Behind Her Empire Podcast: Doing What Hasn’t Been Done with Lindsey Boyd, Co-founder of The Laundress
On this episode of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, hear from Lindsey Boyd, the co-founder of The Laundress, a premium collection of eco-friendly laundry and home cleaning products.
Before starting the company, Boyd was working in high-end fashion in New York as a manager of Chanel's Ready-to-Wear division. While working in the industry, Lindsey noticed a real need and void in the market. Although consumers were willing to spend a lot of money on their clothes, they were spending even more money on dry cleaning, which was not only toxic but also damaging to their garments. After years of researching and understanding how detergents work, Boyd and her college friend-turned-business partner, Gwen Whiting, decided to launch eco-friendly detergents that were gentle enough to be used at home on dry clean-only items.
"We both came from Midwest families where you keep things in your life for a long time. So quilts and things that were meaningful and you cared for them properly, you wash them. You didn't dry clean them," Boyd says. "So for us, it was kind-of bringing back that lost art."
They bootstrapped, crowdfunded and took a small SBA loan to launch their business. For years the company struggled to make a profit, but they eventually grew a loyal following, and in 2019, sold to Unilever for a reported $100 million.
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Online marketer Social Native is upping its AI game.
The Beverly Hills-based advertising tech firm Social Native has acquired Olapic, a New York-based competitor. Terms of the deal weren't released but the move will triple Social Native's employee and customer count, co-founder David Shadpour told dot.LA. It will also help boost the company's artificial intelligence so that it can give brands more insights into what kind of ads resonate.
Social Native connects marketers and advertisers with influencers, photographers, videographers and other talent to create ads. Olapic serves a similar purpose but uses a different method: It mines the internet for unique content on social media and elsewhere, then strikes a deal with copyright holders to license it for commercial use. The combined organization's customers include Adidas, L'Oréal, Unilever, Sony and Nestlé Group.
"We solve the same problem in different ways," Shadpour said. "The acquisition was strategic in that it added a source of content, but its primary role was to fuel our machine learning and AI engine."
Combining forces, that is, will enhance the data that Social Native has at its disposal to provide customers useful insights for how to design and deploy their advertising strategy.
The company's database of ads and the data surrounding their use will grow tremendously. Social Native has over 100,000 ads and related images its creator network has created since it was founded in 2017, while Olapic has millions of assets that it has unearthed since its 2010 launch.
The acquisition also makes Social Native's data more diverse. Since Social Native has until now centered on social media ads, it has been focused on outcomes like increasing click-through rates and decreasing customer acquisition costs for its clients. Olapic, meanwhile, has specialized in creating custom widgets — think images that appear in a carousel on a brand's website — which allow it to track different kinds of outcomes, such as how long digital shoppers stay on a website.
The goal now, Shadpour said, is to use this bigger and broader dataset to not only understand what features in an ad perform best – such as number of people, ad length, emotional sentiment, color palette and where or whether a logo appears – but also to be able to offer customers reliable predictions for how their advertising content will perform.
"(We want) to say that with x percent certainty, this creative will produce this result," said Shadpour.
Social Native has raised an $8 million seed round in 2017. Its investors include L.A.-based venture firms ActOne Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures and Sound Ventures; Carter Reum, co-founder of Beverly Hills-based venture firm M13; Richard Wolpert, venture partner at startup accelerator Amplify.LA; and Vivek Ranadivé, owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. The company has 69 employees according to LinkedIn.
Olapic is much larger, with over 100 employees coming in with the acquisition. It raised $21.1 million, most recently with a $15 million Series B in 2015. Its multinational operations will expand Social Native's footprint outside the U.S.
Social Native had been in talks with Olapic for a little over a year, Shadpour said. The pandemic accelerated the decision to pull the trigger.
"COVID served as, 'There's an opportunity for us today, when companies are in doubt, through M&A,'" Shadpour said. "Our mindset wasn't, 'It's COVID, what am I gonna do?' in a negative way; but, 'It's COVID, what opportunities exist? For us, that was Olapic."
Shadpour said Social Native will likely do more acquisitions to further strengthen the company's data.
Los Angeles is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation moment.
Last year, Schroders Global Cities Index ranked Los Angeles as the most economically vibrant city in the world and the best city for investment. Our metropolitan economy is the world's third largest in economic performance. And in six years we have cut the unemployment rate by more than half.
So much of that momentum is because Los Angeles is a global tech capital — a place where the world comes to innovate and create. We're the number-one digital city in America, and Los Angeles is also creating tech jobs faster than any city in the country, and — in 2019 alone — brought in $8.3 billion in venture funding for startups. The city of angels is home to incredible talent too at some of the world's top universities, from Caltech to USC and UCLA.
We used to talk about L.A.'s startup scene as fledgling, but that's no longer the case. In 2019, we saw L.A.'s largest startup acquisition yet with PayPal purchasing Honey for $4 billion. Venture capital investment in the region has boomed with funding growing over three times from 2013 to 2019, and today Los Angeles attracts the second highest investment capital of any city in the U.S.
The startup and tech industry is a jobs creator, with 7.5 percent of region's workforce employed in the tech field. All told, 53,000 tech careers added to the economy since 2010, and tech contributes just over 10 percent to our local economy — that's $91 billion annually.
In 2014, I formed my Technology and Innovation Council, with the aim of convening the top L.A. CEOs, founders, venture capitalists, and others to propose initiatives to help L.A. grow the tech industry, focusing on attraction and retention of tech companies, capital, and talent; developing civic innovation and smart city solutions; and helping bridge the digital divide.
Over that period, we have been able to assist some of the largest names in tech, including Google, Netflix, and Apple, establish and grow their footprint here. We have helped exciting new startups like Quibi navigate city departments to ensure they are able to get up and running. And we have worked with homegrown unicorns like Snap, and Dollar Shave Club which was acquired by Unilever in 2016 for $1 billion.
As mayor of Los Angeles, I have worked to ensure that as tech grows, it reflects the diverse face of our city. Some of the finest minds in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math live here, and it's on us to equip them with the tools they need to succeed in the industries and careers of tomorrow.
That's why three years ago I launched the L.A. Tech Talent Pipeline to create internship opportunities for low-income and minority youth in growing tech companies. These are internships that develop real skills and lead to real jobs, and last year we placed 216 interns — 40 percent of whom landed part- or full-time jobs with a tech company.
We haven't stopped there. Together with philanthropy, local venture capital firms as well as leading tech companies, we launched PledgeLA to ensure the conference rooms of start-ups and tech companies in this city are as diverse as our streets. PledgeLA members are also helping us find new ways of using technology to solve our toughest challenges — from traffic congestion to the need for more affordable housing.
And now, as we bravely and boldly begin into a new decade, we will have a media platform dedicated to covering tech's growth in Los Angeles — dot.LA. This next decade will be critical in so many ways — from our response to the global climate emergency to how this city comes together to confront the homelessness and housing crisis.
Tech is not at the margins of these moments — it's at the intersections. We are fortunate to have dot.LA chronicling how innovators and entrepreneurs in Los Angeles will make their mark on this city and world.
I look forward to the future Los Angeles and dot.LA will write together.
Eric Garcetti is mayor of the city of Los Angeles.
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