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Luxury Leader

Tom March, Founding Partner, Redrice Ventures

In today’s Luxury Leader profile we meet Tom March, Founder & Managing Partner of investment firm Redrice Ventures. Read on to discover the interesting trends Tom sees for 2022, and shares his advice for those wishing to start-up a business in the luxury sector.
24th Jan 2022
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Luxury Leader Tom March, Founding Partner, Redrice Ventures
Tell us about Redrice: what's the concept and what's on offer?
I founded Redrice in 2018, an early-stage investment firm. At the time, there was a real lack of consumer-focused institutional investors at seed stage in the UK, and there were only one or two operator/founder-led firms. This made little sense given that British-based entrepreneurs were achieving great things (think NET-A-PORTER, Huel, Farfetch, Just Eat, Gymshark for example). So, I decided to establish a consumer-focused seed stage firm that placed operational support and in particular brand strategy at the core of its investment proposition. I immediately cultivated a core team of consumer and investment experts with a unique combination of operator experience and investor success. They are Robert Senior, former global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi and founder of Fallon (exited to Publicis) and Andrew Sutcliffe, investor and cofounder of Writtle Holdings. Jonathan Heilbron, former CEO of Thomas Pink and chairman of the Walpole Brands of Tomorrow programme joined later post the agreement of our partnership with Walpole. 

The team is supported by advisors who have led/founded and exited Livestream, Tails.com, Commodity Flow and Brand Learning, and are specialists in tech, leadership and ecommerce. 

We all share a common sense of purpose: we want to give back, make an impact, share our experience, and help create a new generation of culture-defining brands and related tech companies.

Have you seen any interesting trends in your sector in the past year that you can tell us about?
The consumer sector is reorganising around a new digital-first reality. We anticipate there will be an emergence of new platforms and tools to serve these sectors, as well as back-end and front-end infrastructures to power the next generation of purchase experiences. The ecommerce ecosystem is evolving to include more players such as creators and curators and is no longer only focused on buyers and sellers in the traditional sense - it’s never been easier for anyone to create and sell – the entire structure of retail is changing.

At the same time, many factors are catalysing a new consumer mindset. Aided by technology, consumers are morphing from mere audience members to critical centre-stage actors who want to engage with brands and pass judgement on them. This shift in consumer expectations of brands is changing the rules of the game. 

Therefore, we see many exciting long-term themes gaining momentum. These include leveraging brand equity in the metaverse, personalisation at scale, wellness and betterment, sustainability, a thirst for authenticity and leadership from brands, among others.  

What are the key criteria Redrice use when considering a business for investment?
We tend to be a brand’s first institutional investor and businesses are usually 0-4 years old. Beyond the usual questions of market size, competition, product quality and brand aesthetic, we’re most interested in the people. We have a simple test. Would we leave our jobs to join them? We’re drawn to founders with a sense of purpose beyond the numbers. We’re looking for brands with a community, that are building a movement and fostering a fanbase not just a customer base.  

What inspires you as a company?
The potential to make a big impact. Through hard work and plenty of luck, we are now privileged to spend our time speaking to founders who have risked everything to follow their dreams. Its inspiring to hear their stories and feel the passion.

We love what we do and are at our best and most fulfilled creating things and helping others. Everyone on the team has achieved and given up a lot to be here and are now focused on IMPACT – it means we really care. 
 
What piece of advice would you give to someone wishing to start-up a business in the luxury sector?
Break the rules. From an outsider’s perspective, it appears there has been a clearly defined playbook on business-building in luxury for some time. Given the changes I've mentioned, I believe new entrants can benefit from a totally fresh approach to product, brand, marketing, sales channels, and data strategies for example – more specifically, dare to be different in areas that matter most to your customers as you can get closer to them now than ever before. 
 
What does British luxury mean to you?
It comes back to the people. It’s a marriage of creativity and execution. We meet extraordinary founders of start-ups and senior operators from major brands that have wonderful creative talent or on the other hand the power to bring it to life. Success relies on achieving the perfect balance of these two forces and we have a knack in Britain of getting it right. I think that’s down to our humble attitude in sharing our experiences and down to the quality and diversity of talent here. In my opinion this algorithm for success improves with greater diversity of all types, so the future looks bright despite the headwinds.

What’s next for both you and the company?
In investment teams its crucial to have the right balance of harmony and friction to make good decisions - this requires a culture of openness, trust, and honesty. Venture capital is a sexy industry, but most days are filled with challenges. If the culture is right, then the ups AND the downs will bring the team closer together in equal measure. I’m seeing this culture in our team more than ever right now and I’m excited about the potential results. 

What’s your favourite luxury for under £10?
Spotify - I prefer vinyls but they seem to cost more than £10 these days - proves technology isn't always deflationary! 

redriceventures.com

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