We are somehow already to the eighteenth edition of The Consumer Show! And a year and a half in, one thing remains the same: People are still loud in the back of the room.
Seriously, y'all, were you raised in barns? Don't come out to see these brave people and then gab through their presentations, that's not cool. (As a former presenter and the host of a pitch event, I can confirm that it's really, really frustrating for people who have honed their pitches to a finely tuned thing of beauty to be distracted mid-sentence by someone getting a beer refill.) Per Tavani, "Just don't talk. Or get up. Just wait." Just ... don't be that person.
Okay, PSA done, on to the pitches!
THE PITCH RECAPS:
Myavana: We scientifically recommend the perfect products for your hair journey! | Co-founder and CEO Candace Mitchell sees a problem of too much choice and not enough direction in the hair care aisle. How do you know what to use, what to trust, who has the right ingredients for your hair?
What did they do really well? They've been really good at free press and using marketing to drive users to the Web site. When they were on CNN, for example, they had their highest day yet in sales. They also used "growth hacks" at earlier stages, such as getting a booth at big hair industry tradeshows, which built a solid B2B pipeline with other exhibitors.
— Myavana —
She says this is even more complex for women of color, who have the biggest variety in hair textures out of every ethnicity in the world. They spend nine times more than average consumers on hair care products, and 51 percent have multiple styling products (compared to 34 percent of consumers overall). In 2016, that added up to a $2.7 billion haircare market for women of color.
At the end of the day, we just want to find what makes our hair look good. And with Myavana, now we know. The company scientifically recommends products for hair, based on proprietary testing methods to find the right regimen for each person.
How it works: Customers order a kit from the Web site, complete an online questionnaire, and send back their kit. The Myavana team analyzes hair strands in their lab, and then sends results back through the site and their mobile app. Candace calls it "23&me for hair," and says each person's hair is as unique as their fingerprint.
Myavana launched two and a half years ago, and has gained a ton of traction since then: 12,000 subscribers, a 56 percent increase in MRR year-to-date, and industry recognition in Forbes, Marie Claire and more.
Unlike a few competitors, the company doesn't yet have its own line of products that it recommends, as they first wanted to establish trust with the consumer instead of just shilling their own stuff. They also make their data available to companies, which creates collaborative partnerships versus a "my product first" mentality.
The subscription service is designed to follow customers with personalized recommendations through their hair journeys, as many change styles, colors and care routines regularly. Subscribers also get product samples in the mail, and access to a salon referral network where they can consult with stylists and hair experts.
Candace says their customer base is naturally diversifying beyond women of color, and they are rolling out new branding in the fall to promote reaching women globally. They also work with male customers, and quite a few children whose parents need a little hair assistance.
Their proprietary system also continually tests the efficacy of recommendations, with regular customer checkpoints and different variables. In fact, the system gets more intelligent over time, and more aligned with each demographic.
So next time you have a hair emergency, consider shifting to a more personalized hair care regimen. After all, as Candace says, "If you have hair, you're a customer!"
Woh! When your friends are. | No, that is not a typo. Their tagline actually says "When your friends are," not "where."
Woh! is built to address "party panic," those feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and stress just before social events — are you the first to the party? Who's already there? Is someone lost? Is someone late? Who knows??
What did they do really well? Each diverse team member does something the others are not as good at, from being an excellent product designer to a great app developer to a web service wizard. They have created an environment where they trust each other, share feedback and criticism, and in moments of conflict defer to the team member "who knows shit the best — so they can shine when you can’t."
What can the community help with? Your feedback! Download the app, and see if it changes the way you feel. They're in public Beta, so send them all the thoughts. The team believes that "the only way you grow is by challenging what you know to be true."
— Woh! —
According to Woh!'s tongue-in-cheek approach (and yes, punctuating their name with an exclamation mark plus an apostrophe is giving me anxiety), "party panic" affects over 35 million Americans, and can lead to symptoms of sadness, loneliness and even erectile disfunction. (Don't worry, they hastened to assure us that none of the Woh! staff suffer from ED.)
The Woh! team just wanted a simple way to see when people arrive, or if they already have. Other apps on the market need to know where you are, and share a physical location with others, which can be a problem. Woh! says you shouldn't have to sacrifice privacy for peace of mind — you don't need an arrow or a map, just the ability to know "where" someone is in time, and if they have arrived.
