VOL. 129 | NO. 132 | Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Digital ‘Buy Local’ Platform MadeIn Set to Launch
By Andy Meek
Next week, a venture called MadeIn is launching a new shopping platform in Memphis to connect people to a website where they can buy and sell local goods.
The venture is a digital platform that will act as a kind of local version of Amazon, and MadeIn creator Jennifer Sadler said her startup also will sell curated gift boxes that include an assortment of local products.
Sadler has been working with Start Co. over the summer to launch MadeIn, which she hopes raises awareness of the many sides of Memphis that get obscured in the shadow of things such as Elvis and barbecue. And to help get the word out about the platform, MadeIn is throwing a party.
“With the online platform, you can go and pick any product and it’s all local-based. And you can ship to friends, family and clients all over the country.”
The venture will formally launch July 16 with a party Downtown at K’PreSha Boutique at 323 S. Main St. At the party, which will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., guests will enjoy music, food catered by local chefs such as Sherkenna Buggs, who will cater a pasta bar, chocolates by Phillip Ashley, and a raffle featuring some of the products available on MadeIn’s website, among other things.
Ghost River Brewery’s locally brewed beer will complete the menu. And Sadler’s website, madeinmycommunity.com, will launch that same day.
“It started off as City Box, which was a curated experience in an actual physical box that featured sights, sounds and flavors – so music and art products from the city, things like that,” Sadler said. “And then we wanted to find a way to make it digital, so with the online platform, you can go and pick any product and it’s all local-based. And you can ship to friends, family and clients all over the country.”
She said the entity wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without help from Start Co., the umbrella entrepreneurial venture organization that includes accelerators and related efforts in Memphis. She cites things like Start University, which includes a group of participating teams using Start Co. resources and methods to grow their companies.
That program runs alongside Start Co.’s accelerator programs, and Sadler said she’s used it to take advantage of every opportunity they’ve given in pitching and “making sure everything is tight and polished.”
Her venture’s concept is similar to the gift box trend that’s spreading nationally, albeit in a specific way. In Memphis, as elsewhere, the tendency is toward subscription gift box services such as Batch Memphis, where, for a fee, a regular delivery of such boxes arrives in the mail.
Sadler decided her service would be more accessible if clients didn’t feel locked in to such a subscription.
“I’ve been in Memphis all my life except for two years when I went to Chattanooga,” Sadler said about her motivation for launching MadeIn. “We have a little bit of a reputation mainly from people who live here – we don’t have the boost we need sometimes from the local community telling people how great Memphis is.
“What I found was when you’re trying to give somebody a gift from Memphis, people often give the obvious ones, and there’s so much more that people really don’t know about the city. It started off as a gift pack that featured different things, then we kind of honed that down a little bit.”