Made.com Raises £2.5m to Launch Designer Furniture Business that Uses the Internet to Cut Out the Middle Man

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Made.com today announces it has raised £2.5million from investors to launch a new designer furniture company that cuts out the middle man using the internet to connect buyers directly with manufacturers. Backing comes from Brent Hoberman of mydeco.com, PROfounders Capital (whose investors include Michael Birch of Bebo), Marc Simoncini through his investment vehicle, Jaïna Capital, and John Hunt.

Brent Hoberman and Ning Li celebrate the launch of Made.com

From an investment trend perspective we see an exciting transition from retailing to ‘metailing’ where consumers are in control, influencing which designs make it into production and with a more direct connection to the factory.

Made.com today announces it has raised £2.5million from investors to launch a new designer furniture company that cuts out the middle man using the internet to connect buyers directly with manufacturers. Backing comes from Brent Hoberman of mydeco.com, PROfounders Capital (whose investors include Michael Birch of Bebo), Marc Simoncini through his investment vehicle, Jaïna Capital, and John Hunt.

The company is the brainchild of 28 year-old serial entrepreneur Ning Li who co-founded the firm with Julien Callède and Chloe Macintosh. Previously Ning was co-founder of a Paris-based company that proved the feasibility of the business model. After selling his half of the company in 2009 and embarking on a world tour, he met Brent Hoberman, founder and Chairman of mydeco and together they decided to bring the concept to the UK market with the backing of PROfounders Capital and investment from serial entrepreneurs Marc Simoncini and John Hunt.

Using Ning’s previous experience to improve on the original model, Made.com more than halves the price of contemporary furniture by cutting out the wholesaler and the retailer, without compromising on the quality or the design.

Commenting on the news Brent Hoberman said, “From an investment trend perspective we see an exciting transition from retailing to ‘metailing’ where consumers are in control, influencing which designs make it into production and with a more direct connection to the factory. Made.com is good news for talented designers who struggle to achieve scale production as it will showcase the best new talent to the buying public and generate demand for their products.”

Ning Li added, “There are still a lot of inefficiencies in the furniture retail industry. It is very common to see a piece of furniture being sold for six to ten times its factory price. The internet helps us provide total transparency and strip out the middlemen. Our ambition is to bring appealing design to as many people as possible, revolutionising how furniture is sold and how you buy it”

Made.com works by showcasing furniture designs on the web site and asking people to vote for their favourites. The most popular designs go into production and the people who voted can go on to buy at a discount as a thank you for their part in the selection process. Orders are then placed direct with a manufacturer for mass production in container quantities. Once completed, the orders are shipped to the UK and their progress is trackable in real time on the web site. The upside of this business model is no unsold inventory and no wastage as the factory only manufactures the exact number of items ordered.

Commenting on the news, Marc Simoncini said, "Made.com matches Jaïna Capital’s investment criteria perfectly enabling us to not only take a significant stake, but also to contribute our expertise and know-how of building and deploying a high growth Internet project across Europe".

The PROfounders investment was led by General Partner, Rogan Angelini-Hurll who summarised, “This investment ticks all of our boxes, it has an outstanding and experienced entrepreneur and a business model that is proven, using the internet to disrupt an inefficient supply chain by taking out the layers that add cost but no value for the consumer.”

Notes for editors

PROfounders Capital is an early-stage venture capital firm backed by successful entrepreneurs, with a focus on the digital media and technology space. PROfounders’ investors number some of the best-known players within the digital media space, including Michael Birch (founder of Bebo) and Brent Hoberman (founder of lastminute.com). The fund’s aim is to invest in and support new businesses with capital plus proactive advice and expertise in order to create long-term value and promote entrepreneurism.

Founded in July 2009, PROfounders Capital’s focus is on capital efficient, early-stage companies operating in the digital media and technology space. PROfounders looks for companies that have disciplined and innovative management and which address large potential markets, using technologies that are new or clearly differentiated from any incumbents to generate identifiable revenue streams that can be scaled.
http://www.profounderscapital.com

Marc Simoncini is the founder of Meetic. Meetic is the European leader in online dating with a market cap of 500M€ following the acquisition of the European operations of Match.com. In 1998, he launched the ifrance network which was sold to Vivendi in April 2000 for 182M€. In 2000 he invested in Millemercis which is now a Paris listed company worth around 100M€. Jaïna Capital is his new private investment vehicle.

John Hunt, a serial entrepreneur and investor, is the Founder of the Seattle Coffee Company (sold to StarBucks), Syzygy (an e-business consultancy floated on the German stock exchange) and Obongo (acquired by AOL Time Warner).

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