M&A Lead Milda: Where I found exciting projects and appealing culture
Milda Jasaitė

Meet the white T-shirt girl of Vinted. Milda joined the company less than a year ago, but she has already made a significant contribution to Vinted’s growth. Today she tells us about personal and professional principles that help her reach the best results in numerous activities.

Tell us about your career path

When graduating from high school, I already knew I wanted to gain experience abroad. So I’ve lived in 5 different countries until I ended up settling back in Lithuania about a year ago. During those past 10 years, I studied economics in the Netherlands, Berkeley Campus in California and Vienna, then came back to Lithuania for a one-year government sector program, and went to Milan again, and shortly Tokyo, for my Masters. Ultimately, I joined a venture capital (VC) fund called Earlybird VC in Berlin and Munich, where I worked for more than 3 years.

The technology field caught my eye when I was still studying, but working at a venture capital firm really brought me closer to it. I was focusing on early stage technology companies that have just launched a product or have been operating in a market for less than a year.

Our Western Europe team saw more than five thousand companies a year. My job was to assess numerous firms’ potential to scale their business and decide whether to bring them through the investment decision process. The challenging part was to form the opinion while having limited information and little time. After we would have invested in the startup, I would get a chance to closely follow their progress by being an observer on the board. This experience allowed me to see various business models and industries, as well as develop a skill of categorising businesses quickly.

Within a year we would be analysing numerous companies, but investing in only a few of them. You can only really know if an investment becomes a success story after a significant amount of time – 7 to 10 years – as a VC fund needs a company to grow its value 30- to 40-fold to make it a success for the fund. Hence a fairly long feedback loop. Aside from investment processes, I also took on some internal operational projects and started to realise that having a shorter feedback loop gives me more drive. On the other hand, I did not want to lose close ties with technology companies. That was when I turned back to the Lithuanian start-up ecosystem, where Vinted, obviously, is a leader. Initially, I perceived Vinted to be a fashion-dna company, so I was hesitant to start conversations. A friend of mine was working here at the time as a product designer and has given me insights into Vinted’s tech-first approach. Then he introduced me to Modestas (Vinted’s Head of Product), as I wanted to try on the role of Product Owner. The team gave me a round of challenging try-outs, but I ended up having discussions with Vaidas (Vinted’s CFO) on taking a temporary role to lead the OKR-improvement process. At the time, I was starting to develop my other personal project, but Vaidas was open and flexible to make it all work. I was very much impressed by that.

What did you find here that made you stay?

Interesting projects and an appealing culture. I joined Vinted with a goal to improve the OKR process in the short term and become involved in the M&A track in the medium term. As time went by, my responsibilities grew, because we started conversations that concerned interesting M&A opportunities. While this was similar to my work at the venture capital fund, here we had to also include strategic considerations in the evaluation equation, as well as develop an integration plan for achieving the desired effect of the M&A. All of this had to be done in coordination with various departments and teams. These twists in the investment approach made the process more challenging, but also more rewarding to me personally.

The culture I found at Vinted surprised me a little bit. At Vinted, I do get a feeling that people are encouraged to show their true selves. I think this creates a good environment and people are eager to stay with the company for longer. Another aspect I like at Vinted is that the CEO celebrates achievements, but then also makes everyone aware that there are many obstacles to tackle, so the team should stay focused on the work that needs to be done so that the company is in the lead. That sets a good tone for the company to move forward.

Which personality traits do you think are essential in your position?

I would rather name a principle than a personality trait – strong opinions weakly held. I find it helpful, when applied – hence I try to use it as much as I can. The most important thing that this approach enables is moving forward in a way that’s best for the company. It helps making a decision, but encourages always taking changing circumstances or new inputs into account, in order to not keep doing something simply because that was the initial plan.

What does your typical day look like?

My ultimate feel-good rule is doing some sports in the morning, be it running, swimming, or exercises. Then I would usually catch up with technology news – I really enjoy keeping an eye on what new technologies or products are being brought to the market. In combination with that I can do some thinking about the new market needs or how behaviours will be changing with new use cases, enabled by technology.

Then my day will be composed of a mix of planning, meetings, Google sheeting, Google docs’ing and desk researching. It is important for me to stay on top of what other companies are doing in the adjacent fields and also hold conversations with them to understand whether there is a fit for a collaboration in the broadest sense.

I am not religious about what order my day needs to follow, but I like to operate with To Do lists, to keep progress. I might soon start developing my own team – which will be an interesting adjustment to the priorities.   

Usually I end the day with some sports again. Currently it’s all about ice hockey.

What’s the story of you and ice hockey?

