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Welcome to Dealboard. In this weekly feature, The Current is providing a look at the mergers, acquisitions and venture capital deals making waves in the ecommerce and consumer goods landscape.
This week, companies that are bringing new approaches to fashion in resale, recycling and web3 raised funds. Plus, Designer Brands and Pattern Brands are expanding their portfolios. Meanwhile, a BNPL acquisition was called off.
Check out the latest dealflow:
Designer Brands inks investment, licensing deal with Le TIGRE 360
With the deal, Le TIGRE will join Designer Brands’ portfolio of owned brands. It’s a group that also includes Vince Camuto, Reebok, Hush Puppies and Jessica Simpson. The agreement allows Designer Brands to design and produce exclusive Le TIGRE footwear, which will be sold through its retail channels, which include DSW and The Shoe Company.
Founded in 1977, Le TIGRE has since 2017 been owned and operated through a joint venture from Infinity Brands and Hilco Inc.
Infinity Brands CEO Ike S. Franco said in a statement that Designer Brands “will undoubtedly bring inspiring and unique designs to the marketplace, producing and delivering the highest quality products and engaging a large multi-generational audience that will expand the brand's footprint significantly.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Circ raises $30 million from Bill Gates, Inditex
Circular fashion company Circ raised over $30 million in a Series B round.
The investment round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the climate tech firm founded by Bill Gates. Additional investors included fashion retailer Inditex, textiles leader Milliken & Company and the investment groups Lansdowne Partners and Temasek. Existing investors also joined the round, including 8090 Partners, Alante Capital, Card Sound Capital, Circulate Capital, Envisioning Partners and Marubeni.
Circ developed a recycling system that separates and recovers raw materials of cotton and polyester from clothing. This allows the materials to be preserved, and in turn reduces carbon emissions created by the fashion industry, the company said.
"With this investment round, we've secured suppliers, purchasers, and major financial stakeholders to establish a much cleaner fashion future,” said Circ CEO Peter Majeranowski, in a statement. “We already have all the clothing we need to make all the clothing we'll ever need.”
With the funding, the company plans to complete engineering work for large-scale facilities, complete commercial launches and add team members in areas including engineering, R&D, management and business development.
Verishop raises $40 million for brand-focused solutions
The funding round was led by Lion Capital, with participation from existing investors.
Launched in 2018 by former Snapchat chief strategy officer Imran Khan and former Quidisi retail head Cate Khan, Verishop has over 4,000 brands on its marketplace Alongside shopping, it offers services for brands that enable them to reach consumers online. Verishop has also recently launched social networking tools, which are largely centered around video product reviews.
Pattern Brands raises $25 million, makes two acquisitions
(Photo via Pattern Brands)
Pattern Brands is adding to its portfolio of “home-life” brands.
The company announced a $25 million Series B. The funding round was led by new investors Toba Capital, Verlinvest, and BAM Elevate. Existing investors Primary, RRE Ventures, and Victory Park Capital, also participated.
The funding helped finance the acquisition of two businesses:
- Yield Design Co, a tabeltop and apothecary brand founded by Rachel Gant and Andrew Deming.
- Poketo, a a stationery and home goods brand founded by Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung.
Founded by the team behind New York branding agency Gin Lane, Pattern acquires brands, then offers shared infrastructure, operations and technology to help them grow. It now has six brands in its portfolio. The latest funding follows a $60 million round last year.
Syrup Tech raises $6.3 million for inventory planning software
Inventory-focused software company Syrup Tech raised a $6.3 million funding round.
The round was led by Gradient Ventures, which is the AI-focused venture fund of Google. The round also included participation from Flybridge Capital, Firstminute Capital, Rackhouse Ventures and 1984 Ventures, as well as angel investors who are former executives at Adidas, Bonobos, Salesforce, ASOS, ThredUp, Casper, Zalando, and Strip.
New York-based Syrup Tech makes software that uses AI to help brands and retailers forecast inventory. In particular, it provides recommendations for merchandisers and planners.
"Inventory planning is such a critical function that drives any brand or retailers' profitability and sustainability – and yet, it's managed by spreadsheets and bad legacy software," said James Theuerkauf, CEO and cofounder of Syrup, in a statement. "Syrup provides predictive software that delivers AI-driven recommendations on orders and allocations directly to merchandise planners, driving full-price sell-thru, more efficient workflows, and less waste."
Earlier this year, the company won a startup competition at SXSW in the enterprise and smart data category. The funding will help the company develop its product, as well as respond to new and existing demand from customers.
