LoveCrafts, a social network and marketplace for makers, raises $33M

Facebook may have the generalist, mass-market social network on lockdown, but when it comes to communities based around special interests, the playing field remains full of promise. Today, a U.K. startup called LoveCrafts, aimed atknitters and other home aircraft manufacturers with a platform that is part social network and portion e-commerce marketplace, is announcinga significant growing round of 26 million ($ 33 million) to grab that opportunity expanding into new categories and doubling down on international growing, according to an interviewwith CEO and co-founderEdward Griffith.

The Series C, is presided over by new investor Scottish Equity Partners, is the largest VC investment in a U.K. startup in so far this year( the U.K. marketplace, as “youre seeing”, is a little more conservative than the U.S .).

Others participating in this round include previous investors Balderton and Highland Europe. The valuation is not being disclosed, both Griffith and LoveCrafts investors told me, except to note that it is north of 100 million. Total raised by the company to date is 43 million ($ 55 million in todays currency) on revenues of tens of millions.

Knitting and home crafting may notsound like especially lucrative categories for e-commerce when you compare them to the world of already completed garments, whether thats manner retail based around designer labels or big brands or more bespoke items la Etsy or Modcloth.

However, this is misguided: Knitting and crochet alone, without considering stitch or other home aircrafts, is a multibillion dollar business, just when considering the revenues of the three biggest brick-and-mortar storages serving this marketplace in the U.S .: Jo-Ann, Hobby Lobby and Michaels.

You dontunderstand how big it is until “youre starting” adding everything there is up, Griffith said.

This was also what persuaded its investors. What was interesting to us in the beginning was the secret of how large-scale the crafting marketplace is, Stuart Paterson, a partner at SEP, told me. Its not one that peoplethink of as large and sizeable but there isabout $100 billionof annual spend.

There are other websites on the web that aim at knitters and other crafters they includePinterest, Craftsy, Ravelryand PlanetPurl. What LoveCrafts has created is a unique combination of free social network; plus free or low-cost patterns; plus competitive prices to buy the equipment needed to attain them a combination that is not achieved in quite the same route anywhere else.( Pinterest aggregates lots of associates, but not an efficient way to buy supplies( yet ?); Craftsy is largely aimed at education; and so on .)

Griffith will not talk in specifics, but says there are currently millions who visit LoveCraftsto download patterns( there are more than 100,000 on the website now ), and this makesfor a nice conversion of between three and five percentage on purchases related to those patterns.

LoveCrafts constructs fund today simply on sales of yarns and other knitting and crocheting furnishes. Any revenue collected on patterns moves straight-out to the creator of that pattern.

And thecompany wantsto stick to its knitting, so to speak: It has no plans to change this modeling in the future to include membership fees or other monetization channels, Griffith said.

Going ahead, he addedthat the plan will be to expand to other kinds of haberdashery such as quilting and other stitch, and perhaps into other areas like jewelry making and perhaps cooking basically, categories where LoveCrafts can apply its modeling of creating a community for people to talk about their aircrafts, show off their finished operate, trade patterns and buy supplies to make the objects.

The U.S. accounts for about 45 percent of LoveCrafts market today, and were likely to see the company build up its presence even more there in the near future. Griffith lived and operated in Brooklyn before coming back to London and starting LoveCrafts with university pals Cherry Freeman and Nigel Whiteoak, and given the proximity of Etsy and other maker communities there, its a likely place for a bigger U.S. operation.

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