Archive for the ‘fashion’ tag
Zalora, the Zappos-like fashion and beauty store for Southeast Asia, announced this morning that it has closed a $100 million financing round.
That’s a lot of lipstick and high heels.
Zalora focuses on 10 countries in Asia: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The year-old startup says it has already achieved “annualized double-digit million USD revenues.”
“Our company is one of the fastest growing e-commerce companies in Southeast Asia and has bright prospects,” said managing director Michele Ferrario. “It is an honor for us that investors of such great repute have invested into an e-commerce company as young as Zalora”
It is indeed an honor when a year-old startup with two or three million dollars in annualized revenue scores a $100 million investment. And it’s an unusual honor as well. But there’s method behind the madness.
The investment was secured by the German holding company that owns Zalora, Rocket Internet, which claims to be “the largest, fastest and most successful international online venture builder.” Founded by the infamous Samwer brothers — who Jason Calacanis has called “despicable thieves” — its modus operandi has been to take successful models from American startups and apply them globally.
Genius, perhaps, if not very original. And very, very successful.
Rocket Internet sold Groupon clone CityDeal to Groupon for $126 million in 2010 and eBay clone Alando to eBay for $50 million, among many other lucrative deals. That history is undoubtedly part of what led the investment group, led by Summit Partners, Investment AB Kinnevik, and the Verlinvest and Tengelmann Group, to participate in this $100 million round.
A big chunk, 25 percent, of Zalora’s revenue comes from mobile commerce, and the company says its app is the top lifestyle app in all the countries it serves, and the top app overall for Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
In other words, Rocket Ventures saw an opportunity to take a big slice of an emerging market, and is moving rapidly — and with massive investment — to own the space.
The capital will be used, Zalora said, to scale up operations and grow the number of local and international brands it carries.
The company has just delivered its millionth order.
Zalora, a Zappos-style fashion e-commerce site in South East Asia backed by the Samwer brothers’ Rocket Internet incubator in Germany, is today announcing its latest investment — $100 million, led by Rocket Internet itself, along with regular Samwer investing partners Summit Partners, Investment AB Kinnevik, Verlinvest and Tengelmann Group. The is the largest investment in Zalora to date, and one of the biggest in an e-commerce startup in the region.
Zalora has operations in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and this round comes amid a new flush of money for fashion e-commerce companies: just yesterday it was reported that Fab is raising $250 million at a $1 billion valuation (a deal that only one month ago appeared to be for a $100 million raise).
This is not the first flush of money to come to Zalora. The startup had raised at least two other rounds since launching in March 2012, a “significant double-digit million” investment from JP Morgan in September 2012, and $26 million from Tengelmann in March 2013. It’s been using the funds to build out its footprint into more countries, invest in its logistics and also in R&D, out of its HQ in Singapore, and new platforms — among those, the launch of a iOS app.
As seems to be par for the course with Rocket Internet portfolio companies, Zalora has been no stranger to being subject to the negative rumor mill. In March 2013, Zalora was reported to be shutting down its regional operations in Taiwan, although the company said that it was streamlining and moving some functions to Singapore. That comes after other reports that Oliver Samwer had to go hands-on soon after Zalora’s launch for a little staff motivation. The company appears to already have changed MDs at the company. Today it is being run by Michele Farrario; in September 2012 the MD was Mato Peric.
But any signs of turmoil seem to be behind the company, for now at least. The company is claiming “months of steady growth,” recently delivering its one millionth order, although it doesn’t spell out what those revenues are specifically, noting just “double-digit million USD revenues.” It says that mobile sales make up 25% of all of its sales, which cover 500 brands and some 20,000 products per country site.
“Our company is one of the fastest growing e-commerce companies in South-East Asia and has bright prospects,” said Ferrario in a statement. “It is an honor for us that investors of such great repute have invested into an e-commerce company as young as ZALORA. Our goal is to continue serving up world-class products and services, so everyone in South-East Asia can benefit.”
Rocket Internet got its beginnings building out e-commerce startups across Europe. Mimicking the functions of well-funded e-commerce startups in the U.S., some of those Rocket Internet startups even got acquired as part of the Americans’ inorganic growth strategies.
