Korean startup Elinha, promoting K-Beauty brands through its platform FREECO in Japan, has attracted a Series A investment of 2.3 billion won ($1.8 million). The investment was led by the existing investor, venture capital TBT Partners (TBT), Amorepacific and others who participated as new investors. The cumulative investment is 3.3 billion won ($2.6 million).
The K-beauty platform FREECO was launched in Japan in 2020. Elinha has been promoting Korean cosmetics to Japanese consumers through various services on the Freeco platform, including information on the ingredients of more than 70,000 Korean cosmetic products, popularity rankings and beauty-related Q&A community. The cumulative number of app downloads is 250,000, and it is receiving a favourable response, ranking first in Japan’s Korean cosmetics category of the Apple App Store.
Japan is considered one of the world’s three largest cosmetics markets. According to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) statistics, in the first half of this year, Korea became the number one importing country for cosmetics in Japan. As a result of beating France (2nd place), which is called a beauty powerhouse, interest in Korean cosmetics in Japan is growing. Last year, Korean cosmetics exports to Japan exceeded 1 trillion won for the first time.
However, over the past ten years, the Japanese market’s structure of cosmetics distribution channels has mostly stayed the same, with online sales accounting for only 13%. Through its platform, Elinha aims to solve chronic distribution problems in Japan, providing information on Korean cosmetics, and to operate various services such as experiences, share reviews, and special sales.
From January this year, Elinha will rebrand the Freeco platform as ‘Checco’ and further strengthen its services. Checco is a brand name that has the dual meaning of ‘the best’ in Korea and checking the ingredients of cosmetics. The platform’s popularity ranking information of Korean and Japanese cosmetics comparing prices on various channels such as Amazon, Q10, Rakuten, etc., provides a system that allows users to purchase cosmetics quickly and at a reasonable price.
Elinha has been concentrating on developing services by recruiting talented people, such as developers from Kakao and marketers from global cosmetics companies. The company also unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) skin diagnosis service to solve the skin problems of Japanese consumers. It diagnoses skin with AI provided by the company and recommends cosmetics optimized for each skin condition based on data on all 150,000 cosmetics ingredients.
Han Seo-yoon, team leader at TBT who led the investment, said, “The Japanese cosmetics market is considered one of the world’s three largest markets, but there is no beauty service based on cosmetic ingredients like Korea’s ‘Hwahae’ platform. In this respect, Elinha’s AI service that recommends cosmetics with ingredients suitable for individual conditions through skin diagnosis will stimulate the purchasing power of Japanese consumers.”
CEO Jung Jae-woo of Elina said, “Based on this investment attraction, we will solve the inconvenience existing Japanese consumers experienced when purchasing Korean cosmetics through the advancement of the Checco platform. We will establish as a representative beauty platform that goes beyond K-beauty that connects people.”
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