UK startup AGORA launches to disrupt the beauty industry, giving beauty fans a platform to monetise their creativity
AGORA has raised $6.6 million in seed funding led by Draper Esprit
- AGORA is a social commerce platform that allows everyday users to monetise their talent by sharing video content tagged to their favourite beauty products
- It has raised $6.6m in equity financing led by Draper Esprit
- Co-founders Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose were part of the founding team of multi-billion dollar e-commerce platform Lazada, now owned by Alibaba
- The platform is currently UK-only, with plans for European expansion in 2021
London, UK: Monday 7th December 2020 – AGORA is a London-based startup disrupting the beauty industry through social commerce. Launching out of stealth today, it has raised a seed round of $6.6 million (£5 million) led by Draper Esprit with participation from Lakestar, Angel Capital Management, and other investors.
The AGORA app allows beauty fans to monetise their talent by creating and sharing video content that links directly to products from their favourite beauty brands.
Co-founders Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose launched AGORA with the aim of bringing the breadth and excitement of an offline beauty shopping experience online. The platform is designed to be welcoming and inclusive, creating a more personal experience for consumers. AGORA features exclusive deals and, in time, aims to become the largest online shopping mall for beauty brands in Europe. The app gives content creators the opportunity to generate an additional income stream by driving sales.
Basile and Craft Townsend-Rose were previously part of the founding team of e-commerce company Lazada, which was bought by Alibaba in 2016. AGORA’s social commerce model takes inspiration from the emerging trend towards user-generated content that has been keenly adopted amongst Asian e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Little Red Book in China.
After soft launching in April, AGORA already has 50,000 registered users who have joined the app, mostly organically. Content creators have produced in excess of 50,000 videos to date. AGORA launched its first social commerce trial last month. This gave a selection of content creators the opportunity to curate and sell beauty boxes through the app, earning a commission on sales.
In 2021, AGORA plans to scale social selling and build commerce features, allowing global and independent brands to launch flagship stores on the platform. AGORA will also roll out more advanced tech solutions to enhance the shopping experience, such as livestreaming and AI fuelled personalisation. Finally, the company aims to expand into new markets in Europe.
Riccardo Basile, Co-founder and CEO of AGORA, commented:
“We built AGORA to transform the online beauty shopping experience and create opportunities for real people to monetise their talent and creativity, something that has only been available to brand-sponsored social media influencers. AGORA will empower a new category of entrepreneur.”
Lizzie Craft Townsend-Rose, Co-founder and President of AGORA, commented:
“We will use the funds to reach new audiences and to build out the platform. We are particularly excited about the opportunity to offer live-streaming events and to use data in order to deliver a personalised, differentiated beauty shopping experience.”
Christoph Hornung, Investment Director at Draper Esprit, commented:
“We have a strong conviction that there is a huge market opportunity in Europe to build the predominant social e-commerce platform for beauty. Riccardo, Lizzie and I have worked together before at Lazada; we are all strong believers in fast execution. Draper Esprit is extremely excited to back AGORA as they build the largest social beauty business in Europe and beyond.”
Mika Salmi, Managing Partner at Lakestar, commented:
“We are delighted to support AGORA in their vision to bring video-centric social commerce to Europe. Riccardo and Lizzie are strong entrepreneurs who know this market well from their previous experience at Lazada in Asia.”
Launched in April 2020, AGORA is a mobile app dedicated to the beauty space that gives its UK-based users a safe space to share their beauty reviews via shoppable content. The platform also empowers selected content creators to generate income through social selling. In 2021, AGORA will allow brands to build their flagship stores on the app.
AGORA was launched by co-founders Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose who were previously part of the team who founded Lazada, the largest e-commerce in South-East Asia, sold to the Alibaba Group in 2016. Based in London, AGORA counts 20 team members hailing from Lazada, McKinsey, Vogue, Charlotte Tilbury, Farfetch, Badoo, and Goldman Sachs.
About Draper Esprit
Draper Esprit is a global venture capital firm that invests in high-growth European technology companies. It is listed on the AIM market (GROW) and the ESM segment of the Irish Stock Exchange.
Draper Esprit invests in high growth technology companies with global ambitions. One of the most active VC firms in Europe by capital deployed, the firm has completed 125 deals since 2006, invests approx. £120m per year and now has a market cap of over $1 billion USD.
Draper Esprit’s portfolio of privately-owned tech companies is worth over £700m, and includes well-known tech brands such as Trustpilot, Transferwise and Revolut, as well as the next generation of Europe’s global champions like UiPath, Graphcore and ICEYE.
Founded in 2006 as Esprit Capital, the company rebranded as Draper Esprit in 2015 as the main European hub, after joining a network set up by the Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper. The firm has offices in London and Dublin, and is part of the Draper Venture Network, a global community of 24 independent funds.
Lakestar is one of Europe’s leading venture capital firms investing in technology companies led by exceptional entrepreneurs. The team’s early investments included Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Airbnb. Since raising a first fund in 2013, Lakestar manages an aggregated volume of over EUR 1bn across three early stage funds, and more recently a growth fund. The company has expanded and broadened its portfolio and holds investments in the likes of Opendoor, Oscar, GYG, Glovo, Sennder, Eigen, FiveAI, Revolut and Hometogo to name a few.
Lakestar has a presence in Berlin, Zurich and London. Lakestar helps companies to identify new markets and expand into them rapidly, with a focus on the US and Europe. The team advises and supports portfolio companies in business development, recruitment, technology and marketing. The investments range from early stage companies to those in their growth stage.