After selling LVLY for $35m, Hannah Spilva is giving back to Aussie startups

After selling LVLY for $35m, Hannah Spilva is giving back to Aussie startups

LVLY co-founder Hannah Spilva 

One year after selling her flower and gift retail platform for $35 million, LVLY co-founder Hannah Spilva has unveiled she is pumping some of her windfall back into promising startups through Melbourne-based consulting firm Radical Ventures.

Founded alongside her husband Konrad Spilva, the former CEO of global advertising agency Isobar (now Dentsu Creative), the couple has joined forces to share their tech and e-commerce expertise and help local direct-to-consumer businesses scale from the ground up.

Speaking with Business News Australia, Hannah notes the company is not a traditional venture capital firm (VC), since all financial backing comes directly from the couple’s own pockets.

“Radical Ventures isn’t a fund; we’re not managing or investing other people’s money. It’s about putting our own time, expertise and hard-earned dollars into ventures that we believe in,” says Hannah, who won the 2021 Melbourne Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Retail & Services category alongside LVLY co-founder Verity Tuck.

“We’re driven by working with founders and businesses that get the importance of building something brand-led, people who want to challenge the status quo, and do some good in the world. And because of our background in digital and direct-to-consumer, it makes sense that we have a natural affinity for tech and e-commerce.”

Prior to establishing the firm, Spilva spent seven years building LVLY with Tuck, both of whom agreed to sell their business to Kuala Lumpur-based e-commerce group Limitless for roughly $35 million in April 2022, of which the founders were expected to receive around $20 million.

Spilva and Tuck’s insistence on a seven-day, same-day delivery service helped establish Melbourne-based LVLY as a customer favourite in the flower and gifting categories in Australia.

“Konrad and I are incredibly fortunate to have had two successful exits between us - LVLY is one of those. We want to reinvest some of that back into the ecosystem to help other founders on their mission,” Hannah says.

“One thing I’m definitely not planning on doing is funding another online flower business - not only would that be a conflict of interest but I’m excited to transfer my brand and e-commerce expertise to other categories where I can make a difference.”

One such example is luxe nail salon Buff Studios, which was founded by Emma Forrest three years ago with the goal of raising the standards in the beauty service industry for both consumers and workers.

As part of its unique offering, the team uses a non-toxic and vegan nail polish known as Dazzle Dry, which can be used as a base, colour and top coat. Other services include nail art, shellac removal, toenail reconstruction and hydrating collagen hand masks.

While the company has two locations in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs of Brighton and Camberwell, it also offers an online store for customers to order mini nail polish kits, foot sprays, foot deodorant and cuticle oil.

“It’s revolutionising nail care both at home and in-studio - I love it because it’s a mass market opportunity and a chance to disrupt another industry where the benchmark is pretty low and the competition highly fragmented,” Hannah says.

“Buff Studios experience sets a new standard for nail care in Australia and I haven’t come across anything else like it in this market.”

Another company under the couple’s wing is Melbourne-based hard seltzer brand Wonki, which is turning ‘unappealing’ fruit headed for waste into low-calorie alcohol instead.

Founded by Monash University students Gabriel Tucker, Bridget Lansell and Max Moolman, the company has almost raised $30,000 via crowdsourcing platform Pozible to produce its first limited batch of Wonki Cucumber & Lime.

“There are another four companies we’re talking to and still working through what that looks like in terms of commercials,” Hannah says.

“That doesn’t mean we’re injecting cash into every business we work with; some founders are looking for expertise and time rather than investment. And that’s great for me personally because rolling my sleeves up and getting stuck into the work is what drives me.”

On top of running Radical Ventures with his wife, Konrad is also the managing partner of 30-person venture studio Shadowboxer, which helps startups build prototypes and launch products to market.

When asked what made her decide to share her own expertise, Hannah notes she has always been naturally drawn to connecting with founders and offering advice.

“It wasn’t really a conscious decision [to do this], it was a natural evolution and something I was pulled into,” she says.

“I’ve always connected with other founders and in recent years had an increasing number come to me for help and advice - particularly around the themes of brand building, product development and direct-to-consumer businesses.

“I’m excited to get back to building, that’s the fun bit where you create the most value and have the biggest impact.”

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