Here’s the Investment Thesis of the VC Behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club

Forerunner Ventures Team

We talked about Forerunner Ventures, one of the most interesting VCs in e-commerce today, at the end of last year:

This year, Forerunner Ventures made headlines when their investment Dollar Shave Club sold to Unilever for $1 billion and their investment Jet.com sold to Walmart for $3.3 billion. […]

Forerunner segments its portfolio into Connected Brands, Marketplaces, Mobile Experiences, Retail and Tools/Technologies.

Forerunner Ventures is an outlier in many regards: Not only is the VC firm specialising in e-commerce (quick, name three other VC firms doing that) but is also being run by a woman. (quick name three other VC firms run by a woman) This gives Forerunner an advantage in an industry still dominated by men building products for how men go shopping. (Amazon is struggling with this as well.)

The New York Times has published a portrait of Kirsten Green of Forerunner Ventures:

Ms. Green is an unorthodox venture capitalist for several reasons. Apart from having never worked at a venture capital firm before starting her own in 2012, she is also a woman in a male-dominated field. (Of the top 20 venture investors this year, only two were women.) And unlike many generalist venture investors, who work in a range of areas, Ms. Green focuses specifically on commerce and other retail-related start-ups. […]

Here is her investment thesis:

She soon concluded that online commerce would underpin the next generation of important retail brands, but that consumers would not rely on just one way to shop. With the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, Ms. Green saw more bankruptcy filings from traditional retailers, as well as news of store closings and reports of market share shifts. But she also saw stores do well when companies could make an emotional connection with shoppers and better analyze their behavior.

“Retail is now totally propelled by consumers and their needs,” she said. “People can buy what they want in any way that they want it. That trend started a long time ago, and it has really changed everything.” […]

“Now that people are bombarded with information, we are in a golden age where brands matter,” Ms. Green said. “I want to be part of this new era.”

Here is Forerunner Ventures’ official thesis:

We seek to partner with ambitious entrepreneurs that are disrupting the commerce landscape from every angle.

WE ARE ACTIVE INVESTORS, leading or co-leading investment rounds.

WE MAKE EARLY STAGE INITIAL INVESTMENTS in companies typically post launch.

WE ARE LOOKING FOR companies that are tackling big markets, bringing something new to the table, and executing scalable business models.

BEYOND THAT WE SEEK a service proposition that enables a Company to stand out, unfair marketing advantages, and visionary, disciplined, magnetic founder(s).

​With insights, for example, not only into Jet.com prior acquisition but also after, Kirsten Green can keep a unique perspective on the market:

After Ms. Green invested in Jet.com in 2014, she chatted with Jet’s executives almost weekly about matters including strategy and potential acquisitions, said Katie Finnegan, who was the online retailer’s head of corporate development. Ms. Finnegan said Jet still consults with Ms. Green even after the company’s sale to Walmart.

Katie ​Finnegan is now one of two people leading Walmart’s new “Store No. 8” incubator.

Green is serving on more than 10 company boards now, among those Glossier and Bonobos.

She has also had her share of flops. Threadflip, an online consignment store in which she had invested, shut down last year and became part of Le Tote, a service that lets users rent clothing.

Definitely someone to follow and keep an eye on.

You can find Kirsten Green on Twitter here and on LinkedIn here.

​Forerunner Ventures raised a new $122 million fund last summer.​

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3 comments

  1. […] Here’s the Investment Thesis of the VC Behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club […]

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  2. […] should not come as a surprise that both companies share an investor in Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten […]

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  3. […] Here’s the Investment Thesis of the VC Behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club […]

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