Korean Startup Memebox Raises $66 Million Series C, Aims to Be L’Oreal 2.0

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Memebox, an ecommerce company specializing in beauty products from Korea, has closed a significant $65.95 million Series C funding round to fuel further expansion, reports Tech Crunch. The financing was led by new investor Formation Group, with participation from returning backers Goodwater Capital and Pejman Mar Ventures.

Memebox began as a beauty box company when it was started by founder and CEO Dino Ha in 2012. It pivoted to a direct-to-consumer ecommerce model when the curated box model, pioneered by the likes of BirchBox, began to fade.

Today, the company has dedicated sales in Korea, China and the US with a global service for other countries. Its staff of nearly 250 are spread across offices in San Francisco, Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The company’s beauty boxes only account for 2% of its entire business. The volume of transactions on its platform — is at a $150 million annual run rate, with 280% annual growth.

The business’s accelerated growth comes in tandem with increasing global demand for Korean products, mostly fueled by pop culture sensations of Korean dramas and K-Pop. Korea, Memebox’s home turf is the company’s largest single market for sales. However, the US and China together generates more revenue than Korea. Memebox’s business in China has increased 1,200% year-on-year, while it grew 49% annual in the US.

It’s the same way that Netflix knows political dramas are popular and Kevin Spacey is a big name actor.They put it together and make a good new show. We too, can use data to understand what customers want [and] identify trends and gaps. Arnold Hur, President of Memebox.

Memebox states that it can introduce new products within a few months of concept. A lot of that is down to the regulation collection and analysis of data on customers and preferences, which means the lengthy process of studying reports, trend and holding focus groups are not necessary.

The income from its own brand products, which include 450 products across four different brands, are actually higher than general sales on Memebox.

We see more net revenue from our [own] brands than our ecommerce platform – that’s pretty crazy given that the brands have only been alive for a year.

The driving ideology behind Memebox is to build the kind of company that L’Oreal would be if it were born in the digital area. The company aims to be profitable by next year.

A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on August 9. Read the full version here.