Funding Friday: Three Projects I Like

It’s funding friday. Time for some crowdfunding. Here are three projects I like:

I have backed the first and last projects and think the Greycork deal looks interesting.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    You just can’t get over that convertible note, right?

    1. jason wright

      The note becomes a sofa bed?

  2. awaldstein

    Greycork does look interesting depending on how well they nail the branding and ecommerce/support pieces.Huge innovation going on in ecommerce for men’s clothing and custom sports/technology clothing companies.Some like Mack Wheldon on the clothing and super tech innovator Enerskin are really breaking new grounds. A lot of copycats are falling short though.More than half the product is how you sell and support it.

    1. LE

      To me Mack Weldon is another bullshit company with an invented hipster name executing decent marketing.A quick check shows as only one example how overpriced the underwear is. [1] Are millennials pissing money away on this stuff? $19.50 for one brief? $14.50 for a pair of socks? [2]What are the new grounds that Mack Weldon is breaking as I am not seeing it.[1]…[2] The $34 100% cotton tshirt appears reasonable though most places are offering cotton/poly which I don’t like….

      1. awaldstein

        That is because your are acting like an armchair critic and not a user with an open mind.I buy their products and love them.Quality is terrific they are cut for my size and their site rocks, their ordering rocks, their returns rock.Completely new ground.And a monstrous success. He is called the Steve Jobs of Men’s Underwear by the WSJ-and I think he just may be.

        1. LE

          Well how the fuck do I get to be a user if the marketing keeps me being an armchair critic? Are you saying that the average person will just try something because they are willing to take a chance on a marketing message that doesn’t appeal to them? That all business is by word of mouth for a product like this?Monstrous might be reserved for something like Tesla reservations for it’s new model perhaps.He is called the Steve Jobs of Men’s Underwear by the WSJ-and I think he just may be.Seriously? Give me a break. Underwear? It makes that much of a difference in someone’s life?And a monstrous success.”Monstrous success”? What’s the metric for that? I am seeing they raised a Series A and have some nice buzz. Have you read info stating they are actually profitable and even cash flow positive?

          1. awaldstein

            A pleasure to disagree with almost everything you say.You are not the market. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one.I would never waste moment going after customers who don’t want to be one.Neither would you.

          2. Supratim Dasgupta

            Profitability and cash flow positive is not their goal. The goal is to use VC money on marketing and generate enough buzz so that they get acquired by some bigger player and the VC and Entrepreneur pocket the big the expense of the foolish customer who bought from them because of the hype a substandard or even a decent product at a premium price. read the Dollar Shave Club story.

        2. Supratim Dasgupta

          The Polo Ralph Laurens I bought on Sale in 2008 still are going strong. I paid 3 for 29.99 then. Mack Weldon has ~57000 likes on facebook. So 57000 people bough Macks and liked on facebook? Steve Jobs invented ipod,ipad,macbook and iphone. Mack Weldon invented underwear? All marketing speak. And we will see more of these companies crop up after Dollar Shave aquisition. Dollar shave has 2.8M likes on FB whereas Dorco has 94k likes only. Dollar Shave doesnt manufacture the razors, Dorco does and DSC buys from them and sells at a huge premium. Then why is so much discrepancy in popularity. Marketing hype is the answer. not the quality of product.Where does the marketing money come from? VCs. So who is paying extra for the hype ? Consumer. So who is the loser? Consumer..because the VC and the Entrepreneuer walked away with the cool 1 billion dollars.

      2. Matt Zagaja

        I usually buy whatever is cheapest at Kohls.

    2. Sebastien Latapie

      Also like ministry of supply for office clothes

      1. awaldstein

        I’ll check them out. Ecommerce sites for mens clothes and clothes generally are amazing.I bought some jeans online the other day (searching for name). Smartest fitting videos imaginable and you pick two sizes–you keep the one you want and send the other back free, or both back free for a refund.They get that customer acquisition is everything and if you become a customer, you may be for life.

    3. Matt Zagaja

      Bonobos got me hooked on their denim/jeans. Expensive but the fit/style is really nice.

