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Deal Dive: How (Re)vive grew 10x last year

(Re)vive specializes in refurbishing products that retailers consider too damaged to resell
June 3, 2024

The fashion industry faces a significant challenge: millions of returned items, often unworn or undamaged, end up in landfills. In 2022 alone, an estimated 9.5 billion pounds of returns were discarded, according to data from return logistics software company Optoro. Enter (Re)vive, a New York-based startup with a mission to give these products a second chance.

(Re)vive specializes in refurbishing items deemed too damaged to sell by retailers. Whether it’s washing, reattaching a button, or removing dog hair, (Re)vive fixes up these products and sells them through various channels. The company's data platform also helps retailers monitor and manage their waste more effectively.

The technology behind (Re)vive is impressive. Founder and CEO Allison Lee explains that their software enables employees to sort, label, and determine the fate of returned items in about three minutes. The platform also provides retailers with insights on return patterns and potential revenue from reselling saved items.

Items that are still in season return to stores, while out-of-season goods are sold on third-party platforms like eBay and Poshmark. (Re)vive takes a commission from each sale. This approach is becoming increasingly attractive as retailers face growing pressure to minimize their environmental impact and manage damages more transparently.

Lee notes that many companies are driven by sustainability goals, but shareholder pressure and cost savings are also significant motivators. The simplicity of using (Re)vive’s service—retailers just need to redirect their “damaged” items to (Re)vive's warehouse—makes it an appealing option for many businesses.

The journey to (Re)vive’s current model wasn’t straightforward. Founded in 2017 as Hemster, an in-store tailoring service, the company pivoted multiple times before finding its niche. After the pandemic halted their initial business, the team launched an online repair portal aimed at consumers. However, they soon realized retailers were using the platform to repair inventory, prompting another shift in strategy. Since then, (Re)vive has saved $23 million in GMV and 150,000 garments from landfills.

The startup recently raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Equal Ventures and Hustle Fund, with participation from Banter Capital, Coalition Operators, Mute VC, and others. This funding will help (Re)vive continue its growth and expand its impact.

As a former sales associate at Anthropologie, I’ve seen firsthand the waste generated by minor imperfections in returned items. Employees couldn’t take these nearly perfect items home, leading to a growing mountain of waste destined for landfills. (Re)vive offers a promising solution to this pervasive issue, giving returned products a new lease on life and helping the fashion industry move towards a more sustainable future.

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