massive upside potential to angels.

In fact, last Friday inside The Boardroom, we had an electric rideshare startup close their entire round in 28 minutes.

Today I’m going to talk to you about what I’m seeing in the space…  

It could very well help you spot your next big opportunity…

 

 

The Next Step in the Sharing Economy

 

In the world of angel investing, it can seem like the next big thing is always just around the corner. Often we look back a year or two and think, “If only I had known…

You could have jumped aboard that billion-dollar startup — but the ship has sailed. 

It’s fun to imagine what your life would be like if you had invested in Facebook, Airbnb, or Uber in their early days. But what does it really take to capitalize on an opportunity at the right moment? How can you earn your angel investing wings?

The number one thing to do is keep your eyes on the horizon. Look for the niches and verticals that are just getting ready to blow. 

We made this series, Emerging Industry, for one reason — to put new destinations on your map. We want to give our readers a big heads up on upcoming opportunities in little-known markets. 

Let’s jump right in and see an emerging market with huge potential: Flexible Leasing.

 

What is “Flexible Leasing”

 

Before Airbnb came around, if you were moving to a new city, you had two options — an apartment or a hotel. Before Uber — rental or taxi.

These startups capitalized on gaping holes in traditional real estate and rental markets. They succeeded because they offered consumers new choices

Yet, many people still find themselves between a rock and a hard place in these very same markets. 

If you need a place to crash for a month, a hotel isn’t a viable option. If you want some homey comforts in a new city, you have no choice but to pay the premium, per-day rate of an Airbnb. Your last option would be to go through the ordeal of finding an apartment and lock yourself down with a traditional lease. 

This is where flexible leasing comes in. With a flexible lease, you can rent an apartment, workspace, or even a car, on a flexible month-to-month basis. Forget about overpriced nightly rentals and excessive 3-year leases. 

This new niche gives renters freedom, flexibility, and choice, in an increasingly lean and mobile economy.

In this guide, we will show you what makes flexible leasing startups tick so you can capitalize on their growth.

Make sure to keep in mind the 8 strategies to succeed as an angel investor and pay special attention to our list of what flags these companies for success down below.

 

How Flexible Leasing Works

 

Here’s how it all goes down.

A flexible office space business leases an entire floor of office space in a great location. Then, their team of experts renovates the space, dividing it into modern, fully equipped office spaces. 

Now, remote workers, startups, or even big businesses can rent out the amount of space they need on a flexible basis.

Time to downsize? No problem — you can adjust your plan.

Need to move? Sure thing — you can pick up and go at the end of the week. You aren’t tied to a specific amount of space, price, or length of time. 

Even better, your team will never need to change the ink in the printer, pay utilities, or restock the coffee. The flex-leasing company’s team takes care of that. It’s a total hands-off solution, perfect for mobile and lean workers and businesses. 

Moving to a new city, leasing a car, or starting a business just got a whole lot easier. Like — download an app and do it in 15 minutes — kind of easy.

Is this starting to make sense? Flexible leasing eliminates all the fluff and headache usually associated with major purchases and huge life choices.

Connections to the Sharing Economy

 

Stage one of the flex-lease economy was the shared office.

While companies like WeWork have made shared offices a hot topic in recent years, this style of workspace has actually been around for a while.

Companies like Uber and Airbnb were born out of shared office culture. The founders and their teams worked and grew in these shared spaces. This is where they forged their billion-dollar ideas.

The sharing economy has taken over almost every aspect of our daily lives. So why has no shared workspace or other flex-lease startup come close to the incredible heights of these sharing giants?

We’re in luck — it seems that the pieces are now in place for flexible leasing companies to finally take off. 

Exciting new startups are now coming full-circle and learning from the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world. These businesses are creating entirely new methods of living, working, driving, and sharing.

 

Flexible Leasing Success Stories

 

In a very short time, we have seen several flex-lease startups leave investor’s mouths watering. 

