Washington, D.C.-based Framebridge, the custom framing startup founded by Living Social alumna Susan Tynan, just brought in an $16.7 million Series B round, TechCrunch reports. Crate and Barrel co-founder Gordon Segal and former Rent the Runway president and COO Beth Kaplan joined this round as investors. Past investors like NEA, Revolution and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners also participated, bringing Framebridge’s funding to date to about $37 million.
Now, you might look at Framebridge and think it’s just your typical framing company. What’s so special about that? But its digital-first approach makes it a disruptor in the digital framing field. Usually, when people need a print or photograph custom framed, they need to go to a physical frame shop with whatever they want framed with them.
Instead, Framebridge lets you mail in your item using a prepaid label, or upload your digital print online, and the startup will send you your item back in a few days with a custom-fit frame. Pieces start at $59 for a small photo and go up to $189 for a piece up to 32″ by 40″, a payment that is lower than your typical frame shop.
In an interview with DC Inno, Vice President of Marketing Matt Carrington said Framebridge plans to use the new funds to beef up its teams across all of its channels – from engineering to marketing to its production facilities staff in Maryland and Kentucky. The new funds will also be used to further expand Framebridge’s marketing efforts.
“We’ll be able to invest in some of the underlying technology that drives us that so we can improve overall quality — it’s already high but we want to make sure that it keeps going,” Carrington said.
According to a press release, 40 percent of Framebridge’s customers are under the age of 35 — a highly unusual trend for a framing company. The release also reports that half of their customers return within one year, and one-third of their customers have never purchased a custom frame before. “The ability to demonstrate that you can create new demand is really valuable to the investors that we talked to,” Carrington said. “Custom framing, a lot of people would say, starts at a later point in life.”
In terms of hiring goals, throughout the rest of 2017 and into early 2018, Carrington said Framebridge will be looking at adding to its engineering team specifically, making about a dozen hires by the end of the year. After that, they’ll be taking some time to assess the demand for their product and the work of their existing talent pool.
The ability to demonstrate that you can create new demand is really valuable to the investors that we talked to.
And having such a good working relationship with so many local VC firms — as seen in repeat investments from Revolution and SWaN & Legned — only helps Framebridge as they push their hiring efforts.
“It’s incredibly helpful from a talent perspective,” Carrington said. “When we have had needs for senior executives and for team members across various departments, they have had rich contacts to be able to find people.”
Framebridge closed another Series B round in April 2016 as a way of funding its expansion plans, including a new 100,000 square-foot framing facility in Kentucky. In late 2015, the startup also hired former Zappos and Teespring executive Anthony Vicars as its vice president of operations.
In an interview with DC Inno last year as a part of the DC Innovators series, Tynan said the company has its eyes on pricing their products and the rising popularity of 3-D printing.
“We talk about how important it is for the entire company to delight customers as we grow, that’s important,” Tynan said in the interview. “We will have to rethink pricing at some point as customers don’t like to be upsold. I think if 3D printing gets popular, the answer is we’ll do it the best. It’s like changing your oil or painting your nails, most people don’t do it themselves. I think people have to experience [using Framebridge] to understand why it’s special, like getting a meal at restaurant.”