UpCart continues to shine with exponential growth


It’s been an exciting year for UpCart. August is the unofficial anniversary as a company. The first shipment of UpCarts arrived in August of 2015. In August of 2016, UpCart officially broke into the International market with a couple major distributors and today is the last day of August 2017… This month we broke the $2M revenue mark for international, (they are currently sold in 18 countries) and fell just short of hitting $7M total revenue (expect to hit it in September).

“We just about matched last year’s total revenue with four months left to go… so we continue to grow at a very nice pace (note, we have over $1M in current receivables, so we are on track to hit our conservative goals and if we have a strong Q4, we should hit some of our more aggressive goals),” Michael Reznik, CEO of UpCart said.

However some of the most exciting things to come are only just now taking shape. UpCart just released their newest product the UpCart Lift at the hardware show In May and the first shipment of this item only arrived in their warehouse a couple months ago. The UpCart Lift is being met with remarkably positive response. This item already sold out once on Amazon and has been picked up by Home Depot, Tractor Supply, Do It Best, and a major US retailer is conducting a 16-store test in September to see how it sells. If it goes well, they will roll UpCart out nationwide.

UpCart has also just recently launched on Bed Bath and Beyond and are weeks away from launching on Lowes.com

With all the new opportunities taking shape, UpCart would be remiss if they failed to mention their success with QVC.

“QVC continues to be a great channel for us,” Reznik notes. “We released the UpCart in new colors exclusive to QVC this year and the customers love it. We sold out of the first shipment very quickly and they have re-ordered several times. We expect the colored UpCart to be a great seller this holiday season on QVC.”

UpCart also has a few exciting new variants under development right now that will be launched next year, including an updated version of the UpCart that will replace the UpCart Original and Deluxe.

Lastly, UpCart will be issuing a press release in a couple weeks announcing their “Up For Anything Video Contest”. They will be conducting a nationwide video contest and awarding a $10,000 cash prize to the video receiving the most votes.

 

Top Recruit and Wounded Warriors

One of our early investments, Top Recruit, is celebrating our Nation’s Veterans and giving back to the community with their upcoming, inaugural Gulfport Mississippi event – the Gulfport Veterans Day Showcase. Proceeds from registration fees for this event will go to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We will be donating a minimum of $3,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project, but hope to be able to donate more,” Ian Jones, CEO of Top Recruit, said.

More than 40 teams are anticipated to participate in the exposure camp that boasts 20-30 college coaches in attendance, varying from Division I to Division III. These exposure camps are a great avenue for players to get in front of college coaches, allowing these coaches to see a player’s level of ability as well as their response to higher-level coaching and constructive criticism. This dynamic for a college coach is imperative when it comes to recruiting as any adjustments they’d like to see out of a player cannot be done through simply watching tournament games.

Top Recruit will also be hosting a canned-food drive with their camp, providing $25 off the cost of registration to each player who brings 3 canned-food items. These food items will be donated to the Gulf Coast Salvation Army.

“These are both Veteran focused charities, so we felt they go hand-in-hand,” Jones said. “I have a friend from college who was badly wounded while in combat, as well as friends who are currently active in the military. This is a cause close to my heart and I felt that I couldn’t have an event over Veterans Day weekend and not find a way to give back to those who sacrifice for us,” Jones added.

We are proud of Top Recruit and their commitment to giving back.

Powerit just might end up being a Unicorn


Before you read too far, I want to be clear that I won’t delete this post, which means that in 5-7 years I’ll either look like a genius or this will make for some fun reflection and analysis as to why it didn’t happen and I can be reminded of it while I’m eating humble pie.

If you can’t tell by that intro, yes, I believe Powerit is going to be a true disruptor. Not in the sense that blockchain is going to be. That’s still picking up steam and going mainstream, but you can see the many uses of that tech and it will truly change how companies interact and share data and much more.

No. Powerit will be a disruptor because it fits perfectly into everyday life and adopted behaviors. Powerit will allow people to do more, untethered. Powerit is the first new battery that will be released commercially in 30+ years. I don’t want to hear about your favorite Techcrunch science project that will never leave the lab or chemists that have found the holy grail only to have it die and never see the light of day. This is real and it’s amazing.

Powerit’s first release will be a single use zinc-air battery that will deliver a punch of power on demand without ever needing to be charged. A chemistry that has been fine-tuned and perfected to be delivered in many different form factors to solve a variety of needs. Think power to people in natural disasters. Think electronics for Doctors Without Borders. Think displaced users at events without a plug in site. Think of the millions–no billions–of power bricks that need to be recharged at the most inopportune time. Powerit is going to handle all of that and more. And for those of you without vision, I’m not just talking about Americans. Mobile behavior isn’t just big in the USA. In fact, it’s even bigger outside of our country and the reliance on portability and access to power will only get bigger. Yes, I love Powerit’s chances.

One of my favorite little companies is hand delivering light to people in underdeveloped countries. I just imagine what that light can do for knowledge and learning. It’s like they handed people an electronic candle and you can see how it will slowly transform an entire people as they read and are more productive into the night. Powerit will be able to do things like that and you should love it, too.

The interest in Powerit has been great so far and it’s going to take off like a rocket when they can drop functional prototypes in people’s hands late 2017 and all Spring 2018. This first technology is going to set the bar and the next technology to be released (projected 2019) is going to be like printing money.

I could easily go on and on about why Powerit is going to win big. And true, it may not make it to Unicorndom, but it will only be because it got bought too early.

Vegas baby, Vegas


As the Entrepreneur in Residence for Varkain, I feel very fortunate to be a part of an amazing, up-and-coming venture fund in Las Vegas, NV. We’re not known for our tech companies or tech entrepreneurship, but we hope to change that. General Partner Laurie Hinckley is controlled-aggressiveness personified and I mean that with the utmost respect. If you asked any of our partner companies, they would tell you that Varkain doesn’t waste time when it comes to money and we never waste an entrepreneur’s time, which might be more important.

When I travel to other markets (Utah, SoCal, Denver, New York, Boston, Austin) to raise money or pitch it becomes increasingly more obvious to me how different Varkain really is. When I meet with entrepreneurs at various accelerators or when they come to town, I am always told how much they appreciate Varkain’s direct approach and wish we weren’t hiding in Las Vegas.

I think Varkain’s short-term success can be attributed to its infancy and good fortune avoiding bad habits or predisposition to how things are “normally” done. It can also be attributed to Laurie’s great analytical mind and her willingness to dive deep into companies and industries. Varkain also has a great network developed over the past four years and willing mentors who have assisted us along the way. Being from Vegas, we don’t see much local deal flow, but we do get introduced to great companies from a trusted network and that likely has something to do with our success. But ultimately, nobody forces Varkain to cut checks and it’s on our head to pull the trigger, so to speak. We also benefit because we don’t have quotas or LPs to please. Being independent clearly, has its perks.

Varkain has big plans for the future. I’m not sure how long I’ll be involved as JRNL grows, but Varkain’s goals are mighty and the people working behind the scenes are even bolder. We hope to bring great tech to Vegas and we expect to make it a place where entrepreneurs with great ideas seeking to change the world come to be lifted up and get a real shot.