Mulberry: Why We Invested
A strong practical and emotional value proposition, with excellent founder/market fit.
When people ask me what I learned at HBS, I sometimes say never buy the extended warranty. I’m kidding, of course, but as all B-school students of the late 90's know, once you understand the economics exposed by the Circuit City case study, it’s hard to justify parting with the extra cash.
Those overly attractive economics were the first thing that came to mind when I met Chinedu Eleayna to learn more about Mulberry, back in November of 2018. Aimee Browne had identified them as a company of interest after their seed round, and after a chat with my friend Eric Paley at Founder Collective, I was eager to take a closer look.
Mulberry is building the trust-layer for commerce.
They help digital platforms grow loyalty (and revenue) by seamlessly embedding extended protection into their customer journey. With Mulberry, anyone can offer up to 10 year product insurance as an add-on online, while giving customers a best-in-class claims filing experience. You may have come across them already on sites like Breville, Mirror, and Nectar, and if not, you soon will.
Two things also struck me about Founder & CEO Chinedu Eleanya right away. First was his warmth. Chinedu is a humble, welcoming person who cares about people and understands what they need. A whip-smart immigrant with an unusual blend of hustle and chill, Chinedu talked in our very first meeting about the business value of making it easier for people to protect the things they bought, and of taking better care of them if and when they had a problem down the road. Second was his operational discipline. Chinedu is first and foremost an engineer — with several successful exits under his belt — and his mind seems always to be as organized as his spare and pristine office in lower Manhattan. I knew it would take exactly that kind of skillset to make the value proposition he aspired to work at scale, and throughout the year we talked I came to believe he was uniquely well-suited to capitalizing on this opportunity.
I also came to understand there are lots of categories, in fact, where extended warranties make sense for retailers and consumers. There’s a reason Circuit City’s out of business, it turns out, and it’s that they optimized the transactions over the relationships. Count me converted.
The market is big, the economics are great, and there’s plenty of smart money around the table, all of which made us glad to be able to participate in the round announced this week. But in the end this is a people business — a brand to be built on trust by a person able to do so — and those are the deals I most love to do.
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