Category: life

The Next Chapter…

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The past two years at the University of Michigan have been a terrific learning experience, and the relationships will last a lifetime. Completing my MBA at the University of Michigan was the best decision of my career. While the MBA chapter of my life closes, a new chapter is beginning.

This week I began work at, managing the fashion and consumables categories of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business. Learn more about the FBA business here. In a nutshell – Amazon offers other merchants the ability to store their inventory in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, and Amazon will pick, pack, and ship the inventory for the merchant. Amazon will also provide customer service (including processing returns) for all items that are fulfilled by Amazon. All third party merchandise that is fulfilled by Amazon is also eligible for Amazon Prime or Super Saver Shipping. Merchants are also able to use the FBA service to fulfill orders across channels (e.g. their own website, eBay, etc). Mark Mahaney put it best in a recent Bloomberg interview (see here).  Mark emphasizes how FBA increases liquidity in the Amazon marketplace by providing first party service to third party orders, which is something other marketplaces can’t yet duplicate. The Mark Mahaney video is worth a watch (it’s 2min).

For those that don’t follow Amazon closely, FBA is one of several merchant services offered by Amazon.  Amazon has a large marketplace business not just a retail business, and often the items you are viewing on Amazon might be sold by a third party. Below is a screenshot of what FBA looks like from a consumer’s standpoint.

FBA Image

I am extremely excited to join the FBA team in the UK. Not just because of my passion for the marketplace business, but also because I am anxious to learn more about the UK market and culture. Expect upcoming blog posts about the UK e-commerce market…it is a fascinating market. As for my blog, I expect to become more active and it will continue to represent my opinions and interest.


UofM’s Entrepalooza 2012

The University of Michigan‘s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies will host their annual entrepreneurship conference, Entrepalooza, tomorrow in partnership with the Ross School of Business and the Entrepreneurship and Venture Club.

Anil Arora, President and CEO of Yodlee will be our keynote speaker, and should provide a very interesting perspective. Anil is a ’84 UofM MBA grad. He started his post-MBA career at Kraft and eventually moved on to Gateway Computers before taking the top job at Yodlee. At Yodlee he grew the company from 10 employees to 1,000.

There are also four panel discussions that will happen after the keynote address. I have the privilege of moderating a panel titled “Financing Your New Venture: The Structure of a Deal”. The panelist consist of Marcia Hatch – Corporate and Securities Partner at Gunderson Dettmer, Tony Grover – Founder and Managing Director at RPM Ventures, and Jen Baird – CEO Accio Energy. A further description of the panel is below. Feel free to tweet any questions you have for the panel using hashtag #UMGunderson. I will post a link to a recording of the panel early next week.

Panel Description:
Financing Your New Venture: The Structure of a Deal
Calling all prospective VCs, entrepreneurs, lawyers, and startup groupies: come learn the key economic and oversight rights that are negotiated during a venture capital financing. Whether you are planning to raise venture funding in the near future or you simply want to better understand the startup ecosystem, you need a firm grasp on the structure of a venture financing. A diverse panel made up of a seasoned venture capitalist, a serial entrepreneur, and an established Silicon Valley startup lawyer will discuss the most important terms of an early-stage venture financing. They will also provide advice on how to negotiate specific terms. Don’t delay – it’s never too early to understand the key terms of raising venture capital.
Jennifer Baird, CEO, Accio Energy

Tony Grover, Co-Founder & Managing Director, RPM Ventures
Marcia Hatch (JD ’97), Corporate & Securities Partner, Gunderson Dettmer
ModeratorMatthew Newman (MBA ’13), Ross School of Business



Totsy Completes Series B: Raises $18.5Mil

I am extremely late on this news story: announced on July 17, that it has completed its Series B, closing on an additional $18.5Mil. This brings their total funding to ~$23.5Mil. Congratulations to the team at Totsy!

I had a fantastic time interning at Totsy earlier this summer (see here). Totsy has a great team that is working on some fantastic initiatives. Of course, I am a little biased as the project I worked on will be launching soon.

Look for Totsy to make additional waves as the best site for moms to discover great deals and new products, from children’s clothing and toys to maternity clothes and baby accessories.

In the meantime…checkout this WSJ chart about the flash sales space…note Totsy’s growth compared to the competition (second to only Fab).


What’s in a Name: Why the Name Gentleman Standing?

