Today Scentbird, the subscription-based fragrance company, announced it has raised $18.6 M, one of largest Series A funding rounds secured by a direct-to-consumer brand led by a female CEO, taking the total investment to $24.4 M.
In 2014, Mariya Nurislamova and Sergei Gusev teamed up with trained rocket scientist Andrei Rebrov and veteran beauty marketer Rachel ten Brink to push the company forward. Nurislamova explains that they built an “intuitive scent recommender that leveraged semantic analysis of real fragrance reviews to predict what scent a particular person should try next to empower consumers to discover their next favorite scent online.” They rounded out their founding team with Nurislamova as CEO, Gusev as COO, Rebrov as CTO and ten Brink as CMO.
“With a growing user-base, we found that our community wanted to embark on the next step in their fragrance journey: to smell the fragrances they were recommended. After testing three different business models, the Scentbird concept finally came to life, offering a monthly fragrance subscription service for only $14.95,” says Nurislamova, adding that they were accepted to the prestigious Y-Combinator accelerator program shortly after.
Now they have a portfolio of more than 500 fragrances and Scentbird has rapidly grown to more than 250,000 monthly subscribers and 5 million monthly site visitors. The team has extended their sampling services to a namesake line of personal care products, including a range of scented hand creams, shower products and candles.
Nurislamova notes that building strong relationships with influencers early on contributed to their rapid growth. “The next layer of growth was to overlay paid social, leveraging the content of top influencers. Using advanced targeting algorithms, we were able to amplify their message to quickly scale Scentbird,” she says.
The team bootstrapped Scentbird for the first 10 months before going through Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA), an early-stage venture capital fund and technology accelerator, that invested the first $40,000. They raised a $5.8 M Seed Round over the course of two years before raising their Series A this year.
Scentbird’s Series A funding was led by Goodwater Capital, a next-generation consumer technology firm, and joined by Y Combinator, Rainfall Ventures, FundersClub, Soma Capital, Scrum Ventures, ERA, and others. “Scentbird will use proceeds to accelerate product innovation and market expansion with an added focus on consumer experience and new talent,” says Nurislamova.