UK-based Sourcerie, an online marketplace launched for skin care products, has just closed a £1.8m pre-seed round co-led by London-based early-stage fund Playfair Capital and Berlin-based VC Vorwerk Ventures.
Several notable angels participated, including Sandrine Deveaux, EVP Future Retail at Farfetch, Mandeep Singh, exited co-founder of Trouva, Renee Parker, ex-head of Amazon Luxury Beauty, Vanessa Goddevrind, ex-EMEA Head of Beauty for McKinsey, Jason Scott, ex-head of Google’s US Startup Ecosystem, and Joe Falter, co-founder of Zapp and ex-Jumia founding team member.
Further, notable partners across European funds also participated in the round such as Laura Connell, Partner at Atomico, Anna Sweeting, Founder Vaultier7, and Claire Cherry, Partner at Joyance.
Founded by Kristin Cardwell and Alex Beyer who have years of experience in the beauty and tech industry and have worked with L’Oreal and Palantir are also eczema sufferers. With Sourcerie, they aim to offer a personalised shopping marketplace, consumers, retailers, and brands can purchase personal care products from brands such as Clinique, Elemis, and Dermalogica and receive a bespoke service.
“We were frustrated by our own personal struggles,” said Cardwell. “Prescription steroids worsened my eczema and I desperately wanted to find other ways to control the condition, which led to speaking with other eczema sufferers like Alex. I found getting recommendations for new products from people like me to be the most helpful, and thought, can’t we find a way to scale this? Knowing how important reviews are – with nearly 80% of customers saying reviews are most influential for their final purchase decision – this seemed like the logical place to start.”
“At the same time,” she added, “the $500B global beauty and personal care market has become fragmented and frustrating for consumers to navigate. It is also becoming increasingly difficult for the industry to serve a wider spectrum of diverse consumers with a growing long tail of niche products and brands launching daily. We plan to become the go-to platform for both consumers and suppliers, for every decision in personal care, similar to how Farfetch has become the platform leader in luxury fashion.”
“Beauty is a massive market but a tech laggard,” said Beyer. “Making use of messy data is hard in any industry, but personalising for beauty has so much more nuance that can only be captured by scaling community input. The data platform and software we’re building has so many potential use cases for the broader industry. We’re already in discussions with many of our supplier partners about potential applications, from making data-driven buying decisions, to being their white label in-store recommender. Beauty and retail have historically struggled to attract engineering talent that can deliver on this, but it’s something that only we can deliver on with our expertise and platform.”
Jeevan Sunner, Principal at Playfair Capital, commented “In recent years, we’ve seen the number of brands and e-commerce platforms within the beauty and personal care space explode, making it more difficult than ever to navigate. We’re thrilled to support Kristin and Alex to disrupt the status quo: helping consumers and suppliers apply objective, data-driven decision-making when it comes to one of the most personal aspects of our lives.”
As one of Palantir’s first NYC hires, Beyer helped some of the world’s largest companies integrate and analyze data. A former L’Oreal employee, Cardwell worked with WPP’s CEO on the company’s $1B digital and data business. From Function of Beauty to Refinery29, they managed and grew various venture-backed startups and scale-ups internationally. Cardwell is also a co-founder of Alma Angels, an angel community in London whose members have backed hundreds of female founders since it was founded in 2019.
Since closing the £1.8m pre-seed round, they are hiring a team across engineering, product, commercial, and marketing. The founding team includes expertise across B2B software and data (Palantir, Cytora), ecommerce (Ocado, Slerp), and consumer tech (Manual, Gousto, Allbright).
A pre-product and pre-revenue raise by an all-female founded team is also noteworthy. Across Europe, all-female founded teams raised just 1% of capital, a decrease from previous years. Also, two female investors led the fundraise, and 65% of the angel investors were women, making the cap table diverse.
Katharina Neuhaus, Principal at Vorwerk Ventures, commented “In a world in which customers are increasingly overwhelmed by choice and information, we couldn’t be more excited to support Alex and Kristin who are building a truly data driven approach to enable millions of people to find the most suitable products for them.”