Designer sample-sale site Gilt Groupe is a triumph of a business plan concocted by founders Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, who met while attending Harvard Business School. In May, Maybank and Wilson managed to secure $35 million in funding, after raising $43 million last summer. There is an art to securing that kind of money for a fashion venture, Maybank explains in The Wall Street Journal. Hopefully, if you find yourself in the position of trying to get Wall Street types to throw money at you, the man bankers at the conference table will have enough good sense to consult their wives, because what do man bankers know about fashion, even the metro ones?
It’s an old boy’s network, and that’s intimidating for a lot of women. I had worked [in investment banking] so I understood how it worked. At investor meetings where we pitched the idea, not a single firm had a female partner. So when explaining fashion to a bunch of men in khaki pants and blue button-down shirts, their response was always ‘Oh, let me see if my wife thinks if this is a good idea.’ But it worked. One thing that really helped us is that a similar company in France, Vente-Privee.com, had just received funding at an unbelievable valuation. It’s better to be lucky than good sometimes.
She also had a good idea, a good French-spelled name, and “bank” in her last name, which can’t hurt.