Donal Reddington on mass customization, crowdsourcing and digital manufacturing

Spreadshirt closes €10m in financing

Online custom clothing company Spreadshirt, recently announced an investment of €10 million by Kennet Partners, a leading private equity firm, and existing investor Accel Partners.

Spreadshirt allows customers to personalized goods to purchase for themselves, with a minimum order of one.   In addition, Spreadshirt extends this capability to partners, large and small, who want to offer personalized shirts and other apparel to their communities and customers.  Partners range from individuals with a blog, to the world’s largest brands.

Spreadshirt says that it will use the funding “to add new products and capabilities to its online platform, to strengthen its international footprint, and for innovative messaging to the massive market of people who wear clothes” – looks like they’ve given up on conquering the nudist market then…

Jana Eggers, CEO of Spreadshirt, is quoted as saying: “Spreadshirt mixes an online ‘Web 2.0’ platform with the offline worlds of fashion, mass customization, and real-time manufacturing.   Combining this with our global coverage means we require a financing partner with a range of experience to contribute more than simply cash.  Kennet, and specifically Managing Director Max Bleyleben, demonstrated their partnership mindset, and past results.  We were sold.”

In turn, the press release quotes Max Bleyleben as saying:  “Spreadshirt is an example of a capital-efficient business that has built not only a strong leadership position in Europe, but also quality leadership in North America.  The entrepreneurial team behind Spreadshirt — founder and Chairman Lukasz Gadowski, founder and CTO Matthias Spiess, and CEO Jana Eggers — have built a dynamic, innovative business for mass-customized eCommerce.”  Mr. Bleyleben was elected to join Spreadshirt’s board.

“As a post-bubble entrepreneur, it is great to see our idea come to this stage of growth financing,” said Lukasz Gadowski, Chairman of Spreadshirt.  “I am looking forward to working with the Spreadshirt team, Accel and Kennet to take personalization and self expression to new heights.”

Accel Partner Harry Nelis underlines the fit with Kennet, pointing out its experience with businesses that want to accelerate growth: “Since 2006, Accel has supported Spreadshirt’s development as it has become the market leader for creative apparel in Europe, and established itself in North America.  With Kennet joining the shareholder group, we have additional expertise to take Spreadshirt across the chasm into the mainstream on both sides of the Atlantic.”

It is something of an achievement in itself for Spreadshirt to successfully conclude a funding of this size in the current economic climate.  Spreadshirt’s main rivals, Cafepress and Zazzle (Both U.S.-based enterprises) have dominated this sector between them in the United States.  This new investment may assist Spreadshirt in making more significant inroads into the American market.

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