🍌 Cradlewise, The AI-Powered Crib Giving Parents More Sleep
The Split's unofficial holiday gift guide, including a new product from Snoop Dogg, grim data on venture funding, and the best memes from the OpenAI saga
First, thanks to everyone who replied with well wishes for my mom and family! She had her first surgery last week, and it seems to have gone as well as something like this can go. We’re all cautiously optimistic.
Second, a fun Black Friday / “Holiday Gift Guide”-like post breaking down a gift idea (and the business behind it) for new parents from a founding team I recently met, Cradlewise.
Was this email forwarded to you?
A Message From Mercury
See what drives startup founders forward
90% of startups fail, meaning only 10% succeed over the long-term. With odds like that, what could make an entrepreneur want to embark on the startup journey? The answer is simple: ambition.
After diving into this story on Cradlewise, check out Mercury’s new video series. It pulls back the curtain on what’s driving Gagan Biyani, co-founder and CEO of Maven, and four other founders as they scale their businesses.
From creating the largest university in the world to reimagining the future of childcare, the vision behind each of the companies is as unique as the founders working to bring them to life.
Get inspired and dive into each of the five stories now.
The World’s Smartest Crib
Over the summer, I met the founders of Cradlewise. The best way to describe it is a “smart crib” for babies up to 2 years old. Their pitch? Helping parents get more sleep.
If you’ve had kids, this is the only pitch you need.
If you haven’t: imagine you decide to take on a second job that requires roughly 80 to 120 extra hours per week. This second job comes with no sick days, and you’re also taking home less money than when you had one job because this new job requires a ton of extra expenses. And finally, this new job is mostly at night, so you basically don’t get any sleep for the next 6-24 months.
In a sense, this is what happens when you have a kid. And its why I was so intrigued to meet Radhika and Bharath Patil, the husband and wife team behind Cradlewise.
How it Works
Cradlewise’s crib uses AI and sensors to simulate the role an adult plays in getting and keeping a child asleep. New parents spend roughly 1977 hours a year (or roughly 82 days) just trying to get their baby to sleep. If you do the math, that’s 22% of the entire year.
The bed moves up and down, exactly like how someone would bounce a baby to sleep. Sensors on the crib detect the first signs of stirring and gently guide the baby back to sleep - or in many cases, actually keep it asleep. It uses AI to customize the soothing process for each child, which quickly becomes even more effective over time. This whole process is one that every parent and caregiver currently does manually.
Here’s a visual of how this looks.
All-in, Cradlewise leads to a baby that wakes up less often and parents that get more sleep. And its not just more hours, but also higher quality sleep, as parents are less likely to also wake up in the middle of REM cycles (where the deepest sleep happens). I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I slept in 2 + 2 + 1+ 2 hour blocks of sleep in one night, which if you haven’t done it before, is nowhere near the same quality as getting a full 7 hours of sleep, or even 3 + 4 hours. Especially if you do it every night for a year.
Cradlewise has an app with a built in baby monitor and push notification alerts. It also makes sense of all the data collected from its sensors, giving deep insights into baby sleep patterns. If you’re familiar with Eight Sleep, gives similar insights, but for your baby.
The crib’s software gets over-the-air updates like a Tesla, has a built-in sound machine, and comes with other cool features like Spotify integration (trust me this is clutch), Picture-in-Picture video in the app, and multiple logins to keep family and caregivers in the loop.
Of course, the investor in me could not be more curious about the business. There IS competition, one of which we used for our second kid.
Here’s a rough breakdown of how it stacks up: (can use 4x longer into the child’s life, more natural movement, more features, and unlocks more sleep for parents)
Its almost tempting enough to convince us to have a third.
As for what comes next, the “smart bedroom” opportunity is probably a lot larger than any of us realize. I’d assume they expand into adjacent products for your kids room, and it’s not unreasonable to think the very long-term opportunity expands to the rest of the house.
Starting with a “get more sleep” pitch to the actual customer (parents) is both straight forward and compelling.
Moving to the US and Launching During COVID
The team’s founder journey is equally inspiring. Radhika and Bharath Patil both have Masters’ in Electronics from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Bharath (CTO) was leading R&D on Texas Instruments 3D imaging team, and Radhika (CEO) was at Qualcomm working on power management for its processors, and prior to that a systems and firmware engineer working on HDMI drivers for video chips at Marvell Semiconductor.
As parents, their quest to provide good sleep for their two kids led to developing a working, handmade prototype in their free time nearly a decade ago. In 2018 they started working on Cradlewise full-time, and by 2020 the product evolved to the point of a fully functioning prototype they could start testing with customers.
They set a Q2 2020 date for their US pilot launch. And then… COVID hit.
Undeterred, they flew across the world in July of 2020, moving their family from India to the Bay Area to officially launch the product. COVID of course slowed things down. Especially considering they did so much in-person testing and community building with parents.
But by 2021, they raised a $7 million Seed round led Footwork (friends of The Split).
And in 2022, they began shipping their first cribs to customers in the US.
Buy One Now
I’ve kept in touch with Radhika and Bharath, and they’ve gone through multiple iterations of the product. They mentioned doing a Black Friday Sale this year (their first ever!)
I’ve never done a Holiday Gift Guide, and I’m not even an investor in the company, but it’s an incredible product to consider for any of the new parents in your life.
I get no kickback from this, but they gave me the code CWPC11_TURNER to share with readers for an extended warranty (worth $129).
