Carmen Busquets is a Venezuelan entrepreneur and investor who was an early champion of the fashion-tech space.
She was the co-founder and founding investor in digital success story Net-a-Porter and among the first professional investors to see the value in luxury e-commerce. Since entering the industry in 1992, Busquets has invested a total of £50 million in a number of fashion-tech companies in the United Kingdom and the United States, with her backings generating an estimated 10,000 jobs.
Busquets was educated in England, Canada, and the United States. After graduating from the University of Miami, she initially wanted to be an artist and received a scholarship to Parsons at age 17, but changed direction after the death of her brother, returning to her native country. Expected to work in the family’s metallurgic businesses, she forged her own path, setting up a fashion boutique called Cabus in 1990, with business ties to brands like Chanel, Thierry Mügler and Alaïa.
Hugo Chavez’s unsuccessful military coup in 1992 was a formative event for the budding entrepreneur. “If I wanted my high fashion business to survive in a country like Venezuela with so many political and economic instabilities and changes, I needed to expand and sell to my international network of client and friends that I had thanks to the fact that we lived and grew up in five countries other than Venezuela,” Busquets told BoF.
With returns from technology stocks that she sold prior to the 2000 “dot-com” crash, she became a co-founder and a majority investor in Net-a-Porter after meeting founder Natalie Massenet and investing £250,000 in the e-commerce platform. Over the next 5 years Busquets continued to invest in Net-a-Porter, increasing her total investment to £5.9 million by 2010. She recalls becoming a major investor simply because she was one of the few to believe in tech companies enough to invest in them during their early stages. Net-a-Porter’s sale to Compagnie Financière Richemont in 2010 netted Busquets over 100 times her initial investment and 16 times her total investment.
In 2012, Busquets founded Cabus Venture, a dedicated investment vehicle to finance entrepreneurs within luxury and fashion, based upon the potential of their content, community, and commerce offerings. Busquets also sits on the advisory boards of multiple venture capital funds including Felix Capital , Imaginary Ventures, Fernbrook, Susa Capital and Kindred.
Today, Busquets’ portfolio includes Moda Operandi, Farfetch, Lyst, Cult Beauty, The Business of Fashion , Flowerbx, and Tagwalk. In addition to her role as an investor at Moda Operandi, Busquets acts as an adviser and a consultant to the e-tailer.
In May 2011, Carmen won the ‘Individual Outstanding Achievement’ at the Luxury Briefing Awards. An avid philanthropist, she has also worked closely institutions including the WWF, the Bhutanese government and Royal Family as part of a biodiversity conservation initiative, non-profit organisation NEST that focuses on improving homeworking and preserving traditional craftmanship, as well as non-profits PACUNAM and Glasswing, which focus on the Latin-American region.