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Agora raises £5M: UK-based female co-founded thriving app startup wants to transform beauty market

Agora Image credits: Agora

In general, the beauty industry is one of the most competitive commercial spaces. It is a far different place now than it was a decade ago. Thanks to social media, apps, and the so-called influencers’ market. Agora is one app startup which wants to transform the segment by bringing more transparency with this app.

Raised £5 million funding

Now the news is that the London-based mobile app has raised a seed round of £5 million funding. The investment was led by Draper Esprit with participation from Lakestar, Angel Capital Management, and other investors.

How will the funding be used?

The startup founded by Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose is dedicated to the beauty space that gives its UK-based users a safe space to share their beauty reviews via shoppable content and now the company aims to use the funding to scale its business further using influencer’s market on social platforms.

Agora aims to scale its social selling and build commerce features, allowing global and independent brands to launch flagship stores on the platform. The digital platform aims to roll out more tech solutions to enhance the shopping experience, such as live streaming and AI fuelled personalisation. Further, it also plans to expand into new markets in Europe very soon.

Inspired by Asian e-commerce platforms

When taking a look at how it works, Agora app allows beauty fans to monetise their talent by creating and sharing video content that links directly to products from their favourite beauty. Further, the app allows content creators to generate an additional income stream by driving sales as well. 

According to the co-founders, the company’s business model was inspired by Asian e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Little Red Book in China. Notably, both Basile and Craft Townsend-Rose were previously part of the founding team of e-commerce company Lazada, which was bought by Alibaba in 2016.

50,000 users and videos

So far, Agora already has 50,000 registered users, mostly organically. Content creators have produced more than 50,000 videos to date. Last month the company launched its first social commerce trial, allowing a selection of content creators to curate and sell beauty boxes through the app, earning a commission on sales.

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 to deliver a personalised, differentiated beauty shopping experience.”

Also, 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, the Managing Partner at Lakestar, commented: “We are delighted to support Agoa 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.”

Founded in April 2020, Agora currently counts 20 team members hailing from Lazada, McKinsey, Vogue, Charlotte Tilbury, Farfetch, Badoo, and Goldman Sachs.