Thursday Jun 14, 2012 by Brendan Lynch - Contributor, VentureFizz
Cambridge’s CustomMade.com, which runs an online marketplace for custom furniture and other products, is overhauling its website this week after wrapping up a May that brought in $400,000 in revenue.
The overhaul is meant to improve the discovery process on the site, so customers can more easily and clearly explain what they want from one of the site’s 3,500 “makers,” a group including woodworkers, jewelry makers, metal workers, blacksmiths -- and a custom bobble-head doll maker.
“We don’t want the Etsy folks, the part-time hobbyists,” said CEO Mike Salguero. “We want real professionals.”
After someone posts their idea coffee table, for example, on the site’s job board, makers bid on the job. CustomMade takes a 10 percent cut of the transaction, as well as charging a monthly subscription, mostly to verify the maker’s bonafides -- right now, that fee is $1 per month.
Salguero credited the company’s brisk May to the move to the split model from a straight subscription, which he said to better align the company’s incentives with the makers’.
In April, CustomMade closed a $4 million round of investment from Google Ventures and Schooner Capital. Salguero said the 25-employee company’s headcount should hit 30 within the next few months, as it expanding its engineering staff and marketing efforts.
Most of CustomMade’s business comes from furniture and jewelry, Salguero said, but that doesn’t mean Gemvara, the custom jewelry website across the river, is targeting the same market.
“For us, it’s more a case of, ‘I have this diamond I inherited, and I want to find someone to make a setting for it,” he said.
CustomMade has seen a spike in traffic from social media site Pinterest, and saw its Facebook page go from 4,000 likes to 40,000 likes to in four months.
Salguero said he keeps an eye on similar online marketplaces like TaskRabbit, for small jobs, oDesk, for hiring, 99Designs, for graphic design, AirBnB, for travel accomodations, for ideas on how to turn jobs posted on the site into completed transactions.
“A lot of what we do is try to figure out the best way to get people through the system,” he said.