February Ifs

Illustrations by  Blair Breitenstein  /  @blairz .

Illustrations by Blair Breitenstein / @blairz.

Hearts & Millions

I love this issue of the Ifs. Here’s why: Seven heart-centered must-reads, six fundings with over $163 million raised, and three exits (two at $100 million each). ❣️💪🏽💸

If flab has landed

Take this 3-question quiz to get your ass back. This is from Richa's article on how to grow without VC and a classic example of Frontend Bait in a customer-loving Value Ladder. 

If objectivity eludes you 

This is why thinking of your business as your baby could be stalling growth. Informed by Finnish research that confirms the emotional connection to your business mirrors your emotional connection to a child.

If buying chocolate and roses feels shallow 

Go deep this Valentine's day. Buy nothing, reinvest in the relationship and finish what you started. Raptitude did this for a year and one million people read about it.

That orange blob is a chicken wing. Delivered by a drone. There’s a model for that, mockumentaried in the Crunchbase series "A Startup Takes Flight.”

That orange blob is a chicken wing. Delivered by a drone. There’s a model for that, mockumentaried in the Crunchbase series "A Startup Takes Flight.”

If confused by funding lingo

In the five-part series, "A Startup Takes Flight," Crunchbase skewers the Valley’s lust for the next-big-thing while mockumenting a fictitious company’s growth from unpriced Seed round to acquisition. Along the way, you get clear examples of the legal and insider terminology used in deal-making (cap tables, deal terms, valuations, etc.), and more importantly, the mechanisms that VCs use to protect themselves in the deal. You know what happens when they know more than you. No excuses, ladyballers.

If Snapchat's in your mix 

Here’s what it takes to put together world-class social content. A short-read overview of Vogue International's three Snapchat Discover channels, team resources required, and why they love Gen Z.

Bianca Valenti surfing the big waves at Maverick’s in December 2018. Photo by Dina Litovsky/Redux, for The New York Times.

Bianca Valenti surfing the big waves at Maverick’s in December 2018. Photo by Dina Litovsky/Redux, for The New York Times.

If in need of a Fuck Yeah!

Read this outstanding article on the push for gender equality in big wave surfing. Read it for the lesson on how to harness coalitions and small government, such as land-use commissions, to demand change. Read it for the love of great writing. Read it for the role models, as per usual, a group of supremely talented women outworking and outwitting men for the right to compete and get paid equally. The best article of the year (so far).

If your teen has lusty Qs 

Planned Parenthood's Roo chatbot answers with honesty, sensitivity and humor. Props for the gender inclusivity. This is an ingenious use of tech to reach Gen Z, their next gen of supporters.



Remarkably, $800,000 Seed, Erina Malarkey, CEO and Co-Founder; Anna-Lea Dieringer, Chief Product Officer 

Seattle-based marketing analytics software for the real-estate industry. Round led by Pioneer Square Labs Ventures with angel investors in real estate and technology. Remarkably is the first all-women-led company to spin out of Pioneer Square Labs. (Via PSBJ)

PartySlate, $3 million Seed, Julie Roth Novack, CEO and Co-Founder

Chicago-based PartySlate is a digital platform designed for event professionals. Led by Hyde Park Venture Partners; other investors include Purple Arch Ventures, Hyde Park Angels, and InvestHER Ventures. 

Ritual, $25 million Series B, Katerina Schneider, CEO and Founder

Los Angeles-based Ritual is a direct-to-consumer vitamin company. Previous investors Founders Fund, Norwest Venture Partners and Forerunner Ventures participated. Three-quarters of Ritual's board members are women and 60 percent of its 47 full-time employees are female.

Billie, $25 million Series A, Georgina Gooley, Co-Founder

Brooklyn-based wellness company Billie sells direct-to-consumer shaving supplies and body products for women. Round led by Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing Group. Silverton Partners, Female Founders Fund, and Lakehouse Ventures also participated in the round. (Fortune)

Cuyana, $30 million, Series C, Karla Gallardo, CEO and Co-Founder; Shilpa Shah, Co-Founder

San Francisco-based direct-to-consumer fashion brand focused on responsibly sourced, high-end apparel and accessories. Cuyana was profitable in 2018. Backed by private equity firm H.I.G. Capital. (Business of Fashion

FabFitFun, $80 million Series A, Katie Echevarria Rosen Kitchens, Co-founder, Editor in Chief  

Los Angeles-based subscription-box service for beauty and wellness products. Led by Kleiner Perkins. FabFitFun financing follows a period of hockey-stick growth for the nine-year-old company, which topped $200 million in revenue last year.


Killer Infographics, acquired by Lieberman Research Worldwide, amount undisclosed, Amy Balliett, CEO and Founder

Seattle-based visual communication company known for stylized infographics and videos. Notably, they designed their own confidential information memorandum — CIM — for potential partners, instead of letting a brokerage firm do the work.

Read GeekWire's insightful Q&A with Amy with practical advice about bootstrapping. Hire a bookkeeper, have money in the bank before you start the company, network with the men, and this....

For the first five years of this company, I tried to avoid conflict. I often would put emotions of other people above business needs. But then I started letting the needs of the business drive all decisions over my own emotions. I do think that’s something women aren’t taught to do or expected to do. Women are often vilified when they do that. But the fact is, when you have 25 families that rely on you for their source of income, you need to let the needs of the business drive decisions over emotion.

Ultimately, I had to learn to stop apologizing and I really had to learn to stop justifying the same decisions I’d make that a man would make. Women often have to justify logical decisions and emotionless decisions and it makes it pretty hard if you’re running a business. Women have to earn it far more.
— Amy Balliett, CEO and Founder, Killer Infographics  


More exits

L., acquired by P&G for ~$100 million, Talia Frankel, Founder 

San Francisco-based L. is a retailer of period products and prophylactics. Founder Talia Frenkel was a photojournalist before she started L. through Y Combinator.

Why this acquisition is important:  According to TechCrunch, “For investors with knowledge of the company, the P&G acquisition is a harbinger of things to come. The combination of a non-technical, female founder operating in the consumer-packaged goods market with a mission-driven company was an anomaly in the Silicon Valley of four years ago, but Frenkel’s success shows what kind of opportunities exist in the market…’With this acquisition investors need to update their patterns,’ said one investor with knowledge of the company.” (TechCrunch)

To that end...

The Laundress, acquired by Unilever for $100 million, Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, Co-Founders 

NYC-based The Laundress is a luxury eco-friendly home-cleaning products startup. The founders never took venture capital money and sell 85 products, from specialized detergents to dish soap. (Fast Company)