SAN FRANCISCO — Curated, which operates a shopping platform that brings together people and products by matching customers with unbiased experts, has officially launched with $27.5 million in total funding.
Led by former LinkedIn and Facebook veterans, Curated brings the personal touch of an in-store specialty shopping experience to customers online through the thoughtful guidance of real experts, who are now able to monetize their passions while providing a new way to discover products from new and established brands.
The company’s seed investment comes from a variety of LinkedIn executives, the former chairman of online specialty retailer Backcountry.com, Michael Zeisser, and John Burbank of Passport Capital. Its Series A round is led by Forerunner Ventures, the firm behind Warby Parker, Glossier, Away, Faire and more. Kirsten Green, Founder and Managing Director of Forerunner Ventures, has also joined Curated’s Board of Directors.
To provide the best possible expert match, when first visiting the site, customers are prompted to answer a few basic questions about their specific needs. They are then connected with a category expert — a real person — to discuss the details of what they are looking for. The conversation starts on the platform but can continue via text, phone or email. After understanding what the customer is looking for, the expert provides a list of personalized recommendations with detailed explanations of why each product is a fit based on their first-hand experience and deep knowledge of the products for that category. Once the expert and customer have found the right product together, customers can buy directly from Curated.
Curated aims to address a broad range of considered purchases, including enthusiast categories such as golf, winter sports, and cycling, with more to become available as the company expands.
“At Curated, our goal is to help people pursue their passions and interests to the fullest by helping them buy the right product or experience. We want to get rid of the uncertainty that often surrounds complex or big-ticket online purchases,“ said Eduardo Vivas, co-founder and CEO of Curated. “There’s an incredible number of experts around the country — like golf and ski pros — who live their passions every day and have the desire to share their knowledge. We saw an opportunity to bring their untapped expertise to digital commerce and allow people to benefit from it so they can shop with confidence and love what they buy.”
Quietly operating since late 2017, Curated boasts a nearly 0 percent return rate, a stark contrast to the 30 percent industry standard. The funding will be used to continue investing in their team and experts, improving the online platform, marketing to scale the business and expanding to more shopping categories that have low online penetration.
“Retail has moved beyond four walls and should reflect a shopper’s tastes, needs and personal histories,” said Kirsten Green, Founder and Managing Director of Forerunner Ventures. “Consumers want to be part of a collaborative shopping process, and simply put, Curated is providing the memorable experience that’s been eroded as specialty stores shutter and most online shopping focuses on getting customers to buy quickly, not correctly. By bringing that unique retail experience that once happened offline between a customer and a really knowledgeable expert, to the consumer on a digital front, Curated is moving past a system that delivers average, one-size-fits-all products at speed. They are focused on engaging shoppers through rich dialogue, ensuring a more meaningful and satisfying shopping experience.”