New York

Smart 'creative tech' marketplace Grand St. opens up to all

The PowerPot Charger is one of Grand St.'s hottest items

Above: The PowerPot Charger is one of Grand St.'s hottest items

Image Credit: Grand St.

Grand St. has put up the “open for business” sign.

The online marketplace for buying “creative technology” products has taken down its invite-only wall so anyone on the web can check out and buy their products.

Grand St. highlights new tech products on its website each week. But unlike most other online markets, Grand St.’s seven employees thoroughly test each item before deciding whether to sell it. If Grand St. decides to sell an item, it purchases a number of items from the product’s makers and then writes promotional copy and takes photos of the units.

Aaron Henshaw, a cofounder of Grand St., told VentureBeat that many of the products on the site originated on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or the like. But he insists that they won’t sell a “beta” product that has an unacceptably high fail rate.

“A lot of these products don’t have a home,” Henshaw said. “Many makers and creators say marketing is a pain point for them. We can take care of a lot of that.”

Grand St. is also using today to launch the “Grand St. Collection,” a group of 11 items that will be available for purchase at any time. The products in the collection are essentially the most popular items ever sold on Grand St.

Two products from that collection that emphasize Grand St.’s approach are the PowerPot Charger, which uses excess heat to help you charge your phone; and the SideKIC, which is a $170 sous vide cooking device that would normally retail for $500 or more.

Henshaw said the site has seen a lot of growth in the past six months even with the invite-only wall. Many of its products sold out or were wait-listed during the beta period, and it also launched an Android app two weeks ago. The Android app is seeing plenty of attention, with 25 percent of Grand St. usage already coming from it, 60 percent coming from the desktop site, and 15 percent coming from its mobile web site. Henshaw also noted that customers have increased by 15 percent in the last four weeks.

The New York City-based company has raised $1.3 million in seed funding from investors including First Round Capital, David Tisch’s BoxGroup, Gary Vaynerchuk, betaworks, Collaborative Fund, MESA+, Quotidian Ventures, and Undercurrent.

Here’s a full list of products in Grand St.’s permanent collection so you can get a better idea of what it sells:

Bosavi: This is an LED headlamp that mounts to just about anything and functions as a lantern with the help of its environmentally friendly packaging. Its lithium polymer battery can draw power any USB source, including solar and kinetic chargers, ensuring that you are never left in the dark.

Cosmonaut: This stylus is designed to be weighted perfectly and easy to hold. It raised three times its Kickstarter goal.

Hone: This Bluetooth 4.0 LE, open-source device supposedly eliminates the possibility of misplacing your keys by sending a signal directly from your keychain to your iPhone.

Blink Steady: This bike light is made of solid aluminum and handcrafted in Brooklyn.

Pax: The Pax by Ploom: “…for all your hand-held botanical vaporization needs indoors and out.”

PowerPot: It’s a thermoelectric minigenerator embedded in a camping mess kit that converts heat from an open flame into enough power to charge any USB device. It’s well suited to camping, backpacking, or emergencies.

Sensordrone: It adds multisensor functionality to your smartphone and opens up a “world of hardware connectivity.”

SideKIC: Designed to be compact for storage and used with any size pot or bowl, the aptly named SideKIC (Kitchen Immersion Circulator) is the good way to introduce sous vide cooking to your kitchen.

Touchfire: An iPad keyboard without the keyboard. The Touchfire will improve your accuracy and speed and will seamlessly fold away when you’re not using it.

Waka Waka Power: This is a light and a battery backup powered by the sun. You can use it to charge nearly any smartphone, and it doubles as a bright lantern that can provide up to 100 hours of light.

Card Ninja: It’s a soft fabric-based card and cash holder that attaches to the back of any smartphone and nixes the need to carry your wallet separately.