HowGood, a data analytics company that can score consumer goods based on environmental sustainability, health effects, trade impact and other factors, has raised $4.2 million in a Series A round of venture funding, TechCrunch reports.
The company derives data from its own proprietary sources and from several open government and third-party firms that calculate a product's score. That rating may take into account ingredient sourcing, chemicals used, processing, packaging and shipping and labor practices, among other factors.
HowGood has analyzed and rated 200,000 products, mostly food and beverages, but also can provide scores on household products and personal care items. By scanning barcodes, its mobile app allows shoppers see scores for products in stores. The company's ratings are also featured on signs throughout stores, and on the company's web site.
Have you ever found yourself paralyzed in the middle of the grocery store? Not because the kooky lady offering flavored apple sauce samples shot you with a poison dart so she would have someone to talk to, but because a long tail of product marketing claims, personal guilt and societal sensitivities has left you feeling you can't buy anything without upsetting some well-meaning group or greasing the wheels carrying you to your own toxin-induced death.
Well, HowGood probably can't solve all your problems — because sheesh — but its system for scoring products based on environmental, biological, cultural and social factors can at least help you find vegetable dumplings that really are vegan, are not high in fat or sugar and come in a fully recyclable box that wasn't packed and sealed by a child worker.
Seriously, the company's platform sounds like the perfect tool for uniting product manufacturers who have gone the extra mile to be responsible with consumers who have decided they're going to shop and consume responsibly even if it means spending more time in the store figure out which products most fit their values. It's a platform very tuned in to the current cultural moment, one in which Target has just launched a campaign for more transparency in product manufacturing and supply chain processes, and Wal-Mart has committed to tracking pork transactions in the name of safety. Retailers are making these moves trying to be good corporate citizens, but they wouldn't be doing it if they didn't think there would also be a positive response from customers.
In fact, HowGood's effort is so tuned in to this very moment that it's hard to believe HowGood has been around for 10 years, apparently getting by on very little funding over that time. It must have been practicing the sort of responsibility in financial matters that it pledges to help consumers practice in the store aisles.