Companies to Watch in the Mom-and-Pop Space
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Tech. Meet the Origami: the world's first power-folding stroller, brought to you by Pittsburgh-based 4moms. With the push of a button, Origami folds and unfolds, operated by built-in generators that charge as you walk. The stroller even has an LCD screen that displays the battery charge, distance walked, current temperature and a cute image that confirms the Origami "knows" a child is in the seat. (The company promises the device will not fold up and "eat" children.) This is a seriously high-tech stroller, with a price tag to match: It retails for $850.
Media. Online magazine Babble has been shaking up the parenting industry since its launch in 2006. Loaded with informative, controversial and often humorous content that includes everything from C-section facts and stroller-buying guides to dad blogs, Babble has seen its audience grow an average of 15 percent each month since launch. About 5 million people checked out the free magazine in December; Time recognized it as one of the 50 Best Websites in 2010.
Daily deals. Plum District introduced the daily deal trend to modern moms. The site offers bargains (up to 80 percent off) from local businesses that appeal to savvy moms, such as spa trips, family activities, weekend getaways and cool gadgets. Plum District has clearly found its niche: Founded in 2010, it recently closed a $20 million Series C funding round and had nearly 1 million subscribers as of December.
Financial services. Kidworth is a free online service designed to teach children how to save and spend money wisely. Parents create an account, then set long- and short-term financial goals with their kids, such as saving for college or donating to charity. The goals can be shared through social media, e-mail or Kidworth's electronic invitations and holiday cards; family and friends can donate to the cause by purchasing gift cards online. Kidworth launched in December 2010; the value of goals processed through the site has reached more than $110,000.
Subscription services. Citrus Lane handpicks products for children based on recommendations from parents, then ships them off in theme packages each month. The boxes are filled with four to five products tailored to the child's age, from newborn to 3 years old. December's theme box, "Home for the Holidays," included a comfort-grip cookie cutter, organic body lotion and a fuzzy baby hat from baby clothing company Zutano. The service is $25 a month (less for a six- or 12-month package), and shipping is always free.