Made.com raises £2.5m to assault designer furniture industry

Next Story

Why is this gorgeous backpack Japan-only?

Made.com, a web-based furniture company, has raised £2.5million from investors to launch its service which connects buyers directly with manufacturers thus cutting out middle men. It will launch initially in the UK, aiming to slash the cost of designer furniture.

The backing comes from Lastminute.com cofounder Brent Hoberman now of mydeco.com, PROfounders Capital (whose investors include Michael Birch ex of Bebo), investor John Hunt and Marc Simoncini through his investment vehicle, Jaïna Capital.

Made.com was created by 28 year-old serial entrepreneur Ning Li, who was a cofounder of Paris based MyFab.com which has proved the feasibility of connecting furniture buyers with makers.

There are still a lot of inefficiencies in the furniture retail industry where furniture can be sold for six to ten times its factory price. The UK homewares market is worth about £26billion but it’s very fragmented – the biggest players like Argos and John Lewis combined add up to just 10%.

Made.com aims to more than halve the price of contemporary furniture by cutting out wholesalers and retailers. But the quality of the chair or sofa stays the same – just the middle guys are gone. The site will focus on designer furniture, sofas, chairs, tables etc but could move into textiles for example.

“The internet helps us provide total transparency and strip out the middlemen,” says Ning. It perhaps helps that Ning was born in China, in the city of Foshan, which is the country’s major manufacturing base for furniture. Made.com is working with 20 manufacturers at launch, most in the far East right now and some of them are British manufacturers especially in the upholstery area. In the UK 80% of furniture comes from China.

The designs will be crowd-sourced, with customers voting for the ones they like. The most popular designs go into production and the people who voted can buy at a discount. At launch the site will work with designers who are not yet well known names including Luka Stepan, Steuart Padwick, and Alexander Purcell.

Orders are then placed direct with a manufacturer for mass production in container quantities from factories in China. The orders will be shipped to the UK and their progress is trackable on the web site. Thus there is no unsold inventory and no wastage.

The PROfounders investment is the second it’s announced after Tweetdeck.

  • http://www.imrelations.com/?p=629 Guest Posting Contest

    […] Made.com raises £2.5m to assault designer furniture industry […]

  • http://www.workdig.com huxleyboyce

    maybe sounds like a pipe dream. You can cut out the middle man, but they are the ones that inventory the products. End users need to touch and actually see the furntiture. it might work, it is hard to stay.

    • Luke

      Pipe dream or not, they have a naked woman on their front page, so I predict success.

  • http://www.respondingtoopportunity.com Josh

    I will be really interested to see how this plays out. It reminds me of Ponoko a bit, but with some key differences.

    Much like shoes I’ve always thought of furniture as something I need to touch, try on, and feel out before I buy. If Zappos can do shoes, Made can do furniture.

    The article is a bit confusing because the opening paragraph proclaims they wish to wipe out middle man by connecting buyer and seller. I don’t think this is true because they are assuming the role of middle man. They lower cost because of no inventory or expensive showrooms. I am also assuming they collect in full at time of order, a very nice thing for cash flow purposes.

    The expansion of this idea to existing more well known designers may not catch on so quick. They would not want to violate the trust of their existing distribution network who is going to flip out over the business model disruption.

    The furniture industry will not like this.

    Having done work in China, this is no small task to organize all this. Good luck to the founders! Would love to connect sometime!

    • http://twitter.com/mikebutcher Mike Butcher

      Really this is closer to what the Web has done for musicians: Startup builds a platform to allow artists to go direct to consumers, avoiding labels.

      • http://www.side-line.com bernard

        You forget to mention that no single music artist has made it so for from scratch in the WEB2.0 environment… plus, the comparison with labels is a no go: amazon, shops etc are the middle men, not the labels who have their knowledge and network and that will never disappear because networking is not something you have established in 1,2,3.

        Have a nice weekend,

        B

      • chrisy erwin

        Manufacturing and delivering a physical product is nothing like making digital music and selling it online.

