According to New Enterprise Associates (NEA) partner Vanessa Larco, direct-to-consumer jewelry startup Mejuri understands something about the jewelry market that television ads and outdated gender norms don’t: Women don’t need men to buy them jewelry.
Founded in 2015 by husband and wife Majed Masad and Noura Sakkijha, Mejuri just raised a $23 million Series B led by NEA.
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NEA’s Larco, who is joining the company’s board as part of the transaction, called Mejuri’s strategy and growth “truly impressive.” While the startup would not disclose exact revenue numbers, Mejuri said its revenue quadrupled yearly from 2015 to 2018 and that it’s “on track to do the same in 2019 at scale.” The company is also notable in the venture-backed world for having a majority female staff.
However, glowing words after the ink has dried tends to obscure the work that goes into making a deal happen. And for Larco, the work started long before Mejuri signed the term sheet.
“Personally, I don’t shop at traditional jewelry stores, but I do want jewelry that is simple but real and of good quality,” she told Crunchbase News. “I started looking at all kinds of early-stage fine jewelry companies and a lot of them had similar stories so, at first, it was very hard for me to differentiate any of them.” As a result, she put investing in the jewelry sector on hold.
But as she got to know Sakkijha and the team at Mejuri, she started to change her mind.
To Larco, Mejuri stood out because it had built “such an interesting supply chain” as well as an increasingly recognizable brand. Larco was also impressed with how “sophisticated” the company was concerning user acquisition and “how it thought about data.” She also liked how Mejuri frequently launched new product lines, keeping its inventory fresh.
“I also noticed how the brand was having authentic conversations with its customers via social media,” said Larco, who also wrote a blog post on the topic.
Yet the startup was hesitant to commit to raising more money. According to Larco, Sakkijha had told her that the company “didn’t really need” to fundraise, saying Mejuri was “extraordinarily capital efficient with most of its Series A still in the bank.” Sakkijha was also pregnant with twins when Larco had initially approached her about the Series B.
But Larco said she helped Mejuri understand the benefits that new capital could bring, and with Sakkijha limited in terms of travel, the Mejuri co-founder ended up pitching her company to NEA via video.
“I don’t think anyone had ever presented over video conference before,” Larco told Crunchbase News. “But as more VCs look at investing in female founders in their 30s, there’s going to be a high probability they might be pregnant.”
The NEA team was won over, and the deal got done.
“I think there’s space for companies that advertise and speak to women,” Larco said.
The new capital will go toward an offline expansion, international growth, and “continued investments in brand and infrastructure,” according to the company. Specifically, Sakkijha told Crunchbase News that Mejuri will be opening new stores and pop-ups in the US and Canada.
The company will also continue to hire, having grown its headcount to more than 130 people compared to 25 at this time last year, spread across its offices in Toronto, New Yor and Buenos Aires.
Note: This post was updated post-publication to include information provided by Mejuri.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.