First things first: What’s your definition of a tech startup? I think some people have a hard time understanding why, say, a makeup brand like Glossier identifies as a tech company.
Oh, people are so confused! We get pitched so many businesses based on a beautiful product I’d love to buy, but it doesn’t fit the profile of what we want to invest in because the company’s model is selling in a big retailer. Yes, we invest in brands and product, but we mostly invest in founders that see opportunity for change. Glossier is about the customer. It’s anchored in selling product, but consumers trade in and out of product. So Glossier has used technology to create a deeper connection with its consumer to grow. Purchases are often about more than the product. And that’s why we invest.
So when someone is pitching you, what do you really look for, what do they need to be armed with to catch your attention when they’re at that early stage?
A founder must be able to paint the big picture, but then also draw it right into today and say how they’re going to get off the ground. If you have a big idea and you’re going to do a little bit of everything to start? You’re doomed. Launch with one thing, nail the business model, get mindshare with the consumer, and then brick by brick, build the next layer. It takes patience. People want to move fast, but you have to slow down if you&rs