🦄 Unicorner Startup of the Week: Seel
 ✍️ Notes From The Editors  
Think about how difficult the world of order logistics must be. Or actually, don’t just think: take a look at our article from 2021 on Onward Delivery. That’s just tackling the problems surrounding delivery. Imagine the whole process that opens up from a product return! As a civilization, we definitely take Amazon for granted. Seel definitely helps the smaller retail companies…*ahem*…seel the deal on their return policies.
Enough dad jokes for one Unicorner article. What’s your craziest product return story? Arek once mailed a wrong-sized shirt back to Macy’s, and they accidentally sent him a toaster oven with the new shirt (an appreciated gesture, it’s a very nice toaster). Reply letting us know and maybe you’ll also get a toaster.
- Ethan and Arek 🦄
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AI-enabled e-commerce returns and order insurance
Seel offers customers and online retailers post-purchase guarantees at no cost to the seller. Its two main features are return assurance, which offers a return and refund guarantee on purchased products, and a delivery guarantee that will refund your purchase if it isn’t delivered before a certain date. Customers opt into these guarantees for a small fee paid to Seel (determined by an AI-powered risk model). Seel then pays all refund costs out of pocket, allowing retailers to keep all revenue from sold products.
🔗 Check them out: seel.com
💰 Business Model
Customers pay a small fee (determined by Seel’s AI model based on the product price and likelihood of return) at checkout to opt-in to Seel’s return and refund guarantee.
📈 Traction and Fundraising
  • Raised $17 million Series A from investors like Lightspeed Venture Partners, Afore Capital, West Loop Ventures, and Foundation Capital
  • Trusted by brands like Garmentory, Dora Maar, and Designer Revival; over 200 merchants using the platform in early 2022
  • Took part in Techstars 2019 MetLife Accelerator
👫 Founders
  • Zack Peng, CEO: Previously Core Software Engineer @ Orbital Insight, Student @ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Student @ Stanford
  • Bill Liu, COO: Previously Web Developer @ ibiblio, Library and Information Science @ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
💼 Opportunities
🔮 Our Analysis
For many of us, returns on most online purchases seem fairly straightforward. When you buy something you’d like to return, the retailer might give you a label and drop-off information, along with instructions on claiming your refund. Yet the process is often a more complex and expensive one for retailers, especially for smaller brands. It’s nearly impossible for these retailers to get accurate revenue when a purchase can be returned at any point in a 6-8 week window.
Enter Seel. Co-founders Zack and Bill recognized this problem and wanted to give online retailers a new option: have customers pay Seel a fee, and Seel will handle all return requests and refund payouts. Think of it as insurance for your purchase. Customers get a number of assurances, and companies get to keep the revenue even if a package is returned. As with any kind of insurance, Seel operates with an inherent risk by underwriting all these purchases. It attempts to offset this risk using AI—the probability of a purchase’s return from a given retailer is analyzed before offering any assurances for a fee. With the continued boom of e-commerce, we’re curious to see if Seel can scale to keep up with the demand and whether its solution is in fact the one the online retail industry at large needs.
📚 Further Reading
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🎁 Bonus Content!
This week, we wanted to highlight Contrary Research. Our friends at Contrary Capital have put together one of the most impressive collections of in-depth research on privately held startups. As individuals who love highlighting the greatest up-and-coming startups out there, we couldn’t do what we do without resources that make this kind of content available to us. Be sure to check them out!
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