Italy's Freeda Media

Freeda Media is gearing up for international expansion and its own product line.

With a fresh infusion of $16 million from a Series B round led by Alven, a venture capital firm based in Paris, the Italian web site aimed at Gen Z and Millennial women in the country and feminist issues is ready to embark on expansion in Europe and to launch a direct-to-consumer business. The new funding round brings Freeda’s total raise to just over $30 million since it launched in 2016.

After consolidating its presence in Italy, Spain and South America, Freeda is set to expand in the U.K., its first English-speaking country. The market will be managed by Joanna Lyall, who was previously managing director of Mindshare U.K., a digital advertising agency. Freeda also recently hired Beatriz Medina to lead its market in Spain. She was previously a director at Atresmedia, the Spanish media group.

In a joint statement, Freeda co-chief executive officers and founders Andrea Calderini and Gianluigi Casole said operating in the U.K. “is a fundamental step” and that the goal is to make Freeda “the most relevant female media brand worldwide.”

Jeremy Uzan, a partner with Alven, which also invested in Freeda’s Series A, said the company “has a unique value proposition in the media landscape and the results they’ve achieved so far proved our investment was right.”

Other investors in the new round include U-Start, an Italian investor group, Endeavor Catalyst and Unicredit, Italy’s largest bank, which granted a $3 million debt facility. There were also private investors involved the round.

The new capital will go into a new Freeda brand that will be launched during the second half of 2020. While Calderini and Casole didn’t give a lot of detail, they are looking at the popular categories of streetwear and beauty/personal care, “analyzing the market trends” in order to roll out a set of products “to fulfill the authentic needs of our community.”

Freeda, which has 1.4 million Instagram followers and nearly 3 million likes on Facebook, is largely focused on producing branded content and campaigns for various partners. As such, the company boasts 100 million interactions on Instagram so far this year and 33 million views of branded content video on Facebook. In the last two years, the company has produced content for more than 200 brands, including Nike, Gucci, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Dior and Burberry, with campaigns promoting women’s rights and gender equality.

Freeda’s strategy is led by “engagement and conversations,” according to a spokesman, and the company collects and analyzes data from audiences, which it uses as a baseline for creating “branded content that resonates with them.” The company claims that a typical branded content campaign performs 10 times better on engagement and interactions compared to competitors.

“We focus on quality not quantity, engagement not reach, social not web site,” the spokesman added, “and we want to deliver the best and most engaged branded content proposition at an international level.”

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