Believe it or not, the name Gentleman Standing didn’t come from a random name generator or from a tireless search for a URL that wasn’t already taken (the latter is only partly true). The name Gentleman Standing was chosen to indicate a focus on e-commerce and men’s fashion, especially on the growing trend of men shopping for fashion online.

The ability to shop efficiently from the convenience of a computer or mobile device is attracting more and more men to rediscover fashion and to spend more time shopping. Robert Murray, Global Chief Executive Officer of iProspect, recently stated that “The old adage that men hate to shop is being upended by the digital experience. Not only are affluent men shopping online more, but this demographic is doing extensive research, shopping and then purchasing online…”

iProspect recently released a report that there are 19Mil affluent (>$100K HHI) men on the internet, and 98% of them shop online, while 27% make online purchases on a weekly basis and 13% spend more than $30K online on an annual basis. Over half of these men spend at least $4K online per year. There are more fascinating statistics in the iProspect report than I can list in this post, so check out the full report here.

Also, spending on luxury goods by men is outpacing spending by women. Bain & Co reports that spending by men on luxury goods is growing at 14%, while spending by women is growing at 8%. Jean-Marc Bellaiche, a consultant at Boston Consulting Group, stated that “Menswear…remains very underdeveloped compared to the woman’s market, so there is a lot of catching up to do.”

These trends are the core focus of this blog, but it is also an expression of my general interests and life experiences. The name Gentleman Standing wasn’t completely scientific, but hopefully it represents the content of this blog.


Internet Week NY: Recap

This past week I had the privilege of attending the Internet Week NY conference. I want to first thank the Internet Week NY organizers for making a student pass available. If only TechCrunch and Business Insider would offer a discount to their conferences as well (wishful thinking).

Internet Week NY is more of a crowd-sourced festival than an actual conference. Founded in 2008 in conjunction with The NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment the week long event includes speeches and classroom sessions at IWNY headquarters in SOHO, and numerous other networking and educational events throughout the city. The conference kicked off with a speech on big data from Billy Bean, General Manager of the Oakland A’s. It was fascinating to hear the story of “Moneyball” first hand.

The other highlight was hearing Mitchell Baker, co-founder of Mozilla, speak about the future of Mozilla and Firefox. She seemed to have a clear vision of how Mozilla can become a larger player in the mobile space. The strategy includes using HTML 5 apps to let Mozilla become a platform for future devices. This shouldn’t be a surprising strategy at this stage, but it was intriguing to hear her discuss the future of the platform.

I was also able to attend a few e-commerce specific events: 1.) Recreating Retail: Bringing the In-Store Experience Online, 2.) Etsy: Transforming Search in the Digital Marketplace, and 3.) The Power of Content: How Women Connect, Catch Up and Share Online (relevant to my current internship at The panels unfortunately confirmed my general dislike for panels. I believe only one comment during the Recreating Retail panel was actually relevant to the topic. The majority of the discussions were dominated by one or two people, and in both cases it was the people who added the least value. I continue to dislike panel discussions.

Overall it was a  great 4 day event and it was good to mix it up with the NYC startup scene during the short time I will be in the city. Now on to TechCrunch Disrupt.


1st Week in New York City: 5 Takeaways

1.| Finding short-term (<6wks) housing is hard and expensive, but doable.

After over a month of searching Craigslist and Airbnb for a 6 week sublet, Natalie (my wife) and I flew to NYC without an apt reserved. We used Priceline to book hotels for the first two nights and spent the days viewing and calling on as many apts as we could. LONG-story short, we eventually walked into a real estate brokerage in the W. Village called Citi Habitats. The initial broker at Citi Habitats was unable to help us, but another broker, Sara Neuman, overheard our conversation and recommended us to her friend, whom she had just found a new apt for. Within an hour, we were writing a check and subleasing her friend’s old apt. If we’re ever looking for a longer lease in NYC, Citi Habitats will be the first brokerage we consult. We are forever Citi Habitats customers.

2.| The subways and cabs are fantastic, and it’s great not having to search for parking.

Having the ability to get on an express train and go from the lower tip of Manhattan to the northern end of Central Park in 24min is extremely convenient. Not to mention the access to trains and taxis that exists throughout Manhattan. However, the driving culture that is prevalent in Southern California is not replaceable; there’s no mode of transportation that compares to a drive around Santa Monica or a drive along the coast of Malibu. But, from a practical standpoint, trains and taxis sure are nice.

3.| The energy is contagious.

