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Over the last two decades, Adam Sandow has worked to develop a portfolio of magazines, including Interior Design, Luxe, and Metropolis. From that company, he received the concept for a marketplace for architectural, design, and construction materials that could modernise the manual process of dealing with samples by bringing technology, search, and convenience.
His firm, Material Bank, is currently the newest rapidly expanding marketplace to win investors over. In a video chat with Forbes from the company’s new warehouse in Olive Branch, Mississippi, Sandow revealed that the New York and Florida-based business had raised $100 million in venture capital at a valuation of roughly $1 billion. The latest investment takes Material Bank’s total capital to $157 million and is headed by General Catalyst. Investors have told us that we have created a unique business, according to Sandow.
He claims that Material Bank would use the additional money to grow its core business, pursue acquisitions (two deals are anticipated to conclude this year), and establish new brands under the Material Bank umbrella that may help the firm connect with customers. Sales last year quadrupled and are anticipated to reach $50 million this year. There aren’t many businesses in the area, according to Sandow. It’s not in the crowded industries of gaming, AI, cryptocurrency, or electric vehicles.
52-year-old Miami-raised Sandow has spent the last 20 years growing his namesake media network. He launched Luxe from scratch in 2005 and acquired Interior Design from Reed Elsevier in 2010. He explains, “I adore design; I grew up reading design magazines,” but after a lengthy media career, he was itching to try something new. Despite continuing to control all of Sandow’s media company, he took a back seat in day-to-day management.
He established Material Bank in 2018 with the goal of assisting architects and designers in finding the materials they require. Historically, manufacturers had to provide carpet samples, tile samples, and wall covering samples upon request from architects and designers. There was no simple method to follow those samples or update them. Late samples meant late projects, which frequently resulted in significant expense and annoyance.
In contrast, Material Bank compiles materials from several sources, enabling consumers to quickly find what they’re looking for. Inefficiencies in the market were more understood by Adam than by anybody else, according to Holly Maloney, managing director of General Catalyst. We were keeping an eye on whether he would devote his attention to it because it would need a significant investment and he had already achieved great success in the media.
Brands and designers loved the concept when Sandow first floated it in test talks, he claims, but they didn’t think anybody could handle tens of thousands of SKUs. The response from these businesses was, “We can hardly accomplish it on our own—how are you going to aggregate a thousand of us? ’”