Startups

Kids Retailer Camp, Founded By Buzzfeed CMO, Raises $10.5M, SEC Filings Show

Tally another one up on the list of venture-backed brick-and-mortar retail upstarts.

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On Monday, NYC-based retail shop Camp filed paperwork with the SEC indicating it’s raised $10.5 million out of a targeted $11 million in equity-only funding. The company received its first capital commitment in early April and raised from five investors.

Camp is a retail concept for kids and their parents, offering a rotating selection of toys and other goods alongside experiences like cooking and craft classes. The shop has a membership option which gives kids access to free activities ranging from music to crafts and yoga classes. Among other features, membership comes with one free “date night drop-off” per month, letting parents send their kids to Camp between 6 PM and 9 PM on select Friday and Saturday nights. For non-members, date night drop-off is $60.

Camp has one shop open on 5th Avenue in Manhattan and has a Brooklyn location set to open soon.

Camp was founded by Ben Kaufman, who currently serves as both Camp’s CEO and as the chief marketing officer of online media company Buzzfeed. According to Kaufman’s LinkedIn profile, he began working on Camp in June 2018.

The filing lists the executive and non-executive members of the company’s board. These individuals include:

  • The aforementioned Benjamin “Ben” Kaufman.
  • Rachel Schechtman, who currently serves as Macy’s brand experience officer. Before joining Macy’s, Schechtman was founder and CEO of Story, an NYC-based retailer which curated its wares from “the point of view of a magazine,” frequently rotating its collection around themes. Macy’s acquired Story for an undisclosed sum back in May 2018. According to her Crunchbase profile, Schechtman sits on the advisory boards of a number of retail ventures including Birchbox, Bow & Drape, and others. She also sits on the board of directors for the National Retail Federation.
  • James “Jim” Robinson, a co-founding general partner at RRE Ventures. Robinson discloses his board membership in his profile on RRE’s website. According to his profile, Robinson is a board member and observer to multiple decentralized ledger technology companies, including Bitpay, Hypr, Abra, The Digital Currency Group, and others. His non-blockchain investments include newsletter media company theSkimm and programmatic direct mail service PebblePost, among others.
  • Nick Brown, co-founding partner of Imaginary Ventures, an NYC-based venture firm investing out of its recently-raised $75 million inaugural fund. Brown was previously a partner at 14W, and before that was at JP Morgan, according to a 2016 Wall Street Journal profile of NYC-based VC investors specializing in retail and fashion upstarts. Imaginary Ventures has invested in a number of companies in the fashion and retail space, including the likes of Glossier, Everlane, and Appear Here, among others.

This is not Ben Kaufman’s first foray into retail. Before Buzzfeed, Kaufman was founder and CEO of Quirky, a company which wanted to “make invention accessible.” The scope of that venture was impressive; according to a Harvard Business School case study of Quirky’s ultimate demise, “it created value by bringing together a community of inventors, filtering out the ideas, fine-tuning the design, manufacturing the product, and managing retail partners.”

Founded in 2009, Quirky raised over $185 million in combined debt and equity funding before it filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Kaufman was also founder of Mophie, which got its start making cases and battery packs for iPods but has since expanded to the smartphone market.

It’s through prior work with Quirky that Camp now counts RRE as an investor. Jim Robinson represented RRE since its lead Series A investment in Quirky back in April 2010 and followed on through Series D. The firm first announced an investment in Camp back in November 2018. An SEC filing from September 2018 indicated the company raised $6.27 million of a targeted $6.77 million funding round. Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of Buzzfeed, was listed as a non-executive director on that filing, though today’s filing suggests he is no longer on the board.

Buzzfeed, which according to Digiday “handles media and activation sales for Camp,” is also a portfolio company of RRE Ventures.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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