This Venture Capital Firm Is Helping Digitally Native Brands Expand to Brick-and-Mortar

In a time when many traditional retailers are shuttering stores, Fifth Wall is putting its money into brick-and-mortar.

The venture capital firm today announced the close of a $100 million “Retail Fund,” which will work with digitally native brands as they open up physical outposts. The Retail Fund has the backing of top retail real estate and service providers, including Cushman & Wakefield, Acadia Realty Trust and Nuveen Real Estate.

Fifth Wall’s goal with the fund is to help digitally native labels understand the challenges that can accompany brick-and-mortar expansion, as well as to forge relationships between real estate owners and emerging brands.

“New e-commerce brands know the importance of being wherever their customers want them to be at all times — they simply cannot reach their full potential if they remain solely online,” said Fifth Wall partner Kevin Campos, who leads the Retail Fund’s investments in omnichannel brands.

In recent years, the retail landscape has been transformed by e-commerce — leading many traditional retailers to shutter doors, improve their e-tail presence or experiment with smaller format stores.

But at the same time, digitally native brands such as Rothy’s and Allbirds have moved from online-only into physical retail. Allbirds is expected to open 20 stores by the end of this year, while Rothy’s has plans for three doors opening in 2020. The former is one of several companies Fifth Wall has already invested in; others include athleticwear e-tailer Carbon38 and clothing start-up UNTUCKit.

Fifth Wall isn’t the only company helping digitally native brands navigate the brick-and-mortar waters. Naked Retail, a turnkey retail service, helps DTC brands as they try out pop-ups; Leap does the same thing for permanent stores.

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