Young Upstarts

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Entrepreneur Lee Hnetinka And Wilson Lee Start New Venture Darkstore

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Entrepeneurs Lee Hnetinka and Wilson Lee have started a new venture together, Darkstore. The pair have set their sights on improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of delivering goods for e-commerce sites. Currently, many e-commerce sites struggle to streamline their delivery processes as they have no brick-and-mortar locations. Darkstore partners with these e-commerce sites and a range of storage and delivery firms to ensure same-day and two-day delivery services for customers purchasing goods. The business will initially cater to the San Francisco region.

Darkstore will aim to create a unique business model that relies on commission shares with their storage partners. The concept aims to increase profitability for all involved and relies on moving high volumes of orders to ensure that stock is not idle and accruing storage costs. Current partners include Storage SF, USPS, UPS, UberRUSH, and Fedex.

Lee Hnetinka, CEO of Darkstore, is the same face that brought you WunWun. WunWun was a delivery service that provided customers with delivery of any goods that they needed and did so with a unique SMS element. The company would use SMS to provide customers with updates on their delivery and allow alterations to be made on orders. Alfred, another tech company in the delivery space, purchased WunWun’s assets in order to incorporate WunWun’s SMS knowledge into their own products. At the time of the acquisition Alfred stated, “We’re really excited to learn from the experience of the first on-demand company and an early pioneer in the New York tech scene. We’re trying to control the full stack, the entire experience from order to beyond delivery, and this asset purchase helps us do that.”

Wilson Lee, the other founding member of Darkstore, is the same entrepreneur that started digital concierge app JustVacay. JustVacay is an app that can be employed by hotels to create a digital concierge service for guests. Hotels are able to provide information on their hotel and the local area as well as shows, events, restaurants, and additional information. In addition, guests can message hotel management and book additional nights all through an easy-to-use interface.

If you would like any additional information on Darkstore and how their unique business model may be able to benefit you or your company simply head to darkstore.com.

Lee Hnetinka and the Darkstore team has just announced the second week of April 2017 that they have raised another $1.4 million dollars from PivotNorth. Hnetinka had previously raised $270,000 from R/GA Ventures and TripAdvisor Chief Growth Officer Gary Fritz. Darkstore is now in excellent financial shape to pursue Hnetinka’s strategy of expansion.
Darkstore has been positioned as a future market leader in the 3PL industry by securing partnerships with valuable firms such as PivotNorth, Deliv and Master & Dynamic that go well beyond short term financial gains. “All they have to do is plug into our API to get access to every last-mile delivery provider in our network, so they don’t have to integrate into each one,” he said. “The alternative is for them to lease a DC, hire employees and do the fulfillment themselves. It’s a turnkey solution. We charge them a 3% fulfillment fee based on the retail price of the item.”
When asked about demand for same-day delivery, Hnetinka said it was a “fallacy” that people don’t need or want it today.
“You may not need toothpaste or paper towels in two hours, but Amazon can get it to you in that time,” he said. “If your company isn’t offering two-hour delivery, guess where the consumer is going to go? It applies to all brands that don’t sell on Amazon and use FBA. Everyone’s expectations have been set by them, and two-hour delivery is the bar now. If you’re not on par with that, they’ll go where they can get it.”

Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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