Founder Profile: Sarah Pinner, Celine Lightfoot, & Kate Sanner | Beni
Today we chat with Beni co-founders Sarah, Celine, and Kate. They were united by the dilemma of secondhand shopping — finding something you love on resale sites takes a ton of time, expertise, and energy. So they created Beni which aggregates resale options with the click of a button. The company has been featured in Bloomberg, Business Insider, TechCrunch, WWD, Marie Claire, and Morning Brew. Try it for yourself here.
This story has been lightly edited for clarity.
Who: Sarah Pinner, CEO; Celine Lightfoot, CTO; and Kate Sanner, CMO
Location: San Francisco, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, and Chicago, IL, respectively
One-liner: The secondhand search engine that tags along while you shop online
Sarah, co-founder and CEO of Beni, is a self proclaimed “circular economy nerd.” Prior to Beni, Sarah led expansion initiatives and spearheaded the Sustainability Team at Imperfect Foods, an online grocery company focused on fighting food waste. She started her career at Rabobank where she managed Food & Ag startup initiatives. Sarah earned a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an MBA and MS in Design Innovation from Northwestern University. Outside of Beni, she enjoys hiking with her golden retriever and frequenting natural wine bars.
Celine is a co-founder and CTO at Beni, where she is committed to making resale accessible so that buying things new is no longer our default shopping mode. Celine has 5+ years of experience building software stacks from the ground up and harnessing the power of AI to make substantial impacts for a healthy planet. Prior to Beni, she pursued these passions at Apeel Sciences, a biotech startup focused on fighting food waste, where she built systems to gain insights on fruit behavior. When Celine is not working on Beni, you can catch her playing outside or eating soup (yes, even on a hot day).
Kate is co-founder and CMO at Beni, where she is energized by the challenge of helping people re-imagine how they shop. She has over a decade of experience in brand building, product innovation, and leading strong teams. Prior to Beni, she worked on the Bud Light team and oversaw the brand’s NFL and summer campaigns. She also spearheaded the development and launch of Bud Light Seltzer, which debuted at the Super Bowl in 2020. Kate earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, where she met one of her co-founders, Sarah. When Kate is not working on Beni, you can catch her playing soccer or hosting dinner parties at her home in Chicago.
Why did you start your company?
“I know I should, but I just don’t.” This was the response Sarah invariably got whenever she asked friends if they shopped secondhand. She was fascinated to learn that most folks understood the theoretical value of shopping secondhand — it’s cheaper, more sustainable, more unique — but most don’t actually buy secondhand because the experience of shopping secondhand is, in the words of a user, a “crapshoot.” This was the “aha” moment that led to Beni which is a tool designed to make the actual experience of shopping secondhand seamless and enjoyable. The goal is to make it as easy to find and buy secondhand as it is to buy new.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for other founders?
From Sarah: Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt. When you’re building a company a lot of people will have a lot of opinions. Of course advice is important, but I’d recommend learning to recognize patterns and balance taking in advice with trusting your gut.