Lee Hnetinka, Beachgoer

Lee Hnetinka at the beach
Lee Hnetinka at the beach | The chief executive officer of Darkstore since February of 2016, Lee Hnetinka works with leading ecommerce companies to provide fast shipping services direct to consumers. 

Darkstore – A Successful $1.4 Million Seed Round Enables Expansion

Darkstore pic
After establishing Darkstore’s original warehouse-as-a-service operation in San Francisco, Lee Hnetinka expanded operations into Phoenix, Arizona, and New York City.

Based in New York, Darkstore CEO Lee Hnetinka focuses on the same-day delivery needs of e-commerce brand retailers. An April, 2017, article in TechCrunch brought focus to Lee Hnetinka’s success in completing a $1.4 million PivotNorth-led seed round designed to enable the firm to expand from three markets to a total of seven, with new markets including Seattle, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The seed funding round was noteworthy in being led by PivotNorth CEO Tim Connors, who also guided delivery startup Deliv’s successful seed round. Mr. Connors is now integrally involved in the operations of Darkstore as a board member. In tandem with the funding round, Darkstore expanded its brand partners beyond mattress startup Tuft & Needle and the clothing maker Wildfang, and added Master & Dynamic, a high-end headphone manufacturer, to its lineup.

The seed round capped a period of significant growth, with the startup generating 120 percent month-on-month order growth in its first year of operations. The firm shipped goods valued at nearly $1 million in November and December of 2016. The company has an innovative business model of not charging for inventory storage and instead charging three percent (with an upper limit of $20) on every item shipped out.

What Is Bikram Yoga?

Lee Hnetinka
Lee Hnetinka | Darkstore sets itself apart from its closest competitors by working with both new on-demand couriers, such as UberRUSH, and traditional shipping organizations, such as FedEx and UPS

Darkstore, a company offering an incredible delivery experience to e-commerce brands around the globe, was co-created by its CEO, Lee Hnetinka. Lee Hnetinka practices Bikram yoga in his free time.

Bikram Yoga pic
Bikram Yoga
Image: bikramyoga.com

Bikram yoga pushes the body to the limit, but also helps to send blood to the muscles, eliminate pain, and sharpen the mind. First gaining popularity in the 1970s, Bikram yoga is practiced by repeating the same 26 poses during a 90-minute class in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity is kept high, and practitioners claim that as a result, many toxins are ejected from the body. Weight loss, improved blood flow, and more flexibility are also reported benefits. Drinking plenty of water before a class is vital, with eight to nine glasses on the day of class recommended.

Practicing Bikram yoga on a full stomach is not ideal, with a simple banana or cup of applesauce considered enough to energize a person for the hour and a half class. When assuming the poses, a specific type of breathing is used, which can be difficult for beginners. However, after a bit of practice, Bikram yoga can be a positive and healthy routine.

Key Logistical Elements of a Same-Day Delivery Service

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Image: techcrunch.com

New York entrepreneur Lee Hnetinka is the co-founder and CEO of Darkstore, a startup company that provides ultra-fast shipping services for e-commerce brands. In his leadership role at Darkstore, Lee Hnetinka offers clients same-day and one-hour shipping via local inventory in major cities such as New York and San Francisco.

The nature of service offered by same-day delivery companies necessitates the constant availability and accessibility of products. Since retailers tend to cluster their inventories in regions with elevated consumer densities, same-day delivery services currently remain restricted to highly urbanized areas (although this may change soon). But wherever they operate, retailers should prioritize updating their inventories in order to accurately determine which products are available for same-day shipping.

From an operations perspective, ultra-fast shipping is only possible with an extremely efficient warehouse retrieval and packing process. This often requires significant investment in warehouse infrastructure, which prices most small retailers out of the market. Startups such as Darkstore, however, are changing the game by allowing e-commerce retailers to benefit from external infrastructure on a per-shipment basis, without the need for a major investment.