      1. awaldstein

        I want to try that one.ECommerce is just breaking boundaries with men’s clothes and individualized remedial compression workout clothing.A new revolution is most certainly going on

  3. Peter Connor

    Grey Lock is like Ikea meets Muji

  4. Jess Bachman

    The Greycork furniture just doesn’t look comfortable to me. I have never expereinced one of these minimalist sofas that remained comfortable long enough to get through a movie without having to adjust all over the place.They are more expensive than Ikea and look less comfortable. I dont’ see the value prop at all.

    1. Sebastien Latapie

      Agreed! And Ikea does have many modern offerings that fit the aesthetic they are going for.Also, interesting that the first picture I see on their website prominently displays a herman miller chair (which retails for $500) and not their product.

  5. jason wright

    What’s happened in Louisiana?

    1. Jess Bachman

      Global warming.

      1. jason wright

        I’m avoiding the Olympics and so news consumption has been off my menu for the past two weeks. What’s happened?

        1. Jess Bachman

          Just another one of those 1,000 year rainfalls.

          1. DJL

            And no visit from Obama? Too busy on vacation with rich people on Martha’s Vineyard, I guess.

          2. Jess Bachman

            Have you been to Martha’s Vineyard? It’s really quite nice this time of year.

          3. LE

            He is not running for re-election and it won’t impact his legacy.What I find interesting though is the fact that he feels the need to get in vacation time when his job will be ending in less than 6 months and he will have all the time in the world to golf or whatever.Or he could spend the time campaigning for Hillary. You know leave no stone unturned. The extra effort could make the difference between winning or not and once again “insuring his legacy”.I also get a kick out of the entire Martha’s Vineyard thing and trying to be JFK with Michelle trying to be Jackie O with her fashion sense. Why not bring new fame and economic benefit to a different part of the country? He has no ties that I know of to that area at all.In the end he is just doing what is in his best interest. Which I only highlight not disagree with actually.

    2. creative group

      Jason wright:Natural disaster married with people refusing to leave living below sea level. We sincerely send out condolences to those who have lost life, family etc. Now those left behind move. People who survived Katina migrated to states that provided better living conditions and standard of living.President Obama isn’t receiving enough pressure and criticism for not responding to those in need effected by the Louisiana floods. (No need for Conservatives to make an attempt to attach it to the failings of W Bush and Katrina)All Presidents no matter the party affiliation should be held accountable to addressing natural disasters.If the Conservative machines inability to demonize President Obama over seven years failed beyond their base then don’t expect this Flood to harm his high ratings.#Termlimits#Unequivocally&UnapologeticallyIndependent#TrueIndependent

      1. LE

        Well at least we know it’s not black or white it’s just poor that gets the shaft and less attention.

      2. Susan Rubinsky

        So, do you think we should move the populations of NYC (NY Metro Area), Washington DC, and Miami (to name a few) — that’s about 30+ Million people, the federal government, major companies, Wall St, etc — to other locations due to the inevitable deluge which is coming due to climate change? And, if so, what kind of strategic plan did you have in mind?Here’s a map where you can check projected water rise – http://choices.climatecentr

        1. creative group

          Susan Rubinsky:The enclosed link is a start for those in areas effected the most. Paying out federal flood insurance and fund raising every storm cycle to rebuild in same area of probability of recurrence isn’t prudent. We realize there will be emotional replies not based upon facts but that is the territory for talking straight. There are other states suited for population increases but why even suggest. The earth could consume an entire section of the United States and people would still stay in that effected area.…#Termlimits#Unequivocally&UnapologeticallyIndependent#TrueIndependent

  6. creative group

    We get the concept but ultimately comfort is the only selling point worth promoting. We support the mattress concept in this space locally.

  7. Taher Hassonjee

    As a millennial, I want to point out that Greycork does not strike me as “low cost.” I looked at buying furtinture from them during a recent move and ultimately settled on buying from Overstock and Amazon. Both have better prices, more options, and furniture with enough reviews to provide me with comfort in the quality.

    1. LE

      A *quick* check of the website seems to indicate that it’s the same shit that is made in China that is the mainstay of furniture these days. There is nothing to indicate it is made in the USA and the fact that it doesn’t say where it is made gives you all of the info that you need to know. My guess is if it was made in some exotic high quality country they would have that in the marketing materials (if I missed it somebody can point that out of course). What they really are is a marketing organization more than anything.…I recently purchased a very durable office couch from a commercial furniture dealer. My delivered cost was roughly $1200 and it is built to last because it’s built for office use.These days, Hickory is still suffering from a series of economic shocks, none more powerful than China’s rise as an export power. The invasion of imported furniture drove factories out of business, erased thousands of jobs and helped drive unemployment above 15% in 2010.

