While you may expect a baby gear rental startup to have origins in a new parent’s struggles, Alli Cavasino said that her interest in the topic actually began when she started looking at her consumption patterns.
Living in a rural southern town, she said, she didn’t have curbside recycling or donation centers nearby.
“Everything that I was consuming was ending up in the trash the next day when I was done with it,” Cavasino told Technical.ly. “So I was just becoming hyper-aware of how much waste I was producing on a daily basis and knew that something needed to change,”
Soon after, she started a job at a company that rented construction equipment and wondered why this model couldn’t expand into other industries — like baby gear. Fast forward a few years, after meeting cofounder Natalie Poston while they were completing MBAs at Georgetown University, and JoyLet — forthcoming pun absolutely intended — was born.
DC-based JoyLet, which landed on our 2021 RealLIST Startups list earlier this year, is a rental company for such baby gear as bassinets, strollers, breast pumps and sleeping pods. New parents or experienced ones looking for a gear reboot can select a one-time rental or explore one of the subscription or bundle offerings for their (sorry to the pun haters) bundles of joy.
The two-person startup just built upon these products by launching its Amazon Prime-style membership, for which parents can pay $199.00 a year for flexibility in trying out and swapping rentals. Members can also buy gear that they like without a delivery fee, as well as receive a discount on the monthly rental rates. JoyLet additionally provides a gear guide course to help parents with what to pick and a newborn bundle with a full-service offering of everything a parent could need.
The idea, Cavasino said, is to offer flexibility alongside the newest products on the market — things she said are unavailable in the current methods of acquiring baby gear.
“[Parents] are spending thousands of dollars on that first year and there’s no flexibility to try out different products,” Cavasino said. “You can’t try something out, see if it works for your baby and your lifestyle and change your mind if it doesn’t since you’ve already purchased that item.”
The gear available, Poston and Cavasino said, is all-new from manufacturers; They don’t accept gear donations to ensure cleanliness and quality. Larger items are only available in DC (Poston and Cavasino also offer a concierge service to help parents set up the gear) while smaller, lightweight ones can be shipped around the country.
Eventually, the pair look to expand into offering gear for toddlers, as well as developmental and educational products for older kids. But for now, as the startup grows, JoyLet specializes in newborn care.
While the company is relatively new, you’ve probably heard of it if you keep your ear to the ground on local rising startups. Besides landing on our list, JoyLet was a winner at DC Startup Week’s competition, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge and Bark Tank in 2021. This year, it won Georgetown’s GEA Alumni Pitch Competition, through which it received a $100,000 angel investment, and raised an additional $150,000 in angel funding. For now, Poston said, the company is still working off of those funds. The founders will look for additional pre-seed funding a little further down the line.
The company also has some big plans for 2023, including adding to the team after Poston and Cavasino were able to make JoyLet their full-time responsibility earlier this year. It will also launch in some new markets, starting with Baltimore.
And while the company had its initial threads started outside of DC, its founders said that the district’s innovation community has offered it a great starting point.
“We’ve been this really cool born-and-bred Georgetown startup that has really come out of the ecosystem,” Poston said.