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Premium Video Commerce Site Joyus — Headed by Top Ex-Googler — Gets $7.9 Million in Funding

Joyus, a new start-up which is launching an invite-only public beta of its new premium video commerce site today, has raised $7.9 million in venture funding to pioneer a new way to shop online.

Accel Partners and Harrison Metal are the lead venture investors, along with angel investments from Current TV’s Joel Hyatt and Wal-Mart execs Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman.

The Palo Alto, Calif., Joyus, which is helmed by former Google exec Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, is attempting to create a new paradigm in shopping online by focusing on well-produced videos that yield sales immediately to makers of products.

If you think about a link-laden infomercial, you’ll get a general idea of what is being created by Joyus.

The company will start off with a focus on high-end women’s goods, which was jump-started by the April acquisition of Splendora, an innovative fashion and lifestyle site with more than 100,000 followers.

The result are sales that feature expert videos, which Joyus has been testing since the spring. So far, said Singh Cassidy in an interview on Friday, the conversion to sales has been up to seven percent, a high number in direct response marketing.

“We are trying to increase customer engagement with the products, while also providing an easy ability to purchase,” said Singh Cassidy. “It’s not something that has been done in this way before.”

Indeed, until now, product videos have usually been an online adjunct to a brand-focused campaign, rather than a buying opportunity. And some companies have interactive images that link to products, though no video.

Singh Cassidy said the video sales platform Joyus has been building can eventually be used by publishers and marketers of all kinds, well beyond the first effort focused on women’s soft goods, such as skin care products.

“This is not a fashion Web site with video,” she said. “It’s a whole new way of doing commerce online.”

Here’s the official press release for the Joyus funding and launch:

JOYUS ANNOUNCES TRANSFORMATIONAL NEW VIDEO SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

The world’s first premium video commerce site receives $7.9M led by Accel Partners

PALO ALTO, CA, August 1, 2011 — JOYUS today announced the private beta launch of the world’s first premium video commerce experience at Joyus.com, offering women a new, transformative way to shop online.

The company also announced its closing of a first institutional round of funding bringing total capital raised to $7.9M. Lead investors Accel Partners and Harrison Metal join angel investors Joel Hyatt, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of CurrentTV, and Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman, SVPs of Global Ecommerce at Walmart. Accel’s Theresia Gouw Ranzetta and Harrison Metal’s Michael Dearing will join the JOYUS board of directors.

JOYUS was founded in January 2011 by Founder & Chairman Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, former President of Asia Pacific and Latin America Operations at Google and Co-Founder of the online personal finance company Yodlee. Singh Cassidy is joined by Co-Founder and VP of Product Diana Williams, formerly Director of Product Management (Fashion) at eBay; Chief Curator Gina Pell, Founder and former Content Chief at Splendora, a pioneering fashion and lifestyle website with over 100,000 followers acquired by JOYUS in April 2011; and CTO and VP of Engineering Sin Mei Tsai, previously from Efficient Frontier and SendMe Mobile.

While the e-commerce 3.0 space has seen an influx of interest over the past 2 years, overall penetration of e-commerce remains low at 7.9% of total U.S. retail sales, particularly for key categories such as apparel and lifestyle products, according to Internet Retailer.

“Until now, no one has been able to solve some real problems that exist in e-commerce today, especially in the soft goods category,” says Singh Cassidy. “JOYUS is addressing these issues by leveraging the power of video from discovery all the way to purchase. Imagine a video that helps you discover, use and buy the products you’ll love online, seamlessly. That doesn’t exist. JOYUS is a revolutionary step that we think will transform the shopping experience for users online, starting with female shoppers.”

Accel’s Theresia Gouw Ranzetta agrees. “Accel looks to partner with entrepreneurs who are gamechangers. Sukhinder and her team have created a new model for online shopping in JOYUS, using shortform video to drive product discovery, sales and customer loyalty,” says Ranzetta. “We see video being used by other e-commerce retailers to showcase products, but no one is integrating it as powerfully into the shopping and brand experience as JOYUS. This is a real differentiator that we believe will attract new retailers who are looking to market their products in a new and engaging way online.”

Early retail partners already are seeing strong sell-through on JOYUS videos. “Our experience with JOYUS has been great,” says Catherine Chow of Azalea Boutique. “The JOYUS platform allows us to reach a broader audience of passionate, fashion savvy women with our new, in-season inventory. We see video on JOYUS being an exciting new component of our online marketing strategy.”

JOYUS has been testing its video sales platform with its first customers since spring; according to Singh Cassidy, early data on the site shows conversion to sales is highest when viewers watch between 2:30 to 3:30 minutes of a JOYUS video. These and other early JOYUS analytics suggest video can increase not only engagement, but sales online via direct response marketing.


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