YC-backed Korean beauty startup Memebox gets extended $60 million Series C stocking stuffer
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Memebox's Union Square pop-up store in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Memebox USA

Memebox's Union Square pop-up store in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Memebox USA

The K-Beauty Wave shows no sign of slowing down as holiday demand surges for the online store’s wares

Memebox, the online K-Beauty products company incubated by Y Combinator and one of the top Korean startups in the world, has raised $60 million more in an extended Series C funding round before Christmas.

This takes the total funds raised since 2012 to $160 million. A number of previous investors returned, including Pear Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Cowboy Ventures, Altos Ventures, and Amasia. Leading the round was the Formation Group, which maintained the now-defunct Formation 8’s record of investing in the company.

Though it’s mulling some brick-and-mortar options for the US, its mobile e-commerce platform is still the core of its business. “The company’s mobile app is highly-trafficked,” a statement in PR Newswire about the round read, “representing over 88 percent of its global online transactions with over 94 percent of customers in Asia shop through the app.” Most of the business, notes Tech Crunch, is tied up in e-commerce and its private label.

Beyond the US and South Korea, the company is also very active in China, where there is heavy demand for Korean beauty products, which have been displacing European, American, and Japanese brands in recent years due to their popularity. It has partnered with Chinese tech companies to drive that expansion, including JD.com, an online marketplace that has attracted other American interest as well, most notably Walmart.

According to Forbes, it hopes to finally be in the black by 2018 after generating $100 million in revenue this year.

“We have had a ton of demand from our customers wanting an offline experience on top of our online experience,” Memebox USA President Arnold Hur told Women’s Wear Daily upon the launch of the company’s San Francisco pop-up store, which opened in November and will stay around until December 24.

Memebox prides itself on its data analytics, advertising that it can precisely map out product trends from buyers’ postal codes. And it relies heavily on influencers who use social media to broadcast their reviews of the company’s products. In South Korea, according to Tech in Asia, “Memebox pins the name of a popular blogger on one of its beauty boxes and ships it out to his or her fans.” It also has partnerships with YouTube vloggers in the country.

(The company’s partnership with the internet video giant Youku in China should also be seen in this light, with its vloggers serving as influencers in the same way.)

The store was just the latest step in the company’s journey from a small startup in 2012 that relocated from its Seoul birthplace to San Francisco (in 2014) at the initiative of its founders, CEO Hyungseok Ha and COO Doin Kim, and also, Y Combinator’s Kevin Hale.

Y Combinator incubated Memebox, which in 2014 graduated as a new top company.

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