Meet Milkster, a brand new marketplace for designers, craftspeople and interior design enthusiasts. Designers too often end up working for big companies instead of working on products that they are truly passionate about. Milkster is here to solve that by connecting designers with customers to fund their projects.
“We started from things that you might use in your daily life,” co-founder and CEO Sal Matteis told me in a phone interview. “Because if you are a product designer, unless you are working for Apple and Google, you end up spending a lot of your time designing and actually not getting to market. The designers are left with very little value out of their creation.”
On the site, you can find a beautiful handcrafted chair, a neat bike dock, minimalist lamps and more. Most of these objects were first submitted to Milkster. The startup acts as a launchpad to fund the first batch.
For the designer, it works a lot like a crowdfunding platform, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo without the reward tiers. When you are a designer, you have to submit your project to Milkster. The platform will then work with you to figure out who the intended customers are, how much it will cost and more.
“For example, we found this great maker in Spain. His chair is really, really well-designed — it’s leveraging the art of origami and it makes it really cosy. It adds value to your home,” Matteis said. “Yet, designers don’t have a lot of connections. It would be really hard to get this sort of ‘iPhone of the chair’ out — that is unless the designer compromises and works with a big brand that can buy his or her design. But it would be a very different product. We enable them to launch to a broader audience without having to make a compromise.”
Most products are released as “first editions”. It means that these products are not available anywhere else and are made to order. And because you are funding the first batch, you are supporting the designer. The first editions are cheaper as well. “The product is made the moment that the order is coming — you’re buying into the product itself,” Matteis said. Everything will be ready to start producing right away when you hit the buy button.
The company is working with more than a hundred designers. Not everything is available on the platform just yet. One new product will be added every other day for the foreseeable future.
The company is headquartered in London with a distributed team across five European countries. Products are shipped in the U.S. and Europe for now. The goal is to operate in Asia as well in the second half of this year.
When asked about Milkster’s competition, Matteis said that it’s hard to compare his startup with Fab or Etsy. “We’re closer to Etsy in terms of ethos. But in terms of connecting to makers, we’re closer to Kickstarter and Indiegogo.” On Milkster, designers haven’t been exposed. They haven’t even launched a product platform. In other words, Milkster is as much about discovering designers as purchasing handmade products.