23 May 2022
Dealboard: Bob Iger invests in Gopuff, DTC brands raise VC
Check out this week's investment and acquisition news in ecommerce and consumer goods.
Check out this week's investment and acquisition news in ecommerce and consumer goods.
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, sustainability-minded brands and recommerce companies are attracting big investor dollars. Plus, we’ve got updates on funding and acquisitions of startups in beauty, bridal and fulfillment robotics.
Here’s the roundup of this week’s deals:
Bob Iger (Photo by Flickr user Josh Hallett, used under a Creative Commons license)
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger is joining Gopuff as an advisor after making an investment in the instant commerce company.
According to an announcement about the deal, Iger will advise co-CEOs Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev to help with consumer engagement and growth.
“It’s been exciting to spend time with Gopuff leadership learning about the company, the founders, and their aspirations,” Iger said in a statement. “I am excited to advise, mentor, and support the executive team as they continue building a company uniquely designed for how consumers are changing and growing. I believe consumer commerce will be very different in the near future and Gopuff is building the platform to power it.”
Philadelphia-based Gopuff operates 600 locations in 1,200 cities globally, offering fast delivery of a wide range of products, including food and beverage, beauty and personal care, home goods and more. The company was valued at $15 billion after its latest funding round in 2021. It recently launched a private label brand, and is planning to open its first restaurant.
Inriver, a SaaS company which specializes in enabling retailers to provide product information management, will receive a majority investment from private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. With the deal growth equity investment firm Verdane will retain a “significant stake” in Inriver, according to an announcement.
The deal includes a capital investment that will support product development and expansion in North America and Europe.
Based in Malmö, Sweden, with its North American headquarters in Chicago, Inriver makes software used by manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to improve customer experience.
"Inriver has developed an extremely strong SaaS product and very high customer advocacy in the PIM market, which benefits from outstanding long-term secular growth trends," said Jeff Swenson, managing director and head of vertical software at THL, in a statement. "The Company enables customers to seamlessly power complex use cases in omnichannel ecommerce, which we believe is highly differentiated."
Imagindairy cofounders: Tamir Tuller, PhD; Eyal Afergan, PhD; and Arie Abo, PhD. (Courtesy photo)
Food tech startup Imagindairy said it closed a seed round with $28 million in hand after raising an additional $15 million in an extension.
The funding round was led by Target Global. Existing investors including Strauss Group, Emerald Technology Ventures, Green Circle Foodtech Ventures, Collaborative Fund, New Climate Ventures, and FoodSparks by PeakBridge participated.
Now, the company plans to expand R&D efforts as it works to launch a line of animal-free dairy products.
Tel Aviv, Israel-based Imagindairy creates animal-free milk proteins from microorganisms via proprietary precision-fermentation technology. This technology allows for the production of products from raw milk to cheese without involving animals.
“Imagindairy's dairy proteins are non-GMO, cholesterol-free, and possess the same flavor, texture, functionality, and nutritional value of their cow-based counterparts. Most importantly, they eliminate the burden that livestock imposes on the environment,” the company stated.
Imagindairy adds that its “platform significantly amplifies protein expression, enabling exceptionally cost-effective production of animal-free milk proteins. This overcomes one of the biggest hurdles in alt-dairy protein production, allowing brands to sell analog dairy products at consumer-friendly prices—a major requirement for mass-market adoption.”
Pawan Gupta, CEO of Fashinza; Abhishek Sharma, COO (Courtesy photo)
B2B fashion marketplace Fashinza raised $100 million in Series B funding to continue global expansion.
The round, which is a mix of equity and debt financing, was led by Prosus Ventures (f.k.a. Naspers Ventures) and Westbridge. It included participation from existing investors Accel, Elevation, and ADQ. Participating angel investors included Naval Ravikant, Jeff Fagnan, Jake Zeller, Nivi, and Nitesh Banta.
Based in Delhi, India, Fashinza connects brands with factors with brands for supply chain services that range from design to delivery. The platform also includes logistics, fintech and payment support. The company has a goal of creating a sustainable supply chain.
