Queen of Raw
Marketplace for businesses to buy and sell unused textiles, keeping it out of landfill and turning pollution into profit
Pitch us on your solution
Problem: Broken Supply Chain - U.S. $120B worth of excess fabric is sitting in warehouses around the world. Awaiting its end of being burned or buried. It is a massive liability for the factories who over produced it and for the brands who over purchased it. Killing the environment and drastically affecting a business’ bottom line.
Solution: Global Marketplace & Blockchain-Enabled Supply Chain Management - Queen of Raw takes all the waste and debt in the industry and turns it into profit. Matching buyers with sellers, unused raw materials are sold quickly and easily at lower price points, giving people access to materials that they never had before. Sellers map, measure, and trace their supply chains, minimizing their waste streams going forward.
Sustainability: Queen of Raw has already saved 1B+ gallons of water. By 2020, Queen of Raw can save 4B+ gallons of water.
Film your elevator pitch
What is the problem you are solving?
Saving the world, one yard at a time: Stephanie Benedetto, CEO & Co-Founder of Queen of Raw, is on a mission to solve the world’s water crisis. One tee shirt takes 700 gallons of water to produce. Textile production is the second biggest polluter in the world. With a family in the business for over 100 years, Benedetto saw the problem first hand and built the solution: a platform for businesses to recapture value from their wasted materials rather than burning them.
To put the problem into perspective, by the time you read this, businesses will lose $1.2M in unsold inventory, from raw materials to finished goods. In fact, one garbage truck of perfectly good inventory is landfilled or burned every single second of every single day.
Companies, large and small, lose substantial sums of money due to unsold inventory, despite their use of expensive and complex supply chain management systems. H&M burned $4.3 billion in unsold inventory in 2018.
For every $1 worth of unsold product, another $1.40 is spent on warehousing costs. To reduce costs, inventory gets landfilled or burned, causing significant losses, liability, and pollution. Every year Amazon destroys 3 million unsold products in France alone.
Who are you serving?
Bringing $120 billion worth of unused textiles back to life: If we do not make a change, by 2025, two-thirds of the entire world’s population will face shortages of freshwater from textile production alone. Queen of Raw has already saved over one billion gallons of water while saving businesses over $20 million with supply chain efficiency. An optimized supply chain is the solution for people, for planet, and for profit.
Fabric. It’s everywhere. And it’s the biggest market you’ve never looked at. Michaels. $6B. Etsy. $1.8B. Jo-Ann. $1.6B. Massive businesses built on selling raw materials. Just like Queen of Raw. Except we’ve found a huge hole in this market--the unused leftover inventory for B2B--and we’re here to fill it.
Queen of Raw already has over 55,000 users. Named a Launch Innovator by NASA, NIKE, IKEA, and DELL. Co-host of top rated podcast “Material Is Your Business.” One of 10 globally chosen to be a part of Techstars Anywhere 2018. Grand Prize Winner of WeWork Creator Awards presented by Ashton Kutcher.
What is your solution?
Using blockchain and machine learning/AI to rescue fashion’s dead stock: Queen of Raw uses blockchain technology and machine learning/AI to salvage wasted clothing materials and turn that pollution into profit. With real time, end-to-end connectivity, decentralized control of supply chains, and optimized buy/sell matchmaking, Benedetto helps companies save significant time and money. Blockchain and machine learning/AI are the new reality for wholesale and retail.
How does it work? Sellers - Factories, brands, and retailers post their unused fabric and start selling in minutes. They manage all their excess inventory in one place and collect custom data and analytics. Buyers - Buyers find the fabric they’re looking for and purchase it straight from the seller. If they don’t use all the fabric, they sell it back on Queen of Raw.
Select only the most relevant.
Where is your solution team headquartered?New York, NY, USA
Our solution's stage of development:
Select one of the below:
New business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Queen of Raw’s online marketplace helps designers access surplus textiles, creates value for producers, and minimizes the flow of textiles to landfill.
Queen of Raw provides a platform for producers and purchasers of textiles to recapture value from what would otherwise become waste. It is a marketplace where manufacturers and stockists of textiles can sell their unused textiles, rather than storing them, landfilling them, or burning them.
It also unlocks a major supply of affordable, quality textiles for designers around the world who have trouble accessing these materials.
Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.