Rocket Internet still has a strong presence in Europe, but the Samwer brothers have been putting a lot more of their efforts lately into emerging markets like those in South East Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and further afield (case in point: Azmalo, a new Amazon-style online marketplace site in Pakistan launched just this week). The idea is to try to reach a swathe of consumers that represent a new middle class who are only starting to go online to shop, and therefore represent a faster growing user base than consumers in more mature, and more penetrated, markets.
Often the Samwers’ movements are in countries that Rocket’s U.S. counterparts have yet to tackle, making companies like Zalora into potential acquisition targets. In the meantime, adding more Rocket Internet e-commerce startups in each country to bolster existing ones means that they can share backend systems, logistics and get faster economies of scale, essential in getting e-commerce businesses to profit. You can see the full extent of the Rocket Internet empire here.
The tech-dominated San Francisco Bay Area isn’t exactly known as a hub for high fashion — Facebook’s new James Perse staff hoodies are about as fancy as things get around here — and fashion shows aren’t typically in our purview here at TechCrunch TV. So when we were invited to attend the Geek 2 Chic fashion show, an event hosted by Microsoft benefiting the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE, which is pronounced “nifty”) which mentors at-risk youth and teaches them business basics and encourages technology careers, we had to check it out.
These models weren’t the types you’d see at fashion shows in New York or Milan: Geek 2 Chic took 26 “geeks” from the local tech community and gave them full makeovers to take to the catwalk in front of a live audience. It was a fun opportunity to watch people get a little out of their element and have some fun, and of course it was all for a good cause. Check it all out in the video above.
Cynthia Schames was laid off from her job a day before her wedding. She worked in enterprise software sales for 12 years, but ultimately this setback led her to found Abbey Post.
Abbey Post is a plus-size fashion marketplace and community. The company just released a totally rebuilt version of the site, which now features an internal social network and expanded inventory. It takes an Etsy-style approach where anyone, from independent designers to established brands, can sell their wares.
“I chose this model of peer-to-peer commerce specifically because I want to build community,” Schames said in an interview. “Plus-size women feel really disenfranchised, neglected, and left out of conversations about fashion. There are many people who think fat ladies aren’t sexy and don’t care what they look like, even though there are over 100 million plus-size women in the US. If you give them a platform to connect over fashion and buy clothes that make them feel good, that math adds up real fast.”
After leaving her sales job, Schames gained e-commerce experience by founding an online consignment store for luxury accessories. She is a plus-size women herself and was drawn to handbags and jewelry because they are size agnostic. As a professional in New York City, she said it was consistently difficult to find plus-size clothing because a lot of brands are pulling their plus-size clothes out of stores and moving sales entirely online. However, none of the online retailers provided particularly appealing options and none incorporated the social element that makes shopping enjoyable for many women. Schames repeatedly had conversations with women who felt marginalized in the same way and realized there was a bigger opportunity out there.
“I’m not sure who told people that size 14 and up love polyester, but it’s not true,” she said. “Plus-size women are tired of going to the mall and looking through two abandoned racks in the back. Fashion is aspirational and today’s runway model averages a size zero. That does not reflect a majority of women. The fashion industry wants to fetishize thinness and sell us this fantasy, but it’s not real life and it pisses me off. I have a daughter and I don’t want her growing up feeling bad because she isn’t like the magazine. Part of our mission is telling women it is OK to love who you are. I am working hard to bring a positive and accepting and inclusive environment to normal women.”
Social e-commerce and peer-to-peer commerce are trendy right now and changing the experience of shopping online. The e-commerce sector didn’t see too much innovation for many years — brands and retailers put their inventory online and shoppers searched for what they were looking for. Recently, a wave of fashion startups such as Wanelo, Luvocracy, Etsy, Poshmark, and Polyvore have taken various approaches to transforming this experience and finding new ways to browse and buy products online. At a recent media dinner about social e-commerce, Angel List founder Naval Ravikant (who is an investor in Wanelo) said this is the future of shopping.
