GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 28, 2013 -- Start Garden, the $15,000,000 seed fund that selects individual ideas each week for investments, and opportunities for further investment, tonight held their monthly Update Night. Start Garden will fund two projects, totaling $40,000, Nawgum, an all in one baby teether designed to appease all areas of a teething baby’s mouth, and Sweet Spot Wheels, a skateboard wheel producer that donates 10 percent of its sales to building wells in Africa.
Update Night offers teams that have received an initial $5,000 investment a chance to provide an update to the public on their projects. Teams have three-minutes to present before an open audience and explain how the money was used to complete an experiment that proved their idea is desirable, feasible or viable. Following the presentations, a panel of advisors discusses each project and announces which projects Start Garden will continue to invest in.
Next round of funding for each project starts at $20,000. Companies moving to the next round of funding include:
Nawgum (strt.gd/x6xx), founded by Sue Kellogg, is an all-in-one teether, similar to Sophie the Giraffe, but made of seamless silicon, which is BPA-free and friendly to the environment. It is designed to be visually and aesthetically appealing to teething infants. Kellogg’s Mello & Company, which owns the Nawgum brand, used the Start Garden investment to create custom tooling and molds for the silicon product. Nawgum received its initial $5,000 on January 17, 2013.
“Sue is an example of an entrepreneur with serious hustle. She took her last prototype and pre-sold more than 50 Nawgum toys,” said Kim Pasquino, portfolio relations manager with Start Garden. “With the purchase orders she has in-hand, Sue will now take the additional $20,000 to finance manufacturing with St. Gobain, a Wisconsin company, to quickly scale to the next level of her experiment.”
Sweet Spot Wheels (strt.gd/x7xw), founded by Alex Bolen, produces high-quality skateboard wheels, which are specially designed for longboards. The company also has a social mission: 10 percent of all sales go to its Wheels for Wells foundation, which builds wells in Africa. The team used the Start Garden investment to create marketing and packaging materials and to fund R&D for a new wheel design. Sweet Spot received its initial $5,000 on January 3, 2013.
“For nearly four months, Sweet Spot has increased sales and grown their revenues more than 600 percent by selling into multiple retailers and spurring international sales,” said Benjamin Gott, resident entrepreneur at Start Garden. “They have laid out a clear path for the future, which includes new proprietary wheel designs and a new bushing product. Alex and his team will put the next $20,000 to work immediately and we'll have a quick understanding of the value it creates."
Six additional entrepreneurs presented during Start Garden’s March Update Night, including: ClipCleany, The Cushy, OnTouch, Standard Boot Co., Students Get Fit and Velocity Crepes.
The Start Garden management team accepts ideas with potential to become businesses through startgarden.com. Each week the Start Garden team selects an idea and the broader community on the website endorses another idea to receive $5,000. Start Garden can continue to invest up to $500,000 in a single idea. Learn more about submission criteria at startgarden.com/help/criteria.
The next Update Night is Thursday, April 25. Learn more about Start Garden events at startgarden.com/events.