Grove Collaborative, a subscription startup selling ‘household essentials,’ has been quietly raising a lot of moolah

Grove Collaborative, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup that sells household, personal care, baby, children’s and pet products, has been busy raising money in 2018, shows two new SEC filings that lists representatives from the company’s earlier investors, including Mayfield, Norwest Venture Partners and MHS Capital, as well as apparent new investor General Atlantic, represented by partner Catherine Beaudoin.

One of the filings shows that Grove Collaborative, which had already raised roughly $62 million as of the start of 2018, subsequently raised $27.4 million more this year. A separate, second filing shows another $76.4 million has been secured in what looks to be a newer round that’s targeting $125 million. It’s a lot of money for such a young company, which suggests it has found traction with a growing customer base.

We’ve reached out to Grove Collaborative and are waiting to learn more.

As we reported back in January, co-founder Stuart Landesberg started the company after working with retail brands during two years as an associate with TPG Capital, which focuses on growth equity and middle-market private equity transactions. With shelf space limited for brands in brick-and-mortar stores, he saw an opportunity for a startup that prompts consumers to buy the kinds of items they buy over and over again just as they are running out of them: think dish soap, pet food, deodorant, vitamins and sunscreen.

Amazon, of course, similarly prompts its customers to buy such items, but Grove Collaborative is marketing to a slightly narrower demographic, that of people who want only all-natural products. In fact, along with the brands that it make it easier for its customers to find — think Method and Mrs. Meyers — the company began selling its own all-natural products this year. Among the many dozens of offerings it now retails under the Grove Collaborative label: a coconut body lotion, a foaming hand soap, coffee filters, soy candles and lip balm.

The move puts the startup in more direct competition with other e-commerce companies, like the consumer goods company Honest Company, which similarly sells natural products for the home and personal care, though many of its products are now sold on shelves in big retail stores like Target.

Grove Collaborative also looks to be competing more directly now with well-funded Brandless, which raised $240 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in summer at a valuation of slightly more than $500 million. Brandless also sells its own all-natural household and personal care products, though, unlike Grove Collaborative, it also focuses on food and, unlike Grove, it offers a subscription service, yet does not revolve around one. Grove is exclusively selling an auto-shipment service.

Grove had previously raised two separate rounds of funding in quick succession: a $15 million Series B round it closed in March of 2017, following by a $35 million Series C round it announced in January of this year.

Given that Landesberg was formerly an investor himself, he may well have realized — as have many founders — that raising money next year may be far harder in 2019 than it has been this year. As the CEO of Zymergen, whose giant funding round we recently featured, told Bloomberg last week: “We wanted to have some fat on our bones for sure . . . The time to raise money is when people are giving it to you.”

7 Keys To Business Relationships That Lead To Success

handshake-relationship-businessInvestors invest in people, not ideas. Customers buy from people, not companies. Employees rally for a great leader, not a brand. As an entrepreneur, you need relationships to succeed. That means relationships with team members, investors, customers, and vendors. One of the best ways to build a good relationship with anyone is to make them feel important.

One of my favorite authors, Brian Tracy, in his classic book “No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline,” outlined seven ways to make other people feel important, which I believe are extremely relevant to entrepreneurs and business:

  1. Accept people the way they are. Because most people are judgmental and critical, to be unconditionally accepted by another person raises that person’s self-esteem, reinforces his or her self-image, and makes that person much more likely to accept you and follow your lead.

  2. Show your appreciation for others. When you appreciate another person for anything that he or she has done or said, they will like themselves and you more as well. The simplest way to express appreciation is to simply say, “Thank you” for an idea, some good feedback, time spent together, or an order.

  3. Be agreeable. The most welcomed people in every situation are those who are generally agreeable and positive with others. Entrepreneurs who like to be argumentative, complaining, or disagreeable, will have a hard time closing a contract, investment, or a customer contract.

  4. Show your admiration. People invest a lot of personal emotion in their possessions, traits, and accomplishments. When you admire something belonging to another person, it makes him feel happy about himself. Everyone has positives, and it’s up to you to find them. In turn, these positives will be reflected back on you.

  5. Pay attention to others. The most powerful way to pay attention to someone is to listen attentively first, even ask questions, before you launch into a monologue answering every question they might never ask. Believe it or not, before you even say a word, you will become a more interesting and intelligent person in their eyes.

  6. Never criticize, condemn, or complain. In business as well as personal relationships, the most harmful force of all is destructive criticism. It lowers a person’s self-esteem, makes him feel angry and defensive, and causes him to dislike you. If your target is someone not present, it still causes a loss of trust in you, since your listener could be the next target.

  7. Be courteous, concerned, and considerate of everyone you meet. When you treat a person with courtesy and respect, they will value and respect you more. By being concerned, you connect with their emotions. Consideration is the discipline to do and say things to people that are important to them.

