6. July 2012–
German celebrity-endorsed shopping club Wanilla just announced a second funding round split between Oskar Hartmann (KupiVIP and Fast Lane Ventures), Christian Vollmann (eDarling), Felix Haas and the other Amiando founders (who've just completed their €10 million exit to Xing) and Konstantin Sixt (Sixt E-Commerce). The size and terms of the round are yet to be disclosed.
Wanilla, founded in March 2012 in Berlin by brothers Edward and Jaroslaw Postnikov, has already won seed-stage support from Michael Brehm, Passion Capital's Stefan Glänzer, Fabian and Ferry Heilemann (Groupon copycat DailyDeal, sold to Google in 2011), Clemens Riedl, Heissam Hartmann and Thomas Baum.
"Do I know which frying pan is the best? Hell no! Does Heinz Winkler know? Amen!" - Christian Vollmann
Businesses have been using celebrity and expert endorsements to sell products since the birth of advertising. What OpenSky (US, founded 2011) and Wanilla do is make it obvious and actually useful in helping you sift through endless online purchase options. Sign up and select the areas you're interested in (cooking, style, fitness, home and lifestyle etc) and the platform helps you build a personalised list of "curators" - celebrities and experts to recommend items, which you can then purchase on site.
OpenSky has Shaq (pictured below left), Molly Sims and Martha Stewart; Wanilla has Arno Schmitt (below right), Gunnar Hämmerle and Heinz Winkler...
"Do I know which frying pan is the best? Hell no! Does Heinz Winkler know? Amen!" new Wanilla investor Christian Vollmann said. "It makes a lot of sense for all parties involved: the shopper, the celebrity and the manufacturer/brand. A classic win-win-win situation."
Germany is also a market that OpenSky, which claims 1.5 million members and has raised a total $41.1 million from Highland Partners, Providence Equity, Ron Conway and others, is unlikely to have the expertise and local contacts to tackle on its own.
Not everyone is convinced. Target Partners' Olaf Jacobi tweeted about OpenSky this week so we asked him for his thoughts on Wanilla. "Time will tell if this business model is going to work in Germany," he said. "We should ask ourselves - do we have real stars or VIPs in Germany? Do we have the same mentality to follow stars and icons or isn’t it the opposite situation? Will this model fly just because it has traction in the US?"
We want your thoughts. Is Germany just as celebrity-hungry as anywhere else? Let us know in the comments below (and tell us where you're from).