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AlleyWatch the largest organization focused on NYC Tech, in partnership with Marketing Architects celebrates the work of these individuals that serve as a catalyst for nextgen commerce innovation within the NYC Tech ecosystem.

The NYC E-Commerce Influencers on AlleyWatch is presented by Marketing Architects. Please take a minute to learn more about how to unleash the power of TV Advertising for your business with a partner that invests in your success.

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Marketing Architects is an advertising agency with a 22-year history of helping companies reach major milestones. By investing our own capital into each TV campaign, we disrupt the high costs and low accountability of traditional agencies to move performance brands forward and company growth upward. Fast-growing brands such as Touch of Modern, Brandless, Coursera, and Simple Habit work with us to drive high-impact business results from TV.
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Amanda Hesser

Food52

In an era where everyone is a content creator and attention span is dwindling, building a media company is difficult. For those who can build authentic communities around topics that people are truly passionate about, media can be a very good business. Amanda Hesser, the Cofounder and CEO of 52, has been able to successfully expand from content to commerce with an authoritative destination for anything food and cooking related on the web. The site boasts over 50,000 recipes that have been curated by the Food52 team, contributors, and community. In September of 2019, the company was acquired for a price tag north of $100M by TCG Capital Management, an affiliate of The Chernin Group, the media holding company of broadcast executive Peter Chernin.
With a background as a food reporter at the New York Times and later as the Food Editor of the New York Times Magazine, Hesser along with her cofounder Merrill Stubbs launched Food52 with the proceeds from a book advance in 2009. Today that community is over 16M passionate food aficionados. The company has offered over 300 brands of kitchen and housewares through an e-commerce option 2013.
In late 2018, Food52 expanded its offering to include its own direct-to-consumer line of kitchen and household products called FiveTwo. Leveraging the vast Food52 network, all products in the line are co-created with the community creating increased engagement and creating a distinct brand loyalty amongst the company's burgeoning following.
Under Hesser's leadership, Food52 had raised over $13M in reported funding prior to its acquisition with backing from investors that include Lerer Hippeau, BDMI, Vayner/RSE, Scripps Networks, Joanne Wilson, and 14W. Food brings people together in a way nothing else can and this shared passion has solidified Food52's community and presence in the e-commerce landscape.

Ben Sun

Primary Venture Partners

There are a few people in New York that understand consumer-facing businesses better than Ben Sun, Cofounder and Partner at Primary Venture Partners. Starting his career in investment banking at Merrill Lynch, Sun quickly transitioned into an operator by founding Community Connect, a social networking company targeting niche communities in 1996. Radio One acquired the company in 2008.
After the acquisition, Sun realized "it's way easier being an investor than a CEO and launched LaunchTime, an early-stage investor and incubator focused on e-commerce and digital media companies, At LaunchTime, Sun wrote made an investment in the first round of Coupang, the e-commerce site that's been dubbed the Amazon of South Korea. Today, Coupang is valued at over $5B and has raised subsequent investment from Softbank, Blackrock, and Fidelity.
Sun joined forces with Brad Svrluga to found Primary Venture Partners in 2015 to build an NYC-focused early-stage fund that invests in NextGen Commerce and SaaS opportunities. Primary has focused on providing hands-on support to its portfolio companies and being the most helpful investors on a startup's cap table. Sun is responsible for the firm's investment in Jet.com (acquired by Walmart for $3.3B), his second unicorn investment. Sun has also led the company's investments in e-commerce companies that include Ollie, Penrose Hill, Pattern, Slice, and Package Free, as well as commerce infrastructure plays like BounceX and SelfMade.

