Brand Foundry: The Consumer Product Specialists

By: Ben Freeberg

Brand Foundry, an early stage venture capital firm based in NYC, is solely focused on finding, and helping to build, next gen consumer brands. The Brand Foundry team comes from strong operating backgrounds, giving them the experience and network necessary to help scale the startups they back in a meaningful way.

Andrew Mitchell, the founder of the firm, was an early investor in major consumer startups including Warby Parker, Birchbox, Harry’s, Chloe and Isabel and Peloton Cycle. He has the reputation of working closely with the startups he backs in every possible operational way; for example he helped build the shaving cream for Harry’s. Sumeet Shah is the sole senior associate on the team, and works on being as hands-on as possible with each of Brand Foundry’s investments. Having spent five years in the private equity consulting world ahead of joining the Brand Foundry team, Sumeet continues to build a deep network in the startup space, from first time founders to corporate venture capitalists.

For VCs:

Brand Foundry’s goal is to support a full spectrum of low to high tech consumer products. The firm seeks out investment partners who will dig into the operations of the companies with them, and work diligently behind the scenes to help the great companies they invest in scale.

The firm will be focused on leading the 1st institutional seed round. They have successfully made a 1st close on this Fund and seek to close out the final commitments by the end of this year. Investments from the 2nd Fund will join the select group of Brand Foundry’s 16 current portfolio companies. The composition of those companies range from low-tech products (LOLA, Cotopaxi, Naja, AllBirds, Koio Collective, Rockets of Awesome, Brilliant) to higher-tech connected products (Trace, Caeden, Jewelbots, Keen Home) and specialty platforms (Barnraiser, Nineteenth Amendment, KITE, KiwiCrate).

The Brand Foundry Collective, a regional collection of service providers focused on helping emerging brands succeed, is a perfect example of how the firm constantly strives to help this industry and space grow and develop.

For Entrepreneurs:

Brand Foundry ensures that they will do everything they can to help each of their portfolio companies succeed, and they don’t have to be the largest investor to be the most helpful.

In your first conversation with the team, focus on describing your vision for the future of the business completely. At the seed stage, giving a detailed overview of your financials projections aren’t as important, instead provide an understanding of where you plan to take your business and brand going forward. Does the team have domain experience and is there real passion to create a new innovative brand? And, what is unique about the product and is the customer demographic missing something that this new product can help satisfy or solve? Andrew and Sumeet also ask that you share the reason for why you are starting this business, from a personal, economic or general market perspective.

Lastly, if your company is not currently a fit for Brand Foundry, be sure to keep them updated throughout your fundraising and business development processes. The team wants to be as helpful and approachable as possible, and their extensive network is at your disposal if they are continuously informed.

Startup Spotlight:

The firm invested in Cotopaxi, a responsibly sourced and innovative outdoor gear brand, in the Seed round in early 2014. Brand Foundry went on to introduce Greycroft to lead the series A.

The founder and CEO, Davis Smith, who has started and scaled multiple startups, founded the company as a passion project to sell socially conscious gear for adventure and travel. What most impressed Andrew and Sumeet was that Davis Smith thought through every piece of the business very well, and provided a detailed overview of what it would take to build a successful brand in the outdoor gear business. The team understood that it was a heavily fragmented space, but they could do well as long as their brand is strong.

They just opened their first store in Salt Lake City, where the company is headquartered. This is a big first step towards their goal of creating an interactive experience through a wholly owned showroom-based store. We are excited to continue to see Cotopaxi scale, and we hope to see you at Questival, Cotopaxi’s branded adventure race, that is coming to NYC this October.

Thank you to Sumeet Shah and Andrew Mitchell for assisting us with this post.