Airblack Raises $5.2 Mn In Series A Round Co-led By Info Edge Ventures And Elevation Capital Proceeds of this funding will be utilized in accelerating the expansion of Beauty Club, launching new clubs, and investing in product, engineering, and brand

By Prabhjeet Bhatla

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Online makeup and beauty learning platform Airblack on Tuesday announced to have raised $5.2 million in Series A round co-led by Info Edge Ventures and Elevation Capital. This round also saw participation from Atelier Ventures, founded by Li Jin, former partner at Andreessen Horowitz and a pioneer in the passion economy space, along with Ankur Nagpal (founder and CEO, Teachable), Kunal Shah (founder, CRED), Better Capital (early-stage venture fund), Vidit Aatrey (co-founder and CEO, Meesho), Sanjeev Barnwal (co-founder and CTO, Meesho), Sujeet Kumar (co-founder, Udaan), Utsav Somani (partner, AngelList India and partner, iSeed) and Ashish Gupta (managing director, Helion Ventures and an early investor in Flipkart)

Airblack helps people upskill and become micro-entrepreneurs in the beauty skilling market through "do-it-together" (DIT) courses. Curated experts present these courses live in a workshop format and enable hundreds of participants to learn in an interactive manner. This approach has catapulted Airblack into becoming one of the largest beauty skilling brands in the country. Since their pivot towards this segment last year, over 25,000 learners have attended these courses across more than 500 cities. A majority of these are women who have since become freelancers, online creators or home-salon owners.

"The Instagram and YouTube revolution has made people aware that there are hundreds of ways to earn a livelihood. Traditional edtech is just the tip of the iceberg and has been limited to a few skills. We foresee over100 million people becoming digital creators and freelancers in India in the next five years. At Airblack, we are fueling this economy by empowering people to learn a practical skill in a fraction of time and cost of traditional education and launch their livelihoods on the internet. This fundraise bolsters our movement and allows us to take our DIT courses to millions of creators and micro-entrepreneurs," said Videt Jaiswal, founder and chief executive officer, Airblack.

"The future of work is going to look very different for Millennials and Gen-Z. A perfect storm of new aspirations, decline of old career choices, and new opportunities is brewing. India is already home to the 2nd largest freelancer community in the world; and COVID has only accelerated this trend. We believe that Airblack is well placed to become the learning and enablement brand for millions of internet-first entrepreneurs in the coming decade. We invested in Airblack in their seed round and are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Videt and Vaibhav through this fundraise," shared Vaas Bhaskar, vice president, Elevation Capital.

Airblack clocks over 45,000 hours of live classes every month that are supplemented by take-home assignments. Not only does this help learners gain new skills, the real-time feedback and encouragement they receive also fosters a sense of community and belonging.

"We are thrilled to partner with Videt and the team at Airblack. Their obsession with product and customer experience has led to amazing organic traction for their beauty and makeup courses. Globally, people are increasingly becoming keen to stay independent and follow their passion and it's heartening to see Airblack empowering and skilling thousands of entrepreneurs and freelancers, mainly women, to convert their passion into an income-earning opportunity and gain recognition in their chosen field. Airblack is truly building for the world," stated Kitty Aggarwal, partner, Info Edge Ventures.

Currently, Airblack has long-duration courses with a timeline ranging from 30 days to 120 days, while the fees start from INR 10,000. Short-duration courses can range from 1 day to 5 days with fees as low as INR 150. The success and popularity of this model is evident from the whopping 80 per cent course completion rate, with an average user rating of 4.9/5 (traditional recorded courses have a 5-7 per cent completion rate).

"From making people aware about a new profession to helping them reach end-to-end outcomes - we have a gamut of affordable courses available for our community. Once a part of our community, learners discover life-long chat groups, portfolio tools and business tools on our app. We have an industry-beating delight - an NPS of 72 and over 35 per cent of our members purchasing another course with us after completion. This round allows us to double down on launching new courses and tools to make our entrepreneurs successful," added Vaibhav Raj, founder, and head of engineering, Airblack.

Proceeds of this funding will be utilized in accelerating the expansion of Beauty Club, launching new clubs, and investing in the product, engineering, and brand. Airblack recently expanded to include a clutch of senior operators from firms such as WhiteHatJr, Bain & Co, and Oyo. Over 75 per cent of Airblack's 100-member team comprises women, with 50 per cent in leadership roles. The company is actively hiring across engineering, design, and operations.

Prabhjeet Bhatla

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