Let’s be honest: we’re basically looking at the first generation of digital natives embarking on motherhood. Which means that the woman who has always had access to everything, now need access to a whole new set of information. Quickly and easily.
Cricket’s Circle is the shoppable, short answer solution for this generation of parents by cutting to the chase: just three great product recommendations in each category, a personalized baby registry, and shoppable editorial content.
Founder, CEO and new mom Rachel Blumenthal talks about the funding and the next stage of growth.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Cricket’s Circle closed our Seed Round of funding totaling $2.25 million. Forerunner Ventures and LererHippeau Ventures co-led the round, with participation from General Catalyst, BoxGroup, additional venture funds and select angel investors.The fundraising marks a major growth moment for the brand, which originally launched in January 2014, and introduced an ecommerce platform and baby registry in January 2015.
Tell us about your product or service.
Cricket’s Circle is the shoppable short answer for this generation of parents. The site offers just three great product recommendations in every category, a personalized baby registry, and shoppable and serviceable editorial content.
What inspired you to start the company?
When I was pregnant with my son, Griffin, I found the registry process overly complicated and frustrating. What I wanted more than anything was a trusted source to help me navigate which products were right for my lifestyle. Instead, I received 40 excel spreadsheets and emails passed from experienced moms to new ones like me. I also found myself down one too many rabbit holes of hard to navigate, dated, faceless recommendations from google searches – countless hours I would never get back and information I still wasn’t sure I trusted. I knew there was an opportunity to speak to this generation of women by creating a trusted brand with a defined point of view and easy-to-navigate technology to solve their problem.
How is it different?
First and foremost, we believe that less is more. Cricket’s Circle was founded to weed through all the information, test every single product, and deliver moms the products and information they need to make smart, informed buying decisions quickly. We tell you what you need, what you don’t, and what’s “nice to have.” Beyond just the what, we tell you why. For the first year, Cricket’s Circle primarily focused on curating only the three best products in each category and recommending just one based on a user’s priorities and lifestyle.
In January 2015, Cricket’s Circle launched a complete registry and ecommerce experience – taking the previous personalized checklist a step further to being a complete registry that friends and family can shop from. Combining an interactive registry checklist with personalized content, users of Cricket’s Circle are walked through the buying and registry process based on their stage of pregnancy.
What are the most-requested items?
Strollers, car seats, and baby carriers are some of our most popular categories. They are also some of the more complicated decisions that new parents have to make and are very lifestyle-specific.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
Cricket’s Circle is innovating the $66.8 billion baby product market.
What’s your business model?
Cricket’s Circle is a personalized shopping experience for moms at every stage of their baby’s development. We currently serve families from newborn through the toddler years. We offer serviceable and shoppable editorial content, curated product recommendations, and a baby registry. We work with retailers to fulfill our orders and take a commission from every sale.
What was the funding process like?
I spent the last year and a half building relationships with investors. This made getting meetings and introductions seamless. It also took what can sometimes be an awkward scenario (you meet someone for the first time, have a 30-60-minute conversation, and then ask them to believe in you and write a check) and made it much more authentic and natural. That’s not to say it was easy, and I’d be surprised if it’s truly easy this early on for anyone. It was important to do my diligence on every investor I wanted to meet (which meant looking at their investment history), ask for introductions through mutual connections (versus a blind email), and cast a large net. Sometimes the most unexpected conversations lead to the most beneficial outcomes.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Parenthood (and all of the consumer habits and decisions that come along with it) is obviously a very personal experience – if you haven’t had children, it’s sometimes challenging to relate to the inefficiencies in the market, psychological intricacies, and massive white space.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
In baby and kids, nobody is speaking to this generation of moms or serving them in the digital age. Undoubtedly this customer needs help more than anyone.
In the first year alone, new parents make 150 buying decisions from unfamiliar categories and a disaggregated collection of small brands. It’s extremely overwhelming and time consuming. By combining content (which this consumer has to digest in order to educate herself) and commerce to simplify the process, Cricket’s Circle fills the gap of traditional retailers – delivering discovery, curation, and emotional trust.
In our first year, Cricket’s Circle was able to build a distinct brand and point of view around our curation and voice that has resonated with our members. They view Cricket’s Circle as a trusted friend and authority to help them navigate all of their buying decisions around baby.
Our investors are also excited about the endless predictable milestones new parents will have with their children. This is a dynamic that’s extremely unique to this customer segment. While other retailers and brands create shoppable moments through collection launches and seasons, we can create personalized content and product recommendations directly related to developmental milestones. This is tremendously more effective than traditional marketing strategies.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We plan to invest in great talent and grow with our customers by continuing to support her through every milestones with relevant content and commerce.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
The ideal scenario is to find a co-founder or two – all of whom have the ability to take the calculated risk for a period of time without a salary. This enables you to test a market fit quickly (three senior level people can move faster than one) without having overhead.
Another option is to work to get into an incubator or accelerator that will provide office space, mentorship, and potential funding based upon your success in the program.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
We’re excited to grow our community of expecting and new moms – and continue to iterate their experience based on their feedback, making Cricket’s Circle the number one destination to solve all of their parenting needs. Right now, we’re hyper-focused on pregnant women and their registry experience, as it’s the beginning of the relationship with mom. Beyond this, we’re building out a more dynamic user experience and exploring some really exciting brand partnerships. More on that to come later this year.
What’s your favorite baby-friendly spot in NYC during the warm weather?
There’s an incredible playground on the Westside Highway off of Bank Street that has lots of water fountains and the perfect amount of shade.