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James Reinhart – Lessons in Process Power – [Founder’s Field Guide, EP. 32]

May 6, 2021

Invest Like the Best with Patrick O'Shaughnessy


My guest today is James Reinhart, founder, and CEO of thredUP, an online thrift marketplace. thredUP’s online store is distinct in the way the company touches every product, processing every piece of clothing at their own facilities instead of focusing solely on being a marketplace connecting buyers and sellers. We talk about the competitive advantages of building processing plants from the ground up, how James turned thredUP from having negative gross margins to very strong unit economics, and the future of retail more broadly. I hope you enjoy this conversation with James Reinhart.


For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.


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Show Notes

[00:02:47] - [First question] - An overview of thredUP

[00:03:44] - Origination of the idea

[00:04:43] - Initial reactions to the concept

[00:05:22] - Early days trying to acquire the first customers

[00:07:32] - The evolution of their margins

[00:11:04] - Providing convenience for the customer

[00:13:01] - Lessons on working capital and inventory 

[00:14:27] - How consumers use the money they receive within the platform

[00:15:47] - The evolution of the operations of the business and scaling

[00:20:20] - When it’s time to shift from human capital to automation

[00:22:00] - The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time

[00:22:39] - Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance

[00:23:15] - Removing the hurdles for acquiring more buyers 

[00:27:19] - Convincing investors on this concept

[00:30:44] - The most difficult time for him psychologically in creating the business

[00:31:56] - How he thinks about capital allocation

[00:32:12] - The Startup Way: How Modern Companies Use Entrepreneurial Management to Transform Culture and Drive Long-Term Growth

[00:33:51] - Overview of the clothing landscape and what would surprise most people

[00:38:00] - Expanding their business from here 

[00:40:36] - Improving how the raw material is sourced for apparel

[00:42:45] - The nature of work 

[00:42:56] - Dustin Moskovitz Podcast Episode

[00:49:04] - What he’s most excited about for the future

[00:50:35] - Kindest thing anyone has done for him