Data is hardly the most glamorous word in the dictionary, but it does play an increasingly vital role in the delivery of new beauty products. It wasn't that long ago you'd struggle to get coverage for certain skin tones, and that's before even touching on permutations in skin care, where one person's cure can severely worsen another's condition.
These days almost every beauty and personal care vendor uses data to account for unique complexions and skin needs, pursuing re-orders that come with customer satisfaction.
Overseeing Sourcerie's e-commerce experience for personalised beauty products, founders Kristin Cardwell and Alex Beyer were able to combine understandings gathered over their earlier assignments at L'Oreal and Palantir, respectively, and were motivated by despair at their own flare-ups with prescription skin products.
The team is announcing a £1.8 million pre-seed round, co-led by Playfair Capital and Vorwerk Ventures, to drive uptake of its inaugural product, a personalised shopping marketplace capable of matching unstructured data from beauty partner channels with user-side product search and bespoke recommendations.
Unsurprisingly there isn't a shortage of data for its engineers to work from. Sourcerie processes billions of distinct user profiles at a 90% success rate to form unique shopping experiences and, ultimately, it wants to be the "one stop shop" for discerning beauty and personal care consumers.
"We were frustrated by our own personal struggles,” explains Cardwell. "Prescription steroids worsened my eczema and I desperately wanted to find other ways to control the condition, which led to speaking with other eczema sufferers like Alex."
Aside from Playfair and Vorwerk, the round includes a roster of business angels including Sandrine Deveaux, future retail EVP at Farfetch; Mandeep Singh, exited co-founder of Trouva; and Renee Parker, former head of Amazon Luxury Beauty.
The deal, which formally closed last year, has made headlines this week in UK broadcast news media, and perhaps that isn't surprising given the low percentage of pre-product capital flowing to Europe's all-female founding teams.
Estimates suggest that in 2022 just 1% of pre-product and pre-revenue funding went to all-female groups, and that's apparently down somewhat on the previous year. Sourcerie's fundraise was co-led by two female investors, while strong interest from a number of female angels also helped.
Beyer adds: "Beauty is a massive market but a tech laggard. Making use of messy data is hard in any industry, but personalising for beauty has so much more nuance that can only be captured by scaling community input. The data platform and software we're building has so many potential use cases for the broader industry.
"We're already in discussions with many of our supplier partners about potential applications, from making data-driven buying decisions, to being their white label in-store recommender. Beauty and retail have historically struggled to attract engineering talent that can deliver on this, but it's something that only we can deliver on with our expertise and platform.”