Brad Feld

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Announcing the iWear Fund

Apr 01, 2008

Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how people communicate with each other.  As an active user of all computer based communication technologies such as email, IM, web collaboration, and twitter, I realize that direct, bite size communication is often effective.  However, given the lack of persistence of data in these mediums, I’ve felt like something was missing.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of t-shirts and have an extensive collection.  I’ve noticed that the vast majority of my entrepreneurial colleagues prefer t-shirts over other types of dresswear.  Finally, the t-shirt industry has grown nicely alongside of the software and Internet industry, as most companies have accelerated the growth of the t-shirt industry through their use of swag.

I’ve concluded that the opportunity to transform this market is ripe. Fundamentally, I believe that technologies like instant messaging are going to be replaced by t-shirt messaging.  After much thought, I’ve decided to work with my partners to create a new fund we are calling the iWear Fund.  This fund will be a first mover in the market, investing in the best young t-shirt designers, thinkers, collectors, and technologists.

We’ve already identified several promising young companies, such as VCWear and StartupWear.  We are very interested in companies that have deep intellectual property in this area, especially patents, as we think this is an underserved market for patent trolls and if we can get out ahead of them, we can help our portfolio companies create an unassailable position. Like most investors, we expect there to be some overlap in our portfolio due to the proximity of similar technologies (such as VCWear’s new line of StartUp t-shirts) – we’ll work to resolve those conflicts when they arise.

As part of our investment thesis, we are focused on helping create several new platforms to enable the expansion of the t-shirt industry.  We realize that these platforms may have applicability outside the t-shirt industry, but expect that this fund will – at least for now – limit itself to only t-shirt related technologies.

While forming this new fund, we looked for deep thinkers in the intersection of the t-shirt and software industry.  Simultaneous with the announcement of the fund, we are honored to announce that Dan Primack is joining as an advisory board member.  Dan writes the very popular PE Week Wire and was one of the first industry insiders to identify the huge potential of the t-shirt market. While Dan’s first effort to create PEWear was co-opted, we know that he has  a collection of dozens of t-shirts, including some from the rock concert and professional sports sectors, and will be a huge help to us in identifying promising new t-shirt segments to invest in.

We’ve been asked by some whether, given the current credit crisis, now is a good time to launch a fund dedicated to t-shirt investing.  While we expect there to be a slow down in certain areas of the market, especially around LBOWear, HedgeFundWear, and AuctionRateSecurityWare, those areas have historically not been meaningful consumers of t-shirt technologies beyond generic white undershirts, so we are not concerned about our timing.  All markets are cyclical and we expect to be investing in t-shirt companies for a long time to come.