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Investors from the DTX Company, Forerunner, Greycroft, and others name 16 direct-to-consumer startups that will take off in 2020

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 16 Jan 2020

While many direct-to-consumer upstarts matured in 2019, other new ones are emerging.Investors such as Greycroft's Ian Sigalow, Science's Peter Pham, and former Google and Oath exec Tim Armstrong are backing DTC startups like Kangaroo, Tonal, and StockX.Business Insider asked 16 investors which DTC companies they think will blow up this year and why.Many named health and wellness-focused and drink companies, like 8Greens, which makes health supplements from green veggies; and Talea Beer, aimed at women.Click here for more BI Prime stories.While many direct-to-consumer upstarts matured and became viable businesses in 2019, hundreds continue to crop up in an attempt to disrupt categories across the boardfrom beauty and supplements to home fitness.Business Insider asked 16 investors which DTC startups they think will blow up this year and why.Most of them picked companies they've invested in. Investors from DTX Company, Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau said they are backing companies that are cashing in on big trends and entering categories that are ripe for disruption. They include home fitness company Tonal, which trying to follow in the footsteps of Peloton; and Kangaroo, which is getting into home security.As it was last year, beverages remain a hot category, with investors naming Kin Euphorics, Minna Tea, and Talea Beer as ones to watch. Health and wellness also is attracting investment, with investors citing 8Greens, Daily Harvest, and Oura as having big growth potential.8GreensCompany:8GreensRecommended by:Neda Daneshzadeh, partner, Prelude Growth PartnersRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A health supplement company that makes effervescent tablets, gummies, and other products from blended greens like spinach and kale.Why it's hot: "87% of Americans do not get their daily minimum requirement of greens. 8Greens is made from real greens, has zero sugar and just 15 calories," Daneshzadeh said. "It's a female-founded business, and is led by CEO Eduardo Luz, the former president of grocery and chief brand officer at Kraft Heinz."BluelandCompany: BluelandRecommended by:Nisha Dua, general partner, BBG VenturesRelationship to the company: Seed investorWhat it is: Household cleaning company with a mission to reduce single-use plastic consumption.Why it's hot: "Sustainable consumerism is on the rise, but consumers still value price and quality above all else. Blueland has tapped into this with a cost-effective product that's as efficacious as existing products on the market," said Dua. "They aren't just marketing themselves as a sustainable brand or refilling bottles, but have invented an entirely new form factor with their tabletssomething the large incumbents have yet to do. All you need to do is add water and the Blueland tablet to the bottle."ChoosyCompany: ChoosyRecommended by:Charlotte Ross, principal, Inspired CapitalRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A fashion brand that creates algorithmically inspired outfits by scraping trending posts on Instagram.Why it's hot: "Choosy represents the future of fashionit's able to predict the latest trends with AI and machine learning technology, which have been proven to perform better than human-created styles," said Ross. "Its proprietary supply chain also enables it to create clothes made-to-order, preventing the extreme waste that the fashion industry is known for."Co StarCompany: Co StarRecommended by: Anarghya Vardhana, partner, MaveronRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: An astrology based social app.Why it's hot: "People are increasingly looking for meaning, purpose, and connection in life. In an increasingly lonely and polarized world, an app like Co Star can help bring people closer to themselves and to the people around them," Vardhana said. "Co Star uses astrology as a way to enable people to introspect and examine their lives individually and in relation to others."Daily HarvestCompany: Daily HarvestRecommended by:Courtney Reum, cofounder, M13Relationship to the company: Investor and board memberWhat it is: A frozen-meal delivery service that boasts healthy ingredients.Why it's hot: "Daily Harvest has changed consumers' relationship with the kitchen's most underutilized and underestimated appliance: the freezer. I don't go to the pantry anymore to grab and go; I get what I need from the freezer and it's not only nutritious but tastes good," said Reum. "They aren't even in retail yet, and have extended their product line significantly to offer a full-suite of products."FridaCompany: FridaRecommended by:Mike Duda, managing partner, BullishRelationship to the company: No investor relationshipWhat it is: Direct-to-consumer maker of babycare products like booger-suckers, butt-washers, and gas-relievers.Why it's hot: "While perhaps not en vogue to pick a brand with zero venture funding, Fridababy has taken on a high passion category where brands have not built a relationship with their end-user," said Duda."And like most potential breakout brands, this one has exceptional owners: CEO Chelsea Hirschhorn quite literally put herself out there on the importance of postpartum, and husband CMO Eric Hirschhornhas dipped into his old Burger King days to focus on culture versus performance marketing."JudyCompany: JudyRecommended by:Nik Sharma, independent investorRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: Maker of emergency kits with products like flashlights, first aid supplies.Why it's hot: "Judy is taking on a very underserved categorythere are no viable competitors to the product, except AAA and