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Angel Investor (Individual)

Investments

28

Portfolio Exits

6

About Brian Spaly

Headquarters Location

United States

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Latest Brian Spaly News

How startup Hilma raised a $3 million seed round from backers, including a former Nike exec and a Bonobos cofounder, to make run...

Sep 8, 2022

Other investors include Jeanne Jackson, a former Nike product and merchandising president. Hilma, which launches its first product next month, makes running shoes for women. Brooke Torres ran her first marathon in 2016 without the perfect pair of running shoes. Afterwards, she kept looking but failed, trying on more than 100 pairs of shoes at multiple retailers. The problem: Running shoes historically have been based off the shape of a man's foot. In 2019, Torres founded Hilma, a running shoe company for women, to fix that problem herself. Hilma's shoes are made in varying shapes and widths in order to provide the perfect fit for every runner, regardless of foot shape or ability. On Thursday, the startup announced a $3 million seed round, a sizable fundraising effort given the slowdown in venture-capital funding in 2022 , and a sign of continued investor bullishness on athleticwear for women. Brand Foundry Ventures led the investment round. Torres described Brand Foundry as a "dream" investor. The firm has previously backed Allbirds, Cotopaxi, Peloton, and Warby Parker. Other investors in Hilma's seed round include former Nike Product and Merchandising President Jeanne Jackson, Rothy's President Roth Martin, Tecovas founder Paul Hendrick, and Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs. According to Torres, the new funding will be used to purchase more inventory, develop new products, and hire employees. Hilma's first shoes release next month. They will retail for $159 and be sold direct-to-consumer on the company's website in three colorways. Hilma running shoes Courtesy Hilma Footwear manufacturing typically starts with a last, basically a mold shaped like a foot. Most lasts are based on the dimensions of a man's foot, which has left a gap in the market. "Over the years, brands have passed off men's shoes as women's," said Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for NPD Group. "There is a great need for women's lasted footwear." Hilma's shoes start with a last made proportional to a woman's foot. While most athletic footwear companies offer around 10 sizes, Hilma offers 45 across various shapes and widths, so runners with narrow and wide feet can find a shoe that fits how they want. The company uses a survey to help consumers find the right size. Hilma's launch will follow Lululemon's footwear launch, which similarly prioritized female consumers and continues to exceed the company's expectations . It also follows the launch of Olympian Allyson Felix's Saysh, a lifestyle sneaker company for women, which won the 2021 Launch of the Year award from Footwear News. "It's good for the industry to have more people talking about and creating shoes for women first," Torres said. "I see it as nice validation." Hilma's market debut, however, comes as the pandemic-fueled running boom tapers off slightly. The pandemic forced gyms to close, causing a spike in running shoe sales. Running footwear sales are up 5% since the pandemic started, but down 7% the first seven months of this year, according to NPD Group data. Torres worked with Tom Berend, principal of KiK Laboratory , a Portland-based freelance footwear company, to design Hilma's shoes. Berend, who is Hilma's head of design, previously worked for Nike and Adidas, including in Nike's famed Innovation Kitchen. Kristina Kurcinka, Hilma's head of product development, previously developed performance footwear at Nike and On. Hilma's shoes are made in China and warehoused in the US before shipping to consumers. Torres, who briefly worked as an advisor for Red Sea Ventures, a New York City-based early-stage tech investor, said she got advice from other founders before starting the recent fundraising round. She said that helped her learn how to tell the brand's story, including emphasizing the aforementioned gap in the market. "What Hilma is building represents a number of fundamentals we get excited about with our investments — real white space in a large market, an innovative solution to a consumer problem and a visionary team with an authentic and modern brand," said Brian Spaly, a Brand Foundry general partner, in a statement. As part of the investment, Spaly, who previously founded Trunk Club and Bonobos, joined Hilma's board. Spaly also previously served on the board of Deckers, the parent of Hoka, Ugg, and Teva. Torres previously raised a $300,000 angel investment round that funded the company's first three years of operations. Hilma has several thousand women on its wait list, which opened about a year ago. Consumers on the waitlist will be notified when the company's first shoes launch next month. Torres said the shoe is designed for everything from long runs to wearing to brunch. She wants to develop an inclusive customer base. "I've never shown up to a race wondering if I'll win," Torres said. "I hope that it comes across in whatever we do with Hilma that we are focused on whatever journey or experience someone wants to have, at whatever pace. We want to be supportive of that." Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know. Subscribe to push notifications

Brian Spaly Investments

28 Investments

Brian Spaly has made 28 investments. Their latest investment was in Hello Cake as part of their Seed VC on February 14, 2020.

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Brian Spaly Investments Activity

investments chart

Date

Round

Company

Amount

New?

Co-Investors

Sources

2/14/2020

Seed VC

Hello Cake

$1.43M

Yes

2

1/21/2020

Seed VC - III

Cann

$5M

No

19

10/2/2019

Seed VC

PreFix

$2.7M

Yes

2

6/24/2019

Seed VC

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$99M

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10

4/3/2019

Seed - II

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$99M

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10

Date

2/14/2020

1/21/2020

10/2/2019

6/24/2019

4/3/2019

Round

Seed VC

Seed VC - III

Seed VC

Seed VC

Seed - II

Company

Hello Cake

Cann

PreFix

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Amount

$1.43M

$5M

$2.7M

$99M

$99M

New?

Yes

No

Yes

Subscribe to see more

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Co-Investors

Sources

2

19

2

10

10

Brian Spaly Portfolio Exits

6 Portfolio Exits

Brian Spaly has 6 portfolio exits. Their latest portfolio exit was Chubbies on September 03, 2021.

Date

Exit

Companies

Valuation
Valuations are submitted by companies, mined from state filings or news, provided by VentureSource, or based on a comparables valuation model.

Acquirer

Sources

9/3/2021

Acquired

$99M

1

6/7/2021

Acquired

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$99M

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10

5/13/2021

Acquired

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$99M

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10

4/17/2018

Acquired

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$99M

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10

2/20/2018

Acquired

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$99M

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10

Date

9/3/2021

6/7/2021

5/13/2021

4/17/2018

2/20/2018

Exit

Acquired

Acquired

Acquired

Acquired

Acquired

Companies

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Valuation

$99M

$99M

$99M

$99M

$99M

Acquirer

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Sources

1

10

10

10

10

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