Spotlight on Startups - Lost CratesAt Sprout Insights, we comb the web to bring you the most up-to-date and actionable resources on how to use social media to grow your business.

To that end, we’re pleased to present the Sprout Insights series Spotlight on Startups. We’ll find the most innovative, useful startup companies out there, get the inside track on what they’re doing, and tell you how you can leverage their products and services for your own business.

This week we’re casting the spotlight on Lost Crates — a curated-products subscription service based in Chicago, IL.

What Is Lost Crates?

What Is Lost Crates?

According to its website, “Lost Crates is a subscription service that delivers design-inspired goods right to your door.” Lost Crates employs its own in-house researchers who search the world for interesting, top quality, affordable products to include in “crates” that get shipped to its subscribers.

Members can choose from a variety of different crate categories, including “Stationary,” “Housewares,” “Eco,” and more. Lost Crates has even partnered with Design Milk , an online magazine dedicated to modern design that sources “rare, limited-edition pieces made exclusively for Lost Crate subscribers.” Each crate typically contains between two and five curated items relevant to the category that you choose.

To get started, create an account, choose which crate (or crates) you’re interested in, and how frequently you’d like to receive your crates (monthly or quarterly). You can pay month-to-month and cancel any time, or prepay for an entire year to receive a volume discount.

Members can see what’s in each crate, though Lost Crates advises against it — to preserve the element of surprise. Although the crates are very tightly curated by a team of experts, you’re free to create your own crates based on the products available in the Lost Crates Shop. Here, you can select any of the items from any of the themes to include in your customized crate.

What Needs Does It Address?

What Needs Does It Address

Giselle Gonzalez, Director of Social Media for Lost Crates, says that the demand for curated, physical products is based on a few different things. “These days, everyone’s really busy,” says Giselle, “and a curation service does all the work for you.” She adds, “with our service, you don’t need to go shopping. You order once, and the products show up at your door.” Strike one up for convenience!

Social media sites like Pinterest have introduced millions of people to a world of cool, new products. “Our team is really good at finding some of these niche items and providing them in an aesthetically pleasing, affordable way,” Gonzalez says. With its team of professional, well-connected researchers, “Lost Crates provides a new means of product discovery for people,” says Gonzalez.

Ms. Gonzalez says Lost Crates also provides an increasingly rare physical connection to the people, information, and ideas we connect with every day on social media. Even in the world of instant gratification, “people still really like to be surprised by the contents of their crate when it shows up at their door,” says Gonzalez.

How You Can Leverage Lost Crates

How You Can Leverage Lost Crates

Lost Creates caters to individuals who want to reward themselves or provide crates as novel gifts for others. Businesses can also score huge brownie points by providing surprise crates to their best employees or clients.

Do you know of, or make a cool product that would be a good fit for Lost Crates? If so, send them your product name and a link and they’ll check it out. This can be a great way for niche brands to expose their wares to highly targeted new audiences.

Lost Crates was conceived, developed, and deployed by startup incubator Sandbox Industries. If you’ve got an innovative business that you’d like to get to the next level, contact the team at Sandbox and connect with some of the most creative people in the startup industry.

Have you ever used a subscription-based curation service? Know of a great startup company that would be a great fit for our Spotlight on Startups series? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image credits: Lost Crates, Steven Depolo]