Displate: global marketplace of metal posters from Poland

Seven million products sold and decorating 2.5 million houses resulted in the startup acquiring a majority investor at the end of 2020 – Mid Europe Partners. A year later, the company recorded record revenues of $100M – 5 times more than two years earlier.

However, the third round of financing the company, which began in early 2020, failed. Two of the three initiated investment processes fell apart, and the third was interrupted by the pandemic outbreak. The owners had to reduce their salaries first, and then their employees to save the company. They survived the regression, and then a miracle led the company to flourish – a speedy boom of the entire e-commerce sector. Sales began to grow at such a pace that, at some point, they had to slow down marketing activities to keep up with the production of posters. Revenues increased three times from $27 million to over $80 million.

Since the company raised financing only twice before, obtaining from investors first EUR 2 million and then $3 million before the transaction with the fund, most of the company’s shares were in the hands of the owners. They remain its significant minority shareholders to this day. They waited a long time for this, bearing in mind that before Displate was founded, about ten startups they launched collapsed. The new company would not have been established if one of the company’s co-founders had not brought a metal poster from his manufacturer to the meeting. Together, they quickly concluded that they could create a marketplace based on them, acquiring artists who would like to print their works on metal sheets and sell them via the platform. The key to success was to be only the English language version of the website, one product in the offer, and global activity. And so it happened.

They acquired their first artists through a job advertisement in the New York Times. Dozens of graphic designers applied and uploaded about 400 designs to the platform, becoming its testers and then the company’s clients. The best of them have earned tens of thousands of dollars from selling their works through Displate. Then, the efforts to obtain licenses from large entertainment corporations began, from which they managed to acquire companies such as Marvel, DC Comics, Disney, and Blizzard.

Tenacity came in handy when attracting buyers when they focused on Facebook marketing because the effects went after a year. Using a photo of an orange sofa with five posters in rotation, it generated 118 million views in three years. Effects? Seven million products sold, decorating 2.5 million homes, cooperation with 41,000 artists, and holding licenses of 175 companies. In 2021, after acquiring the majority of investors, the company generated $100 million in revenue and almost $24 million in operating profit. The head of the company is Marek Godala, a former director of marketing, although the company’s founders still advise it.

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