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STRATEGY

White Cat Media Tells You Where to Get a Bargain

Now it's shopping for $1.5 million.
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The Pitch: "White Cat Media runs two shopping websites--SheFinds.com, for fashion and beauty products, and MomFinds.com, for mothers. We also own 30 similar domain names. Like DailyCandy, we blog about great products in the voice of a trusted friend, but our users can buy any item within a few clicks. We have about 300,000 visitors and 470,000 page views a month. We get a commission on most sales and additional revenue from advertising. We have built the company with $20,000 of my money and by reinvesting profits--our margins are over 30 percent. Now we want to redesign the sites, hire ad sales and editorial staff, launch other sites, and add reader reviews."


Company:White Cat Media

Owner:Michelle Madhok

Location:New York City

Employees: The founder plus one full-time employee and 20 part-time freelancers

Founded: February 2004

2007 Revenue: Approximately $400,000

2008 Projected Revenue: $770,000 without an additional investment; $1.7 million if funding comes through

Investment Needed: $1.5 million

Clients: Advertisers and retailers targeting female shoppers

Recent Buzz: Winner of "Make Mine a Million $ Business," a small-business contest sponsored by American Express (NYSE:AXP). Appearances on Fox News and The Tyra Banks Show. Mentioned in BusinessWeek Small Biz and The New York Times.


The Investors React

Focus on reader reviews

White Cat has come a long way on the initial $20,000 investment. But how can it preserve its voice and keep readers engaged as it expands? Madhok mentions "reader reviews," which is an interesting direction. With more reader-based comments, there's a lot less risk; if your readers' tastes shift, the reviews that they're submitting will then shift accordingly. It is also more cost effective to enlist the users to do the work. Since the company is profitable, White Cat may want to bootstrap its growth and avoid seeking funding until it has successfully launched reader reviews. That could boost the company's valuation when it eventually seeks venture capital.

Andrew Parker
Associate
Union Square Ventures
New York City

Redesign the site

This space is crowded. There are countless blogs focused on women's editorial. I have seen SheFinds.com and MomFinds.com--they are decent, but there's a lot of noise on the page. SheFinds is not user-friendly or easy to navigate. They may need to do a redesign. It shouldn't cost $1.5 million, though. Web design and software development cost a fraction of what they did a couple of years back. Madhok may be able to find a wealthy individual to help her now, but our venture capital group would need to see more analytics that demonstrate that users are coming to the sites and staying--and that their numbers are growing exponentially.

Sam Sezak
Senior Associate
New Vantage Group
Vienna, Virginia

$1.5 million is high

The sites' traffic is on the high end, which shows that White Cat has a lot of traction. We've jumped in before with companies that had that much traction. And advertisers like sites that are focused on one niche rather than very broad groups of people. There's also scalability, since Madhok owns so many other URLs. That said, $1.5 million is a little high; Web companies are typically more capital efficient and don't require that much to grow. We did a similar deal, and the company requested closer to $600,000. In the end, it got $1 million. It didn't have to pay for content, because the user base was generating it.

Hall T. Martin
Director
Central Texas Angel Network
Austin




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