“A few years ago, I was looking to sell off my old car for which I was in negotiation with a businessman. This gentleman was wearing an exquisite ring adorned with a 3D Lion cub. When I asked him where he got it from, he replied that it was customized for him by his brother in Belgium,” said Raj Iyer who founded icustommadeit.com, an online platform that believes in the miracle that personalization of beautiful, iconic products can lead to!
The website is an online marketplace that connect individuals who are looking for unique bespoke creations with curated professional creators globally.
For Iyer experience of selling of his old car gave him the opportunity to take a plunge into starting his own venture. “I started to imagine the possibility of a platform where I could just click the photo of the ring and upload it, and talented jewellers from all over who have executed similar projects before, could bid on my product and I could then choose a creator based on his past projects, feedbacks, etc.,” said Iyer.
Adding further, Iyer said, “When I thought deeper I realized that this could not just be for jewellery, but also for other categories like furniture, wearables, and many more.”
Each one of us has faced this dilemma of what to gift someone we love since they have everything. Imagine gifting a customized product such as a pendant with your beloved’s photo embossed on it or a gold ring customized with the fingerprints of the person you love…that would make for an ideal gift...classy, stylish and very unique. That’s how the idea for icustommadeit came up.
With the growing need for custom-made products, icustommadeit.com provides a forum to bridge the gap between manufacturers / creators and shopaholics who love everything custom made. “There are over 8,000 items on the site, across 33 odd categories which presents our consumers with a wide range of products they can choose to customize or even purchase them as they are,” said Iyer.
People can use the platform in three ways: by buying a stock product from the product gallery, by requesting a product from a particular creator, or by posting a photo and description and asking for bids from creators who would like to custom-make that product. “We are bringing together a new breed of independent artisans, designers and customized products to the mass market,” said Iyer.
Money rolling in
They work on a freemium model though the basic subscription is free. Other than this there's a transaction fee that icustommadeit.com takes on the final cost of the product/custom project. “We provide both the creators and buyers a seamless platform where artists not only showcase their creations but also communicate with buyers to know their need and make something totally original for them. We are passionate about bespoke. We bring the buyers and sellers of bespoke products on a common platform,” said Iyer.
The Pune-based bespoke products startup, icustommadeit.com has recently raised $ 4 million from Times Group’s Brand Capital, Siddhivinayak Skyscrapers, an undisclosed corporate giant and Dinesh R. Challa, IIT Roorkee alumnus; in its Pre-series A funding round.
The venture aims to use substantial amount of funds from ad-for-equity media investor Times Group's Brand Capital to advertise its brand and offerings through various media publications of Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, which operates as Times Group. With this partnership, Icustommadeit.com seeks to expand presence in 18 target cities and also start its global operations.
Speaking on the same lines, Iyer said,“We are very confident and looking forward to create a high impact in the market by utilizing Times Group’s expansive outreach and matchless media mix. We are also in progressive talks with a few Venture capitalists for initiating a next round of funding within the next few months.”
Prior to this round of funding startup had raised $250,000 each in its second and third round of angel funding in June and August 2015 respectively.
Currently, the company offers an array of over 25000 products spread across 33 categories. So far, the venture has raised $900,000. The brand recently launched a bespoke tea collection ‘Garnet Glow’, which invited a phenomenal response. In the coming month, an exclusive brand of handcrafted watches; ‘Aion’ is due for launch. Icustommadeit also entered licensed agreements with top merchandise brands recently.
“My vision for icustommadeit is to go global within the next six months. My dream is to make one lakh millionaires within the next five years from the local artisan pool by connecting them with enthusiastic buyers through icustommadeit. We are also tying up with various NGOs in the country as they do formidable work with indigenous artists and craftsmen,” said Iyer.