Checking In With the “First Social Beauty Store”

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Remember, which is marketed as the new social-commerce model for beauty? Do any of you print readers out there remember my November 2011 issue Viewpoint (page 4) about it? Think Facebook meets meets Zappos—a place that marries a women-to-women platform with unbiased recommendations and excellent customer service. Its mission is that you will never buy the wrong beauty products again. Here’s an update:

The website, which launched to the public in August 2011, grew to 100,000 members in its first six months.

Currently, it features about 7,000 products and 150-plus “top beauty brands,” with plans to expand to more than 250 brands by the year’s end.

Consumer press have publicized, including InStyle magazine—which named the site to its “Best of the Web 2011” in Beauty list.

And this in last week, from the ever-growing and important Beauty Store Business private equity-money beat: Recently, raised $5.4 million in a series A round, bringing its total funding to date to $10.9 million.

Capricorn Investment Group, headquartered in Palo Alto, California, led the recent funding. Its co-founder and chief investment officer Stephen George—who now joins the company’s board—represented Capricorn Investment Group. “We are excited to become an investor in Bloom, given the size and nature of the industry and Bloom’s creative approach to harness the power of social networking and ecommerce,” says George. founder and CEO Julie Mahloch comments, “We’ve had an exciting six months since launch. But from the social activity we are seeing, I expect 2012 growth to be exponential. We’re currently focused on developing our social platform, so that women can really see the perfect beauty trends for them develop before their eyes. Our proprietary algorithm allows you to find your ‘beauty matches’—other women who have beauty profiles like yours. It then makes relevant and contextual ‘Best4You’ recommendations based on what products worked best. We feel that will revolutionize online shopping, making it a much more satisfying, social experience.” CFO David Vana describes the staff of Xuba—the parent company of the site—as “an outstanding core team of just over 20 dedicated professionals. We expect to grow to around 30 to 35 people by the end of the 2012, with a particular focus on recruiting the top technology innovators and Web developers to work on our cutting-edge platform,” he points out. The team is based in the Hayneedle Building on 93rd and Dodge in Omaha, Nebraska. (Hayneedle is one of the two other significant Internet retailers that Mahloch has co-founded.) CMO Nick Hudson adds, “We are particularly excited about the Best4You recommendations that are driven by the unbiased feedback of women—currently making over one million recommendations a month.” Best4You is driven by more than 50 data points on each member, 50 data points on each product and the ratings and reviews of beauty matches. “The personalization,” he notes, “gets smarter over time as the network gets larger and as it gathers more social feedback.”

I’ll continue to watch closely. It’s all so fascinating!
--Marc Birenbaum

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