Tina Sharkey and Oak Investment Partners' Fred Harman are joining the board of directors, which is a huge win for Morin since Harman coached the likes of Arianna Huffington and Bleacher Report to exits worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Harman usually cuts larger checks though. His firm likes to own 20-30% of each company it invests in; it put $25 million into The Huffington Post and led Bleacher Report's $20 million round of financing. We asked Harman why he made an exception for Morin's Brit + Co and invested in an earlier round.
Harman says he liked Morin's background and the opportunity to merge content with commerce.
"At an entrepreneur level I found [Morin] to be an incredibly compelling person to back," Harman says. "She had a unique blend of passion for the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) category that goes way back in her life. Blended with her Google experience and tech savvy in the Valley, and I thought that's a really interesting combination as an entrepreneur. She seemed to have a knack for being a media personality."
Creating a brand around yourself like Morin is doing comes with its own set of challenges, Harman admits. But one person he already backed, Arianna Huffington, pulled it off, and Harman promptly introduced Morin to her. "[A personal brand] can be a tremendous opportunity if you can get it right," Harman says.
Morin has already started incorporating e-commerce into her business model. She's been selling monthly DIY kits of crafts, as well as finished products of the things she teaches people to make.
"It's getting increasingly challenging to build a pure ad-supported business model in the publishing world," Harman says. "In the media category, we're looking at diversity in business models. Some audiences are more receptive to commerce opportunities than others. In the news or politics media space, it's difficult to blend e-commerce into the model. But as we looked at the audience Brit is aggregating, it's people consuming content with the mindset of being creative and making something. That [mentality] needs some commerce activities to be fulfilled."
While Morin seemed to raise her Series A effortlessly, not all founders are as fortunate. It has become difficult for startups to raise multiple millions, a result of last year's frothy investment environment. Morin says she took meetings on both coasts as well as in LA. But she and Harman agree: if your startup has the right metrics and business strategy, you can get financed.
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