Last week, one of our most recent portfolio companies, Ten Little, came out of stealth and announced its public launch.
Ten Little was started by Fatma Collins and Julie Rogers, a platform that aims to make finding the perfect fit for your child easy, starting with shoes. Fatma and Julie met each other and became fast friends when they were both pregnant (and ultimately became moms) while working at Jet.com. As they went through the journey of becoming parents and raising a toddler, they realized how much time and energy they were spending doing research on the right things to buy for their kids, forever trying to keep up with their latest developmental milestones.
Among them, shoes were the worst. There is no standard sizing in kids shoes, making the buying experience a guessing game that repeats itself every 2-4 months (and many, many returned Zappos boxes). The alternative is equally unappealing – it is never a pleasant experience having to drag your toddler to a shoe store and trying on shoes.
Unlike adults, toddlers don’t have a good sense of what “fit” feels like (and younger ones lack the vocabulary to advocate for themselves), resulting in many stories of kids stuck in shoes that are too small for too long before parents realize. On top of all this, parents are busy, and remembering to check your kids shoes for fit and sizing up becomes a constant scramble.
Enter Ten Little – doctor-approved healthy kids shoes that actually fit, a predictive data platform that reminds you when to size up, and an easy text-to-reorder experience.
Ten Little decided to make their own shoes because most shoes in the market today are also not designed with the little feet’s healthy development in mind (an afterthought modeled after adult shoes) – shoes from Ten Little have large toe boxes, no raised heels, flexible and lightweight materials, and fun little details like “sneaker stickers” that allow each kid to create a unique pair.
You create a profile for your child when ordering the first pair (using their Fit Finder to find the perfect fit), and Ten Little’s predictive data platform tracks your child’s growth and sends you a text reminder when it is time to size up.
As an investor in companies such as Attentive, The Nudge, and Hatch, we’ve long been bullish about SMS as the next communication and engagement channel, and I’m especially excited about this repeat-order flow that Ten Little designed as a busy mom.
My son is 10-month old so he doesn’t need shoes yet (soon!), but I can already appreciate such reminders and seamless checkout experience to help me stay on top of his growing feet.
Investing pre-launch is largely about building conviction around a founder, and we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know Fatma over the past 9 years. We first met Fatma when she was graduating from MIT Sloan and working on her previous startup; we did not invest but proactively maintained a relationship as she developed into a product leader at Jet.com and later becoming VP of Product at Artsy.
We have been part of the journey since “day -2” of Ten Little, and we were extremely impressed (though not surprised) by the quality and speed of the early execution. To round out the founding team, Julie brings an extremely complementary experience in operations from Jet.com and eos products. We were excited to be the first to say yes and lead the $2.6M seed round for Ten Little.
The U.S. children’s shoes market is a $10B market, but it’s not just about shoes. We are excited about the long-term vision to make Ten Little the place where finding the perfect fit for your child is easy. Parenting is hard, but shopping for your child shouldn’t be. We believe Ten Little could become a new way of shopping for parents, enabling parents to buy all kids essentials in the right size and stage, and at the right time.
We feel fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with Fatma and Julie in this journey, and we can’t wait to see what’s to come.