the Red Cross," Sharma said. "And they also have a unique approach to distribution that combines the traditional DTC approach of using paid media with a very intimate IRL component of Judy classes, which teach mothers, fathers and those who want to learn how to prepare for these experiences with the products."KangarooCompany:KangarooRecommended by: Ian Sigalow, cofounder and partner, GreycroftRelationship to the company: Seed investorWhat it is: A do-it-yourself smart home security system.Why it's hot: "If Ring's acquisition is any precedent, Kangaroo has the potential to reach a massive market US home owners because it offers state-of -the-art home security at a fraction of the price of its competitors," Sigalow said. "Since they manufacture their own hardware from scratch, it's a fully-integrated system where everything connects through your phone."Kin EuphoricsCompany:Kin EuphoricsRecommended by: Byron Ling, partner, CanaanRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: Maker of non-alcoholic functional drinks with ingredients like caffeine, adaptogens and nootropics, as well as supplements like GABA, 5-HTP and rhodiola extract.Why it's hot: "Americans are drinking less alcohol, and while alcohol companies are responding to that by creating low-alcohol alternatives, Kin Euphorics is creating an entirely new category of functional beverages," Ling said. "Their entire approach, brand positioning and packaging is designed around a lifestyle of enabling consumers to socialize in a different way at night and also take back their mornings."Live TintedCompany: Live TintedRecommended by:Hayley Barna, partner, Firstround VenturesRelationship to the company: Angel investorWhat it is: A community-centric beauty company founded by Instagram influencer Deepica Mutyala with products catering to diverse skin tones.Why it's hot: "It's a bold and inclusive brand, and beauty industry royalty Bobbi Brown is among the investor group," Barna said. "It also expanded to international markets, and following the release of its cult color-correcting stick, will be releasing new products based on feedback from community."OuraCompany: OuraRecommended by: Kirsten Green, founding partner, Forerunner VenturesRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A ring that tracks sleep and activity.Why it's hot:"It's lightweight, waterproof ring tracks sleep quality, sleep stages, ECG-level resting heart rate and variability, as well as body temperature during the day and night, enabling users to optimize their health outcomes," Green said. "We are waking up to the importance of sleep to foundational health. Oura has the potential to be a hub for all things sleep."MinnaCompany: MinnaRecommended by: Jon Keidan, Torch CapitalRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A sparkling tea with no added sweeteners and organic, non-GMO ingredients.Why it's hot: "We continue to see better-for-you beverages stock the shelves across major grocery chains, regional supermarkets and local corner storesand tea is the most popular drink in the world," Keidan said. "Within the sparkling beverage category, we were yet to see a clearly differentiated and stand-out product offering. Not only is Minna an incredibly delicious, clean and refreshing drink but their team has created a product that looks great, stands out on the shelves (and online), and encompasses an element of brand, mission and community that really stood out to us. It also donates a percentage of its sales to non-profits such as Choose Love and Help Refugees that advocate for inclusion in all forms." StockXCompany: StockXRecommended by:Tim Armstrong, founder and CEO, DTX CompanyRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A direct-to-consumer marketplace for collectibles like clothing and sneakers.Why it's hot: "StockX is hot because it has nailed a DTC marketplace for the hottest collectibles across all demographics," Armstrong said. "It has mixed, trust, branding, utility and coolness together into a consumer experience that is hard to resist and fun to useAir Jordan meets DTC."StudsCompany:StudsRecommended by:Caitlin Strandberg, principal, Lerer Hippeau VenturesRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: A jewelry and piercing brand geared at Gen Z and millennials.Why it's hot: "Studs combines both retail and e-commerce to provide consumers with affordable, high-quality, and trend-forward jewelry. Cofounders Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers noticed a massively underserved market in the retail piercing space, where consumer options were limited to uninspired piercing jewelry from tattoo parlors and mall kiosks," Strandberg said. "Studs' brick-and-mortar studio offers everything from CBD beverages and 'earscape' consultations to special collaborations with brands like ManRepeller. Its online experience equally conveys the brand's ethos and mission of self-expression."Talea BeerCompany:Talea BeerRecommended by: Angela Lee, founder and CEO, 37AngelsRelationship to the company: InvestorWhat it is: New York-based beer company geared at women.Why it's hot: "Craft beers have traditionally been directed at men, but with names like 'Lizard King, 'Arrogant Bastard Ale,' and 'Raging Bitch,' Talea Beer is hoping to disrupt the industry by bringing an easy-to-drink beer to women, a market that has until now been ignored," Lee said.TonalCompany: TonalRecommended by:Peter Pham, cofounder and partner, ScienceRelationship to the company: Angel InvestorWhat it is: A home-fitness device that combines a screen with weight machine arms.Why it's hot: "Home fitness is getting a lot of attention because of Peloton, and Tonal is doing really well," said Pham. "Tonal has arms that pop out, and offers a full-weight gym in addition to instructors on the screen."
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