Milk Moovement raises $20 million for dairy supply chain transformation
Milk Moovement cofounders Rob Forsythe and Jon King. (Courtesy photo)
Dairy supply chain software company Milk Moovement said it closed a $20 million Series A round.
The round was led by retail and consumer-focused venture firm VMG Catalyst, with participation by seed investor and agricultural industry leader Richard Cargill.
Halifax, Canada-based Milk Moovement offers cloud-based software for dairy farmers and distributors. It provides tools such as shipment route tracking and delivery schedule optimization. Currently, the company has a network of 2,500 dairy farms and over 5,000 users. The new funding will help to accelerate product development and new customer adoption.
Robotic lash company LUUM raises funding from Ulta, investors
Lash extension robotics company LUUM Precision Lash announced that it closed a round of investment funding.
Participants included Ulta Beauty, Foundation Capital, Artifact Ventures, Ascendant Venture, Handshake Ventures, SaxeCap, and XSeed Capital.
Oakland-based LUUM said it is bringing robotics and AI to the eyelash extension services offered at salons, aiming to make them more efficient. The company said it is planning to launch with a top-five cosmetics retailer later this year.
“Our support for LUUM reinforces Ulta Beauty’s belief in the critical role advanced technologies such as robotics play in the future of beauty,” said Ulta Beauty Chief Digital Officer Prama Bhatt, in a statement. “Our teams are incredibly interested in exploring more technologies that amplify beauty experiences for our consumers and in funding LUUM, we believe we are supporting yet another exciting industry advancement.”
Draup raises $1.5 million for digital fashion marketplace
Draup raised $1.5 million in pre-seed funding as it works to launch a digital fashion marketplace.
The marketplace is supported by Variant Fund, as well as industry experts in crypto including TCG Crypto, FLAMINGO DAO, NEON DAO, GMoney, Cozomo de’ Medici and Ashleigh Schapfashion, fashion leaders Ian Rogers and Trevor McFedries and consumer tech investors Andy Weissman, First Minute Capital and Amber Atherton.
Founder Dani Loftus previously created the content platform This Outfit Does Not Exist. Now, Loftus is working to launch a marketplace that makes web3 accessible for designers. This will be a platform that offers a place to buy digital fashion, showcase digital goods and make money from them.
Mayvenn raises $40 million Series C to bring tech to stylists
A Mayvenn lounge at Walmart. (Courtesy photo)
Beauty tech company Mayvenn raised $40 million in a Series C that will provide fuel to help it expand through an omnichannel partnership with Walmart.
The funding was led by Cleveland Ave, with participation from the growth equity business of Goldman Sachs Asset Management and prominent venture firm a16z.
Founded in 2013 by Diishan Imira, Mayvenn provides technology to professional stylists, and has an ecommerce platform that offers salon services through a network of beauty professionals.
The company is looking to grow following a partnership with Walmart that put its lounges inside five of the retailer’s stores in Texas. These spaces offer shopping for hair extensions and wigs, as well as virtual booking with stylists. The company plans to expand to 400 Walmart stores.
"Mayvenn aims to deliver a first-class beauty experience for women by partnering with stylists and delivering unprecedented economics to these important entrepreneurs," said Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a statement. "The Walmart relationship moves the transaction from the virtual to the physical world and dramatically expands Mayvenn's reach. We believe they are now poised to become a top brand in women's beauty."
Galaxy raises $7 million from Snap Inc., investors
The round included participation from Snapchat parent Snap Inc., software company Homebrew and VC firms Floodgate and Banana Capital.
With a nod toward live shopping that is popular in China, Galaxy allows merchants to create videos showcasing their resale products. Sellers can either go live, or upload pre-recorded snippets. It’s a sign of how shopping and entertainment are blending.
Founders Danny Quick, Nathan McCartney and Brandon Briston will use the new funding to develop machine learning capabilities, and work to attract more sellers.
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
Zip calls off Sezzle acquisition
Originally announced in February, the acquisition signaled consolidation in the Buy Now Pay Later space. Now, the short-term loan industry is facing further pressure amid signs of a financial downturn, as well as potential regulatory scrutiny. BNPL firm Klarna last week raised new funding at a valuation that was 85% lower than the prior year.
“We believe that mutually terminating the merger agreement with Sezzle at this time is in the best interests of Zip and its shareholders, and will allow Zip to focus on its strategy and core business in the current environment,” said Diane Smith-Gander, chair of the Zip Board, in a statement.
