By Elisabeth Savin ‘25
On Wednesday, March 1st, Residents gathered for the final Family Dinner of the quarter to hear from Garage alumni Sarah Pinner, Kellogg ‘22. Sarah joined The Garage as a Resident, member of the Jumpstart 2021 cohort, and competitor + second place winner at VentureCat 2022 as the co-founder and CEO of Beni.
Beni is a browser extension that finds the best resale alternatives from across the internet in the click of a button. Currently, only 15% of clothes get reused or recycled despite the fact that the fashion industry contributes between 4-10% of all global emissions. Beni hopes to assist consumers with the secondhand shopping experience while focusing on the idea of “progress over perfection.” 93% of shoppers want to buy second hand but only 50% do, and Beni is bridging the gap.
In September 2020 while studying at Kellogg, Sarah entered the INSEAD Venture Competition. Throughout the process, she was able to accelerate the initial discovery phase as she was given specific markers to reach. In February 2021, her co-founder and CTO joined the team, allowing her idea to begin taking shape. To start, the pair manually found the clothing items that customers requested with the goal of proving that if the option was presented, people would make the choice to purchase second hand clothing. Through Beni, over 17% of users presented with a secondhand alternative purchased the item.
From there, the team joined the Jumpstart program at The Garage, spending the Summer working full-time on Beni. During this time, the first version of Beni was published and the team continued to focus on testing and user discovery.
In October 2021, the team raised a pre-seed of over $1,000,000. When asked why she made the decision to fundraise, Sarah explained that the team needed to build the product prior to making a profit and therefore needed outside capital. The team was able to use these funds to build and launch their beta, which now has over 5,000 users. Since the beta launch, the team raised a $4,000,000 seed round which they plan to use in order to continue developing their product and expanding their team.
One Resident asked: what is one thing you wish you knew when you started? “Take every piece of advice with a grain of salt,” Sarah responded. “There is a large amount of conflicting advice that people will offer whether you ask for it or not. I think the best practice is to ask a lot of people the same questions in order to pattern match and then trust your gut.”
Interested in saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? Download the browser extension at joinbeni.com and start shopping second-hand today!
Elizabeth Savin ’25 is a Manufacturing and Design Engineering major from Wilmette, IL. She is a student aide at The Garage and was part of the Winter 2022 Propel cohort. She is excited to begin her own venture while learning more about entrepreneurship.