A Natural History of the Scentsa: Fragrances Publisher Gets Huntington Capital Financing to Expand Technology Platform

7/27/10Follow @bvbigelow

Just as Greg was reporting the $5 million in financing that San Diego’s Huntington Capital arranged for custom publisher RPI in Tukwila, WA, the firm was providing similar financing for Crescent House Publishing of Carlsbad, CA.

Both deals came out of Huntington Capital Fund II, the $78 million fund the boutique lender and private equity investor formed in late 2008. The firm has provided funding for 15 companies out of the fund so far, according to Huntington managing partner Morgan Miller.

Huntington usually avoids financing deals with risky technology ventures, instead preferring to provide capital to mature companies that need growth capital to expand their businesses. In the case of Crescent House Publishing, the 18-year-old Carlsbad publisher has spent the past five years developing Scentsa, a technology software and services platform focused on marketing fragrances and perfumes. After securing some key customers, the company is using the capital to expand the deployment of its interactive touch-screen displays, according to Huntington. The firm did not specify the amount of the financing, but Miller says it’s less than $5 million.

The Crescent House Publishing story reminds me of a similar metamorphosis at San Diego’s Mitchell International, a company founded in 1946 to sell automotive parts pricing catalogs. Under a transformation that began 50 years later, Mitchell developed Web-based payments processing system and other software for automotive repair shops. Today the company’s software and services supports millions of online transactions each month among insurance claims administrators, damage appraisers, and auto repair specialists.

Jan Moran

Jan Moran

Jan Moran, a fragrance expert and consultant in Carlsbad, founded Crescent House Publishing in 1992. She told the perfume blog “Now Smell This” in 2005 that she formed her own publishing house because she was unable to find a publisher willing to print “Fabulous Fragrances,” a book she published in 1994 as her comprehensive “ode” to perfumes for shoppers and retailers. (Her retail customers included department stores like Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others.)

Moran followed up with a second volume, “Fabulous Fragrances II,” which she published in 2000. By 2005, however, Moran saw that the unrealized value of her labor was really … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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