Insights & News

Why we focus on consumer startups


maveron

Since our founding we have invested exclusively in consumer companies—those rewriting the rules on the experience not just of shopping, but of eating, working, playing, living, learning, and generally existing in our connected world. We focus on what we call the messy stage: The mile-a-minute, extreme juggling, leaps of faith, dragon slaying, nerve-wracking, lonely, exhilarating stage. Messy is where all the fun is. This is the stage where the vision and drive of the company founder can make or break things.

As consumer-only investors, we look at how people interact with the brands around them and how the best of those brands become a part of a consumer’s identity.  We seek founders who obsess over finding the underpinnings of what may seem to be irrational human behavior. We get behind products and services that integrate into the lives of individuals all over the world.

Dan Levitan and Howard Schultz founded Maveron in 1998 after partnering on the Starbucks IPO.  The dot-com era was changing the world and Howard and Dan both recognized that technology was going to integrate into people’s lives in hugely impactful ways.  It was a perfect opportunity to create a fund that leveraged the learnings from Starbucks and applied them to technology-based businesses. They forayed into the space by investing in eBay, and the rest is history.

Over the last 20 years, we have built a platform focused on finding and helping entrepreneurs grow life-changing consumer brands at an early-stage.  We have a deep understanding and an advantaged network in consumer.  The pattern recognition and expertise we have built isn’t just a filter we use when looking at companies, it is an advantage to the entrepreneurs we back.  Just ask them! We help our companies hire candidates that normally wouldn’t go to an early-stage company and provide our companies access to independent board members who can add outsized leverage early on. Our consumer-only portfolio lends a highly curated network of entrepreneurs who are passionate about building the next generation of great consumer brands.  The Maveron Brain Trust, which consists of a group of accomplished entrepreneurs, executives and investors, gives our founders access to the top consumer minds of today.

Today, Maveron is investing out of its sixth fund, which has $160M in commitments.  We lead 5 – 7 Series A investments a year in direct-to-consumer tech brands.  We partner with entrepreneurs and sign up for the inevitable peaks and valleys that are a part of any entrepreneurial journey.

We invest under the premise that value creation comes through identifying where consumer behavior is changing – and are obsessed with looking at how people live, work, learn, play, and eat. Some companies capture hearts and minds through building emotionally resonant products and brands – such as Allbirds, zulily, Everlane, Trupanion and Dia. Other new brands leverage technology innovation to accomplish what wasn’t before possible, like with tech-enabled hardware companies like August Home, Eargo and Tile. In many cases, we are looking at how technology and consumer centricity are disrupting stodgy old industries such as real estate (Common), fuel (Booster), hospitality, and health care (Keeps). We are looking for entrepreneurs who create brands that transcend beyond being a nice staple in the consumer landscape, but actually change culture and the way we live. We call it “creating a cauldron of consumer passion.”

All of us at Maveron are obsessed with consumer brands and re-imagining how we are all going to live – tomorrow and 20 years from now.  Selfishly, there is nothing as exciting as hearing a customer rave about a company we’ve backed and then support it through the journey from anonymity to ubiquity.

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