Upfront Ventures

Century City

Yves Sisteron didn’t get caught up in analysis paralysis when he decided to invest in DailyLook. He just looked at the track record of 34-year-old founder Brian Ree and knew this was a person he wanted to bet on.

“I think the very best sign you can have that an entrepreneur is going to succeed is that he succeeded early,” said Sisteron, co-founder and managing partner of Century City venture capital shop Upfront Ventures. “It doesn’t mean that he’s big early, but he sets out goals that he reaches.”

When Sisteron first met him two years ago, DailyLook was an online fast-fashion company that had been around for less than a year and wasn’t even actively fundraising. Ree had a meeting with another Upfront partner, Mark Suster, who recommended he talk to Sisteron, a former executive with French retail giant Carrefour. Sisteron was immediately impressed by the young entrepreneur.

“He was doing maybe $100,000 a month in revenue because he was limited by inventory, because he had no money,” said Sisteron. “But his business was already showing good conversions, good margins. He had a very good handle on his business.”

Sisteron was also sold on Ree’s resume. He had started an online jewelry business and a poker newsletter, giving him what Sisteron called a diverse set of experiences. Although DailyLook was still in its infancy, Sisteron saw Ree as a fully developed entrepreneur and decided to keep tabs on his business. By the time Ree was ready to accept outside money, Upfront was very comfortable with the company, so it was an easy decision to participate in last year’s seed round with a check for about $500,000.

Valuation wasn’t an issue at all. Ree had proposed terms for a loan that could convert to equity. Sisteron and his team were more than happy with that.

That conversation was ultrashort, Sisteron said. “He already had a valuation and we kind of tagged along with it.”

Since investing in the business, Sisteron has made himself available as a sounding board and resource, meeting with Ree every few weeks, but making sure to give him plenty of space. Ree asked Sisteron to interview fashion executive Shefali Khanna and then hired her as DailyLook’s head of merchandising. However, most of the time, Sisteron is happy to let Ree do his thing and tries to stay out of the entrepreneur’s way. Based on Ree’s track record, there’s no reason to micromanage.

“Brian’s beat every plan he’s put together,” Sisteron said. “Everything he’s ever told me, he’s done and bettered: in terms of revenue, in terms of profit, in terms of hiring people, in terms of reaching the milestones he set for himself.”

That record led to Upfront’s decision to double down on the company, participating in a Series A round set to close this month.

Sisteron’s role in DailyLook will become more formal after the Series A, as he plans to take a seat on the board, but he doesn’t expect his level of involvement to change significantly.

“In Brian, we really backed the guy,” said Sisteron. “My instinct, which was backed by a few data points, was that this was a guy that was driven, ambitious, smart, hard working and that he was a good candidate for success. You’re not going to be right every time. Even if the guy is what you think he is, there is the unpredictable nature of business.”

Sisteron laughed, then tapped his knuckles on his wooden desk.

“In the last year and a half, he’s proven me right,” he said.

– Matt Pressberg

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