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Investors Bank on the Appeal of a Startup's Design-Focused Office Products Even with the e-commerce site still in beta, the startup drew $6 million in venture capital in February.

By Gwen Moran Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"We believe it's an open market for beautiful products." --J. Christopher Burch, Poppin
Photos© Randy Harris

Don't talk to J. Christopher Burch about plain black staplers, boring tape dispensers or those ordinary yellow No. 2 pencils beloved by creators of standardized tests. The venture capitalist and co-founder of fashion label Tory Burch has no patience for utilitarian office supplies. That's why he founded Poppin: to bring a bit of pizzazz to the market, which brings in $20 billion annually.

In 2009, Burch's VC firm, J. Christopher Capital, provided seed money for a small group of design, customer-service and other professionals on a singular mission: to create eye-popping office products at low prices. Burch brought his refined design sensibility, not to mention an enviable roster of contacts in every area from manufacturing and distribution to retail and finance--including Randy Nicolau, who had sold his online data-management platform company, Demdex, to Adobe Systems in January 2011 and was looking for a new project to join.

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