Gloss Ventures is betting on influencer-led brands.
The incubator has raised $9.5 million in senior debt from a Canadian institution, the name of which remains undisclosed.
Gloss Ventures plans to use the money to incubate or acquire direct-to-consumer beauty and wellness brands, with a focus on social media influence. Its portfolio includes Vitamin Bounty, Active Wow, Zoe Ayla and Sacheu Beauty, which launched last year in partnership with influencer Sarah Cheung and Third Act Ventures, the entertainment holding company behind Hairitage by Mindy McKnight.
Sacheu’s initial product lineup consisted of two stock keeping units — a facial roller and gua sha tool. The brand has since launched a serum and is readying “a full-fledged skin care line” for February, said Quinn Roukema, chief executive officer and cofounder of Gloss Ventures.
“We’re well on the way to become an eight-figure company,” Roukema said. “We surpassed the seven-figure mark in the first few months after launch. We’ve been working hard with Sarah, our beauty expert team and our R&D [research and development] team to craft a special skin care collection.”
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Sacheu is sold via its own website, Amazon, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.com, as well as Zalando and Douglas. It will soon launch on Ulta.com.
Gloss Ventures hopes to acquire “at least two fast-growing consumer brands that are focused on the d-to-c angle” next year, Roukema said. The company is now opening a second fundraising round in an effort to secure U.S.-based investment “to raise growth capital for all of the brands” in Gloss’ portfolio, Roukema said.
“We are going to be focusing on M&A and will be expanding our portfolio,” he said.
The company, which invested in Cherry Pick AI Inc., has been developing proprietary technology meant to “leverage social influence for omnichannel commerce,” Roukema said.
“It has different applications, from creating UGC [user-generated content] and video reviews to doing pre-launch product feedback loops,” he said. “It’s a powerful tool for us to gauge the market. We’ve been beta-testing that tool and it’s been paying off.”
Its investment in social media-focused software exemplifies how bullish Gloss Ventures is about influencer-led brands, even at a time when the space is more saturated than it ever has been.
“That’s the new norm for marketing,” Roukema said of ambassador-led branding. “It’s hard to manage that, and build relationships that are genuine, at scale.”
Gloss Ventures’ software integrates with Instagram and payment processors, said Tobias Topel, Gloss Ventures’ cofounder and chief marketing officer. The technology includes a tier-based reward system that incentivizes influencers to work with one or more brands within the company’s portfolio.
“They’re essentially performing missions,” Roukema said. “It’s anything from creating content, giving us their perspective on product and telling us how to use it. It’s very similar to the content that you would see on social shopping apps that are fast-growing right now.”
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