BeachMint Carves a Retail Niche with Celebrity Appeal
With a model that combines the hottest trends in e-commerce--personalized, social shopping; vertical product categories; and, most important, celebrity endorsement--BeachMint has hit on a recipe for success.
The Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, founded in 2010 by serial entrepreneur Diego Berdakin and Myspace veteran Josh Berman, offers users personalized recommendations for exclusive merchandise by BeachMint's celebrity design partners in various categories.
The product channels--or "Mints," as they are known--are curated by the likes of Kate Bosworth (jewelry), the Olsen twins (T-shirts), Rachel Bilson (shoes) and Jessica Simpson (skincare). The company most recently signed a deal with Justin Timberlake for a home furnishings line. The celebs work with industry experts and stylists to create the company's merchandise.
The exclusivity and celebrity components are key to BeachMint's strategy, especially since its founders are new to the fashion space. "Neither of us are jewelry guys," Berman says. "We don't know how to make shoes or women's tops, but we know how to (hopefully, knock on wood) create a pretty interesting, compelling website and draw a lot of users."
Investors agree. The company has raised more than $75 million in venture capital and angel financing from Accel Partners, Scale Venture Partners and Lightbank, to name a few. New Enterprise Associates (NEA), an early investor in Groupon, was one of the first onboard.
"They have plans to be a big company, and that's a critical element to early-stage investing," says NEA general partner Pete Sonsini, noting that his firm was impressed with the founders' experience. But it was BeachMint's vertical model that set it apart from other e-commerce startups. "The plan to launch into different Mints and be able to cross-market across the Mints--that really struck us as novel," Sonsini says.
Also novel is BeachMint's approach to social commerce. Celebrities interact directly with customers via Facebook and Twitter during promotions. Members of the jewelry site, JewelMint (the first brand to launch), are particularly active in relative social media channels: The brand has more than 1 million fans who can make purchases directly through Facebook, an option Berman says has generated significant revenue.
BeachMint has not released revenue figures, but Berdakin says the company's results nearly doubled each quarter last year across "almost every key metric: revenue, subscribers, members." It's poised to expand in pace with booming e-commerce sales, which increased twice as much as overall retail sales in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Says Berdakin: "We're the next generation of how you'll launch your brand or company."
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