Fashion entrepreneur Natalie Massenet raises ’52m for new investment firm

The former British Fashion Council chair said her new investment business, Imaginary Ventures, has secured funding from the likes of Tom and Ruth Chapman, the couple who founded online retailer Matchesfashion.

Fashion entrepreneur Natalie Massenet raises ’52m for new investment firm

Fashion entrepreneur Natalie Massenet on Tuesday revealed her first venture since leaving the Net-a-Porter empire she founded, has raised $75 million (’52 million) to back start-ups.

The former British Fashion Council chair said her new investment business, Imaginary Ventures, has secured funding from the likes of Tom and Ruth Chapman, the couple who founded online retailer Matchesfashion.

The firm, which is based in London and New York, will support growing businesses in sectors such as fashion, beauty and food. 

Massenet and business partner Nick Brown praised London as being ‘one of the world’s most innovative centres at the intersection of technology and retail’.

Massenet said: ‘We are really excited about the calibre of entrepreneurs and investors we’re talking to.’

  • Publisher: Evening Standard
  • Date: 2018-04-17T11:40:00Z
  • Author: Joanna Bourke
  • Twitter: @standardnews
  • Citation: Web link

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The founder of online luxury website Net-A-Porter is launching a $75 million VC fund for retail tech

Natalie Massenet, right, pictured with model Karlie Kloss.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Glamour

LONDON — Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massenet has raised $75 million(’52 million) to launch a new venture capital firm targeting retail technology.

Imaginary Ventures will invest in early stage, direct-to-consumer businesses “at the intersection of retail and technology,” according to a release announcing its launch.

Massenet cofounded Imaginary Ventures with Nick Brown, a former partner at New York venture capital firm 14W. Imaginary will have offices in both London and New York.

Former journalist Massenet is best-known as the founder of online luxury retailer Net-A-Porter, which she set up in London in 2000. She sold a majority stake to Swiss luxury group Richemont for ’50 million ($71.8 million) in 2010 before leading Net-A-Porter through a ‘3.2 billion (‘2.7 billion; $3.9 billion) merger with Italy’s Yoox Group in 2015. She left Net-A-Porter while the merger was completing.

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  • Publisher: Business Insider
  • Author: Oscar Williams-Grut
  • Twitter: @clusterstock
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Net-a-Porter Founder Launches Venture Capital Firm Targeting E-Commerce Startups

She’s teaming up with Nick Brown, a former partner of New York-based venture capital firm 14W, to invest in companies with focus on the direct-to-consumer e-commerce space at the "intersection of retail and technology" including fashion, beauty, wellness, food and beverage startups. They have plans to announce a $75 million raise for its first fund, with companies like online beauty startup Glossier and sustainable clothing brand Everlane already among its first investments. Others announced at launch include Daily Harvest, Dirty Lemon and Appear Here. The two are looking at companies that are in their earlier stages of development but have demonstrated growth potential. Backers of Imaginary Ventures include Tom and Ruth Chapman, who sold a majority stake in a company they also founded, Matches Fashion, to Apax Partners last year. Imaginary Ventures is based in London and will have offices there and in New York City.

In a statement, Massenet said: "I’ve felt for a while that I wanted to apply the brand-building experience and network I’ve gained over my career to today’s evolving retail landscape. The most effective route to do that was to partner with and invest in this emerging generation of entrepreneurs challenging the retail status-quo across every vertical."

Since leaving the company she founded, Massenet has laid low as far and declined to take on new business opportunities. Her only other move was joining Farfetch as a non-executive co-chairwoman in 2017. The new venture will no doubt rely on Massenet’s expertise in the fashion and luxury segments, and her experience in digital technology and e-commerce practices. Brown brings a wealth of experience in the investment arena – his former firm invested in Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company Goop in 2016. The 14W fund also boasts a diverse array of buzzy companies that include Reformation, Moda Operandi, The RealReal, Lola, Outdoor Voices and Daily Harvest. Brown was also an early investor in Warby Parker. 

Brown also chimed in: ‘Natalie and I are partnering on Imaginary because we believe these emerging brands, platforms and retail solutions have the potential to scale into global businesses. I could not imagine a better entrepreneur and partner to build this platform with.’

Indeed, their track record in the modern luxury space will give them considerable advantages over more generalist firms when targeting new investments.

  • Publisher: Forbes
  • Date: 2018-04-17
  • Author: Mario Abad
  • Twitter: @forbes
  • Citation: Web link

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