        I can buy a solid oak table and six solid oak with leather upholstery chairs from Tesco Direct for £399, have it delivered next week, return it at no cost if I do not like it. Once I’ve bought it I am unlikely to buy another one ever.

        I don’t think this will work.

      • Raoul

        I guess you have not heard of uplaya.com which actually does this promoting new artists on the web.

        As for made.com- it could work if it combines the styles of furniture with famous people whether they be architects, stars etc – a bit like what H&M have done but in the realm of fashion.

  • robrob

    Fantastic idea, basically I’d buy one piece, if the quality is any good I’d stick with it. If not, live and learn.

    People don’t care about quality in furniture anyway anymore, thus why IKEA does so well with it’s disposable garbage. Looking at their prices it’s pretty good, I’d buy something if available in North America.

    • http://www.gamecreds.com Tim

      Ikea rocks.

    • http://www.twitter.com/jasecoop Jase Cooper

      ”People don’t care about the quality of furniture” – Not exactly sure what you’re basing that on. It’s more a matter of pricing than people not caring. The fact is, good quality furniture design has become expensive, hard to find and elitist. Made.com solves all three of these problems.

      This is a great idea! Looking forward to seeing some more designs!

  • http://www.meetingwave.com jb

    Great url.

    Also, a good idea. I’ve heard of many folks driving down to the Carolina (some with kids in tow) to try to buy from the factories down there (are they still there?).

    Might be tough in today’s market, but consumers are likely more cost sensitive.

    Best of luck to them.

  • matt

    made.com seems to only have about 4 things for sale….. not much more than an idea at this stage.

  • chrisy erwin

    They want £238 for an ash dining table that might be made and if it is will arrive in two months time. £238.00 is not cheap.

    http://www.made.com/tables/oliver-dining-table-180cm

  • Cheryl Erber

    It’s great to see startups in this space. Hopefully housing will come back soon because the internet can do so much for home decorating & building.

  • felix

    but where is the real difference compared to myfab now?!

  • http://www.website.ws/freedombucks asep

    Interesting idea. With the good funding i think made.com would be new phenomenon in web.2.0

  • http://japald.com/535/ataque-de-panico-panic-attack-2009/ Ataque de Pánico! (Panic Attack!) 2009 | Panic Attack Symptoms, Causes and Solutions

    […] Made.com raises £2.5m to assault designer furniture industry […]

  • http://www.plumber-marietta.com/?p=8 About Us | plumber-marietta.com

    […] Made.com raises £2.5m to assault designer furniture industry […]

  • http://www.usineadesign.com john

    Ning was fired from myfab, ’cause the customers service he was in charge of was not efficient: how do you expect him to do better now?? ??

  • http://trendsupdates.com/made-com-raises-3-73-million-to-create-new-venues-for-designer-furniture-sales/ Made.com Raises $3.73 Million To Create New Venues For Designer Furniture Sales | Trends Updates

    […] TechCrunch, Profounders Capital & Mydeco Random Posts: Impending trade war between US and […]

  • http://akuse.com/Blog/ Geekette

    Here’s the thing for a lot of users like me: we want to buy furniture that we like (& preferably can customize) *now*. Not interested in having to vote, wait, hope our preference gets chosen. etc. The current method may be entertaining (nothing says says ‘gimmick’ like naked woman as banner), but successful large scale change requires simplicity. At the very least, the new process should be simpler than the old, which = go to store/catalogue, select & pay.

  • http://www.woonio.com Roland

    @Geekette
    So I have the right answer from you from germany: High Quality furniture with good design and extremly costomizable in 3D. Look at it: http://www.woonio.de

  • Stephanie

    Agree with Geekette
    I think the new made.com website looks quite slick and efficient. would be interested to see what their move is and i’d rather looking more on their design products than the gimmicks /pictures/votes etc.
    Stephanie

  • http://www.d4bmarketing.com Dave Finkelstein

    this could be a tough one, people want to look and touch furniture

  • http://www.undernews.com/2010/03/24/la-crisis-e-internet-acabaran-con-los-intermediarios/ La crisis e internet acabarán con los intermediarios | Undernews - Internet, negocios y tecnología, de bloggers para bloggers.

