Yep, Forerunner Ventures is the rare tech investment firm run entirely by women. But that misses the point.Kind of like the way most male venture capitalists missed the online-retailing revolution.
Kirsten Green didn’t—and that’s why her Forerunner Ventures has just raised another $40 million to invest in the next generation of e-commerce.
Green, formerly a retail analyst at Bank of America, saw innovation in the mall-based retailers she covered rise and fall. So in 2003, she went looking for the next big thing and quit her safe investment-banking job.
She sure found it: Her firm has invested in the likes of Birchbox, Bonobos, and Warby Parker. Those are some of the most talked-about companies in next-generation e-commerce.
“With the way Amazon and eBay had become big companies and with the way people were embracing technology, I was like, it is so obvious that this is going to be a huge game changer in this space,” says Green. “The combination of these things is going to change what it means to retail, what it means to launch brands, what it means to connect with your consumer. That was the spark I jumped after very early on.”
It wasn’t easy at first. With no job and no steady stream of income, Green spent the next six years immersed in the entrepreneurial scene. She put in her time doing “unglamorous work”—writing business plans and consulting—but said it provided valuable on-the-ground training.
During the time around 2008, Green saw a shift in online shopping with sites like Gilt Groupe and Rue La La emerging. The entrepreneurs behind those companies had waited for shoppers to catch up to the technology. Consumers now had faith in putting their credit card information online and trusting that their packages would really arrive at their doorstep. But more importantly for Green was the fact “the Web had become social and people could suddenly engage around products and preferences.”
Green was ready to dive in. She already had a network of great contacts and had made personal angel investments. And she knew the industry well. So she started Forerunner and made early investments just as the new e-commerce market was taking shape.
Now e-commerce is ultrahot—Fab.com just pulled down $105 million in its most recent round.
With another $40 million in hand, Green plans on having a total of 25 companies in her portfolio and making investments between $250,000 and $500,000.
Green is keeping her eyes on a few notable trends: tying offline and online together; smaller and more local retailers getting into the digital spaces; and new ways to build a brand.
The VC world is a rollercoaster. But Green couldn’t be happier.
“I feel like I worked really hard to have this opportunity and I am so excited about it,” she says. “I can’t think of a better way to spend your career.”
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