No. 305: The DTC List

The direct-to-consumer landscape has many faces, professions, and levels of experience. The collective also has many opinions on how the industry is going to develop. 2PM compiled a list of many top people who run, analyze, report, and invest in and around the industry.”DTC Twitter” is a loose moniker for this group of professionals, students, and leaders who are varied in their thinking, approach, and background. Their words and conversation aren’t exclusively commerce or retail-rooted. In fact, the value in following along will be considerably derived from the diversity of their thoughts, topics, and cited sources.

This cohort has influenced online retail. Some are teachers of the math of customer acquisition, some understand how sociology influences demand, and some have taken brands from zero to one. A few of this list’s members are employed by the platforms that these brands use to distribute their products and a few have become masters of investing in what will continue to shape our consumer economy.

The coffee house analogy

Though coffee was originally an Ethiopian staple of the 10th century, the institution of the coffee-house was a continuation of coffee’s influence in Yemen, then-Persia, and Turkey. The first European coffee-house opened to the public in the mid-17th century. And the idea of the coffee house has been credited with driving the movement towards reason, individualism, and deep thought. The coffee-house was a proponent of the Age of Enlightenment, a time known for the contributions of intellectuals like Locke, Francis Bacon, Voltaire, and Descartes.

In the Age of Enlightenment (1715-1789), a European could gain entry into a coffee-house by buying a drink. But the drink was just the price of admission, the conversation was the attraction. It wasn’t solely the conversations on matters of sociology, economics, and law that drove the age forward. Sometimes, patrons would overhear concepts that will fill gaps in their own thinking. Other conversations would solidify pivotal ideas, directly and indirectly.

The coffee houses of the Age of Enlightenment were exclusive to the male upper class and the distinguished intelligentsia. In that way, I’d argue that the great flaw of this age was its socio-economic exclusivity. Rather than relying upon the merits of the thoughts shared, there was a status required to join the conversation. Today, platforms like Twitter and Slack are the closest that we have to the coffee houses of old. On these platforms, a diverse group of people can have a remarkable influence on an idea or an outcome.

The DTC List

Rather than pursuing an exclusive solution, we chose the open source approach to amplifying these DTC conversations. It’s in the above context that we’ve provided a few tools to replicate the cross section of profession and personality in the DTC space. We’ve listed many top contributors below. The list is organized by first-name alphabetical and it includes their current title, professional class, and their profession.

PersonTypeTwitter AccountPositionCity2PM Indexes
Aaron OrendorffAnalyst@AaronOrendorffEditor-in-ChiefPortlandNone Yet
Aaron McClendonOperator@acmcclendonVenture CapitalistDetroitNone Yet
Alex TaussigOperator@ataussigVenture CapitalistSan FranciscoDTC Investor Index
Ana AndjelicAnalyst@andjelicaaaConsultantNew York CityNone Yet
Andrew ChenOperator@andrewchenVenture CapitalistPalo AltoDTC Investor Index
Andrew DudumOperator@AndrewDudumFounderSan FranciscoDNVB Power List
Ann Marie AlcantraMedia@itstheannmarieReporter - AdWeekNew York CityNone Yet
Austin RiefAnalyst@austin_riefFounderNew York CityIndie Digital Publishers
Brandon HoffmanOperator@BHoffmanRetailConsultantLos AngelesNone Yet
Brianne KimmelOperator@briannekimmelConsultantPalo AltoNone Yet
Casey ArmstrongOperator@CaseyACMOChicagoLogistics Index
Conor McDonaldAnalyst@couuorConsultantLos AngelesNone Yet
David PerrellAnalyst@david_perellFounderNew York CityNone Yet
Donald RichardAnalyst@DonaldRichardFounderNew York CityNone Yet
Elizabeth SegranMedia@LizSegranReporter - Fast CompanyCambridgeNone Yet
Eric TodaOperator@todaExecutiveSan FranciscoNone Yet
Hans TungOperator@hanstungVenture CapitalistWoodsideDTC Investor Index
Henry DavisAnalyst@henryshandleConsultantNew York CityNone Yet
Helena PriceOperator@helenaFounderSan FranciscoNone Yet
Hilary MilnesMedia@hilarymilnesReporter - DigidayNew York CityIndie Digital Publishers
Hugh ThomasOperator@uglyhughFounderNew York CityDNVB Power List
Hunter WalkOperator@HunterWalkVenture CapitalistLos AngelesDTC Investor Index
Jake MendelAnalyst@ijakemendelConsultantNew York CityNone Yet
Jason Del ReyMedia@DelReyReporter - RecodeNew York CityNone Yet
Jason SteinOperator@jasonwsteinVenture CapitalistNew York CityNone Yet
Jeremy S. LiewOperator@jeremysliewVenture CapitalistSan FranciscoDTC Investor Index
Jesse GenetOperator@jessegenetFounderLos AngelesDNVB Power List
Jonathan MewAnalyst@jonmewConsultantLondonNone Yet
Jonathan PomaOperator@pomajpExecutiveColumbusAgency Power List
Kaleigh MooreMedia@kaleighfFreelance WriterChicagoNone Yet
Keith KnappOperator@kknappExecutiveCincinnati None Yet
Kristen GreenOperator@kirstenagreenVenture CapitalistSan FranciscoDTC Investor Index
Lauren ThomasMedia@laurenthomasx3Reporter - CNBCNew York CityNone Yet
Magdalena KalaAnalyst@magdalenakalaVenture CapitalistBostonNone Yet
Nate PoulinAnalyst@digitallynativConsultantAustinNone Yet
Nicole QuinnOperator@Nik_QuinnVenture CapitalistSan FranciscoDTC Investor Index
Nik SharmaOperator@mrsharmaExecutiveNew York CityNone Yet
Paul MunfordOperator@leanluxeFounderWashington D.C.None Yet
Peter PhamOperator@peterphamVenture CapitalistLos AngelesNone Yet
Raj NijjerOperator@RajNijjerExecutiveNew York CityNone Yet
Robin LiOperator@robin_p_liExecutiveNew York CityDTC Investor Index
Ryan CaldbeckOperator@ryan_caldbeckVenture CapitalistSan FranciscoDTC Investor Index
Sapna ShahOperator@RedGiraffeConsultantNew York CityNone Yet
Steeve VakeesOperator@steevevakeesExecutiveNew York CityNone Yet
Steven DennisAnalyst@StevenPDennisConsultantDallasNone Yet
Taylor HolidayOperator@taylorholidayFounderNewportAgency Power List
Taylor SicardOperator@taylorsicardFounderNew York CityDNVB Power List
Tracey WallaceOperator@TraceWallFounderAustinDNVB Power List
Wilson HungOperator@WilsonGHungExecutiveTorontoNone Yet
Web SmithOperator@WebFounderColumbusDNVB Power List
Zoe LeavittOperator@zoe_leavittAnalystNew York CityNone Yet

