As it happens in other sectors, startups are entering the beauty arena as well. To disrupt this huge market, social networks, marketplaces, media companies, crowdsourcing and e-commerce platforms, have been created.
They are often led by industry veterans and backed by big players of the venture capital industry. Showbiz people are often involved in different roles. As an example, at the beginning of 2013, actress Kate Holmes invested in Alterna Haircare, a NYC-based provider of luxury haircare products such as anti-frizz conditioners and shampoos.
Geographically, USA is taking the lead while Europe does not seem to have understood the value of the opportunity.
In the latest period, various deals have taken place as follows:
– Beauty Noted, a Sausalito, California-based crowdsourcing platform focused on beauty products, raised $2.2m in seed funding in May 2012. Backed by Kortschak Investments, IDG Ventures and Crosslink Capital the company operates a crowdsourced platform that leverages members’ favorite products and individual preferences to provide personal product recommendations.
– In April 2014, Julep Beauty, a Seattle, WA-based beauty brand which has taken a social approach to product development, raised $30m in Series C financing (from Azure Capital, Madrona Venture Group, Altimeter Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Maveron). It creates new products based on crowdsourced customer feedback via online focus groups, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest – and then integrates this into the development process to launch nail products. Founded in 2007 and led by CEO Jane Park, the company launches over 300 branded, toxin-free nail, color cosmetics and skincare products each year.
– Manicube, a New York City-based startup that brings manicures to offices in 15 minutes, recently raised $5m in Series A funding from Bain Capital Ventures and F Cubed. The company provides a platform to connect providers of nail services to time-starved customers at offices. As we can exepct, ecommerce beauty startups already have higher numbers.
– Launched in 2010 by Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, NYC-based Birchbox raised $60m in Series B funding. It allows users to enjoy first-touch experiences with new products each month, access to expert editorial content, buy a handpicked selection of products from more than 800 brands such as Lancôme, Laura Mercier, Benefit, Stila, Caudalie, Payot, L’Occitane, Bourjois, and L’Oreal.
In March 2014, Singapore-based Luxola raised $10m. Led by Alexis Horowitz-Burdick, founder and CEO, it similarly offers a selection of online beauty products, partnering with over 105 brands and operates a content platform called Lxedit.com. In Asia, Rocket Internet-started Zalora sells fashion and beauty products in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Brunei. It raised approximately $110m in the end of 2013.
The same incubator also operates Glossybox, a venture capital backed provider of luxurious beauty boxes directly delivered to customers’ homes.
In the UK, Beauty Works, a hair extensions supplier, recently received £750k loan from FW Capital. The company, founded by Penelope Cheshire, sells a range of branded and own-brand extensions to retailers including Next, Lipsy and Claire’s Accessories as well as independent retailers and hairdressers. Products are worn by celebrities such as Nicole Scherzinger.