Andreessen Horowitz gets a manicure, leads $10.3M investment in beauty startup Julep

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 6.11.57 PMAndreessen Horowitz is beautifying its portfolio. Today, the prestigious venture capital firm led a $10.3 million round of financing in Julep Beauty Incorporated.

Julep is a fast-growing cosmetics brand that sells nail polishes, bath and skin products, and makeup. It does all its business online. In addition to regular sales, Julep also offers a subscription service along the lines of Birchbox, where “Mavens” receive a box filled with a curated selection of Julep goodies.

In the past year and a half, Julep has launched 52 new beauty products and 186 nail colors. The startup attributes this remarkably fast rate of production to a lean e-commerce business model, which does not involve physical stores and relies on social media channels for marketing. Julep factors fan feedback into its product decisions and envisions beauty as a “two-way conversation” between the brand and the women engaging with it. The low overhead costs mean more resources can be devoted to iterating quickly and rolling out new products every month.

Julep is part of a larger trend of vertically-integrated e-commerce companies like Nasty Gal, Warby Parker, Indochino, Beachmint, Shoedazzle, and Everlane (to name a few) that cut out the supply chain and get their products directly to consumers at significantly lower prices.

Julep was founded by former Starbucks executive Jane Park. Jeff Jordan, a partner at Andressen Horowitz, said in a statement that Park and her team “have leveraged the Internet to build Julep into a compelling brand at a pace previously unheard of in beauty.”

In 2012, Julep launched nationwide on QVC and Sephora. This second round of financing will fuel development into new categories of cosmetics. Maveron Venture Partners, which led Julep’s first round, also contributed to this financing.

“As direct TV proved to be a launching pad for enduring beauty brands decades ago, we believe new social media channels will be the catalyst for launching the next great multi-channel beauty companies,” said Maveron board member Jason Stoffer in a statement. “Julep is a pioneer in using Facebook, Pinterest, and the social web to deeply engage its community of beauty lovers around color and fashion-forward beauty products.”

Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter, Precedent Investments, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Western Technology Investments, and Version One Ventures also participated in this funding round. Julep is based in Seattle, Wash.

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