“Our mission is to create a sustainable, futuristic, and agile fashion supply chain using technology while improving the ethics and sustainability in the supply chain. We are now also using the massive data we generate to solve financial challenges for our customers and suppliers with our fintech products,” said cofounder Abhishek Sharma, in a statement.
The company says it grew the business 10x over the last year, crossing $150 million in annualized GMV run rate.
Currently, the company works with 250 factories on the platform, and serves over 200 brands across six countries, including the US. With the funding, it is planning to expand in North America.
Using Good Good's peanut butter. (Courtesy photo)
Icelandic breakfast & brunch brand Good Good closed on $20 million in Series B funding.
The investment round was led by Icelandic private equity group SÍA, and included participation from other private investors.
Founded in 2015, the brand makes no-sugar-added products, including jams, spreads, keto bars and natural sweeteners. It also launched a peanut butter product as the funding was announced. Recently, it gained distribution at 3,500 Walmart locations for its line of strawberry and raspberry jams, Concord grape jelly and chocolate spread.
"Since its inception six years ago, Good Good's revenue has more than doubled each year. For this series B round, an emphasis was placed on strengthening the Good Good shareholder group for the future. We are very pleased with the progress of the share capital increase and that the demand from investors has far exceeded our expectations," said Johann Ingi Kristjansson, Good Good cofounder and chairman of the board, in a statement. "This funding strengthens the company's foundation for continued growth, specifically in the United States, online sales, and other foreign markets.”
The brand recently added team members in the US, Iceland and the Netherlands. With the funding, the brand plans to grow product development and marketing.
FloorFound, a recommerce platform for oversized items, raised $10.5 million in a Series A.
The round was led by Next Coast Ventures and LiveOak Venture Partners, with participation from previous investors including FlyBridge Capital Partners, Schematic Ventures and new investor Data Point Capital.
Launched in 2021, FloorFound works with furniture companies to enable resale of returned, lightly used and open-box items. The company is planning to expand market presence in the US, and add verticals including appliances, mattresses and exercise equipment.
"Consumer demand for sustainability, coupled with a strained supply chain and growing inflation, has pushed recommerce and resale to the forefront of retail, " said Chris Richter, founder and CEO of FloorFound, in a statement. "FloorFound's solution cuts through the complexities that have made resale prohibitively difficult for oversized items and allows brands to quickly launch robust, full-scale recommerce programs that meet and exceed consumer expectations. With this new funding round, we are bringing this sustainable model to more brands and shoppers around the globe, driving business forward while helping protect the planet."
DTC beauty brand Iris & Romeo extended a seed round to $5 million after an additional investment from BrandProject, Glossy reported.
With the deal, the company is appointing Tara Desai as CEO. Desai previously served as executive director of online strategy at The Estée Lauder Companies. The company is planning to hire a social media manager, as well.
A Psudo sneaker (Courtesy photo)
Sustainable sneaker brand Psudo raised $3 million in a seed round managed by SternAegis Ventures.
Founded in 2020 by husband-and-wife duo Michael and Kortney Rich, the brand touts an on-demand sneaker manufacturing process that ensures shoes are made in the US.
The slip-on sneakers are created using REPREVE yarn made from recycled water bottles, have printed laces and are designed using 3D sublimation printing.
“Creating a lifestyle sneaker company with a mission and values that people can believe in is the dream. I’ve spent decades in the shoe-making business, from design and engineering to manufacturing and distribution, and sneakers are among the toughest items to produce locally and sustainably. We’ve taken our industry knowledge and experience and created Psudo with the goal to reinvent and innovate the sneaker industry,” said Michael Rich, cofounder, and CEO of Psudo, in a statement.
The funding round will allow the company to invest in product and distribution growth, including wholesale, its sustainable supply chain, and an omnichannel marketing strategy.
Because, an ecommerce platform that provides tools to automate updating product page content, raised $3 million in a seed round, Techcrunch reported.
The round was led by Harlem Capital, with participation from Studio VC, North Coast Ventures, Gaingels and angel investors that include certain former Shopify executives.
Tampa-based Because provides a “Canva-like” tool that allows brands and stores to update information about a product like availability, promotions and shipping costs.
