This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (December 2017)
|Headquarters||Current Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts|
|Seth Rosen, Founder and CEO|
|Products||Furniture, Jewelry, Home Decor|
Number of employees
CustomMade is an online custom jeweler. Until 2015, the business operated as an online marketplace connecting customers with independent artisans (called "custom makers") who produce custom-designed furniture, jewelry, home décor, and other personalized items. CustomMade is the world's first and largest online seller of custom products. They have 3,500 custom makers registered on the site and have raised a total of $7.65 million in venture funding. On May 21, 2015, the business was acquired by Wayfair (NYSE: W) for an undisclosed sum after having raised $25.65MM in venture funding. In May 2017, it was announced that founder Seth Rosen had re-purchased the business out of foreclosure in partnership with Western Technology Investment (WTI) to focus on building the custom jewelry business.
Co-founders Michael Salguero and Seth Rosen met as undergraduates at Boston University, where both had a passion for custom-made shirts, belts, and pants. The two founders had careers in real estate and were looking for more exciting work. In January 2009, Salguero and Rosen bought the custommade.com URL for $140,000 from a woodworker who had owned and run the site since 1996. At the time of the purchase, the site hosted around 350 makers paying a small subscription fee to be on the site. The site was generating about $35,000 a year in subscription sales. According to Salguero, the new company became based on two principles:
1. Custom becomes an obsession. As a shopper, once you're empowered to get something exactly the way you want it, you will realize you can get ANYTHING made exactly the way you want it. And CustomMade thinks you should be able to. Easily. 2. There is some talented individual maker or some company out there who can make you exactly what you're looking for, exactly the way you want it. All you need is a way to communicate with that maker.
Early versions of CustomMade.com drew visitors, but only a small number of those visitors ordered items. CustomMade redesigned the site with help from Google Ventures and within a week, increased the number of paying projects by 200 percent. From 2009 to 2010, the number of visitors to the site tripled to a total of 1.5 million, and in 2010, CustomMade earned $350,000 in revenue.
In November 2011, CustomMade raised $2.1 million in Series A funding from First Round Capital, Google Ventures, and others. With the additional investment, CustomMade planned to expand its Lechmere Square headquarters by 5,000 square feet and its number of employees from 27 to over 50. At the time of the announcement, CustomMade had produced over $2 million in project requests.
In April 2012, CustomMade closed a $4 million funding round led by Google Ventures with additional investments from Schooner Capital, LaunchCapital, NextView Ventures, Andrew McCollum, and First Round Capital. CustomMade currently has over 3,500 custom makers on the site. As of April 2012, CustomMade has 3 million visitors a year and handles $2 million a month in transactions.
Customers can browse listings and galleries based on criteria like the function of the item, the proximity of the custom maker, or build materials. They can search by category, such as "wine-room design" or "custom tile mosaics," or by location, which gives the names of local custom makers. Potential customers can also post a proposed item to the site's Job Board and custom makers will bid for the chance to build it. Through the Job Board, customers can provide guidelines like time flexibility, price range, and a basic idea of the desired item. Users can also browse and choose from ready-made furniture, jewelry, glass, and metal objects. CustomMade builders are also available to build entire homes.
CustomMade also has a commercial gallery with work examples. The galleries show examples such as restaurant and office build-outs, conference tables, wine cellars, liturgical furnishings, gun cabinets, musical instruments, clocks, walking sticks, engagement rings, mirrors, frames, boats, and vases. Specifically, custom maker Kyle Buckner produced an "iTable," which has touch-screen functions like an iPhone but is built with scratch-resistant coatings making it a functional table. Another Massachusetts customer commissioned the production of a "lobster tickler," a device for catching crustaceans.
As of May 2017, CustomMade announced it intended to focus exclusively on its custom jewelry design and manufacturing business. The Company suggested it would be removing all independent jewelers from its marketplace and would keep the marketplace open and operating for other categories like furniture and woodworking. In the jewelry business, CustomMade manufactures and designs its own pieces for customers. In the marketplace business, CustomMade takes a commission on each sale, and all of the custom makers featured on the site are fully vetted before they can post their work. Unlike Etsy, which focuses on handmade products, CustomMade connects customers with makers who can build to the buyer's specifications. Craftsmen who want to be featured on CustomMade pay monthly fees and upload examples of their work. The average CustomMade product sells for about $1,500.
CustomMade was featured on CBS's list of the best Mother's Day gifts for 2011. Rich Miner, a partner at Google Ventures, said that CustomMade has "a huge runway to expand into a mass-market product."
The site had approximately 3 million visitors in 2011. The company's transaction volume is currently growing at approximately 50% each month and about $500,000 worth of projects are requested each week. A Maine-based woodworker said that his CustomMade subscription has "one thousand times paid for itself. I have work lined up until after Christmas." CustomMade has been featured on CNN, Fox News, Fast Company, TechCrunch, and The Wall Street Journal.
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