Just as an elaborate wedding does not necessarily lead to a good marriage, neither does a successful Kickstarter project lead to a sustainable, scaleable, long-term business.
Daily Grommet is an online marketplace and product launch platform for up-and-coming consumer products. Many of the companies featured on the site launched successful crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but then they found themselves faced with the monumental task of getting their products to market. Once the flowers are cleared, the cake is packed up, and all the guests are gone, the Daily Grommet steps in to help entrepreneurs with the nitty-gritty of running a business.
“Crowdfunding captured people’s imaginations and made it seem heroic and interesting to participate in physical products being born,” said founder Jules Pieri in an interview with VentureBeat. “But the misperception is that then the game is done. My point of view is that crowdfunding platforms yield products but not businesses, and that initial market acceptance is not deep enough to ensure a product can go the distance. Our job is to collaborate with these platforms and the entrepreneurs to help people realize their dreams.”
Pieri and her team receive hundreds of ideas a week from various sources. They vet the proposals considering values they think people care about, like “Made in the USA,” eco-friendly, social missions, and compelling stories. Each week, they feature five products with original video content and data about their sales, social media response, supply chain, and operations. Then the “citizen commerce” element kicks into gear: People in the community offer feedback about the products. According to Pieri, Daily Grommet’s community is representative of the wider consumer community and how a product fares within the test group is representative of how it will do out in the real world.
If response is positive, the ultimate goal is to help the company behind it achieve their business goals. In some cases, this could be national distribution, while for others it could be getting their products into high-end, elite stores.
“Retail is a secretive, old-fashioned, relationship and luck driven industry,” Pieri said. “It is not only difficult to break into, but also difficult to succeed. Consumers these days want to know what businesses are doing for the world and they want innovation, but the more innovative a product is, the less likely it is to do well in retail with our a story or assistance. We are always searching for tomorrow’s big product.”
Pieri grew up in Detroit as the daughter of factory workers. She said she spent her whole life around people who made things, which led her to become the first industrial designer at Harvard Business School. She worked for computer and telecom equipment companies and consumer products brands and cofounded multiple startups.
She started Daily Grommet in 2008 to combine all these areas of expertise and level the playing field for consumer products, which represent 65 percent of the U.S. economy. Over the past four years, 1,600 new products and companies have participated on the platform: things like Fitbit and even baked goods. The Boston-based company closed its second round of funding in August 2012 and is using that financing build out the marketplace and forge relationships with retailers.