NEW YORK — E-commerce platform AHALife revealed today that it has raised $10.1 million in Series B funding, bringing the one-and-a-half-year-old Web site’s total funding to $19.1 million.
This story first appeared in the April 26, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The cash infusion was led by Japan’s largest e-commerce company, Rakuten, which boasts 75 million shoppers annually and generated $2.8 billion from its Internet services last year. Existing investors DCM and FirstMark Capital also participated in the round.
The company was founded in September 2010 by AHALife chief executive officer Shauna Mei as a luxury shopping destination offering unique products placed alongside editorial content. It operates on what Mei calls a “full price, full value” model — as opposed to discount or flash-sale retailers.
“Most sites are still really heavily in the discount space. From Day One, we believed brands should really tell their story and push the envelope to get consumers to be more discerning. It’s not a value play; you aren’t buying something because it’s cheap or because you’re getting 80 percent off,” Mei said. “You’re buying because it’s unique and it’s something special you want to treasure. It’s still very innovative in today’s space online because there is so much going on in discount and flash sales.”
Mei added that the company is focused on the partnership with Rakuten, starting with Japan — although her vision is to expand the curation-meets-commerce model throughout Asia, as it’s currently the only full-price e-commerce platform in the region.
Asked why she selected Japan as the location to concentrate on initially, Mei explained it was because the country has a mature luxury market with shoppers gravitating toward “new modern luxury” items that aren’t necessarily a brand name. Expansion into China will come next.