🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week: Whirli 
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Subscription service for children’s toys
Whirli is a toy-sharing subscription service that gives its customers flexible access to a wide range of toys for children from 0 to 8 years old. Parents receive toys in the mail after selecting them online. They can seamlessly send them back in exchange for other toys when their kids outgrow them, thereby preventing clutter.
🔗 Check them out: www.whirli.com
💰 Business Model
Customers can choose between the Toy Sack, Toy Box, Toy Trunk, and Toy Chest subscription plans. Each option comes with an increasing token allowance which can be exchanged for toys in Whirli’s catalog, where 1 token is worth £1. For example, with Toy Box, their most popular subscription, customers pay a £14.99 ($21.22) monthly fee which lets them choose toys with an allowance of 120 Whirli Tokens, or £120. Payment options are flexible, with customers able to choose from fixed monthly, biannual, and annual subscriptions.
📈 Traction and Fundraising
  • Raised £4 million ($5.6 million) in seed funding from Octopus Ventures and MMC Ventures
  • Has an existing toy catalog of over 50,000 toys
👫 Founder(s)
  • Nigel Phan, Managing Director: Previously Chair of the Board of Trustees @ The Kids Network, Associate Partner @ McKinsey, EE MEng @ Imperial College London
🔮 Our Analysis
To those who have watched the Toy Story movies, you’re probably aware of the feeling of guilt when it cuts to Andy’s old toys gathering dust as they enviously peer down on their replacements. I remember my own discarded toys lying dormant in the attic, and chances are that I am not the only one. On average, parents spend around £300 ($425) per year on new toys for their children, despite 60% of existing toys remaining unused at home—this is where Whirli comes in. Dubbed “the Netflix for Toys,” Whirli offers a more accessible, more sustainable, and cheaper alternative compared to the buy, use, and throw away model that currently exists. However, unlike other marketplaces, Whirli sources its toys directly from retailers so that customers always have access to popular items. In the UK alone, toys are a £5 billion ($7 billion) stale industry dominated by a few major corporations. With no obvious competitors in the toy marketplace space, Whirli has the opportunity to consolidate market share and simultaneously revolutionize toy consumption habits. Founder Nigel Phan has said that like many other early-stage startups, Whirli is prioritizing revenue growth and its customer value proposition over immediate profit. Features such as subsidized courier delivery and discounts for customers returning toys with reused packaging materials have led to rave reviews on popular review sites Trustpilot and Mumsnet. With happy customers and a long runway for growth, Whirli is one to watch out for.
📚 Further Reading
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🎁 Bonus Content!
Per Crunchbase, nearly $161.5 billion of venture capital poured into U.S.-based companies last year. If you'd like to learn more about how this money was distributed across the country, you can read the full article here.
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