Abbey Post is using these new models to target an underserved and highly valuable market. It is a passion project that addresses a widespread and unique set of needs. There are other plus-size online retailers out there like Avenue.com, Fashion to Figure, SimpleBe, Jessica London, and OneStopPlus, but Schames said her focus on high-end clothing and her social approach sets AbbeyPost apart. She also said there are products and features in the pipeline that will make Abbey Post an innovative tech company, rather than just a tech-enabled one.
AbbeyPost is bootstrapped and based in New York.
Lead industrial designer Isabelle Olsson has been working on Glass since the prototype was a phone attached to a scuba mask, she told an audience of developers at Google’s I/O conference today.
She modeled a slightly more advanced prototype for the audience.
Olsson said after walking initially into a room full of “people wearing these crazy things on their faces,” she defined her task in terms of three goals: lightness, simplicity and scalability.
“We removed everything that wasn’t absolutely necessary,” she said. Educated in Sweden, Olsson acknowledges Scandinavian minimalism as a design influence.
Weight is a crucial factor for the wearable computer, because if it wasn’t light people wouldn’t wear it for more than 10 minutes at a time, she said. It was also important to have the weight balanced symmetrically. The result is a product that weighs less on the user’s nose than many sunglasses do, Olsson said.
Olsson said the next step in designing glass is scalability, or making the product customizable enough that many people will want to wear it. The computer components can be detached from the standard frame she said. She showed it mounted on a pair of prescription glasses.
The tech geeks in the audience were surprisingly interested in the color of the glass.
Although she initially started with charcoal, Olsson said it became evident that color was more important than one might expect when users were asked to wear the device all day every day. She said the team was very diverse and they had noted that brown-skinned users tended to look better in the charcoal frames. The red-haired Olsson sported red Glasses, while two of the white male developers wore blue and white, and the South Asian engineering lead “rocked the charcoal,” as she put it.
One developer suggested green as the next color to be introduced. But as the components grow smaller, Olsson said, it’s unclear whether Glass will continue to make itself known through color or if the devices will become even more minimalistic, becoming an unnoticeable part of sunglasses and prescription eyewear, for example.
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JOOR is an online marketplace for wholesale fashion buying. The company is on track to do more than $350 million in transactions in 2013, which is more than three times the amount from 2012. More than 580 brands and designers and 30,000 buyers use the platform including many of the biggest names in fashion. JOOR recently opened up an office in Milan and is opening one soon in Sydney.
This is a prime example of a company applying technology to an industry that is predominantly offline, and succeeding. Founder Mona Bijoor said that most transactions in fashion wholesale happen at trade shows, market appointments, and with handwritten orders. JOOR’s business platform puts the sales process online so retailers and brands can connect in a more efficient way.
“This is a highly fragmented market where retailers can only source products from places they actually go and there is limited data available about the inventory,” she said in an interview. “If online sales of clothing makes sense for the consumer world, why shouldn’t it make sense for wholesale? Our job is to make retailers and brands better, smarter, and faster.”
Bijoor spent most of her career working in fashion with brands like Chanel, Elie Tahari, Cynthia Rowley, and in the buying departments of global retailers. She experienced the pain points on both sides and saw an opportunity to “pioneer wholesale evolution.”
The platform’s core technology connects brands and retailers. Brands create a profile page with marketing materials and retailers put up pages with information about their clients and inventory. Search capabilities are available on both sides using filters like price, trend, region, product etc… and the system finds relevant matches.
Buyers have access to real-time analytics about orders, notes, fulfillment, shipping and billing, as well as lead generation tools. Retailers can look at best selling items, discover new brands, and build and place orders on the platform.
The global fashion industry generates over a $1.5 trillion dollars a year and is growing. Most of the discussion surrounding about fashion tech focuses on consumers, but consumers are at one end of a very long and complicated supply chain that JOOR is trying to make “less archaic.” This is more important than ever as “fast-fashion” has caused consumers to expect rapid turnover.
