Exclusive: Bain Capital Ventures Invests $20M to Let Robotics Do the Heavy Lifting 4moms

Scott Friend is not only the managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, he’s also the father of four children — which is precisely why he is so passionate about his latest investment.

“I’ve purchased every major stroller, and I’m a disgruntled owner of a Graco playard,” Friend said. “We overspend on things like this, and there’s been no innovation in 20 years. There’s been design innovations, but they still operate like a crappy stroller.”

To that end, Bain Capital Ventures is investing $20 million in 4moms, a Pittsburgh-based company that has spent the past seven years automating products that parents use every day.

The outcome is strollers with generators in the rear wheels that charge cellphones as you walk, and LCD screens that tell you the temperature. The stroller also opens and closes with a push of a button, just like a minivan’s automatic sliding door.

Similarly, its upcoming product, the Breeze, will be a playard that opens and closes with one touch. “I’ve now used a playard for four kids, and by the fourth one, you’d think I would know how to open it and set it up,” Friend said. “But they designed it to make me feel stupid.”

Friend said the products look like something Apple built while performing like something NASA invented.

Robert Daley, the CEO of 4moms, said that he and co-founder, Henry Thorne, who has a background in robotics, came up with the idea after analyzing what consumer products could be most redefined, as the cost of electronics goes down. Baby products is where they decided to start.

Today, the high-end products are sold at major retail stores, like Target, BuyBuy Baby and Babies “R” Us. The Origami stroller costs $850, and the Breeze playard will be $300 when it comes out in September. A third product, called the MamaRoo, which sways your baby to sleep — rather than swinging or bouncing — costs $200.

Daley says that with the new funding, 4moms can work on building other products, as well as expanding internationally. Today, the company has 52 employees and is selling products in 24 countries. This year, Daley expects revenue to hit $20 million, representing a 300 percent year-over-year increase.

In total, the company has raised $43 million in capital. While Bain represents the only investor in the current round, previous rounds were funded by the company’s management team, angel investors and a strategic investment by Newell Rubbermaid.

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