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Can a black founder raise funding in Amsterdam for his fashion-tech AI startup? The answer is yes!


From Convious to and so many more, Amsterdam is already home to an electric AI ecosystem. And gradually, the Dutch startup scene is also growing in diversity inclusion. While, there’s a long way to go, just recently, the tulip city-based fashion-tech startup Lalaland has raised €2.1 million in a new pre-Series-A financing round led by Orange Wings and Unknown Group

The investment was further backed by angel investors, including former Nike General Manager Bart de Wilde, Google’s Amhar Ford and Thorsten Koch, and Christina Caljé from Autheos. The company plans to use the fund to continue its commercial expansion and attract a diverse group of talent. 

“Our product is centered around solving the issues of consumers who feel underrepresented in terms of ethnicity, gender identity, and body representation. So we want to work with people who can relate to these issues, in order to facilitate positive change in co-creation,” says founder and CEO Michael Musandu.

Orange Wings founder and CEO Shawn Harris was instantly inspired after seeing Lalaland’s pitch as a Dragon on Viaplay’s Dragons’ Den: “This is a unique opportunity to help retailers and brands truly create positive change in the fashion industry and to reduce returns and ultimately waste.”

Angel investor, Bart de Wilde also underscored the company’s urgency: “I have been at the heart of this problem in sports, footwear, and apparel, so I can’t stress enough how valuable this will be for our industry.” Unknown CEO Hendrik Halbe resonated with the company’s calling, and said: “Now is the right time for Lalaland to take the industry by storm, and with this investment, we’re excited to support their international expansion.”

Lalaland utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to enable fashion brands and retailers to use hyper-realistic models of every body type, size, and skin tone. With these body-inclusive avatars, the company aims to create an inclusive, personal, and sustainable shopping experience for fashion brands, retailers, and customers.

Fashion e-commerce is worth $408 billion (approx. €380 billion) and is ever-expanding, with 7.5% of annual revenue being spent on photography, production, and models for product pages.

Lalaland aims to tap into that market with a cost-effective model-generating tool that replaces time-consuming and costly photoshoots. With their self-service platform, users can recreate photoshoots and models can be tailored to customer profiles or customised to specific body types, allowing for hyper-personalisation. This helps boost sales, reduce return rates and costs, increase conversion, and cut waste.

Fashion, tech, diversity, and sustainability meet

Founded in 2018 by Zimbabwe-born Michael Musandu together with Ugnius Rimsa, Lalaland claims their DNA is creating technology that drives inclusivity and diversity within digital fashion. They have on-boarded some of the largest fashion retailers, such as Zalando, Wehkamp, and Otto. In total, the firm has raised around $3.1M so far. 

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