1) Thingtesting raises $300,000 to grow its “unbiased” consumer review platform, a proposition full of trade-offs.

WHAT HAPPENED: Thingtesting, founded by Jenny Gyllander in 2017, is a website and Instagram page that reviews direct-to-consumer products. The platform raised the money from Silicon Valley investors and Tina Sharkey, co-founder of Brandless. WHY IT MATTERS
  • Thingtesting has built trust with a select group of consumers and venture capitalists, but scaling it to a larger audience is not guaranteed. Gyllander says the main ingredients of Thingtesting’s success are honesty and authenticity—two components that many direct-to-consumer brands credit for their own success. The Wirecutter, now owned by The New York Times, has done this rather well reviewing a broad swath of consumer products. But focusing on a specific category of brands artificially limits the playing field—in some categories, products from legacy brands could be better than direct-to-consumer ones.
  • A critic-driven model is a good start, but peer-to-peer reviews remain important. Scaling trust is challenging, given the need and/or want to rely on a larger group of voices. Gyllander plans to hire a team of reviewers to join her in the near future. This is vital for scaling Thingtesting’s reach, but with this reach comes the risk of diluting the opinion—and therefore the trust—that Gyllander has garnered. The small amount of money the company has raised ensures that, at least for the time being, it won’t be scaling rapidly just yet. But the Wirecutter itself was entirely bootstrapped.