With seven weeks left in holiday shopping, e-commerce platform Curated aims to help you find the perfect pair of skis or golf clubs and is attracting additional capital to expand its offerings. Following a hefty $39 million Series B announced in April, the company secured a $75 million Series C in a round led by CapitalG.
Joining CapitalG in the round are existing investors Forerunner Ventures, which first came in during Curated’s $22 million Series A round in 2019, and Greylock. The latest round gives the company total funding of $141.5 million.
Eduardo Vivas, Curated co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch the new round was unexpected, as interest from investors poured in, driven in part by the company’s growth of 300% year over year.
The company was co-founded in 2017 by Vivas, Peter Ombres, Alex Vauthey and Annabel Liu, who had previously worked together at LinkedIn. They noticed just how transactional online shopping was and how difficult it is to find the right product amid the thousands of product choices.
With the U.S. e-commerce market poised to reach its first trillion-dollar year by 2022, the company developed a network of over 1,000 experts who get paid to provide their knowledge, bringing an in-person shopping experience online to assist with purchasing high-consideration products, initially sporting equipment for skiing, golf, camping, hiking and biking.
Here’s how it works: Consumers answer a few questions about the products they are looking for, and Curated matches them to a category expert who provides a list of personalized recommendations and will text or jump on a phone call to guide the consumer to the right product, which the consumer can buy directly from Curated.com.
“The buying journey is about having fun,” Vivas told TechCrunch. “You enjoy the process just as much as imagining what you are going to get. It used to be the old cliché line that men don’t like shopping, but really, everyone can obsess over the buying process, but the ability to talk to someone who is brilliant is what we bring to life.”
The company is working with retail brands, including Callaway Golf, The North Face, Rossignol and Burton. Over 1 million people have already used the tool to shop and Vivas touts a near 0% return rate compared to between 10% and 30%, on average, of online shopping experiences.
Meanwhile, the new funding will be used to double the company’s team of 100 and go into R&D so that it can expand into new categories. Curated has eight categories today, and Vivas intends to launch 15 to 20 more in the next year, including coffee and home goods, like barbecues.
Interest from CapitalG introduced the Curated team to general partner Laela Sturdy, who is joining Curated’s board as part of the investment.
“She is one of the most special people in the world and after meeting her, I knew I wanted to be in business with her,” Vivas said. “This fundraising was the right thing to do, even though it was unexpected, for the purposes of accelerating into more categories of high-consideration purchases.”
Sturdy, after experiencing the company herself, said customer feedback was one of the first things that attracted her to the company. She could tell that people “were feeling the product love, and that is super important.”
Curated was also differentiating itself by investing in a technology platform that identifies, onboards and matches experts with consumers. In fact, many of the experts Sturdy spoke with said they were excited about the prospect of being able to get paid to talk about the things they love.
“Rarely do you get to see that on both sides,” she added. “The experience is unlike anything, which is why Curated has to be one of the transformative e-commerce companies of our generation.”