There’s something about cute stationary that I just can’t resist. And I’m continually surprised at how much I’m willing to spend on novelty invitations and thank you cards. I just can’t help myself… But it’s suburban yuppies like me (as much as it pains me to admit it) that are perking up the economy. And that’s probably why online designer stationary startups like Tiny Prints and now Minted are drawing the eyes of investors.
Minted announced Tuesday that it has raised $5.5 million in a Series B round of funding led by Benchmark Capital, with help from IDG Ventures and Menlo Ventures. Google’s Marissa Mayer and Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman also contributed to the round.
The startup takes an Etsy-like approach to stationary and combines it with crowd-sourcing to produce a site where the paper designs are created for the people, by the people. The company sources its designs from independent graphic designers, some of whom have design degrees and/or professional jobs, and some of whom are just talented design aficionados. The designers submit their work, and the community judges the quality of the work to create an online design meritocracy. Some 95% of the Minted designer community is comprised of women, and 50% are mothers.
"Minted immediately grabbed our attention as a business that could scale -- they combine two powerful forces, the creative power of an online design community and the aesthetic needs of mass affluent females," said Peter Fenton, General Partner at Benchmark Capital. "It was the team, above all else, that stood out to us. Mariam, Niniane, and Melissa exude excellence in everything they do."
Founded in 2007, Minted raised $2.5 million from IDG Ventures in 2008.
In addition to the new funding, Minted also announced its first ever Art Print Challenge. Indie designers are encouraged to choose a wall or room in their home and design for that space, which can be a child’s room, a living room, a studio, etc. Designers can then submit one or more designs for that space, which will be judged by three design experts: One Kings Lane founder Alison Pincus, California Home and Design editor-in-chief Mary Jo Bowling, and Full House blogger Christina Brian. The winning pieces will not only be sold on Minted.com, but on One Kings Lane as well, in a special sales event in early 2012.
Minted plans to use the new funds from this round to boost recruiting efforts and support the company’s growth.