VIAVIA, a new video-first e-commerce platform, announces $8M seed round to launch a debut fashion retail destination catered to Gen Z shoppers. The funding is co-led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Basis Set Ventures, with participation from Exor Seeds, Backend Ventures, and Andrew Ng’s AI Fund. The funding follows a $1.15M pre-seed round that the company announced in February 2022. VIAVIA seeks to modernize the fashion e-commerce experience by marrying creator-driven live and short-form video content with end-to-end, AI-powered tech infrastructure for the fashion supply chain.
Carmen Chang, General Partner and Head, Asia at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), says, “throughout my career, I’ve observed several shifts in consumer behavior throughout the US and Asia. I am particularly fascinated by the role technology has played in ‘exporting’ content and commerce trends—we’ve seen this with TikTok in how Gen Z engages with social media and VIAVIA is poised to inspire the same behavioral change in the ecommerce space.”
“Fashion retail is undergoing a radical transformation,” says Sixuan Li (who goes by Six), VIAVIA’s Co-Founder and CEO. “Export-focused Asian supply chains have warped the traditional timeline from an emerging trend concept to wearable apparel. To make sense of this speed and production volume, Gen Z consumers expect brands to communicate with them through authentic, creator-led, and video-first content.” VIAVIA believes that existing e-commerce platforms are ill equipped to respond to this shift in consumer behavior, and plans to change this paradigm by representing creators and influencers through an in-house talent team and indexing heavily on video and live-streaming to bring brand stories to life.
In addition to the e-commerce platform, VIAVIA will provide a modern tech infrastructure for fashion brands and supply chains, starting with Made in Italy. VIAVIA believes Italy, which accounts for ~70% of all luxury apparel manufacturing, presents a massive untapped opportunity for brands outside the traditional ultra-high-end fashion houses. Luigi (Gigi) Caccia, a VIAVIA Co-Founder and the company’s Head of Supply Chain, says, “Italy’s apparel manufacturers are the best in the world at their craft, but limited access to liquidity, and fairly antiquated business practices mean most manufacturers stick with a small number of tried and true clients, leaving their facilities idle the rest of the time. I would estimate that with the right tools, most manufacturers could increase their output by 50% without additional capex… the room for optimization is huge.”
VIAVIA’s technology solution increases order flow to local manufacturers, lowering costs for brands, and shortening production lead times. Andrea Pasinetti, VIAVIA Co-Founder and Head of Engineering says, “we are starting with a new, AI powered Product Lifecycle Management tool, and using this to efficiently connect designers and brands to manufacturers in Italy and beyond. Our mission is to use technology to eliminate process friction for creatives at every level of the fashion industry.” VIAVIA believes this infrastructure will scale effectively to other manufacturing hubs across Europe and comes as record amounts of capital flow to the global e-commerce supply chain and logistics companies, with the latter projected to grow to $3 trillion in 2028.
Xuezhao Lan, Founder and Managing Partner of Basis Set Ventures, says, “VIAVIA has a big, audacious vision to modernize luxury e-commerce for a new generation of consumers, rethinking the entire value proposition from supply chain to sales. The team’s experience at every layer of this process, from manufacturing to content to software engineering, is unrivaled. Fashion tech is primed for a shakeup, and this is the team to do it.”