Major online textile printer plans expansion to serve European markets.
Spoonflower.com, the online leader in on-demand digital printing of custom fabric, wallpaper and gift wrap, has announced a $25 million minority investment led by North Bridge Growth Equity and Bull City Venture Partners.
The company plans to use the infusion of capital to increase the pace of innovation and introduction of new product offerings, and to fuel international expansion.
According to InfoTrends, the digitally printed textile market is estimated to be more than $12 billion on a worldwide basis, which represents 1% penetration of the overall textile market. Tailwinds from the shift from mass production to mass customization is projected to drive over 35% annual growth in digitally printed textiles through 2018. "Digital textile printing is finally coming of age," says Gart Davis, one of Spoonflower's co-founders and occasional guest speaker at FESPA events.
"The time is right to invest in growth and to bring on a partner like North Bridge, who shares our optimism about the opportunities to transform an industry through on-demand manufacturing."
Spoonflower, a popular custom fabric-shopping site for crafters and design enthusiasts, was launched in 2008 by two self-described Internet geeks whose spouses were frustrated by the limited selection of commercially available fabric prints.
The company's manufacturing facility in North Carolina began modestly, in a one-room former sock mill, with sparse financial resources, unreliable equipment and a looming recession.
By selling custom-printed fabric and offering a marketplace for hundreds of thousands of unique designs created by independent artists, Spoonflower tapped into a swelling DIY movement and a resurgent interest in sewing. Spoonflower now offers the largest digital library of surface designs, globally. The company today employs 150 people in Durham and continues to grow rapidly, with nearly 30% of its daily orders being shipped to non-US destinations. On the heels of the North Bridge investment, the company is planning to open an office in Berlin, Germany.
Partner Russ Pyle and Principal Holly Maloney from North Bridge Growth Equity will join Spoonflower's Board of Directors as part of the investment. David Jones of Bull City Venture Partners will join the board as an observer.
"We are excited to partner with the team at Spoonflower and be their first institutional investor. Our investment will support continued rapid growth as they address related opportunities in the textile market, such as home goods and apparel," explains Pyle.
"We love Spoonflower's passionate and engaged relationship with its loyal customer community, which is unique," adds Maloney. "The Company's proprietary technology, process know-how and organic branding have positioned Spoonflower as a market leader with numerous options to execute against in this next phase of growth." This is the first North Carolina investment by North Bridge Growth Equity, which manages $3.8 billion in capital.
Spoonflower and North Bridge first connected in fall of 2014 at the Tech Venture Conference, an annual event in Raleigh sponsored by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). Over the past year, the relationship grew as North Bridge continued to build out their thesis in the on-demand manufacturing and eCommerce sector.