Details from Techcrunch:
Though some companies throw around the phrase “no-code,” they still require some coding ability, but Stansbury says Because does not. There is a campaign dashboard featuring different types of content and templates to pull from, very similar to Canva, and the manager can automatically fit in the brand and colors of the store and then change font, text or colors, and drag and drop to see what it would look like live.
Because’s “sweet spot,” so to speak, is its rules engine for inventory. Instead of having to go product by product, the engine shows only products with an abundance of inventory or just a few left.
The company works with 900 merchants and 150 paying customers.
TheWMarketplace, an ecommerce platform for women-owned businesses, raised $1.4 million, according to GeekWire.
The round was led by Erika McKitterick, the former head of U.S. Third Party Account Services at Amazon. It also included investment from the crowdfunding site WeFunder, and Sherri Yukel, founder and CEO of online party supply company Big Dot of Happiness.
TheWMarketplace launched in May 2020, and now has 500 vendors offering more than 4,500 products and services.
The VC fund of L’Oréal’s is investing in Sparty, a Japanese startup focused on personalized beauty.
The minority stake marks the first venture investment in Japan for bold, the venture arm of beauty giant L’Oréal.
“Japan is one of the most sophisticated and influential beauty markets. In Japan, personalized consumer experience is highly valued, and we are seeing new trends and innovations when it comes to personalization, especially in beauty. We are thrilled to be partnering with SPARTY, a pioneer in personalized beauty as well as a game changer within Japan’s growing D2C market,” said Jean-Pierre Charriton, CEO of L’Oréal Japan, in in a statement.
Tokyo-based Sparty has created DTC brands including the haircare brand Medulla and the skincare brand Hotaru.
Anomalie founder Leslie Vorhees Means. (Courtesy photo)
David’s Bridal announced the acquisition of Anomalie, a startup that offers personalization tools for wedding dresses and planning.
David’s Bridal will acquire the team and technology assets of Anomalie, which will no longer exist as a standalone entity. Anomalie cofounder Leslie Voorhees Means will join David’s Bridal to lead new strategic initiatives.
"David's Bridal is a leader in personalized garment options for the entire wedding party. One in three brides purchases their wedding dress at David's Bridal - and each one of them has access to personalized styling consultations, the largest selection of dresses for the bride and bridal party, and the country's largest network of alteration artisans," said Voorhees Means, in a statement. "I am excited to help the company build tools to bring this personalized experience to other parts of the wedding planning journey."
Founded in 2017, Anomalie offers digital tools that help a bride visualize their wedding dress, and plan their wedding.
"When it comes to finding her dream dress, our brides told us loud and clear that they are seeking inspiration online but still want the certainty of an in-store experience to finalize such an important purchase,” said Kelly Cook, David's Bridal chief marketing and IT officer. “As the needs of the brides evolve, so do we. We are so excited to work with Leslie to enhance our industry-leading digital offerings that complement our 300+ global locations.”
The Ocado Group is set to acquire materials handling robotics startup Myrmex in a deal valued at €10.2 million, the companies said Monday.
UK-based grocery fulfillment company The Ocado Group previously invested in Athens, Greece-based Myrmex. The startup developed a system that automates the loading of totes containing items onto frames that are ready for dispatch. Called Automated Frameload, the system is set to go live in warehouses Ocado operates for grocery retailers next year.
With the deal, which is set to close June 6, Myrmex’s team of 30 people will join Ocado.
Rami Cassis, an international growth investor and founder of Parabellum Investments, announced that he is entering the luxury goods market through the acquisition of UK-based fashion etailer Hervia.
Cassis, who has held executive positions in enterprise software, technology, and energy, plans to invest in the retailer’s ecommerce platform. He also plans to lead the brand as it partners with designers in the UK, France, and Italy, as well as exploring new segments such as childrenswear.
“Hervia has a rich legacy as a brand and strong foundations as a business, and our ambitious plans are based on driving future organic growth as well as exploring new acquisitions for Hervia,” Cassis said in a statement. “I look forward to investing in the business from top to bottom, including improving the customer experience, entering new segments of the market, and adding to an already excellent team.”
