Whirli, a London-founded subscription platform for kids toys, has landed a £4 million seed round led by Octopus Ventures, with participation from MMC Ventures.
Launched in 2019, the startup claims to be bringing sustainability to the toys industry. According to the company's own research, “parents spend around £300 per year on toys for their own children, yet on average around 60 percent of toys at home are unloved and not played with.” Together with unwanted gifts, those toys clutter parents' homes and often end up in landfill.
Whirli's solution to the problem is a subscription platform where customers pay a monthly fee in exchange of a certain amount of “Whirli tokens” worth about £8 each. The tokens can be used to borrow toys from the startup's catalogue; when a toy isn't played with anymore, it can be swapped for another one. Any toy that stays in one home for eight months stays there forever at no extra cost; there's also a possibility to buy any toy to free up the tokens earlier.
Before going to a new household, all toys get inspected and sterilised at Whirli's facilities. The startup says that it's currently tracking 50,000 toys in its network.
The startup's subscription plans range from £9.99 to £29.99 a month, providing anywhere from 80 to 240 tokens. Most of the toys listed on the website seem to cost less than 20 tokens to borrow.
With £4 million in fresh funding, Whirli “plans to expand customer offering as well as continue investing in proprietary technology,” the company stated in a press release.