Embedded re-commerce platform Responsible has secured 6.6 million US dollars of investment capital to expand its reach throughout Europe.
The Belfast-based start-up, founded in 2021 by Irish entrepreneur Mark Dowds and Australian Mitch Doust, has developed a re-commerce technology solution called ‘Buy Back’ that can be added to a brand’s e-commerce and physical stores. The technology is integrated at the point of purchase to inform shoppers of the residual value of the item they are about to buy. The shopper is free to wear the garment and return the product at any point in the future in exchange for credit at the ‘Buy Back’ price stated.
The ‘Buy Back’ gives brands the chance to gain customer loyalty whilst also moving into the circular fashion market by providing the infrastructure and operational capability. The plugin is currently available within the Shopify ecosystem and will soon support other e-commerce platforms.
The seed round was led by Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital and Techstart Ventures, with participants including InPost founder Rafał Brzoska and Nextdoor chief executive Sarah Friar, and marks the largest amount of capital secured to date within the re-commerce sector.
Responsible explained in a statement that the funding would be used to expand its reach in Europe, as part of its commitment to power a circular future for fashion, and extend its network of brand partnerships.
Currently, Responsible operates in the UK from its Belfast and London offices and has plans to establish a European presence early in 2022. The platform has also secured partnerships with design-led brands Raeburn and Côte&Ciel, as well as denim brands Kuyichi and Kings Of Indigo, and will be announcing more partners in the coming months.
Barclays and Techstart Ventures back re-commerce platform Responsible
Andy Challis, co-head of principal investments at Barclays, said in a statement: “Innovation in the fashion industry is critical in reducing global carbon emissions, and Barclays is delighted to support Responsible as it continues to scale and address this issue.
“Responsible.us has developed an innovative model which enables circularity in the fashion industry, partnering directly with brands to extend the life of garments and impact sector-wide change.”
Commenting on investing, Brzoska said: “InPost was founded with a mission to make modern logistics convenient, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. I am excited to be investing privately in the future of Responsible and potentially to open new frontiers by leveraging the InPost technology, infrastructure and network of partnerships across the UK and Europe, building competitive advantages for fashion retailers.”
Friar added: “Investing in community means thinking holistically about how our actions impact the community around us. For example, most of us know that it is better to buy previously worn clothes instead of new. Responsible is now making this more convenient and easier. I am excited to see another company from Northern Ireland step up with a global solution to help our planet.”