Asking his wife where she buys items for the family is turning out to be Norwest Venture Partners’ Jeff Crowe’s new strategy.
When he first heard about Minted, an online marketplace for curated stationary, decor, and art, Crowe found out that his wife had been shopping from the site for the past couple of years. Norwest led Minted’s new round of $38 million, which the company is using to expand into the home textile vertical.
Minted, founded by Mariam Naficy and Melissa Kim in 2007, is an online marketplace that sources its designs through contests. Winning designers get to have their entries manufactured, marketed, and sold through Minted’s website, which is certainly a boon for independent designers for whom handling all of these operations can be overwhelming, inefficient, and likely very costly.
“I think the artisan community is segmented, and a lot of people don’t have time to make and ship product. They spend 50 percent of their day negotiating with vendors and manufacturers,” Naficy told VentureBeat in an interview.
Because Minted has been able to establish manufacturing and all the necessary processes, it’s now able to expand into home textiles. For now, Minted will simply sell fabric designed by its community of designers, but eventually it will expand into fabric-based products like aprons, tablecloths, and so on, Naficy said.
“We’re treating that as a stepping stone into the home line,” she said.
But Minted is expanding its product in another important way too: It’s giving many of the winners of its design contests mini-boutiques within its marketplace and will manufacture and sell anything they submit. You could say that they’ve earned Minted’s trust and are now given freer rein to develop its inventory.
The curation aspect of the site is an important strength for Minted, Crowe said. “It’s not just like Craigslist where you can go in and find anything,” he told VentureBeat.
Minted has already created about 1,000 designer boutiques since soft-launching a couple of weeks ago.
This idea is not exactly novel, and other companies such as BloomNation, for example, also provide online mini-storefronts to their independent florists, giving them the advantages of the parent label’s marketing, customer base, and operational tools. BloomNation, however, lets its florists white label these tools and sell their wares under their own brands.
But that’s not a perk Minted’s designers are looking for, according to Naficy. They like being associated with Minted’s brand, Naficy said.
Crowe also sees these mini-storefronts, and more broadly Minted’s ability to add new services, as one of the company’s three growth opportunities. The two others are adding new products and international expansion, both of which Minted is already doing. It’s currently available in 40 countries.
Crowe and his firm, Norwest Venture Partners, led this round as first-time Minted investors, with Technology Crossover Ventures also joining. Toby Lenk, e-commerce veteran formerly at Gap and other retail brands, is also joining the company’s board.
Minted was founded in 2007 by Kim and Naficy and is based in San Francisco. The company previously raised $51.1 million in funding.
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