Behind Every Good Product Is a Story; The Daily Grommet Brings You One a Day

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share them. But you have to make them accessible and bite-sized and interesting.”

Pieri has degrees in industrial design from the University of Michigan and business from Harvard, and has worked on product development for companies as different as Burroughs (the computer company bought by Unisys) and shoemaker StrideRite/Keds. After a four-year family detour to Ireland in 2001-2005 and a stint as chief operating officer at Ziggs, a LinkedIn-like professional social networking company based in Boston, Pieri says she wanted to build her own social-media startup.

To get the company launched, she assembled a pool of angel funders that includes such luminaries as Daphne Kis, who was for many years the president and CEO of Esther Dyson’s investment firm, EDventure Holdings, and Geraldine Laybourne, the founder of the Oxygen women’s television network. Laybourne came out of the audience after Pieri finished a business presentation to say she wanted to support the company. “She said that what she saw in this venture was great brand building and a really simple concept that should have been done before but hadn’t,” Pieri says.

The Daily Grommet went live on October 20, 2008, and has since featured about 175 items. The company’s office is littered with samples of the products, including everything from the Shred Sled flexible skateboard to chocolate chews formulated especially for pregnant moms. Pieri says the staff of five full-time and seven part-time researchers and producers works three to six weeks ahead.

The Grommet Gallery“We always have a bunch of grommets at various stages of testing and development,” she says. “We usually produce the video the week before [the grommet is featured], but sometimes it might not be until the night before. The video is one of the last things we do, because we really need to know the product, and we put together a lot of Flip footage and other source material.”

The company’s business model is straightforward. A new grommet appears on the site at noon each weekday. For the first 24 hours after a grommet goes up on the site, customers can buy the item directly from the Daily Grommet site, usually for a discounted retail price; the company contracts for as many units as it thinks it can sell, and sends back the unsold goods (that’s the consignment part). After the first day, the company forwards Daily Grommet visitors to its product partners’ own sites, and earns an affiliate commission on any resulting sales.

Omar Khudari, the CEO of Cecropia and the former chief operating officer of ViaWeb (the Paul Graham e-commerce company sold to Yahoo in 1998), is one of the company’s newest investors—and also a living demonstration that the Grommet formula isn’t spun just toward women shoppers. “When I first presented the business to him in a PowerPoint, he said he just wasn’t interested,” Pieri recounts. “But he came to me more recently and said, … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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