We recently held our fourth annual Norwest Investor Summit, where we brought together investment bankers, portfolio managers and analysts to hear from a hand-picked group of our consumer Internet portfolio companies. The event featured keynotes from Minted, Udemy, Casper and Jet as well as a lightning round of presentations from innovative early-stage companies HoneyBook, Glint and Modsy.
In addition to being some of today’s most innovative companies, all those who presented reflect a few common themes:
- Building Community Marketplaces. Both Minted and Udemy are companies leveraging and amplifying individual expertise to build online communities that, in turn, are marketplaces of experts. Minted is a design marketplace that connects consumers with the world’s best artists who make everything from unique stationery to home furnishings. Udemy provides experts with a technology platform and distribution center for sharing their specialized knowledge with a paying audience. Leveraging the power of the community is an area that we’ve long been invested in—RetailMeNot and Jigsaw being examples of companies that leveraged communities to build large businesses with successful exits.
- Shaking up Staid Industries. Casper is a great example of a direct-to-consumer company that is shaking up a staid industry – the mattress business. By cutting out the middle man, it is able to provide a superior product at a disruptive price point directly to the consumer. Historically, shopping for a mattress has been stressful and unpleasant for consumers, who often felt as though they were at the mercy of high-pressure sales tactics that ended in expensive and irreversible purchases. By removing the commissioned sales person, innovating around product and packaging, and committing to taking back any bed that doesn’t meet customer expectations, Casper has effectively revolutionized mattress sales as we know them.
- Re-inventing the Shopping Experience. Modsy and Jet show two very unique approaches to creating a customer-centric shopping experience. Modsy leverages advanced 3D technologies to enable consumers to visualize inspired design ideas based on their taste preferences, all pictured within the exact context of their own homes. Jet reimagines the consumption experience of everyday goods with its smart shopping concept. Both put the customer experience first to create uniquely tailored and compelling shopping experiences.
These are themes we believe in and are continuing to invest in across our portfolio.
This event, which connects our portfolio company CEOs with Wall Street, even if they are a ways off from a liquidity event, is just one example of how we provide value to our portfolio companies beyond the initial monetary investment. At Norwest, we pride ourselves on doing more than just investing capital into our portfolio firms. We see our role as essentially entrepreneurial, and lend our expertise and networks to do whatever it takes to help the business succeed. And it’s not just a benefit for us—the bankers we work with tell us that they love our annual Investor Summits. Why? Because these events are designed as an efficient way for the investor community to see high-quality companies present their business model in a compressed period of time while gaining access to the CEOs.
We look forward to introducing our next crop of up-and-coming companies to the investment community at next year’s summit.
A video highlight reel from the event may be viewed below.