Y Combinator-backed VIDA transforms artwork into fashion, accessories and more – TechCrunch
VIDA, an e-commerce startup that allows artists to upload their designs to be printed on real-world materials – like fabric, leather, metal and more – which are then sold as unique products, has expanded its community of artists to over 100,000 members since its launch a few years ago. The company is now participating in startup accelerator Y Combinator, following its recent collaborations with big names including Cher, Steve Madden, Warner Bros. and others.
The idea for VIDA comes from founder Umaimah Mendhro, a Harvard Business School graduate from Pakistan who previously worked at Microsoft and San Francisco-based market accelerator West.
Mendhro had once wanted to be an artist, having taught herself how to cut, draw, sew, sew, screen print, paint, etc. But she feared she couldn’t make a living from art alone, which eventually led her to take another path.
With VIDA, Mendhro merges its interests in art and technology by providing a platform where artists can submit their designs, which then become garments through VIDA’s use of direct-to-fabric digital printing and, more recently other methods to extend printing to harder materials. .
With the digital printing technique, the process of transferring a design to fabric is faster than traditional methods. This allows VIDA to print items on demand at scale, instead of holding inventory. He also uses 3D printing to design the molds for his jewelry collections and plans to expand into other areas soon, such as 3D knitting and laser cutting.
Once printed, VIDA creates a brand page for its artists that they can promote however they see fit. Artists get back 10% of the net sales of all their products sold on VIDA, as VIDA handles everything else associated with the manufacture and sale of these items beyond the design.
When it launched, VIDA only had a few types of products available – silk tops and a few styles of scarves.
Today, the company has branched out into many areas – tops, bottoms, scarves, bags, scarves, homewares like pillows and tapestries, clutches, bags, jewelry, and more. It has also grown its community to over 100,000 artists and creatives from over 150 countries around the world. The site hosts over 2 million individual SKUs and adds around 5,000 more per day.
VIDA does not share customer numbers or sales figures, but it has worked with Cher this year, in conjunction with HSN. He has also worked with Warner Bros. on a collection of Wonder Woman-inspired items, also for HSN.
While VIDA’s larger vision is to create a platform where any idea can become a product, Mendhro says it also appeals to a new type of consumer.
“We reject the standardized and mass-produced products that dominate the retail industry. We want something unique, that tells a story, that contains a part of us and something that feels genuine and authentic,” she says.
Despite the bespoke nature of the products, many are surprisingly affordable. For example, custom bags are between $40 and $50, which is less than a new Nine West handbag or another high street brand.
The company also appeals to the socially conscious buyer, as it gives back to those who make its products in factories through initiatives such as its literacy programs and women’s empowerment programs in Pakistan, India and Turkey. .
The team of just over a dozen are based in San Francisco and plan to raise additional funds after Y Combinator’s demo day to expand beyond fabrics and grow the business further.
The startup is backed by $5.5 million in funding from Google Ventures, Azure Capital, and Slow Ventures. This is a continuation of the $1.3 million seed round that TechCrunch previously announced in 2014 when VIDA was at an earlier stage.