Boston shoe startup M. Gemi raises $18 million; will launch men’s line in 2016

The shoe library at M. Gemi.
The shoe library at M. Gemi.

Only seven months after announcing a $14 million funding round, Boston footwear merchant M. Gemi has deposited another $18 million to its bank account. The new funding comes from the London office of Accel Partners, along with earlier investors including Cambridge-based General Catalyst Partners, Forerunner Ventures in San Francisco, and Boston-based Breakaway.
 M. Gemi markets limited-run women’s shoes, all made in Italy, and all bearing the M. Gemi brand. Founder and CEO Ben Fischman previously ran the “flash sale” site Rue La La and hat retailer Lids; president Cheryl Kaplan worked with Fischman at Rue La La. Fischman says that M. Gemi is approaching 60 employees at offices in Boston, New York, and Florence, Italy.

The concept with M. Gemi is creating a sense of urgency and exclusivity around shoe-buying, Fischman says. Since starting sales this spring, he says, “our average buyer has bought 3.7 times from us.”

The new capital will go toward “continued investment in the supply chain, in the brand, and growing the business,” says Fischman, who adds that he plans to launch men’s shoes in early 2016. Raising money from a London-based investor, he says, will help the as the company seeks to reach customers Europe and Asia, he says.

M. Gemi is the first startup from an incubator called Launch that Fischman founded last year in a building near Fenway Park. Launch is developing two other businesses in addition to M. Gemi, which Fischman says will announce initial funding soon.

Scott Kirsner writes the Innovation Economy column every Sunday in the Boston Globe, in which he tracks entrepreneurship, investment, and big company activities around New England.
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