The deadstock marketplace startup just got new funding from international venture capital and impact investor Future Planet Capital, which has committed about $400 million to mission-driven businesses like 23andMe, Vaccitech and Tokamak. Now, the investment firm is backing Queen of Raw’s goal of addressing $288 billion in excess inventory generated by the fashion and textile industries each year, which is landfilled, incinerated or stuck in warehouses. The startup, which says it grew 650 percent this year, helps companies turn that deadstock into a revenue source by offering avenues to resell and recycle it. True Wealth Ventures, a Queen of Raw board member and venture capital fund targeting women-led eco-minded business, also participated in the funding.
Queen of Raw launched its flagship software-as-a-service (SaaS) software, Materia MX, in 2021 to addresses problems plaguing the apparel supply chain that eroded profits and margins. Materia MX enables brands and retailers to digitally manage their excess inventory from a centralized location, with end-to-end automation and reporting in the cloud.
Now Queen of Raw has enough capital to turn a profit, according to the company, which has signed software deals with three of the world’s top five apparel and footwear brands and expanded from its London home-base to Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Founder and CEO Stephanie Benedetto said wasted materials represent 15 percent or more of the bottom line for the company’s large Fortune 500 clients and others. “At that volume, waste isn’t just environmentally irresponsible—it’s a financial risk and a CFO issue,” she said. One client saved $14 million in inventory and holding costs in one year, and recycled 10 metric tons of excess materials in Asia for new revenue. It kept 95 percent of that material out of landfills.
Queen of Raw said its work has resulted in more than 1 billion gallons of water saved—the equivalent of three year’s worth of drinking water for 1.43 million people. Benedetto and co-founder and chief technology officer Phil Derasmo launched a reporting tool this year which generates insights by leveraging supply chain data against an algorithm developed with data scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Solve program.
The data can help companies communicate their circularity efforts to shoppers, they said, noting that one client tripled its conversion rate by offering more transparency. Derasmo, who architected Queen of Raw’s blockchain and machine learning-based technology, spent more than a decade building similar solutions for organizations like the Department of Environmental Protection as well as corporations like Citi.
“Queen of Raw’s SaaS solution has the opportunity to clean up supply chains, making a real dent in ocean pollution and creating a circular economy in unfinished goods,” Future Planet Capital partner Ed Phillips said. “The opportunity beyond this to move into other waste streams is significant.”