Home CompaniesB2C This Student-Led Startup Helps You Sort Through Subscription Box Options

This Student-Led Startup Helps You Sort Through Subscription Box Options

by Muriel Vega

Did you know that more than 2,000 subscription box services exist in the U.S. (as of March 2016)? From meal delivery to workout gear to treats for Fido, consumers want it all delivered — the average subscriber receives seven boxes and has at least twelve on their wish list.

BoxFynder helps you try-before-you-buy, letting users test different subscription boxes without a major monthly commitment. You can try a snack box one month, then a makeup box, or maybe a sock-of-the-month box — the sky is the limit — with their platform. Best of all, it’s under one subscription fee.

Founders JP Holdsworth, Pranov Duggasani, and Anees Ragy are all subscription box fans, but found themselves frustrated that they couldn’t try different ones without strings attached.

“Many customers who are interested in the idea of subscription boxes just don’t resonate with the idea that they have to subscribe to try a company’s box,” says Holdsworth. “It serves as a barrier and pushes these customers away. They don’t trust themselves to remember to cancel if they don’t like it or they don’t really trust the company to make cancelling it easy for them.”

To grow and refine their startup idea, the team joined the Create-X program, a startup accelerator for entrepreneurial students at Georgia Tech. Here, the team shares how they validated their idea through in-person and social media surveys and how they hope to grow their product.

What’s your pitch?

The subscription box industry is growing at an incredible rate. Unfortunately, some of these customers are being pushed away because there’s not good way to try out subscription boxes before you subscribe to them. BoxFynder is the solution to that. We give customers the power to subscribe to us and try a different subscription box every month. Once they find one (or a couple!) that they like, they can subscribe to these companies through us too. We’re breaking down the barriers that push away customers and helping businesses grow in the process. It also gives them exposure to the company without requiring them to commit to anything long-term.

How did you get the idea for this?

The three of us have been interested in subscription boxes for a while. Anees loves the different shaver kits and healthy snack subscriptions, Pranov is a huge fan of the sock subscriptions, and my favorite ones always include books, coffee, and art. As customers within the industry who were just trying to figure out which boxes are the best, we saw the problems that other customers are having firsthand. One day we sat down and figured out the best way for us (as customers) to try all the different boxes that we wanted to. 

What does it cost users?

$20/month for your choice of any subscription box each month that retails at around that same price.

What’s your current funding status?

We have funding from the Georgia Tech Create-X Program. Chris Klaus, a Georgia Tech alum, is the biggest benefactor behind the program and this is just one of the ways that he’s helping Atlanta become a hub for entrepreneurship. The team of mentors within the Create-X program is absolutely amazing as well; none of the teams in our Batch would be where we are without them.

You conducted surveys across social media. How did this help you validate your idea? 

We conducted surveys both on social media and in person. The interviews in person gave us a good idea of what percentage of the population knew of subscription boxes and had purchased them before. The most important learning from those interviews was that people don’t subscribe for a multitude of reasons, all of which point to the fact that they don’t want to subscribe to a company that they don’t trust just yet. That helped us prove that this is something the majority of the population can benefit from.

We’re constantly tailoring our website to include all of these features that customers love so much about their favorite subscription boxes. We realize that we’re changing the way for customers to interact with companies online but we want to make sure that the essence of each brand is still evident when you visit their box page on BoxFynder.

You’re currently enrolled in the Create-X incubator program at Georgia Tech. Tell us about how it’s helped you as a company.

In May of 2017 we were joined by about 20 other teams in the program for a 16-week hustle to build a product, refine our idea, and prepare for Demo Day at the end of August where we’ll be put in front of investors at the Fox Theater. The main benefit is the community and environment. We work closely with some amazing mentors who coach us weekly in a case-study classroom setting. Our goal is to ensure we are solving a valid problem that we are also able to scale. Every idea we have is questioned and every solution to a problem we have is challenged.

We’re not just working with successful entrepreneurs, we’re also getting amazing advice from other teams that are going through the same process as us. Some of our best solutions come from just chatting with each other while we eat lunch or dinner. We see each other grow every week and it fuels us to work faster and harder.

There are several box categories available. What are they and what kind of companies have you partnered with so far?

We’ve been able to partner with some amazing boxes so far and handpick only the best suppliers that we know our customers are going to love. We’re working with a few business owners who are stimulating their local economy by bringing products from their area to the rest of the continent. We’ve also partnered with a company that’s bringing fun and engaging science experiments to kids around the world. It’s sort of a crazy variety of boxes that we’ve signed on. That’s the beauty of the subscription box industry, though. There’s a subscription box out there for everyone and everything, you just don’t know that it exists yet.

Our goal is to provide customers with a new valuable experience each month while giving our suppliers brand recognition and scale. In the process, we’ve made friends with our U.S. suppliers and taken or given advice from all of them.

Who are your competitors?

One competitor we face is CrateJoy. Right now, they serve as a marketplace for customers to purchase different box subscriptions. In talking with customers who have purchased there as well as entrepreneurs who have listed their product there, we noticed that there’s still a disconnect between doing research on boxes to find the best one for you and purchasing your subscription.

We make it much easier for customers to do that and now we’re providing a different way for subscription box companies to get exposure too.

Have you partnered with any local boxes? How has the ATL community supported you?

Our first conversation with a subscription box company was actually with Sock Fancy, a company run by two other Atlanta natives. They were able to answer important questions for us about subscription box companies and how they worked. More importantly, they were enthusiastic about our idea, helped us think through problems, and continue to give us advice as we move towards our goals. That kind of “southern hospitality” is exactly why Atlanta is becoming a hub of entrepreneurship. Atlantans want to see each other succeed and we’re becoming better as a city because of that.

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