Mobile phones are ubiquitous and we feel lost without them. They’re also intrusive. While we’ve seen a number of wearables that alert us when we’re getting a call, text or notification, the truth is, they’re not always that attractive, and isn’t that pretty much key to launching a successful line of wearable?
That’s what sets Ringly apart. They’re wearables that are actually fashionable, and subtly alert you when you’re getting that important notification you’ve been waiting for. Without disrupting whatever was going on at the time.
Let’s be honest: when it comes to jewelry, looks matter. And wearables need to be about form and function. And with Ringly, you’re always in control of which messages come through. Another reason why it’s called smart jewelry.
Founder and CEO Christina Mercando tells us what moved investors like Andreessen Horowitz to write the check and where the fashionable line is setting their sights next.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $5.1M in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from High Line Venture Partners, Silas Capital, PCH and others. We’re also proud of the follow-on investments from our early stage partners, First Round Capital, Mesa+, Social+Capital and Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.
Tell us about your product.
Our first collection of rings, launched this past year, allows women to stay on top of their notifications discreetly, and without surrendering their individual style. The rings, currently crafted with an 18k matte gold finish and precious and semi-precious stones, notify the wearer about different notifications through vibration and a subtle light integrated into the side of the jewelry. You’ll notice it, but no one else should.
The notifications can be customized to the things that are most important, whether it’s an upcoming meeting, an urgent call from the babysitter, texts from your significant other, or a Snapchat pic. The point is that you’re in control of what comes through. The ring complements — not replaces — a phone you have nearby, whether in your car, purse, pocket, or elsewhere.
What inspired you to start the company?
I continued to miss calls and texts from my friends and family because my phone was in my purse and I hated leaving it on the table during social outings. I also disliked feeling so dependent on and chained to my phone. I started to realize that most of my friends were having the same issue, so I thought to myself – “what if I could make my jewelry smart?” I wear a lot of jewelry, particularly rings, and started working on early prototypes of Ringly. I got really excited about creating an elegant solution to the problem of missing calls and texts – first and foremost, I wanted to create something that women would get excited about wearing.
How is it different?
There are a lot of wearable products on the market today, but all of them lack the aesthetic quality that women are looking for when they shop for accessories. Many technology companies building wearable tech products are making products that are “unisex” or modular. We are taking a different approach by making the technology discreet and creating products that our customer would want to buy even if it didn’t include technology.
What are the most popular colors, that you’ve seen so far?
“Daydream” and “Dive Bar” are our most popular styles so far.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We believe fashion consumers of all kinds are ready for wearable tech as long as it’s not geeky or gadgety.
What’s your business model?
Were currently selling our collection direct to consumers from our website. We will start selling through other online and brick and mortar retailers and expanding our collection in the near future.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We started raising capital before we started shipping our products so we had seek out investors who were willing to take a bet on the space.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
The wearables space has a lot of opportunity and Ringly is the leader in the smart jewelry category. We’ve also shown a lot of progress and demand for the product without spending a lot of capital to do so and have a really strong team.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Keep at it and try to prove demand early on. Especially for Hardware companies, there are a lot of ways to show how big your market is through crowdfunding and pre-sales campaigns.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
Miniaturization for us is key, not just because it creates that “distance” from obvious tech, but because it allows jewelry designers and artists the freedom to create on top of and around it without restrictions. So this year, we’ll be expanding our collection, adding new features and introducing partnerships with fashion brands and designers to create a wider variety of new designs — all with the technology embedded and invisible.
What’s your favorite neighborhood restaurant?
I live in Greenpoint and I love Glasserie for special occasions, Paulie Gee’s for Pizza and Pencil Factory for a beer.