Creema, Japan’s handmade marketplace, raises $10 million

Tokyo-based Creema, the Japanese startup behind a consumer-to-consumer marketplace for handmade items, announced that it has raised about $10 million (1.1 billion yen) in its latest round led by Globis Capital Partners (GCP).

For Creema, this is its fourth round following an approximately $911,000 raise (100 million yen) from KDDI Open Innovation Fund (KOIF for short, jointly operated by leading Japanese telco KDDI and VC firm Global Brain) back in June 2014. In addition to GCP, participating investors in the latest round were KDDI, Global Brain, and SMBC Venture Partners, as well as Creema founder and CEO Kotaro Marubayashi himself.

Launched back in 2010, the Creema marketplace lists more than 2.4 million handmade items from over 60,000 registered creators. While the handmade C2C market in Japan grew by 250% year over year in transaction volume, Creema revealed that it has seen 450% growth from last year.

Currently the Japanese handmade market is fiercely competitive. However, most deals are apparently aggregated into the top 4 marketplaces: Minne (backed by GMO), Tetote (backed by GMO), Iichi(backed by Hakuhodo group and Taiwan’s handmade C2C marketplace Pinkoi) and the amply-funded Creema.

Creema will use the funds to strengthen development and marketing efforts. The company had depended on word-of-mouth marketing among users, and is now expecting to hit about $92 million (10 billion yen) in gross merchandise volume for 2016 (this number is coincidentally matched with that of competitor Minne).

According to Marubayashi, the average market price for each deal at Creema is over twice that at other marketplaces since users tend to trade handmade items with elaborate designs crafted by professionals. Recently Creema started dealing with food products where bakers and pâtissière sell their original breads or cakes, while farmers sell handmade salad dressings and juices.

The consolidated annual merchandise volume from the two major C2C marketplaces of Japan, Yahoo Auction and Mercari, is to near the 1 trillion yen (or about $9.2 billion) mark by this yearend. Given that handmade item deals are included in these stats, we can see that the handmade item marketplaces still have a great potential for further growth.

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