Why a glamorous young investor made a failed bet on MilkRun a year before the grocery start-up collapsed: ‘I’m still haunted by fear and self-doubt’
- MilkRun announced to close this week
- Venture capital firm AirTree made a failed bet on the company
A glamorous young venture capitalist who made a failed bet by investing in MilkRun has spoken out after the company’s sudden collapse.
MilkRun, a meal delivery service that delivers groceries to your doorstep in 20 minutes, shut down this week, with founder Dany Milham blaming deteriorating market conditions.
AirTree partner Jackie Vullinghs helped guide the venture capital firm’s investment in MilkRun and was an observer at the failed startup.
The company invested in MilkRun as part of an initial $11 million capital raise in 2021, and again last year when it attempted to raise another $75 million.
AirTree’s second support in January 2022 came at a time when MilkRun was reportedly losing an average of $13 per order.
Jackie Vullinghs, a partner at venture capital firm AirTree, helped guide the company’s investment in MilkRun
It’s unclear how much AirTree invested in the startup, or how much they lost, but Ms. Vullinghs has already struck after AirTree’s failed investment.
“It’s been a strange few days. I just wanted to be respected by the people I respect,” she wrote.
“The number of founders and investors who have sent messages of kindness and support in recent days has been extraordinary.
‘To each of you, thank you. You are the people whose opinion matters.’
Just over a year before the company collapsed, Ms. Vullinghs penned a glowing blog post outlining why AirTree had invested in MilkRun.
“Clearly there is an opportunity for a new company to improve the grocery experience for a convenience world, delivering groceries in minutes at supermarket prices,” she said in January 2022.
“The magnitude of what MilkRun has accomplished in just a few months gives us a glimpse of the extraordinary things they will make possible in the future.”
But by October, as rising interest rates hit the values of several tech startups and lured investors away, Ms. Vullinghs expressed that she was haunted by “anxiety and self-doubt trying to find and grow businesses.”
“People don’t talk openly enough about the really tough times and the kind of psychological traps you get into — the downward spirals — the way you get your identity wrapped up in your business,” she said.
“I’m still haunted by fear and self-doubt.”
MilkRun founder and serial entrepreneur Dany Milham believed MilkRun would be bigger than Coles or Woolworths within a decade
Just six months later, MilkRun had collapsed, and Mr Milham sent an email to his 400 employees on Tuesday informing them that the company would close on Friday.
“Since we announced our structural changes in February, economic and capital market conditions have continued to deteriorate, and while the company continued to perform well, we strongly feel this is the right decision in the current environment,” he wrote in the e-mail. to the staff.
In a letter to investors, AirTree said failures were “an inevitable part of venture capital.”
“Great upside comes with risk, and if we don’t see failures, we’re probably not adding enough risk to the portfolio for outliers to emerge and become fund returners,” the letter said.
“Having said that, this was not the outcome we had hoped for.”
Another company backed by AirTree, Mr. Yum, has cut 80 jobs in the past 12 months, while Linktree, also backed by the VC firm, has let go 17 percent of its global workforce.
Who is Jackie Vullinghs?
Jackie Vullinghs, in her early thirties, is a partner at venture capital fund AirTree.
Born in England, Mrs. Vullinghs excelled during her years at Cambridge University, winning prizes in history and lacrosse.
After six years of stock brokerage at prestigious banks in Europe, including Citi and Merrill Lunch, she moved to Sydney in 2018 and landed a job at NAB Ventures.
She was subsequently poached by AirTree ventures and became a partner of the company within three years.
Her social media profiles are full of snaps of her on various adventures around the world.
One photo shows her climbing a mountain in Patagonia, while another shows her enjoying her time in Colombia.
Ms. Vullinghs has also let her hair down at the Burning Man arts festival, sharing photos from her time at the iconic event.
Her social media profiles are filled with images of her adventures around the world. She is pictured at the Burning Man festival