      1. john humphrey

        Hey LE, all our furniture is manufactured and assembled in the USA, with some imported raw materials. In other words, we buy rolls of fabric, and sheets of Baltic Birch abroad, bring it into our manufacturing partners in the US and have everything machined here. We’re proud of our manufacturing partnerships so just wanted to chime in here and clear the confusion – we should make this more evident on our site. Also, we’re a design-heavy organization moreso than a marketing organization. Everything is designed in-house by our team. Four out of our seven heads went to RISD, and studied furniture design and industrial design.

        1. LE

          So then why isn’t that front and center on your website? I couldn’t even find it when checking let alone just on a casual browse.

        2. Jess Bachman

          Well it should say “Made in Rhode Island” in huge letters.As a fellow Rhode Islander, this makes me sad.

        3. panterosa,

          I went to RISD and assumed from your address that some of you guys were grads. But it was not evident on your site.BTW I run a design centric biz and can tell you if you don’t master marketing you will be dead in the water after your initial buzz.Wishing you luck!

  8. DJL

    Speaking of Flood Relief – A guy from our home town drove a truck and a smoker grill with 100 pounds of meat right into the floods and fed a huge amount of people on his own dime. Pretty amazing.…(Those darned Christians are always meddling in other people’s business)

  9. Richard

    Millenilans are are entering the Logan’s Run age of 36+. The next 10 years are going to be interesting, just as the late 80s and 90s were.

  10. john humphrey

    John here from Greycork. Thanks Fred for posting, and thanks to all who are commenting and accessing our CircleUp deal room. We have big expectations for Greycork and are excited to continue on the path, continuously improving on the way.

  11. Zach Milam

    I take it as a positive sign that Greycork’s CEO is in here reading and responding to criticism.Greycork is a cool concept. It seems like people in their 20’s and 30’s are incredibly ambivalent about the brand of furniture they buy, in contrast to a lot of other products they buy. I doubt many could name a brand other than IKEA. It seems like a huge void to me. Plenty of opportunity to create a brand people care about.I like the focus on the ease of delivery/assembly. If you want people to buy something, make it easy. It doesn’t make sense that something as small as setting up a time for delivery would keep people from making a relatively large purchase, but it definitely does.

    1. Matt Zagaja

      There are two brands of millennial furniture: IKEA and Craigslist. In a world where you rent apartments instead of own a home, and might end up having to pack-up from NYC to SFO or BOS after a few years for a job/career upgrade the way we like our furniture is standardized, cheap, and easily resold. Currently banking on getting lucky on Allston Christmas in a couple weeks:

      1. Zach Milam

        Good point. People shop for furniture differently when they are going to put it in an apartment for a few years versus putting it in a house forever. This makes price a bigger consideration, but I still think it’s far from the only one. I see a huge gap between IKEA and Herman Miller that this could fill.

  12. creative group

    Contributors:U.S. Department of Education has launched a new experimental initiative in partnership with colleges and universities to enable students to pay for certain coding bootcamps using federal financial aid. Through the Educational Quality through Innovation Partnerships, students will be able to apply for federal financial aid to enroll in one of eight coding bootcamps, online courses or employer programs.Of the eight programs recently selected to participate in EQUIP, four of them are coding bootcamps: The Flatiron School partnered with SUNY Empire State College to offer a certificate program in web development, MakerSquare partnered with the University of Texas-Austin to offer a 13-week web development certificate program, Zip Code Wilmington partnered with Wilmington University to offer a 12-week software development bootcamp and Epicodus partnered with Marylhurst University to offer a 27-week web and mobile development certificate program. The next step is for these bootcamps to set up their programs and submit them to the Department of Education for final approval.Source:

  13. creative group

    Contributors:What is the reason people continue to live in locations that have yearly exposure to natural disasters. From living in Tornado alley, to flood areas, etc.Those unable to move because of financial reasons is understandable. But those who use insurance money to rebuild year after year is just simply not the best decision to use the best term under this current disaster.

  14. panterosa,

    You had me a felt sculpture Fred. It was deeply unpopular to make fiber anything in my Sculpture Dept at art school. But there’s a tactile thing that is charming and fun about touching objects.Why is it barley anyone talked about this compared to the furniture??The felt bodega is so fun and kooky. Rock on to her. I have no idea how she can do this for those prices and make a cent.

