Dame Natalie Massenet launches new venture capital fund
Dame Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-A-Porter.com, has confirmed the launch of a new retail and ecommerce investment fund, Imaginary Ventures, which she has established with Nick Brown, a former partner at New York venture capital fund 14W Venture Partners.
The business has raised its first fund of $75m (£52m), which it will invest in direct-to-consumer start-ups across the fashion, beauty, wellness, food and beverage, and lifestyle sectors. It has already invested in businesses such as Glossier, Khloe Kardashian’s denim company Good American, sustainable US label Reformation, innovative tights brand Heist, Everlane, Appear Here and luxury fashion platform Farfetch (of which Massenet is non-executive co-chair).
“I’ve felt for a while that I wanted to apply the brand-building experience and network I’ve gained over my career to today’s evolving retail landscape. The most effective route to do that was to partner with and invest in this emerging generation of entrepreneurs challenging the retail status-quo across every vertical,” said Massenet, who stood down from Net-A-Porter.com in 2015 following its merger with Yoox.
In an Instagram post announcing the news Massenet added: "These are the businesses that are going to change our lives, how we shop, what we eat, how we feel, what we wear and how we disrupt the world of retail for a new generation of consumers. On a personal note, I feel blessed to be able to support a new generation of inspiring entrepreneurs and businesses. I was lucky enough to have extraordinary angel investors and mentors giving me much needed funding and advice along my journey and it is a privilege to be able to return the favour".
Nick Brown said he was partnering with Massenet because "we believe these emerging brands, platforms and retail solutions have the potential to scale into global businesses. I could not imagine a better entrepreneur and partner to build this platform with.”
Imaginary Ventures' partners include Tom and Ruth Chapman, the founders of Matchesfashion.com, who recently sold a majority stake in their multichannel luxury business to Apax Partners for a reported £800m.
"Natalie has disrupted and inspired an industry through innovation and Nick has built a formidable reputation as an intuitive early stage investor. Ruth and I share many of their core values in building a consumer commerce business from the customer up, something that is vital in this competitive environment,” said Tom Chapman.
Since leaving Net-A-Porter.com, Massenet has been chair of the British Fashion Council, a role from which she has now stood down, and was appointed as non-executive co-chair of Farfetch in February of last year. Rumours of her intention to launch a venture capital business emerged soon after she was appointed to Farfetch, after it emerged she had registered the Imaginary Ventures business at Companies House in October 2015, one month after leaving Net-A-Porter.com, with sources suggesting she was teaming up with Brown.