2024 Bullish Consumer/LP Summit Highlights

May 14, 2024

Last week, we welcomed 150 of our peers across venture capital, marketing, private equity, from brands big and small, and some of the foremost leaders in the world of consumer to the 7th annual Bullish Consumer/LP Summit, hosted at City Winery in New York City.

The morning kicked off with a welcome from Bullish Managing Partner and Co-Founder Mike Duda, followed by original research on the American consumer from Bullish Managing Partner and Co-Founder Brent Vartan. He presented on both The Remarkability Index BETA, our proprietary tool for benchmarking brands, and Pioneers, a cohort of catalysts every consumer company should have in their corner. We quietly opened up our Remarkability BETA program exclusively for brands in attendance (learn more here).

Next on stage two recent additions to our portfolio, Bandit, a community-centric apparel brand for runners, and BloxSnacks, a creator-led snack brand for Gen Alpha, spoke with Bullish Director Natalie Sportelli about how they were circumventing the "Attention Tax" of advertising online by going direct-to-community with their products.

"The community is key to all our product development. My DMs are always open. We engage the community directly to understand the needs of the goal-driven runner," Bandit Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer Ardith Singh shared with the audience. "About 60% of our customers are repeat purchasers, and on average, they've repeated five times. This [metric] speaks to our unique marketing mix and storytelling."

"Parents are tagging us on social media, sharing that they’re excited to bring BloxSnacks to their kids' birthday parties because it aligns with their interests," said BloxSnacks CEO Jon Lesser. "Kids today want to feel part of a community and something bigger than themselves. BloxSnacks provides that connection through partnerships with YouTube creators."

Next up, Bubble Founder Shai Eisenman joined Bullish Director Brett Andersen to discuss the skincare brand's rapid growth. With a remarkable 89% retention rate, Bubble’s customer-centric approach ensures that their audience returns, solidifying loyalty within the Gen Z and Gen Alpha segments.

"Slam Dunk moisturizer is sold every 15 seconds," Shai shared.

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Before lunch, Casey Lewis, Youth Culture Expert and Author of After School newsletter, discussed youth culture online with Natalie. "Gen Z wants to know the right labels and they're also broke. For brands like Bubble, striking the balance between 'We’re cool, we know what you want,' and 'You can afford us,' is crucial," she said about what's resonating with the age group.

Immediately following, Ricky Engelberg, Partner of Maximum Effort, joined Mike for a conversation about brand building, performance marketing, and his work with actor Ryan Reynolds. "Finding the things where we actually think we can add value is crucial. If we can’t find ways that our connections accelerate awareness or improve the chances of success, it might not be the right thing for us," he said on how they secure the right partnerships.

After break, William Hood, Founding Partner and CEO of William Hood & Company, moderated a panel on the M&A landscape in consumer with Brian Buchert, Executive Vice President of Church & Dwight, and Ann Chung, Senior Managing Director of Blackstone. One takeaway of note: Uncertain market conditions have created a challenging environment, with high interest rates and geopolitical issues impacting M&A activity. Recent deals in the IPO market offer a glimpse of optimism. Both panelists said they prioritize profitability while maintaining a balance with growth opportunities.

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To close out the day, Mike returned to the stage for a panel featuring Lindsay Kaplan, Co-Founder of private women's network Chief, and Gabby Hirata, Global Brand President of fashion label Halara, where they dove into what modern leadership looks like. "So much of training is about getting better at everything, which I reject. Focus on what you're great at and develop that superpower," Lindsay told Mike. Gabby agreed, "Know what you're good at and double down on that. The more you name it, the more it validates the skill and helps build confidence."

The theme of leadership continued with Amanda Baldwin, CEO of Olaplex, who spoke about her own leadership journey at the now-public company. From a banking analyst to brand marketing and ultimately to her current role as CEO at the hair care brand, she emphasized the importance of finding what you love to do and nurturing it through various opportunities.

"I've always believed in just doing what you love," she said. "The idea of being a CEO and taking on that leadership position emerged much later in life for me. It was not the thing I graduated from college thinking I wanted to do." For Amanda, she believes, "Great brands are a source of human connection. They're about aesthetics, design, and something very instinctual to us as humans." Adding that, "You have to believe [in what you do] more than anybody else on the planet at the deepest level. The highs are high and the lows are low."

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