  15. Matt Zagaja

    Also confused as to how Greycork is low cost. The standard by which all other furniture is judged in this millennials head is IKEA. When I was buying furniture for my apartment I got mostly IKEA but sprung for a non-IKEA bed set (got a nice bed frame from Sleepy’s, I do not recommend buying anything from them ever as their delivery took 3 attempts before they got it right, but the quality of the bed frame was very nice. I also ended up getting it way under cost because they screwed up the order; the mattress I ordered from Casper). IKEA sells much cheaper furniture. Greycork seems to be high quality with a modern design, angling to be a step up from IKEA but isn’t quite showing it.Honestly I would not have considered Greycork until I found out in the comments it is made in the USA and designed by RISD graduates. Now that I know that I might consider it for my next couch.

  16. Supratim Dasgupta

    Greycork seems very similar to Casper Mattress or Harrys Razors. Mediocre stuff available everywhere that company is trying to sell at an overpriced with spin of marketing using VC money with Cool Subway Ads. Only if they spent the same money in designing better stuff. RISD also means nothing because a lot of furniture brands including IKEA employ top US designers. Sigh…W.R.T to Casper they lock u in with a 100 day free trial but their mattress is not any better than Walmart memory foam you can buy with 1/5th the price. I get extremely wary when new companies put Fastcompany, Refinery29, Forbes logos on their website. Straightaway shows that a new company is focussed more on paid advertising.

  17. LE

    Per my other comment it’s almost certainly made in China. We know this because they don’t talk about where it’s made. So we can assume it’s not Denmark or the USA or even some poor impoverished country that they can spin the marketing around by showing the makers in villages running lathes. If I am wrong someone please point out what I missed.Their argument might be they can’t offer furniture in a competitive price range using US labor, but I disagree.This is a marketing play. They are not into setting up factories and learning how to actually build furniture. I agree with what you are saying that it’s possible by the way but this is not the crew to do that. Imagine if you needed to do your baking by outsourcing to an existing manufacturer? That is the position that they have put themselves in, having to deal with legacy manufacturers with their existing labor force and work practices. It’s harder to do that than to just write marketing copy and do the spin, agree?Honestly I think that what the entrepreneurs are doing here is a waste of talent (assuming it’s there of course) and brainpower. [1]Edit: Founder pointed out in a comment that they use imported materials but machining and mfg. is in the US. I asked why that wasn’t detailed on the website it’s clearly a point that needs to be made.[1] Reminds me of the “untuckit” shirt commercials. Guy identifies a problem that he has “shirt that doesn’t look right when not tucked in” and (according the the tv commercial it “became my life’s passion”. Life’s passion? I mean seriously he probably thinks he is contributing greatly to society by doing that? At least I admit I am just trying to earn a living by what I do.

  18. john humphrey

    Charlie – thanks for this constructive feedback.

  19. Jess Bachman

    Agree to all that. As a designer there are a several things about their site that gives me pause as well. Stuff that really feels like “fresh design school graduate”.

  20. Supratim Dasgupta

    In the same argument, Ny Fabric convenience store also is useless idea. I wonder how such ideas get backers, stuff that contributes in no way to solving any real problem the society is dealing with.

  21. Supratim Dasgupta

    Not True. And would appreciate discussion supported with data points.

  22. awaldstein

    Disagree.Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to express.Not everyone is entitled to a reasoned response to refute opinions based on conjecture and misinformation

  23. Supratim Dasgupta

    All I am saying is lot of companies become popular purely on marketing hype. And i gave my example of Dollar Shave Club which ships Dorco products. One is immensely popular and got acquired the other one which actually builds the product did not get much hype and did not get acquired. What does Dollar Shave Club have that Dorco doesnt? Marketing Dollars funded by VC. Hence even after selling dorco products at super premium they are still not profitable…Here is another article on why DSC is all marketing selling vaporware.http://www.businessinsider….Fooling customers with cool subway ads selling substandard products at super premium is good business from Entreprenuer, VC and Marketing firm standpoint. The only one who looses is the unsuspecting customer.

  24. Supratim Dasgupta

    Would you please care to explain it in the context of what happened with DSC and Dorco? It would be easier for me to understand please?