Think back on your own recent experiences as a customer or contractor. You don’t always buy the cheapest product or service, if you have a good relationship with the people involved. On the other hand, I almost never buy from someone that treats me like I’m not important.

If you want to be a leader, you need to inspire followership. Great leaders develop a good relationship with good people, who are then inspired to follow. A successful leader inspires people to do more than they might have done without the relationship, and more than they may have even dreamed possible.

So, if you follow all these seven ways to make other people feel important, you will receive a seven-fold payback on your own objectives of being a leader and building a successful business. That’s a lot cheaper and lot longer lasting than the best advertising and public relations you can buy.

Marty Zwilling

The 6 Reasons Most Miscommunications Occur

Miscommunications happen frequently with most everyone I know. Technology has allowed us to communicate faster but not necessarily better. While some miscommunication is merely annoying, it’s those awful miscommunications that occur at the most inopportune moments that put unnecessary stress on us all, creating conflict and can be a disrupting influence in relationships.

While some of the root causes for miscommunication seem obvious, I’ve found others by being on the receiving end or being when I’m the guilty party. From my own experiences, here are six reasons why I believe most miscommunication occurs:

1.You know what you are thinking but it’s not actually what you say. Sometimes what you are thinking makes no sense to anyone else but you.

I’ve been on both sides of this miscommunication link and it can be confusing for all parties involved. Writing or verbalizing what we think can be challenging, especially when we’re rushing. We may be delegating while in the midst of a business trip or trying to multiple task when we shouldn’t.

My team suffers a lot from this because of me. I delegate a task and expect them to know what’s going on in my brain. Well… that’s not the case and will never be.

Learn to let others know everything you’re thinking, even if it’s not all the way thought out so that together you can come up with the best possible outcome. I also like to verbalize my instructions as well as write them down in a recap so others know exactly what I mean. This over the years has helped me to sound a lot less like a jerk.

2.You are saying too much and complicating the communication. This leads to more and more miscommunications.

You are the only one of you. Not everybody is going to be able to do things as fast or as perfect as you. I had to learn this the hard way with my first business partnership. I would word dump things that didn’t need to be said. This cause a lot of miscommunication and ultimately ended our working arrangement..

I especially see this with the creative types because they have a tendency to use a lot of words that ends up complicating their messages. This can be just as confusing because the main point tends to get lost in the sea of words and explanations. In this case, write down what you want to say and then start trimming it back until you can create as simple a message without losing the primary idea. You most likely don’t need adjectives or exclamatory phrases to get your point across.

3.You are using poor grammar.

While it may seem more annoying than confusing, poor grammar can dramatically change the meaning of what you are trying to say. Even a misplaced comma can alter the entire context for someone who is reading it.

In this case, you need to bookmark a grammar page and start studying how to use certain punctuation and phrasing to help you clearly communicate. It just takes practice!

If you’re still bad after this, have someone proofread everything you put out. I personally do this and it’s improved my writing and communication greatly.

4.You overthink what you are reading or writing.

In either case, it’s important not to overthink your communications. This overthinking can involve your own perceptions that may be the polar opposite of the other person involved in the communication. This leads to different opinions of what the content of a message says and means.

For example, if we are already in a bad mood, we may read something the wrong way that the other person never intended. While the person writing the message can’t necessarily control the reaction of the receiver, you can make a concerted effort to take any emotion out of a communication and keep a professional tone to all business communications.

I personally always say “you can say anything to anyone, but how you say it will dictate if you get a positive or negative reaction.”

5.You are using texting shortcuts and emojis as replacements to part of what you are saying.

While I’ve used these myself in certain situations, it is typically just a smiley face to let the person on the other end know I’m pleased with their message. However, when I start seeing texting shortcuts and emojis I’m not familiar with, I don’t know how to take what the person is saying and I certainly don’t have time to go look up their cutesy emoji.

I was angry early one day with an employee. Later on in the day we had worked on a project. I thought everything had settled down and was okay. This was until she sent me a text with a string of emoji’s of a baby, baby bottle, a hospital and a pink bow. I thought, “Oh, so the little snot is calling me a baby! She surely should know it was not wise to call the boss a baby!” Later that evening in another work conversation over the phone someone told me how happy that employee had been because she had just found out that day about my new baby daughter. My temper had been wound-up, and I had damn-near fired her over a miscommunication where she was being sweet.

You should probably avoid using these types of communication tools unless it’s with your best buddies. Stick to professional language because you can’t assume everyone knows what all these new acronyms and emojis mean.

6.You make too many assumptions.

There are those times when people don’t really listen because they think they already know what the person is going to say or they are just busy preparing their own answer. The same idea applies when making assumptions on what you think a person means in their email or text message without actually really reading it for context. It could be that you are tired, emotional, or distracted, or the messages could be coming from someone at work that you don’t necessarily like.

