Where we will shop in the future — the virtual mall.
Our investment in Dote.
Saturdays used to be spent at the mall with friends, browsing through the latest fashion trends. Shopping is entertainment for many women, myself included. As we as consumers have migrated to a mobile-first shopping experience, we download apps for Zara, Forever 21, ASOS and many more. The number of apps on our phone mounts up, and the chance that an app makes the cut for the coveted home screen position diminishes with every app download.
But what if there was ONE app to bring together all of your favorite brands — across apparel, shoes, jewelry and beauty — and functions like a mall, allowing you to browse, search and buy products through one easy-to-use interface?
This was the insight we heard from Lauren Farleigh, the co-founder of Dote, when she pitched the Lightspeed team on Planet Of The Apps (now on Apple Music). Today I’m proud to announce our Series A investment of $5.7 million in Dote.
Dote is a mobile-first shopping app which brings all of your favorite brands together in one place. Dote embodies many of the themes that we look for when we make an investment at Lightspeed:
- A large market. Women’s online apparel, shoes, jewelry and beauty in the U.S. is a $250B market.
- Shopping behavior. Shopping continues to shift from malls to online, and now to mobile. This is especially true for millennials and Gen Z.
- Strong founders. In addition to representing the Dote customer base, Lauren has demonstrated an ability to hire strong people around her.
- High engagement with potential to be a home screen app. A single retailer doesn’t usually have the frequency of use to be a home screen app. This creates an opportunity for aggregators.
These are the characteristics of a product and a team we look for at Lightspeed.
You can watch this week’s episode exclusively on Apple Music. New episodes air on Tuesdays at 6pm pst / 9pm est. (Follow me on Twitter to keep up-to-date on the latest updates on the show: twitter.com/nik_quinn.)
I recently asked Lauren a few questions about how her background influenced her as a founder, the benefits of diversity, the most important value in business, and last but not least, what it was like partnering Gwyneth Paltrow.
Nicole: Where are you from? How did your hometown in Alaska and being from outside of Silicon Valley shape your idea?
Lauren: I was born and raised in Alaska. Shopping was always really difficult because there weren’t very many stores. We did a lot of catalog shopping and online shopping. The thought of having every store available at my fingertips on my phone was a natural next step for me. When I saw that it didn’t exist, I knew I might be onto something.
Nicole: Who are you targeting with your product?
Lauren: Our early adopters have definitely been young women. The Dote consumer is in college, right out of college, or even in high school. That demographic is accustomed to being able to do everything on their phone, and I’d go as far as to say this demo has really almost demanded this product from us. So many new consumer products and pop culture trends start with this demo, and I think it’s a really good sign of our strong product market fit.
Nicole: Gwyneth Paltrow was your mentor on Planet of the Apps. She’s awesome. How was it to work with her?
Lauren: She is the real deal. Working with her has been incredible, and I’m lucky to now call her both a mentor and a friend.
Nicole: What does diversity mean to you?
Lauren: To me, diversity is about having all of the unique ingredients needed to make something great and more importantly, how to grow and leverage those different assets. It’s not just about having different kinds of people in the room — which is essential. It’s about really listening to them and allowing them to influence the outcomes.
Nicole: What are the apps you can’t live without?
Lauren: Definitely Dote, but besides that the obvious ones are Insta and Snap. I also love Musical.ly and watch a lot of YouTube videos on my phone.
Nicole: What’s your ultimate goal for Dote?
Lauren: We have the opportunity to be a billion dollar business that fundamentally changes how people shop from the brands they love. I know this is within our reach and I’m excited about getting there with our team.
Nicole: What’s the most valuable piece of professional advice you have received?
Lauren: Don’t forget to have fun.
Nicole: What is a core value you aim to emphasize in the way you conduct business?
Lauren: People first. Always. There will be situations in which I’m not the most experienced, or the most intelligent, but if I can be the person who everyone wants to work with, I think that is a winning strategy.
Nicole: What kind of culture do you thrive in?
Lauren: I really like moving quickly. Internally, we call it “Dote Speed” and it’s an essential part of our company ethos. When you are moving quickly, you are learning and growing quickly. And ultimately, the rate of growth always matters far more than where you start.
Nicole: What made you make the leap and start Dote in the first place?
Lauren: I knew the mobile shopping space well because mobile shopping is something my friends and I do and talk about all the time. It seemed to me that a huge opportunity was being ignored — an app that made all the top mainstream brands you found at the mall accessible. Once I had the idea, I couldn’t really think about anything else. It’s hard to explain, but I really felt in my gut like I had to do it. So as scary as it was making the jump, in some ways it felt scarier not to make it.
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