Agora, a London-based startup building a social commerce tool for the beauty industry, is launching today with £5 million of seed funding. The round was led by Draper Esprit with participation from Lakestar, Angel Capital Management and other investors.

An addition to the world of influencer marketing technology within the burgeoning ‘passion economy’, the AGORA app allows beauty fans to monetise their talent by creating and sharing video content that links directly to products. After a soft launch in April, the startup counts 50,000 registered users on the app and even more user-generated videos.

Co-founders Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose were part of the founding team of Southeast Asian e-commerce company Lazada, which was bought by Alibaba in 2016. The startup says its social commerce model “takes inspiration from the emerging trend towards user-generated content that has been keenly adopted by Asian e-commerce platforms, such as Taobao and Little Red Book in China”.

Aspirations are high: the platform aims to become the largest online shopping mall for beauty brands in Europe. Next year the company plans to scale social selling and build commerce features, allowing global and independent brands to launch flagship stores on the platform. More advanced tech features, such as livestreaming and AI-fuelled personalisation, are in the pipeline, too.

Photo: Founders Riccardo Basile and Elizabeth Craft Townsend-Rose

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