Saturday, June 18, 2011

Big And Tall - The Future Of Business Funding (Poking fun at the investment community)

"Getting funding for your business has had me totally perplexed.   I mean, folks are throwing bucks into sinkholes but why they won’t consider a company that has a great market and the goods is beyond me."

A quote from a friend of mine, with 10 years of experience with some of the biggest names on Wall Street, and another 15 years experience with the technology industry who in his spare time writes for Forbes.

Exactly how does one begin to answer that question?

Most Venture Capitalists have blogs and you can read them on a daily basis, you can visit Angellist, Quora, and or Kickstarter and basically you will find the same things being said a variety of different ways....and still not be able to answer the question.

I think the most interesting information comes from the Designer Fund where the mission is:
"If you're an early stage startup with a designer founder, we'll help you get to the next stage of funding and growth. If you're a designer looking to take the leap into entrepreneurship, we'll match you with hacker engineers and business hustlers to get your ideas off the ground. We collaborate with multiple accelerators and funds to build a solid foundation for your business and get you the best deals."

So, basically a bunch of designers are angry because the techies and the finance folks are cutting them out of the loop and they feel underapreciated.  Basically, their argument is that, "It's about giving designers a seat at the startup table that engineers and MBAs already have."  They believe that the focus on people with tech and finance backgrounds creates an investment climate where, "Most startups fail because they make things that people don't actually want!"  You can read more about this new venture capital fund here.


I guess if you have a business proposal you better have a techie or a designer as a founder or no one is going to be interested.  Or you could be like Bonobos, a company that was founded by two roommates who were graduate students at the Stanford School of Business to basically provide men with pants that make their butts comfortable!  Pants for $88 to $188 dollars a pair and a business model per selective quotes from the NY Times:
  • "The Bonobos pants, which come in straight leg and boot cut, are best for those with athletic builds, although it is developing pants for slimmer and bigger men."
  • "Mr. Dunn is well aware that manufacturers could easily replicate Bonobos pants, so he is trying to distinguish the company with customer service, convenience and technology."
  • "Bonobos also offers free shipping both ways along with lifetime returns, and encourages people to buy and return several pairs of pants to find the right fit."
That business model is enticing enough for a major VC firm to invest $18 million dollars in?  I cannot help but wonder if the decision to invest in this start up was made by a group of young, unmarried, fellow MBA's?  I wonder what Bonobos will do once their current loyal consumers get married and have kids:  Married men with kids are not 'fashionistas' and dramatically limit their apparel purchases.  Their was once a great retailer, Castner Knotts, that had the absolute best customer service and return policy and they ended up being bought out by Dillards because of their liberal return policy!

I notice that since they received funding they have dramatically grown their product line, in fact, the whole business model has changed as they now, "...we pair our offerings with hand-picked brands to bring you an expertly curated lineup of better-fitting men’s apparel."

Hey, if that works then I can add Fatheadz sunglasses, which is a great product from a great company which Forbes has highlighted in their "20 Million Dollar Businesses That You Have Never Heard Of."  Or, I can add Sanuk Sandals in big and tall sizes!  What a great combination, big and tall tee shirts, big and tall screen printed tees, sunglasses, and flip flops!  THAT is one awesome product mix for a sized centric community!

But since most venture capitalists are young, health consious, water drinking, exercise fanatics they probably avoid at all costs noticing that the vast majority of Americans are overweight slobs who are more concerned of finding a shirt that covers their "crack" when they bend over than they are with ensuring that their pants give them the male equivalent of "butt."

Let me know when a television show is produced for "Guys With Comfortable Pants" that has more viewers than "Say Yes To The Dress - Big Bliss."
My sense of humor is getting the best of me....

How about this line from a Bonobos ad: "“When you wear the world’s best-fitting pants, women tend to stare. Even gawk. If you can handle being seen as a sex object, visit and order a pair.”  In a world where over 50% of the adult males are overweight?  Get the guy a shirt that fits, sunglasses, and a comfortable pair of flip flops!

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