$14 Million Funding Gives Birth to Babystyle.com

Back in early 1998 when Laurie McCartney was pregnant with son Jack and shopping for maternity and infant clothes, she surely could not have envisioned herself 18 months later issuing press releases about receiving $14 million in equity funding for her start-up company.

That in a nutshell is the e-commerce industry, where a notion yesterday could be a reality today. McCartney’s company, eStyle, Inc. announced Tuesday that it was the recipient of venture capital in a second round of financing for its Web site babystyle.com. The company also announced that it has signed an editorial and e-commerce alliance with Weider Publications, publishers of Fit Pregnancy magazine.

eStyle’s funding was led by Global Retail Partners and Oak Investment Partners, both active Internet industry investment firms. Global Retail Partners is backed by Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and the founder of Vulcan Ventures.

Global retail Partners has invested in Beyond.com, GoTo.com and TicketMaster Online-City Search, to name a few. Oak Investment’s portfolio includes Compaq, TheStreet.com, Inktomi and Garden.com.

“We are thrilled to have partnered with such a preeminent group of investors and strategic partners as we build eStyle and launch our flagship Web site, Babystyle.com,” McCartney said.

Slim Pickings For One-Stop Shopping

McCartney said she started the company with the vision of being a one-stop e-commerce solution for pregnant women. Industry analysts concur that the offerings online were fragmented and that a niche exists for a company like eStyle.

eStyle sells maternity apparel, baby clothing, nursery furnishings and more – everything necessary up to a child’s first birthday, the company says. With four million babies born in the U.S. every year, the market obviously exists.

The alliance with Fit Pregnancy magazine will bring eStyle needed exposure. Wider Publications also publishes Men’s Fitness, Shape and other fitness titles. Fit Pregnancy reaches 1.4 million readers, the company claims, and is published quarterly.

The two will cross-promote editorial and e-commerce solutions in the magazine and at babystyle.com. The financial considerations of the agreement were not disclosed.

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