Optimus Ride gets Investment to Boost Partnerships; Boll & Branch Adds TV to Marketing Mix

Optimus Ride new investment

DTC’s Daily Digest brings you the latest news on the world’s fastest growing direct-to-consumer brands. In today’s edition: Optimus Ride gets investment to boost partnerships; Boll & Branch adds TV to marketing mix; Monzo wants to be Hargreaves for millennials.

Optimus Ride gets investment to boost partnerships

Optimus Ride Inc., a Boston-based self-driving vehicle technology startup spun out of MIT, has raised USD$20.7m (£16m) of a prospective USD$60m (£46m) round of investment.

The business recently announced its launch in New York, where it plans to deploy self-driving vehicles to the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard. The development houses 400 businesses that employ 9,000 people. This move represents the first commercial development of self-driving car companies in New York.

While New York state has yet to allow any operators to deploy self-driving vehicles for commercial purposes, Optimus Ride is able to do so because they will be on private roads, versus public roads.

The business is also looking to partner with rural areas, to help connect rural communities to local amenities – an area underserved by ride hailing apps like Uber. The investment will help Optimus Ride expand their fleet, and strike more deals like they have in New York, as well as expand their capabilities to partner with rural communities.

Boll & Branch adds TV to marketing mix

Luxury bedding business, Boll & Branch, has added TV to its marketing mix, joining many other direct-to-consumer brands.

What’s notable about Boll & Branch’s strategy here, is that the data-driven company is being disciplined, which means using a different strategy than other DTC brands and the traditional marketers that dominate TV. It’s targeting a broad national customer base, not just urban millennials like many DTCs do. It’s also looking to buy the most efficient TV spots, unlike traditional TV advertisers.

The addition of TV represents an extension of an already diverse advertising portfolio. Even before adding TV, Boll & Branch invested in many areas other DTCs didn’t, like radio.

Scott Tannen, CEO, Boll & Branch explain to Ad Exchanger that “there are a lot of customers that are underserved by the DTC space. Our media mix is much more traditional than a lot of the DTC and e-commerce brands, and it’s one of the reasons we’ve been so successful.”

Boll & Branch is only advertising on TV slots where it can get an efficient CPM. That means the brand’s ads will appear on ESPN regional sports games, HGTV shows and news, not network prime time.

Monzo wants to be Hargreaves for millennials

Online bank Monzo wants to be the ‘Hargreaves Lansdown for millennials’ with plans to offer cut price funds to its customers. The challenger bank is purportedly in talks with BlackRock, Fidelity and Vanguard about offering low cost funds.

Monzo new product

According to The Times, the plan is part of Monzo’s aspiration to become its customers’ ‘financial control centre’ and wants the funds it offers to be cheaper than Hargreaves’.

The bank, which is closing in on a £100m funding round and has been valued at £1.9bn, is rapidly expanding its product offerings, rolling out a small business product earlier this year. It is also in the midst of an acquisition push, with planning underway on the company’s first major paid ad campaign.

Monzo has raised £211m to date, though the new funding round and updated valuation is set to make it the second largest UK fintech start-up.