Natalie Massenet, the founder of online fashion retailer Net-a-Porter, has co-founded a new venture capital firm, Imaginary Ventures, which is armed with an initial fund of $75 million to invest in retailer technology start-ups, according to Business Insider.
The new VC firm, which Massenet started in partnership with VC veteran Nick Brown, already has invested in online fashion retailer Farfetch, retail space marketplace Appear Here and “superfood” subscription service Daily Harvest, the report noted.
Massenet, who became executive chairman of Net-a-Porter after selling a majority stake in the retailer to Richemont in 2010, left Net-a-Porter following the company's 2015 merger with Yoox Group.
Many online-only apparel retailers owe a debt of gratitude to Massenet for proving that you could successfully sell fashion apparel and luxury goods online without having a physical store presence.
Now, she's positioned herself at just the right spot in the sector to discover and help grow the next Net-a-Porter. It sounds from the names listed among Imaginary Ventures' first investments that the new firm already has a pretty good start on doing just that.
Farfetch, where Massenet occupies a spot on the board of directors, has some similarities to Net-a-Porter, having started as an online marketplace partnering with big-name fashion brands. More recently, it has been working on ways to use its mobile app to improve in-store experiences, and has been reported to be working toward an IPO.
Meanwhile, Appear Here quickly has drawn more than 100,000 brands to sign up for help finding brick-and-mortar shop space. Then, there's Daily Harvest. Though its target market is different from Net-a-Porter's, its pursuit of the trendy locavore movement is probably something a fashion industry veteran has a good feel for.
The Daily Harvest investment provides evidence of Imaginary Ventures' mission to look across other markets besides fashion for start-up funding opportunities. However, fashion start-ups may now be trying to get Massanet's attention before turning elsewhere for financing.