Korea’s Althea closes $7m series B funding for global expansion

Althea’s co-founders. Photo credit: Althea.

Online beauty products store Althea has raised US$7 million in a series B round, with the funding coming from FirstFloor Capital, Korea Development Bank, Bridges Alliance Partners, Innoven Capital, and Tekton Ventures.

The South Korean startup said that the investment will be used to grow its private-label product lines and expand its reach worldwide.

Althea has been riding the “K-wave,” leveraging on the global growth in popularity of all things Korean – from music and TV shows to food and cosmetics.

We are now able to understand the specific needs of our customers… and quickly turn that into a product within a month or two.

Co-founder and CEO Frank Kang hit on the idea for an online store specializing in Korean beauty products when foreign friends kept requesting that he bring cosmetics back for them when returning from his trips to the country.

Althea’s business model locates merchandising and order fulfillment centrally in Korea, while customer-facing operations are situated locally in the markets it serves. The site currently ships to over 250 countries, including major markets in Asia-Pacific, as well as the US.

Since launching in 2015, the company has increasingly diversified from being an online retailer for third parties, to developing and marketing products under its house brand.

“Based on the vast amount of user data that we have gathered… we are now able to understand the specific needs of our customers in each market, garner feedback almost instantly through our online platforms, and quickly turn that into a product within a month or two,” Kang said in a statement. “We have deep insights into our customer base that traditional brands simply cannot match.”

The startup is planning to release its first feature product lineup by the end of this year.

Althea previously raised US$3.5 million in a series A round back in May last year, with Mirae Asset Ventures, Posco Ventures, Tekton Ventures, Cherubic Ventures, and 500 Startups all chipping in. This followed an October 2015 seed investment for an undisclosed amount from 500 Startups.

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Sweltering in Singapore. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @jacknwellis

source : techinasia

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