Rockets of Awesome Raises Another 195M to Empower Kids to Shop Online

first_imgThe common catchphrase that parents know best is being challenged by NYC fashion startup, Rockets of Awesome, which offers quality childrenswear at accessible prices. This direct-to-consumer brand fashion company gives younger kids the freedom to dress how they want by allowing them to personalize their own box of clothing from a range of patterns and colors. Initially started as a subscription service, Rockets of Awesome now offers an omni channel experience – in-store in Foot Lockers, e-commerce, and subscription.AlleyWatch caught up with founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal. The last time we spoke to Blumenthal was back in 2016 – when she first launched Rockets of Awesome. Since then Blumenthal’s company has tremendously grown and she has now raised a total of $29.5M across three rounds.Who were your investors and how much did you raise? $19.5M in a Series C round led by Foot Locker with participation from existing investors including Forerunner Ventures, August Capital, Burda, Signalfire, and General Catalyst.Tell us about the product or service that Rockets of Awesome offers.Rockets of Awesome is a childrenswear brand that offers customers multiple ways to shop, through e-commerce, subscription, and in-store retail experiences. As we progress into the omnichannel retail space, our goal is to meet customers at every touchpoint, and deliver super stylish clothing for fast-growing children. We offer the best in quality childrenswear at accessible prices, and our brand loyalty is driven by the fact that all designs are created in-house.How is Rockets of Awesome different?As a parent, served by so many customer-centric digitally native brands, I was shocked how hard it was to find a brand that understood and served me as a parent. Rockets of Awesome is the first digitally native childrenswear brand offering both a vertical brand of apparel in deep partnership with a data-first mentality. By creating a customer-centric, data-science driven apparel brand from the moment of inception, we were able to cater to the customer in ways traditional children’s retailers could not.Rockets of Awesome is also different because we understand that, when it comes to shopping for kids, there are two customers to please. Kids want to feel in control – empowered to make their own decisions, rather than be treated as an extension of their parents; and parents care how their children present themselves (they’re a direct representation of the parent) and ultimately want to have the final say. The true magic of Rockets of Awesome is what I call the Jedi-mind trick – making both customers feel in control and like they’re winning at every touchpoint.How has the business changed since we last spoke after your launch in 2016?The vision of the business from day one has always been to create an omnichannel offering to our customer. Launching as a subscription service was strategic to the overall plan, and now that it’s in a highly optimized state, we’re able to expand our services and offer our customers even more touch points across multiple channels. The priority is to provide busy moms and their families with various shopping experiences tailored to their individual needs and preferences. We recently launched our e-commerce feature, which allows customers to shop directly from our website. This demonstrates a step toward our bigger and broader vision for the brand as now customers can choose their own Rockets of Awesome “adventure.”Additionally, our partnership with Foot Locker comes at the heels of other retail initiatives, including pop-ins with Goop, Story, CAMP and everafter, as well as in-store product collaborations with Bonobos, Clare V and Draper James. We’re in the process of building a fully integrated omnichannel retail experience. Our goal is to meet customers’ needs at every touchpoint and create unique opportunities to engage with our brand across e-commerce, experiential retail and more.How does Rockets of Awesome incorporate data science into the business?Data science is critical to almost everything we do at Rockets of Awesome. One of the reasons we launched with our subscription offering was the outsized amount of data it would enable us to collect at such an early stage of business. In our first touchpoints with a customer, we’re able to collect about 40 data points about that customer. From there, at every part of the customer journey, we’re collecting more about that customer. That data enables us to deliver exceptional customer experiences to that and future customers.Data science is critical to almost everything we do at Rockets of Awesome. One of the reasons we launched with our subscription offering was the outsized amount of data it would enable us to collect at such an early stage of business. In our first touchpoints with a customer, we’re able to collect about 40 data points about that customer. From there, at every part of the customer journey, we’re collecting more about that customer. That data enables us to deliver exceptional customer experiences to that and future customers.Our data scientists work very closely with our apparel team to ensure we’re not only working as efficiently as possible but also leveraging the insights we have to continuously deliver an improved experience to our customers. The data allows us to look at customer needs and preferences, that go beyond what’s transparent. We know if customers have kids who have sensory issues, or if