Sramana Mitra: Give us a flavor of what these companies are and how that aligns with your investment thesis. Help us understand your thought process in what about those companies have compelled you to invest.
Christina Brodbeck: I can go through four companies in our portfolio that we invested in. I’ll give you a little background on them and why we decided to invest. One of them is called Dote. It’s a shopping mall on your phone. Pretty much, every store that you would see at a physical shopping mall, you can shop in this mobile app.
What I really like about them and, partially, why we decided to invest is that the founders are very solid. They used to work at a gaming company. They really know how to increase user engagement. That was one of the reasons we invested in them. Another company that we invested in is called Tentrr, which is a marketplace for campers and landowners who have unused land.
Especially in certain parts of the country, it’s very difficult to find camping space, especially ones that are state or national because they fill up very quickly. The demand is very high. The founder for that is fantastic. The majority of travel decisions that actually happen within a family tend to be booked by the female and so that fits very nicely within our thesis.
Another company we invested in is called Hooked. They have a mobile platform that is focused on chat-based stories. We like that because it plays on the trend of younger people consuming content throughout the day in shorter formats. This utilizes something that that market is very used to.
Another company that we invested in was Ritual, which is into essential vitamins for women. They are focused on being transparent on what the ingredients are and just being very clear. The vitamin and supplement market out there is very nebulous. It’s very difficult to find any information about what’s in the vitamin. Nothing is very targeted for women. There is not one brand that owns that space. The founder for that company had a very clear vision. She knew what she wanted to do and we really liked where she wanted to go.
Sramana Mitra: This brings me to a question that is particularly relevant in what you’re describing. Do you think of investing as a search for the next unicorn or are you also looking to invest in companies that are not going to be unicorns? They have smaller TAM and more niche spaces but will become solid businesses and have smaller exits but good investment returns.
Christina Brodbeck: I don’t think we, explicitly, are looking for the next unicorn. What we are looking for is businesses that are looking to take a market that is currently very manual or a trend that is growing and utilize technology to scale that and make it more efficient. Having been an entrepreneur myself and having gone through fundraising process myself, I probably wouldn’t have raised money for that business.
When you’re starting a business, really think about what is the size that you want to grow it to. It is not always necessary and ideal to raise money. Before going out to raise, I would really consider what your end goal is. Is it necessary to raise venture money? A lot of the times, it’s not necessary. Thinking about that early on is probably important.