— Building a Textile Marketplace

Earlier this month, I posted a two-part interview series with's CEO and Founder, Mitch Free. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 of the interviews by clicking these links. One of the topics that caught my attention most during our conversation was's launch in the textiles market (originally, the marketplace was focused entirely on industrial manufacturing categories). Mitch noted that in the textiles market, "we saw a big opportunity to take the business model into the textile industry. Our gut was right. Only shortly after launching, we have tens of million dollars of volume almost every day on the site."

I recently checked's textile marketplace and saw nearly $60 million in annualized volume up for bid. Not bad. In fact, this number represented one-third of the total marketplace volume up at the time (which speaks to possible declining volumes in the industrial marketplace from the overall economy or other factors based on's historic volume numbers). I think the reason for the growth shows that when it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, companies would rather use an integrated solution that not only provides a supplier directory, but also integrates the sourcing workflow into the process. In the SMB textiles sourcing market -- which is quite fragmented given all of the small outfits, from hospitals to individuals sourcing items -- a supplier-pays marketplace model very well might be the winning non-woven ticket.

- Jason Busch

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