A 60 second video of our technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YTseXZEcgA
Benedetto uses blockchain to track the industry’s excess fabric, enabling it to be easily identified and resold. When a brand buys a monthly subscription, it will get a customized supply chain management system that’s designed to expose excess yardage and waste (water, chemicals, dollars) as they occur in real time.
“Let’s say I am the farmer,” Benedetto offers. “I get an alert on my phone and enter ‘I just took 500 pounds of raw cotton to X mill to get spun into thread.’ I upload a certification that it’s 100 percent organic, click, and save.” The mill operator does the same when he receives the cotton, and up through the chain.
The idea is that the brand can see why its waste is happening -- for example, a mill throwing out material because of a designer making changes too late. Queen of Raw's data can then help the company become more efficient going forward -- and be rewarded financially for taking action. As soon as the brand gets an alert of surplus fabric, even finished clothes, it can sell the excess immediately on Queen of Raw, without racking up storage fees. Everyone wins -- Benedetto, twice.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?
Stephanie Benedetto has always been a material girl -- not in the Madonna kind of way, but as a wild child of fabrics. Her great-grandfather came from Austria in 1896 to New York City’s Lower East Side and made coats and boleros out of other immigrants’ furs. Her family has been in textiles ever since. But when Benedetto came of age, she didn’t want to simply carry on. As much as she loved the business, she hated its waste.
The $800 billion global apparel industry, with its ever-faster fashion, has become famous for its squander. It slurps up water like no tomorrow -- literally, because at this rate, it will cause extreme scarcity in countries like China and throughout Asia by 2030, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group. And every year, fashion manufacturing produces 92 million tons of solid waste, most of which goes to landfills or up in smoke. Last year Burberry was called out for burning $37 million of clothes and goods rather than selling them at a discount -- a common practice to maintain a brand’s luxury shine.
And it’s not just clothes. Up and down the industry’s supply chain, there’s excess material coming out at the seams. “I saw a massive problem: factories, mills, retailers, brands sitting on hundreds of billions to literally a trillion dollars’ worth of unused raw material,” Benedetto says.
Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?
Queen of Raw founder Stephanie Benedetto’s pitch presentation starts off with a simple (albeit bold) inquiry: “Are you naked?” At the risk of upsetting her audience, she takes a stand, and it works.
To be clear, Benedetto has an urgently good reason for her dramatic flair—the US alone recycles only five percent of its fabric each year, and dumps the rest (about 21 billion pounds) into landfills or incinerators. Newsflash: clothing that gets put in the ground pollutes our drinking water, and clothing that gets burned pollutes our air.
The presentation continues: there are billions of dollars worth of textiles simply stored, unused, in factories around the world. There are also hundreds of millions of young designers, students, and companies who need said fabric. There is one company who is here to connect the dots. You guessed it: Queen of Raw.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
Queen of Raw takes all the waste that goes on in the industry and turns it into profit.
Beyond fashion, fabric has a role to play in almost every industry. Whether you’re sitting on it as a pillow at a restaurant, gripping it in the form of a leather steering wheel, or drying your hands with a bathroom towel, we are surrounded by textiles. Queen of Raw hopes to be just as ubiquitous. For the sake of the planet, we hope so too.
“We know that the best economies are circular,” Benedetto says. “They find underutilized resources and put them back into the chain of supply and demand. This is the future. For people. For planet. For profit. That’s Queen of Raw.”
What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?
Our goal is to provide our customers with frictionless participation in our marketplace.
For enterprise businesses, the process of manually identifying and on-boarding inventory took months.
How are you planning to overcome these barriers?
So we built the tools our enterprise community requested to automate the process of on-boarding inventory and vendors.
This took the on-boarding process from months to minutes.
The tools we built are powerful.
Enterprise businesses can collect real time actionable data and create transparency around inventory’s journey from farm to finished good.
Select an option below:
If you selected Other, please explain here.
How many people work on your solution team?
We did all this as a bootstrapped company of three people strong: Stephanie, the hustler. Phil, the hacker. And Corbin, the hipster. Each of us come from a family of entrepreneurs. We've all been entrepreneurs. And we've worked at large companies developing deep expertise in how technology can connect textile’s past to its future.
For how many years have you been working on your solution?
Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?
