Scentbird has secured an additional $2.8 million in seed funding.
The subscription service for perfumes and cologne said it plans to use the funding to expand its leadership and operations team, and ramp up marketing efforts. Investors in the current seed round include: Eclipse Ventures; Vaizra Investments; Ludlow Ventures; FundersClub; Scrum Ventures; SGH Capital, Alexis Ohanian of Reddit; Michael Seibel of SocialCam; Tikhon Bernstam of Parse and Philip Krim of Casper. The company has raised an aggregate of $3.8 million to date. It raised $1 million in seed funding in August 2015 from Y Combinator; 500 Startups; TMT Investments; Dominion Capital, and several angel investors.
The company was founded in fall 2014 by Mariya Nurislamova, Rachel ten Brink, Sergei Gusev and Andrei Rebrov. Nurislamova said, “One day we got tired of being sprayed in the face in a department store. We also found that shopping for fragrance online wasn’t easy, and we weren’t [as easily] able to discover new fragrances.”
She said that through technology and algorithms, the site is able to allow consumers to sample fragrances. The service provides fragrance recommendations based on preferences cited in a questionnaire that first-time subscribers fill out. In turn it also has collected 500,000 perfume reviews from its subscribers, Nirislamova said. “We were able to figure out what is the language women used to describe their favorite fragrances. We collected a database on the keywords for every fragrance, and the recommendations are based on those key words and others that are used,” she said.
The platform started out with just 300 fragrances for women, and men’s colognes were added in August 2015. There are 35,000 active monthly subscribers, with about 9,000 or 25 percent male shoppers. The subscription box is sent out monthly at a cost of $14.95 each. Subscribers have control over which samples they receive, and each is an 8 ml. cartridge, or 0.27 oz., that contains enough for 4 sprays a day for 30 days. Subscribers also receive a $15 credit for use towards any full size purchase from the site.
New to the business model is Scentbird A La Carte, an option that allows subscribers to purchase individual cartridges of perfume and cologne without a monthly subscription. According to Nurislamova, the A La Carte option costs $16.95, plus a $3 shipping fee. There is no limit and orders for greater than $50 receive free shipping.
The company uses the data from its sales to provide feedback to its partner brands, which could be from whether the consumer owns other fragrances from the brand’s portfolio, opinions on a test product to frequency of purchase of a particular brand.
Social media has played an important role in getting the word out on the company, ten Brink said. “The number-one acquisition channel is YouTube, followed by Instagram. It’s about how consumers communicate with the community. We work with influencers to get the word out to the Millennial consumers, who are excited about learning about new fragrances,” she said.