Lumiary Gives Indie Retailers a Shot at Competing With the Big Guys


Lumiary image - Nibletz

Indie retail (think Etsy and Shopify) is becoming a big deal these days. With these revolutionary platforms, every day entrepreneurs and makers can sell products direct to consumers. By cutting out big retailers, these individuals and small companies have higher profit margins and better chance at success.

But, they still lack one thing.


incontent3Lumiary, founded by several tech veterans including Etsy’s former head of analytics, solves that problem for them. Their system creates a marketing dashboard that can compete with big companies.

Check out our Q&A with Lumiary below:

1) What’s your startup called?


2) What’s your big idea?

Independent retail has lost half its market share over the past 30 years. At Lumiary, we believe independent makers and brands are now producing some of the best products out there. And because of the internet, they can reach just as many shoppers as large retailers. When it comes to marketing themselves, however, they are wildly outgunned when it comes to budget, data, and expertise. So even with a superior product, independent retailers are being left behind.

Our mission is to help makers and independent brands compete with big brands by leveraging their more personal relationships with their customers, fans, and followers. Lumiary is an integrated marketing platform for indie ecommerce brands that works just like the big data dashboards that all the big guys have, but is tailored for their unique strengths. Currently, the only analytics, marketing, CRM options for these small businesses are point solutions, forcing busy entrepreneurs to pull data from multiple platforms on their own and then attempt to make sense of it.

3) What’s the story behind your idea?

Each of the Lumiary founders approaches indie brand marketing from a different perspective.  Carrington comes from Etsy, Charles consulted for American made indie brands, and Matt built multichannel merchandising technology for small retailers. We came together when we collectively realized the widening gap in product quality, originality and authenticity between the big brands and independent ones. We felt more shoppers should be buying products from independent retailers, and our mission is help them take back market share.

4) Who are the founders?

Carrington Williams, formerly head of analytics and business development at Etsy, and Product Manager at AOL

Matthew Knight, formerly from Reconstrukt, EMC and Computer Associates

Charles Valentine, formerly a vice president at Discovery Communications and advisor to Northern Grade and Pierrepont Hicks

5) Where are you located?

Richmond, Va.

6) What’s the startup scene like there?

The startup scene in Richmond is quickly growing and changing. New incubators have popped up in the past 2-3 years, we are a part of one called 80amps, backed by the nationally recognized Martin Agency. And there is a huge creative/maker culture coming out of VCU Design and Brand schools.

7) What milestones have you reached?

We have just now come out of our beta, and now have our first paying customers. We’ve also gone through the painstaking work of establishing critical integrations with the leading ecommerce platforms, social networks and analytics tools, including Shopify, Big Commerce, Magento, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Google Analytics.

8) What are your next milestones?

Up next we’re going integrate with Etsy stores, so we can offer our easy to use marketing platform to the millions of amazing stores on Etsy. We’re also launching soon our customer micro-segmenting tool to allow brands be more personal in customer communications and thus increase sales from email campaigns.

9) Where can people find out more?


PlanG Is All Things Giving–Right In One Place

PlanG, Richmond Startup, Cause marketing, social entrepreneurship, startup, Monica SelbyMy favorite thing about working in startups?

Companies like PlanG. We are inundated with apps, social networks, and games that seem to make little real difference in the world. It’s often hard to identify the real problem companies are solving, even if those companies are creating something fun.

PlanG isn’t like that. Instead, PlanG is taking philanthropic giving and making it easier and more efficient. Individuals simply create a “giving” account and deposit funds into it from their credit or debit cards. They can also create fundraising campaigns to get their friends involved, or give and receive PlanG gift cards. Then, each person can pick from over 1 million charities to give to, as many charities as they want. The PlanG account gives the money securely, and at tax time, there’s a tax report all ready to go.

Personally, I love this idea alone. It makes it easier to manage the money you give to causes you love, and increases your awareness of what you’re giving. I’m sold on just those features.

But, the best thing about PlanG is the platform they’ve created for brands.

We all know how giving-through-shopping works: brands pick a cause and customers know when they purchase something, a percentage goes to the advertised cause. Think Gap’s (red) campaign.

This tactic is called cause marketing, and it allows brands to promote brand loyalty through the emotional connection people have with giving to others. By some measures, 80% of customers are willing to switch if a brand is associated with a good cause.

How much more powerful would that be if the individual shopper could pick the cause themselves?

PlanG’s “Spend and Give” platform allows brands to offer just that kind of customization. When you shop at businesses with the free platform, a percentage of your purchase is deposited into your PlanG account. Then you can give to whichever cause you see fit.

