LOS ANGELES — StyleHaul, an online video community dedicated to fashion and beauty, has raised $4.4 million in a round of Series A funding led by investment firm RezVen Partners.
Launched last February, Los Angeles-based StyleHaul has quickly signed on 390 different online video content makers, which it calls gurus, to garner nearly 25 million unique views monthly and 14 million subscribers. A few of the gurus on StyleHaul with large audiences are DulceCandy87, BubzBeauty, Pixiwoo and JlovesMac1, whose makeup and style tutorials regularly amass hundreds of thousand of views on YouTube.
“Their growth rates and their prospects are larger than most average companies that I have seen,” said Anderee Berengian, managing partner of RezVen Partners and a new StyleHaul board member. “In a short period of time, they’ve been able to get really large viewership. Very few companies go from zero to get the numbers and the statistics StyeHaul has, and that they have done that in less than a year is just phenomenal. They benefit from the fact that this is a new space and what they are doing is a new concept.”
Explaining the business model of StyleHaul, which resides on YouTube, president and chief executive officer Stephanie Horbaczewski, said, “We have the rights to exclusively represent the advertising of our [guru] partners. We recruit and then rollout channels on YouTube in the fashion and beauty space. We offer advertisers a targeted, tailored group of channels, and we can engage them on a level that couldn’t be done before now.” Added Berengian, “When you have a very large, engaged audience, it is good for advertisers to simplify their ad buying. They can reach millions of viewers with one relationship.”
StyleHaul has already begun to work with brands that consider YouTube personalities an important component of their marketing efforts. Last August, StyleHaul enlisted six gurus to create online videos featuring Olsenboye’s fall collection. After that, in November, StyleHaul partnered with Teen Vogue and Armani Exchange on a series of videos with three online video personalities styling three outfits to achieve three different looks.
Horbaczewski, who was previously a regional director of marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue, started StyleHaul with Gillian Koenig, former beauty features editor at WWD and senior style editor at PeopleStyleWatch.com, and Machinima founders Allen DeBevoise and Aaron DeBevoise. Machinima, which describes itself as the number-one entertainment channel on YouTube with 8.3 billion video views from 2010 to 2011, is similar to StyleHaul, but is aimed at 18- to 34-year-old male video gaming enthusiasts instead of 14- to 34-year-old females passionate about fashion and beauty.
Horbaczewski said StyleHaul has a valuation of $8.4 million and is not profitable, although is on track to become so this year. In addition to Berengian, partners at RezVen Partners and investors in StyleHaul include Philippe Guelton, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., and R. Brad Martin, former chairman and ceo of Saks Inc. The company has 25 employees at the moment, but Horbaczewski believes that number could double by the end of next year. Recent hires include Hazel Steward, former vice president of programming at Sam Brick Entertainment, as senior vice president of programming to increase StyleHaul’s original content from its current load of 25 hours a year.
StyleHaul plans to put the Series A funding toward reaching out to gurus outside the United States. The company does get content from 12 countries, but has only scratched the surface of online video coming out of South America, Europe and Asia. StyleHaul is also exploring e-commerce capabilities and verticals beyond fashion and beauty that would be relevant to its gurus’ fans.