DURHAM – Tiny Earth Toys has raised an additional $1.6 million in funding and plans to extend the company’s growth trajectory, including hiring additional workers in the Triangle.

The Durham-based startup provides an educational toy rental program for families and has seen nationwide expansion throughout the prior 12 months following a seed funding round of $1.5 million in October 2021.

Now, the company intends to increase access to their toy rental program with the new infusion of capital, according to founder and CEO Rachael Classi, who spoke with WRAL TechWire this week.

“We’re seeing really strong growth across the United States and raised to increase access to our rental solution,” said Classi.  “We are using the funding to secure new inventory to increase the age range of children in our rental subscription program.”

To fuel growth, the company also intends to hire additional workers in warehousing, customer service and support, and engineering, with each role tied to the firm’s mission of providing a “world class experience for families renting toys.”

At the moment, the company offers developmentally-appropriate educational toy kits for children up to five years of age, with additional add-on toys for children at all ages.

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New investment came quickly

Tiny Earth’s trajectory attracted investors to the company, including a new investor in this round, which Classi said had previously been a customer.

Existing investor Bull City Venture Partners participated in the latest round, which was an equity funding round, as well.  Classi noted that the funding round came together quickly, noting that the firm had significant interest since it launched, and the latest fundraising round was one that was oversubscribed.

“Tiny Earth Toys has seen phenomenal growth and retention over the past year,” said Jason Caplain, general partner at Bull City Venture Partners, a Durham-based venture capital firm.  “Tiny Earth Toys makes sense for new parents and we’re seeing it in their results.”

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A new initiative ahead of the holidays

In a newsletter sent by the company to its subscribers and customers, Tiny Earth Toys announced a new initiative, a holiday giving program designed to provide an annual subscription of the startup’s toy kits to families that are nominated by the firm’s existing community.

“As an organization, we seek to be family-first, transparent, inclusive and intentional. In the spirit of transparency, I’d like to share how these values will impact our holiday operations and promotions,” said Classi in a statement.  ” Instead of deep discounts that contribute to overconsumption, we will be focused on community giving initiatives, giving our employees meaningful time to connect with their loved ones and making renting and reuse super easy.”

The program, Nominate a Family, launched earlier this week, and Classi said that the response from the community was so strong, they have already elected to expand the program to twice its size.

“The annual membership is valued at $420 and we wanted to make an impact with a handful of families who could really use it this holiday,” said Classi.  “We think this will be an annual tradition and one that we hope to grow to impact significantly more families in the future.”

Anyone can nominate a family, no matter where they’re located in the United States.

“We always say “small change, big impacts” to remind ourselves that sometimes starting small can have massive ripple effects in the future,” said Classi.

Caplain called the initiative “inspiring,” adding that Classi and the company is “always seeking ways to make an impact in communities in need while also running a truly great business.”

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