Exclusive: Beauty products subscription platform VanityCask goes offline

Exclusive: Beauty products subscription platform VanityCask goes offline
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VanityCask Tech Pvt. Ltd, which operates an eponymous online platform offering luxury beauty products on a subscription basis, has suspended operations according to two people familiar with the development.

TechCircle independently verified that Mumbai-based VanityCask’s desktop site had gone offline. It is not clear exactly when the company began to scale back operations and whether the platform has shut down altogether.

Email queries sent to VanityCask founder and chief executive officer Tarun Joshi did not elicit a response till the time of publishing this report.

One of the above-mentioned persons said that the two-year-old firm was in the process of pivoting and looking for ways to shift towards a more profitable business model. However, the person could not provide a timeline for if and when VanityCask would resume operations.

An industry expert who did not wish to be named said that subscription-based ventures in the beauty products space have been struggling globally, and VanityCask could have found itself in similar turbulence.

The development comes a little more than a year after VanityCask raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from Singapore-based boutique venture fund RB Investments.

Founded in November 2016 by Joshi, the subscription-based platform positioned itself as a "merger of media, brands and trials." 

It delivered boxes containing samples of luxury beauty brands such as Clinique, Votre, Kama and Thalgo to users every month. Each sample typically lasted five to seven applications.

At the peak of its operations, a customer could subscribe to VanityCask’s products for anywhere between Rs 999 a month to Rs 4,199 for six months. 

When VanityCask raised seed funding last year, Joshi had highlighted a couple of challenges including supply chain factoring for the limited number of brands in India as well as an evolving logistics sector.

Joshi had also said that VanityCask would break even at a unit level towards the end of 2017. 

Subscription space

Ventures such as VanityCask have taken inspiration from their global and well-funded American counterparts such as Birchbox and Ipsy.

Indians have gradually been warming to the idea of paying for subscriptions but startups in the country have had mixed results with this model

Some of the other local players who operate in the same space as VanityCask include FabBag, MSM Box, My Envy Box, and GlamEgo. However, all these ventures have not announced any funding over the last couple of years. Their seed funding rounds all took place between 2012 and 2015.

That said, platforms in the broader online beauty and wellness space have attracted significant investor interest.

Earlier this week, Mumbai-based private equity firm Lighthouse became a stakeholder in beauty e-tailer Nykaa through a secondary deal in which it invested Rs 113 crore (around $15.7 million).

Nykaa had in April raised $11.32 million (Rs 75 crore) in funding led by existing investors including the family offices of Hero Group’s Sunil Munjal and consumer goods maker Marico’s Harsh Mariwala, and Dalip Pathak, a special limited partner at private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

In June, Mumbai-based Manash Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd, which operates beauty products and services marketplace Purplle.com, secured around Rs 17.5 crore ($2.56 million) from investors that include Patrick Chong Fook Seng, founder of Luxasia Group, a Singapore-headquartered omni-channel retailer of beauty products, and existing investor JSW Ventures, the venture capital arm of ‎the JSW Group.

In April this year, French cosmetics major L'Occitane injected fresh capital into Mumbai-based beauty products and services startup MyGlamm.