This morning, the announcement was made that Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and now leads Clarium Capital and The Founders Fund, has shifted his attention towards Brazil – at least a little.
Thiel’s early-stage venture capital firm, Valar Ventures, led a US$13 million investment round for furniture designer and online retailer Oppa. Monashees Capital, Kaszek Ventures, Thrive Capital and Micky Malka also participated in the round, which marks Thiel’s first Brazilian investment. In an official statement, Thiel remarked, “Successful entrepreneurs are able to find creative solutions to intractable problems. Through their innovative business model and creative supply chain management, Oppa is bringing beautifully designed and affordable furniture across Brazil.”
Founded by Harvard Business School graduate Max Reichel in 2011, Oppa can be characterized as the Brazilian version of Ikea. It operates entirely online and sells modern and affordable furniture that is designed and manufactured in Brazil, thus cutting shipment times and keeping prices low by avoiding importation. Interestingly, Oppa also allows users to submit their own designs and bring them to life alongside the company’s in-house team.
Regarding Oppa’s fast success and what will happen following this round of investment, Reichel told one publication:
We were surprised at the uptake of our first collections and the demand of the Brazilian customer for accessible, Brazilian design. With this capital, we intend to expand our portfolio, working closer with various designers, internally and externally. We’ll also invest in customer service, to ensure Oppa is always our customers’ first choice, and in factory relationships, as this is an integral part of the company.
This most recent announcement joins a string of similar investment deals made between Brazil-based companies and international funds as of late. Similar to Baby.com.br’s investment success, one can’t help but wonder how much the U.S. and investment community connections of the company’s founder, a Harvard alum and former McKinsey employee, had to do with such luck in hefty funding. If so, what does this mean for less-connected Brazilian entrepreneurs?