Lori Hawthorne, Events Director of eTail, recently had a chance to chat with Kobie Fuller, a principal at Accel Partners, who will be participating at the upcoming eTail 2014 conference in San Antonio. Fuller began his professional career running for Nike and then became interested in investing and moved on to work as an investor for nearly a decade.
Kobie then moved onto REVOLVEclothing as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, where he instituted company-wide automation and analytics for its marketing platforms. He is now back in the investment game as a principal at Accel Partners.
The former track champ spoke with eTail about his career and learned a few things about his life and passions.
Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: There was a period of time where I wanted to be a chef. I just like eating a lot…and making food. I still like cooking a lot; it’s a pretty large passion of mine. I quickly decided to do other things though.
Q: Speaking of those other things you decided to do, can you tell us a bit about your track career and association with Nike?
A: I actually loved basketball growing up and played all the time. In my freshman year of high school, I went out for the team. After tryouts, the coach brought each of us into his office individually. He told me I had heart and speed, but no actual skill…so he suggested track.
I never thought about competitive track before. I started running at age 13 and I ran up until I was 30. [When it came time for college], I got recruited, decided to go to Harvard, and focused on the 400M and the 200M. I was an Ivy League champ in a few events, and in the 500M I was one of the top in the country. I went on after graduating to compete for a few clubs, [one of which] was Nike’s club based out of New York. I had some good times and was able to balance running with a career in investment banking/venture capital. I never really gave up training, although I had a strenuous full-time career. A few years later, I developed a tear in my hip, so I had to give it up. Competitive athletics at that level taught me a lot about discipline and focus. I apply [those attributes] to everything that I do in my professional career.
Q: What was the one thing that you loved about working as the CMO for REVOLVEClothing?
A: What I really loved were the people. Everyone was super passionate about not only what they do, but also about building a great business. It really felt like a family and it was something that trickled from the founders to everyone in the warehouse. It made coming into work not feel like work.
Q: What caused you to return to the VC world?
A: After one and a half years at REVOLVE, I was still with a business where I created a lot of value. What made me want to return to investing was learning (through both networking in the industry and talking to vendors and software companies) that there were still a lot of problems that needed to be fixed. When you have the role of a hands-on, active investor, you can help a larger number of companies at once. I wanted to be able to have a larger impact on several businesses instead of just being just in one. Having the operating experience from REVOLVE coupled with my investment experience [allowed me] to do that.