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Memebox raises $60m in extension round

South Korean cosmetics startup Memebox has raised US$60 million in a Series C extension round led by existing and new investors.

Investors include Altos Ventures, Cota Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Formation Group, Funders Club, Goodwater Capital, Janet Gurwitch, Mousse Partners and Pear Ventures.

Memebox says the round is an extension of the $66 million it raised in its initial Series C, bringing aggregate equity funding to $160 million since its incorporation in 2012. The extra investment will allow it to continue streamlining its mobile shopping experience, develop a database of beauty ingredients and products, and build its global footprint.

As a result of the transaction, Gurwitch, a partner at private-equity firm Castanea Partners and the founder and former CEO of cosmetics company Laura Mercier, joins the Memebox advisory board. She has specialised in beauty companies during her time at Castanea and has served on the boards of Drybar, First Aid Beauty and Urban Decay. She has also served in an advisory role at Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever this year.

Gurwitch will be advising Memebox on brand strategy, positioning and developing retail partnerships for its four in-house brands – Bonvivant, I’M Meme, Nooni and Pony Effect – in the US market.

Memebox CEO/founder Hyungseok Dino Ha says the company has been focussed on bringing innovative, high-quality and approachable beauty to consumers worldwide. “We are a global company with offices in six countries with 14 different nationalities.”

Global streamlining

There has been a focus on growth in Asia, particularly China, “but with this funding we plan to streamline our global operations at our company headquarters in San Francisco”.

Memebox evolved from being a subscription box model in 2012 to retailing beauty products then developing its own brands with R&D labs near Seoul. Its four brands have had 60 per cent growth quarter-over-quarter, says the company.

Memebox invested early in content-driven mobile shopping. It says its mobile app is used for 88 per cent of its global online transactions, with more than 94 per cent of its customers in Asia shopping through the app.

“What Memebox is doing with mobile and video is unprecedented in the beauty landscape,” says Goodwater Capital managing partner Eric Kim, also a Memebox board member. “Memebox has the heart of a high-end brand, the brain of a deep-data company, and the muscle memory of a social network.”

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