F-U-N-D-E-D: Doctors, hair weaves and razors are coming to you

Homebodies, rejoice! Venture capital wants to make sure you never have to get out of your pajamas.

Max Taves Staff Reporter
Max writes about venture capitalism and startups while seeking out the new new thing to come out of Silicon Valley. He joined CNET News from The Wall Street Journal, where he contributed stories on commercial real estate, architecture, big data and more. He's also written for LA Weekly, Slate and American Lawyer Media's The Recorder, where he covered legal battles in Silicon Valley. Max holds degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Max Taves
4 min read

With investments into startups that send doctors, medicine and even human hair to you, Silicon Valley is taking away some remaining reasons to leave home Hugo Espinoza, Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images

Silicon Valley's cash spoke this week. Here's what it said about the future:

Doctors will once again be coming to you. Ordering hair weaves and razors will never be easier. You'll have one more company to help park your car. Oh, and you'll be shopping for your next bed from your current one.

While big data for the enterprise, cloud storage services and Israeli cybersecurity startups still dominate the investment charts, those aren't the only companies earning venture's (green) blessing.

This past week, investors placed large bets aimed at indulging the laziest consumers. Forget conspicuous consumption. We're talking convenient consumption.


Mayvenn allows people to buy hair extensions and other hair care products from their hair stylists. The startup just got a $10 million investment from some of the Silicon Valley's best-known investors, including Andreessen Horowitz.

Speaking of the beauty-by-mail business, Dollar Shave Club, which sends customers razor blades for about $7 per month, received $75 million this week. Despite still not turning a profit, it's now reportedly worth $615 million, proving there's big money in saving men from their arduous and costly ritual of buying new razors at CVS.

And even though we didn't think it was possible, more money just went into helping you park your car. Parking startups are sprouting up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. SpotHero, ParkWhiz, Luxe, Parking Panda and Passport are part of a longer list of companies raising venture cash this year. And now this week investors put $2.5 million into Australia-based Divvy, which connects drivers with unused parking spaces.

Beyond parking, weaves and razors, the cash that's funding technology points to a future where we never have to leave the house when shopping for pretty much anything, including your next bed.

Disrupt Mattresses

Casper designs, sells and ships its own brand of mattresses -- think memory foam meets latex. It appears a lot of people are starting to skip a trip to Sleepy's and other bedding retailers and instead are just clicking on Casper's site.

Since the company launched in April 2014, it has made, sold and shipped more than 50,000 mattresses, according to the company's CEO Philip Krim, who explains the appeal of his company this way: "What we saw is that we could cut out the retailers who make egregious margins and offer users a great bed for under $1,000 for every size."

And Casper has the plans -- and the cash -- to start selling a lot more. This week, it raised $55 million from Institutional Venture Partners and (for whatever reason) actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire and musician Adam Levine.

Casper's Krim says he plans to take the company international this year, and will use the cash infusion to design new products. "Sheets and pillows are definitely something you'll see this year," he says.

Grabbing investors' interest seems to come easily to Casper. A few months after it started in April 2014, the company received $13.1 million in funding from a who's who of investors -- including Ron Conway's SV Angel and New Enterprise Associates.

And yet, Silicon Valley's VCs initially didn't like his idea.

"When we were out raising our seed round, we were told 'no' dozens of times," says Krim.

Wait, venture capitalists can be wrong?

In the house

One major reason left for leaving home is slowly crumbling. That's because the nurse, the doctor and the shrink are coming to you. (In fact, the medicine is, too, but that's a different story.)

Accessing medical care via smartphone is a big business. An analysis by venture capital research firm CB Insights found that 42 mobile-based medicine startups have collectively raised $1.3 billion. Just last week, Doctor On Demand -- which connects doctors, psychologists and even lactation consultants to patients via video but not in person -- raised $50 million.

And the same week, competitor Teladoc, which matches patients with doctors via telephone and video conferencing, said it hopes to raise $136.9 million in an upcoming IPO. That company, which raised more than $50 million from venture capital firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in September, saw 299,000 patients use its platform last year, a 135 percent increase over 2013.

But the newest mobile health startups want to actually bring the doctor to your house, not just to your phone, says CB Insights analyst Matt Wong,

Think of it as the return of house calls, and then some.

Earlier this year, New York-based Pager, which sends doctors to homes and offices, raised $10.4 million.

And then this week, Heal whose app sends a nearby doctor to your house for $99 just received $5 million from three venture firms and unnamed angel investors. Lionel Richie and former Dodgers co-owner Jamie McCourt were early investors in the company, which launched in Los Angeles in January and expanded to San Francisco in April.

"We've just started seeing interest in this space," says Wong. "This is where the next frontier of on-demand funding is headed. Consumers are going to have doctors visit via the click of a button."

Welcome to the future. It's easy, and it's coming to you.

F-U-N-D-E-D is a regular column looking -- and sometimes laughing -- at what Silicon Valley has backed in the last week.