Rachel ten Brink

Rachel ten Brink


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General Partner and Founder at Red Bike Capital

The emotional rollercoaster of being a founder – Rachel ten Brink

“Go find those funds that believe in your vision, that believe in your space and learn the vocabulary, the language and the metrics that they’re looking for. Do your fit and leverage on that.”


Rachel ten Brink is the General Partner and Founder of Red Bike Capital, a seed stage fund based in NY that invests in founders that are improving lives and powering the economy. Named Entrepreneur Magazines’ 100 Powerful Women of 2020, Rachel is a Data Driven, Product Obsessed Investor, Founder, and Board Member, and a Top Latinx in Tech leader.

Rachel was the co-founder and CMO of Scentbird, a Y-Combinator backed fragrance subscription service that raised $29M in venture funding. As a founder, Rachel led Growth, Brand and Business Development, scaling the company to over 500,000 subscribers. Before this, she spent 20 years building billion dollar global brands at Elizabeth Arden, Estee Lauder, Gillette, and L’Oreal. She is a mentor at Techstars and Y Combinator. She is one less thank 100 Latinas to have ever raised over $1M in VC funding, and part of the 0.01% of Latina Women that are GPs in Venture.

Rachel is an early stage investor and advisor to several consumer-tech companies. She frequently writes and speaks about consumer technology, growth, influencer marketing, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and diversity, and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur Magazine, WSJ, Latina, and Refinery 29. A native of Costa Rica, Rachel holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and graduated magna cum laude from Babson College with a B.S. in International Business.



