Reducing fashion’s climate impact requires better tools for secondhand shopping — Buoyant’s Investment in Beni

Buoyant Ventures
5 min readDec 13, 2022

Re-commerce is a critical lever in reducing fashion’s impact on climate

The apparel industry now accounts for roughly 4% of total global greenhouse gas emissions but is expected to increase its contributions to global emissions as retail consumption increases and emissions from easy to decarbonize sectors are eliminated. Luckily, we as consumers have the ability to reduce the apparel industry’s emissions by up 20% purely by purchasing resale. The question then becomes — how can we encourage more sustainable consumption patterns to consider resale before retail?

Online marketplaces and the growth of conscious consumerism have helped initiate substantial growth in online resale, anticipated to be 4x by 2026. While continued gains in resale popularity are expected, significant barriers still exist for consumers looking to participate in re-commerce. According to ThredUP’s Annual Resale Report, 93% of shoppers want to buy second hand apparel, but only 53% currently do, largely because of the significant amount of friction they face in the shopping experience. Shoppers are simply struggling to adjust to a new flow of shopping, where they are expected to check across multiple resale sites in hopes of finding the specific item they are looking for.

As the US secondhand market is set to reach $82B by 2026, a 16x faster growth rate than traditional retail, there is an opportunity for innovators to help reduce friction for customers in finding high quality used clothing, and also to help brands extend their reach into resale markets. Enter Beni.

Our Investment in Beni

The answer for the aspirational second hand shopper

Beni has created a browser extension that doesn’t disrupt the typical flow of shopping for consumers, making a seamless second hand shopping experience that appeals to early resale adopters and thrifting power users as well as casual second hand shoppers that are time constrained or budget conscious. Beni eliminates the friction in the second hand shopping experience, meeting consumers at the beginning of their purchasing journey and eventually leading them to purchase at partner resale sites. It is specifically Beni’s category leading product design, with a clear focus on user experience and usability, that allows for a frictionless user experience.

We were very excited to see a digital first solution like Beni in a re-commerce ecosystem where many of the innovative solutions have required significant capital to expand and scale. We love the efficient nature of Beni’s digital business model and appreciate Beni’s potential to quickly drive climate mitigation at scale. Beni is tracking greenhouse gas emissions avoided as well as reduced water consumption for their business and for Buoyant.

A partnerships first approach

Beni is truly differentiated in the resale ecosystem because of their deep attention to their partners. Having long standing relationships with over 27 established resale sites allows them to connect frustrated or aspirational second hand shoppers with a real time inventory of resale items across the internet. As a result, they are quickly assembling the largest online database of used clothing.

Beni onboards resale marketplace sites directly and through affiliate partnerships and plans to complement the new crop of startups servicing the resale industry either through supporting customers selling their used clothing or helping brands manage resale marketplaces. Additionally, through its large database of resale inventory, Beni is developing a suite of data intelligence on pricing and buying behavior that can power the next generation of secondhand shopping.

A stellar women led team at Beni

We were introduced to Beni co-founders Sarah Pinner and Celine Mol through a former Buoyant MBA Fellow, a classmate of Sarah and Beni’s CMO Kate Sanner at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Sarah founded Beni while attending Kellogg and quickly built a highly impressive leadership team. We couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to invest in a company fully led by women and with Chicagoland roots. Additionally, the three largest investors in the seed round — Buoyant, Better Ventures, and XYZ Ventures — have female partners leading the deal for the firm. So it will be an all-female boardroom — a Buoyant first!!!

When we met Sarah and Celine, we were impressed with their thoughtful approach to building their team and business. We appreciated Sarah’s entrepreneurial hustle and mission driven approach to leadership — it was immediately clear that she is quickly becoming a go-to thought leader in the re-commerce space. We believe that Celine is an absolute standout co-founder/CTO given her ability to dive deep as a highly adept technical leader but also zoom out and anticipate strategic opportunities for the business.

Together, Sarah and Celine have built an impressive team with the experience needed to successfully scale Beni. Kate’s strong track record in consumer brand management is apparent given the strength of Beni’s brand resonance after just a few short months since she joined full time. Ryan Shand, Beni’s COO, is an excellent operations leader with deep partnerships experience, having led large scale operations teams at another successful browser extension company. Beni’s incredible partnership progress so far can be credited to Ryan’s persistence and laser focus on partner needs.

Collectively, the Beni team has helped successfully scale multiple early-stage startups and brings a depth of expertise in sustainability-focused tech. We couldn’t be more excited to help Beni grow!

Welcome to the Buoyant Boat!

Buoyant invests in digital solutions for climate risk, seeking impactful solutions that can scale fast — we certainly believe Beni fits the bill. We see Beni as the critical key to enabling a re-commerce ecosystem that can support resale as 20% of total global apparel sales, a goal needed to meet the 1.5C global warming threshold. Buoyant is excited to be on this journey with Beni alongside a strong set of investors, Better Ventures, Chingona Ventures, XYZ, and Starting Line. We are thrilled to welcome Sarah, Celine, and the rest of the Beni team into the Buoyant boat and look forward to helping the team make shopping second hand as easy as buying new!