The third full week of December saw overall investment spend at just over $286 million, well below last week’s haul. FinTech took the lead again this week with about 64 percent ($185.3 million) of total investment activity after it was overshadowed by major B2B deals in the week prior. Across B2B and FinTech, companies in the U.S. took in just under 58 percent of total fund flows.
This week’s biggest deal came in at a cool $49 million from Silicon Valley Bank, going toward U.S. invoice factoring and business line of credit firm BlueVine as part of its fourth round. Next in line, Billfront — a Russian B2B with a focus on trade finance — got a Series A boost from 4finance in the form of $35 million.
Following close behind was a $34 million investment for AI software innovator Conversica’s Series B handed over by company founder Ben Brigham to be used for growing marketing, sales efforts and product development. B2B trade finance ApplePie Capital saw $16.5 million come in for its Series B from Fifth Third Capital, and FinTech startup Tact received $15.5 million for its Series B from Upfront Ventures.
Memebox Adds To Series C, Plans Global Expansion
Beauty startup Memebox is looking to further expand its global operations. From the looks of things, investors are more than happy to help.
Memebox is seeing green after raising $60 million in Series C extension funding led by new and existing investors, including Goodwater Capital, Altos Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and others. This newest funding comes just a few months after Memebox raised $66 million in its initial Series C. To date, Memebox has raised $160 million.
Founded in 2012, the company began as a cosmetics subscription box concept but soon evolved into a global eCommerce platform. Memebox delivers high-quality, trend-leading beauty products, information and experiences to its global customer base.
“In the U.S., we're considered to be a Korean beauty company,” said Erin First, director of public relations at Memebox. “We're importing Korean products along with selling our own products developed in Korea. But we see ourselves as a global beauty platform.” Memebox has offices in San Francisco, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The idea for Memebox came when Founder and CEO Hyungseok Dino Ha noticed a few years back that, while South Korea is home to a massive beauty industry, there was no consolidated distribution platform. “He saw thousands and thousands of Korean beauty brands,” said First. “But there was no Sephora. There was no one-stop shop.”
Enter Memebox. And while the company does have a few brick-and-mortar locations in Asia, the vast majority of its business is conducted online, particularly via mobile. “About 80 percent of our global transactions are done on mobile,” said First. “In Asia, it's more like 94 percent.”
Memebox works to curate a full beauty culture experience on its website and mobile app. It features product videos, tutorials, user reviews, ingredient lists and similar product suggestions. “We try to make Memebox a beauty experience rather than just a transactional platform,” said First.
The online focus, coupled with its interactive user experience, has largely drawn in a younger, more tech-savvy consumer base. “We're capturing the younger consumer in the U.S. and Asia — a millennial, young millennial and Gen Z type consumer. A lot of this is through our focus on mobile content.”
With the most recent round of funding, Memebox is working to streamline its global operations and expand further into the U.S. market. “We have a base in Seoul and in China, but our CEO is going to be moving to San Francisco. We're going to be running global operations out of our U.S. office,” said First. “As of now, the U.S. is about 15 percent of our global business. There's an opportunity here to invest and grow, particularly in skin care. We see an opportunity to establish ourselves as a go-to brand for skin care at a pretty accessible price point.”
In addition to the U.S. expansion, Memebox will use some of its funds to build out its beauty product database. “In the coming year, we'll unveil a global database of beauty ingredients and products built into our eCommerce experience,” said First. “More and more, customers are interested in what's in their products, where they come from, what potential hazards and effects it could have on their health. We see this as a major opportunity for transparency with our customers.”
While the plans for growth don't currently include establishing a brick-and-mortar store in the U.S., First said that Memebox currently has a pop-up shop in San Francisco for the holidays.