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Memebox Pulls In $60 Million and Adds Advisor

The sizzling start-up becomes one of the most well-funded companies in the beauty industry and engages veteran Janet Gurwitch to help guide its growth.

Memebox is headed to the fund-raising stratosphere in beauty.

The start-up specializing in Korean skin care and makeup has raised $60 million in Series C funding mere months after a previous Series C infusion of $65.95 million. The latest round brings Memebox’s total funding to $160 million in the four years since it started. Investment firms involved include Goodwater Capital, Altos Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, Mousse Partners, Formation Group, FundersClub, Pear Ventures and Cota Capital.

Memebox’s accumulation puts it into the territory of beauty players amassing the most venture-capital investment in the industry. Dollar Shave Club raised $163.5 million; Honest Co. has pulled in $228 million, and Tria Beauty has drawn an estimated $210 million. Those well-fueled brands demonstrate the perils and pluses of large war chests. Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club earlier this year, while Honest and Tria have struggled to figure out exit plans.

In a statement, Memebox founder and chief executive officer Hyungseok Dino Ha said the money would go toward consolidating the company’s global headquarters in San Francisco. It has offices in six countries and has focused primarily on building its business in China. The investment will also help Memebox improve its mobile shopping platform, and construct a database of beauty ingredients and products.

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“What Memebox is doing with mobile and video is unprecedented in the beauty landscape,” said Eric J. Kim, managing partner of Goodwater Capital and a Memebox board member. “Memebox has the heart of a high-end brand, the brain of a deep data company, and the muscle memory of a social network. At its core, Memebox is dedicated to delighting this generation of customers who care deeply about beauty and skin care.”

Kim and Ha are greeting a new advisor to Memebox. Janet Gurwitch will fill the role and has invested in the company. Gurwitch is operating partner at Castanea Partners and founded Laura Mercier Cosmetics, the brand acquired by Shiseido in July that she formerly led as ceo. According to Gurwitch’s biography on Castenea’s web site, she sits on the boards of its portfolio companies Drybar and First Aid Beauty, and she used to sit on Dollar Shave Club’s board of advisors.

When Memebox collected its first tranche of Series C investment in August, the company informed WWD it was on track to generate $150 million in revenues over 12 months, a 280 percent increase from the same period a year ago. In addition to selling third-party beauty brands, Memebox e-tails four brands of its own: makeup labels Pony Effect and I’m Meme; mask purveyor Bonvivant, and skin-care authority Nooni. Memebox revealed the brands have been growing 60 percent on a quarterly basis.

“By combining what we’ve learned from our customer data with the technology available to us in our labs, we’re able to create high quality, effective and affordable products that our customers are looking for,” Ha said. “Our investment in our own facilities, combined with our start-up ethos, has allowed us to quickly evolve to meet market demand for innovative and effective beauty worldwide.”

Memebox is beginning to move from online to off-line. It recently opened a holiday pop-up shop in San Francisco’s Union Square and introduced Bonvivant sheet masks at Opening Ceremony. In Seoul, Memebox operates a freestanding store generating approximately $1,000 per square foot. Going forward, Arnold Hur, president of Memebox USA, is bullish on Memebox’s prospects at retail with offerings of high-quality merchandise at affordable price points.

“I really believe there is an opportunity to create a $10 billion skin-care market on top of what already exists,” Hur told WWD last month. “It is bigger than Korean beauty. A lot of categories like sheet masks have always been available, but they’ve mostly been available at a high price point. We can take a leading position through our brands in these categories within masstige.”