Let’s have a look at the major sectors utilizing flexible strategies and see what companies are making waves.

 

Flexible Office Space

 

From 2010 to today, the U.S. flexible office space market has grown by 800%. 

You may be aware of the incredible rise — and partial fall — of WeWork.

Interestingly, it seems that the flubs of this market leader have not discouraged similar businesses. Rather, it has inspired them

They see this as a perfect opportunity to seize market share and change perceptions. Startups like Knotel, Industrious, and Spaces are making moves, securing investments, and growing rapidly.

Between 2018 and 2019, flex-office provider, Common Desk, grew by 255%. Meanwhile, Florida-based startup, Venture X, clocked in a whopping 333% growth. 

These changes in leasing activity show a major shift in thinking by renters. Today, businesses, large and small, are looking for agility in their real estate portfolios. This shift is what allows flexible office startups to thrive.

These spaces have appeal to individual workers, startups, and major corporations alike. Young startups are now ripe to storm into this space with fresh ideas and eat up the demand.

 

Flexible Apartments

 

Flex-lease companies are filling in the grey area between the sharing economy and traditional leasing.

Flexible apartment company, Blueground, is changing the shape of hospitality by reducing the complexity of getting an apartment.

They target individuals who are moving to a city for as little as a month and provide them with fully furnished apartments at the click of a button. To do this, Blueground signs long-term leases with landlords and owners before redesigning, furnishing, and subletting them to you and me. 

CEO Alex Chatzieleftheriou says this system offers spaces three times the size of a hotel room for 30 to 50% less money. 

To date, Blueground has secured a total of $28 million in funding and is now ready to expand to 50,000 total flexible units over the next 5 years.

This market is still mostly untapped and many young startups are poised to compete for a share of the market.

 

Flexible Car Leasing

 

The most earth-shaking potential in this industry comes from the automotive world.

The flexible car leasing company, Fair, was a small startup just a short time ago. Now, they are swimming in investments.

After successful investments from angels, the company received an incredible $385 million investment from Japanese investment giant, Softbank

So — what makes Fair so special? 

By simply downloading an app, taking a picture of your driver’s license, and plugging in your bank details, you can lease a car instantly. 

That’s right — no paperwork, deep credit check, or used car salesmen required. 

First off, this is big news for frequent travelers, immigrants, and Millenials who crave quick and cheap access to short-term vehicles.

But what’s really amazing is that Fair is doing what Uber tried and failed to do — unlock the full potential of ridesharing. Uber took a crack at flexible leasing and it, well, flopped.

Historically, millions of potential ridesharers have been unable to drive because they had no access to a vehicle. Poor credit scores, inability to afford a lease or car insurance, or frequent travel pushed these potential drivers out. Now, because of startups like Fair, the driving market is set to explode.

For now, this is Uber and Fair‘s win. But moving forward, all rideshare startups will want to partner with flexible car leasing companies. No one company can meet the global demand for flexible car leasing and ridesharing.

Startups like Turo, that focuses on leasing luxury and sports cars, are already settling into their own little chunks of the flexible car market. 

 

What Marks This Industry for Success?

 

So let’s be real — why should you care?

This all sounds great, but there are tons of investment opportunities today. Why should you put flexible leasing on your plate?

The truth is, the fundamentals of this industry just touch on so many key indicators of success. Don’t believe me? Let’s go through them.

 

1. They put the customer experience above all.

 

One of the main indicators of success for any company today is its customer experience. Startups that succeed in this space always understand that. Utilitarian transactions aren’t enough — brands need to build a relationship with their customers. 

This is about raising customer lifetime value and creating a brand identity.

Smart businesses know that customer acquisition is difficult. In a world of immense competition, one of the best strategies is to make sure your customer feels personally connected to the product/service. This means identifying with users and building communities. 

It’s these branding intangibles that decide whether the ship floats or sinks. Flex-leasing is all about connecting to consumers, building communities, and giving them choice and freedom.

