Wednesday 7 January 2015

Beauty startup gets funding from IvyCap, an online beauty and personal care site, has raised its first round of institutional funding from IvyCap Ventures as the startup looks to scale up its services business and tap the international markets. Purplle's earlier investors include networks like the Mumbai Angels, the Chennai Angels and early-stage investment fund Blume Ventures.

Founded by IIT-Delhi alumnus Manish Taneja and IIM-Ahmedabad graduate Rahul Dash, the three-year-old Mumbai-based startup competes with the likes of Nykaa, another beauty e-commerce portal owned by investment banker-turned-entrepreneur Falguni Nayar, which had raised $3.4 million last year.

Talking to TOI, Taneja said the undisclosed amount of funds will be used to create a TripAdvisor-like marketplace for discovery of beauty and grooming products and services. "Our plan is to stay in the beauty vertical, stick to online and not diversify into offline and make our international foray soon. The focus going forward is to establish a hyper local beauty community, the discovery process will further lead to purchase of product and services," Taneja said.

Purplle has tied up with more than 7,000 salons, spas, skin care and hair care chains across Mumbai and plans to take that number up to 50,000 across 30 cities by the end of this year. "We hope to close 2015 with annualized sales of $30-40 million," Taneja said.

Besides specialized players, subscription-based discovery commerce players like Fab Bag inspired by US-based startup Birchbox also operate in the online beauty space.

Vertical e-commerce ventures in the beauty and grooming space haven't been able to scale up in size as horizontal biggies Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have dominated the market by offering huge discounts and a vast selection. Urban Touch, one of the first startups in this category, which was acquired by Fashion and You for $30 million in 2012, was shut down a year later.

Vikram Gupta, managing partner of IvyCap Ventures, said, "We still believe several e-commerce verticals remain relatively untapped in India, and that niche players with rich content and in-built intelligent discovery features are going to be the next wave of value creation. Purplle is looking to be become the one-stop shop for beauty and grooming."

The Mumbai-based IvyCap is in the midst of closing its new Rs 900-crore fund and counts IIT deans, and IIT, IIM and BITS alumni as its anchor investors. It has deployed Rs 250 crore from its first fund across six startups that are mostly in the tech space.

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