Online jewellery brand, Melorra, has raised $5 Mn from LightBox Ventures at the seed stage. The company launched its operations just this week, making this investment one of the biggest seed rounds in the country.
“We have now created a 40-member strong team and want to create a disruption in the jewellery industry. We want to target young Indian women – the millennials – and create an iconic “Stay Strong” brand for them. We would be doing so by bringing together three sectors that have not collaborated much before – jewellery, fashion and technology,” said Saroja Yeramilli, founder & CEO of Melorra.
The funds will primarily be used in three large areas – sourcing the best talent from jewellery, fashion and technology; creating a disruptive product and user experience through technology and finally, building a brand. “Since, my aim is to build a digitally strong brand, it requires significant investment in marketing and that’s one reason why we went about raising the largest funding in India on a business plan,” she added.
Adopting an app-first model, the company launched its iOS app recently and will be launching its Android app in two weeks. However, it also have a webpage that will enable transactions, which will be launched by the end of March.
“We felt this was one of the strongest founding teams at this stage of a business. We just looked at the size of the jewellery industry as well as the vast gap between the needs of the modern Indian woman and what the traditional industry still provides. The domain expertise and the vision of the team to offer the best-in-class customer experience inspired us, and we felt comfortable taking a bold bet. The company is doing at least 20-30 things differently from every jewellery e-commerce company in world” said Nitin Sharma, Principal & Founding Member, Lightbox Ventures.
“I think of Melorra not just as a jewellery company, but as a fashion brand powered by tech. They are innovating on a lot of fronts – designing the jewellery very differently with a world-class global design studio, trying to reinvent the shopping UX by thinking of the woman’s lifestyle and fashion needs first and offering engaging content and advice on accessorising with the apparel. In order to do things the right way and not compromise on quality, it’s good to give the team a lot of fuel, so that they can focus 100% on execution,” he added.
LightBox was founded by Sandeep Murthy along with 4 others. Its India based partners include former Komli CEO Prashant Mehta and Evolv founder Sid Talwar. Two of its partners, ZoomIn founder Sunny Rao and former Google executive Jeremy Wenokur, are based in the US. Apart from Melorra, its other portfolio companies include Droom, FAASOS, Furlenco, ZoomIn, Embibe and Greendust.
Understanding The Aura Around Melorra
Melorra was founded by Saroja and its parent company is August Jewellery Pvt. Ltd. She has been associated with Titan, both with the watch and the Tanishq jewellery brand. She has spent around seven years in Tanishq – both in India and in the US in senior leadership roles. She led the launch of the jewellery brand in the US. Subsequently, she was the head of operations for Kaya and head of retail business for Dell in India. This alumnus of XIMB has spent over two decades with some of the marquee brands in India.
Her desire to be a part of the rapidly growing ecommerce industry led to the inception of Melorra. “I am very inspired by young Indian women and by the youth energy in India today. It is estimated that over $100 Mn women will be shopping online by 2020. Given my background in jewellery, I wanted to create a brand that is relevant, affordable and fashionable for them.”
Women generally choose their outfits in the morning before they choose their jewellery; those are used as accessories. Choosing the whole ensemble that stays true to the current trends can be a vexing affair – imagine going through this process every day! To make things easy for these women, Melorra has created its proprietary style guidance and buying tool called StyleFeed that helps women stay updated about the current global clothing and accessories (shoes, bags) along with Melorra jewellery designed specifically for that trend.
All the jewellery designs on Melorra are exclusive and fabricated through a network of jewellery manufacturers and designers, who have partnered with the company. It has an office in Jaipur and an office in Mumbai for both sourcing of coloured stones and manufacturing. “We have partnered with all the big jewellery manufacturers in India and since quite a few of us were part of the Tanishq team, we have the necessary industry connect for the same. Our logistics and delivery partner is Sequel – one of the leading experts in jewellery logistics – since jewellery delivery has to be a very secure process.”
“All of our jewellery is inspired by global fashion trends, in which we do deep research and that’s a strong differentiator for us. We are also making a strong attempt to make affordable jewellery. All of our collections are precious jewellery but in 14 carat with diamonds, rose gold, yellow gold. We have innovated a lot with innovative gemstones, rather than just sticking with the typical and traditional emeralds, rubies and sapphires. We have a lot of interesting gemstones,” averred Saroja.
“India is one of the largest jewellery markets in the world – about $60 Bn in size – and ecommerce is a tinyl portion of it. Jewellery as a vertical is probably where furniture was two to three years ago. The urban Indian women of today are far more independent and conscious of fashion trends. They have a global perspective, travel much more, and have a blend of Indian and Western apparel in their wardrobes. They spend on jewellery not just from an investment point of view, but for daily consumption along with office wear, casual or party wear, etc. . ” said Nitin.
Online jewellery sector has received a lot of love from investors all through last year. In November, last year, Delhi NCR-based Fourseven, an online jewellery store, raised around $453K (INR 3 Cr) in angel round of funding from Indian Angel Network (IAN). In October 2015, Fashion jewellery and accessories e-tailer, Voylla.com, operated by Jaipur-based Voylla Fashion Pvt. Ltd, raised $15 Mn in fresh funds from Peepul Capital.
In July 2015, another player, Mumbai-based fashion accessories startup Pipa + Bella secured $600k in a pre-series A round of funding led by Singapore’s Lionrock Capital. In January 2015, Chennai-based Carat Lane Trading Pvt. Ltd. which owns and operates online jewellery portal Caratlane.com raised a whopping INR 185 Cr. in Series D round of funding from its existing investor Tiger Global.