Joor’s clients include fashion heavyweights Diane Von Furstenberg, Phillip Lim, Alexander McQueen, Rag & Bone, and Thakoon. Right now the platform is only available for women’s apparel byt Bijoor said she is exploring opportunities in menswear, footwear, and accessories. Competitors include NuOrder, Balluun, Brandboom, but none have the high profile clientele that JOOR does (although NuOrder raised money from Rachel Zoe).
JOOR is based in New York with offices in LA and Milan and has raised $5.5 million to date from Battery Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Great Oaks VC, Landis Capital, and Forerunner Ventures.
Rocket Internet can’t stop churning out e-commerce startups in emerging markets. Today the Berlin-based incubator program announced that Namshi, its Middle Eastern online fashion retailer, has raised $13 million led by Summit Partners to sustain growth.
Namshi features a clothing, accessories and footwear for women, men, and kids from over 550 international and local brands. Like Zappos, the sites offers free shipping and a flexible return policy. The site serves the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain.
According to a statement issued this morning, Namshi has experienced significant growth in the region and this financing will ramp up operations and support the move to a new, state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center.
The Internet and e-commerce are exploding in emerging markets around the world. Rocket Internet capitalizes on this momentum by incubating and accelerating clone companies based on popular models, like Amazon, Zappos, and Groupon. Its portfolio includes Asian e-commerce portal Lazada, African online retailers Zando and Jumia, and Europe-focused Zalando, and Brazil’s Dafiti.
Summit Partners is an active investor in these of companies and participated in the financing of Lazada, Zando, Jumia, and Dafiti, as well as Colombian seller of consumer electronics Linio. Before this round, Namshi raised money from Investment AB Kinnevik, JP Morgan Chase, Blakeney Managament, and Holtzbrink Ventures. JP Morgan also likes startups like these and is an investor in Lazada, Dafiti and Zalando.
These deep pockets combined with Rocket Internet’s vision are a major force bringing e-commerce to the whole world. Next up, perhaps, is an e-commerce portal for Antarctica featuring the latest in extreme cold weather fashion.
Samwer Brothers’ Zappos Clone Namshi Gets $13M More From Summit To Build Out Its Middle East Fashion E-Commerce Portal
Rocket Internet, the German-based e-commerce startup incubator from the Samwer brothers, is today announcing another round of funding for its strategy to build out its footprint into emerging markets. Today it’s the turn of Middle-East-based fashion commerce site Namshi, which is getting $13 million from Summit Partners. This is the second time Summit, a Rocket regular, has invested in Namshi, after a $1 million injection in January. To date, Dubai-based Namshi appears to have raised some $34 million, if you also count the reported $20 million from JP Morgan and Blakeney Management in September 2012. A Rocket Internet spokesperson would not confirm any of the sums apart from the most recent one, except to note that previous funding totals a “high double-digit amount.”
Namshi has been around since 2012 and currently sells products in six places — United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. As with Amazon-owned Zappos, Namshi sells shoes and other fashion — some 550 brands in all, including well-known labels like Nike, Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren and Puma.
The official release from Rocket Internet notes that this will be used to “sustain its accelerated growth target,” although what this is is not specified. Namshi also notes that this will be used to improve the company’s fulfilment operations, moving stock to a new centralized Namshi warehouse and distribution center and away from a shared space with Aramex.
“We see our partners’ growing support as an encouragement for us to continue serving our customers with world-class products and services,” says Hosam Arab, co-founder and Managing Director of Namshi. “Our customers made the company what it is today. Therefore, they will be the ones to see the main benefits coming from this investment. We will further focus on providing a shopping experience like no other in the region.”
Part of Rocket’s expansion pressure comes from other competition on the ground from companies like Souq, another Dubai-based e-commerce operation. Like Namshi, Souq is riding a wave of fast internet growth in emerging markets at a time when more mature/developed regions like the U.S. are more challenged for fast growth.
It also comes at a time when Amazon itself appears to be getting more international in its ambitions for both its own brand and those that it owns, also tapping into these emerging market trends. One recent example: Amazon apparently staffing up for a bigger push into Russia with its Kindle services, which comes alongside resources also being put into a Russian expansion for fashion portal Shopbop.
