Business

What it’s like to raise money when you’re Gwyneth Paltrow

It’s not uncommon for Silicon Valley investors to get a money pitch from a celebrity who moonlights as an entrepreneur: Jessica Alba founded the Honest Company. Brooklyn Decker in recent months has been meeting with venture capitalists on her startup, Finery.

And Gwyneth Paltrow has pitched investors on Goop, the easy-to-criticize media and commerce company she launched from her kitchen.

So, what’s it like to be pitched by Gwyneth Paltrow? Let’s ask Gwyneth Paltrow.

“It’s great to be Gwyneth Paltrow when you’re raising money, because I think people take the meeting,” she said to an audience of venture capitalists and CEOs at the Upfront Summit in Los Angeles on Thursday. “But it’s bad, because then you get a lot more rejections than you would’ve if they didn’t want to take the selfie.”

Paltrow might have been talking about her unique stature as a true celebrity, but she’s speaking to a real problem in the Valley: Investors can waste a lot of founders’ time with niceties and we’ll-get-back-to-yous. From the perch of investors, though, they’re merely studying a market and keeping the industry’s best CEOs close — and yes, sometimes celebrity CEOs — in case they turn out to be behind the next big thing.

So it’s not a ridiculous issue that Paltrow is addressing. Silicon Valley investors try hard to manage connections and information, even if that means startups get dragged along.

Over the years, the actress has raised north of $80 million, so she got the hang of it eventually. Goop is still a punchline for some — declared “the most controversial brand in the wellness industry” recently by the New York Times — but it’s now worth $250 million and is backed by some leading Silicon Valley investors.

When Paltrow began pitching venture capitalists, she knew that she had flaws and gaps in her résumé as an entrepreneur.

“Why was anybody going to give me money?” she said, to some nervous laughter from the Upfront crowd. “It’s not much easier over time.”

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