Accenture acquires The Stable
Professional services company Accenture plans to bolster ecommerce offerings through the acquisition of The Stable, a Minneapolis-based agency that helps brands build and operate their own commerce channels, as well as manage brand and sales performance across retailers.
Bringing a team of more than 400 people, The Stable’s capabilities will be integrated into Accenture Song.
“Today, every company is a commerce company. The B2B and B2C companies that fast-track their commerce transformation across the customers’ entire life journey will grow well into the future,” said Glen Hartman, Accenture Song’s global lead for commerce services, in a statement. “By embedding The Stable’s set of talent and capabilities into Accenture Song’s, we will continue to help our clients meet customers where they are, on their terms and reimagine buying and selling experiences."
It’s one in a series of global acquisitions focused on commerce that Accenture made in recent months. Others include Japan-based Businet System and Tambourine, Italy-based Openmind , Argentina-based Glamit and Brazil-based Experity.
WPP acquires LatAm ecommerce agency CoreBiz
Communications agency WPP is continuing its ecommerce expansion through an acquisition in Latin America.
WPP said it acquired Brazil-based Corebiz, a 600-member agency that specializes in implementation of the ecommerce marketplace VTEX with a focus on acquisition, conversion and loyalty. The agency counts Whirlpool, Casino Group, Walmart, Carrefour, Decathlon and Estée Lauder among its clients.
The São Paulo and Franca-headquartered team will join the VMLY&R COMMERCE network, which plans to expand with additional outposts this year.
“Over the last few years, we have actively participated in the acceleration of the ecommerce market in Latin America. Now, our goal is to take this expertise to the rest of the world," Felipe Macedo and Renan Mota, cofounders and co-CEOs of Corebiz, said in a statement.
This builds on WPP's ecommerce expansion earlier this year, which saw the launch of end-to-end commerce solution Everymile. Led by former Google Cloud retail and consumer leader Mark Steel, the offering includes a proprietary technology platform combining brand experience and data. It aims to allow brands to build their own direct-to-consumer offering.
Trending in Retail Channels
The virtual store was built by Emperia.
As it opens a new boutique, Italian women’s fashion brand Pinko is opening a virtual store that is designed to create a personalized experience for customers to browse handbags digitally.
Pinko's virtual shopping experience powered by the platform Emperia, which allows users to access metaverse environments through commonly-used devices such as laptops and mobile phones. The launch of the store, which is dubbed Pinko Galleria, is timed with the opening of the brand’s boutique in the exclusive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan.
The store has exclusive offerings that allow the brand to cross the physical and digital worlds:
- New handbags that are specifically designed for the experience, and displayed through 3D modeling that offers education and
- NFTs from Pinko called Meta Love Bags.
- Communities for women that are designed for empowerment and independence.
The opening comes on the heels of last week’s closing of a $10 million Series A investment round for Emperia, which has also worked with Bloomingdale’s and Dior. Founded in 2019 by fashion and retail expert Olga Dogadkina and VR technologist Simonas Holcmann, Emperia’s platform provides the technology and visual infrastructure that architect the virtual stores, as well as data and analytics that provides key insights to retailers about how shoppers interact with the store and what is needed to personalize experiences.
The virtual store is designed to complement the physical store. It presents new opportunities for brand-building that is untethered from physical parameters. It also makes the exclusive more accessible. Shoppers anywhere in the world can now enter the store, even as the physical location is only in Milan.
“The new experience allows audiences, worldwide, to experience the unique, bold design that Pinko is so well-known for, wherever they choose to,” says Olga Dogadkina, Co-founder & CEO at Emperia, in a statement. “Our 3D technology ensures a high merchandise-viewing quality, which complements its real-life twin product, to the smallest detail, allowing Pinko to present and directly-sell its exclusive capsule collection in a way that simulates a realistic shopping experience.”
Inside the virtual store, shoppers have the opportunity to browse and navigate through a space that is laid out and merchandised in 3D with all the hallmarks of a Pinko physical store, right down to a full layout of the brand's signature pink. They’re also greeted by music. A sign that the store is not in the physical world arrives upon turning toward the front. Look out the window, and a shopper will find that they are high above the clouds.
That’s a new way to elevate the experience.
Here are more photos of the Pinko virtual store:
Handbags in Pinko's virtual store. (Courtesy photo)
Hands holding handbags. (Courtesy photo)
NFTs in Pinko's virtual store. (courtesy photo)
Looking out the window at Pinko's virtual store.