The company is announcing it has raised $1 million in seed funding from investors, including Shopify co-founder Scott Lake, the Pereira/Wharton family, the founders of Pomme Natural Markets and Simon Whitfield (the Olympic triathlete) and Brenda Irwin of Relentless Pursuit Partners.
Founder and CEO Annalea Krebs insisted that she doesn’t see Social Nature as limited to a specific niche.
“An entire generation wants better products,” Krebs said. “We are the platform for progressive brands who want to reach the millennial consumer.”
The Social Nature model works by connecting businesses such as Lightlife (plant-based meats), GoodBelly (probiotics) and Derma-e (skin care) with consumers who might be interested in trying their products. Those consumers can agree to receive free products and coupons, then they can post reviews on the Social Nature, which can then be shared via social media.
To be clear, Krebs said users aren’t paid for posting, and they aren’t required to leave positive reviews. The Social Nature team supposedly vets every product and its goal is to match people with things they’ll actually like, but, “We are not prompting them to say that they loved it. We’re asking them for their honest opinion.”
More than 100,000 people have signed up to join the Social Nature community so far. Krebs described the model as focused on “everyday influencers,” not just people who have millions of followers. In other words, these reviews should feel like recommendations from friends, not from social media celebrities.
As for what actually constitutes a natural product, the Social Nature website says it’s looking for “products that care for the planet, respect animal rights, benefit the community and promote wellness.”
Krebs added that the company is usually looking for things like organic and fair trade certification, but obtaining those certifications can be “cost prohibitive for smaller brands,” so the team also makes “judgment calls” on a case-by-case basis.