Follow them, individually, or you can visit an actively updating list by visiting 2PM’s first and only Twitter list. Many of these participants are moving the direct to consumer economy forward. Each of these professionals challenge thoughts, authors unique positions, devise strategies, or actively invest in an evolving ecosystem of: products, services, agencies, and their technical platforms. Whichever direction the industry moves, you’ll find the signals – here – long before those developments materialize.

Read the No. 305 curation here.

Report by Web Smith | About 2PM

Member Brief No. 3: The Attention Stack

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Successful commerce companies and vertical brands want to know how to generate authentic happiness with their customers. A customer kept > a customer gained. The attention stack is a buzz phrase that you’ll hear quite a bit about as brands try to solidify their standing in a quickly evolving market.

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No. 254: An Open Letter to DNVB CEOs

Watermark_ByTailorBrands

Pictured: Outdoor Voices, led by Founder Tyler Haney

Dear DNVB CEO,

You deserve more praise. I worked alongside one of your kind for a time. I learned a lot about the personal costs of building a product and then a brand from scratch. Frankly, the costs are high.

By the time that people know who you are and what you’ve accomplished, demand is probably already there. That $3-5M in revenue is as close to automatic as it gets. In fact, that accomplishment has lost its luster. Now it’s on to $15-25M. But people rarely see what you had to go through to get to that $1M mark.

What people don’t know is that DNVB executive teams build two products from scratch, supply and demand:

  1. The product: the shirt, or the luggage, the pants, the shades, the coats, or whatever it is that people know you for.
  2. The brand: the aura of that product, the name recognition, the association, the behind-the-scenes partners, the spokeswomen, the ambassadors, the inevitability of success.

You stressed over supply chain woes. You cried some nights. Your cofounder or your creative director drove you nuts because they didn’t realize how close the company was to crumbling.

You stressed over cash flow problems. You cried some more. Your job was equal parts: (1) innovating and (2) just figuring it out.

You stressed over the difficulties of getting Trent, the very normal VC, to see your vision early. Some DNVB’s paths were easier than others. But yours was not easy at all. Absolutely nothing was given. And still, you held it together.

And after all that, you managed your minimum viable product. You were in possession of 10,000 units that people didn’t really want because those units weren’t close to the fifth-generation products that are on the market today. That first-generation of leggings just weren’t that great. So you relied upon the brand to get you through those days. You managed to convince consumers, retail / tech media, and investors that your success would be inevitable. And that your brand will be around for 100 years. They felt the impact of those statements and they agreed with you. But everyone that reads this knows that the mirage was hard to keep it up in the beginning.

“We may not be great today but we will be. Buy in early.”

Turning a logo into a greater meaning takes a decade and you had to do it before those 10,000 units of first-gen mediocrity bled you dry.

So here we are, years later and it’s still hard – but it’s not as hard as it was. There are dozens of DNVB CEO’s, just like yourself, who understand the toils of creating supply and demand for your company. And then stressing over the balance between the both of those products.

DNVB CEO’s run brands that are relatively lean and almost always running at a deficit. You don’t have the ad budgets and marketing forces like the legacy companies or the software platform. But you survive. And once you make enough noise, retail pundits will call you on your inefficiencies and inexperience. They’ll actually root against you. That’s what retail ‘experts’ do. But please know that many of us praise what you’ve accomplished in such a short period of time.

You started your company in an age that required your retail independence. On day one, your brand couldn’t depend on wholesale purchases from Nordstrom or Target or Whole Foods or Walmart. And that independence made you more viable in the long run. And now, those retail powerhouses are now knocking at your headquarters’ door.

So please, continue to innovate. And when you’re emotionally or mentally maxed out, remember that your companies will be the foundation upon which the future of retail is built. People will wear you, consumers will shop you, and malls will bend over backwards to work with you.

And then, the retail experts will reluctantly write that your brand successes were inevitable all along.

See more of the issue here.