If unicorns could talk
Last week, Emily Weiss at Glossier and Jennifer Hyman at Rent the Runway led their companies to unicorn status. With $100 million and $125 million raises, respectively, both companies reached $1 billion valuations.
Cue Unicorn by Dizzy Gillespie.
This is a lingerable moment:
One billion-dollar valuations.
From women CEOs.
As a reminder, in a fundraising event a valuation is the process of determining the value of the company. I know, seems obvi but there's a lot that goes into the number. If you want to value your company, here's a resource with usable spreadsheets for the Venture Capital Method of valuation.
After the obvious hells fucking belles, there are two things going on with these valuations that relate to us.
One, Emily Weiss was an art school graduate. Glossier started as a blog called Into the Gloss. (Which is still thriving and the powerhouse of their content marketing.)
Jennifer Hyman, along with her co-founder, Jennifer Fleiss, are Harvard Business School graduates. While at B school, they personally connected, identified a problem and went about solving it. Not that it was ever easy for them, but you get certain advantages as an HBS graduate.
In Emily Weiss, we get a role model for an alternate path as an empire builder. You can follow your dreams and start anywhere.
I can peek over my 15 year-old daughter's shoulder as she scrolls Glossier and say, "You can build something that powerful."
No excuses, ladies.
The second thing that's important is that both of these women position their operations as tech companies but they are not classic "technical" founders.
You can't scale to billion dollar heights without believing in yourself as a tech company.
In a Recode Decode podcast (link below), Jennifer Hyman talks about how her first round of venture capital helped to build out the team for “what we really do, which is all of the technology and logistics to power just-in-time-reverse logistics of physical goods.”
In another episode, Emily Weiss hints at what her raise will help to build—a social platform for deepening co-creation with customers. It'll be used to further this defining truth about the brand:
A final remarkable point about Glossier is their gender representation:
70% female employees
60% female board
50% female engineering team
If you like to listen
Both founders have been all over the podcast circuit. Here are three most worth your time for hard-core business insights:
An engrossing path-to-success interview (including a rush hour car race through Manhattan to ambush Diane Von Furstenburg):
Jennifer Hyman on Guy Raz’s How I Built This
How to put customers at the center of everything, and the tech and team you’ll need to do it:
Emily Weiss on Kara Swisher's Recode Decode
The business (and multi-vertical extension) of a subscription model, and a thoughtful assessment of how to change the definition of leadership:
Jennifer Hyman on Recode Decode from 2017
If you want rainbows with your unicorns
Three other companies announced raises last week:
Cleo, $27.5 million, Series B
Chitra Akileswaran and Shannon Spanhake, Co-Founders
Henry the Dentist, $10 million, Series A
Alexandria Ketcheson, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer
Maude, $1.5 million, Seed
Eva Goicochea and Dina Epstein, Co-Founders and CEO and CPO, respectively
Additional insights about last week's raises:
Forerunnner Ventures, led by Kirsten Green, continued to be active in funding emerging commerce brands, backing Glossier, Cleo and Henry the Dentist. Forerunner has a powerful brand in their own right, from the name to their blog and their actions.
Glossier and Rent the Runway are two other retail juggernauts reshaping commerce and branding in as equally customer-obsessed ways as Amazon, but with more humanity and opportunity for customers to share their voice
Four of the companies primarily serve needs associated with traditional women's gender roles (beauty, fashion, home, sexuality, early parenting support)
If in doubt about fundraising
Must be restated....
Don’t ever doubt that YOU can raise venture capital. You've got it in you!
That type of funding might never make its way to your bank account, but you have to believe that it’s possible to bring home that bacon.
Art school. Just sayin.
If you forgot the other Unicorns
There are others roaming the landscape:
23andMe — Anne Wojcicki and Linda Avey, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs
Nextdoor — Sarah Leary and Madison Bell, Co-Founders and VP of Marketing and Operations and Chief Product Officer
Cloudflare — Michelle Zatlyn, Co-Founder and COO
Credit Karma — Nichole Mustard, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer
Houzz — Adi Tatarko, Co-Founder and CEO
Eventbrite — Julia Hartz, Co-Founder and CEO; IPO’d in September 2018