'Box of Rocks' Is the Best Startup in the Entire World

A subscription rock-mailing service called 'Box of Rocks': The Motherboard Review.

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Jun 18 2015, 3:55pm

I don't know how else to say this: Box of Rocks is the best new startup in the entire world. It does not need your crowd funding. It does not over promise. It does not under deliver. As far as innovative new businesses go, it's rock solid.

Box of Rocks mails you rocks, for a fee, every month. It's a subscription-based service that fundamentally disrupts the showing-other-startups-how-damn-ridiculous-they-are industry.

A few weeks ago, I played an order for one (1) box of three to five (3-5) rocks. Approximately one (1) week later, I received said box, which contained SIX (6) rocks for the low price of $12 plus shipping. What a bargain.

Image: Author

It's worth mentioning here that my box of rocks wasn't actually shipped. Instead, it was hand delivered by founder and CTO Chris Duggan, who happens to live in New York City. He said the trip to my house was a "nice bike ride" and he sent me a photo of my front door after he dropped off the rocks because I wasn't home.

But that is neither here nor there. As you'll see in the video above, these rocks are pretty badass. There is a "proprietary rock sourcing process" and Duggan has a "giant collection of rocks." The startup, while undeniably dumb, certainly has something very smart to say about the ridiculous startup culture we've found ourselves in.

"I've been in startups and tech and I feel like there's, in particular, a lot of startup videos that feel overly self-important," Duggan told me. "There's a lot of frivolous startups that take themselves very very seriously and, despite how prevalent the culture has become in our lives, there's not a lot of humor poking fun of startups, besides Silicon Valley."

Duggan isn't wrong. Before I went to the CES tech show in Las Vegas this year, I browsed through the websites of hundreds of startups, each of them with their own pitch videos. While they're all a little bit different, they all have certain hallmarks of the genre: Bleepy-bloopy Postal Service-y music. Animation (because there's no actual product yet). Solutions to problems that don't need solving.

Duggan nailed the Rocks in a Box video, and then decided to build out a whole website and, eventually decided that he couldn't do the parody correctly unless he made it into an actual service.

A handful of the services offered by Box of Rocks. Screengrab: Boxofrocks.com

"People are confused about whether or not it's a joke. There have been some humorous startups, some gag gifts, but in the end it's not a product at all," he said. "I decided to let people order not to make money but because I thought it'd be funnier if people could transact."

Transact, they have. Besides myself, a handful of people have opted to buy single boxes of rocks(es). No one has subscribed to a monthly package yet. He says his current sales are "more than the Zune but less than the iPod." Unfortunately, the Gold Box of Rocks plan, which comes with "social sharing," "access to BOR Rock API" and other various premium features, isn't yet ready for sale.

The company reminds me of a Bitcoin-for-horse poop startup called ShitExpress that I wrote about last year. After I tried out that startup and others wrote about it, ShitExpress's sales spiked—is Duggan hoping to have similar success? Not quite.

"Somebody said to me, 'what if you get 5,000 orders?' I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse," he said. "I'm more satisfied with someone pointing out something funny on the site than I am with making a few dollars."

"Really," he added, "I just want to be the dumbest startup of all the dumb startups."

I Will Open Anything is a semi-regular unboxing video in which I open things that are mailed to me.

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