Philly Fashion Startups: Former Urban Outfitters CEO Glen Senk Wants to Give You Money

The guy behind Anthro on what it takes to succeed in retail, and why he's looking to invest in the little(er) guys.


Photo by Matthew Gilson. Image via Chicago Booth Magazine.

You know Glen Senk. Even if you don’t think you know Glen Senk, you know him. He’s the guy who helped launch Anthropologie—the guy responsible for turning that single Wayne prototype store, which at that time didn’t sell any of its cool antique props, into a lifestyle mega-brand. He was the CEO of Urban Outfitters from 2007 until 2012. (A note: Urban’s quarterly sales have been steadily sinking since his resignation. Coincidence?) And now he’s decided that instead of leading a company, he’s going to help get many of them off the ground. Yep, this means investing—to the tune of $350 million.

I know, wannabe startups and Kickstarter devotees, it’s sort of like if Steve Jobs were to come back and offer a lucky few fledgling tech companies some financial backing and guidance. Fashion blog Fashionista chatted with Senk about what he thinks it takes to succeed in retail—and what he’s looking for in potential partner companies. Retailers and (semi-)fledgling designers, listen up.

On the types of businesses he wants to invest in:

“In a perfect world, there would be a group of companies we’re involved with — four or five businesses, two small, two medium, two large, where small would be $50-55 million, medium would be $50-100 million, large is $100-750 million.”

On brick-and-mortar vs. e-commerce:

“If you’re in the direct-to-consumer business, I don’t think you can have a business today without having an e-commerce element. I’m agnostic as to whether business is wholly e-tail or some blend. There is a lot of indication that the wholly [sic] grail is some combination.”

On how retail business can succeed:

“When you look at how technology has impacted the world, it’s about being transparent, understanding personalization, how to talk to a consumer. It’s gone from a seller’s industry to a buyer’s one.”

Click here to read the full story, and to learn why Senk loves Wharton-born Warby Parker. Who knows? Maybe he’ll invest in you next.