With Woh!, users see an ETA board that shows when everyone is, when they will arrive, and an alert when they actually do. They accomplish this with the initial invitation: The inviter sets "go time" as anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours prior to the event to start automatically sharing attendees' ETA (so, say, 7:30 p.m. before an 8 o'clock dinner). They use the Google API to take users' current locations and display the ETA to the venue, and they're working on showing motion or standing still so you can tell if your friends are in traffic or on a MARTA, etc.
Users download the app, create the event, pick the time and venue, set the go time, and then invite who they want to come. The locations are never shared, only the ETA. (So, no, you can no longer say, "I'm right around the corner, I swear!" when in fact you're not even out the door yet.) Yes, other users do need to download the app right now, but they are working on a Web version to remove that barrier.
In terms of revenue, the Woh! team plans to start using location recommendations for various events through the app, and promote specific venues. Right now, they're focused on building their user base.
Planning an event? Skip the "party panic" and find out when your friends are, with Woh!
WeMontage: Live beyond the frame. | Founder James Oliver wants you to get more happiness and inspiration from your photos. Instead of little pictures in tiny frames on tabletops, go big with WeMontage's removable photo wallpaper and make a statement.
James says the inspiration came to him when he was watching HGTV one day, and watched an interior designer create a large custom collage on a family's wall. When he went online to order the same thing, however, he discovered that it wasn't available. So he cleaned out his savings and created WeMontage, despite not knowing how to write a line of code.
What did they do really well? Press. They've been on "The Today Show" three times, for example, and have generated $300k in sales in the last three years.
— WeMontage —
He says people keep photos for three reasons: Pictures of loved ones make them feel love; it's something that makes them happy; or it's something that inspires them. With the 8-by-10-foot wallpaper collages, people now feel more love, more happiness, and more inspiration than they'd get with traditional picture frames and canvases.
Additionally, the wallpaper is removable, so it can be used in impermanent places like dorm rooms, assisted living or on-base military housing.
The wallpaper costs $10 per square foot. Clients upload their photos, and an algorithm optimizes the arrangement with regards to size, resolution and number of photos. They use an eco-solvent ink which is UV- and moisture-resistant, printed on a polyester material with a matte finish, which absorbs ink well and reflects colors brightly. Customers just peel and stick to the wall like a giant Post-It, which means they can be removed and repositioned a few times before losing the sticky. And finally, it takes just eight to 10 business days for delivery.
WeMontage has had great success with media exposure, appearing in places like The Today Show, USA Today and The Huffington Post. However, they're moving quickly in a land-grab play to have first-mover advantage over any other company printing large-format wallpaper like this, since it's not properietery. This includes trying to partner with companies like Rooms To Go or other places that can package in their offering with another purchase. James says they want to be "the Uber of large-format-size photos." (Yes, you all know I was waiting for someone to claim it, it's hard to get through five pitches without being the Uber of something.)
If you've got a wall in your house that's blank, and photos you love that inspire you, check out WeMontage and see if that's the wallpaper you've been missing!
Shouty: All of your live events from multiple perspectives. | The founders of Shouty, including co-founder and CEO Jonathan Hessing, are "millennial Atlanta entrepreneurs with a vision of being the next big thing out of ATL."
What did they do really well? All great things start internally, so they started with a strong culture and complementary skillsets from artists to investors. This translates outward into brand and marketing.
What can the community help with? They're looking for Beta testers to try it out (iOS only right now), so go to shoutylive.com and sign up as Beta member.
— Shouty —
The team believes everyone is curious, and the tech generation wants to see what they usually can't — they want to have access to what's exclusive. They want to know "what's next." (Jonathan says this is why we watch three-star Netflix movies all the way to the end.) And content generation is switching: Instead of the reigns of TVs, now it's consumer-to-consumer. Forty percent of U.S. households are streaming, and the Shouty team says what people like about streaming is authenticity, immersion and exclusivity.
The answer to these changing demographics and audience needs? Shouty, a multi-view, live, on-demand viewing platform that allows users to choose the perspective and angle of any event. They can float around music fests, get up-close in football games, and generally be immersed in the atmosphere.
