“Innovation is the heart of Amazon Launchpad. It’s the whole reason our program exists, to make sure innovative brands, many of which are small businesses, are supported and succeeding,” said Nick Love, Amazon Launchpad Director. “The Innovation Grant is one of the many ways we are working to support small, innovative businesses during a time that has been particularly challenging.”
Selling in Amazon’s store enabled hundreds of thousands of small companies to sustain or even grow their sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Globally, independent third-party sellers in Amazon’s store—almost all of them small and medium-sized businesses—increased their sales by more than 55% from April 15, 2020 to January 15, 2021, compared to the same period a year earlier. During the same time frame, the number of American small businesses that surpassed $1 million in sales increased by more than 30% year-over-year.
With the new Innovation Grants, Amazon Launchpad aims to help small businesses and startups continue to grow.
Amazon Launchpad, founded in 2015, supports new brands, entrepreneurs, and startups in overcoming many of the challenges associated with launching new products. The program provides marketing tools, advice from Amazon experts, and other benefits to help businesses increase the visibility of their products so they can focus attention on new innovations and expansion.
WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat
WAYB’s Pico Travel Car Seat was designed by the makers of outdoor gear and the former CEO of Patagonia. It features a strong, aluminum frame and breathable performance mesh fabric that makes it lightweight at eight pounds, easily foldable, and ready for transport for families on the move.
The second January 2021 grant winner, nCase, was founded by two people who wear teeth aligners. They use sensor technology in their SmartCase paired with a mobile app to track customer’s aligner wear and send helpful reminders to mobile devices to help customers meet their goals.
“We are extremely thrilled and honored to have won the Innovation Grant. We are heads-down product creators trying to invent meaningful unique products with outstanding customer experiences that improve peoples’ lives. We don't expect recognition or awards, so we are shocked (in a positive way),” said nCase founders Tony Osibov and Wes Wilson. “The recognition definitely validates all the hard work we have put into this product, especially after such a challenging last 12 months. We will continue to work to try and bring something new and wonderful to the world with this grant.”
Grant judges were impressed by many of the submissions, but felt nCase and WAYB stood out.
“It’s inspiring to read about each of these brands and the innovative ways they are solving problems and addressing the wants and needs of customers. Passion is a consistent theme in all of the submissions,” said Erin Tarampi, Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant Judge. “What stood out to me about WAYB was their material innovation, their car seat frame is both strong and lightweight. What stood out about nCase was their technology innovation, using sensor tech to help solve the problem of not remembering to wear aligners.”
Amazon Launchpad has worked with over 6,000 startups globally and helped to launch tens of thousands of products in the U.S. alone, with nearly 400 U.S.-based startups and small businesses having surpassed $1 million in annual sales in Amazon’s store since the program launched in 2015—and nearly 40 have surpassed $10 million in annual sales.
The Innovation Grant program underwent a soft-launch in December 2020 by awarding $10,000 to two startups: Wynd Technologies for its Smart Portable Personal Air Purifier, which provides real time air quality data while trapping particles, and Thrive Natural Care for its Daily Defense Sunscreen Lotion, made from ingredients grown by Costa Rican farmers. Following the successful start, the program expanded.
“There are thousands of great sellers in the Launchpad program, so we’re really grateful to have our hero product win the Innovation Grant,” said Alex McIntosh, Co-Founder and CEO of Thrive Natural Care. “We’ve already used some of the grant to give our hardworking farmer partners in Costa Rica a nice holiday bonus. These farmers are the reason our products work so well. We’ve also invested some of the grant into R&D for some very exciting new products that Thrive will launch later this year.”
Startups looking to apply must be in the Amazon Launchpad program, have an existing physical consumer product, be self-owned by a U.S. resident, and be a small or medium-sized business. To apply, entrants must answer the question, “Why is your product the most innovative in its field?” Winners are selected by the Amazon Launchpad team, which looks at the business’ performance in addition to the written submission.