For startups launching a direct-to-consumer retail business, Derris & Company is often one of the first stops.
The New York-based PR, branding and content agency, founded by Jesse Derris, counts hot retail startups like Warby Parker, Harry’s, Reformation and Everlane among its client base.
Now the firm’s three partners have raised a $10 million fund to invest in future clients, as well as other startups they believe in but don’t have the bandwidth to represent.
Taking a stake in startups is not completely new for the trio — Derris & Company takes a small ownership stake in most of its startup clients in exchange for a discount on the cash fee it charges larger corporations.
The difference now is that they will be investing money into the startups on top of the stake the firm already gets for its work.
“We’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of great companies and a lot of those have created pretty significant value,” Derris told Recode. “So we raised money to be able to put our money where our mouth is.”
The $10 million of investment money is being funded exclusively by Stephen Ross, the founder of real estate mammoth Related Companies and owner of the Miami Dolphins. The money will be managed under a new, separate LLC — called Amity Supply — by Derris and his two Derris & Company partners, Julie Halpin and Lisa Frank.
Derris said that Amity will cut checks ranging in size from $150,000 to $500,000, but won’t lead rounds. Instead, it will count on its close relationship with several top VC firms to help with deal flow. Derris & Company, for example, represents Thrive Capital, the venture firm run by Josh Kushner.
Amity plans to invest money into pre-launch startups that are new Derris & Company clients, as well as existing clients that are raising new rounds. Amity will also back some other businesses that seem promising, but which the firm doesn’t count as clients.