Japan-based venture capital firm Global Brain Corporation (GB) has taken its first step into Southeast Asia with Singapore-based cosmetics marketplace Luxola by investing US$1 million.
Its injection of funds was made alongside Singapore-based private equity group F&H Fund Management that pumped S$2 million (US$1.6 million) into the startup. Other participants include India-based Tholons Capital, and US-based Queensbridge Ventures.
A source with alleged knowledge of Luxola’s financials told e27 that the business has not been doing well. He or she added that Luxola is aiming to hit US$19 million in revenue by 2015, but generated less than US$1 million in revenue last year two financial years ago. Kuan Hsu, Principal, GREE Ventures Asia, and previous current investor and board member in the company, told this author that the claim is not true. He added, “They (Luxola) are way past US$1 million annual revenue.”
He also explained that Luxola has been ticking off checkboxes, like revenue and page visits milestones. “Under Alexis’ leadership, Luxola has grown its KPIs multiple folds and is progressing ahead of schedule in its path to dominate the cosmetics e-commerce market in Southeast Asia,” said Hsu.
UPDATE: Alexis Horowitz-Burdick, CEO and Founder, Luxola, replied to the claim, saying that it is “just blatantly wrong”. She added, “We surpassed US$1 million a year in revenue nearly two years ago.”
UPDATE: These additional investors are part of the company’s current Series B round.
The latest investment was made through GB’s GB-V Growth Fund Investment Limited Partnership. Announced in November 2013, the fund totalling JPY 15 billion (US$147 million) will go towards ventures in Japan and abroad. “(We) will invest in both B2C and B2B,” noted Nobutake Suzuki, Partner, Global Brain.
He added, “Regarding the foreign ventures, we prefer to invest in ventures that have partnerships with Japanese companies since we manage Japanese government money, and need to provide value propositions to Japanese economy.”
The three-year-old startup will use the funds to go forward with global expansion plans, boost hiring efforts in Southeast Asia, and invest in technology.
GB has also started providing Luxola, which has a presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Australia, Brunei and UAE, with support for future business expansion plans.
Suzuki added that Luxola will not be expanding into Japan any time soon, but the company wants to sell Japanese brands in Southeast Asia.
Currently, Luxola has more than 100 brands on its platform, including Anna Sui, Browhaus, Maybelline. In addition, it runs LX Edit, a content arm for consumers looking for articles and videos.
“This is our first investment in Singapore,” said Yasuhiko Yurimoto, Founder, President and CEO, GB. He added that the firm will invest in another five to six ventures within the next six months.