Slow down and read a message more than once while clearing out your assumptions. Focus, reflect, and then read it again before you draw conclusions. And, if you are still not sure, ask questions to make sure you understood the message correctly. I find people with this skill, can be hidden leaders in my company.

Conclusion

Effective communication takes practice and I know haven’t perfected it yet. However, I keep these reasons for miscommunication in mind to remind me to take more care in how I read, write, and verbalize what I want from the communication I am sending out or receiving. Now if I become angry over something, I take a step back. I decide to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Next, I assume they mean the best in the writing and in text.

One morning I noticed an employee highlighting and deleting an entire email. I asked about it. He said that he and his girlfriend had had a big fight and she had sent him a mean email. I inquired, “What did it say?” He said, “I have no idea.” He then explained to me that if he reads some long scathing remarks he can’t forget what was said or get them out of his mind — so he simply doesn’t read it.

When he sees the person again, he feels no animosity because he doesn’t know what was said. Later in the day, in comes the girlfriend to the office. “Oh hon, I didn’t mean what I said, I hope you will forgive me.” “Of course,” he says. “You are the most forgiving person I know,” she says. He just smiled. I realized then that there are many types of miscommunications that occur — and not all of them are bad.

The post The 6 Reasons Most Miscommunications Occur appeared first on KillerStartups.

5 Strategies To Overcome The Fears Of A New Venture

overcoming-fearOne of the biggest impediments to starting a new venture is the “terror barrier,” as popularized by Bob Proctor, a 75-year-old millionaire and world renowned entrepreneur. This is the imaginary barrier that always seems to appear at the critical point where we would step out ahead of peers or competitors, but fear causes us to stop short.

Everyone has a comfort zone, or level of risk, where they feel in control. The problem is that if you stay in that comfort zone too long, you don’t learn and achieve new objectives. According to Bob, all growth takes place outside that comfort zone, and the edge of that zone is called the terror barrier.

If you want to be an entrepreneur and start a new business, you must be willing and able to break through your terror barrier. If you hope to succeed with any real “new” opportunity, you must be willing to learn new skills, set high goals, and get out of your comfort zone.

Overcoming the terror barrier requires first a passion for the new dream, willingness to take a risk, and determination to never quit. In addition, it helps to have a few specific strategies, outlined by Ingunn Aursnes a while back, to help you push through:

  1. Reconfirm how you have dealt successfully before with terror barriers. Everyone has had to deal with terror barriers, since the day you were born. Convince yourself that this one is only incrementally larger, not a huge jump. Contemplate the things that have worked before for you, and things that cause you to go off track.

    Some people procrastinate, make excuses, or feel real fear. We all have our “security blanket,” like sessions with a trusted friend, classroom training, or prayers to reduce the pain and keep us moving forward.

  2. Set specific goals, rather than rely on a generic dream. Make the goal increments small, so you can see yourself making each step, rather than face a step the size of a mountain. Create a picture in your mind of you achieving your end result, like you getting a Nobel prize for curing cancer, or relaxing on a beach with no more money worries.

    Then write down and prioritize your goals. If they are not written down, they don’t exist and it’s easy to forget the real meaning behind them. But don’t be overwhelmed working out the details and all the steps required just now. Work on one step at a time.

  3. Take the first step toward your first goal. You never get anywhere until you start. It doesn’t have to be a big step, but it has to be in the right direction. Put a stake in the ground, and start measuring how far you have gone. Remember that everyone takes one step backward for every two steps forward, so setbacks are normal bumps.

    Everyone learns more from failures than from successes. Moving forward, accomplishing goals, is a process rather than a continuous motion. After the first step, the second is easier, and after the first goal gives you confidence, the second will be easier.

  4. Recognize the terror barrier and see it as a growth opportunity. Take satisfaction in widening your comfort zone, the opportunity to learn, and the progress toward your goals. Use your mentor or support organization to get you over the hurdle, and celebrate the success.

  5. For team members, don’t forget your responsibility to help other members over their terror barriers. Helping others is the best way to forget your own fears and build the satisfaction of leadership as well as learning.

  6. Iterate the process, picking up confidence and momentum along the way. The more you persevere and keep moving in the direction of your goal, the easier it will seem and the better the results you will achieve. Even if the terror barriers get tougher, they will seem easier as momentum helps you achieve more of your goals.

People who avoid facing the terror barrier, or who back away easily, are actually falling behind, and they will quickly become less confident, less determined, and less happy. You want the spiral to go the other way, toward greater levels of success, ability to achieve greater goals, and to be a successful entrepreneur. Follow these steps and put your terror barriers behind you.

Marty Zwilling