E-retailers must be prepared to answer investors’ tough questions

An IR conference speaker will offer tips about dealing with investors.

Bill Briggs

When it comes to working with investors, retailers need a precise understanding of what their business is, and how it will achieve or increase profitability, says Jack Kiefer, president and co-founder of BabyAge.com Inc., a web-only retailer of baby and maternity products.

Kiefer, who will speak at Internet Retailer’s Conference & Exhibition 2011 in San Diego on June 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. in a session titled “What to expect when investors come calling,” says there are a few critical points retailers need to convey.

“Irrespective of where you are in the funding process—seed, angel or early stage—you need to know clearly who you are as a business, why you are different, how you are going to sell your products or services, and when you will make money,” Kiefer says. “Your chances of funding will be much higher with clear, concise and easily understood answers to those questions.”

Kiefer will speak from personal experience. In early 2010, BabyAge raised about $15 million in new working capital  from a group led by investment banking firms Alumni Capital Network and Brook Venture Partners. The retailer earmarked the funds to help expand overseas, add distribution infrastructure on the West Coast, and enhance web site features and functions.

Kiefer will be joined in the session by Mike McGill, a partner at MHT Partners, an investment bank. McGill first will define terms that workshop attendees are likely to hear throughout the day, such as angel investor, seed money and first round, and then examine recent deals to help attendees understand how the deals are structured and what retailers should expect when meeting with the money men and women.

Workshop attendees will learn how to find investment for their businesses, how to evaluate their businesses, how to negotiate with investors and what to do to make the business attractive when they are ready to sell it.

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Kiefer to speak because of his experience as founder of BabyAge.com, No. 282 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, and his background. He built the first Fixed Income Trading Intranet for Banc of America Securities and prior to that was vice president of technology for iVillage's iBaby.com, where he designed and managed the e-commerce system for iBaby. Kiefer also developed a chat system that included collaborative filtering, a recommendations system and iVillage's first member registration system.



baby products, BabyAge.com, Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011, investment, IRCE 2011, Jack Kiefer, maternity products, MHT Partners, Mike McGill