Media & Entertainment

HowGood raises $4.2 million to guide shoppers to products that match their values

Comment

Image Credits: HowGood Ratings (opens in a new window) under a license.

Millennial consumers care about the sustainability of what they buy more than any other generation that came before them. This point is illustrated in studies from Pew Research, Clemson University and Nielsen, to name a few. Now, a New York-based consumer data company called HowGood has raised $4.2 million in a Series A round of venture funding to help retailers answer every question these discerning customers may have.

HowGood provides ratings on food, personal care items and other household products. The company assesses products for environmental, health and trade impacts. Its ratings appear on signage in stores, and on HowGood’s website and mobile apps. The mobile app allows shoppers to scan the barcode of a given item to obtain its rating.

So far, HowGood has analyzed 200,000 products, mostly food and beverages. It amasses and crunches data from its own proprietary sources, and from a huge range of open government and third-party firms to derive a complete score for different products. Its analysis encompasses everything from ingredient sourcing to chemicals and processing, packaging, shipping and labor practices.

A HowGood users scans the barcode on a yogurt to learn its sustainability rating.
A HowGood user scans the barcode on a yogurt to learn its sustainability rating.

Customers license HowGood’s data and can display scores in their stores if they choose. Some groceries license the data and use it privately to assess their merchandise and make decisions about what they will and won’t continue to stock. Brands may also license the data to see how they stack up against the industry overall from a sustainability perspective.

Alexander Gillett, CEO and co-founder of HowGood, said while only 5 percent of products can attain the top score, many have improved over the years since the company first started as a bootstrapped small business in 2007, an indication that sustainability is actually driving sales for consumer brands. “White label brands often do well, which may surprise consumers,” he added. “It’s no longer true that the more sustainable choice will be prohibitively expensive for someone with a constrained budget.”

HowGood’s Series A round was led by FirstMark Capital and joined by Contour Ventures, the labor rights advocacy foundation Humanity United, Serious Change LP, Great Oaks Venture Capital, High Line Venture Partners and individual angels Jake Lodwick and Joanne R. Wilson.

Rick Heitzmann, founder and managing director of FirstMark Capital, said his firm backed HowGood because ratings are driving a huge lift in sales for certain brands and groceries, while making consumers happier about their choices. He doesn’t expect the trend to wane.

Searching for eco-friendly foods on the HowGood ratings app.
Searching for eco-friendly foods on the HowGood ratings app.

“Consumers have a blindness to different issues. Au naturel, healthy, fat-free… They see all these confusing labels and say ‘screw it, I’m just buying the cheapest thing.’ But if you say hey, this is the best thing for you to buy based on qualities you care about, then they will buy it and be happier with what they bought,” the investor said.

Besides guiding consumers, he said, HowGood gives brands and groceries a far clearer understanding of how sustainable their products really are, compared to the industry, and how that correlates to sales.

HowGood CEO Gillett said the company plans to use its new funding to cover an even wider range of products, and work with a greater number of retailers and grocers. Cosmetics and grooming ratings are under way. While he did not yet have permission to name the companies that plan to use its ratings, he said HowGood struck an agreement with at least one major beauty retailer already.

Some of the funding will also go to technical research and development. HowGood is always looking for new ways to deliver its data to shoppers, whether through wearables and health apps, or new in-store displays and voice-enabled platforms like Google Home or the Amazon Echo.

More TechCrunch

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

1 hour ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more