The list of ecommerce companies is long and varied, but one newly funded startup offers something we didn't know we wanted: crates, crowbars and crazy curated collections.
Man Crates, a service that lets users ship sealed crates filled with themed collections of gifts for men ranging from "The Bacon Crate" to "Retro Gamer Crate," announced closing a $3.1 million round of seed funding on Tuesday.
Jon Beekman founded Man Crates in late 2011 with just $1,000 and was deliberate in bootstrapping operations — so much so, in fact, that he actually launched a website without actually having invested in acquiring any inventory to sell to customers.
"As soon as someone would click 'buy,' we would refund their money and give them a coupon for the next purchase," Beekman told Mashable in an interview. He wanted to figure out how much, if any, interest there was for the crates. "We would talk to customers: 'We’re really sorry. We are a startup. We don’t have inventory to sell you, but what was it that made you want to buy?'"
The measured approach appears to be working for the startup: It expects sales to be "significantly north" of $10 million in 2015, according to Beekman. And unlike some of its competitors, Man Crates is profitable.
Beekman got the idea for Man Crates from a family tradition that revolved around gift giving. Each Christmas, family members would draw names from a hat and exchange gifts, but strict spending limits were attached, forcing them to get clever and sometimes build gifts themselves.
"What we’re trying to do at Man Crates is channel some of that gifting magic that I saw as a kid," he says. "I think people are really bad at giving gifts... The idea [behind Man Crates] is to disrupt any place where a dollar is spent on bad gifts." The idea [behind Man Crates] is to disrupt any place where a dollar is spent on bad gifts."
For the foreseeable future, Beekman remains focused on building a service targeting men. However, he says he won't completely rule out offering a similar service for women or children at some point down the road.
With the new funding, Man Crates hopes to hire another 25 employees — nearly doubling its staff — and move into a larger space in the San Francisco area.
This is the first time the company has designed and built offices from scratch, and it’s partnering with Bjarke Ingels at BIG and Thomas Heatherwick at Heatherwick Studio, which will lead to a better way of working.
Instead of very permanent buildings, Ingels and Heatherwick conceived of lightweight block structures that can be moved around as Google gets into new areas as it has in the past with self-driving cars and smart contact lenses.
Moreover, the company envisions a campus that more seamlessly blends into the surrounding area. Areas are open to the public as well as #Google employees.
“It needs to be a neighborhood in Mountain View,” the video above says. That’s a contentious point, as #Google has long wanted to build north of 5,000 housing units in the area, which the city council has resisted. The inability to co-locate or build housing in line with the company’s growth has put pressure on cities to the north like #SanFrancisco.
The video also critiques a lot of the automotive-centric infrastructure that surrounds the area like #Highway101. #MountainView and other cities nearby came of age in the mid- to late-20th century when suburbs and highways were favored by federal policy and cultural tastes. This has shifted as younger tech companies have decided to begin life north in #SanFrancisco over the last 15 years.
Meanwhile, slightly older companies like #Facebook and #Google have remained entrenched in the #SouthBay suburbs. Each is in the process of erecting futuristic new complexes from #Apple’s circle-like #headquarters under #construction in #Cupertino to #Facebook’s new #FrankGehry-designed building in #MenloPark.
As the Geneva Motor Show quickly encroaches, here we find several brands positing the latest and greatest from their respective factories. Helping to build the hype is legendary English heritage workshop #McLaren, which is set to introduce a new road-ready super coupe next month. The 675LT – ‘LT’ referring to ‘Longtail’ – boasts an otherworldly 666 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque from its 3.8-liter V8 engine. All this comes encased in an aggressively styled silhouette with an extended carbon-fiber splitter, as well as a ‘Longtail’ Airbrake that is lighter and longer than last year’s 650S – making the 675LT the lightest and most powerful release from McLaren’s Super Series. On paper, the car flirts with supercar status, yet #McLaren also ensured that the vehicle would be completely street legal. Look for more details on this as the Geneva Motor Show nears its March opening date
After taking his work into the Earth’s skies, #Frenchartist #Invader continues his #space theme by plastering his signature graphics on various #astronautic structures. The artist was able to stamp his mosaics upon buildings at the European Astronaut Centre in #Cologne and the Euro Space Center in #Belgium. Most impressively, Invader was also able to take his work into the Earth’s thermosphere — carried onboard the International Space Station by an astronaut.
Vomit comets and 43-foot pools: #NASA #astronaut training over the decades
It's been 100 years since the founding of NASA's predecessor — the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA.
While NACA, which was formed in 1915, doesn't have the same recognition that NASA does for, say, landing on the moon or launching Space Shuttles, the organization helped lay the groundwork for U.S. accomplishments in aeronautics and space exploration. During and after World War II, the NACA helped develop vital innovations like retractable landing gear and jet engine compressors, according to a NASA press release.
NACA's 7,500 employees and $300 million in assets transitioned to NASA on Oct. 1, 1958. Eventually, one former NACA employee — Neil Armstrong — was the first human to set foot on the moon.
Earlier today, you would have been keen to notice #Banksy update his Instagram with new art. The seclusive artist has now taken to his website to give his followers some more information regarding his latest project. Posting a video titled “Make this the year YOU discover a new destination,” the new footage sees #Banksy entering an “illegal tunnel” and emerging in #Gaza, where he painted several new pieces among rubble and destroyed buildings. As a whole, the project aims to shed light on #Israel’s Operation Protective Edge and the hardships suffered by #Palestinians because of it. Check out the new art pieces in the gallery above and be sure to watch the video below.
Watch “American Shokunin,” the Delicate Art of Bonsai
Ryan Neil is an American #Bonsai master — think Mr. Miyagi — sort of. And in this new short film by Ryan Bush, we get an in depth look at Neil’s mastery of turning nature into art. The word “Shokunin” is the Japanese term designated to describe an individual that aspires to become a master in their particular craft or art form. This indeed fits Ryan Neil to a tee. Upon practice the Bonsai art form for roughly two decades, Neil has pushed through all of the challenges that come with perfecting this creative medium.
Enjoy the visual above as it details Neil’s work as well as his subsequent journey and more.
- Marketing Strategist
Why I believe I'm a great company asset is I'm not afraid to try new things, I'm ready and willing to challenge conventions. I bring to the table a variety of job experience, across many skills and product areas. My success keeps me moving forward by thinking big and dreaming bigger. I have always believed that the right people can do big things. I want to dream up and design products, and business solutions that are changing the ways people find information, do business, communicate, learn, and most importantly purchase. My number #1 rule is to focus on the user and all else will follow. Remembering hope is not a strategy, my goal is success by design, not just luck, that can be replicated and scaled out. I have found that keeping a healthy disregard for what people say is impossible, helps my progression and keeps me motivated, keeps me humble. My knowledge of online media combined with communication skills and analytical abilities shapes how new and existing business grow for my clients. Using my influencing and relationship-building skills, I provide the best-caliber client service, research and market analysis. I anticipate how decisions are made, persistently explore and uncover the business needs of clients and understand how our range of product offerings can grow their business, and in turn grow our business too. Thank you for considering me.
- University of Utah
- Colorado Mountain College
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