Gifts and luxury goods e-retailer AhaLife Holdings Inc. said this week it has raised $10.1 million in a funding round led by Japan-based e-commerce operator Rakuten Inc. Existing investors DCM and FirstMark Capital also took part.
Among the items for sale at AhaLife.com are selected products from chef Daniel Boulud, film producer Wendi Murdoch (wife of media titan Rupert Murdoch) and spiritual writer Deepak Chopra. Product categories include fashion, beauty, home, décor and tech (generally, accessories for phones and computers). For one product each day, the retailer offers information about how the product was made, a profile of the product designer and sometimes an accompanying audio or video slideshow.
The e-retailer, which launched in September 2010, will use the new capital for unspecified growth projects. AhaLife says it ships its products to more than 100 countries.
“As we looked toward international expansion, particularly in Asia, Rakuten emerged as the strongest partner with their operational excellence and dominant market share in Japan,” says AhaLife founder and CEO Shauna Mei. “We believe that Asian consumers will identify with AhaLife.com’s mission to give them access to hand-selected exceptional products, as they have a high level of appreciation for quality and innovation as well as the story behind what they are purchasing.”
AhaLife, based in New York City, provided no details about the scope of Rakuten’s stake in the venture, and did not immediately return a request for comment. Rakuten owns U.S. e-retailer Buy.com Inc. and lately has been increasing its investment in online retailing operations around the world. Last year, for instance, Rakuten was part of group that invested $100 million in Russia-based online retailer Ozon.ru, which brags that it’s the Amazon.com of Russia. Buy.com is No. 32 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.
“AhaLife.com has developed a strong online following in curating luxury brands from around the world,” says Rakuten founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani. “The AhaLife.com team are experts in the full-price luxury market and we see enormous global market opportunity in their business model. By digitally telling the stories behind products, their creators, and curators, Ahalife.com is promoting conscious consumption, a value of increasing importance to consumers in the U.S., Asia, and around the world.”
In its previous funding round AhaLife raised $9 million, the company says.