There is a special kind of energy that comes from living amongst 69,464 people per sq mile in NYC. Their is also a distinct energy that comes from the work hard play hard culture of Los Angeles. Both of these environments are unique in their own way. There is definitely a cultural contrast between East and West coasts. It isn’t all hype.

4.| The Lakers are still better than the Knicks, and don’t blink, but the Dodgers have a better record than the Yankees.

Photo credit: LA Times, IBTimes, Zimbio, Associated Press

Enough said.

5.| Most importantly – Never forget September 11, 2001.

It’s chilling to be at Ground Zero and to live within miles of the site. The memories become even more sobering and real when the people and landmarks that experienced the tragic events consistently surround you. The size and scope of the attacks truly hit home as you walk the streets and become familiar with the area. The picture above (left) features “The Sphere”, which was a statue that sat in the lobby of the WTC. It was salvaged after the devastation and placed in Battery Park in 2002 as a memorial to the victims. Also above (right) is a picture of the current rebuilding efforts.



North X Midwest 2012: Recap

I attended the NXMW conference last night at the Innovatrium, which is on UofM‘s campus. It was a fabulous event, featuring a YCombinator vs TechStars panel and an after party at Savas restaurant in Ann Arbor. The most notable take away from the event was the speed and quality at which the UofM startup community is growing. I am always surprised by the number of new people I meet at these events who are building exciting digital media and consumer internet companies here in the manufacturing heart of the midwest.

During the event, Jeff Epstein (Zferral, TechStars Alum) and Zach Steindler (Olark, YCombinator Alum) discussed their different incubator experiences, and Ken Wohl (VP Marketing at Benzinga) did an excellent job moderating the event. Fortunately, a fight didn’t break out between TechStars and YCombinator loyalists.

This was my first entrepreneurship event outside of the b-school in months, and it was terrific to be surrounded by all of the sharp people designing products and building businesses in the Greater Detroit area. To name a few, Erick Bzovi and Lance Carlson (co-founders of HealPay) are building a financial services startup that could massively disrupt the debt collection process. Also, I was introduced to Andrew Rauh while using Highlight for the first time in a large group setting. Andrew is a rockstar iOS developer and freshman at UoM who works part-time at Detroit Labs.

Overall it was a fantastic night. Thanks to MPowered, Startup Weekend, and GrowDetroit for sponsoring the event!

Next on the Ann Arbor startup seen: TechArb demo day on April 13, 2012.

Go Blue!!


From the Big Apple to the Emerald City

This summer, I’ll be spending six weeks interning at in New York City and eleven weeks at in Seattle. It will be a great break from school and a great learning experience.


Totsy is a private-sales site specializing in apparel, accessories, and parenting resources for moms and their kids (0-8 yrs old) that was co-founded in 2008 by the North American CEO of LALIQUEGuillaume Gauthereau, and digital media veteran, Christophe Garnier, . Totsy was ranked #36 on Forbes’ 2011 list of 100 Most Promising CompaniesTotsy is also a 100% eco-friendly company. Among other things, Totsy plants a tree in Peru in honor of every customers’ 1st purchase. If Totsy isn’t already on your radar, it should be. 

In January 2011, Totsy appointed David Niggli as its Chief Merchandising Office. David was previously the President of FAO Schwarz where he led the introduction of Barbie, Star Wars, Harry Potter, FAO Baby stores, and the full line of FAO Schwarz private label products. At Totsy, I will be reporting to Randall Schmidt, the head of CRM and Analytics. Randall was previously the Director of CRM at Lord & Taylor. I’m thrilled to work with these brilliant retail minds, and to learn how they think about e-commerce. I am also stoked to mix it up with the startup crowd in NYC. 

On the other hand, Amazon (the 800lb gorilla) needs less of an introduction. Amazon recorded revenue of $48.08Bln in 2011 (YoY growth of 41%) and ended the year with 56K employees (YoY growth of 67%). As of this writing, Amazon boasts a $84Bln market cap and a P/E of 134. Amazon has its paws in every aspect of e-commerce and is constantly planting seeds for the future.

During my time at Amazon, I will be working  as a Business Manager Intern in the Softlines category, which includes clothing, shoes, and jewelry. →

I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to work at Amazon and Totsy this summer. I’m looking forward to earning my keep and drinking from a fire hose. Now off to brush up on MySQL.


Hello World!

Gentleman Standing has officially launched! The blog will be focused on e-commerce, venture capital, startups, and my life journeys. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and insights. Take a look at the “The Author” page to learn more about me. 

Let’s get it started!