Ellie Wheeler

Greycroft

With nearly a decade of experience investing in the New York innovation economy, Ellie Wheeler has had a bird's eye view into the growth of the nextgen commerce ecosystem in the city. A graduate of Harvard Business School and Georgetown University, Wheeler is a Partner at Greycroft's based in the firm's New York office. Wheeler's investment focus is across the digital ecosystem with a focus on B2B and B2C commerce and transactional opportunities and marketplaces.
Her track record is impressive. Some of the notable e-commerce companies in the Greycroft portfolio that Wheeler has directly worked with include BaubleBar, Cotopaxi, Cuyana, Down To Shop, Hubble, Thirty Madison, NuORDER, Penrose Hill, Blitsy (acquired by AC Moore), ELOQUII (acquired by Walmart), Plated (acquired by Albertsons).
Prior to joining Greycroft in 2011, Wheeler spent time investing at Cisco, Lowercase Capital with Chris Sacca, DN Capital, and Summit Partners.

Marketing Architects

Marketing Architects is an advertising agency with a 22-year history of helping companies reach major milestones. By investing our own capital into each TV campaign, we disrupt the high costs and low accountability of traditional agencies to move performance brands forward and company growth upward. Fast-growing brands such as Touch of Modern, Brandless, Coursera, and Simple Habit work with us to drive high-impact business results from TV.
LEARN MORE

Jeff Brooks

Casper

You've seen the clever ads on the subway from Casper, one of the original direct-to-consumer mattress companies that disrupted the mattress business, bringing transparency to a historically notorious and opaque industry. Jeff Brooks, the Chief Marketing Officer of Casper, is one of the reasons why. Brooks, a 25-year agency veteran, leads the acquisition, retention, communications, analytics, content, and marketing teams at the company. As the online mattress wars heat up, these areas are more and more critical to Casper's continued success.
Since Brooks joined the Casper team, the company has expanded to brick and mortar locations to allow customers to try out the product before purchasing it with plans to open up 200 stores and Casper expanded its product offering to include pillows, bed frames, bedding, and glow lights. Brooks is leading the charge as Casper builds itself as an end-to-end sleep company; not just an online mattress retailer.
Prior to joining Casper, Brooks served as the President and CMO of Huge and was the Chief Commercial Officer at MDC Media Partner's Assembly, helping to launch and grow the agency to a $3 billion/year business. With C-level roles under his belt at leading advertising agencies M&C Saatchi, Havas, and Proximity, Brooks now focuses on driving Casper's mission to establish sleep as a lifestyle.

Philip James

Penrose Hill

"Wine of the Month" is one of the oldest direct-to-consumer subscription businesses dating back to the 1970s. A lot has changed since then and Philip James, founder of and CEO of Penrose Hill, is one of the people driving the introduction of sophisticated technology and data-driven marketing through consumer preferences to the wine industry. In fact, Penrose Hill is James' third wine-tech startup, having previously founded Snooth, a comparison site for wine, and Lot18, a venture-backed flash sale destination for wine.
Penrose Hill's technology data-driven technology platform is used to provide granular level customer insight throughout the supply chain to retailers, vineyards, and distributors. By partnering with Penrose Hill, vineyards for the first time have the ability to target specific wines to target customers based on flavor profile, price, preferences, and a host of other factors. Vineyards can dispose of excess supply without diluting their own brand offerings through Penrose Hill's custom labeling options. Penrose Hill operates more as a wine incubation lab, led by seasoned winemakers, than a winery by using customer data and testing to drive production decisions that will be produced by its partners.
Penrose Hill also operates its own wine club, Firstleaf, which has served over 100,000 customers. Through this model, consumers win as they can get great wine that matches their personal preferences at a compelling price point. For example, the company developed a 96 point rated wine that retailed for less than $20 while other similarly rated wines rated sell for anywhere between $50 to $500. The wines offered by Firstleaf have won over 1000 awards and Penrose Hill is now one of the top largest 25 wineries in the US. The company is backed by prominent NYC investors that include Greycroft, Tribeca Venture Partners, and Loeb.nyc.
Wine traces back to 6000 BC but the work that James has done over the last 15 years is advancing the industry more than the previous 8000.

How to Use TV to Drive Your Acquisition

What do you do when TV should be accelerating your online business, but it’s barely taking you past the starting line? Find out how DTC brand Touch of Modern worked with Marketing Architects to drive growth across their business by utilizing the television channel.
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SHARE THE 2019 E-COMMERCE TECH INFLUENCERS