I have been practicing it since quite recently - spring 2019. Until then I was simply a big ice-skating enthusiast – going to the skating rink of the Akropolis shopping centre in Vilnius after high school classes from time to time.

I got hooked on ice hockey while participating in a tech conference in Helsinki called Slush. Finland is crazy about ice hockey, hence, as a side event the organisers would set up a game where founders played against venture capitalists. I played on the investors’ team a few years in a row and really enjoyed it, despite them being the only two times I have ever held a hockey stick. What I loved about this sport is that hockey is so fast and has a good balance of team work and individual impact!

When I moved back to Lithuania, I started looking for an ice hockey team I could join. That did not take long – only 2 women teams exist in Lithuania, so I joined the one in Vilnius called Hockey Stars. Recently, the Lithuanian Women's National Ice Hockey team was being assembled for the first time in Lithuanian history. Luckily for the country, there were better players out there to represent Lithuania this year and I am out of the process after passing through a couple of stages – but it is a very interesting moment for this sport in Lithuania.

You mentioned a personal project you are developing. Can you tell us more about it?

Together with my best friend from university, we are working on creating a conscious wardrobe foundation, starting with a line of organic cotton white T-shirts. The story behind it is that I really love a simple white T-shirt. Really. If someone is wearing a nice white T-shirt, there is no chance that person won’t be noticed by me. However, it is not so easy to find a proper T-shirt, as they are usually produced in seasons / collections. Another aspect is that they have a fairly short wear cycle. We did a bunch of research to see if there are other online-first companies already creating a value proposition around these factors and to our surprise – not really. So we wanted to create a concept to address this.

The T-shirts we are producing are made in Lithuania from heavyweight organic cotton, have a bit of a loose fit and a crew neck. The important differentiation we settled on was recycling. Surprisingly, applicability of a full recycling loop: {Wear T – Return –Recycle into Yarn – New T – Wear} is very low, as the recycling part is a challenge. After talking to various European companies we found a recycling partner in Spain whom we can collaborate with on the recycling of 220g Ts and turning them into new cotton yarn.

In a nutshell, in half a year we went from idea stage to having a product concept, supplier network and brand developed. That was how 220g was born.

We launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in the end of summer. It helped us understand that there’s a demand for the concept, as well as obtain the necessary cashflow for the first round of production. Currently, our T-shirts are being produced in collaboration with a Lithuanian factory. Later we will be taking it forward to a recycling stage with our Spanish partners, but there’s still a lot to be done to prove that the business model can work.

What is the meaning of the brand 220g?

As I mentioned, one of the essential attributes we find in a T-shirt is fabric thickness. In clothing production, fabric thickness is measured by grams per square meter. 220 grams was a perfect choice for a model we had in mind. Hence the name.

What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability is a big term that can encompass many sub-criteria. For the purposes of this interview, I think ‘conscious’ is the word that I care more about. For me consciousness is about distinguishing my actual needs and preferences from imaginary ones, or ones that I think I have based on what I am “supposed” to have.

So to me, being a conscious consumer means purchasing things that I decide I need, rather than submitting myself to the intuitive connotations that brands/society attaches to owing a certain object.

Similar to being conscious in socialisation – I love being with people, but I also really enjoy the time I spend on my own. So I try to stick to my internal desired balance of the two.

Everything looks a lot more simple to me with this approach.

How do you relax?

Definitely doing sports. If I do not exercise for a few days in a row, my legs start itching and my mood sours. Other than that – hanging out with people I can laugh my ass off with. Generally, I think laughing is the best thing a person can do!

Describe a perfect holiday moment for you.

Being in Nida: going for a run, having sunset aperitivo on the beach and eating tacos with friends at Sofa de Pancho.

Who and what inspires you?

People. I believe different people can inspire you in different areas at different times. Generally, I am always impressed and inspired by very sharp, logical people, who can lay out their arguments well.

On more specific occasions, considering the people who I know, I am inspired by my mom’s goodwill, my dad’s persistence and my friends inspire me by their openness.

As for people who I don’t know personally, I really appreciate Sam Harris’ sense of logics, Andy Samberg’s sense of humour and Bob Dylan’s sense of freedom.

Books. A Home for the Wind: an Anthology of Lithuanian Haiku – despite being short, this text form creates a lot of space for personal amplification.

A few chapters from Principles by Ray Dalio or Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, would be something I would read once I start feeling some inner dissonance.

Music. There are certain tracks that get me into the right state of mind:

Podcasts. I enjoy listening to these two guys, Ryan and Josh, who call themselves Minimalists and talk about different aspects of life: from taking out trash to the meaning of life. Perfect background when driving a car – which I love to do.

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