If you don't have a nanny or someone to help out with your newborn, infant or toddler, don't fret - there's a number of services and products out there that can make life easier. We recently wrote about Citrus Lane, a service that sends moms a gift package each month, filled with goodies appropriate for the baby's age range.
Now here's another worth noting - 4moms, a maker of cool products, such as strollers that fold up with a push of a button or bouncy chairs that mimic the way parents rock their babies. As a mom of four boys, with one who's four months, I can tell you - this stuff, while not necessary, is pretty useful.
And, clearly others think so. The developer of innovative kid products announced Thursday that it's raised $20 million in funding, exclusively led by Bain Capital Ventures. "They get our industry," said Henry Thorne, a life-long roboticist who's CTO and co-founder of 4moms.
Based in Pittsburgh, PA, 4moms uses robotic technology in their products, which include strollers, rockers and playpens. The products are sold in more than 500 retailers in the U.S., and distribution in 23 other countries. While Thorne wouldn't share the company's revenue or units sold, he did say the company has seen revenue double each year in the last two.
One of the company's products is a mamaRoo, an infant seat that mimics parents' motions, which costs about $200. There's also an Origami power-folding stroller, which folds at a touch of a button, charges a cell phone and re-charges itself, which costs about $849.
The company's upcoming product is Breeze, which is similar to a pack-and-play, but takes a lot less effort to set up.
Besides the launch of the Breeze, 4moms plans on selling the Origami internationally. Hence the funding to expand upon its client base for its existing products, and to eventually expand the product base.
So how did 4moms come to be? After all, there's Bugaboo and Graco, two companies that dominate.
"Our hope was we'd see the opporunities more than our entrenched incumbent because we weren't blinded by existing technologies," said Thorne.
Additionally, the juvenille product market seemed ripe for innovation.
"It started with the costs for electronics, which were continuing to drop," said Thorne. For example, the micro-controller that runs the Mamaroo costs 30 cents today versus $9 seven years ago.
"What we realized was that there could digital equipment that could go into products that hadn't had electronics before," said Thorne. "We looked for market segments where there were no batteries, figuring that there would be an opporunity if we could figure out a great consume benefit that involved processors."
Clearly, they found it. But it's not surprising given Thorne's intense focus on robotics his entire life.
If you're going to bet on a company making robotics, 4moms is a good bet. Thorne, who invested $7 million of his own funds into 4moms, appears to be the quintessential person you'd want to invest in, having started four prior companies that basically make robots of every kind.
All told, 4moms has raised $43.8 million, including $20 million from Bain, $7 million from Thorne, and the remainder from Newell Rubbermaid, Innovation Works and various angels.