Initially launch in France in April 2008, the platform counts roughly 3 million monthly unique visitors who use HelloCotton to discover and share lady-oriented blog content – about fashion, health, beauty, you-name-it. And oddly enough, despite being oriented towards women, this start-up was founded by two men – Hubert Michaux and Victor Cerutti - who were formerly part of the Netvibes team; the founding duo decided to launch the platform hoping to capitalize on the hyperactivity of the female blogosphere that seemed to be contrained by traditional and fragmented online distribution channel. Thus, with a bit of Netvibes sauce, the team developed a platform ressembling a mashup of women’s magazine content with web 2.0 social features: think Elle Magazine à la Twitter and Facebook.
On its French site, HelloCotton currently counts roughly 7,000 of both leading and less-known female-oriented blogs – in fact, the site tends to be a great way to build readership for hidden bloggers in the field. And its planning to launch in the US with 500 American blogs this week. Obviously the French and US sites will show only slight differences, like the absence of certain subjects on the US site – like the comics, which tend to be wildly popular in France but are not as common in women’s media in the States. The American site will also allow connection via Facebook Connect and will be initially be run by a small Washington DC-based team.
While the company has been profitable since Januay on a 100% ad-based business model, it definitely has its work cut-ou for the US market. In France, some of the newer start-ups like Ykone have proved very successful in providing similar female-oriented content. However, in the States, the competition includes not only blog-discovery site Bloglovin, but also iVillage - which was bought by NBC Universal in May 2006 and currently counts 34 million monthly unique visitors. But HelloCotton is planning its moves carefully and is hoping to rival its competition by introducing a social shopping aspect to its platform – which will be available on the French site in June and on the US site in September. Essentially, users will be able to ask their friends for shopping advice through the site.
The team will definitely be busy launching the US site as well as integrating the social shopping module to their platform – but they’re also preparing to double their headcount and launch in Spain, Germany and Italy in November. Still, it’s more than obvious that the French female blogosphere has been very good to HelloCotton – but we’ll just have to wait and see if the other countries embrace the platform in the same way.