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Finding Investors FIRST, GET INVESTORS— THEN, MAKE THE PRODUCT?
Finding Investors FIRST, GET INVESTORS— THEN, MAKE THE PRODUCT?
When she set out to launch the new paint brand Clare, Nicole Gibbons was told to build first and raise money later. But to really create the startup she wanted, she’d have to go in reverse.
STEPHANIE SCHOMER

As an interior designer, Nicole Gibbons was used to friends asking for decorating advice. And in 2016, one needed help selecting paint, so Gibbons consulted a well-regarded brand’s website—and found it impossible to navigate. The lightbulb went off: She could create a direct-to-consumer paint brand that offers a curated range of colors, an algorithm to point shoppers toward their ideal shade, and a simplified way to sample hues. But her interior design business was already a full-time job, so Gibbons didn’t move forward until, she says, “I woke up on New Year’s Day 2017 and was like, It’s now or never.” Here’s how she went on to build Clare, raising money before she ever had a product to sell.

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Startups Spring 2020