COO: Kris Petersen
Company Description: Curated clothing service for kids – ‘Trunk Club for kids’
Company Site: https://www.macandmia.com/, @MacMiaStyle, @KrisPetersen
Date of Interview: September 2015
Kris Petersen is a serial entrepreneur, founder, and currently the COO of Mac and Mia, a responsibly sourced “Trunk Club for kids.” His favorite place in the world is Door County, Wisconsin and his favorite food is Chicago pizza.
On learning and creativity:
Kris taught himself to code back in middle school, took a class in college, and then really dug into it after hours while he was a consultant for IBM.
“For me, learning to code was really an outlet for creativity and building. When I was in corporate America, I always felt something was missing. That’s why I turned to development on nights and weekends – to fill my creative need to do something. Those activities were never centered around money or building a business.”
“People forget they have that ability to learn. In the shuffling of the every day you just think you never have time.”
On building his way to Mac and Mia:
After many years of working as a corporate technology consultant and launching web applications on the side, Kris joined the world of venture-funding, entrepreneurship and startups. One of his major development projects, Neighborhuddle, was a content management system for condo boards. It inspired his first official product, DealsGoRound (later rebranded as myCabbage), a second-hand market for daily deal coupons. DealsGoRound caught the attention of the press and Eric Lefkofsky, which led Kris to become an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Lightbank.
“With coding came the ability to build different things. My entrance into the venture capital world came by way of the guys at Lightbank finding me doing interesting things in the weeds and introducing me to this world.”
After DealsGoRound was acquired, Kris became the CTO of Betterfly, a video-chat learning platform that was sold to TakeLessons. He then became the co-founder of Morsel, and is now the COO of Mac and Mia under founder Marie Tillman.
On acquisitions and corporate development:
Kris has raised multiple rounds of funding, gone through two acquisitions and has danced with big companies on corporate development. With Mac and Mia, the business currently only has angel investors and is “very calculated on who we talk to and who can add value to the business.”
“When it comes to acquisitions, there’s a lot of fishing expeditions going on from larger companies. In the end, there may not be a lot of serious interest. When you get that corporate development e-mail from Google, you feel like ‘Holy cow- I’m going to go buy an island!’ The reality is that it is someone’s job all day long to send out emails like that. At the end of the day they may have no interest other than figuring out what’s happening in the space.You have to be careful because it is incredibly time consuming, and it also mentally rattles you a little bit.”
“Corporate development can be a total distraction from a startup’s business. You hope to be in the position of power and I think if you are you’ll know. And if you feel like you’re not, then you’re not.”
On ideas versus execution:
“It takes a lot of motivation for someone to work on something that’s unproven, that’s hard, that might not make money. The alternative is to flip on Tivo and watch the latest episode of something.”
“There’s no shortage of people with ideas. 99.9% of them never take the first step.”
On executing with purpose:
With Mac and Mia, Kris has evolved his clarity on executing purposefully and believing in values outside of driving a business. His daily purpose at Mac and Mia is straight-forward – “Getting boxes out the door and increasing the number of orders”. Along with that, Mac and Mia supports a larger purpose of responsible manufacturing and local business support that Kris can get behind.
“I’m moving forward a lot more purposefully with what I’m working on right now. My personality is that I just get things done – but the question is, ‘Are you getting the right things done?’ It is about supporting a single measurable goal.”
“In the past, I was just building things because people thought they were good ideas. With Mac and Mia the big picture felt right to me. I want to work on something I believe in. There’s a massive emphasis on women entrepreneurs, sourcing responsibly, sourcing locally, and responsible manufacturing. Every dollar we spend on inventory is deeply researched. “
What get Kris excited? – “Mac and Mia gets me excited. I genuinely believe Mac and Mia will be a massive company.” Learn more about Mac and Mia and how to add “connection and discovery” to children’s clothing.