First Round staying fashion forward with Refinery29

In continuing my theme of winding up in investments where I'm undoubtedly the last person on the face of the earth you'd associate with the company, I'm happy to announce First Round's investment in Refinery29, along with Floodgate, as reported by AllThingsD earlier. 

I can barely dress myself, and its not like anyone accussed the guys at First Round of being fashion trendsetters, so feedback from friends can be helpful in making you take a longer look at something.  Every single time I checked in to the company's offices, I'd get comments, direct messages and emails from my female friends telling me how much they loved the site.  The investment couldn't come at a better time either, as I just heard Filene's Basement is closing, so I'm going to need some ideas on new places to shop.

All kidding aside, Refinery29 is a little bit of an off-model investment for First Round--but at the same time it has a lot of characteristics we love.  We also feel like certain aspects of the company are right in the sweet spot of where we can provide a lot of value.

I can't give enough credit to Philippe and Justin, and their team, for how far they've gone with this business.  It's non unusual that First Round will invest in a Series A company that has previously done a small angel round.  It is, however, unusual that the company gets to a $15 million annual run rate based off of that small angel round.  So, it wasn't clear exactly what stage to think of this as.  In the last year, the business has taken off from them so quickly that there were a lot of management tasks that hadn't been done yet, which is similar to other early companies that we meet.  On the other hand, few of our companies have over 25 employees when we make our first investment.  In fact, I think that might be a record for us. 

The upside opportunity here is, like other early bets we make, based on future products and further development of some newer efforts.  Sure, the traffic is going through the roof--busting through all of the projections they've ever had, and their advertising business is doing terrific because of it, but it's really the blend of content and commerce where we believe the company has a chance to excel.  The DNA of the company is in providing compelling and creative advertising opportunities for brands--so it's only natural that they'd extend that to commerce as well.  That's why they're refocusing on their relaunched Reserve product and will look for more ways to seamlessly integrate that into the rest of the site.

One of the areas First Round hopes to add a lot of value is on the recruiting front.  The company is long on creative vision, but needs experienced  technical, creative and sales professionals to help get there.  Seriously, I can't say enough about all of the really cool ways in which the company wants to turn its huge and growing audience into a thriving community and a commerce destination.  Every time I show up there, I leave with my head spinning about how the company is going to change the way what inspires people to buy and be stylish.  It's a great team and a fun culture so if you'd like an introduction, please feel free to reach out to me at charlie@firstround.com

One other note--I'm very excited to be back in the boardroom with Ann Miura-Ko at Floodgate, who is also a co-invester in chloe + isabel.