Craftsvilla, a Mumbai-based startup that wants to become the “Etsy of Asia,” is announcing it has received a $1.5 million in new funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Nexus Venture Partners in India. The new round, closed in April, is an addition to a smaller, seed stage investment back in June 2011.
Like Etsy, Craftsvilla is a large, online marketplace for unique, handmade and handcrafted products. Currently, there are over 50,000 products from over 1,000 Indian sellers on its site, and it’s shipping to over 20 countries worldwide.
The site was founded in January 2011 by husband and wife team Manoj Gupta and Monica Gupta. Manoj says that they were inspired to create Craftsvilla after traveling to local villages in India and seeing the unique products made there which were not available in urban stores. “We realized there is a huge opportunity to bring all these supplies to global customers through a tech-enabled platform driven on Internet,” says Manoj. “India is a land with amazing diversity and no attempt has been made until now to bring all this diversity on a single platform. Craftsvilla.com is an endeavour by us in that direction.”
However, building an Etsy-type of service in India has a different set of challenges than a similar service would face in the U.S. Manoj explains that India has low penetration of Internet access and less awareness about selling things online in general. “This means that we need to innovate on how to bring all the artisans and designers online,” says Manoj. “We thought the best way is to take the Internet to them.”
To do so, the company set up what it calls “Craftsvilla Studios” in different parts of the country where they now help the local artisans with photo shoots of their products, content writing, uploads and dispatch. Thanks to this process, Craftsvilla is able to bring products online that would have never been online before without the hand-holding services being provided.
When products are sold, Craftsvilla also helps with the shipping process. The artisans send the company the product and the company then packs and ships it for global shipment in order to “ensure a certain level of quality” in the experience. They even tuck in a hand-written “thank you” note and a small free gift with the order. Currently, of the 20+ countries Craftsvilla serves, 25% of its orders are sent to the U.S. and Canada.
And the site is growing in popularity, too. Manoj says that it’s now growing 50% month-over-month in terms of revenue and ships over 5,000 products each month worldwide. They also have a Pinterest and Facebook page.
Currently a 60-person team, with the new funding, Craftsvilla is looking to expand to Indonesia and Thailand next and will be soon announcing its launch in these two countries.