This post was originally published on OPEN Forum.
Grand St. might just be the hippest, most exclusive New York startup we’ve ever seen.
The boutique offers new products to members every other day. But, if you want to grab a product you have to move fast, the goods are only sold over the course of a week.
Grand St.’s products have included the MindWave Mobile (a headset that lets you control a toy helicopter just by thinking), unique high-tech watches like the Nooka, the Lapka, a set of environmental smart sensors that let you measure how organic your apple is, and a handful of break-out Kickstarter products.
Grand St.Grand St.’s Nick Steele shows off the MindWave Mobile.
Grand St. was started by three young, ambitious, and focused individuals. Joe Lallouz and Aaron Henshaw, both co-founders and application engineers; and Y-Combinator alum Amanda Peyton, who is the CEO. The trio has since expanded its operation bringing on four other staff who all keep the young but well-oiled gadget machine running.
Grand St. isn’t just bridging the gap between the average consumer and the latest tech, its also, “creating an outlet that is educational for the everyday consumer,” Lallouz says.
Grand St. is unique in that it tests each gadget it sells, the length of time varies by product but can sometimes last weeks. The curation process is also rigorous but Grand St.’s merchant partners are delighted with the site because the start-up can convey the gadgets capabilities sometimes even better than the people who made it.
The gadget lovers initially imagined creating something like Jarvis, the futuristic butler in the popular Iron Man, films but the feat proved a little too ambitious. “We started talking to a lot of our friends who worked in hardware, and essentially realised that we’d need tens of millions of dollars to really make [Jarvis] a reality,” Peyton says. Instead of venturing into a hardware start up, the three decided to sell the best hardware they could get their hands on, and Grand St. was born.
Lallouz further explains Grand St.’s vision:
…the tech-obsessed and geekier, individuals are still involved and very active in our community, but for them [Grand St.] is more or less about discovering new things. Which is great, they can go to one place where they can discover all these new things.
But we’re also about educating the mainstream consumers. We’re both filling the void where traditional brick and mortar stores that exist now are falling flat, as well as helping the producers and makers do a better job creating editorial content, and creating photos and videos and consumable media.
Grand St.Although still in a invitation-only beta mode, Grand St.’s data suggests its user base is very diverse, “it’s not only geeky people, audiophiles or the bike-obsessed…the factor that really brings people in and ties the audience together is people who are interested in new technology presented in a digestible and understandable way,” Peyton said.
You may be wondering how Grand St.’s business model works and how it makes money, “we envision a liquid inventory model where we buy a certain number of products and sell through them. If we see that we’re selling a lot of a particular item we’ll place a second order. We take a traditional retail margin on the products,” Peyton explains. “We buy directly from the manufacturer.”
Grand St. is planning on opening up the site to everyone this summer, “for us, the whole invite-only period was really about testing a couple assumptions about our business model and how we wanted it to work. It also allowed us to test copy, and making sure the experience is great for our consumers. We want to make sure we have enough inventory, we want to make sure people don’t come to a site that has nothing on it,” Lallouz said.
Check out Grand St. and sign up for the waitlist, you just might find your new favourite toy.