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Summary:

Minted.com, a San Francisco-based online stationary seller has found enough success with the crowd sourcing model to think about expanding into new markets. The company has hired veteran Google engineer as its CTO to beef up its infrastructure it needs for its grand ambitions.

M + N 3

It was nearly two years ago that I re-connected with Mariam Naficy, co-founder of beauty site Eve.com. She had just launched Minted.com, an online service based in San Francisco that sold custom stationary based on crowd-sourced designs. Having been a big believer in crowdsourcing long before it became fashionable, I knew Mariam was onto something — though it wasn’t clear how big the service was going to be.

Minted sells things like personalized wedding invitations, holiday cards and party invites, among other such things. How Minted.com works is designers submit their designs to the site’s ongoing design competitions.  The community chooses the winners, who then get their products sold on Minted. The winning designers win a cash prize and a commission on the sales of their designs in perpetuity.

I caught up with Naficy recently and got an update on Minted.com, which raised $2.5 million in initial funding in 2008 and since then has been working off that capital. She said that Minted’s sales grew 5.5 times in 2009 and are on target to grow four-fold again in 2010. If all things go well this holiday season, sales could easily soar past $5 million. Nearly 100 percent of the company’s revenues are coming from the sales of products based on crowd-sourced designs. Even though the site sells some branded stationary, “the crowd sourcing model is clearly working for us,” she says.

With thousands of designers having signed up, Naficy is now thinking about expanding to other verticals, especially where designs can be used to customize various different products. Nevertheless, in order to go after these new markets, the company needs to beef up its infrastructure.

To do that, the company has named Niniane Wang its CTO. Wang was a founding member of Google’s Desktop Search, led Gmail monetization, and founded Google Lively. Prior to Google, she had worked at Microsoft where she served as engineering lead on the popular franchise Flight Simulator. With Wang on her side, I wonder if Zazzle and CafePress are in her sights? Naficy didn’t comment, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

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  1. were they the founders of eve.com, a site for cosmetics, makeup in late 90s?

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  2. so, let me get this straight. Minted.com has a projected annual sales of 5 million dollars while ‘designers’ who submit their work in *hopes* of winning the cash prize and a mere 5% of sales?

    Crowdsourcing is no different than outsourcing work – It’s exploitation of services and the people who work the hardest don’t even see the money.

    This is merely a venture of exploitation.

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    1. although the idea is very attractive, but only 5%?! that’s kind of robbery on the intelligence of the designers.

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  3. “Nearly 100 percent of the company’s revenues are coming from the sales of products based on crowd-sourced designs.”…..its simply a great achievement….wow!!!

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  4. Hearing a lot about ‘crowd-sourcing’ but this was the 1st story I read. Quite interesting! Perhaps a new form of out-sourcing…

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