E-commerce design startup Minted has big ambitions for its crowdsourced marketplace of designs, with plans to launch in a whole new product category as well as give its artists a platform for creating new storefronts. To realize that goal, the company has raised an additional $38 million in Series D funding led by Norwest Venture Partners.
The new capital comes about one year after the company raised its last round, which came in the form of a $41 million investment led by Technology Crossover Ventures. That firm also participated in the latest raise, which will bring Norwest managing director Jeff Crowe onto Minted’s board of directors.
Altogether, Minted has raised nearly $90 million in funding. However, the company operated for nearly seven years before raising its final $79 million over the last 12 months. Founder and CEO Mariam Naficy says that is due to the growth the company has seen over recent years, as well as its plans to invest and expand its manufacturing capabilities.
Over the years, Minted has established itself as a place where customers could find interesting designs from a wide range of artists. The company got its start as an e-commerce site for selling holiday cards and other stationery products to users. A few years ago, it expanded to also include limited-edition art prints that customers could hang on their walls. Now Minted is entering another product category and will begin selling fabric and home decor products.
Minted is able to offer so many designs because it takes a somewhat unique approach to sourcing them. Rather than create the designs itself or commission others to do so, Minted crowdsources art from its creative community through a series of design competitions.
After artists and creative types submit their entries, the company narrows down the field through voting by its community and its own analytics, and it picks the best designs to print and make available to customers. Artists get an upfront reward when they win, as well as a commission for each item sold through its platform. Meanwhile, Minted handles all the sales, manufacturing, and fulfillment of orders that come in from customers.
According to Naficy, Minted sees a small bit of overlap between designers who submit their pieces for use in its stationary and those who have participated in competitions for its wall art. Sometimes a stationery designer will try out for its art marketplace, while more traditional artists may occasionally decide to try their hand at greeting cards and other designs.
In the same way, Minted hopes to recruit talent for its new line of textile offerings and offer them a new creative outlet and medium to work with. Already the company has curated fabric and home decor prints out of more than 1,400 submissions from artists around the world.
Along with the new vertical, Minted is also trying its hand at a new way for artists to sell their goods on its platform. Previously, Minted only sold designs that had been submitted and won its design competitions. But now, the company will allow those artists to make other art or designs they’ve created for sale, as well.
Minted is providing winning artists with the ability to set up their own storefronts, which will enable thousands of artists a new opportunity to make their goods available. It’s able to do so because all goods are printed on order, so it runs a lean operation without inventory or having to worry about bulk printing.
And while today the company doesn’t do any of its own printing, it could look to change that. Naficy told me Minted is exploring the possibility of operating some of its own facilities, which would give it more quality control on certain products, as well as the ability to experiment in a way that some suppliers either won’t or can’t.
The funding is also being positioned to help bring some senior management on board over the coming months. In addition to boosting its overall engineering headcount, Minted is looking to hire for roles that include a CFO, head of operations and head of analytics. Once those roles are filled, Minted should be well on its way to scaling up and potentially adding even more verticals.