Shouty uses patent-pending technology to weave together data from multiple different devices (drones, cameras, phones, etc) into one virtual atmosphere in "the closest to virtual reality streaming will ever come, without the ridiculous headgear." They're creating a market for immersive tech, not just the accompanying app, and giving everyone an opportunity to join in the experience.
Jonathan says they see several revenue streams, like distribution partnerships with a revenue share routed from virtual tickets, subscriptions, licensing and advertising. Independent artists would have virtual tickets they could sell, while mainstream artists would license through LiveNation or other promoters.
The team plans to reach a large mass of users via content creation artists and partners, leveraging networks and audiences to bring that content in. "Shouty Streamers" are the equivalent of an Uber driver (yeah, I know, all the Uber in the pitches this time), with verified devices signed up to stream video. The audio (patent-pending) comes through a synchronizer that ensures the high-quality sound stays the same no matter which angle or device view you're using. Users can toggle to a commentator, or the master audio, etc.
Shouty's next steps are trying to get existing broadcasters like NBC or Fox Sports to use and license their technology. This would help the broadcasters attract a younger audience that they're currently losing to other options like online live streaming.
With a team experienced in sports marketing, business and invention (lots of patents there, y'all), Shouty sounds like just the company to take event viewing to the next level!
Fred! Lawn Design Co.: Be proud of your yard. | Okay, I know, there are two different companies-with-exclamation-mark-names this month, and yes, it makes me crazy when I'm typing. But I am reallyreallyreally excited about Fred! Lawn so I'm giving them a pass on this one.
What did they do really well? They didn’t built too fast. They researched interior design models out of NYC, companies with momentum, and then applied those principles to outdoor space. Locations like San Francisco or NYC can't start and test lawn companies because there aren't places to have lawns, so ATL is unique in that way. They've made $50k in five months, with people paying Fred! to test and research. Basically, they punted on brand to learn first.
— Fred! Lawn Design Co. —
Fred! is the fun, approachable way to transform outdoor space. The existing experience with landscaping is, let's face it, painful and intimidating. It's supposed to be fun, but instead, you have to call people to get quotes, figure out pricing and timelines, track down the workers, call people who never show up ... you don't have time for fun. And it takes weeks upon weeks to get things completed, during which time you have no visibility into what's even going on with the people you gave your money to.
Fred! wants to flip that model and enable people to have more creative influence over their yards. You get from Idea to Design to Fun & Done in easy steps.
The company leads with design, fractional pricing and over-communication with clients (none of the disappearing contractor with this team). You're paired with a personal designer, you have an onboarding call and figure out what you want, and you get back a color drawing. (Apparently, color is a major innovation in the industry. Wtf, landscaping people?) You also get a listing of prices and details, so you can actually break out chunks of work instead of trying to determine where all 150 pansies are going to go and how many you'd need to just do the front path now versus the entire yard. It's all online, takes three to five business days, and you get a customized design. Once you begin work, you get friendly, regular updates that are convenient to you (pictures via text, that kind of thing).
All of this costs you just $99.
The designers, landscapers and implementation teams are currently all contract workers, but the Fred! team oversees each one personally and even does some smaller installs themselves. They find reasonable timeframes and work with the contractors, holding them accountable instead of making consumers do that step.
What's more, they're working with up-and-coming designers looking to add projects to their portfolios, which cuts costs down a great deal and allows Fred! to focus on building their brand. They're not prioritizing profitability just yet, but are learning the market instead.
Since most landscaping companies don't do small, one-off deals, Fred! is filling a niche market for mini-projects (a lot like SwatchPop!) and unlocking a lower segment where people just want to spend a few hundred dollars, not thousands.
Wondering who Fred is? He's Frederick Law Olmsted, the man popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. He designed Central Park in New York City and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, among many others. I can't think of a better patron name for a company bringing beauty to residential backyards in Atlanta.
I'm in the middle of buying a house, and I can guarantee that one of my first moves after settling in is going to be inviting Fred! over to tell me what I could do with the space. Have you got an ugly backyard or just need some curb appeal? Call Fred!
That's a wrap for the eighteenth Consumer Show at Switchyards; see you there next time?