Last October at the Global Ventures Summit in LA, Mike Jones from Science Inc. shared the story of how his investment company started and how he became the first investor of the Dollar Shave Club.
Before Science Inc. I had a concept really early in life and I bootstrapped my own business. So it was at a point where I didn't really know how to raise money, I didn't really know angels existed, I didn't really know how to ask those questions. So I just found my way to build a company and we just sweated it out. We were a couple of friends. And I think we were hopeful that we could afford our salary; we could afford rent, could we build ourselves a job? And so the first questions that my friends and I had were like, “can we build a company where we can bare ourselves enough to live” and it happened that the company grew really nicely.
At some point, we sold that company, and I was like “that was awesome”;
It wasn't really about the money, it was really about if I could go to a place with my friends, and just enjoy work every day where I'm not having some really "bad boss" situation. And it was just happy working in whatever vision we have, that worked really well.
After that, I started a second company and I still didn't know how to raise money because I wasn't really connected to Silicon Valley. And I'd always built my businesses in LA and being in LA you're very removed from the traditional Silicon Valley investor scene. So it's really hard to understand that process.
So the second company was a top and once again, we actually built something really cool. Once again, we were just friends building something really fun. And then we happen to sell that company to AOL.
I was 29, and it was obviously this really cool life changing moment; And I suddenly had a job because I'd never really worked for anybody.
I became Senior Vice President and realized that I was a kid in the candy store, when I could just learn everything.
And I could just go through the halls of AOL to the various offices around the world and just learn and suck all this knowledge.
Then, I joined a private equity firm, where we bought and sold companies. And then eventually I took over My Space that was a failing company, and had a bunch of problems so I took that business over and then basically broke it up and sold it for parts.
After all that I finally started Science Inc. where we are now.
We work with super early stage entrepreneurs; we’ve worked with about 300 different companies and raised about $600 million for our companies, from other investors, typically from the valley.
The one deal we're really known for is the Dollar Shave Club.
We were one of the original equity holders with Dollar Shave Club, we invested alongside the founder, we incubated them to scale but in seven years, we sold a bunch of businesses and had a bunch of failures. We typically work with people at the very earliest moments that they are trying to navigate their dream.
He had an idea, he thought men's grooming products are too crazy and there are too many choices. We were one of the first people who saw that Dollar Shave Club video. He did the video with friends and everyone thought he was crazy.
I liked him. I believed in his business and passion, he wasn't doing it for the money, it was because he really believed there was a problem and he was going to be the guy to solve this problem. then we watched his video and it was amazing, totally told the story of him and his brand and we kind of had this theory of like, maybe if that video hits in the right way and we work with them on the strategy, work with them on his pricing, maybe there's something here. Just like all these ideas started in a very humble way of just a guy trying to figure things out with not much support and a lot of rejection.
You can create incredible things when you have no other option than create incredible things., It's like, we often find that if you constrain resources, you often get better results so suddenly, he just had to figure a way to do this with his friends, with essentially no money but his whole passion.
Suddenly when you produced that video with a real budget, and the whole team and an ad agency you get a good content, but you don’t get the spirit.