3-D printing subscription-box service focused on designer gadgets
CubeForme is a subscription-box service that aims to provide a fun and easy way to experience 3-D printing while promoting the creations of different designers every month. An array of curated products, including gadgets, games, and art pieces, are manufactured and shipped in the monthly box; items are also available for on-demand purchase online. The startup was founded and bootstrapped by two undergraduate students in Southern California who teamed up to spread awareness of 3-D printing. By connecting designers with the general public, CubeForme seeks to bring the technology to households and cultivate a more accessible 3-D printing culture.
CubeForme was bootstrapped with about $2,000 from its two student founders. The startup launched its subscription-box service, which costs $15 per month, in November 2015 and two months later added the on-demand product offering to its website. Featured designers make a 10 percent commission on orders while CubeForme maintains profit margins of close to 50 percent. The startup recently added four students to its team and established partnerships with My Mini Factory, a 3-D printable object download platform; MatterHackers, a 3-D printer distributor and software developer; and a number of product and design sites such as Brit & Co. and Monthlyboxhub. The startup was also invited to participate in last year’s Los Angeles Gadget Expo.
Eighty Nine Robotics
Makers of Rook, a Wi-Fi enabled drone for the home or office
Eighty Nine Robotics is the maker of a Wi-Fi-enabled drone called “Rook,” designed to monitor your home or office from anywhere in the world. Developed by a team of students from Northwestern University, Rook can be controlled remotely--regardless of distance--by a smartphone application. The drone comes with a high-definition camera that streams video on your phone in real time. Its software will be run on the cloud to provide premium features like security analytics, alerts, and flight routines. The startup is also exploring additional features including voice-enabled commands, integration to smarthome suites, and custom enterprise solutions.
Eighty Nine Robotics received a $12,000 seed grant from Northwestern University’s startup incubator, The Garage, and was accepted into the Department of Homeland Security-backed EMERGE Accelerator for first responders. The company’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign went live on February 14 and surpassed its original $20,000 goal two days after launching. The Rook’s retail price is expected to be about $250 and will begin shipping in December.
Developer of tattoo ink with a safe removal solution
New York University students are developing a removable tattoo ink with their startup, Ephemeral. The goal is to deliver high-quality ink that gives customers the option of safe, easy, and effective removal with a proprietary removal solution. The Ephemeral technology is designed to integrate seamlessly into existing tattoo equipment, so the application process remains unchanged. Ephemeral hopes to capture a share of the billion-dollar industry, in addition to potential consumers who might be more interested in tattoos if easy removal is an option. The startup is in the process of testing prototypes and expects to have a finalized product within 12 to 18 months. Ephemeral estimates that its ink and removal products will cost about $100 to $200, less than traditional laser-removal procedures that cost over $2,000 and can leave permanent skin damage.
Ephemeral completed the NYU Summer Launchpad Accelerator Program last year, and won the first-place prize of $75,000 in the technology venture category in NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation 200K Entrepreneurs Challenge. The startup was also featured at the Google I/O Extended NYU event and Columbia University's Future of Urban Innovation Startups conference.
Smart grading tool that lets professors grade everything online
Gradescope is a web-based smart grading tool developed by computer science doctoral students, former teaching assistants, and a professor from UC Berkeley. The startup aims to streamline the more tedious aspects of the grading process, allowing instructors to grade everything online (including paper-based assignments, which can be scanned) and enable data-driven education. Gradescope’s reusable scoring criteria are designed to improve consistency, promote transparency, and reduce time spent grading by half. The team also plans to roll out additional premium features, which would allow certain assignments to be graded in 10 percent of the time it currently requires.
The prerevenue startup completed UC Berkeley’s accelerator program SkyDeck, and has attracted more than $1 million in investment funding from angel investors and venture capital funds including K9 Ventures. The Gradescope software has been used to grade over five million questions in over 100 high schools, colleges, and universities. This semester, half of all Berkeley undergraduates are taking courses that use the online tool.
Maker of indoor farms that efficiently grow produce year-round
Local Roots designs, manufactures, and operates indoor farms that seek to grow organic produce year-round in an efficient manner. The student founders, who are focused on ecofriendly growing practices, have turned 40-foot shipping containers into scalable indoor farming systems. Using robotics, microbiology, and big data analytics, Local Roots says its containers have achieved higher production densities--up to 300 times higher per square foot--than conventional farms. The startup’s produce is grown without pesticides or herbicides and the containers use less water than traditional methods. A second version of the company’s farms, capable of growing the equivalent of five acres of outdoor produce, will launch this month. Local Roots is dedicated to providing affordable and sustainable produce while inspiring healthy lifestyles.
Local Roots has attracted over $1 million in seed funding from investors in the food service, commercial real estate, and traditional farming sectors. It currently sells its indoor-farm produce to TenderGreens, a fast-casual restaurant chain in Southern California, and also direct to consumers. It has set up pilot programs with other restaurants, retailers, and wholesalers, and eventually plans to work with national distributors.