San Francisco, Meeting founders and funders building beauty and fashion platforms.
FAB 7th Fashion and BeautyTech San Francisco meeting. Learnings from Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists.
This 7th meeting that took place at Google Launchpad was a unique opportunity to understand more deeply the journey we are going through both as a founder or a funder. For a night we were seeing things from both sides, entrepreneurs and VCs, and we heard stories and advice when it comes to starting a new business, making the right impact, finding co-founders or raising capital.
We decided to write this post as FaB chapter leaders and founders. Here are our learnings. Thank you for the great conversation!
Fireside Chat Alison Rosenthal — Leadout Capital
Jennifer Goldfarb — Ipsy
INNOVATION (by Caroline Reis de Olivera, FaB Brazil living in San Francisco)
Jennifer shares the love on building her own company. “ I love to see something coming to life. It’s so rewarding.”
One of her biggest learnings in the process: innovation has to be fast and it is okay to be …messy. You need to test things fast and move fast. She also shares the energy required from the founder, who needs to wear many hats in the beginning to make things happen. “At Goldman Sachs, there was one person for any specific goal. Starting Ipsy was doing all roles at the same time.”
TEAM/ DIVERSITY/ CO-FOUNDER (AlessandraZonari FaB Brazil, founder of One Skin Tech, living in SF, /Odile Roujol)
Finding the right co-founders is challenging and having co-founders with different backgrounds can be a tremendous asset.
Michelle Phan was a famous Beauty influencer, Marcello Camberos a data science background coming from Argentina, and Jennifer the business side.
Diversity was an opportunity for Ipsy to make the best decisions.
What I like as a Brazilian founder living in the Silicon Valley: Co-founders and a team with a diverse background and cognicity are fundamental for the success of the business.
Alison Rosenthal. “It’s so hard. Try to find a co-founder, you question yourself so often, there is a huge benefit to have someone in who you have trust and respect.” Jennifer adds to that: “Building a company, It’s about making connections, and helping people and being helped.”
So nice to have you both with us at the meeting, sharing your learnings!
FUNDINGS ( Elsa Jungman, founder of Elsi Beauty, French living in SF )
9 years ago Silicon Valley was not funding beauty companies, Jennifer gives the story of a VC in the iconic Sand Hill Road (Palo Alto), saying following the Ipsy’s pitch “I don’t know, let me ask my wife tonight. With all the respect I have for him, we were about beauty influencers, makeup pouches, and glam bags for Millennials and Get Z” . The first round was closed mainly by family and friends. Failing raising from venture capital made Ipsy’s founder more careful and thoughtful on how to spend their money. What we could call a “Failure” in raising series A (not being able to close the full amount they intended to raise) made them vigilant about being profitable from the beginning. Great learnings!
As a first time founder & solo founder, raising capital is a full time job and I appreciate to hear the story of complicated fundraising journey of other founders to understand the best practices, the investors to go to, where to be very cautious.
Fireside Chat Calgary Avansino — Glamcam
Stephanie Palmeri — Uncork Capital
VCs, PARTNERS FOR THE LONG RUN (Elsa Jungman/ Aimee Hart, co-founder ShopLook, SF)
Stephanie is a partner working at Uncork Capital. It has been 8 years since she joined the venture firm.
Every quarter, she leads at least one deal focused in early stage. She invests in companies looking for about $3M in seed. They support early stage startups having a seat in the Board until they raise series A or B. She is proud to have a close relationship with the founders, adding skills and guidance as part of her contribution in the investment.
“We like to back smart-ass founders building a kick-ass product in a big-ass market”.
She advises, “measure your market and make sure it’s a big one. Even an emerging market has a potential size.”
And ends highlighting that founders matter, “when I invest in a company I invest in the founders, their clear vision for building the company. The ability to have a long term vision, and ability to execute towards the vision of the future.”
DIVERSITY (Chloe Takahashi, Fab Tokyo, Founder of Cosmehunt)
Stephanie is a proud founding member of ALL RAISE ORG helping female founders with mentorships and events to expand their network. Startups are being more conscious that diversity empowers innovation and should be part of their culture from Day 1.
BEING BOLD (Olivia Panzic, Fab Australia New Zealand, founder of Shook.co)
“Have the courage to step outside of your comfort zone and go where the opportunities are”. Stephanie shared her personal story with attendees about being disappointed when she didn’t land her dream job as a VC in New York after finishing business school. She instead began her career in consulting and came to San Francisco after deciding she “needed to be more geographically flexible.” This idea of always being able to go back to where you are from is a great lesson for founders and professionals. Travelling from New Zealand and connecting with multicultural leaders in the Bay has opened my eyes to the number of motivated young women who have taken a risk and backed both themselves and their dreams by leaving their home countries. Once in San Francisco, she then managed to break into the world of VC and talked about how encouraged she is to see more diversity of thought and background starting to permeate Silicon Valley.
Panel: AI, computer vision and Femtech
RAISING FUNDINGS IS TOUGH (Chloe Takahashi)
Jay Hack is a Stanford MS computer science alumnus (and ex Palantir). “There is some disappointments when reaching investors who don’t understand the beauty market.” It’s an opportunity to raise with more prepared investors, and be picky: choose talent, value added and not only the amount of money and best term sheet looking at the figures.
CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION (by Elsa Jungman)
Maveron has invested in Necessaire (skincare, wellness), AllBirds, Everlane,…Natalie Dillon underlines that brands have to “stand for something. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. Consumers are now expecting brands to be even more involved in the environment, political conversation. 4 years ago that was not the case at all.”
TRENDS (by Aimee Hart)
According to Shaina, this seems to be the year of CBD as a buzzword in social media conversations. What is more important, and more meaningful in the long term, is the purpose trend: customers want to understand the purpose of the brand. Founders need to engage a community and create an identity enabling the consumer to have a feeling of belonging.
“We have a special focus on the content being a femtech company, our purpose is women wellness, in their periods, which is a very specific moment.” She highlights the need to have the right tone of voice to be legitimate. “Make a difference, be friendly, be inclusive”, says Nicole Dahlstrom who is part of the femtech collective putting forward founders and helping them to have the relevant connections.
One of her preferred brands, “doing it right” is Modern Fertility. Jay Hack’s favorite brand is Glossier as amazed by their growth.
BUILDING A COMPANY (by Olivia Panzic, Chloe Takahashi)
Ming Zhao (who before being a founder went to Harvard business school, was a strategy consultant and also an investor) outlined the learning process of creating personalized skin care. “Personalized skincare is a new category for consumers and we are learning alongside them. Using AI helps us to do this in an efficient way and allows us to have a deep knowledge of their needs.”
GROWTH (by Carolina Reis and Aimee Hart)
Jay, from Mira.ai, recommends to allocate budgets wisely: “When creating a new brand with limited resources for paid media, it’s important to identify your differential. Finding your niche and using the relevant channels to communicate with them.”
Answering the last question, about keeping up with trends that appear overnight, Jay recommends being inclusive of the new generation (Millennials and Zs) in the marketing and growth team
“The consumer journey in 2020 has changed, inspired by Gen Z new behaviors.”
See you at the next meeting in San Francisco-January 22, 2020, tickets are already on Eventbrite. We should talk about developing high quality products, the importance of design seen by different point of views, and we will have amazing founders and VCs on stage.
If traveling to Europe, don’t miss FaB London Nov 4, Fab Africa launch in Paris Nov 7, Berlin Nov 14, Paris Nov 19.
And we will be back to Miami January 9.
We wish you a great Quarter. We are FaB, join the movement! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter.