Over the last two decades, ecommerce has seen steady growth with the pandemic propelling ecommerce adoption forward by many years. In fact, U.S. ecommerce is on track to reach its first-trillion dollar year by 2022. Despite this, high consideration purchases like golf clubs or ski equipment are still largely purchased in brick-and-mortar retail stores. That’s because if you’ve ever tried to buy something like skis online you know how tough it is. There’s an overwhelming number of options, and you spend hours reading reviews and checking out forums looking for guidance. In the end, you may never actually make the purchase, or worse you may end up buying the wrong product for your needs.
While it’s an ambitious idea and has been tried before, there’s still a real opportunity to provide the best of in-store experiences with the convenience and selection of online shopping. That’s why today I am thrilled to announce that Greylock led the Series B investment in Curated, an ecommerce platform where consumers shop with the help of free, unbiased advice from an expert. In conjunction with our investment I have joined Curated’s board of directors.
Founded in 2017, Curated is a three sided marketplace, connecting consumers, experts and brands.
For consumers, it’s not about speed, but about finding the right product with the help of a real human expert (no AI chatbots!). After a short quiz to understand what they are looking for, consumers are connected with an expert who shares their first-hand knowledge to help them find the right product. It can take dozens of messages back and forth with their experts before consumers purchase — but the time and relationship pay off. Consumers have left over 30,000 positive reviews, and the return rate for purchases on Curated.com is incredibly low for ecommerce at around 2%.
Curated is also part of the passion economy, where people can monetize doing what they love. Curated experts are people who truly enjoy what they do, with deep category knowledge, and are eager to help others pursue their passions. They are people like Jake, who is a PhD student and lifelong skier who knows every boot, pole and ski out there, to lifelong golfers like Nicole, who have worked as a caddy, in Pro shops, and knows the ins-and-outs of golf clubs. Today, Curated has around 1,000 active experts.
Brands have also embraced the platform, seeing Curated as a way to reach new customers. Curated works with a few hundred brands including Callaway Golf, The North Face, Rossignol and Burton. Curated offers brands insights about what their experts recommend and what the consumer ends up buying. For instance, a brand can see how a consumer’s interest in them stacks up to other brands, and how often each of the brand’s products are recommended by experts.
Curated was founded by four LinkedIn alums: Eddie Vivas (CEO), Alex Vauthey (CTO), Peter Ombres (COO), and Annabel Liu (VP Engineering). These seasoned technology leaders built some of LinkedIn’s most important innovations, helping millions of LinkedIn members be more productive and successful. As a fellow LinkedIn alum, I’m excited to reconnect with these founders and join them on their entrepreneurial journey.
Since their public launch in 2019, Curated has connected over 1M consumers with experts. There’s a big opportunity for Curated to expand and help consumers find speciality items in many additional product categories. I’m honored to partner with the Curated team as they pioneer a new online retail model and build an enduring ecommerce company.