Backed by over a decade of experience in partnering successfully with entrepreneurs, Forerunner offers a distinct edge in navigating the retail landscape, establishing new brands, anticipating consumer behaviors, and helping scale development-stage companies.
“One of our earliest investors, Forerunner Ventures has been one of our closest partners. They’ve provided particularly valuable insight into the future of retail and ecommerce as well as access to their wide network including the person behind Apple’s retail real estate who has since become a partner in our bricks and mortar rollout. Equally important, we consider Kirsten a trusted friend and advocate who we can call on for any reason.”
Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder & Co-CEO
“Being a serial entrepreneur in the retail enterprise software space, Forerunner Ventures being an investor in our first round was a must. They helped us land our biggest client, which was game changing for the company, and also helped us secure our Series A funding from our top choice firm.”
Corey Capasso, Co-founder & President
“Forerunner has impressive insight in retail and e-commerce trends, as well as the highest quality network and access to decision makers. That they work with only the best and the brightest is also common knowledge among founders in this space. Forerunner gets entrepreneurs and only adds value where there is value to be added. Forerunner is different and their commitment to and passion for their portfolio companies was apparent early on.”
Jerry Jao, Co-Founder & CEO
“What stands out to me the most about Forerunner are the firm’s focus on commerce (i.e. differentiation in the investor landscape), Forerunner’s awareness and connectedness to brand building, and most importantly, my personal relationship with Kirsten and her overall support.”
Deena Varshavskaya, Founder & CEO
Kirsten brings 20+ years of investment experience to her role as Founder and Managing Director of Forerunner Ventures. She has successfully evaluated and invested in countless consumer oriented businesses, from pre-revenue startups to multi-billion-dollar enterprises. Her ability to draw connections between large and small companies ensures a well-rounded perspective on successful business models, operational and market issues, and consumer trends. She combines an experience- and thesis-driven approach with a consumer centric view to identify compelling brand platforms and partner with visionary entrepreneurs.
As the Founder of Forerunner, Kirsten has raised in excess of $100M from leading institutional investors and invested in 30+ early stage companies. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of several Forerunner portfolio companies including: Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club, Retention Science, Serena & Lily, and Into the Gloss.
Prior to Forerunner, Kirsten was an equity research analyst and investor at Banc of America Securities, formerly Montgomery Securities, covering publicly-traded retail and consumer stocks.
Kirsten graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Business Economics, and holds a CPA license and a CFA certification.
Eurie joined Forerunner Ventures as a Principal in May 2012. Over the past 10+ years, Eurie has evaluated and aided a wide variety of companies in their quest to define business models, identify target markets, and overcome operational and competitive challenges to drive growth. As a management consultant at Bain and Company, Eurie advised large retail and e-commerce clients on strategy, identifying acquisition opportunities, and harnessing consumer insights to drive growth. Prior to Bain, Eurie was an investor at Castanea Partners where she evaluated growth investments in consumer and retail businesses. Eurie also has a personal passion for entrepreneurship, which inspired her to launch an artisanal leather goods brand as well as serve on the founding team of a European luxury brand incubator.
Eurie earned an MBA with honors at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a B.S. with honors in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley.
Melissa Grillo Aruz
Melissa joined Forerunner Ventures as a Principal in September 2014. Over the past 15 years, Melissa has worked on both the agency and brand side to create and evolve marketing programs that reflect not only brands’ personas, but also drive solid results. Most recently, Melissa led her own consulting practice specializing in online acquisition and marketing for e-commerce and content brands. In this capacity she worked with J.Crew, Warby Parker, Birchbox, Moda Operandi and many other up and coming brands, where she helped tailor and execute their marketing programs while also upholding the brands to the highest standards. Melissa was also the first Director of Online Marketing at Gilt Groupe where she was part of their exponential growth period. She began her career at Razorfish, where she led their retail group partnering with brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch who relied on her team to deliver creative programs that also delivered efficient results.
Melissa earned a BA in Art History and Italian Studies from Trinity College.
Nicole joined the Forerunner team in December 2013. She previously worked with SapientNitro, a leading brand and digital strategy consultancy where she supported the development of the global eCommerce strategy and omni-channel growth strategy for a multinational luxury eyewear conglomerate. She led competitive research and analysis with an emphasis on consumer technology innovation. Nicole also led research efforts for continued M&A evaluations throughout the eyewear landscape.
Nicole graduated cum laude with an A.B. in Psychology from Princeton University.