 

2. They are capitalizing on cultural changes.

 

Today, people demand more speed and flexibility in every aspect of their lives. 

Millennials and Gen Z’ers don’t have the same ideas about settling down as previous generations — geographically or professionally. 

They expect omnichannel experiences and even the most difficult transactions to happen in just a few clicks. 

This, along with changes in working culture, has led to a greater demand for shared, flexible workspaces. 

Remote workers, frequent travelers, and digital nomads are opting for flexible leases over per-night Airbnb premiums or long-term leases.

According to Owl Labs, as of 2019, 62% of workers do some amount of remote work, and 30% work remotely full-time. The study, State of Remote Work 2019, also shows that remote workers are 2.2 times more likely to earn six figures than on-site workers. 

To top it all off, remote workers say they’re happy in their job 29% more than on-site workers. 

Flexible leasing is creeping right in to meet these cultural changes. When remote workers need equipped spaces to work, network, and collaborate for cheap, flexible office space will be there waiting for them.

This is a perfect solution for the new, mobile economy.

3. These are startups serving startups.

 

The boom of entrepreneurship today is huge. There is a massive culture surrounding startups that extends well beyond Silicon Valley.

Flexible leasing is an industry that serves the startup community — the founders and their teams alike. 

Fast-growing startups rely on remote workers and collaborative, lean workspaces. They need nimble real estate options and flexible services that can grow or shrink with them.

With traditional leasing structures, startups are punished for expansion. Needing to wait out a 3-year lease when it’s time to move and grow is a major setback. It’s even worse for startups that need to downsize and are stuck in a contract they can no longer afford.

These scenarios can make or break a business.

Flexible leasing allows businesses to be lean. Instead of investing in a long-term workspace, they can lease just what they need this month. They’ll get all the bells and whistles, without the experts needed to build it. No strings attached.

 

Sitting in the Sweet Spot

 

Right now, this niche seems ripe for the taking. It’s just early enough that many startups will be able to secure extreme growth. And if you look around, you’ll see it’s not on everyone’s radar. 

The ideas that define flexible leasing seem tangible, even logical. This movement is riding the wake of the sharing economy and capitalizing on rapidly shifting ideas of how work should be, and how individuals should live their lives.

Over the next 5 or so years, I don’t doubt that we will see major success stories popping up in this area. Keep your eye out, and don’t miss them.

Ready to cash in on the next generation of startups? Start investing in hand-picked deals today with Angel Investing Insider!

Author: Chris Graebe

Dear Angel Investor,

Chris Graebe here. 

I’ve gotta say, it’s a great time to be an angel investor. I’m reminded of it daily by the many interesting startups who pitch The Boardroom.

But, just because they are “interesting” doesn’t mean they make the cut.

90% of startups fail—and it’s my job to find the 1% who don’t just succeed, but hit a home run.

Those are the kinds of companies that could actually change the world… And make their investors very, very rich.  

That’s why, when I spot a company that’s led by an incredible founder and is clearly addressing a pain-point in a market, I always get fired up.

The company I’m sharing with you in today’s Startup Spotlight checks both of those boxes and more.

The founder is a passionate visionary on a mission to reduce the frustration and hassle parents’ experience when clothes shopping for their kids.

This one’s near and dear to my heart, folks, as a father of five.

One box at a time.

They’ve taken the kids’ clothing industry by storm and recently gained Foot Locker’s support — $12.5 million worth of support.

 

Startup Spotlight – Rockets of Awesome

 

A lot of people just didn’t like the name, but I think it’s awesome.

 

Rockets of Awesome is a personal shopping service and apparel brand for kids’ clothes. While they offer traditional e-commerce, their specialty is a quarterly subscription box to help alleviate the pain-points that parents experience around shopping for kids’ clothing.

