The Pivot You Need to Read About

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GOAT just announced it raised $5 million in venture capital led by our friends at Matrix Partners. On the surface that sounds unremarkable — fundings happen daily. But this isn’t just any funding. GOAT (“Greatest of All Time) is a sneakerhead marketplace that is en fuego, but we led the company’s last financing round in 2012 (yes, four years ago) when they were an application for letting people join group dinners.

That’s why this funding story is different. It’s a Chanukkah story where 18 months of venture capital funding ends up lasting more than 4 years and where against all odds the underdog succeeds.

It’s a testament to two fantastic entrepreneurs Eddy Lu and Daishin Sugano — who have been nothing but a pleasure to work with over the years. They are everything you could hope for in a team: Hard working, committed until the end, product-centric, loyal, frugal and importantly — very warm and sincere people. We talk often about wanting to work with entrepreneurs who are truly committed to their cause and these two personify that belief.

It also is truly a testament to my partner, Greg Bettinelli. He didn’t lead the initial investment in the team at GOAT but when the original concept wasn’t working he graciously agreed to step up and help the duo. Greg is the kind of guy who hates taking any personal credit and will probably castigate me for acknowledging his important role in helping GOAT — but the truth is that Greg really was instrumental even as he downplays his involvement.

Greg never gave up belief in the team. He supported their vision for a sneaker marketplace and his eBay work experience was really additive when they initially made the decision to pivot. He was a tireless internal advocate for Eddy and Daishin inside Upfront Ventures and making sure we gave them the time and space and support they needed despite having enough pivots to call traveling.

Please read Greg’s summary of the GOAT story for a better understanding of entrepreneurial grit, stick-to-it-ness, pursuit of one’s passions and second chances. And here is Jason Del Rey’s announcement of the funding.

I was reluctant to write about GOAT because I don’t want to pretend that I deserve even 0.1% of credit for its success. On the other hand I have been so impressed with Daishin, Eddy and Greg that I felt it deserved more attention.

(Cross-posted @ Both Sides of the Table)

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2x startup Founder & CEO who has gone to the Dark Side of VC. His first company, BuildOnline was sold in 2005, his second, Koral was acquired by Salesforce.com and became known as Salesforce Content, while Mark served as VP Product Management. In 2007 Mark joined GRP Partners in 2007 as a General Partner.  He focuses on early-stage technology companies, usually looking at Series A investment, and blogs at the aptly titled Both Sides of the Table.