I first heard about MakersKit, from Jason Seats, the Managing Director at Techstars in Austin. Jason highlighted a few companies that he was tracking for his previous program.
MakersKit looked intriguing, and I reached out to them to get an update.
The moment I met Mike and Jawn on Google Hangout, I knew they were special. Many people say the same thing. Its their aura, their language, the way they present themselves, and most importantly, the way they compliment each other.
They pitched me for 3 minutes or so and their pitch was polished, funny, heartfelt, and all around awesome. They started the business by doing DIY workshops on the streets of San Francisco, and worked their way to bigger live event gigs with Google, Yelp, YouTube, Kaiser, Storenvy, and Stanford. They even got a big article in SF Chronicle written about them and published a book.
About a month later, I met them in person at the Sincerely’s offices in San Francisco, and made them an offer to join Techstars NYC 2014 class. By that time I already knew that in addition to their great showmanship, Mike and Jawn were wicked smart businessman and natural entrepreneurs.
During Techstars I watched the duo evolve and grow the business at an impressive pace. In just the last two months they manage to sell 2x more kits than during entire 2013, bringing the total to nearly 50,000 kits.
Mike locked in critical retail distribution partnerships with Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Macy’s. Their Urban Outfitters pilot sold out in one day, and they got nationwide distribution in every single store. It was pretty great to see MakersKit in the store right next to Techstars office in NYC.
They also got the deals with Home Shopping Network, several big magazines, American Airlines, Birchbox, Zulily, Quaterly, and Brit + Co. Mike and Jawn did it all with precision, efficiency, and a great deal of focus.
Their progress was impressive, and the venture community certainly took notice. Mike and Jawn were able to bring on board a wonderful group of investors and supporters. They just announced $1.5MM seed round lead by Brian Hirsch from Tribeca Venture Partners with participation from Greycroft, Vayner RSE, and Mesa+.
The secret to MakersKit success is their focus on user experience. The kits are not just about the kits themselves, they are about the whole experience of putting them together and the feeling that you get while making them.
The kits are packaged into inviting boxes with clean and elegant typography. Everything is included in the box, you don’t ever need to go to the store to buy anything else. The final product is something that you can actually use – an herb garden, soy candle, a lip balm, a soap, or a t-shirt.
You put together the kit by following along fun instructional video featuring Mike and Jawn. You typically do the project with your friends or family. By stitching all these bits together MakersKit is creating a new kind of experience – a blend of media, commerce and entertainment.
Its been great to be part of MakersKit journey so far, and I am so glad to have part of Techstars family. MakersKit vision is to create a lasting, household brand that people love.
I think that Mike and Jawn just might be the right guys to pull it off.