Lawrence Lenihan's Blog

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June 19, 2014
Filed under: Uncategorized — llenihan @ 12:21 am \

I am an investor (and entrepreneur ) looking to transform the retail and fashion industries and I need someone to be my right arm for the next two years as my Assistant.  This role consists of all the mundane assistant things (scheduling, correspondence, managing my infrastructure, etc) but can grow into a larger role with expanded responsibilities as competence and potential are demonstrated.  My Assistant will have the opportunity to work with my investments, research new investment targets, coordinate my social media and personal market presence, and coordinate events that I am planning to create around the retail industry.  In addition, the role will support my partner and General Counsel around the legal filings and documents for our investments, providing unique exposure into the legal aspects of capital formation for companies. This is an entry-level position.  This is also not a career path – you’ll leave me after 2 years and do something incredible with the insight and skills you’ve developed.  If you succeed, you will hire your successor and I will place you in one of my companies to continue your career trajectory in a role and function we identify together.  Consider this the equivalent of the old mailroom […]

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June 18, 2014
Filed under: Fashion and Retail — Tags: , , — llenihan @ 7:19 pm \

There will never be another start-up fashion brand that will reach $1 billion in revenue.  In fact, it is very possible that there will not be a fashion brand that was started in the past five years that will reach that level.  All of the money invested in (read: spent by) fashion start-ups to maintain their early growth rate will not drive the returns investors had hoped when they invested huge amounts of money at incredible valuations.  Much of this capital will be lost, leaving a general malaise and depression for fashion start-ups for years.  Ironically, the departure of the momentum investors and hype-driven entrepreneurs will mark the beginning of the most incredible time in the history of the fashion industry for creator-entrepreneurs to build great companies. The Elements of Brand A brand is a connection between a business and its customer (my favorite definition of a brand is that it is that first image that pops into someone’s mind when their eyes are closed and they hear your company’s name).  In reality, your brand is your business because your business is your relationship with your customer and the confirmation of that relationship is a sale of your product. Over […]

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June 10, 2013
Filed under: Ready, FIRE!, Aim - Teaching@NYU — llenihan @ 11:43 pm \

During my 2012 Ready, FIRE! Aim entrepreneurship course at NYU, I told my class that, rather than donating my teaching salary back to NYU, I would use it to fund a business started in the class.  The final selection of the winner was a very difficult decision that came down to two businesses.  The terms of the investment were simple: don’t waste my money and don’t waste my time.  The students who won were outstanding and quickly got down to building their business.  They would not draw my money until they were confident that they had a business they wanted to pursue and where they felt that they could succeed.  After several months, they decided that they could not build what they envisioned and they disbanded before taking my money. It would have been incredibly easy for them to take the money, screw around and fail.  They viewed the commitment of taking an investor’s money so seriously that they refused when they felt that they could not live up to the obligation.  These students are incredibly talented and will be superstars in the industry one day.  I was once told that the definition of integrity is doing the right thing […]

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June 4, 2013
Filed under: Fashion and Retail — llenihan @ 4:37 pm \

We are ruining potentially wonderful companies out of sheer ignorance of the fashion industry and a lack of understanding of how technology will impact it. We are overcapitalising companies and forcing unnatural, unsupported expansion — and by we, I mean investors and the entrepreneurs who take too much of our money. We are not purposely killing these companies, of course. It’s just that we are not experienced enough with the subtleties of the fashion industry to understand how a relationship with a customer is earned and have misapplied lessons learned in building companies like Amazon and Google. As investors, we are very skilled at taking the early trajectory of a company’s growth and extrapolating a presumed future revenue path. We look at Google and Facebook and Twitter and we see that early rapid growth portends future rapid growth. But, we fail to understand that these companies are not technology companies. What if, after a period of rapid growth, a brand or retail concept approaches saturation of its market and growth slows to single digits each year? What if the actual market sizes for these companies are less than we thought? Technology has changed everything. What started with silly online fashion concepts like […]

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December 11, 2012
Filed under: Fashion and Retail — Tags: , , , , , , — llenihan @ 1:47 am \

[I wrote the following post about a month ago for the Business of Fashion as a guest op-ed piece] Fashion is an incredible industry. It’s sexy, it’s glamorous, it’s exciting. But it’s also incredibly complicated and the amount of change the Internet and other technology innovations will bring to this industry in the next decade will be mindboggling. Indeed, our offices have been swamped with business pitches from more than a thousand entrepreneurs who want to transform this industry. As for the ideas themselves, many look great on whiteboards or in business school competitions: virtual closets, flash sale businesses, new designer “discovery” sites, you-be-the-designer sites, social shopping, user-curated boutiques, subscription sites, custom clothing, and so on that seek to use technology in ‘clever’ ways. But, in the end, they often miss the mark by a wide margin. There are many flaws to these businesses. But the biggest flaw I see is that these “Internet entrepreneurs” fail to understand how the Internet will fundamentally transform the fashion industry, not just provide another access point to buy something. In my opinion, the biggest change will be a dramatic shift in the relationships amongst brands, retailers and customers. Going forward, every brand must […]

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