There’s nothing quite like curling up in a one-of-a-kind leather safari chair, made to look distinctly like the one you remember from your childhood trip through the Serengeti. A pack of lions got that one, but this one… this one is just like it, but even better, because this one is custom made. I bet you’ve looked for a specific product–searched online, inquired on Craigslist–never to find exactly what you were looking for. For me it was a Picnic table–common product, but incredibly difficult to find a high-quality picnic table! Well, there’s a site for such frustrations. CustomMade.com is a marketplace for Makers and Buyers. They’ve been around since 1996, online since 2009 and this week CustomMade announced big news with $18 Million in funding and a new dedication to quality and improving the maker/buyer experience.
Someone can Make it
The Boston area is the East Coast hub for a lot of commerce start-ups, CAD companies and tech developers. Among them are Rue La La, GrabCAD, Formlabs and so many more. Based in Cambridge, CustomMade started as a site to request custom goods from artisans, but it went well beyond that. With the launch of the site in 2009, Makers could pay a yearly subscription and establish a presence and receive orders. The site grew to 3500 makers, but the process could have been much, much smoother. So, in 2011, they canned the membership model and focused on connecting the Buyer and Maker, taking a 10% cut of all transactions. In the short amount of time since, they grew to over 12,000 makers and 50,000 projects.
Co-founders Mike Salguero and Seth Rosen had created a growing platform with a lot of potential. Investors saw this as well providing $2.1 Million Series A funding in September 2011, a first Series B of $4 Million in April 2012 and now, a hefty second Series B round of $18 Million led by Atlas Venture. Returning to the funding is Google Ventures with participation from Schooner Capital, Next View Ventures, First Round Capital and Launch Capital. So, what is the company doing with the massive cash infusion? From Mike and Seth:
A lot of complicated work goes into developing and maintaining a website so our senior vice president of engineering & operations, Jim Haughwout, is actively seeking out passionate engineers to build creative code that makes CustomMade look amazing and work great. We’re building our product teams to help design a great online experience for both Makers and Buyers, and our marketing team to spread the word about buying custom.
They are indeed seeking and hiring Frontend Engineers, Software Engineers as well as DevOps and Testing Engineers. Are you a Maker? You can sign up here. Wondering more about how CustomMade works? Here’s the video that walks you through the beauty of this platform…
Hand-made goods are attractive both as a purchase for the ever-so-eclectic buyer and as an offering for the store. While many sites have been hinting at just this sort of product with just this sort of relationship between Makers and Buyers, CustomMade is the first Marketplace to really deliver the service with such style. Handmade as a service–who woulda thought? With the average product price at $1000, many of the custom design may not come cheap, but you can be sure it’s one-of-a-kind, completely custom made. Oh, and that picnic table? Next time I’ll be talking to Brian Camet.