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