With their suite of business products, PlanG helps brands build customer loyalty, but it also makes giving more frictionless for individuals. Sometimes the big name organizations a brand might partner with are actually pretty controversial. Customers may not want their money going to that particular cause. Allowing individuals to channel their money to causes they love will also increase their loyalty to the brand.


The Richmond-based company has had a busy 16 months.Founded in 2010 by Marti Beller, Heather Loftus, and Melina Davis-Martin, they closed a $4 million angel round in February 2012. They used that money to build their beta site and various features of the product. The site launched out of beta in February 2013, and now they are focusing on new strategic partnerships with businesses that may want to utilize PlanG’s giving platform.

Check out the PlanG website for more information and keep up with them on Twitter. This female-led startup is doing great things.

This 14 year old social entrepreneur in Chattanooga has been at it for 4 years already.


Richmond Startup: Lending Clouds, Legally Crowdfunding Startups NOW!

Lendingclouds,Richmond startup,Virginia startup,startup,crowdfundingOne of the biggest steps in supporting startups in 2012 was the passing of the JOBS Act. The act itself was passed earlier this year and then turned over to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), to develop regulations. The JOBS Act is the legislation that will eventually make it possible to use crowdfunding sites, similar to how Kickstarter functions, to sell off micr0-equity stakes in companies up to $1 million dollars.

The SEC had originally announced that they would be done setting up the regulations back in July, however that was quickly moved to January of 2013. At this time it’s unclear as to when crowdfunding for equity in startups will officially start.

Several “crowdfunding” startups have launched. Others have launched websites with beta invites and LaunchRock’s in preparation for when they’ll truly be able to crowdfund for equity. Other sites have set up the ability to support startup companies with mico investments in exchange for “perks” like t-shirts, swags and hardware samples.

Barry Rickert, a 40 year veteran in the private equity field, has used his vast knowledge and experience, along with the law, to side step the JOBS Act and create a way to fund startups now.

His Richmond startup, Lendingclouds, is going to give back royalties instead of equity and to get that you need to join the sites “club”.

The combination of royalty based small business financing offers no debt and no personal guarantees to small business that need capital to grow, while at the same time giving investors access to high yield investments that pay immediate income. It’s really quite ingenious. The members only, online Crowdfunding Investment store brings together entrepreneurs and investors in a unique manner designed to benefit both. The funding group provides exclusive investment opportunities to members who bring as little as $100 to the table. Lending Clouds does this by accepting applications from entrepreneurs, which once approved, are offered to investors.

Investor members participate in what is known as crowdfunding. Rickert’s form of crowdfunding is focused on pooling resources to invest funds in new businesses, products and ideas that provide royalty based returns. Members are able to spread their funds amongst many different investments, which lessens their risk. Returns of 25%+ are expected on successful ventures. In 20 years, this can result in a $5,000 investment paying $1 million.

“We’re looking forward to working we people who have never invested before,” says Lending Clouds President, Barry Rickert, “and who may have a few hundred dollars or more to put towards various projects and products. There are a few unique aspects to Lending Clouds and crowdfunding, which makes us especially attractive to investors and entrepreneurs.” Rickert adds, “Unlike the stock market, investors don’t need a lot of money, and they start to see payments come back to them within 60 to 90 days.”

Members have access to exclusive listings posted on the Lending Clouds online store. They may read through the various opportunities and decide to put money in one or more projects. Once all funding is in place, an Investment Club is created as the vehicle for making the group investment. The club money is released to the user/grantee (entrepreneur) in return for a royalty agreement that details the product or service to be sold and the royalty to be paid over the term of the agreement. Investors start to receive payments as per the agreement between the user/grantee and grantor/investor usually within 30-90 days.

Rickert notes, “The opportunities we are providing investors with are easier to understand than stock offerings, with terms explicitly stated. Our investment opportunities are for expansion and growth with entities that are already established and familiar to our investors. This also helps to lessen risk.” He observes, “Grantees are looking for as little as $25,000 and as much as $2 million, with the average fund being capitalized at about $100,000. An investor can put as little as $100 into a fund.”

As part of Rickert’s lean startup strategy, he is giving away a significant number of $100 credits to new members, with no strings attached. About the only catch (if you can call it a catch) is that investors must pick an investment that gets funded. However, if it doesn’t, they’re free to use the funds to pick another investment. Rickert also states that while the offerings are very small today, he has some million dollar deals in the pipeline.

While hundreds of crowdfunding sites popped up the minute the JOBS Act was officially passed, Lending Clouds is not a flash in the pain, or a scam. Rickert has decades of experience in the field and has come up with the quickest, easiest and most legal way to start using crowdfunding mechanics to invest now, not when the SEC is ready.


Go see for yourself at

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