As a VC firm, we are known for taking great risk in the name of great reward. Sometimes that means we have to be extra critical, pointing out the ugly babies as we see them. A recent investment in the revived Domino magazine is proof that beautiful babies do exist even if they’re not beautiful the first time.
Domino enables consumers to easily discover designer endorsed products, share ideas, and buy directly from a manufacturer while on Domino.com. Founded by a team of serial entrepreneurs who created a Pinterest-inspired online commerce platform (Project Décor) and ex-Domino editorial talent Michelle Adams, Domino is a prime example of entrepreneurial resiliency and grit.
Conceived in 2005 under the Condé Nast brand, a publication mogul responsible for magazines like GQ, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, Domino was forced to close its pages in 2009 when the financial crisis hit. Fans were devastated, but in true underdog fashion, a second life has been breathed into Domino by the experienced startup team of Andy Appelbaum, Cliff Sirlin, Aaron Wallace, and Michelle Adams (Andy I’ve known for the past 5 years and we’ve co-invested as angels in NY.)
Together, Domino and Project Decor are building out a robust website experience augmented with a quarterly print publication. They’re taking passive reading experiences and turning them into active purchasing decisions. They have ambitious goals, but we believe this team can pull it off, which is how they raised a total of $11.5 million in funding, primarily from Launch Capital, iNovia Capital and Condé Nast.
The combination of Domino and Décor, these home furnishing powerhouses, culminates in a radically different purchasing experience for high-end home furnishings. Traditionally, customers are forced to rely on architects, designers or other professionals to view showroom products. Domino is democratizing access to upscale home furnishings by connecting customers directly to the manufacturer, skipping gatekeepers altogether.
In addition to the streamlined, cohesive, purchasing experience, Domino is the first multi-platform home magazine that focuses on editorial content; building out products around a story and not the other way around. This approach creates an authentic, trust-based dialogue, letting manufactures bypass the traditional advertising model, and creating a warmer sales environment than other singular platforms. The new Domino is a perfect convergence of content and commerce, run by a team with the drive, dedication and experience to get the job done.