Rachel ten Brink

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to Supporters Fund Ask An Investor. I’m your host, Jeffery Potvin. Let’s please welcome Rachel ten Brink, the GP of Red Bike Capital as our investor today.
Rachel: Hi. Thank you. I’m delighted to be here.
Jeffery: awesome. we’re so excited to have you join us today Rachel for many reasons. But the biggest one for me is that you have been a branding mogul for so long, jumped into entrepreneurship and then now running a fund. you’ve got like the trifecta effect going here. you’ve got all sectors. It’s just amazing. And the way we like to start our show off is we like to learn a bit more about ourselves. So, maybe you could share a little bit about your time from way back in Gillette schooling, all that great stuff, all the things that you’ve done to where you are today with the fund. And then we’re going to interject and we want to know one question about you that nobody would know.
Rachel: okay. So, in terms of my background, I’m originally from Costa Rica. my parents were Cuban immigrants left right. When the pastor came, I was born and raised in Costa Rica and came when I was 18 to the States to go to college. My career really started at Gillette and I think there’s a lot to learn from a very classical CPG training to your point about understanding brands and building distribution and building products for mass appeal. So, I started my career at Gillette. From there, I did my MBA at Columbia and then spent the next 15 years of my career building dollar brands. I was at Estée Lauder. I was at L’Oréal. I was at Elizabeth Arden. And around 2014, I met my co-founders and we started a company called Scentbird. That’s a subscription service for fragrances. We really thought about the category and the way you bought the fragrance category was very broken, very confusing, very much driven by what the manufacturers wanted and not what the consumers wanted. So, Sanford was an incredible ride. We were backed by my combinator. We raised almost 30 million dollars in venture. My job specifically as one of the four founders was growth and revenue. So, on the growth side, I like to joke that there isn’t a marketing tactic that I haven’t tried, so if you want to talk paid social, if you want to talk influencers, affiliate podcasts, radio tv, you name it. Subways, I’ve literally tried them all. not all of them work. Some of them do very well. And then on the growth side, it was really thinking through the CAC 2 LTV ratio unit. Economics.
Jeffery: how do you build a sustainable business model? So for Scentbird, a big piece of that was the biz dev side of it, the b2b relationship. So, build partnerships with 74 brands. Everybody from Cody to Macy’s, to Glossier and company’s done extremely well. It’s close to half a million monthly paying subscribers at this point and still scaling and doing great. But a couple of years ago, it started really organically. I love early stage founders. I love that inflection point where you just start to see a little bit of product market fit and you can really take off and I think that’s such an exciting time of the interpreter and of a startup’s journey.
Rachel: So, I really started with loving talking to founders, giving advice, helping out and sorting of founders. I kept on calling other founders, talking to Rachel, talking to Rachel about influencer marketing and fundraising supply chain. you name it. And at some moment, I took a breath and realized, oh my god, I have incredible deal flow. So, we had some friends who also wanted to invest and that’s how Red Bike Capital got started.
Jeffery: That’s amazing. And one thing about you that nobody would know?
G: oh, you know what, I am a huge yoga fan, avid fan of yoga. So, that’s really my thing.
Jeffery: Oh that’s good. That’s a good thing. I was thinking you’re going to say Costa Rica, you’re a surfer and you’re a big fan of it. you’re going back to surf every week.
Rachel: like, no. yeah. Well, it’s funny. I was going to say I’m Cuban, Costa Rican, Turkish, German with a Dutch last name. But it’s on my twitter profile, so I guess a lot of people know that.
Jeffery: That’s awesome. All right. well to go back, I think what I really want to dive into is maybe the first question is, what got you started in working in the cosmetic category. I guess it is a broad category because there’s a bunch of different areas that you jumped into. But what got you started in Gillette? What was the drive there? Was it that you saw something broken even back then or was this just out of school jumping into this new opportunity and while you’re in there you start the wheels turning as you’re learning the ropes of what’s going on in this big branding company?
Rachel: So, for me, my obsession has always been consumer behavior. I’m obsessed with what makes people tick. Oh, here’s something that people don’t know about. When I was growing up, my dad had a canned tuna brand. It was called Splash Tuna. And the reason I bring it up is because I think it really started on Sundays when I was eight, nine or ten years old. We would hang out in the supermarket and I would stand by the canned tuna aisle and observe people and count who was buying my dad’s tuna brand versus other brands. And as a 10 year old, hey, why did you pick up that brand? What made you pick that one? so that’s really where it started for me. It was this idea of consumer behavior. Where’s the consumer mindset going? What makes people tick? what makes people drive towards certain brands, certain behavior, certain technologies. that that’s been something that’s always obsessed me. And I think that if you think about Gillette and the sort at the time, the best a man can get is the emotional connection that they were able to build how they were capturing at the time things have changed. But at the time Gillette had I think 80% market share in the US. So, like how do you understand the consumer to that level? and obviously, fast forward to today, the consumers become a lot more complex, a lot more nuanced. And you see that market dominance has definitely faded a bit. although it’s still significant, but that’s really something that I’ve always been obsessed with is the cons the future of consumer. Where is the consumer going? What is driving them? That’s really what made me start on that journey.
Jeffery: That’s a great segue to that entrepreneurship world as well. So, you were learning in the background from what your father was putting into a brand, what he was putting into the business. you were on the front lines working that counter. if you will, and making sure people were picking that brand but collecting data in the background in your own mind on why and how this was going to work. And the word I loved the most that you said about in all of this was you were obsessed. And I think that this is a really defining moment for any entrepreneur is that they are obsessed with learning something. they’re obsessed with changing the world. they’re obsessed with fixing a problem. And that I think really defines entrepreneurship on what makes you great or what makes you strive to get to greatness. So, now working your way through all of these roles that you were in, they were all pretty much centric around marketing and branding and really building that up. And you worked your way all the way up to the senior level side of things. And while you were doing that, was it again reinventing these brands? Was it coming in from that perspective of you guys not having enough data or you’re at the top of your game and I’m going to bring you to that next stage. How did you look at these stages as you were working through these roles?
Rachel: So, I think there was always this obsession with how do we learn more about the consumer, how do we build more personalized connections, how do we understand their needs and preempt their needs right. like how do you, the famous Steve Jobs of like building things that people don’t even know they want right like how do you build that. And I think that was really interesting for me. If you think about even my career arc, it is like I started at Gillette and L’Oréal on the math side of the business, which is literally like you just put items on a shelf and they got to sell themselves. And then I moved to Estée Lauder where you’re selling in a department store or Sephora wher