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Material Bank acquires Clippings to speed the digitization of the design industry

Adel Zakout and Tom Mallory, Clippings, interior design materials
Image credit: Adel Zakout and Tom Mallory, co-founders of Clippings, © Francois Halard
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The procurement platform for interior design, Clippings, which has a Bulgarian R&D center has been fully acquired by Material Bank, the New-York-based online marketplace for searching and sampling design, architecture, and construction materials. The deal is of undisclosed amount.  The last funding round of the company was a $15.4M Series B, and the total amount of external investment amounts to $21.1M. With the acquisition, the American company aims to speed the digital transformation of the design sector.

Preceding the acquisition of Clippings is the $100M Series C funding of Material Bank in May this year which raised the valuation of the company to $1B. Back then the company’s leadership stated that the financing will be used to scale teams and infrastructure, expand into new verticals, and conclude strategic acquisitions.

“Today, interior designers and architects are spending 60 to 80% of their time just doing admin work like emails, Excel sheets, putting quotes together, and just managing things. Technology has not enabled them to save time and focus on where they can add value. But in 10 years’ time, designers will be able to design more thanks to technology,” said Adel Zakout, Executive Chairman and co-founder.

The digital transformation of the interior design market

Founded in 2014, by two Architecture Association students Adel Zakout and Tom Mallory, Clippings has quickly managed to gain traction. It raised a total of $21.1M from investors such as Advance Venture Partners, C4 Ventures, and Crowdcube, as well as the angels Spas Roussev and Simon Clausen. Born in Dubai to a Bulgarian mother, Zakout has been engaged in other entrepreneurial endeavors before Clippings. These include the digital agency Despark and the gourmet burgers fast-food chain Boom!Burgers that are operational on the Bulgarian market. 

So far, Clippings has been used in more than 80K projects in 38 countries by clients such as WeWork and Virgin Voyages. Up to this point, the platform has gathered more data on more than 5.6M products of more than 650 brands. In short, Clippings aims to digitize the traditional design and furniture catalogs and to introduce more transparency in the process of price-making. Divided into three main categories of furniture, lighting, and home accessories, the platform allows designers and interior designers brands to create their own profiles and online marketplaces.

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Material Bank – becoming a unicorn in 2 years

Currently operational on the US and Canadian markets, Material Bank was founded in 2019 with the goal to become a one-stop shop for design materials used by designers and architects. By utilizing the power of automation in its distribution warehouses, the marketplace is able to offer buyers a next-day delivery of small samples such as fabrics and tiles. For the short time since its launch, Material Bank is already considered to be a unicorn after its last $100M funding round in May 2021. 

Since around 70% of the clients of Clippings are British, and the company has offices both in London and Sofia, with the current acquisition, Material Bank will be able to expand its reach in Europe.

The future plans and the impact on the Bulgarian team

Clippings, which employs a total of around 80 employees, has half of its team working on business development in London, and the other half working on R&D in the engineering office in Sofia. After the acquisition Clippings will continue working as an independent brand in the Material Bank Group. Zakout has shared that the two platforms won’t merge yet. According to him, there will be a significant investment in their platform so that they can keep introducing UX innovations and better the experience for Material Bank’s users. He also shares that the Sofia-based engineering and product development team will see significant growth in the near future. 

“The acquisition will have a very positive impact on our technology team in Sofia – and on the broader startup ecosystem in Bulgaria. We have now become one of the few startups locally, with over $140m in funding, working to innovate and disrupt a huge, trillion-dollar industry, through technology,” Zakout notes. “Our plans are to significantly invest in and grow our team, especially within product & engineering. We will be opening positions to continue hiring top talent, who can help us achieve our mission,” he adds.

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive, an online media dedicated to the emerging tech and startup ecosystems in Southeast Europe. She is keen on sharing the innovation stories that shape the regional ecosystem and has a great interest in fintech, IoT, and biotech startups. Elena is currently finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Political Science at the American University in Bulgaria.