Meet the Investor Who Bet Early on Warby Parker, Glossier, and Dollar Shave Club
While most VCs were focused on software, Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures saw the potential of the direct-to-consumer revolution
Usually, the pitches from entrepreneurs arrive electronically. Occasionally, they arrive in the mail. At times, they even arrive hand-delivered by a particularly eager young person hoping to stand out by conveying an I’ll-do-anything-to-succeed passion.
Their destination: 1161 Mission Street, Suite 300, in San Francisco. It’s the office of Forerunner Ventures, Kirsten Green’s venture capital firm.
The pitches, however they arrive, never stop coming. Each year, there are 2,500, give or take. July 2018 was a typical month: 198 business proposals, including 67 wanting to launch new online brands (cosmetics, shoes, toiletries, clothing, you name it), another 64 pitching “platforms” (mostly for selling goods on mobile devices), 16 new retail concepts, and 18 e-commerce marketplaces. Green and her team of a half dozen colleagues sift through all of them. About one in 10, perhaps 200 to 250 a year, get invited to present their ideas to Green in person. Like pilgrims heading to Mecca, the entrepreneurs trek to Forerunner’s office just south of downtown San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, passing or stepping over homeless people on the way.
In the hour or so they are allotted to persuade Forerunner that they are worthy of an investment, the would-be entrepreneurs are grilled by Green or one of her partners about everything from the competitive landscape for their product to its financial potential to their strategic vision.
Don’t bother coming if you aren’t thinking big. Forerunner’s brashly stated mission: “We partner with those who challenge industry norms. Those who upend entire categories.” Forerunner stands out for investing almost exclusively in e-commerce, a bet-the-ranch strategy that has made Green a celebrity in this corner of the VC world and beyond.
Fashionable and photogenic, with a megawatt smile, Green no doubt is the only venture capitalist ever named to both TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list and Vanity Fair’s International…