Disrupting Your Face
All that company-subsidized beer pong must be inspiring. Warby Parker*, the online glasses retailer, has decided to expand its marketing efforts to the small screen. Rather than just promote their $95 try-at-home model on the web or through cool kid pop-up stores and kiosks in Standard hotels, the company is investing $250,000–a small fraction of its $50.3 millon in VC funding–in a small-scale, highly-targeted TV ad strategy.
The New York Times reports that the company is saving money by sending the ad, featuring anthropomorphized eyeballs riding on unicycles, to its (very) particular target market:
Thrive Capital, the New York-based venture capital firm helmed by 26-year-old Josh Kushner*, announced today that it has successfully raised a $150 million fund for early and later stage startups. The news comes almost a year to the day after Thrive announced a $40 million raise from investors like Princeton University. The fresh $150 million comes from a slew of some of the same investors, including Princeton, Wellcome Trust and Hall Capital Partners.
This for That
After two years of building a community of makeup nuts around cosmetic content, startup Beautylish is ready to monetize. Today the company launches an ecommerce offering, so fans of their YouTube tutorials need no longer rustle up their new favorite eyeshadow colors via their own Google searches.
Founder Nils Johnson may be best known for his work as an angel investor, putting early cash into companies like Warby Parker and Everlane, but Beautylish is his very own bouncing baby. 24 months in, the site receives more than a million monthly uniques and has almost as many Twitter followers as beauty beast Sephora. Makeup artists active on the site include Billy B., who works with Lady Gaga.
Funding to date stands at just over $2 million, from investors like Ron Conway, Max Levchin, Steve Chen, and Jeremy Stoppelman.
Most Fashionable Techies
Audicus isn’t the first company to sell hearing aids over the Internet, but it’s aiming to be the most stylish. The New York-based startup launched a redesign last week with a mixed metaphor—”Audicus Brings a Fresh Breath to Hearing Aids”—and the ambitious goal of bringing cheap, attractive hearing aids to the masses.
According to Audicus, only 25 percent of Americans with hearing loss use hearing aids due to the fact that they’re embarrassing and expensive. “Audicus addresses both these issues. It makes hearing aids cool and discreet, while bringing down the price by up to 80% through its novel online model. As such, it aims to take on a dusty industry that has been slow in innovating, and in the process make hearing technology far more accessible,” says a press release.
Dapper dudes, unite: AskMen published a slideshow today of the “Most Stylish Entrepreneurs,” and many fashionable New York businessmen made the list. Hey, at least we’re finally objectifying dude techies the same way we usually do ladies?
“Here is what happens when ambition meets fashion,” declared AskMen in a post partially sponsored by Dell. You’re totally dying to know who made the list, right?
the startup rundown
We frequently face this question here at Betabeat: What makes a tech startup a tech startup? All young businesses are startups, and a vast number of new businesses use technology or the Internet. So as a tech blog, how do we decide who to cover? Is Warby Parker a tech startup? Is Bonobos? Is Rent the Runway? All are lightweight on the tech side but have investment dollars from venture capitalists that specialize in tech.
All the jobs
PERFECT TEN. Last Wednesday Time Inc. brought together editors from many of their news properties to bestow upon us the “10 NYC Startups to Watch.” Only in the startup picking game since lat year’s Internet Week, Time Inc. has already picked winners like GroupMe, which was purchased by Skype for a supposed $85 milion.
The startups that made the cut for 2012 are Adaptly, a social advertising platform; Art.sy, the Pandora of art; Codeacademy, an interactive self-paced tool to learn to code; Enterproid, a mobile platform to segregate work from personal information on a single mobile device; Fab—you already know what Fab does; Fancy Hands, a provider of virtual personal assistants; Loosecubes, a matchmaker for workers and workspaces SideTour; a community marketplace for booking and hosting adventures, Stamped; a five-star-only mobile rating app and Truth Art Beauty; an online platform where users can custom-create skincare blends.
FOUNDER POWER. This Friday Women 2.0 is hosting their New York Founder Friday at 16 East 34th Street. Featured founders Cheryl Yeoh of CityPockets and Eloise Bune of GraciousEloise will begin speaking at 7 p.m. but the event will kick off at 6 p.m. with an introduction by Matt Wolfrom of Makovsky and Company, the event’s sponsor. Founder Friday is free, and open to people of all genders, unlike the LOL-inducing “Jews against the Internet” rally, which is $10 and closed to women. Unfortunately, Founder Friday is already at capacity. Add your name to the wait list and cross your fingers.
RALLY IN THE ALLEY. The Association for a Better New York Foundation and Mayor Bloomberg honored the city’s technology leaders in Union Square last Thursday including Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley, Greycroft’s Alan Patricof, ideeli CEO Paul Hurley and NYTM cofounder Dawn Barber. The Lew Rudin Founder’s Award went to New York City deputy mayor for economic development Robert Steel.
The Real Startup Dogs of Silicon Alley
The NYC Startup Job Fair was packed with tons of New York City tech companies and startups on the hunt for that oh-so-hard-to-find tech talent, specifically engineers and developers. Hopeful applicants, some fresh-faced, some not so much, squeezed past each other picking up job descriptions and dropping off resumes and business cards.
All photos by Ben Weitzenkorn. Read More
He Said He Said
Betabeat is inclined to lump hardy-har April Fool’s Day humor in with Dad jokes. It’s sweet you tried, but we’ll keep our sullen face on all the same. Tech companies in particular seem to attack the holiday with all the corporate-sanctioned zeal of a marketer at SXSW. As esteemed president Adrianne Jeffries put it, “I feel like it was a gift that it was on Sunday so we can just ignore it.”
But Warby Parker’s seasonal prank turned our head for one reason: puppies in glasses–a genre in which we have some personal experience. Why try to be funny when you can just give the Internet what they really want? Anthropomorphized fur-balls. Thus with help from photographer Noel Camardo and videographer is Kenie Huber, the New York-based online eyeglass purveyor redirected visitors to Warby Barker where the company offered up doggy monocles and “chew-resistant” eyewear in colors like dusty bacon and gravy burst–complimentary gluten-free dog treat with purchase.
Yesterday a Williamsburg-based startup called Classic Specs posted what looked like a rather damning open letter accusing one of its competitors of attempting to tamper with investors. “We’ve been having a number of great meetings with advisors and potential investors lately,” Classic Specs cofounder Andrew Lipovsky wrote. “That’s why we were surprised to hear that someone was telling them, ‘hey..make sure you know the full story behind Classic Specs (wink).’”
Who would want to spread rumors about Classic Specs, which sells its stylish glasses at Brooklyn Flea and donates a portion of its proceeds to charity? “Our sales keep growing because we have a great product that people love (and that we hand deliver if you’re nearby) and because we have a very attractive dog as a mascot,” Mr. Lipovsky wrote in the stirring letter, which embedded a picture of said pooch.
Mr. Lipovsky suspects that the rumormonger is Warby Parker: the eyeglasses e-vendor, investor darling and customer sensation, that also happens to be based in New York. Why? Because the much-larger Warby had tried to shut Classic down before, he alleged.
The story seemed to have it all: copycats, unfair competition, and underdogs, and it shot up to the top of Hacker News yesterday afternoon, garnering at last count 169 points and 71 comments. “Hipster fight,” wrote one commenter. “This whole thing makes me so glad I got LASIK a few years ago,” said another.
But what, exactly, is the beef?