Antler VC Cast Episode 18 — Understanding Consumer Behaviour in a Hybrid World with Nicole Quinn
In Episode 18, we speak to Nicole Quinn, General Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners. Lightspeed Ventures is an iconic Silicon Valley fund that has 10 billion dollars in assets under management. Nicole's focus is on early-stage consumer internet and fintech companies, with a portfolio that includes mental wellness app Calm, Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, Lady Gaga's Haus Laboratories, cult shoe brand Rothy's, Zola and Girl Boss. Nicole talks about consumer behaviour that is going to stick post COVID, the incredible value of Influencer Marketing for customer acquisition, and shares her predictions for the next big trend in the consumer world.
Highlights From Transcript
[15:32] What consumer behaviour changes that we saw in 2020 will remain post-COVID?
Nicole Quinn: I do believe that the behaviours that are built up during Covid will be sticky afterwards. We will probably go to a hybrid world. And what does that look like? We'll go back to the supermarkets again, but perhaps on the margin, we'll stay, customers of InstaCart or Deliveroo - more than we used to. The way that these companies are able to lock in the behaviour now to ensure that it's sticky, that's when it gets special. Let me give you an example. InstaCart. You're thinking: OK, fine, I'll use it now because I don't want to go into the supermarkets. They say: hey, why don't you sign up for a year subscription? So then you're a subscriber, you get free delivery for the next year. So even after you've had the vaccine, you're thinking, oh, well, I should have the year subscription now, so why don't I stay using InstaCart? And then because you've used it for a year, you probably will for the next ten years because that behaviour is really ingrained in you. So there's really smart things like that the companies are doing to ensure that these behaviours are naturally sticky and then also a little bit of enhanced stickiness.
[9:26] Balancing the art and science of branding
Nicole Quinn: To quote Emily Weiss, branding is part science and part magic. It's that special something. In some ways, branding is consistency. You have to make sure that there is that consistency of consumer experience. In some ways, branding is becoming a household name - that consumer awareness. But we really like to think about it like that special something that makes you stand out, that makes you unique. It really has to be authentic to the founder, to the culture, and to the product. My main piece of advice to founders is to think big. A lot of founders will focus on what's right in front of them. And sometimes, I think the best board members will help you sort of pull up so that you can see the bigger picture so you can realize what your North Star is and what you're really walking towards. When you're in execution mode, sometimes you can't see the woods for the trees. It's really important to think big, know what your North Star is, and just make sure that you are driving towards the bigger goal.
[14:00] Acquiring customers through influencer marketing the authentic way
Nicole Quinn: Influencer marketing for us is a really special way of marketing, especially if it's done in an authentic way, so it's far easier and far cheaper to acquire a customer through them- turning a fan into a customer vs acquiring a brand new customer. So, if you're welcoming Lady Gaga and she has, say, 100 million followers, then even if you convert one percent of those to be customers, you've got a million users. You compare that to Facebook acquiring a million users on Facebook when the algorithms are changing for you and your CAC (customer acquisition cost) is going up. I feel it's hard to get that consistency of customer acquisition costs when you're working with those platforms sometimes. So we really lean into celebrity and influencers, but only when it's done in an authentic way. So Calm partnering with Matthew McConaughey, that feels like it's definitely done in an authentic way.
[17:15] What are you excited about that you think will be the next big thing in the consumer space?
Nicole Quinn: I do believe that we're at the brink of a new social revolution. I think that the last generation was about looking good through Instagram, the next generation will be about sounding good. And sounding good can mean so many things, which is why we're seeing social versions of fintech companies emerge, because people want to sound good when they're talking about their stock recommendations. You can see this through the Wall Street community and everything happening with GameStop.
Another thing is adding social angles to the travel businesses. Hey Go has done a tremendous job of exactly that. It's a cool product where you can take a tour of anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home. So you can literally sit at home and be like, "I want to go to Brazil today" and there'll be a tour guide that will take you around Brazil. And it's all live. It's just tip supported. So it's a free product to use. And you can sound good because you can tell your friends all about the piece of information you picked up from that tour guide in Brazil. There's also social mental health companies or social health care companies. There's a great company called Real, and it's bringing you group therapy. Group therapy has been applied to Alcoholics Anonymous, but it hasn't been applied to other areas of mental health. And so we're now bringing that to a wider group of people. And it is social good. People are messaging and people are talking with one another about it. It's great that we really can talk about mental health in this way today. So I am definitely excited about more areas of social companies.
Apps & startups that Nicole mentioned in this episode
Calm - a science-based mindfulness app for sleep and meditation.
Hey Go - See, discover and learn through the eyes of a local. Join a live-streamed tour today.
LunchClub - an AI super-connector that makes introductions for 1:1 video meetings to advance your career.
Real - a mental health and wellness startup that focuses on making group therapy accessible for all.
Must-read articles from Antler
Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia
Sarah Hilmy: Inspiring friends and families to discover the world together
“Holidays are a way for you to enrich your own life. It's about going out and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn't experience in your everyday life, trying new food, meeting new people, and just learning more about the world in a first-hand way.” —Sarah Hilmy, co-founder of travel platform Oddysee.
50 creators to watch in 2023
As the creator economy continues to grow, expand, and evolve, we've curated a list of 50 exciting leaders to watch in this space. Influencers. Journalists. Operators at prominent creator-related platforms. Founders. These are the players—seen and unseen—who underpin the global creator ecosystem.
Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves
“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS
The 2023 Creator Economy: A new direction
Our creator economy insights series—starting with our ultimate guide to the creator economy in May 2021—has tracked the explosion of a sector that upended the professional aspirations of the next generation. Today, as uncertainty and macroeconomic challenges pervade, how are creators pivoting and what does it mean for the sector's future?
Piet Hein van Dam: The seasoned data entrepreneur aiming to eradicate type 2 diabetes
Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Bringing a clarity of vision to our latest spotlight is Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder of Clear, the award-winning digital self-help tool for diabetes patients.
Unpacking the $80+ billion ONDC opportunity: India’s next startup catalyst
India's approach to unbundle payments made the world look up and take notice. Now it's time to disrupt commerce with the Open Network for Digital Commerce or ONDC. In our latest Theory of Next deep dive we mapped, researched, and reached out to every network participant live on ONDC right now.
And we're excited to share with you a comprehensive what could be India's next unicorn catalyst with inputs from Vibhor Jain (COO of ONDC), Sujith Nair (Founding member of Beckn Protocol), and founders building on ONDC!
Co-authored by Nitin Sharma (Partner, Antler) and Gokul Kumaravelu.
Five steps investors can take to support more diverse founders
Despite growing calls to create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship, only a fraction of funding is raised by founders from underrepresented communities.
The first step towards change is quantifying the challenge. While in-depth research has been conducted about women founders and founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, data has never existed about tech founders from the LGBTQ+ community—until now.
A record year for Europe's leading day zero investor
A look back at 2022, a record year for the leading day zero investor in Europe—showcasing investment activity and key predictions for the early-stage tech ecosystem in 2023.