What is true virality? Rothy’s — a brand Lightspeed is proud to walk with.

I was out with a group at dinner last month when one of the women at the table looked down at my feet and said “Rothy’s!” I was wearing one of my four pairs and she recognized them immediately. Another woman chimed in: “I have a pair of Rothy’s and they are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.” And another: “I want to get a pair in every color.”

Before we knew it, people were whipping out their phones trying to buy a pair. Trying being the operative word as several of the styles, sizes and colors had sold out. One friend was happy to find a pair in her size and bought them on the spot. Others added their emails to a list to be notified when their size came back into stock. I have since received texts and emails from the women around the table saying thank you for turning them onto the best looking and most comfortable shoes they have ever worn. (So comfortable that they make walking up the hills of San Francisco a pleasure.)

This is a great example of the inherent virality that we love to see in consumer brands. It is reactions like this that drive NPS scores and explain how Rothy’s have grown primarily through word of mouth. It’s not about a billboard or TV ad. It’s about evangelists who love the brand enough to tell others to try it and keep coming back.

We are excited to lead Rothy’s Series A round and you can read more about Rothy’s in today’s NY Times article.

What are Rothy’s.

Rothy’s are beautifully designed, 3D- knitted shoes, principally made from recycled plastic bottles and perhaps the most comfortable shoes you will ever wear. They feel like a hug for your foot. It is breathable knit technology that if you ever need to, you can throw in the wash and have them come out looking like a brand new pair of shoes. Finally a shoe that is at the intersection of fashion, technology, sustainability and comfort.

Why Lightspeed is excited to invest in Rothy’s.

At Lightspeed, we like to see genuine word-of-mouth driving new consumer products. This was certainly happening with Rothy’s. (So much so that the company couldn’t keep product in stock — that is a problem that we like to be able to help with.) Additionally, the company had a number of other terrific characteristics:

  • Huge Market: Footwear is a $30bn market in the U.S. and $52bn globally and women buy 7.5 pairs of shoes every year.
  • The Trend is their friend: From the athleisure boom to the decline of formal dress in the workplace, there is a tremendous shift toward everyday casual comfort in apparel where many brands sit to footwear with few brands at this stage. Consumers want well-designed products that transition easily through today’s active lifestyle. I wear my Rothy’s to the gym in the morning, then on to work and straight out for dinner in the evening. They also hit the dance floor very well.
  • Real IP: The Rothy’s team spent four years in R&D before they sold one shoe. It is hard to make shoes as beautiful and comfortable as Rothy’s, let alone doing it with low waste, low impact materials and high quality.
  • Born Online: A direct to consumer brand, started online, allows the company to really own the whole consumer experience and understand every step of the journey. They are able to get feedback directly from customers and reiterate designs quickly.
  • Vertically integrated: owning their supply chain allows Rothy’s to have full control over their expenses and turnaround time to reach their customers. It results in controlled margins and a better customer experience across the buying journey.
  • Gritty, mission-driven founders: The two founders, Stephen Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin, have always had a clear mission and sheer determination to deliver. The years in R&D before going to market were so that they could promise their customers that every shoe would fit, stay on the foot perfectly and never change shape. They created a proprietary manufacturing technology allowing the shoes to have a sleek design and innovative look. These are honorable founders with a product we can trust in every step we take.

Rothy’s are selling like hot cakes.

Get ready because you are about to hear Rothy’s everywhere you go. As production ramps, we’re still seeing new sizes sell out within days of new stock arriving. But the Rothy’s team plans to be able to meet demand soon as it builds its resources and capacity.

As both a customer and an investor, I couldn’t be happier that Lightspeed is pairing up with Stephen, Roth and the whole Rothy’s team.

Read more on Rothy’s on today’s NY Times article

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Nicole Quinn

Nicole Quinn


Investor at Lightspeed, Stanford alum, Former Consumer Analyst at Morgan Stanley and British 100m sprinter