Customers fill out their kids’ preferences, from favorite colors to if they like to wear stripes or polka dots. With all of this detailed information, Rockets of Awesome leverages its data science capabilities to individually create a box and deliver it to the customer, seamlessly.

 

Rachel Blumenthal – CEO and Founder, Rockets of Awesome

 

Rachel Blumenthal, a serial entrepreneur, started her career at Yves Saint Laurent, where she worked in a creative environment, but her role was not creative.

One weekend, she made a ring and decided to wear it to work. The editors from Lucky Magazine, colleagues of Rachel’s at the time, saw the ring and decided to feature her as a designer in an upcoming issue. Rachel wasn’t a designer and had never designed a piece of jewelry before that weekend.

She studied economics, but always “sort of” viewed herself as a creative. The feature in Lucky led to a feature in Daily Candy, which led Rachel to set up a company in her living room. That livingroom-born business launched when she was 24. 

She didn’t know she was on the path to becoming a serial entrepreneur. Instead, Rachel thought she would go the business school route and strive to become the president of a company, someday. 

Boy, was she wrong!

She went on to build a fashion jewelry company called Rachel Leigh, which she ran for eight years. The brand was in 500 retailers worldwide and was private labeled for American Eagle, Target, and J. Crew.

She then launched a company called Crickett Circle, her first venture into the tech and startup world. Crickett Circle was essentially the blueprint of what to buy when you have a baby. It was a solution for parents and did the work for them, which is a foundational element of Rockets of Awesome.

Blumenthal saw the opportunity to build Rockets of Awesome after observing the success of innovative direct-to-consumer (D2C) ventures like Warby Parker, Casper, and Harry’s. 

Harry’s in particular, the D2C razor company that was acquired by Edgewell Personal Care for $1.37 billion, identified a problem and, while solving it, continued to deliver exceptional customer service and great value to customers. 

What was glaringly obvious to Blumenthal was that parents, arguably the busiest segment of all consumers, had nobody working to make their lives easier…

 

Another Dive Into the Subscription Box Waters

 

A few months back, in our Startup Spotlight on BarkBox, we expressed just how challenging it is for a subscription box startup to successfully break into the scene.

They’re usually going up against a ton of competitors, many of which are big-box retailers with massive brand recognition and deep pockets. If that wasn’t enough, with a clothing box, startups have to navigate the ugly waters of members not liking the products they get in their shipment.

The only “pay for what you keep” model in the subscription space helps alleviate and reduce the pressure of not liking a few items in the shipment. Rockets of Awesome has gone the extra mile to let both the parent and child preview the quarterly shipment in advance. They take customer experience a step further by offering free membership, free shipping, and free returns. 

The reason why a subscription box made sense for Rockets of Awesome was pretty simple if you understand kid’s clothing. The quarterly seasons match up quite nicely with the time it takes a kid to grow out of their clothes. It’s a purchase that parents would already be making — why not do the work for them with a brilliant needs-based solution?

For busy parents, especially moms and dads who work, they don’t have time to shop. Blumenthal questioned why somebody couldn’t use technology to understand a child’s preferences, predict when they’re going to need new clothes based on growth, and effectively bring the product to the convenience of their home.

She built it. 

 

Flying Past the Competition

 

Before going into the competitive landscape Rockets of Awesome is taking on, let’s first have a look at a notable failure in the space.

Some big-box retailers including Old Navy have tried this model but have failed. Old Navy offered a quarterly box priced at $69.99. Never heard of it? That’s because it didn’t last long. You see, Old Navy didn’t have a seamless shopping experience or effectively alleviate the pain-points of shopping online. 

Rockets of Awesome is designing and manufacturing their own brand of apparel, in kids’ sizes 3 to 12, with price points of $16-$38. Similar to Gap Kids and Zarra. However, the quality is much nicer, more similar to J. Crew or some European brands. Early on, the brand was seen as a kind of Stitch Fix for the under-12 set, but over the last three years, it has expanded to much beyond.

