Discussion Series: The Founders' & Funders' Dilemma

Consumer e-commerce investing is BROKEN. Nasty Gal and Warby Parker are hits, but most brands that launch online fail to understand consumer psychology as well as the value of branding, marketing and great product; they are struggling.

What does it take to create a true long-lasting ecommerce brand success online? Nasty Gal's Founder Sophia Amoruso struggled for a long time before finally being courted by VCs. How can seed stage investors learn to recognize true talent like Sophia sooner? Investors are used to valuing companies with traditional metrics like Customer Acquisition Cost and Lifetime Value, but do VC's know how to really measure and value a brand? Does domain expertise matter at all? Come find out.

This event is a part of a series of events created with the purpose sparking a long overdue paradigm shift in the startup ecosystem. Look forward to a no holds barred discussion, instead of smoke and mirrors. No pandering, no BS - just raw conversation. Connect, learn, grow.

6PM - 7PM:  Make Meaningful Connections over Drinks & Snacks
7PM - 7:45PM:  Discussion
7:45 - 8PM:  Startup Showcase w/ Panel Feedback
8PM - 8:30PM: Make Meaningful Connections over Drinks & Snacks

*A special thank you to our event sponsor: Mack Weldon

Meet The Panel:

Brand Experts

Elizabeth Canon - Founder of Fashion’s Collective, Elizabeth is an innovator of business education focused primarily on the intersection of fashion and digital.  A new-age resource for fashion and luxury brands focused on digital marketing, Fashion’s Collective is comprised of an online publication, FC Labs educational workshops and the FashionForward event series.

Elizabeth has spoken at TEDx in Bali, SXSW in Austin, Casa della Creativita in Italy, Fashion 2.0 in Germany, and Luxury Interactive in New York. She has also been featured on Elle Magazine’s Digital Power List.  Prior to starting Fashion’s Collective, Elizabeth was partner and director at a NYC-based interactive agency, where she worked creating digital initiatives for top global fashion and luxury brands.

Lilly Chan - Founder & CEO of Fareskind, a 100% Australian Merino Sheepskin Baby Accessories brand, which launched online in Dec. 2012. Most recently, Lilly was a Brand Manager & Innovations Manager at Unilever – AXE. Prior to that, she worked as a Group Manager of Innovations & Brand Devleopment at Limited Brands – Bath & Body Works,  Senior Brand Manager at L’Oreal – Redken and Director of Integrative Marketing at NBC Universal and Director of Advertising at Showtime. Lilly has a Bachelors in International Marketing from Baruch College.

Sindhya Valloppillil - Founder & CEO of Helix Men. Most recently, Sindhya was the Brand & Product Development Manager at ZIRH Skincare. While at ZIRH, she successfully created award-winning products and best-selling products in addition to creating and launching 3 brands: ZIRH Platinum Skincare, ZIRH Warrior Collection of Shower Gels & ZIRH Cocktail Bars. The ZIRH Platinum Drenched Moisturizer won the coveted CEW Beauty Award in 2009; it is the highest honor in the industry. Prior to ZIRH, she worked at Johnson & Johnson – Neutrogena Cosmetics, Limited Brands - Beauty Avenues and L’Oreal USA – Maybelline DMI in various roles including Marketing, Global Brand Image, Product Development and Innovations. She does Trend Consulting for the clients of Primary Global Research and Vista Research. Sindhya graduated with honors from the Global Fashion Management Masters program, a joint program with Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Institut Francais de la Mode in Paris and Hong Kong Polytechnical Institute. Additionally, she has an undergraduate degree in Fashion Merchandising Management from FIT.


Shai Goldman is a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, the most active global seed fund with offices in U.S, India, China, Mexico and Brazil.  Shai is based in NYC and assists in investor relations, making new investment, sourcing opportunities and working with existing portfolio companies.  Prior to 500 Startups, Shai worked at Silicon Valley Bank, in both the Bay Area and NYC, working closely with founders and early stage investors.  Shai was born in Israel.

Nikhil Kalghatgi is a recovering engineer and 2x entrepreneur investing in early stage startups. Via SoftBank Capital, Nikhil invested in 45+ companies in ecommerce, mobile and content, including GSI Commerce, Gilt Groupe, Buddy Media, Buzzfeed, Criteo, and younger companies like Moat, RapGenius, NowThisNews, FlightCar and NatureBox. Nikhil previously launched a hedge fund, a mobile app analytics company, worked in the military intelligence, is a UX designer by trade, and is an alum from Harvard Business School.

Jacob Brody - Partner at Mesa+ Ventures.  Jacob spends 100% of his time helping early stage companies in every way, shape and form. He is a mentor to numerous startups, advising them on financing, marketing, PR, product and corporate strategy. He is also a mentor at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and is the Co-founder of Standard Start, a non-profit providing standardized resources to venture-backed startups. Jacob previously worked as a staff writer / blogger for VentureBeat.

Jacob graduated with a B.A. from Hunter College.


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  • Solito Reyes I.

    A very insightful discussion. The VCs on the panel really gave some valuable advice and the brand specialist provided a lot of context around all the topics. And even though my startup already got funded, I still learned a lot from this discussion and it inspired me to rethink and refine my approach in how I seek and pitch additional rounds. I got a lot out of it. Good luck to everyone.

    1 · May 14, 2013

  • Mary A

    The mix of investor and brand perspectives made for a productive and lively exchange. Appreciated the candor of all the panelists!

    1 · May 13, 2013

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