they’re gender non-conforming, for example, we’re able to use that to both our and the customers’ advantage and convenience. This also applies across marketing, all digital touchpoints and logistics.The subscription aspect of Rockets of Awesome remains the only subscription service offering a “peak” feature. Being a digitally native brand means that everything happens in real time, and our advanced data sets are leveraged to create entirely personalized box assortments that customers can preview before checking out. The magic of our “peak” feature involves what we like to call the Jedi-mind trick – kids feel empowered in making their own “decisions” as they believe their parents are hands off in the process, and parents feel in control of the items their kids actually receive. This has significantly increased the percentage of customers who keep everything in their box to over 60%.What was the funding process like this time around? Tell us the decision to work with a strategic investor. How is it different than the traditional venture route?We’re incredibly fortunate to have incredible venture capital investors around the table. This time around, we strategically sought out investors that could bring operational expertise. I was so impressed when I met the Foot Locker team – they’re always operating five steps ahead of the industry and thinking about the space so innovatively. Beyond that, they didn’t just want to be a check but rather a meaningful partner to supporting our growth. Their investment in Rockets of Awesome is a compliment to our forward-thinking approach as a truly digitally native brand, and we are able to utilize their expertise to further grow our business. The way they strategically think about the future was not only impressive but admirable, and having the opportunity to work alongside their team, leveraging each other’s knowledge, was a mutually benefitting partnership.What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?Every entrepreneur faces challenges raising capital and if they say they didn’t, they’re lying. In my early days of fundraising, I was most disappointed by some of the most overt sexist questions I would receive. Some investors couldn’t fathom that I was a mom and a business owner and how I could possibly be committed to my business. Let’s just say I didn’t take money from any of them.Who do you admire in the startup world and why?I have deep admiration for my husband, Neil Blumenthal, and his Warby Parker cofounders Dave Gilboa, Jeff Raider, and Andy Hunt. From day one they had a very clear vision for what they wanted to build, how they were going to do it differently and how critically important serving their customer, above all else, would be to them. Beyond that, the way they’ve been able to work together in true partnership, as best friends, for over 10 years is remarkable. You’ve never met such brilliant, committed, good humans who have revolutionized the direct to consumer space.I have deep admiration for my husband, Neil Blumenthal, and his Warby Parker cofounders Dave Gilboa, Jeff Raider, and Andy Hunt. From day one they had a very clear vision for what they wanted to build, how they were going to do it differently and how critically important serving their customer, above all else, would be to them. Beyond that, the way they’ve been able to work together in true partnership, as best friends, for over 10 years is remarkable. You’ve never met such brilliant, committed, good humans who have revolutionized the direct to consumer space.I also have endless admiration for every entrepreneur who lives the challenges and struggles of building and running a business. Again, if anyone says it’s easy, they’re lying. It’s both a massive emotional and physical commitment and one that has its constant ups and downs. Have the guts to take risks every day, leading with passion and never giving up on vision is endlessly admirable.What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?Capital is not everything. In fact, too much capital can sometimes be to the detriment of a company. It’s the companies that have limited resources, that are forced to be more creative, that can often build the best businesses.Where do you see the company going now over the near term?This year, we’re dedicated to building Rockets of Awesome’s omnichannel presence. We’ve already grown from a subscription service into e-commerce and in-store, and we will be continuing our journey through multiple channels. For back to school, we’re planning to open our first standalone store – an experiential retail space with over-the-top awesomeness, just like our brand. The best part about shopping for kids is they make us feel like kids too, and we want to bring that feeling into a fun and exciting physical space for our customers.What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?Sushi Zo! My favorite date with my husband is walking down to Sushi Zo and being served at the counter by the chef with the most incredible delicacies. On the flip side, I also live for a Shake Shack burger!PREVIOUS POSTNEXT POST Filed Under: #NYCTech, AlleyTalk, E-Commerce, Fashion, Funded in the Alley, Funded in the Alley, Funding, Funding News, Interviews, Startups, Venture Capital Tagged With: August Capital, Burda, Foot Locker, Forerunner Ventures, General Catalyst, Rachel Blumenthal, Rockets of Awesome, SignalFire Rockets of Awesome Raises Another $19.5M to Empower Kids to Shop Online for ClothingFebruary 26, 2019 by AlleyWatch 441SHARESFacebookTwitterLinkedinlast_img read more