Soona, the Minneapolis company offering on-demand virtual photo and video shoot services, is raising more capital from investors.
On Monday, founders Liz Giorgi and Hayley Anderson announced they had raised $35 million in a Series B funding round led by San Francisco venture capital firm Bain Capital Ventures. Existing investor Matchstick Ventures, which is operated from Minneapolis and Boulder, Colo., also participated.
"The market was very interested in continuing to invest in Soona and we took advantage of that hunger," Giorgi said.
The money will be used to hire more people and expand systems, the company said.
Last year, Giorgi and Anderson, who started the company in 2019, raised $10.2 million in a Series A round. That money was applied toward adding employees, building the company's cloud technology, and leasing 13,000 square feet in the Fisk Building on E. Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis for a digital fulfillment studio.
That capital was quickly deployed, fueling sales growth to over 300% when compared with 2020, the founders said. The company has also more than doubled its customer base to 10,000 brands on the platform since last year's funding round, Giorgi said.
Brands ship their products to Soona's locations to be photographed or filmed for marketing and e-commerce sales. Clients are invited to join the photo and video shoots via a web browser, where they can give feedback in real time. Soona makes these images and videos ready for purchase online in 24 hours.
With most consumers becoming accustomed to shopping more online, growth at Soona over the last two years has been driven by product companies turning up their e-commerce sales, Giorgi said.
"Liz, Hayley, and their team have built a tremendous foundation of clients, technology, and momentum," said Scott Friend, partner at Bain Capital Ventures, in a statement.
Giorgi and Anderson are not applying the fresh capital toward another fulfillment center expansion. The goal this time is to triple its engineering and product team in the Twin Cities, Giorgi said. The added brainpower will focus on innovation in photography and robotics, specifically tech that powers photo shoots and processes content, she said.
"Right now, for example, it's not cost-effective for someone to get a 3-D model of their product or be able to create a 3-D rendering of their product that can be used in an alternative type of shopping experience," Giorgi said. "We're going to start investing in the types of technologies like robotics that are going to make it possible to bring those kind of visual solutions to e-commerce stores at every scale of business size."
At the end of 2021, Soona had 100 employees between its hubs in Denver, Austin and Minneapolis, Giorgi said. By the end of January, the employee count will increase to at least 120, she said.