How great would it be to have four birthdays a year? Quarterly has raised $3.25 million to make you feel like you do.
Quarterly is a startup based in Hollywood that offers a subscription service for gifts. Upon signing up, you subscribe to any of Quarterly’s “influential contributors” you find interesting, and every few months, you will receive a package with little gifts from those people. The products are intended to reflect the person who selected them and make the subscriber feel closer to them. Items could be the favorite tea of a musician you like or the same kind of notebook that an admired writer uses. Each contributor charges a different amount, and you can subscribe to as many as you want.
Most of the contributors on the site are bloggers, entrepreneurs, or media figures. Make magazine founder Mark Frauenfelder and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian are participating as well as nontech people like the chefs behind L.A.’s famous Animal restaurant and a DJ Skee. Quarterly also offers themed packages like “Unclutterer” or “Better living through the Internet” that the team curates itself.
Getting packages in the mail is fun. There is something undeniably exciting about receiving a box filled with unknown treasures and tearing it open. I’ll admit that a little thrill that goes up my spine every time an Amazon order arrives, even if it is just toilet paper. However, there is a big difference between gifts picked out for you by loved ones, or those you picked out yourself, and gifts you have no control over sent by strangers.
The Internet and social media has created an entirely new paradigm for the way celebrities connect to their fans, and vice versa. Twitter and Instagram have broken down many of the barriers that used to exist and celebrities now engage directly with their following to promote and maintain their brand. Looking through any of the popular gossip magazines or entertainment television shows makes it clear that Americans are obsessed with getting glimpses into the lives of the rich and famous.
Quarterly is attempting to capitalize on this culture by providing a new way to bridge the gap between celebrities and the rest of us. However, its contributors don’t have the same dedicated and obsessive followings as people like Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake. I question how many people would shell out $100 to get quarterly shipments of things Tim Ferriss “can’t get out of his head” or $50 to get random gadgets picked by a design blogger. Furthermore, the subscription service model was wildly popular back in 2011 with companies like Birchbox, Trunk Club, NatureBox, ShoeDazzle, and PetFlow rising in popularity. Their success set off a wave of subscription services for everything you could imagine — underwear and socks or Paleo diet-friendly snack food. Investors like startups that can generate recurring revenue, but with so many already out there, are consumers still looking for more services to subscribe to?
Quarterly’s investors seem to think so. True Ventures added $1 million to Quarterly’s previously raised $2.25 million, which came from Collaborative Fund and VegasTechFund. Quarterly is led by Mitch Lowe, who was a cofounder of Netflix and Redbox. He assumed leadership of Quarterly last month. Quarterly was founded in 2011 by Zach Frechette, who also founded GOOD magazine.