If you grab one, let me know what you think, and if I should keep suggesting it to my new parent friends.
🚀 Product Launches
Snoop Dogg Goes Smokeless: Speaking of new products, late last week Snoop Dogg teased he was “giving up smoke”. The first line of thinking from this cryptic tweet was he’s launching a vape.
Yesterday, he explained “going smokeless” meant partnering with Solo Stove, the “smokeless firepit” (video here). It’s a great example of leveraging an existing brand to endorse new products.
OpenAI’s App Store: This isn’t even the biggest news from OpenAI over the past two weeks, but its new GPT Platform unveils its ambitions to make ChatGPT the interface for interacting with Generative AI. Its just the V1, and I’d expect a lot to evolve over time to get what most people are expecting - fully autonomous agents, or AI-powered robots that do whatever you tell them.
SiriusXM to Launch Spotify Competitor in Bid for Gen Z Streaming Spend: Expanding beyond satellite radio, SiriusXM plans to launch a streaming app in mid-December. It will come with personalized recommendations, discovery features, and a “revamped audio library”. This doesn’t seem to be any different than Spotify, and I’d guess success comes down entirely to its unique paid content catalog that includes shows with Kelly Clarkson, James Corden, and John Mayer. The big opportunity is programmatic audio ads when / if it hits scale, and I’d expect it to lean heavily into its existing install base in vehicles in order to do that.
📊 Numbers & Charts
Insights From 200 Unicorn Startup Journeys: A lot going on in this graphic highlighting the background of 200+ unicorn founders. Some highlights are that 30% attended an elite university, less than 20% worked at an “elite” company, 50% had previous startup experience, 55% were an immigrant or global citizen, 50% were serial entrepreneurs, 60% had a STEM background, and they had an average of 10 years work experience at founding date.
Early Stage Startup Valuations Hit Record High: A fascinating phenomenon considering capital deployed into startups has declined 40-75% depending on what data you’re looking at. What can record high valuations be attributed to?
Investors who pulled back from later stage investing but continue to invest at earlier stages. For them, it’s smaller checks ($5m vs $50m) that they see as feeler investments to potentially invest 10x more later on if things go well. These initial valuations don’t necessarily matter to them. And they’re generally investing in what they feel are consensus founders based on things like education, work experience, prior exits (a good checklist for this in the chart above). And there’s plenty more founders who aren’t raising any capital, which likely would have been at a lower valuation if it happened at all.
You can see some of this phenomenon playing out in other data. Graduation rates from a Seed to Series A rounds has been cut in half over the past year, with less than 18% of all startups that raised a Seed in 2021 raising a Series A within 24 months.
Startups are Running Out of Cash: Data from Pilot, an accounting firm serving thousands of venture-backed startups, shows the % of startups with less than 18 months of runway has increased from 47% to 57% over the past two years. Another way to interpret this chart is less than 20% of their startup clients are currently at breakeven.
Generative AI is Taking Freelance Jobs: (full paper here): A new study finds evidence that top freelancers were disproportionately affected by ChatGPT. Results from the study suggest that in the short term, generative AI reduced overall demand for knowledge workers of all types. It also found that the bottom-half of workers (in terms of skill) received twice the benefit from ChatGPT than the top-half.
1 in 5 US Teens Aware of ChatGPT Have Used it For Schoolwork: This number seemed incredibly low to me. Using ChatGPT for schoolwork appears to be more likely if a student has higher income, is older, and identifies as a boy.
Consumer Product Consumption is More Skewed Than You Think: 20% of the population makes up nearly 90% of cigarette consumption, 85% of beer consumption, ~75% of soda consumption, and lots more. The most surprising to me is how far from 50% toilet paper use seems to be. h/t Corry Wang for sharing.
Carbon Emissions by Country: Nothing that shocked me too much, but a good visual.
Notable headlines in case you missed them:
📚 Long Reads
Betting on Deep Tech: A look at returns investing in deep tech startups from Leo Polovets. I’m not 100% sold on all the exact methodology (the deep tech private market is certainly in some sort of bubble at the moment), but it is a good read. In summary, deep tech startups are 2x more likely to have a favorable exit, and that exit happens 6-24 months faster than non-deep tech startups.
Beyond SaaS: A quick history of the five software business models that have evolved over the past 70 years. The latest is usage-based pricing, and Phillip Clark at Thrive explains how LLMs could create a sixth: outcome-based pricing.
Pessimists Archive: Incredible collection of historical responses to new technologies, ideas, and trends. “Radio blamed for storms” is my favorite.
Inside August’s School Distribution Strategy: I love learning about creative new distribution channels. This is a shorter one on how personal care brand August has cracked offering its products (that include tampons, pads, and liners) in hundreds of middle school, high school, and university bathrooms across the US.
🔊 Podcast / Video
In case you missed them, here’s the two latest episodes of The Peel. Learn how Solugen turned $10k from a 2nd place finish at an MIT pitch competition into a 9-figure revenue business making “clean chemicals”, plus AirGarage’s journey to build a full stack parking management and operations company that helps landlords earn more revenue.
💼 Career Services
I’ve highlighted it here before, but Banana portfolio company Goals is hiring developers to help build their new free-to-play football (soccer) video game.
🐵 Monkey Business
If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s a good breakdown on what’s transpired at OpenAI over the past few days.
If you’ve been following it all live, some of my favorite memes from the past few days.
Click for video 👇
Click for video 👇