There are any number of cool gadgets and doohickeys that have not only been imagined, but realized over the course of the last few years. Nowadays nearly everyone, with a little bit of determination and ingenuity, can make those dreams a reality. But taking those dreamed-up products and making them actually a viable business — that’s a whole different story. And on the consumer side, there’s the question of how to find all the cool new stuff that you might not know about.
Online retailer Grand St. hopes to solve all that, by providing a marketplace to makers, helping to throw a spotlight on interesting gadgets that might otherwise fly under the radar. And to do that, the company has raised a seed round of funding worth $1.3 million.
The funding was led by First Round Capital, with participation from David Tisch, Gary Vaynerchuk, betaworks, Collaborative Fund, MESA+, Quotidian Ventures, and Undercurrent. In addition to investing, Undercurrent plans to play a strategic role in advising the company as it grows.
Grand St. seeks to differentiate itself by providing a high-quality showcase for creative or small-batch technology, choosing a different product to highlight on its page every day. It takes photos and provides editorial content to show off the best part of each product. Through its website, an email newsletter, and social channels like Facebook and Twitter, the company seeks to find buyers for a unique set of products that are handpicked by the Grand St. team.
Consumers benefit by being introduced to things that might be obscure or produced in small batches. And by not having to go through the pain of backing a bunch of stuff on Kickstarter and hoping to one day have product actually shipped. It’s kind of like Grand St. does the hard work of scouring the Internet to find new and interesting technology so that you don’t have to. The goal, according to co-founder Joe Lallouz, is all about “changing the way consumer products are bought and sold.”
The company handles all the shipping and fulfillment for inventory of products that it showcases. It also has a return policy that allows users to send items back within 30 days for a full refund. So if that doodad isn’t quite what you were expecting, you can send it back, no questions asked.
Grand St. was founded by Y Combinator alum Amanda Peyton, along with former Hashable employees Joe Lallouz and Aaron Henshaw. While it’s still in a closed beta, with invites being sent to interested buyers, the three hope to open to the public soon.