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Inspirational Stores lands €10M to grow its attractive portfolio of high-end brand partners


Paris – 6 October 2008

Inspirational Stores, a strategic partner for high-end and niche brands wanting to move online, has built on its early success to land a €10M ($14M, £8M) second round of funding led by international venture firm Atlas Venture and joined by returning investor OTC Asset Management.

For clients such as Laduree, Delvaux or Caviar Kaspia, Inspirational Stores offers long-term strategic partnerships and a complete turnkey offering covering every aspect of e-commerce, together with a highly customized consumer experience that completely reflects and respects the brand ethos and universe. To date the company has announced no less than 12 customers and established itself as leader in this next wave of luxury and niche e-commerce for the discerning consumer. It is about to launch its UK operation to accompany the local development of Laduree, which has recently opened a spectacular new Tea Room at Harrods designed by Roxane Rodriguez, as an homage to the French “Art de vivre” (www.laduree.com).

Inspirational Stores is the latest project from a team of internet industry pioneers, including Michel de Guilhermier and Martin Genot (the founders and managers of Photoways, Europe’s leading online photo service), Erik-Marie Bion (the former COO of online stalwart Hi-Media) and Bruno Emsellem (CTO of multiple startups including United Devices-acquired GridXprt).
With the technology, logistics and marketing platforms already operational, the funds will be focused on strengthening the team (40-strong today) with great talents in online marketing, brand management, e-commerce and logistics; marketing activities on behalf of the brands; and international expansion to Europe, the US and Japan. The sole focus for the company is to make its brand partners successful online, in their home market and abroad.

Erik-Marie Bion, CEO, commented on the fundraising: “Effective e-commerce is essential as the luxury markets move to the next stage, away from big brands to trusted, high quality and hand crafted niche brands for more discerning customers. This significant fundraising demonstrates the quality of the project launched by Martin Genot and Michel de Guilhermier in late 2006 and more importantly gives us a significant competitive advantage and the ability to aggressively leverage our infrastructure on behalf of our brand partners. We aim to ensure each brand’s success on the web.”

Joining the board on behalf of Atlas Venture, Fred Destin added: “The whole team at Inspirational Stores clearly has the experience, ambition and the substance required to build a next-gen e-commerce leader on a global basis; we will be there every step of the way to give them the means to achieve that goal.”

Jean-Marc Palhon, existing reference investor and managing director of OTC Asset Management, concluded: “This funding is one of the largest realised for an e-commerce company in France, a testament to the quality and ambition of this project. We are delighted to significantly support the company in its ambitious expansion plans.”

The company was advised by Greg Revenu and Guillaume Durao from mid-market specialist Bryan Garnier and Co.

-END-

About Inspirational Stores
Created in 2007 by the Photoways founding team of Michel de Guilhermier and Martin Genot, Inspirational Stores is the reference partner for high end and niche brands that want to focus on their core competency (great brands, great products) and are looking for a turnkey solution provider for their complete online strategy. With 12 announced brands to date, Inspirational Stores is the company to beat in this emerging field. Inspirational Stores will fund, design and operate the online channel for its partner brands, taking care of site design, online marketing, backend and fulfilment and customer care, both shielding the brands from the increasing complexity of sourcing and converting customers in the online world and leveraging shared expertise and infrastructure to significantly accelerate their growth.

www.inspirationalstores.com

About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading early-stage international venture capital firm that invests in technology and life sciences businesses in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Since inception in 1980, its partners have helped build over 300 companies in more than 16 different countries. In the past decade, 44 portfolio companies have been acquired and 47 are now public companies with an aggregate market capitalization of over $15 billion. Atlas Venture is an active investor in e-commerce since its foundation and its current portfolio includes market leaders such as PriceMinister, DailyMotion, Seatwave, Koodos or Moo. Atlas Venture manages over $2.5 billion in capital through offices in Boston, London, Munich, and Paris.

www.atlasventure.com


Publisher Contact Information:

Ballard Associates
+44 (0)20 7978 7700
josephine@ballard-associates.com

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