CHICAGO, Jan. 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Listen, a venture capital firm investing in consumer-obsessed entrepreneurs, today announced the close of $92 million across two new funds. Listen Ventures III a $62 million core fund, and Listen Up, a $30 million opportunity fund.
L to R: Jeff Cantalupo, Founder and Managing Partner, Joelle Cosmas, Head of Brand Platform, Rick Desai, Managing Partner and Head of Investments, Kimmie Carey, Principal, Brentos Fernandez, Partner and Head of Creative, Hylton Irons, Associate, Nika Longo, Brand Platform Manager, Ryan Sievert, Head of Design
Listen Ventures III will invest up to $5 million into 12 early-stage consumer brands. The increase in size from its last $30 million fund allows the firm to take larger positions with their concentrated investment strategy. Meanwhile, with Listen Up—anchored by The Pritzker Organization, the family Merchant Bank of Tom Pritzker (TPO) – Listen will invest in later stages of its existing portfolio companies, allowing Listen to double down as their brands scale to the next level. Chicago-based Listen now manages $130 million across four funds having backed breakout consumer brands including, Calm, Catch Co, Dame, Factor, Interior Define and more.
“Early on in their trajectory, we saw a special streak in Jeff and his team at Listen and knew they were on to something different,” says Jason Pritzker, principal at The Pritzker Organization. “Their insatiable curiosity has driven them to develop insights into cultural narratives before they become mainstream, and their model allows them to add real value to each portfolio company, which results in high potential for return.”
Investment Thesis: Brands that Listen to Consumers Win
Since 2010, consumer listening has been the cornerstone of Listen’s investment strategy, offering a lens to identify cultural and consumer behavior shifts that fuel the launch and scale of meaningful brands. The firm has been an early backer of brands leading shifts in categories such as mental health (Calm), femtech (Dame), and the future of food (Factor), empowering brands where there is an opportunity to build with a community of believers and ensure the consumer voice is at the table. Listen prioritizes finding brands that establish new narratives and then writing meaningful checks that make a real impact.
“Our vision is to be the preferred capital partner for consumer obsessed entrepreneurs” says Jeff Cantalupo, founder and managing partner at Listen. “We listened to our customer – founders for what they want from an investor and have specifically designed Listen to invest beyond capital and become true partners in building their brand”
The Approach: Concentrated and Creative
Listen’s concentrated investment model is a contrarian approach in the venture capital world today. While most early-stage funds deploy capital across dozens of companies rapidly, Listen believes the “spray and pray” venture capital model limits the time and attention a fund can provide to an investment. Instead, Listen’s approach is to invest in fewer companies in order to have a more significant impact on its portfolio brands.
“Founders are looking for partners who have aligned incentives—the abundance of capital in today’s market makes the venture capital product – money – a commodity,” said Rick Desai, managing partner and head of investments at Listen. “We recognize that founders take a disproportionate amount of risk as they invest in a single company. Our concentrated model aligns our incentives whereby we invest more money and time into fewer companies, delivering on our promise that when you take Listen dollars you get all of Listen.”
Unfair Advantage: Creative Capitalists
Uniquely, Listen’s investment team includes brand strategists, creatives, marketers, and financial analysts, all of whom evaluate investment opportunities and support portfolio companies. Through this holistic approach of quantitative, qualitative, and creative strategy, Listen helps founders translate consumer obsession into engaging brand narratives and breakthrough brand experiences. Most notably, this direction came to life with recently exited Factor where Listen was the largest shareholder and developed the brand from inception to exit.
“To back and build consumer brands, you need the modern consumer at the table, and we’ve intentionally designed our team to represent the emerging consumer,” said Brentos Fernandez, partner and head of creative at Listen. “Brands of tomorrow must be human-centered, nimble, empathetic, and adaptable so that they can answer consumer needs in the moment. To do this correctly, you need to apply creativity to your entire business.”
Listen has already begun putting their new capital to work. Thus far, the firm has invested in Dame, Mine’d, Rise Gardens and The Cumin Club out of Listen Ventures III. Future investments will be announced starting in 2022.
About Listen Ventures
Founded in 2010, Listen is a consumer-obsessed venture capital firm based in Chicago. Listen’s team of investors and brand experts and creative capitalists operate a concentrated investment strategy partnering with extraordinary entrepreneurs to build the brands of tomorrow. Portfolio brands include Calm, Kiwi Co, Factor, Public Goods, Interior Define, Own Up and Slumberkins. Learn more at Listen.co.
The Pritzker Organization (TPO) is the merchant bank for the business interests of the Tom Pritzker family. For over 60 years, TPO has focused on partnering with exceptional leaders to create value across a wide range of businesses. TPO looks for opportunities where it can add value alongside its partners, and grow businesses over a significant time horizon. TPO invests across any stage of a business’ life cycle, from early stage to mature, through control acquisitions, minority stakes, and anchor investments in third party managers. Additional information can be found at www.pritzkerorg.com.
SOURCE Listen Ventures