When Boticca first appeared back in 2010 it might have looked a little like a normal commerce jewellery store. But underneath was an innovative layer of design, content and community features which tapped into the coming juggernaut of social and the now hot space of "curation", as evidenced by brands like Fab. Launched by former Accel Partners associate Avid Larizadeh (interviewed here) and Kiyan Foroughi, the site site combined fashion aesthetics and commerce in a way that was simple to navigate and user friendly. After a seed funding round, it went on to score another round of $2.5 million. It's now secured $4 Million in a Series A financing from UK-based VC firm MMC Ventures and High Net Worth Individuals in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including Turkish entrepreneur Sina Afra, CEO and Chairman of Markafoni and former European director of M&A for eBay. French Internet entrepreneurs’ fund ISAI, which was in the first round, also contributed. With this new round of financing, the company plans to grow its team, enter new markets and offer local language versions of its site . To give you an idea of where Boticca might head, there are similar US-based companies which have raised significant amounts. Gemvara has raised $45.2M in total to date. BeachMint has raised $73.5M for its Jewelmint brand. The stats are impressive: Boticca now has 400,000 users, sources designs from over 330 independent designers and emerging brands, has over 10,000 products from 40 countries around the world. Customers have a lifetime value of over four times the amount spent to acquire them. Sales and traffic have shown 150% YoY growth without any significant increase in marketing spend, with 30% of sales coming from mobile traffic. Boticca has been an international business from launch with 50% sales from Europe, 30% from North America and 20% from Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Some 55% of all transactions are intercontinental, with the designer on one continent and customer on another. Boticca’s team of 20 employees in London consists of 13 different nationalities represented and 14 languages. That's what it takes to build this kind of business. As testimony to its reach, Eina Ahluwahlia, the founder of one of these brands based in India, says “the kind of reach Boticca has brought us is unbelievable." High praise indeed. Boticca brands are bought by the likes of Cara Delevingne, Cameron Diaz, Eva Longoria, Rita Ora, Olivia Palermo and Pippa Middleton. You get the drift. Indeed, as of now it has few major competitors as no single brand today owns the online fashion accessories space globally, which is the big opportunity. What it does have is competitors in terms of "share of wallet" such as online retailers offering accessories like Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, ASOS and Ahalife. However accessories are usually only 10% or less of their offering and aren't curated in the same way and product does not come from these distinct designers. Boticca also doesn't have their inventory risk or logistics commitment. In other words it is not a million miles away from what Farfetch has achieved in the fashion world. One thing which men probably won't "get" but women do is that they get connected to the designer, which, I'm told, makes a difference because "women want their accessories to have meaning and be different" says Larizadeh. I'm happy to say I still don't get it, but whatever that means, it's clearly working.
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