By the time your baby is crying in the crib, they are over-stimulated and grumpy as can be. Cradlewise is a $2,000 smart crib that monitors a baby's depth of sleep, and automatically tries to soothe your little bundle of joy back to sleep as soon as the first signs of wakefulness come along.
The company started taking preorders at CES in 2021, and initially focused on customers in the Bay Area, to keep the feedback loop from Cradlewise's customers as tight as possible. To date, around 100 units of the smart crib are in the hands of parents, and the company is continuing to take preorders at a discounted price of $1,499.
The $7 million seed round was led by Footwork, with participation from CRV and follow-on from existing investors SOSV and Better Capital. Other notable investors participating in the round include founder of Stitch Fix Katrina Lake, CEO of Italic Jeremy Cai, CTO of Molekule Dilip Goswami and ex-CEO of Misfit Wearables Sonny Vu.
The Cradlewise cradle's bouncing motion is designed after how a human would soothe a baby back to sleep. Image Credits: Cradlewise
"There are 50 baby monitors on the market that will notify you when your baby wakes up. That's too late. When my husband and I had our first baby, we quickly learned that as soon as she twitched, we ran over and rocked her. You can't do that every time -- you can't watch the baby 24/7. Why isn't there a crib that can monitor for signs of waking," wondered Radhika Patil, the co-founder and CEO of Cradlewise. Excellent question -- and when they failed to find a smart crib that acted the way they wanted, they decided to build one, starting with the quality of the bounce. "A lot of the cribs available in the market are not intuitive in the way the would rock the child. So we modeled our motion after the way I would bounce our children at 3 am on a yoga ball."
The journey started from a combination of curiosity and the "quantified self" movement. Radhika and her husband Bharath Patil were heavily invested in tracking their own sleep and fitness patterns, and when their first baby was born in 2014, they built a prototype of the Cradlewise for her. The idea stayed on the back burner until 2019 when the idea was revived fully, the company raised some cash, and the work started in earnest.
The new money raised unlocks a new round of growth for Cradlewise. The team told me they are working on building out its 11-person team further, and focusing on technology advancements and supply-chain and operations associated with delivering a pretty complex product. The company wants to make more advanced sleep analytics available, and potentially add a smart scale to the crib, to ensure that a baby's weight can be tracked along with their sleep patterns. The ultimate goal is to make Cradlewise the centerpiece of a smart nursery.
The final product the team created was a rather pricy cradle, and I asked the team whether the price tag made sense.
"We are very careful that the sleep monitor only checks the footprint of the crib -- there are wall-mounted products out there, but that has serious privacy issues. So we combine early wakeup detection, the natural bouncing movement that imitates how a parent bounces a baby," Radhika Patil explains, arguing that the price tag makes sense for a premium product that replaces several baby products. She also highlights the crib's green credentials, including a reduction of plastics, and the inclusion of easy-to-recycle materials: "The mattress is made from coconut coir and natural rubber latex. This means that the mattress is fully biodegradable."
The company says it doesn't have plans for a second-hand market for its cribs yet, but suggests that the cradle can be disinfected pretty easily, and the mattress can be discarded and replaced by a new one from the company -- hence the focus on making the mattress itself biodegradable.
"Cradlewise is the only baby product in the market that uses deep tech and AI to learn the baby's sleep patterns and growth trends. With software updates that build on this rich data, a characteristic of the very best connected hardware companies such as Nest, Peloton, Tesla and Tonal, Cradlewise is pioneering the connected nursery," said Nikhil Basu Trivedi, co-founder and general partner at Footwork.
"Cradlewise isn't just a smart crib, it is a mental health solution for parents," said Kristin Baker Spohn, general partner at CRV. “Having spent much of my career focused on the intersection of technology and health, Cradlewise is a great example of how smart technology can be used to help ensure that both babies and their parents can get a good night’s rest, which is truly one of the most important elements for staying healthy.”
The crib is sized so babies up to the age of two can use it, and preorders continue on Cradlewise's website.