Custom Ink Welcomes New Investors Led by Great Hill Partners
Successful Exits for Early Investors, Revolution Growth, SWaN & Legend Venture Partners
FAIRFAX, VA, and BOSTON, MA, April 4, 2019 – Custom Ink, the leader in custom apparel for groups, companies, and communities, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement with an investor group led by Great Hill Partners, a leading growth-oriented private equity firm, to recapitalize the company for its next chapter of growth and innovation. Custom Ink’s current management team will continue to lead the company, with Co-founder Marc Katz remaining a major shareholder as well as Chairman & CEO. Custom Ink’s current shareholders, including Revolution Growth and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, will exit their investments. Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 2000, Custom Ink helps people create a sense of belonging and community within their schools, teams, businesses, charities, and other groups through digitally-powered solutions for the design, ordering, production, and delivery of customized apparel and other products. The company’s strong brand, robust platform, and caring and capable team have made it the leader in the custom apparel market with projected 2019 revenues exceeding $400 million. Custom Ink’s core values – The Golden Rule, Ownership and Innovation – and purpose-driven culture have earned it a perennial place on local and national “best places to work” lists and fueled industry-leading customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
“This is a really important milestone for Custom Ink,” said Katz. “It’s a testament to the great work of our team over the past 19 years, and it positions us well for the future. Our early investors were friends, family, and angels who saw the potential in Custom Ink, and more recent investors provided expertise and support to accelerate our growth. Now they are passing the baton to our new partners, who also embrace our values and vision. Great Hill in particular has an outstanding track-record of enhancing ecommerce and direct-to-customer companies that are similarly passionate about marketplace and workplace excellence. I think they’re an ideal partner to help us continue to build out our unique brand, offering, and platform.”
Great Hill Partners has deep experience investing in highly differentiated business models across the consumer, e-commerce, and retail sectors. The firm has a long history of backing native digital and omni-channel brands, such as Wayfair, Bombas, The RealReal, and The Shade Store.
“Custom Ink helped pioneer online customization and has created the industry's leading end-to-end digitally-powered platform for customized apparel,” said Michael Kumin, a Managing Partner at Great Hill Partners. “This is a terrific brand with outstanding operations in a highly-fragmented category where we see huge growth potential for the company. We’re thrilled to back Marc and the team and are excited to help Custom Ink extend its market leadership, both organically and inorganically.”
Ted Leonsis, co-founder and partner at Revolution Growth, said, “When Revolution first invested in Custom Ink in 2013, we were impressed with how the company was using technology, combined with a passion for service, to revolutionize the custom apparel category and bring people together. We saw power in Custom Ink’s community-driven growth model, and this has proven to be a very successful investment. We’re proud of our role at Custom Ink and think Great Hill will be an excellent partner for the company’s next stage.”
Fred Schaufeld, SWaN co-founder and partner and longtime Custom Ink adviser, will remain an investor and board member in a personal capacity. Said Schaufeld, "Custom Ink is a wonderful story of creativity, determination, and striving to do the right thing. This was an excellent outcome for SWaN, and I couldn't be more excited for Marc and the team. It's a great company that will continue to do great things." The transaction is expected to close in May. Investing alongside Great Hill is HarbourVest Partners, a global private markets asset manager. GSO Capital Partners is providing committed debt financing as well as an equity investment in connection with the transaction. Guggenheim Securities LLC and DLA Piper advised Custom Ink on financial and legal matters, respectively.
About Custom Ink Custom Ink is the leader in custom apparel and accessories for groups, events, and special occasions. The company helps group organizers bring their families, friends, teammates, and colleagues together with inspired designs they are proud to wear. Custom Ink makes the customization process fun and easy with innovative design tools, caring customer service, creative design inspiration and high-quality merchandise. It also offers Custom Ink Fundraising, a platform to raise money and awareness for charities and personal causes through the sale of custom t-shirts. Its influencer-led custom apparel platform, Represent, helps actors, athletes, musicians, thought leaders, and social media icons create and sell limited-run t-shirts and merchandise to their fans. Custom Ink is based in Fairfax, Virginia with other locations that include Charlottesville, Virginia; Reno, Nevada; Dallas, Texas; and Los Angeles, California.
About Great Hill Partners Great Hill Partners is a private equity firm that has raised over $5 billion in commitments since inception to finance the expansion, recapitalization, or acquisition of growth companies in a wide range of sectors in business-to-consumer and business-to-business industries including eCommerce, software, financial and healthcare technology, digital media and internet infrastructure. For more information, visit www.greathillpartners.com.
About HarbourVest HarbourVest is an independent, global private markets asset manager with more than 36 years of experience and more than $58 billion in assets under management. The Firm’s powerful global platform offers clients investment opportunities through primary fund investments, secondary investments, and direct co-investments in commingled funds or separately managed accounts. HarbourVest has more than 500 employees, including more than 100 investment professionals across Asia, Europe, and the Americas. This global team has committed more than $35 billion to newly-formed funds, completed over $19 billion in secondary purchases, and invested over $9 billion directly in operating companies. Partnering with HarbourVest, clients have access to customized solutions, longstanding relationships, actionable insights, and proven results.