 

Biggest Competition: Stitch Fix Kids

 

Stitch Fix Kids launched on July 10, 2018, and is currently one of Rockets of Awesome’s largest competitors, given its name recognition. Stitch Fix is available in sizes 2T-14, with prices ranging from $10-$35 per item. Kids Fixes include 8-12 items from brands including Under Armour, Nike, TOMS, Threads 4 Thought and more.

Stitch Fix has its own exclusive brand, Rumi + Ryder, a line of everyday essentials for boys and girls. The way it works is that customers pay a $20 styling fee, which is applied to any product purchased in their child’s Fix. Customers purchase what they want, and return the rest with free shipping and returns.

The Stitch Fix Kids offering is fundamentally different than that of Rockets of Awesome, as they offer clothes from brands that you can purchase in many other locations. Rockets of Awesome differentiates itself by only selling its own brand.

Other notable competition in this space currently includes Kidpik, Kidbox, and H&M Kids.  

 

A Vertically Integrated Brand with Business Partners Built for Scale

 

Being vertically integrated is a big part of being a successful direct-to-consumer brand. Blumenthal worked closely with the founders at Warby Parker (her husband, Neil Blumenthal, is one of the founders) on a go-to-market plan, brand design, and the first couple collections sourced from China.

Rockets of Awesome has put an intensive capital investment into designing and manufacturing its clothing in-house. The team designs clothing that they feel is missing from the market, with materials that are soft but also durable since kids get messy.

They implemented a vertical integration strategy in the right way. They grew slowly and made sure their production and supply chain was in a place to allow them to scale quickly when the time came. Having previously focused more on the health and economics of the business, now Rockets of Awesome is prepared for rapid growth and to take their vertically integrated company to the masses.

In terms of the health of the business from a cash perspective, Rockets of Awesome has raised $19.5M in a Series C round led by Foot Locker, with participation from existing investors including Forerunner Ventures, August Capital, Burda, Signalfire, and General Catalyst.

This brings its total funding to date to nearly $50 million. They also boast celebrity investors like Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams who have even been caught with matching Rockets of Awesome outfits on their daughters. 

 

From Online to Brick-and-Mortar

 

Online-first D2C businesses have started venturing into the not-so-profitable retail space. However, many of these brands do not treat retail as a profit center of the business. D2C brands are using their physical stores as an experience as well as a marketing channel.

Brands like Casper and Warby Parker have used these stores as showrooms that allow consumers to directly touch and feel the brands’ products. This strategy also allows them to target customers who may not feel comfortable buying a product without seeing it first. 

Now fueled by Foot Lock funding, Rockets of Awesome is expanding into retail. As with any lean startup, Rockets of Awesome tested retail with its opening of a pop-up shop, and eventually converted it into a permanent location.

Rockets of Awesome has also launched its own “mini-stores” within Kids Foot Locker stores, as well as a collection on the Kids Foot Locker website. Blumenthal is excited to get access to more moms, as she recognizes the value of Foot Locker’s presence in every major mall in the United States.

Digiday recently conducted an interview with 12 direct-to-consumer companies. They all expressed that their online sales were greater in cities that had physical stores. The push into retail will also allow Rockets of Awesome to directly tap into the back-to-school market. With Foot Locker as a partner, this is especially important because of Foot Locker’s success during the late summer. 

 

Celebrating Life With Kids, But Also Profiting

 

Rockets of Awesome is developing a scalable e-commerce system that powers a business with massive market opportunities. They have a best-in-class data science system and a vertically integrated supply chain that allows for continuous improvement and personalization of the product offering.

Look for Rockets of Awesome to continue to build their brand recognition, as they leverage their latest round of invested capital and the expertise and resources that Foot Locker provides. Founded on the principle of celebrating real life with real kids, Rockets of Awesome is primed for takeoff. 

Author: Chris Graebe

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