International expansion makes sense for Amazon, which sells products at narrow margins and makes up for that with economies of scale. Given Rocket’s exit track record — selling companies to the likes of Groupon and eBay to aid in those companies’ international growth plans — it looks like one idea is for these companies to position themselves as acquisition targets for their U.S. counterparts, while at the same time building out businesses that follow that model and grow in their own right.
Developing markets have been a big target for Rocket Internet, with operations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in fact outnumbering those in Europe. Summit has been no stranger to helping fund a number of these, including a recent $26 million for Lazada in Asia; $26.5 million in Linio (the “Amazon of South America” which is funny since the Amazon runs through it already); and $26 million in Jumia, another Amazon clone, this time in Africa.
“Namshi and its management team have done an exceptional job of growing the company, and we are happy to support the company’s continued expansion,” said Scott Collins, an MD and head of the Summit Partners London office, in a statement.
Backed By $1.7M In Funding, MIKA Debuts A New Fashion Shopping Site Featuring Top Designers, Daily Looks & Exclusives
Elena Fesenko grew up in the fashion industry. Her mother worked as a buyer for Bloomingdale’s, and she herself spent time both as a fashion design student and model. Now Fesenko has translated her experience and passion for fashion into MIKA, a new startup which showcases complete outfits featuring a mix of high-end and contemporary apparel and accessories. Shoppers can buy these looks in whole or in part, sometimes even getting exclusive access to items which aren’t yet available in stores, but are rather pulled from designers’ showrooms directly.
“Putting together outfits for work or for different occasions is hard - usually, no woman dresses head to toe in one designer,” explains Ukraine-born Fesenko, who runs MIKA alongside co-founder (and husband) Sani Sanilevich. “So I had this idea to put together all the designers in one look, and to create a website,” she says.
On MIKA, which officially launches on May 14th with looks that will be swapped out every 24 hours plus support for international shipping, shoppers will be presented with what Fesenko describes as a “visually stunning shopping experience.” What that means is that instead of static images, a short, looping almost “GIF-like” video plays which shows a model in action, wearing the look in question.
Behind-the-scenes videos from the shoot, and interviews with the stylist – often a guest stylist from the industry, like a well-known fashion blogger for example – will also accompany the various looks.
To date, the company has involvement from super model Bar Rafaeli (who has equity in the company), and has worked with photographers Adrian Nina and Fadil Barisha, and bloggers from Fashion Indie and Above the Law. Thirty more bloggers are lined up to work on the new site going live later this month, as well as some celebs and models which MIKA is not yet permitted to name.
Though it’s still in a beta testing period of sorts, thanks to Fesenko’s connections, MIKA has already established relationships with 120 designers, including Cynthia Rowley, Anna Sui, Vince, Norma Kamali, Elie Tahari, Yigal Azrouel, DL1961, Kara Ross, Sigerson Morrison, and Tracy Reese, who have agreed to offer their items for use on the site.
Fesenko explains the designers were happy to work with MIKA, because so much online fashion is offered at discounts, as with excess inventory. “We offer the items at full price,” she says, “and we shoot them in amazing editorial with the best models, and the top photographers in the industry.” Because of this setup, some of the designers have even offered some of their items to MIKA which will have them for sale before they arrive in stores.
In the last month, the company sold over 40 complete looks and over 150 single items, despite not having marketed the site – word got out through those in the industry who heard about what MIKA was up to. Some items even sold out. “We have a few thousand users, but we didn’t expect to have sales since we were focusing on different things, like acquiring designers and building our website,” says Fesenko. (The screenshots show the upcoming website, which is an update from the one that’s live today). MIKA sees a 60 percent margin on the items it sells, and offers free shipping or hand-delivery to NYC-based users.
The company closed on $500,000 in seed funding in June 2012, which included investment from the founders, friends and family, Plug & Play (Saeed Amidi), Ronnie Stern and Allen Peters. In February, MIKA closed a Series A of $1.2 million from Hillsven Capital (Bobby Lent), and Plug & Play.
The updated version of MIKA will launch on Tuesday, May 14th, but you can visit the current site here to register and shop.