    […] último caso lo hemos vivido con Made.com, una empresa online de muebles que acaba de conseguir una inyección de 2,5 millones de libras para lanzar un servicio que consiste en conectar a los usuarios directamente con los fabricantes de […]

  • http://www.dylangold.com Dylan Gold

    Whoop-it-dee-do.

    A site that sells designer furniture, directly from the craftsman and/or designer, at a benefit to both the maker and the buyer. How altruistic. Don’t buy it.

    Designer furniture, in truth, costs the amount it does for a reason. It is a piece of functional art that a crafts-person and his/her staff produce for those who appreciate and choose to support such endeavors.

    There are countless other alternatives for those looking to purchase cheap furniture made in the far east. Plenty of ‘designer’ brands, too.

    This Chinese salesman/serial entrepreneur only sells ideas and looks to cash in on some outsiders perception of a false benefit of a bullsh*t solution to an exaggerated problem,

    Vote for a design, hope it ‘wins’ then wait for a container full of them to come from CHINA so you can save a few bucks on ‘quality’ designer furniture? Give us a break.

    About me? I am precisely the person who should BENEFIT from this. I am a furniture designer. I am a furniture maker. You can decide whether or not I am ‘fresh industry talent’, but I have a fairly clear idea of what i’m talking about.

    Thing is, you CAN buy direct. Support craftspeople directly by going to their website, calling them on the phone, or visiting their studio. Its easy to cut out the middleman. and its the way savvy buyers already operate.

  • http://www.bayrak.gen.tr bayrak

    this could be a tough one, people want to look and touch furniture

  • S.wilson

    @Dylan Gold: the fact is, that in today’s situation it is quite difficult to buy direct and if you do buy from craftspeople it still cost you a fortune. made.com is smart because they enable people to buy in buld by containers from China. The challenge though, however, is whether they will be able to deliver good quality products….from China.
    I would say the website today looks quite good designed and it shows management has an eye for details….for the rest, let’s wait and see!

  • http://made.com Enver

    i bought a code from groupon £17 for a £50 voucher., i have had a nightmare in the ordering process. firstly my voucher didnt work after trying to contact made.com they said my code was invalid, and to try and to contact groupon as they hadn’t sent my code to them.! tried getting in contact with groupon no success. email or phone calls, i was able to contact USA groupon via email but they had a different system… later on the day after contacting made.com again to say i was unable to resolve the issue with groupon i had forwading them my invoice. they came back to admit they was a problem and that groupon did the error by sending out the wronge codes and to use the secuirty code not the voucher code. — i was then a little excited that i was finally going to able to make a order , but my voucher code still pops up invalid. a bit annoying when i thought it be a simple process.

  • http://made.com Enver

    i bought a code from groupon £17 for a £50 voucher., after successfully purchasing my voucher, i steered my self to made.com , and have had a nightmare in the ordering process. firstly my voucher didnt work after trying to contact made.com they said my code was invalid, and to try and to contact groupon as they hadn’t sent my code to them.! tried getting in contact with groupon no success. email or phone calls, i was able to contact USA groupon via email but they had a different system… later on the day after contacting made.com again to say i was unable to resolve the issue with groupon i had forwading them my invoice. they came back to admit they was a problem and that groupon did the error by sending out the wronge codes and to use the secuirty code not the voucher code. — i was then a little excited that i was finally going to able to make a order , but my voucher code still pops up invalid. a bit annoying when i thought it be a simple process.

  • http://www.venturosis.com Braintree Web Design

    More and more of these websites are popping up – its a great concept to allow people to group together and buy in bulk, essentially bypassing the retailers but these people must realise that they are essentially taking on the risks of the retailers in regards to delivery and quality etc…

blog comments powered by Disqus