Founded in 1993, Manchester-based Hervia sells clothing, jewelery, and accessories from designers such as Raf Simons, Maison Margiela, Rick Owens, and Yohji Yamamoto. The company has a Manchester store and an operating agreement for the Adidas Y-3 flagship store in Mayfair, London.
Hervia Founder Oscar Pinto-Hervia will remain with the company as CEO.
Hair solutions company Beauty Industry Group (BIG) acquired hair extensions and haircare brand Bellami.
The deal is being supported by existing BIG investors L Catterton and HGGC. Terms were not disclosed.
Founded in 2012 by Nikki Eslami and Julius Salerno, the brand built on DTC origins to create an approach called direct-to-stylist, in which it reaches stylists on digital platforms. With the acquisition, the brand will expand its reach into areas such as thinning, alopecia, dryness, postpartum hair loss, damaged hair or length.
"We have long admired Bellami for truly redefining the quality, perception, and customer engagement strategy of hair extensions in the growing DTS category," said Derrick Porter, Chief Executive Officer of Beauty Industry Group in a statement. "The brand has a remarkable runway for growth, and we look forward to working with the team to equip Bellami with the product innovation, data insights and analytics, performance marketing expertise, and supply chain focus that BIG has cultivated through our ongoing brand building efforts."
Bellami will retain its brand and headquarters in Chatsworth, California.
Pet food manufacturer Tuffy’s Treat Company announced the acquisition of Finley’s Barkery, a pet brand that offers employment and giving initiatives to individuals living with disabilities.
Founded in 2010 by former special education teachers Kyle and Angie Gallus, Finley’s has an existing manufacturing partnership with Tuffy’s, which will now be bolstered via the acquisition, the companies said. Going forward, Kyle Gallus will be VP of Finley’s brand development while Angie Gallys will be VP of Finley’s mission advancement.“At KLN Family Brands, it’s part of our vision to better the world by caring for others,” said Charlie Nelson, CEO of KLN Family Brands, the parent of Tuffy’s Treat Company, in a statement. “We have long admired the work that Angie and Kyle have done in utilizing the Finley’s brand as a vehicle to provide paid employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Their mission based entrepreneurial spirit so closely aligns with our values that the opportunity to bring the Finley’s brand under the KLN umbrella was a natural fit.”
Applications are open for startups interested in the 12-week Store Nº8 dCommerce Base Camp.
Walmart incubation arm Store Nº8 and Web3 accelerator Outlier Ventures are teaming up to support retail startups.
The organizations opened applications this week for the Store Nº8 dCommerce Base Camp accelerator. The virtual program will offer education, funding and mentorship to startups building solutions in Web3 that are designed for the retail and commerce experience.
Focus areas for selected startups will include decentralized infrastructure, data and growth solutions, immersive experiences and the metaverse and the intersection of AI and blockchain technology.
“We think dCommerce represents a huge opportunity to unbundle ecommerce into its constituent parts, and into a more decentralized and composable stack of protocols to create a more efficient, equitable and improved experience for retailers and consumers from CRM to last-mile delivery," said Outlier Ventures CEO Jamie Burke, in a statement. "There is clearly no better partner than Store Nº8, as Walmart's incubation arm, so we are thrilled to launch this accelerator program together.”
Beginning in mid-August, founders will take part in a 12-week program. The cohort members will receive funding and access to subject matter experts from Store Nº8 and Outlier Ventures. They will also receive support from industry mentors in areas such as product roadmap development, the token economy and fundraising.
“Decentralized commerce has the potential to unlock new value in the global commerce ecosystem, so we are excited to partner with Outlier Ventures to support and engage with entrepreneurs building at the forefront of this technology on their path to scale," said Store Nº8 VP Thomas Kang, in a statement.
The new program arrives in the year after Web3 and the metaverse saw a spike in interest from brands and retailers, as the arrival of immersive platforms opened up new digital environments where consumers gathered. Walmart entered the metaverse through an activation on Roblox, and also introduced a platform for digital collectibles. But it remains a nascent space, so there’s room for startups bringing fresh ideas to help larger enterprises develop capabilities. Alongside connections that help startups move forward, such learning is one potential outcome of the accelerator could last beyond the 12 weeks.
Applications for the accelerator are available here.