Scott Murphy AVG Blog January 20, 2020

Becoming a Value-Added Investor in Rhone

The power of alumni networks connected AVG to premium performance apparel brand, Rhone.



Becoming a Value-Added Investor in Rhone

January 20, 2020 | Scott Murphy

Rhone is a great example of the type of exciting, rapid-growth company AVG investors have the opportunity to own in their venture portfolio. This men’s premium performance apparel brand was founded in 2014 and has since grown triple digits annually with products in 350+ locations. A Yale alumni connection introduced AVG to Rhone founder, Nate Checketts; this introduction was instrumental in AVG gaining access to this deal for our investors.

The Idea for Rhone

If Lululemon could build a $30 billion performance and lifestyle brand primarily for women, why was there no comparable company offering a similar commitment to fit and quality for men? 

This question prompted Nate Checketts to start Rhone, a premium performance apparel brand. Engineered for an active lifestyle, Rhone fills the void between big box retailers and high-end yoga brands, delivering best-in-class products for men – and now women as well. 

The Rapid Growth of Rhone

Since launching in 2014, the company has grown triple digits every year, and has been featured by GQ, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Forbes, Fox Business, and more. Rhone’s products are available in over 350 specialty stores and gyms as well as the company’s web store and four brick and mortar locations in New York and Connecticut. Rhone is the number-one-selling men’s brand for both Equinox and Peloton and has growing relationships with Barry’s Bootcamp, Rumble Boxing, Nordstrom, and Four Seasons.

How did AVG access the deal?

An alumni connection was instrumental in building a relationship between Rhone and Blue Ivy Ventures, AVG’s fund for Yale alumni: Jaques Clariond, a repeat Blue Ivy investor and a member of the fund’s Investment Committee, introduced us to both Rhone and Nate.

After the introduction, we spent months getting to know the company, team, and investment opportunity. We were impressed with Rhone’s fantastic growth (over 100% year over year), the company’s passionate and engaging team, the quality of their investors, and the size of their target market. 

Becoming a Value-Added Investor in Rhone

Rhone had more interested investors than room in their last growth round. We secured an investment by highlighting the unique value AVG brings to deals: low friction, flexible check, large rolodex. AVG worked quickly to provide a capital amount that fit the company’s needs and the availability of the round, all without requiring a board seat. What ultimately won Nate over was Rhone’s ability to access connections available through AVG’s broad alumni networks and growing 500,000-member community. 

We source a large volume of high quality deals through members of our robust alumni network like Jaques Clariond. Additionally, his role on Blue Ivy’s Investment Committee demonstrates how AVG leverages the expertise of our alumni communities to assist with diligence and add value to our portfolio companies after an investment has been made. This approach allows us to make 150-200 investments every year, including deals with rapidly growing companies like Rhone. 

If you’d like to learn more about Rhone, check out their blog The Pursuit or read our Entrepreneur in the Spotlight feature with Nate. 



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