“Cooler than a snow angel.”
Not only is this the most awesome description of all time–it also happens to be a review of our most recent event!
We held a meetup last night at Wix Lounge, where a remarkable panel discussed “How Fashion Tech Startups Get Funded.” Intriguingly, the panel was comprised of several different points of view. First, we had our entrepreneurs: Tara Hunt, the founder of Buyosphere; Brooke Moreland, the founder of Fashism; and Ari Goldberg, CEO of StyleCaster. Then, we had our investors: Charlie O’Donnell of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures and William Peng of Raptor Ventures.
We soon discovered that this was a genius combination, allowing the different stories and views to play off of each other–sometimes smoothly supplementing one another, sometimes with varying degrees of differences.
Some very obvious themes emerged, however–and here they are.
Believe in your idea.
Words of wisdom from Brooke: “Don’t be shy about what you’re working on–tell people about it! Don’t be afraid people are going to steal your idea–they’re going to steal it no matter what!” Everyone on the panel mentioned at one point or another how important the act of making true connections with others is. That’s how you find them–share! Ari reminded us that as an entrepreneur, your number one job is to sell the dream. Charlie emphasized this when he said that he wants a story he can get behind. Overall, you have to have faith in your product. Tara said, “If you’re not willing to say no and walk away from a deal, you’ve lost your edge in negotiation.”
Educate yourself along the way.
It’s true: you have to watch out for yourself by hiring experts. Tara shared that she found having a lawyer who’s really awesome and who completely understands the process is invaluable. Charlie pointed out how important it is to not pitch the same thing over and over again–constantly be striving to improve your product. And if you mess up? Fail big? Good–you learned something. “There’s no negative stigma to failing–learn from your mistakes.” Well said, Will.
Launch with as little as possible.
We tend to look at getting funded as the ultimate success. While, yes, it certainly can be a total game-changer for a startup, Tara made a great point: “We’re talking about funding like it’s the end of the game–it’s not actually ‘the win!’ It’s a strategy.” She shared that when she started Buyosphere, she concentrated too much on pitching and searching for funding, instead of focusing on doing research and working on the actual product. Ari said, “Rule Number One: Problem solving is all that matters.” You have to solve the problems before you raise the money! Charlie also pointed out that when you take an investment, you are selling shares. “Don’t scale before you’re ready to scale,” warned Ari. Exactly, because as Will said, “The instant you raise money, the clock starts ticking.”
At the end of the discussion, Liza (who, by the way, is an incredibly effective and interactive moderator) asked the panel one last very interesting question: what is the ideal quality you would wish for in the opposite party? (i.e. investors in entrepreneurs, and vice versa).
The responses say it all:
Ari: “Investors who have been entrepreneurs.”
Will: “Someone you can count on to balance between objectivity and adaptability.”
Charlie: “The right person for the right challenge–you’ve got to match the challenge.”
Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.