You may not have heard of the Box Group, a small company of four principals that invests in tech start-ups and continues investing if the conditions are right. As they say on their website, “Before there is a company, there is a conversation – we want to be that first conversation.”
But you probably have heard of some of their successful prodigies – hot companies like Blue Apron (the chic food delivery business), Warby Parker (chic eyeglasses) and Harry’s (chic shaving razors and personal care items) – all using technology in creative ways to make a big splash in their respective markets.
The Box Group is the brainchild of David Tisch, who helped make New York City a leading tech center after lagging behind Silicon Valley for so many years. In fact, David also teaches at Cornell Tech, the new incubator school located on Roosevelt Island for like-minded college grads with a laptop and an idea for a new technology niche.
The son and grandson of entrepreneurs – his grandfather founded the Loews Corporation, a diversified Fortune 100 company – David started out as a computer hacker in middle school and website designer in high school. And as a self-described “nerd” while studying at the University of Pennsylvania, he began to foresee a career for himself as internet technology emerged, well before many others did.
His hunch was right and, since about 2007, the start-up community has become a large part of New York City’s economy.
“IDB is one of the rare lenders that knows how, and is willing, to help a small business go from nothing to something spectacular.”
Meanwhile, David’s wife, Zara, also from a family of entrepreneurs, had her own ideas about start-ups, only this time in fashion.
She started a handbag company, whose products featured leather on the outside with unique flashes of color on the inside. In partnership with her best friend, they soon expanded to fashionable pencil cases.
Today, the company known as Terez (Terez.com) provides a full line of athletic and casual wear for women, girls and children, including licensed brands – all designed by the principals and made in New York.
Financing is another thing they talk about. Terez has been working with IDB for a number of years. “Zara is very comfortable calling IDB a partner – it’s much deeper than a transactional relationship,” David says. “With a firm understanding of the fashion world’s complexities, IDB has been at the forefront of helping the Terez brand grow to the point of becoming global,” he adds.
“Fashion designers and tech start-ups are used to starting small. They’re both the proverbial businesses that are founded in a garage. IDB is one of the rare lenders that knows how, and is willing, to help a small business go from nothing to something spectacular.”