CustomMade CEO Mike Salguero, a Boston University grad, began his entrepreneurial track selling anti-George Bush t-shirts. Now Salguero combines his passion for technology and problem solving to address the once complicated process of buying something custom. In 2009, Salguero and his college friend Seth Rosen founded CustomMade in Boston, Mass.
Buyers can have a hard time finding a reliable and capable maker who specializes in custom design, but buying custom means buying something of good value. As the throw-a-way culture in the U.S. dies down, people are becoming increasingly interested in buying products that last, as well as buying local.
We’re both big believers in custom stuff, whether it’s t-shirts, belts or furniture. CustomMade connects makers with buyers. -CustomMade CEO Mike Salguero
CustomMade connects makers of handcrafted, personalized and customizable goods with shoppers seeking unique items and individual tailoring. The site matches customers with a local expert artisan whose skills match his or her needs – from custom furniture, home goods, and remodeling projects to personal items like custom jewelry, handmade music instruments, recreational items and custom accessories.
Salguero and Rosen bought the site CustomMade.com from a 60-year-old cabinet maker in January 2009. After their first year, in 2010, CustomMade boasted a 600% revenue growth. They now have 1,600 makers on the site, including jewelry designers, custom knife makers, furniture and glass workers and ceramicists. Because a lot of the makers on their site don’t have computers or aren’t computer savvy, they love the platform because its an easy way to be plugged in online and reach a national audience with their products.
CustomMade is a platform for the type of conversations that need to take place with custom furniture. Unlike Etsy’s products, custom furniture requires a lot of back and forth conversation between the maker and the consumer. Buyers can use it to find a maker in their area, to vet an artisan by their skills and portfolio of work, and then co-create something with the maker. Use the site for inspiration, to commission an original piece or purchase a finished, handmade product in their ReadyNow store.
“We want to go into every single custom made market that we can,” says Salguero. “Our big belief is that custom is the future whether it’s a tie, a belt, a pair of shoes or a chocolate bar. People want to know the maker and not have the big box store stand in between.”
CustomMade charges artisans $39-99.00 per month for a yearly subscription to the site. In return, the company sells leads and responds to inquiries, and takes a small fee for doing the “maker matchmaking.” The artisan receives 100% of the commission unless it is sold through CustomMade’s ReadyNow portal.
As of January 2011, the business had raised 500,000 in funding. On running a startup in Boston, Salguero says, “It’s a great place to recruit talent from the many schools but Boston needs more investors who are interested in consumer Internet and marketplace plays.”
Interested in learning more about the Boston startup scene? See our 2011 list of Boston Startups You Need to Know About.
And follow @CustomMade on Twitter for funky furniture in your feed.