Ask Founders What They Really Need: The Quick Story Behind Clare's $2 Million Raise

Last September, I was introduced to Nicole Gibbons.  She's the founder of Clare, a modern paint brand that launched today to completely reinvent the paint shopping experience. 

She came in and shared all of the hassles that make buying paint a terrible experience--the difficulty in picking colors that actually look good with microscopic swatches, the need to go to a store and crossfit your way home with heavy paint cans, not to mention the harmful chemicals that are in so many paint brands.

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She knew all this from being an influential interior designer and detailed how she believed there was a big direct to consumer brand to be built in the space.  

Her plan was to close a bit first, first picking up $800k to start executing, and then fill out the rest.  

I asked her how far she could get with it--and which milestones she'd be able to achieve.  It only got her a handful of key features related to what she wanted for Clare.  I encouraged her to go out for the whole thing right off the bat.  

To a solo, first time, non-technical founder, asking for $1.6mm may have seemed like a lot to ask for for a Powerpoint--but it was so much better of a plan than launching something half as awesome for half the money.  Talking about a stepped raise can confuse an investor (and we are easily confused) as to what amount of money matches up with what goals--when the founder knows what they really need. 

It's so important for investors to recognize that different founders have lots of different views on how aggressive or conservative to be on a pitch--but underlying that sales strategy is a *real* plan that the founder knows they could succeed with if they could be successful with fundraising.  As an investor, getting at that without knocking the founder for their interpretation of what you want to here is the key to getting some under the radar deals that others might have overlooked.

Well, not only did she raise that money for a full launch, but she was *oversubscribed* and picked up some amazing additional investors like Imaginary, First Round, Able and Bullish, as well as the founders of Casper and Harry's.   

I'm excited to support Nicole, one of the most inspiring and dynamic founders I've met, and to be along for what promises to be an exciting and impactful brand in a huge space.