Category Archives: startups

Celebrity Boxing and Lifestyle Subscriptions


Who doesn’t like getting a present delivered to their doorstep? There’s been a steady but aggressive growth in the luxury goods sample market (beats me what the more official name might be). Birchbox first hopped onto my radar last year and since then I’ve started paying attention. One of the last rounds of demo days in New York by DreamIt Ventures featured another one of these types of monthly sample subscription services which tells me one of two things.

1)      The model is working (a year later), hello copycats

2)      The market, or the people with the money in the market, believe there’s still value to be mined in this space

I’m not saying Birchbox was the first, but it was the first one to market itself in a way that caught my eye. If you actually think about it, it’s hardly new at all. Subscription services have existed for custom beers, bacon, wines, fruits of the month, etc for years. These deals have been around for awhile, just not applied to the luxury space. It’s a clever idea and a clear cut business model. Samples are cheap, and subscriptions with automatic renewals are a clever way of hooking and keeping your revenue stream steady as she goes.

Recently BB managed to snag my attention again via its partnership with Ms. Paltrow’s GOOP. Given their respective target markets, I imagine this would be a great partnership for the both of them.  Looks like celebrity endorsements and curated content is in demand. In any case there’s room to grow here and absolutely in the global sense. Birchbox is on the move. With some serious backers and capital behind them, they’ve just acquired Joliebox earlier this year to get their foot in the European door. I imagine Asia won’t be too far behind. May the fastest player win.

Don’t fret men, in the sea of beauty products out there, there’s also been plenty of new male oriented subscription services featuring “manly” things, too, like…shaving cream, aftershave, and uh, citrus-y smelling products.  You know, because guys like that stuff.

Sean Percival of Wittlebee put together a lovely little matrix on the space awhile ago highlighting the biggest players in 2011. Kissmetrics created a nifty infographic followup to Sean’s comments that summarizes the state of the subscription ecommerce “box” arena as of the end of 2011. More recent data however, is available by CBInsights. You can find up to date graphs on venture funding in this space on their blog here.

List of recent subscription ecommerce subscription sites (thank you quora columbia student…)


Trading Cards

Still Gettin’ Paper…

At a recent meet and greet, I was pretty surprised to see how investors, techies, and treps’ still rely on the good old-fashioned business card. Despite all the hype around cardmunch back in the day, I have yet to see someone actually use it. Of all events, I’d expect the tech startup community to be the first to embrace this…

Maybe it was a great buy for LinkedIn, certainly makes a whole lotta sense – but I honestly can’t name a single person I know who uses this.

neither here nor there

I spend so much time reading about tech, science, and startups every day (thank you two hour commute!) that I’d like to throw in my two cents now. I’ve kept my comments offline because there are a million tech bloggers out there and who needs another one? But never fear, my comments will be here.

For the next few posts, I’ll test out a new approach to the old blog – my comments on tech trends or just observations as they intersect with my daily life. Ego-centric much? Never!

So, as a liberal arts grad (yes! we’re employable!) who straddles the finance, tech, and product world, I’m going to write from the “humanities” and business perspective. Also, as someone who believes in privacy and the inherent value of face to face interaction as well as contemplative alone time – you’ll get a nice stodgy secret old lady’s  perspective.

So welcome to yet another debbyexperiment!

Part I: I need (you) to know where I am 


The identification of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a radar, mobile phone or an Internet-connected computer terminal.

-Foursquare and Opentable just teamed up. I’m not much of a foursquare user (okay, not at all) but I’m a big fan of OpenTable. This sounds like a great partnership and I look forward to seeing what happens next in their venture.

-Gaming out. I met Pota-toss awhile back. I get that there’s a lot of a hype around their gorgeous graphics and yes, they are gorgeous, but I’m not convinced I need a game to be geolocated unless I’m partner playing. And then, I’m not sure that’s the right use case for the game. Don’t we play games to “escape” more or less? I can see the novelty of playing “in my location” wearing out quickly unless the game offers some kind of additional discovery of things in my city I never would have known otherwise…

Seemed like a great team, two guys, computer whizzes with great graphic design skillz – however Pota-toss looked a bit too much angry birds with a tubular twist for me.

-News Now. It’s official; most people consume news via mobile and social. And while I’m absolutely a data point in this, it’s too bad. I think there’s been a rush to be the first at the cost of being accurate. News is going super local, and being usurped by on the ground tweeters and updaters. Let’s not forget that great journalism is still valuable and unfortunately becoming increasingly rare as we clamber for speed. (Note, that I mean great as a combination of story curation, writing clarity, style,  and factual accuracy). It’s pretty interesting how journalists have increasingly relied on social media for…inspiration.

-Date me! These apps that consolidate publicly information about you (fb, twitter, linkedin, etc) with geolocation features super freak me out. Why someone wants to broadcast details like this plus where you are — that sounds like a bad idea all around. Advertising your availability seems so…well…

I totally get where this may be a great idea — can you imagine if businesses and local shops got it together enough to know their clientele as they walked into their stores? It’d be like Minority Report shopping. Brilliant, creepy. Although physical stores haven’t quite seemed to go in this direction quite yet, airlines are getting closer.

Til next time.


out of touch


at the end of 2011, i did something silly. i joined a social media site because it looked so very pretty. i actually signed up in its earlier “exclusive” stages and had forgotten that i was a member. within 24 hours of remembering, i had a neatly arranged board of cool things. by cool things of course, i mean items that i felt were a reflection of not only who i am (as seen what by i peruse) but also who i’d like to be (as seen by things i’d like to do, see, or own).



in a quick glance you could easily see that i love bright patterns and bold colors in art, food, and every day items. that i coveted velvet loafers and have a soft spot for stylish grandmas.

and it was all so accurate and so disingenuous it was unbearable. disingenuous is a loaded word which i won’t bother unpacking here. but anyhow, it took all of a few seconds to post an item. i did absolutely no original work other than appropriate…and it made me sad.

so in less than 24 hours, i shut the whole thing down. that, and oh, the mother of all social media sites, too – facebook.

so here’s to 2012. to emails, phone calls, and perhaps even a letter or two.