Stephanie Benedetto – Chief Executive Officer
Graduated from University of Pennsylvania with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. Earned her Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law. Worked as a lawyer in fashion and technology and co-founded a textile manufacturing facility. An advocate for women in business and sustainability, she is featured in NYTimes, Vogue, Cheddar, WCBS, Fortune, Entrepreneur, WIRED, and Fast Company. Stephanie is a NASA/NIKE/IKEA/DELL Innovator, a Grand Prize WeWork Creator Awards Winner presented by Ashton Kutcher, and a Finalist for Rent the Runway/UBS Project Entrepreneur and the $1M Verizon Powerful Answers Award. She is a Founding Member of Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, along with Aveda, Kering, and Stella McCartney.
Phil Derasmo – Chief Technology Officer
Technology expert with 15+ years in the industry leading technology projects for startups and large companies, including high security applications on Wall Street. Was the co-founder and CTO of a social shopping site and the Director of Engineering at Mantl. Derasmo also worked for eight years as Vice President of and Manager in the Applications Development Division at Citi. An architect and engineer with CISSP certification, he mentors at the Richard Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship.
Corbin Chase – Creative Director
Concepted and created campaigns for Urban Outfitters, Free People, Nicole Miller, Milk Studios, and Nylon Magazine. Chase specializes in photography, video, and mixed media editorial content, as well as social media strategy.
With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?
Our strategic partnership include:
-Launch.org (NASA, NIKE, IKEA, DELL)
-Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network
What is your business model?
Queen of Raw has over 55,000 users. For every sale, we get a 25% commission plus a monthly subscription fee from the sellers.
Queen of Raw has already saved 1B+ gallons of water. By 2020, Queen of Raw can save 4B+ gallons of water.
We are a Member of Pledge 1% and Founding Member of Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network, along with Aveda, Kering, and Stella McCartney.
What is your path to financial sustainability?
Unit Economics Highlights:
25% commission + MRR
Buyers become sellers and sellers become buyers
Customer Acquisition Highlights:
Co-host of top rated global podcast
Access to Techstars, WeWork, Texworld, & Launch.org networks
Strategic partnerships with API integration
Why are you applying to Solve?
First, I am excited to connect with Solve's mentors. I would like to learn from the experiences of the people who have been where I am now. Suggestions around business plan improvements, customer acquisition tactics, and best practices for business-to-business marketplace and software solutions would be welcomed.
Second, I am looking to share Solve's powerful network, particularly with respect to business professionals that I can learn from and companies that I can connect with to create long-lasting relationships. This would include forging new relationships (while strengthening existing ones) with those in the supply chain, fashion, technology, and sustainability industries. The more educational programs I can participate in, the better.
Third, I am looking for trusted and experienced advisors who will offer constructive insights and resources to assist me in scaling my company. I would like to work with Solve's advisors on the next stage of growth for my company, specifically by examining financing and other partnership opportunities available in the market, as well as formalizing my board of advisors.
What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?
If you selected Other, please explain here.
With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?
We are hyper focused right now on solving supply chain's waste problem for retail and apparel. But there are strong cross-industry use cases where this business model and technology could be used--from automotive and aviation to consumer goods to food and beverage. We would like to partner with organizations in these verticals to start to identify powerful applications of what we are doing, helping us grow and scale and change the world for even more people globally.
If you would like to apply for the AI Innovations Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution. If you are not already using AI in your solution, explain why it is necessary for your solution to be successful and how you plan to incorporate it.
The quicker we can match a buyer with a seller, the quicker we can keep this waste out of landfill!
Here's how Queen of Raw implements AI:
1. Product Recommendations (Machine Learning): We collect information based on actions our community takes and make recommendations and offer substitutions for dead stock waste products based on past behaviors and the prices we are seeing trend in the secondary market for waste
2. Chatbots (Natural Language Processing): We have chatbots for customer support and provide automated answering of questions based on the text provided by our community to help them understand our business and our mission--for people, for planet, and for profit
3. Analyzing Customer Images (Computer Vision): We use image recognition to capture and analyze information like the image objects, colors, and characteristics from images of waste uploaded by our community and are building these into our recommendation processes
4. Search Functionality (Natural Language Processing + Machine Learning): We have algorithms for our search functionality to manipulate search results, autocomplete the search, and do synonyms and product suggestions for misspelled words.
As we collect this data around waste, we can start to immediately identify waste in a supply chain, automate the on-boarding process to our marketplace, and then help our customers make intelligent predictions to minimize those waste streams going forward. We would use the AI prize to move these initiatives forward with our data scientists, continuing to refine our intelligent predictions.
If you would like to apply for the Innovation for Women Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.
- Stephanie Benedetto Co-Founder and CEO, Queen of Raw