2014|Case No.E532| Length 11 pgs.
The Minted case tells the story of Mariam Naficy, an accomplished entrepreneur who started her entrepreneurial endeavors early in her career with the launch of Eve.com, one of the first online cosmetics websites. Less than two years after Eve’s founding in 1998, Naficy and her co-founder sold the company for a reported $110 million, only to watch it soon dissolve and eventually get shut down. Resolved to control the destiny of her next company, Naficy founded Minted in the summer of 2007 after raising a round of angel capital from a small group of friends, largely from her Stanford Graduate School of Business network. The Minted site launched in 2008, and the following years brought challenge, difficult decisions, and ultimately, tremendous growth.
This case highlights three particular interpersonal challenges Naficy faced related to the composition of her board of directors and investors. The first vignette describes Naficy’s decision to recruit a new board member for an open position. She has settled on a fellow entrepreneur and friend who has access to a broad network and who she believes will be a valuable asset to the organization. However, after extending him an offer to join Minted’s board, she learns from her two existing board members that they do not approve, and she must decide whether to stand firm in her offer or renege. In the second vignette, Naficy is asked to present to three partners who have invested in the company, and meets with hostility and possible gender discrimination from one of the partners during her presentation. She must decide how and when to respond to the antagonism at the risk of potentially impacting this important relationship. In the third vignette, Naficy has closed her Series D financing which comes with an investor board seat; the partner who will fill the seat comes highly recommended by colleagues and entrepreneurs alike. However, in the phone call leading up to his first board meeting, Naficy is somewhat stunned when the investor begins to prescribe the agenda he would like for the meeting, share the need for regular weekly check-ins, and express a clear desire to micromanage. How will she deal with these demands which so clearly conflict with her style and the culture she has so carefully crafted?
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This case presents students with a series of complicated interpersonal issues which they must decide how to confront. Students are asked to put themselves in Naficy’s shoes and think through the consequences of her decisions in the context of trying to build a sustainable venture while also managing the many personal and professional demands of life as a CEO. With a focus on her critical investor and board relationships, students are asked to navigate sensitive issues with one group of key stakeholders.