Forerunner Ventures Leads New Investment; Top VC Brian O’Malley Joins MakerSights Board
SAN FRANCISCO – June 19, 2019 – MakerSights, pioneer of the product decision engine for retail, today announced its $8.5 million Series A round led by new investors Forerunner Ventures and joined by Brett Hurt and Brant Barton, the founders of BazaarVoice. They join current investors including Steve Anderson, founder of Baseline Ventures; Hayley Barna, partner at First Round Capital; Bill McComb, former CEO of Kate Spade and Lucky Brand; Elizabeth Spaulding, senior partner at Bain & Company; and Jeff Epstein, former CFO of Oracle and DoubleClick. Brian O’Malley of Forerunner Ventures will also join the MakerSights Board of Directors. Following a $3.1 million seed funding round, the additional capital infusion will enable key leadership hires, accelerate the growth of in-house engineering and data teams, fuel international expansion and scale its go-to-market operations. MakerSights has grown its customer base by 5x and significantly expanded its footprint of enterprise brands—including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Shinola, Taylor Stitch, HOKA ONE ONE, and Teva.
“Today just 20% of retail brands account for over 140% of the economic growth in the industry, and a common trait across the leadership teams of these winning brands is a commitment to equipping their organizations with modern tooling in order to succeed in a rapidly changing retail environment,” said Dan Leahy, co-founder and CEO at MakerSights. “Informed decisions lead to better outcomes, ultimately keeping inventory from landfills and lifting brands’ bottom lines. MakerSights gives brand leaders confidence that decision makers throughout their organization will have the best possible information at their fingertips to support critical product decisions. This investment from Forerunner, a firm whose investing track record in retail is unparalleled, underscores our shared vision for a retail industry that is more consumer-centric and less wasteful.”
Forerunner Ventures is the leading retail-focused venture capital firm, having backed retail industry-defining companies such as Away, Curology, Glossier, Warby Parker, Hims, Dollar Shave Club (sold to Unilever for $1 billion), as well as Jet.com and menswear brand Bonobos (which were both acquired by Wal-Mart for $3.3 billion and $310 million, respectively).
The MakerSights platform puts product intelligence in the hands of go-to-market decision makers to drive action. By showcasing the voice of the consumer, internal perspectives and historical selling data in easy to interpret formats, decision makers gain timely access to critical information to inform their key investments. Designers get rapid feedback on new concepts, merchandising teams spot opportunities and risks before finalizing their line plans, and sales teams learn preferences of consumers at key retail accounts prior to going to market. Behind the scenes, MakerSights’ machine learning algorithms analyze the actual in-market selling of assortments to consistently improve decision recommendations over time. The end result: better, faster decision-making across the organization, resulting in profitable assortments, reduced waste and loyal customers.
“About ten years ago, marketing organizations went through a transformation where they went from being gut-driven to data-driven. Along the way, several software companies were built creating over $10 billion in equity value,” said Brian O’Malley, Partner at Forerunner Ventures. “MakerSights and its talented team are paving the way in a similar revolution within the merchant organization. With MakerSights, the most progressive teams at leading retailers can now combine their instincts with real-time consumer insights to help make better product decisions that leave customers happier and improve gross margins.”
Brian previously invested in multiple software providers serving the commerce industry, including BazaarVoice, BrightEdge, Coupa, Narvar and Shift Technologies. Prior to Forerunner, Brian led early-stage consumer efforts at Accel partners and started his venture career at Battery Ventures, where he became the firm’s youngest General Partner at the age of 32.
MakerSights, pioneer of the product decision engine for retail, provides a trusted digital feedback loop between the market and the makers, bridging the gap between what brands think consumers want and what consumers value. MakerSights supports decisions during all stages of the product development calendar by combining the voice of the customer, merchant intuition, and historical sales data, decision makers gain rapid access to critical intelligence to inform their key decisions. Designers get validation on new concepts, merchandising teams instantly spot opportunities and risks before finalizing line plans, and sales teams learn preferences of consumers at key retail accounts to inform sell-in conversations. MakerSights’ machine learning algorithms predict consumer sales before any resources are committed. The end results are collaborative decisions across the organization, leading to more profitable assortments, reduced waste and markdowns, and loyal customers. On average, brands working with MakerSights experience a 4-7% margin lift by making informed decisions. Top apparel, footwear and accessories brands worldwide—including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, Shinola, Taylor Stitch, HOKA ONE ONE, and Teva —have de-risked billions of inventory investments by using MakerSights