Léo & Léa closes a USD 1M pre-series A

Riding on the global trend of pet food premiumization and leveraging on its founders’ long experience in e-commerce in Asia, Léo & Léa was created with 2 main objectives: offering better quality food for dogs and more convenience to their owners. Today, Léo & Léa stands out as a fast-growing pioneer e-commerce platform selling premium & healthy dog food, made to order and directly delivered to the customer’s doorstep.

The company was created in 2017 by serial entrepreneurs Alexandre MONTEUX, Alain SOULAS and Olivier CHOUVET, the founding team behind the successful luxury flash sales platform Glamour Sales (translated as Gladd.jp in Japan and Mei.com in China – all e-commerce businesses being now under the holding ZE Capital) and the leading group of event & media agencies The Independents (K2, Karla Otto).

They decided to take full advantage of their past experience and proven expertise to scale up ecommerce businesses to disrupt the mostly traditional, brick and mortar market of dog food. Beyond merely selling dog food online, Léo & Léa makes use of advanced digital marketing technology and users data analytics to create an entire ecosystem dedicated to dog care, with the possibility to cross-sell products (food supplements, accessories, toys…) and services (medical, insurance…).

After having invested a first Seed round of USD 2.4M to develop its proprietary algorithm and allowing the platform to take off, the company has just closed in February 2019 a USD 900K pre-series A funding from historical and private investors. The funds will help support the fast growth of the company with a specific focus on marketing and development of new recipes, and will thus prepare their upcoming USD 5M series A (2019).

The founders have appointed last year the independent M&A firm GEREJE Corporate Finance to help structure the transaction and handle the negotiations with potential investors for the pre-series A and the series A. Founded in 2008 in Singapore, GEREJE provides financial & strategic advisory services (fundraising, buy-side, sell-side, IPO), led by a multidisciplinary team based between Europe (Paris, Lyon, Geneva) and Asia (Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok), able to execute tailor-made transactions with a strong entrepreneurial culture close to business owners: https://gerejecorpfinance.com/presentation. Focusing on series A, B and C rounds, the advisory firm has developed a sound expertise in digital and especially e-commerce – GEREJE having recently supported the USD 7M closing of Vietnamese startup LEFLAIR.

Headquartered in Japan, Léo & Léa’s founding team has ambitious plans for Asia, where pet food e-commerce has remained an untapped vertical despite large populations of tech-savvy pet owners and a growing demand for qualitative and healthy products. With the series A funds, the company intends to replicate its model in the rest of Asia, starting with China – a second home-market for the founders of Mei.com, sold to Alibaba in 2015. South Korea, Taiwan and the more developed countries of Southeast Asia also hint at exciting prospects of growth for Léo & Léa.

The “premiumization” of pet food has been a growing trend globally, translating into a vivid M&A landscape and tantalizing opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors alike, with an average EV/sales multiple above 2x for mature companies, and between 7 and 10x for venture businesses.

Recently in 2018, the acquisition of Blu Buffalo by General Mills for USD 8 Bn (over 6x revenue) has exemplified the appetite of MNCs for entering the premium pet food space. More specifically, it is the “Pet tech” or Pet e-commerce industry that has witnessed the most deals with ever-increasing valuations: last year Nestle’s Purina Petcare did a GBP 150M-worth majority stake investment in Tails.com whose run-rate was known to be only GBP 20M. In 2018 too, the American startup NomNomNow raised USD 10M with a pre-money valuation of USD 50M with less than USD 2M revenue. An industry record was set the same year by Chewy.com, acquired for USD 3.35 Bn by Petsmart.

As Asian markets are catching up with that trend, Léo & Léa expects to leverage its proven execution capabilities and premium “made in Japan” image to establish itself as an industry leader in the coming years.