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An Online Marketplace Brings Made-to-Order Goods to the Internet

This story appears in the November 2013 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What it is

Cambridge, Mass.-based connects shoppers with artisans and craftspeople around the U.S. who can create custom items such as furniture and jewelry. Buyers post a photo of what they want, or supply a description, and the craftspeople (or, as the site calls them, "Makers") bid on the project. The site specializes in high-end goods with an average cost of $800 to $1,000.

How it started

A cabinetmaker started as an online directory of more than 300 woodworkers scattered across North America. In 2008, Boston University students Mike Salguero and Seth Rosen stumbled across the site while Rosen was looking to purchase a coffee table. Sensing that the idea could be expanded, they bought the domain name for $10,000, then raised $400,000 to start turning CustomMade into what it is today. "We always loved the concept of being able to buy an item directly from the person who made it, and our goal was to make it as easy as possible," Salguero says.

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