Craftom CEO and Founder Caleb Musser grew up in Raleigh watching his software entrepreneur dad code until 3 a.m. From the age of 5, Musser would always pile into the family’s van to help pick up his dad’s product from the warehouse.
It was this upbringing—in which Musser was constantly surrounded by tech entrepreneurship—that might have inspired Musser to begin his own startup, Craftom.
After Musser graduated high school, he attended UNC Wilmington and then worked in sales before starting his first company, which offered high-end corporate gifting. At the end of 2019, though, Musser was looking to do something else and saw an opportunity to create a software company that could scale.
Craftom, which has offices in Charlotte and Raleigh, released its first iteration in January 2020. The original concept was as a B2B Etsy-like marketplace, where companies could find branded materials, like koozies, from different vendors. The idea seemed to have legs until Covid hit, and businesses had much bigger issues to deal with than finding branded merch.
Though when the entire country went remote in March, Musser quickly innovated—building a shipping system over one weekend. He realized the greater problem during Covid was that companies were struggling to buy and ship items at scale reliably and quickly, including items for their own employees.
With Craftom, companies can easily send packages to people working from home, whether their own employees or customers in general. Hitachi’s software division became Craftom’s first customer a few weeks later.
But before this, Musser fought to keep Craftom from dying and was successful mostly because of that quick pivot to building the remote shipping system over one weekend. When the state enacted coronavirus shutdowns, Musser even brought the machinery and inventory into his own house and shipped from there for three months.
“You don’t really realize how scrappy or how much heart and tenacity you have until your back’s up against the wall like that,” Musser said. “Where it’s ‘do or die,’ and you have no choice.”
Now, Craftom aims to be the top enterprise products platform, allowing companies to source, customize, and ship physical products for their entire organizations, no matter if the recipients are working from home, the office or anywhere else.
It’s as easy for a customer to send 500 packages to 500 different locations as it is to send 500 packages to one location, Musser said. The software is also designed to be product-agnostic, making the uses even broader for businesses.
“I believe that there’s an opportunity to roll up B2B products on one platform for businesses the same way Amazon did for consumers, and that’s what we’re looking to build,” Musser said.
Musser said Craftom has essentially been profitable since day one because its business model ensures they will get paid upfront. Clients also load up their spend accounts, buying as they go.
There are more than 20 paying customers on the platform today, the majority of them mid-sized enterprise companies like NetApp, MongoDB, and Nutanix.
While Craftom has gotten this far by bootstrapping, generating nearly $2 million in gross SaaS and marketplace bookings in 2021, the startup is currently raising a $3 million late-seed round.
Quick pivot set stage for future
Craftom’s agility in adapting quickly during the pandemic is something that Musser now says lives on in the business’s entire operations.
“That dynamic-ness and speed is now ingrained in our DNA,” Musser said. “If something’s not working, we will move and change just like that. We develop things and iterate so much faster because of 2020.”
Craftom has also emphasized finding brands with social causes in addition to highlighting the small businesses owned by women, veterans and minorities on their marketplace, Musser said.
“If they sign up in our marketplace, we can get them in front of all of these companies and highlight their products to them,” Musser said. “Which is also a benefit for the corporate companies because they have initiatives around sustainability and diversity and they want to buy products that align with those values.”
Moving forward, Musser envisions Craftom being essentially a “tale of two cities,” having its logistics headquarters in Charlotte while building its tech presence in Raleigh. The current seed round will enable them to meet demand and grow quicker. Craftom is also working on rolling out its own version of Amazon Prime but for B2B, the first service of its kind for the sector.
“We frankly can’t keep up with the demand,” Musser said. “So raising money will allow us to build out a sales force for different departments and really take this thing much faster and scale quicker.”