Birchbox, a startup that serves as a makeup discovery retail platform, has raised $10.5 million in Series A round of funding, led by Accel Partners with First Round Capital, Harrison Metal, Forerunner Ventures, Lerer Ventures, Sam Lessin, Consigliere, Gary Vaynerchuck, Dave Morin, Stanford University Endowment and Andy Dunn participating in the round.
Similar to Foodzie, Blissmobox, BeachMint and Babbaco; Birchbox has adopted a subscription, box of the month model where members receive curated makeup and beauty products. Each month, users receive at least four premium samples of cosmetics, shipped to their homes from over 80 high end beauty retailers like Kiehl’s, Laura Mercier, Smashbox, Nars and Cargo.
The website supplements these monthly packages by providing pertinent tips and tutorials on its website for the featured samples. If a user wants to purchase the full-size version, they can buy it on Birchbox, which will earn them points for future discounts (inviting new members will also help you rack up points). The idea is help consumers discover new brands and products at an affordable price, while also driving sales.
One of the unique aspects of Birchbox is that it offers a personalized suite of products each month that are customized to users’ preferences and profiles. Each users fills out a beauty survey, and creates a profile, which is then used to curate picks for each individual customer.
Birchbox, which was founded by Harvard Business School grads Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, launched nearly a year ago and already has a subscriber base of 45,000 customers as of June (all of whom are paying up to $10 per month for a box or $110 for a year). And subscribers are up 50 percent month-over-month for the past eleven months.
Accel partner Theresia Gouw Ranzetta says of the startup, “The team has forged partnerships with some of the world’s leading cosmetic brands to give consumers a fun, monthly beauty sampling experience. We believe Birchbox has many opportunities for continued growth, and we look forward to aiding their success.”
Beauchamp tells us that the site aims to be a mix of both niche and more well-known products. In the end, she explains that Birchbox is trying to make the cosmetics shopping process easier for women and help brands get products in the hands of consumers.
Beauchamp says the new funding will be used for further product development and for hiring. And the company is considering expanding to other verticals.
While many retailers seemed to have jumped on the ‘box of the month’ bandwagon, the cosmetics industry is especially suited for the sampling experience. And Birchbox was one of the early adopters of the box of the month model. Many women (including myself) want to try beauty products (regardless of the price), whether it be makeup, shampoo, lotions, or face cream; first before investing in them. Birchbox not only accomplishes this, but also helps women discover new products and adds an editorial element.