Try-before-you-buy website Gemist has received $3 million in seed funding from Entrada Ventures and coinvestor De Beers Group Ventures.
De Beers had previously provided pre-seed money for the venture, so it is now investing additional cash.
Stephen Lussier, the longtime De Beers executive who retired last month, has been a member of Gemist’s board of directors and will stay on the board in his role as a De Beers strategic adviser. Entrada managing partner Julie Henley McNamara will also join the company’s board.
Gemist founder and CEO Madeline Fraser (pictured)—who is now on her third startup—says she wants to bring on “engineers and marketing executives” to boost the Los Angeles–based site’s tech and profile.
“For the last few years, we have been learning from our consumers and testing this platform out,” she says. “Now we’re ready to start scaling that growth. We have been a team of about three or four people and are ready to bring on more experts from different fields.”
One priority: increasing its visibility.
“We’ve hardly spent anything from a marketing perspective,” she says. “It’s not like we’ve had a ton of money to put behind the business. We only raised $1 million in our pre-seed round. We’ve done a lot with a little bit, and we’re very scrappy.”
She notes that “because we don’t hold inventory, we’re able to scale faster with not a lot of overhead.”
Gemist is also “looking to partner with designers who do capsule collections and even some brand partners,” she says.
She admits there is plenty of competition in the jewelry e-tail space, but argues Gemist—which caters to the 25- to 35-year-old millennial demographic—is different because it allows consumers to design their own rings and sends them samples prior to purchase. (Fraser explained the thinking behind her site last year on JCK’s podcast The Jewelry District.)
“Very few of [our competitors] let you design online, very few of them have tryout options,” she says. “What is exciting is adding meaning back into jewelry, telling a new kind of story that allows consumers to add their stamp to every piece, which is definitely unique.”
Gemist “integrates the aspect of touching and feeling a piece of jewelry with the social aspect of showing your friends and family and talking about it,” adds Fraser.
She notes that her repeat customer rate is 25%—”which is high for a for a startup company.”
“They like that they can design an earring stack and it can be unique to them and they don’t mind waiting two weeks for it to be made,” she says. “They actually kind of like [the wait.]
“Our process is not risky, not as overwhelming, as others,” she says. “It’s rather simple and it doesn’t make them nervous. They walk away feeling like they designed something. They feel empowered by that, and they’re excited to do it again.”
Other funds involved in the round include Hawke Ventures, Luma Launch, Lightspeed Ventures, Mana Ventures, Spacestation Investments, Kinsley Partners, Lunch Partners, and Canaan.
(Photo courtesy of Gemist)Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine