Lark is the startup you'll want to sleep with

The alarm clock from the underdog in the battle for sleep improvement tech wakes you silently. And now it comes with sleep coach software.

Lark's new sleep coach starts with a 7-day test of your sleep habits. Later it helps you set sleep goals that could lead to better health. Lark.com

Hark! Lark is adding new personal sleep coach software to its silent alarm clock and sleep tracker that you wear on your wrist.

Tracking how much your arm moves as you sleep, Lark sends data via Bluetooth to an iPhone app indicating how well you're sleeping. When it's time to wake up, the device gently nudges you awake with vibrations. This is especially helpful for people who wake at a different hour than their partner or roommates. Now, with today's software launch, you can not only track how you sleep but you can get personalized advice on how to sleep better.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Lark is the startup underdog in the battle for sleep improvement technology. It competes directly with Zeo, the sleep monitor you strap to your head (and the monitor you've probably heard of). Zeo Mobile costs the same amount as Lark for the monitor and smartphone software ($99) and it also offers a coaching program to help you sleep better.

What makes Lark slightly more appealing is that you wear this device on your wrist instead of your head. But the main reason I'm keeping tabs on Lark is the 26 year-old founder and CEO, Julia Hu. Even as a first time hardware entrepreneur, she's getting the attention of some impressive partners.

"We were the first hardware startup PCH ever worked with," says Hu of the China-based hardware developer with thousands of factories. "We were the pilot company for their accelerator."

Lark CEO and founder Julia Hu Lark.com

PCH isn't the only major tech player that has Lark's back. Perhaps Lark should have been called "Luck." After just one meeting, Apple put Lark on the shelves of Apple Stores across North America. Every Apple store. Lark is also available in Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, and select Targets. While many early-stage startups are struggling for attention, Lark has already landed in a retailer near you.

There's no doubt that the angels and venture capitalists of Silicon Valley are swarming around Lark at this very moment. Hu says she's ready to raise her first formal round of funding. So far the company, which started in 2010, has thrived on $1 million in funding and about $80,000 Hu won in startup competitions. Lark has 12 employees, but as the company eyes international markets that number is clearly about to double, at the very least.

Today's software announcement comes at a perfect time. Just when you have no idea what to get that person on your list who has everything, along comes Personal Sleep Coach. The software doesn't require existing Lark users to rush out and buy a new piece of hardware. For those of you who don't own a sleep-monitoring device, this could be the incentive you need to choose Lark over competitors.

Personal Sleep Coach ($60 for the upgrade) teaches you what kind of a sleeper you are (there are 12 types) and how to improve your sleep. The Personal Sleep Coach goes on to monitor your sleep weekly and monthly to track external factors such as caffeine intake. Hu likes to mention that Lark's initial 7-Day Sleep Assessment is designed by a sleep expert who coaches professional athletes how to sleep better.

Hu won't share the company's current revenue status or profitability, leaving one's imagination to estimate how successful the company can be based on retail sales. Besides the $99 for Lark basic, you can spend $159 for Lark Pro (which includes the sleep coach). Hu isn't saying how much the devices cost to make or how many have been sold, but this just might be a second year startup that's in the black.

"We are excited to help our users improve their lives," says Hu. Some investors are hoping this little startup will improve their bank accounts.

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About the author

Regina Hope Sinsky writes about startups. She studied journalism at the College of Charleston and spent several years in television writing and production. After moving to the Bay Area she decided all the best stories came from startups, so she jumped into tech writing. Regina specializes in interviews with interesting people doing nonobvious things with technology.

 

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