Natalie Massenet, the venture capitalist. It has a nice ring to it. Massenet, who gained fame as the founder of Net-a-Porter, has found a new calling- investing in startups at the intersection of retail and technology. “When I started Net-a-Porter, I was lucky enough to have extraordinary angel investors and mentors giving me much-needed funding and advice along with my journey,” she says. “It is a privilege to be able to return the favour with Imaginary and the transferable skill set I’ve developed throughout my career.”
Standing with her on this new venture is Nick Brown, the investor who she co-founded Imaginary Ventures with last year (2017). “Nick and I have been good friends for a long time, and would spend hours discussing our shared view of the consumer retail space, and where the industry was headed,” Massenet told TechCrunch of how the two came together. “It was during an initial conversation over lunch that the idea for Imaginary started to come together: let’s build a fund focused on early-stage businesses obsessed with the consumer, and help create the global retail brands and platforms of the future.”
Massenet seeks: “new generation of entrepreneurs challenging the status quo across every vertical.”
After Massenet left the success story that was Net-a-Porter, she still kept her finger on the pulse of consumer tech in the fashion and e-commerce sectors. Now, this interest is being translated into backing early-stage opportunities at the intersection of retail and technology. Focusing on both Europe and the U.S., Massenet and Brown are seeking to take advantage of the rapid changes that are currently taking place in retail. So far, the $75 million VC fund has backed 11 companies. “Most of our investments will be early to mid-stage, but we would never confine ourselves to a strict bracket given the potential for opportunities at other stages,” says Brown.
Planning to be “very hands-on” when it comes to their portfolio companies, Massenet admitted that they are interested in working with a “new generation of entrepreneurs challenging the status quo across every vertical.”