Episode 31: Funding The Next Wave of Disruptors in Retail and Consumer Goods Tech

Hello listeners, and welcome back to Tech Forward! My guest this week is Rima Reddy, a Principal at XRC Labs, an early stage accelerator dedicated to investing in the next wave of disruptors in the consumer and retail goods industries. At XRC, Rima leads the startup sourcing and diligence process, and participates on the Selection Committee. Prior to XRC, Rima focused on e-commerce and omni-channel initiatives at Ralph Lauren, and served as an Equity Research Analyst at Goldman Sachs. She was recognized by Business Insider as "22 Female Angel Investors Every Startup Founder Should Know," and speaks extensively on the topics of early-stage investing and women in entrepreneurship. Today on the show, we’ll be talking about the support she provides to female founders, as well as her transition to becoming an investor herself.

Since the retail industry can be notoriously slow, XRC’s main goal is to bridge the gap between larger, more traditional brands and promising tech startups in order to drive the entire ecosystem forward. Early stage founders complete a 14-week program where XRC helps with all aspects of the business, from messaging and business development to networking with potential clients and being placed on panels. XRC provides founders with a small amount of capital at the beginning, but also assists with the next round of fundraising at the end of the 14 week program, introducing them to angels and VC’s who can take the business to the next level.

When selecting startups for their program, XRC looks for founders who are both extremely confident about their business and its mission, and open to criticism and advice. “It’s really the founder that we’re investing in… We watch them pivot, and see if they can take the feedback to make the right move.” They also seek entrepreneurs who solve the problems that larger brands currently face. As of now 60% of the companies XRC works with have a woman on their founding team, and 45% have a female CEO. The XRC community stays actively involved in founders’ journeys after graduation, providing support and hosting alumni events. Rima also supports early stage investors through her work with 37 Angels, one of the largest investing networks in New York. She was drawn to 37 Angels because of their great sense of community, which is very inclusive and woman focused.

This sense of ongoing community has played a critical role in Rima’s own career journey. Considering that both of her large career transitions have been all about networking, she strongly recommends that women have as many conversations with other startups and angel investors as possible. Her other piece of advice: “Read a ton! There are so many great blogs about venture capital and angel investing.”

Rima, thank you so much for coming on the show this week and sharing the work you’re doing with both XRC Labs and 37 Angels. Thank you also to all of you out there listening, sharing the show, and reviewing. See you next week!


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